WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
Delirium's driving warrants attention from a highway patrol officer, who scolds and angers her. She punishes him by inflicting hallucinations upon him: "I think you'll have invisible insects all over you now for all your life and for ever and always."

Victimized Bystander is an Umbrella Trope that can be divided in 3 types:

Type I

  • Broken Bystander (or Scarred Bystander), This is a bystander who suffers a traumatical experience because of the main plot, usually these characters are nameless and rarely mentioned. Example: The Matrix has a little girl whose mother morphs into Agent Smith with astonishment.

Type II

  • Victimized Bystander, This bystander is usually used for comical or examplefied usage, their cars will explode, houses recketed or sometimes even assulted. Quintessential example of that is the Cabbage Man from Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's a Running Gag that the Gang will somehow cause his cabbage cart to get destroyed and he'll scream "MY CABBAGES!". His life might not be ruined forever, but his livelihood is ruined for at least the rest of the day

Type III

Victimized Bystanders are bystanders who mostly will be chosen at random to suffer for an action usually not punishable, or when their just doing their duty, these replaceable minor characters whose entire lives have been ruined. The latter can be described as a form of Disproportionate Retribution Type III is named after Capri Sun's commercials concerning the Disrespectoids where the victims are never mentioned again.

In case of some the bystanders will never be able to speak, see, hear or do anything again. In case of the others they must now live without teeth. In more common cases they are crippled for the rest of their lives. And for what? Five seconds of mild comedy?

Explained: Someone's life is ruined so the protagonists can move further in the storyline and the unfortunate associates of either good, evil, or neutral suffer off-screen.

This trope manifests when a (often a minor) character's life is ruined in a few seconds and never mentioned again, opposite this trope is of-course when a character wins the lottery and is also never mentioned again (or anything in that direction.).

But in particular this trope is reflected in Capri Sun's Disrespectoids' commercials, since the children who turn into the disrespectoids are (instantly) faced with ridicule and laughter, while there isn't a single plot line which undoes the spell (more like a curse) this is often associated with Fridge Horror, but it happens often {enough} to recall it a million times. This trope can be applied a lot to victims of Mind Control, since (usually due to The Masquerade) no one will ever know the person wasn't acting of their own free will.

The most fundamental differences between the types are: Type 1 only sees a traumatic experience. Type 2 suffers a comical accident. Type 3 is permanently damaged for the rest of his/her life.

Compare Tethercat Principle and What Happened to the Mouse?.

Examples of Victimized Bystander include:


  • Axe's chocostein used an Axe product and turned into a chocolate monster unable to express himself.
  • The Disrespectoids in Capri Sun's commercial campaign often found themselves at the bad end of this trope.
  • One of the early American Nintendo DS commercials the protagonist is laughed at by fellow students in the showers, the protagonist responds by shrinking their reproductive organs.
  • In the online version of the Nintendo DS commercials, the site contains a a mini-game where you must go into a movie theatre to test your DS Powers but first you must shrink the afro coup of the gentleman blocking the view, imagine his reaction after you've ruined his time at the theatre by constantly moving the movie, and his initial reaction to the loss of his hair, which he might've spend his entire life working on.
  • In a Dutch commercial regarding the Greek cuisine somewhere in the early (20)00's, there was a woman cooking Greek food for her family, and her son tries to taste a piece of meat, before the piece reached his mouth, she turns him into a(n ancient Greek)statue. Later when they all gather around the table to eat, he is not present, which makes the viewers believe that he'll be a statue for eternity!

Anime & Manga

  • in Yu-Gi-Oh! Atem (Yami-Yugi) punishes people who lose at his shadow games with life long delusions.
    • Though since Kaiba was subjected to one of these early on and recovered, apparently they aren't permanent.
  • In Parasyte one of the parasites turned a boy's right arm into a giant penis after he offered to show her an animal.


  • In Son of the Mask, the neighbor's head was transformed into a giant nose. This was because the god Loki thought her to be nosy. She was later demonstrated to the protagonist's wife as an example to confirm his stories: Norse mythology being real and their son the product of a Mask.
  • In Men In Black II, it's implied the video store guy murders his mother after being neuralized by the protagonists and misinterpreting their commands.
  • In Iron Man 2 when Tony Stark was in court he was claiming that foreign nations and business competitors are decades away from successfully recreating his achievements, and that the armo(u)r is in fact his own property. He did this by showing video clips of their (the competition's) failures one of these had Hammer testing his own suit with a man in the Iron suit spinning the torso 360° while the legs remained, Hammer noted later that the pilot survived. The pilot is never mentioned again.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun Sheriff Pepper (from the previous film Live and Let Die) just happens to be vacationing in Thailand when Bond shows up and carjacks him (while he's still inside), ultimately crashing his car into a display window.
  • In X-men, we get a clue of just how badly Mikhail's mind has cracked when a teenager on a bike crashes into him in the street and gets thought into a tree (and judging by how the tree looks like, he might still be conscious). The boy receives no help as the other characters never find out about it, so as far as we know, he is still there.
  • The "Very Unimportant Person" in Ocean's Thirteen has one of the worst nights of his life just because he was doing his job -- reviewing the antagonist's hotel while Danny Ocean's gang was working multiple cons to ensure its opening would be disastrous. At least after harassing him, humiliating him, and making him physically ill, this trope is later averted when they fix a slot machine so he wins an 11 million dollar jackpot.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The other children who fell victim to events in the factory survived, but with "reminders" of their misbehavior. Augustus is thin as a rail from being squeezed through the pipes, Violet is purple, Veruca is covered in garbage, and Mike is a 10-foot giant (the end result of being put through a taffy puller to de-shrink him).

Live Action Television

  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the title character was confronted with a security guard while going to a rock-concert with a few of her friends, when the guard couldn't let them in, Sabrina casts a spell which causes his teeth to fall out, the guard notices it and runs off, he is never mentioned again.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", the Gang, repeatedly and unknowingly, hit this one guy's car, eventually totaling it and sending into flames. This is then promptly lampshaded when the guy goes mad from his misfortune--though our leads, being Jerkasses, fail to notice or care.
  • On Warehouse 13, there are many artifacts that control a person, usually causing them to try to murder people. After an artifact is neutralized, they are usually freed from it's control. It's rarely discussed whether they end up in jail for the rest of their lives because they happened to own an evil antique.
  • On Angel, there was a man who could turn any man he touched into a woman-beating and murdering psycho. At the beginning of the episode he causes some man to murder his wife. He's apparently arrested by the police, and never discussed again.
  • The final episode of Seinfeld played with this by having everyone whom the main characters had ever wronged [1] track them down and see justice done.
  • An episode of CSI New York played with this idea. It featured a fat woman at a basketball game who was chosen to try to shoot a basket from half court as part of a promotion. An obnoxious heckler started mocking her for her weight. Because the incident was televised, she became an object of ridicule around the city, her boyfriend broke up with her, and complete strangers would come up to her on the street and tell her to eat a salad. Unlike in most cases, however, she wasn't forgotten; the episode was about the Disproportionate Retribution she brought on the heckler.

Western Animation

  • In Gargoyles, New York City and all its inhabitants are turned to stone and many people are smashed while one females arms are smashed off and is also never mentioned again.
  • In Disney's Aladdin and the king of thieves' opening song there's a party here in Agrabah Genie transforms a female bystander into fatter glassed version of herself, she runs off and is not mentioned again.
  • During one episode The Powerpuff Girls - Abracadaver is seen transforming people into cards, (eternal) saw-boxes and trees (and I must scream), he also generates giant saws on skyscrapers, it gets worse when you realise none of the above (excluding the saws) get undone, yet people just happily laugh after the magical zombie magician is locked back in his Iron Maiden.
  • In Lilo and Stitch there is a fat tourist with an ice-cream cone, which keeps dropping anytime he runs into Lilo. In his last scene, the ice-cream is knocked off by the wing of a passing spaceship.
  • In Family Guy during the episode were Joe is introduced, a baseball player tastes joke hum that makes him addicted to Heroin, after he laughed at the joke, he realised that he was feeling a cold chill.
  • Rocko's Modern Life plays allot with this trope, the most memorable of these being Rocko scavaging the bushes for berries while stumping on a berry that is in reality a testicle of a sleaping animal, who's chances for producing offspring have been halved, due to its now traumatized/crushed ball.


  • In the Sandman story Brief Lives, Delirium gives a highway patrolman the permanent delusion that he is covered in stinging insects as "punishment" for pulling her over for very reckless driving. It is outright stated that he'll be suffering this delusion for the rest of his life. Delirium's driving warrants attention from a highway patrol officer, who scolds and angers her. She punishes him by inflicting hallucinations upon him: "I think you'll have invisible insects all over you now for all your life and for ever and always."

Web Comics

  • The people who end up on minus's bad side in early Minus strips.


  1. Which was a lot, since the show ran on Comedic Sociopathy when it wasn't running on So Unfunny It's Funny
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.