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When a nice, normal character suddenly goes into a rage, you've hit his Berserk Button.

  • Barak and later his son in The Belgariad, will literally transform into bears whenever Garion or his son is threatened, and will rip whatever is threatening their charges to shreds. Barak's son had to be chained to a ship's mast because he went berserk in the middle of the ocean... when Garion and his son were several hundred miles away. You do not mess around with Garion's family, because if he doesn't get you, his grandfather and aunt will.
  • Don't insult or offend Aliera e'Kieron where her father has a chance of hearing about it. Adron will blow up cities to get revenge.
    • And don't insult Adron around Aliera or Morrolan, since they'll do everything short of making you unrevivifiable. And speaking of "short," don't call Aliera that. (Note that all of the above are Dragonlords. House Dragon is a bit touchy.)
    • Do not mess with the minds of Vlad's people. He will not tolerate it, and will ignore his primal fear of Morganti to tell the owner of a Great Weapon so.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we discover that Molly Weasley also has a Berserk Button. The gentle housewife becomes an enraged witch when you threaten her children, as Bellatrix Lestrange learned the hard way. Hence one of the favorite quotes among some fans: "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" In fact, it pissed her off so badly that she hit her with what was most likely the "Unforgivable" Killing Curse.
    • Snape has a Berserk Button of sorts too. He does some pretty irrational things after being called a coward, like revealing himself as the Half-Blood Prince.
      • The word "coward" brings up more than just that freakout. When Harry calls Lupin a coward while the latter is basically having a panic attack about the fact that his son might be a werewolf, he gets angry at Harry and actual attacks him before storming out.
      • And, by all means, do NOT try to hurt Lily Evans in any way unless you want Snape to bring his wrath down upon you. Voldemort could testify to this, if he wasn't Stupid Evil and didn't resolutely deny it.
    • And never insult Dumbledore within earshot of Hagrid. That will show you what a Bad Idea is to piss off a Gentle Giant. He will magic transforming yo ass. Literally.
      • It's also a bad idea to hurt Harry or any of Hagrid's furry friends. When his dog Fang gets hit with a spell, he hurls the perpetrator ten feet through the air!
      • When, in the Battle of Hogwarts, he meets the now-Death Eater Macnair who tried to kill Hagrid's Hippogriff, Buckbeak. He is promptly hurled face-first across the Hall and into a wall.
    • Dumbledore has his own button: he's perfectly calm and cool while he is told he's lost his marbles, or while Harry throws a tantrum, implicates him in the death of Sirius, and wrecks his office... but threaten to harm his students, especially if said student happens to be HARRY (as the Dementors learned the hard way when they sabotaged the Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff match in the third book), and God have mercy on your soul. If you even have a soul to begin with, which the Dementors don't.
    • Dobby is also very protective of Harry Potter ever since he was freed, conveniently appearing more than once and quoting his trademark "You shall not harm Harry Potter!" Dobby is so devoted that he even risked (and lost) his life in order for Harry and the others to escape Malfoy manor.

  "Kreacher will not insult Harry Potter in front of Dobby! No he won't! Or Dobby will shut Kreacher's mouth for him!"

    • For that matter, Ron doesn't typically get more aggressive than the Belligerent Sexual Tension-style bickering with Hermione... but should anyone else go after Hermione, all bets are off. In Chamber of Secrets, he twice has to be physically stopped from laying the hurt on Draco Malfoy.

 "Let me at him," Ron growled, as Harry and Dean hung onto his arms. "I don't care, I don't need my wand, I'm going to kill him with my bare hands!"

      • Ron's also very protective of his little sister, Ginny. In "Chamber of Secrets" he has to be stopped from trying to curse Malfoy for being mean to her and in "Deathly Hallows" he even gives Harry a rather rough talking-to when he thinks Harry might be toying with her.
    • Professor McGonagall really hates it when people play dirty, particularly in Quidditch matches. On several occasions she's shown to forget herself in rage when she witnesses foul behavior (the most notable being in the third book, when several Slytherin players attempted to sabotage a Gryffindor/Ravenclaw match by dressing up as Dementors to scare Harry, who justifiably sics his Patronus on them for the effort—and she didn't think the Patronus alone to be punishment enough for the offenders).
      • Although it should be said that Harry himself often identifies Fred and George Weasley cheating out of spite against the Slytherins, and we never hear her chew them out in the same way. It may come down to House Loyalty in this situation.
      • This generally doesn't happen until after the Slytherins cheat first, though, so Harry and the audience tend to think of it as 'payback' or 'evening the field'. It's possible McGonagall agrees.
    • Neville Longbottom flips out after Draco says they should send Harry to St. Mungo's as they have special floor for people with brain damage. Considering what happened to his parents, it's not much of a surprise. Thankfully Harry stops Neville from attacking him.
      • And by "Harry stops Neville" we mean "Harry and Ron desperately grab hold of Neville, who is trying so hard to break loose and murder Malfoy that Snape thinks the three of them are fighting."
      • Pretty much any mention of Neville's parents in a negative light will result in a beatdown that even the most hardened Death Eater doesn't see coming.
    • If one values his/her own life and dignity, Don't! Ever! Call the Centaurs half-breeds in front of them, or else they will go extremely berserk on them.
      • On that matter, don't even accidentally imply that you used them, as that is not going to be different for them.
    • Voldemort's a psychopath anyway but don't call him Tom! Or threaten his horcruxes! Come to think of it, don't go near the guy.
    • Don't insult Minerva McGonagall in front of Harry Potter. And really don't spit at her. Out of everything he has seen and all the horrors he has endured, it is this that prompts Harry to fire a Cruciatus Curse at Amycus Carrow. Remember the only other time he did that was to Bellatrix Lestrange, who had just killed one of Harry's two critical father-figures - and then it was less effective.
      • And do not, under ANY circumstances, insult his parents.
  • William Maldonado's Outsourced has the main character, Isaac Fisher responding poorly to assertions that his wishes are just a phase.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld has quite a few examples:
    • The Librarian is famous for his hatred of being called a monkey. (He's an orangutan, and orangutans are apes, not monkeys.)
    • In Night Watch, Carcer—a rather psychopathic villain who would rather kill you for your watch rather than ask you the time—becomes inordinately angry when his rank of Sergeant is abbreviated to "Sarge."
    • Subverted in Hogfather, in which the villain Jonathan Teatime (who will usually kill people for no reason at all) gets very mildly annoyed when people mispronounce his name (it's pronounced "teh-ah-tim-eh"), at one point tiredly commenting "Please don't try to distract me."
    • Played straight with Medium Dave Lilywhite in the same book: "If he had a fault, it was a tendency to deal out terminal and definitive retribution to anyone who said anything about his brother."
    • The monk Marco Soto in Thief of Time has a very un-monk-like mass of long black hair. He is a calm, tranquil person... unless you try to touch it. The real life person the character is based on and named after is much the same way. Not that you'd want to touch his hair anyway. It eats combs, people. In the same book Pratchett actually refers to this trope, although by another name. As he puts it:

 Everyone has their own private exemption clause. "But not on a Sunday," "Only if I feel like it" or in this case "Not the hair. Nobody touches the hair, okay?"

    • Don't sort people by importance in front of Sam Vimes, or threaten his family. In Thud he gets scary when he is prevented from reading to his son at 6:00. "That! Is!! Not!!! My!!!! Cow!!!!!"
    • His wife, Lady Sybil, is a very sensitive and easygoing person - especially for someone of such high birth - until you either 1) do something very rude or impolite in her presence, or 2) threaten her family. After that she'll probably beat you with something very massive and lecture you about you misbehaving
    • Death doesn't take kindly to anybody messing with his harvest, and he tends to do bad things to people who do bad things to cats. He also tends to go batshit at the Auditors of Reality if they attempt to manipulate humans into making life, well, less 'messy' as this to Death is breaking The Rules. Also, he's pretty bloody fond of life in general and the Auditors messing with it is a sure way of driving him as berserk as you can make a gland-less supernatural being.
    • Don't call Mort a boy.
    • Don't threaten the existence of Susan Sto Helit's grandfather (Death), or any of the children she looks after. Time and space basically don't exist for her (she's canonically Death's successor), she has a magic poker, and she will show you why it's best not to mess with her reality.
    • Tiffany Aching loves her sheep, her family, and her homeland. Don't mess with any of them.
    • Never mess with a wizard's hat. Even the normally harmless, cowardly Rincewind will go ballistic on you if you touch his hat.
      • One of the few times Rincewind is ever genuinely angry comes in Interesting Times , when the rebellion decides to play the Doomed Moral Victor card. To Rincewind, who lives by the rule that you only have one life and everything else is replaceable, this is utterly disgusting, and he lets them have it.
    • Lord Vetinari, the sober, serious, Magnificent Bastard Patrician of Ankh-Morpork kills people who hurt his dog, Wuffles. He also sentences mimes to death-by-scorpion, for crimes against humanity.
    • If you don't want to get the crap beaten out of you (and nailed to a wall if you're another troll) by Detritus, don't deal drugs.
    • Granny Weatherwax has a few buttons, some more minor than other. Treat her disrespectfully (for instance, expecting her to move out of the road when you are driving a cart) and she will get... angry. Threaten her friends (a rather loose and not exactly literal concept for Granny) and she will take you down. However, if you even threaten to take her mind from her, there are no words in any language to describe how utterly screwed you are.
    • Don't deliberately keep your clock excessively fast if Jeremy Clockson visits you a lot.
    • While just looking at a Feegle wrong can provoke him, one thing you should never do if you want to continue breathing is threaten to dig up a Feegle mound.
  • Due to hideous mistreatment on his part, the title character of White Fang goes insane when laughed at for much of the book.
  • Anne Shirley's hair, especially if you compare it to carrots.
  • Harm anyone Honor Harrington considers to be under her protection, and nothing will save you.
    • Harm Honor herself (or even think about it), and Nimitz will rip your face off. Literally. Likewise, harm either member of a human-treecat bond and you will die. Even if you're a hexapuma and the human in question is an eleven-year-old girl with a broken arm.
      • Harm Honor, and Andrew LaFollet will personally ensure that you live out the rest of your life in hideous agony—if he doesn't accidentally kill you in the process.
      • Jamie Candless was surprised to learn that he had a berserk button. It took Honor being captured and separated from him to bring it out, after which he became incredibly calm.
        • Even beyond Andrew's feelings about his Steadholder, all Grayson men have this Berserk Button where women are concerned. So when the Grayson Space Navy adopts Honor, and is then informed she has been executed by StateSec... Well, a particular Havenite task force learned how monumentally screwed they were when a Grayson admiral's order, in clear, over the tac channel was "The order is, Lady Harrington, and no mercy!" (Echoes of Honor) This terrifies the Manticoran members of the team, until they realize the order was "No Mercy" (which is legal), and not "No Quarter" (which isn't).
    • Harm Honor Harrington's love Paul Tankersley, and Honor will come after you. And then after the man who hired you. And, no, a personal request from the Queen would not be enough to stop her, not that Elizabeth would ever ask.
    • So your stupid power play killed Reverend Hanks, Adam Gerrick and a school full of children, and Honor nearly died as well? Her only question for the Protector is "Do you wish this man crippled, or dead?"
    • Honor's button gets pounded in Mission of Honor. Its implied she's going to be in Tranquil Fury for the next several books.

  "It was a merciless something, her "monster" — something that went far beyond military talent, or skills, or even courage. Those things, he knew without conceit, he, too, possessed in plenty. But not that deeply personal something at the core of her, as unstoppable as Juggernaut, merciless and colder than space itself, that no sane human being would ever willingly rouse. In that instant her husband knew, with an icy shiver which somehow, perversely, only made him love her even more deeply, that as he gazed into those agate-hard eyes, he looked into the gates of Hell itself. And whatever anyone else might think, he knew now that there was no fire in Hell. There was only the handmaiden of death, and ice, and purpose, and a determination which would not — could not — relent or rest."

    • Also, Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil. Only the concern of others of what would happen to Honor will save you. Long enough to get legally executed, that is.
    • Manticore hates slavery. A lot. Also, piracy will get you Thrown Out the Airlock.
    • Queen Elizabeth is "a little irrational" where Haven is concerned. Like the sun is a little warm. Didn't help that they killed her father, for a start. The people of San Martin share this sentiment.
  • In the Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce, do not, under any circumstances, screw with Daine or her friends. When she thought Numair had been executed, she went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with UNDEAD DINOSAURS. And the cute little woodland critters? Yeah, don't screw with them either. Daine likes little woodland creatures, and does not care for animal abusers. At all.
    • Also, Numair will turn you into a tree if you even try to hurt his student. So don't.
    • Note to self: Dragons dislike it when you cause the death of their young.
  • CS Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle: The chapter "The Rashness of the King" refers to King Tirian going berserk and chopping off a few heads when he sees Calormenes chopping down dryads' trees and harnessing and whipping a Talking Horse. He blows his party's cover later when the Calormenes threaten a Talking Boar. Do not mess with King Tirian's subjects!
  • Rugaard from E. E. Knight's Age of Fire series hates being called by any derogatory nickname, and finally snaps when called "Batty" to his face by one of his fellow trainees in the Drakwatch, turning what started off as an ordinary brawl into an Unstoppable Rage as he takes on all three of his bunk-mates at once. Then again, it's understandable when you consider the fact he was without a name as a hatchling and as The Unfavourite was flat out told by his father he didn't need or deserve one.
  • Dragon Slippers: Creel just about kills Larkin after the poor idiot lets it slip that she helped the evil princess find Shardas (and 'hurt' him). She goes even more off the wall when she finds out what Amalia did to her friend.
    • Velika is not pleased with anyone who threatens her husband or friends. keep in mind she's the queen of the dragons. is it really worth it? no, i didn't think so.
  • Do not call Yosyp Kazakov a Russian. He is not Russian, he is Ukrainian.
  • In the Temeraire universe, the marriage-like bond between dragon and handler means that dragons will, generally, flip their multi-tonne shit if their captains are hurt, and vice-versa. Captain Laurence, though, deserves special mention: raised the third son of a Lord, he becomes an aviator only after a long career in the Navy, with manners and a sense of social mores and politesse that most aviators just don't bother with. He's truly a gentleman's gentleman. However, if someone insults Temeraire or mistreats a dragon in any way, he will not be responsible for his very violent actions.
    • He doesn't take too well to people insulting the Aerial Corps, either. But then, none of the aviators do.
  • Anne McCaffrey did it first, with dragonriders whose dragons have died most often becoming suicidal and/or insane. One of the Oldtimers deliberately arranged for his dying dragon to expire in a failed mating flight, specifically so he could go berserk himself and kill F'lar.
  • Jack London's famous novel The Call of the Wild features a grizzled older sledding dog named Sol-Leks, with one blind eye. Buck, the mutt protagonist of the novel, takes a nasty bite when he approaches Sol-leks from his blind side and is careful never to do it again.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, only someone who doesn't mind dying at the hands of Luke Skywalker would even think of killing Mara Jade. Not that she needs his protection.
    • And vice-versa; you try to hurt Luke or Ben, and Mara will not hesitate to rip your head off.
      • Family and friends seem to be a Berserk Button for the Skywalkers in general.
    • Also, if you mess with Tenel Ka's friends, she'll mess up you!
      • Likewise, Tenel Ka's rival Tamith Kai freaks whenever someone brings up how Tenel Ka busted up her knee-cap without breaking a sweat. Tenel Ka makes it a point to ask "How's the knee?" every time they cross paths.
    • In the Wraith Squadron books, Tyria Sarkin, the worst pilot in a squadron of Last Second Chances, responds to a teasing offer from a squadmate that he hack into the database and raise her scores by lunging over the table, bringing him to the ground, and repeatedly punching him in the face. Her Reasonable Authority Figure, while putting her on report, tries to get her to explain herself, but she doesn't. He'd thought she was the steadiest of the new recruits. Later she confesses to being the victim of a scam during training - she'd struggled with her scores, her best instructor wanted to have her get him an X-Wing to sell on the black market, and when she refused he revealed that he'd been boosting her scores all along, and if she turned him in he'd turn her in. So she did nothing and graduated at the bottom of her class.
    • Oh, and don't talk smack about Alderaan to survivors from that world. Especially if you and they are on the station that blew it up, in which case they will punch you out and the bouncer will take their side, ejecting you instead.
    • This is fairly obvious, but don't mock Chewbacca's death around Han. He started a fight with a group of Trandoshans when Bossk did so, and they came out worse.
  • Apollos is perfectly willing to die—he refuses to kill an innocent man. But mention that the girl he loves was murdered by said innocent man, and you have a monster (who wants to kill anyone connected to her death—including you). Now would be the time to run.
    • Also applies to Gid. Touch his friends and die.
  • From Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, Touchstone goes into a berserker mode once, running up a hill carrying an injured Sabriel away from danger. It's mentioned in the next book that once when an assassin tried to stab Sabriel with a serving fork, he threw the 6 foot assassin across the table before trying to pick up a solid marble thrown and crush him with it.
    • Sam has a half-berserker moment in Lirael when he and Lirael take on Chlorr and her Dead Hands who are ambushing the group of innocent people. He almost gets killed, but he does try to be as nuts as his dad.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan: Do not call Steve Leopard evil to his face. Seriously.
  • The title character of Hop Frog by Edgar Allan Poe is a short, misshapen jester who meekly puts up with the abuse heaped on him by the king and noblemen he serves... until the king throws his drink in the face of the dancer Trippetta, the only person who was ever nice to him. He immediately devises a scheme that ends with his tormentors getting burned alive in full view of a crowd.
  • Farworld: Riph Raph is *not* a lizard. He breathes fire.
  • Examined in The Sleeping Dragon, the first of Joel Rosenberg's stories about a group of college kids transported to a fantasy world. A dwarf warrior needs to go berserk to break the group out of a bad situation. He understands that he needs to find a point of anger and build on it. Cue flashbacks to life back on earth, where he was wheelchair bound with MS. Not enough, no matter how deep he goes. Finally in despair he finds the button "So here I am, just as helpless as I've been my entire life." Last words of the chapter: "He went berserk."
  • One minor character from Simon R. Green's Nightside series, who fed on the intense emotions of others, went around in public dressed as a Nazi SS officer while wearing a large Star of David, specifically in hopes of pushing other people's Berserk Buttons.
  • Hercule Poirot hates it when you call him French. ("Eye yam BELGIAN!")
  • In The Pilo Family Circus, physically harming Goshy the clown—even shoving him—will result in his meek and mild brother Doopy flying into a homicidal rage and thrashing the offender to a pulp with a scream of "HEY HEY HEY HEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!"
  • Roland of Giliad has a few of these mostly concerning people to try to kill his Ka Tet/adopted family but being that Roland is an experienced and crafty warrior, he keeps his cool and does things like calmly insult then gun down 30 men in revenge, refusing any offer of surrender.
  • The Phantom of the Opera has a Berserk Button a mile wide. Although in some adaptations it is more a bad sunburn wide. But anyway, NEVER take his mask off, or even try.
    • Actually, a worse thing to do would be to insult or harm his protege.
    • Actually, Erik goes around for most of the book without his mask on, even sitting down to dinner with everyone at the managers' party in the first chapter sans mask. From the stories told by Buquet and the others, it seems that just about everyone has seen him without his mask, because Erik wears it so infrequently. The reason Erik loses it when his mask is removed is because Christine is the one to do it. He thought he had a shot at winning her affections, but once she sees his face, Erik despairs.
  • The badgers (and a couple others) in the Redwall series have the "Bloodwrath."
    • Salamandastron; don't threaten Urthstripe's foster daughter, poison or just flat out kill his hares...he will go through your army with a forge hammer if he has to. Then don't kill him because then his brother will mess you up even more.
    • Mattimeo; you stole Orlando the Axe's daughter...he'll use that Axe to cut through stone to kill you.
    • Long Patrol/Marlfox; there's a reason she's called Cregga "Rose Eyes."
    • Pearls of Lutra; the Abbot and Viola are captured...Martin, a mouse, goes BERSERK and it takes a BADGER to restrain him from leaping off the top of the Redwall battlements so he can get at those who did it.
    • Outcast of Redwall; Sunflash's Heterosexual Life Partner Skarlath is killed with a poison arrow by the fox Nightshade the scene cuts away right before Sunflash kills her (note: Sunflash wields a MACE so go ahead and imagine it).
    • In fact, just stay away from badgers. And don't touch the children of other woodlanders either; if their parents don't fuck your shit up, the kids themselves will.
  • "You can trick Travis McGee. Maybe beat on him. If you're lucky he might shrug it off. But whatever you do, don't kill his friends." Cover blurb for Pale Gray for Guilt.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, at the climax, Maggs blows away the Chaos witch. When he looks at what he did, he asks whether he did it.
  • Lanfear of the "Wheel of Time" does not take kindly to being addressed by her real name. It's Mierin Eronaile, by the way.
    • That's nothing compared to her meltdown if you insinuate that Lews Therin/Rand doesn't love her or slept with another woman.
    • Also, don't treat women badly in front of the good guys. Or, in the later books, don't cross Rand al'Thor at all.
      • And do *not* mess with the main squeeze of the guy that's buddies with friggin' wolves and carries either a big-ass axe or a big-ass hammer.
  • In The Name of the Wind Professor Lorren is an almost completely stoic man, so much so that Professor Exl Dahl has a running bet that no one will ever get him to smile. However, God forbid you ever, EVER threaten his books in any way, shape, or form. Kvothe got off lightly.
    • In The Wise Man's Fear Kvothe's own is revealed to be impersonating Edemah Ruh, then actually doing the things people accuse them of doing. He responds by killing them all but the leader, who he leaves to die slowly of a gut wound.
    • And Bast's is people hurting or humiliating Kvothe.
  • Hey, want a good time? Take Belinda, the Spoiled Sweet Princess Classic from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. Still with me? Great. Now just sneak up behind her and cut off a lock of her hair—just one, to mess up the symmetry! Go on! It'll be fun! I'll be in the next county if you need me.
  • Go on, I dare you to accidentally infect Barrin's daughter Hanna with lethal Phyrexian plague. In Invasion, when she dies, Barrin gets so pissed off he goes on a suicidal Roaring Rampage of Revenge that nearly destroys two planes of existence.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the act of killing Guan Yu and Zhang Fei by the Wu kingdom drove their elder brother Liu Bei into full blown fury mode. Usually a man of virtue and honor, Liu Bei's thirst for vengeance truly knew no bounds during his campaign against Wu with things like executing his own adopted son Liu Feng, ignoring the advice of his close friends and advisors Zhuge Liang and Zhao Yun, threatening to boil Sun Quan (ruler of Wu)'s heart and eat it, etc.
  • In Uncle Tom's Cabin, you do NOT murder anyone George Shelby cares about and then mock him for making "all this fuss."
    • Also, you do NOT question Uncle Tom's beliefs and loyalties. The man is very kind and softspoken, but he will either call you out on doubting him, or break through an Heroic BSOD and talk back to you.
  • In Up in the Air, don't try to cash in Ryan Bingham's frequent flyer miles. Just don't do it.
  • Sherlock Holmes, as much as he prides himself on his rationality, does NOT like seeing Dr. Watson in danger or pain. In "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs," when Watson gets shot in the thigh by Evans (don't worry, it's Only a Flesh Wound), Holmes pistol-whips Evans in retaliation and sends him sprawling. Watson even mentions Evans' face being bloody, in a story that's pretty sparse on description/detail. Holmes then informs Evans that he's very lucky, because if he had killed Watson, he would "not have got out of this room alive."
    • It isn't just Watson either. In the story A Case of Identity, after revealing how a man screwed with his stepdaughter's heartstrings in order to keep hold of her family fortune, Holmes can't legally have him arrested but thinks what the stepfather has done is so despicable that he grabs a riding crop and chases him out of the flat, fully intending to give the guy a thrashing himself.
    • As a general rule, Holmes really hates it when a person who has hired him for help is utterly wronged, or worse, either injured or killed. When Abe Slaney from The Adventure of the Dancing Men killed Holmes's client Hilton Cubbitt and this drove his wife Elsie (who was Slaney's ex-girlfriend) to attempt suicide, Holmes gave him a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech telling him how much he had ruined poor Elsie's life with all of his harrassment before getting him arrested.
  • If you hurt someone Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files cares about, he will literally burn a smoking hole in your body. And as we learn in the Wham! Episode Changes, if that someone is his daughter he hadn't known existed, he will not only kill you, but your friends, your family, your entire race. He will completely sacrifice every principle and sell his soul just to obliterate you and everything like you from existence.
    • And if you ever threaten Harry, Ebenezar will drop a freaking satellite on you.
    • And if you dare harm or threaten a child on John Marcone's turf, you're going down. Even if that child is a Person of Mass Destruction who could vaporize him with a thought.
    • Angels in the Dresdenverse are generally extremely pleasant in demeanor and very much the Good Guys. There are just about two things that can piss them off. 1: Insisting that they make a choice. Angels cannot choose, at all, and are a little bit pissed about it. 2: Shortening their names. Names are power, and they are very powerful creatures. Dresden finds this out when he calls Uriel "Uri." Considering the two letters he chopped off mean "of God," you can understand why the angel was displeased.
    • Harm Justine, Harry or Inari, and you will have to face an extremely pissed off Thomas Raith, and you will find out why pissing off one of the most powerful vampires of the White Court is a really bad idea.
    • For Murphy, someone trying to bully her is one, harming Harry is another.
    • For Morgan, someone who breaks the Laws of Magic. Or hurts Luccio.
    • Do not hurt a child while Harry is around, especially not one under his protection. You'll be lucky if he just kills you. As it is, he might indulge in Cold-Blooded Torture that would make the Punisher blink.
    • Harry has a lot of Beserk Buttons, which generally boil down to hurting someone close to him or an innocent. One such incident with He Who Walks Behind effectively transformed him into the Badass Longcoat wearing, BFG wielding, Guile Hero Magic Knight (sort of) Anti-Hero that he is throughout the books.
  • Mercy Thompson is a Berserk Button for several people, from the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, to the powerful fae she used to work for. But the most fearsome one is the Marrok, ruler of the North America werewolves. As described by his son:

 Samuel: My dad raised Mercy in his pack, and he couldn't love her more if she were his own daughter. For Mercy, he would declare open war on the fae, and damned be the consequences.

    • Harm Jesse Hauptmann, and her werewolf dad will rip you to shreds. And even if you take him out of the picture, Mercy will not rest until she has hunted you down.
  • Spenser is a dogged pursuer and he has a very large group of tough guys around him on both sides of the law who typically follow a strict code of honor. If you go after Susan Silverman, though, you will have everyone from homicide detectives to mafia hitmen backing up Spenser and Hawk as they hunt you down and kill you dead.
  • Do not, ever, attempt to bring harm to Nimashet Despreaux of the Prince Roger series. Ever. Ever. Yes, that needs to be emphasized twice, because if you do attempt, you will not only incur the wrath of Prince Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock, but also his bondsman, said bondsman's wife, and a whole army of pissed off Human Marines and Mardukans. Of course, the line starts with Roger, and his Dogzard, which ensures there will be nothing left to bury. Just ask the poor idiots who tried to force Roger to give up his girls in order to make a meal out of her.
    • Actually, do refrain from harming Empress Alexandra as well. Thomas Catrone will not forgive you that.

 Catrone: I've had some time to get over it. Marinau brought me the word. All of it. He brought it in person, along with a couple of the other guys.

Roger: They have to hold you down?

Catrone: I nearly broke his arm. It catches me, sometimes. I've been wracking my brain over what to do, other than getting myself killed. I don't have a problem with that, but it wouldn't have helped Alex one bit. Which is why I didn't hesitate, except long enough for some tradecraft, when you turned up. I want those bastards, Your Highness. I want them so bad I can taste it. I've never wanted to kill anyone like I want to kill New Madrid. I want a new meaning of pain for him.

  • In Puss-Cat Mew, you don't EVER diss the title character in Joe's hearing. He will turn you and your companions against each other and then kill you.
  • Observe Sadrao, polite, calm, loyal to a fault, but if you decide to threaten someone he's taking care of, prepare to have your face bitten off. Literally.
  • Derek isn't exactly the most easygoing person to begin with, but he's generally pretty reserved and doesn't lose his shit over most things—unless someone he cares about is in danger. This is only compounded by the fact that, as a werewolf, his instinct to protect his "pack" is taken Up to Eleven. If he sees you in the process of harming his father, his brother, or his girlfriend, nothing except for his death will save you. And considering that his girlfriend is a superpowered necromancer who can raise the dead with a thought, possibly not even that.
  • The (not really) Big Bad Wolf, as portrayed in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, is really a nice fellow who was just trying to borrow a cup of sugar to use for a birthday cake he was baking for his grandmother. When the pig in the brick house insults the wolf's grandmother, the wolf gets mad and starts trying to break in.
  • Butler in Artemis Fowl. He's not exactly a gentle giant to start, but go ahead—hurt Artemis, hit him, touch him, vaguely insult him... he's only a weapons expert and a 7 foot tall, 200 or 300 pound, pure muscle man who, like his family has for generations, spent his entire life preparing to be Artemis's bodyguard, and who has barely ever been out of yelling range since he started serving as such by guarding his hospital nursery... yeah, go ahead, just try it.
  • Sawyer Snipe in Robyn Manx's novel The Rebel practically never gets angry...unless you insinuate that his band's music is drug-induced.
  • Chauvelin, after pulling an I Have Your Wife in at least two of The Scarlet Pimpernel sequels (The Elusive Pimpernel and The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel) tries as hard as he can to get under his Arch Enemy's skin and shake his constant, deadpan, snarky, stoic nonchalance by threatening his wife. It works. Unfortunately, he always forgets that successfully pushing the Scarlet Pimpernel's Berserk Button results in being pinned to the ground with his hands around your throat.
  • In "Hidden Talents" by David Lubar, the narrator gets sent to an end-of-the-line alternative school because he has a chronic habit of pressing other people's Berserk Buttons. Teachers, parents, classmates—if you get in his face, he always finds that one nerve to hit. Turns out he has a psychic ability to sense other people's sources of pride and anxiety.
  • Anything in The Exiles Series that reminds Collan of his slave past will result in injury and/or death. Also harming his children.
  • In the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings, the Knights of the Church—specifically the Pandion order, but several members of the other orders as well—have a collective Berserk Button that gets pressed if anyone harms or threatens to harm Sephrenia, the beloved tutor in magic to generations of soldiers. Their Big Brother Instinct gets kicked Up to Eleven in the Tamuli trilogy, the Elenium's sequel, when The Dragon is revealed to have been messing with her for a long time.
    • Interestingly, this Berserk Button also applies to the renegade knight Martel, who was ejected from the Pandion Order for pursuing dark magical instruction and has since allied himself to an enemy faction. When one of the men with whom he is working says something nasty about Sephrenia, Martel picks him up by the throat and tells him to never insult her again or he will pay.
    • And on a more personal note, feel free to harm protagonist Sparhawk's wife or daughter. Go ahead. Just remember when you do that Sparhawk has gods for allies, and he has no qualms about tearing continents apart in order to pay you back tenfold.
      • Forget that, Sparhawk himself is the guy who the gods are scared shitless of. (Read the series to understand why.) And he's on pretty close terms with the world's creator entity. So just don't piss him off, okay?
  • In his few appearances in the Dark Elf books by R.A. Salvatore (the ones about Drizzt Do'urden, for those who don't already know), a neat freak Dwarven sage by the name of Fredregar "Fret" Quilldipper has a rather interesting berserk button. Get his immaculately clean clothes dirty at all, or even threaten to, and he will threaten your life at best (to the point in one instance of backing down a battlerager by the name of Thibbledorf Pwent), or will go completely nuts and use his little hammer to beat the target of his rage into a bloody pulp. (This, by the way, will often result in blood and gore getting on his clothes, which causes him to go into an even stronger killing frenzy against the target or targets of his anger.)
  • In the Obernewtyn Chronicles, Rushton is a steadfastly resolute leader who is always calm and methodical. In every crisis he has faced, he is never shaken, and is intensely single-minded about his objectives, making difficult and sometimes nearly impossible decisions without showing any unease or ever being unsure of himself. That is, of course, unless Elspeth is involved. Touch her, hurt her, or make him think you killed her and you'd better have at least two hundred miles of Badlands behind you and be running really, really, really fast.
  • Taran, the hero of the Prydain Chronicles, starts out as rash and foolhardy but undergoes some incredibly awesome Character Development over five books. You can still get him awfully mad, though, if you insult or threaten his beloved Princess Eilonwy (or have the misfortune to be a prince to whom she's expected to be betrothed).
  • In the original novel of The Princess Bride, Prince Humperdinck is incredibly calm, cool, and collected. It's what makes him such an amazing hunter. But when Buttercup calls him a coward and tells him that there's nothing he can do to break the bond of love she shares with Westley, he flips his shit, locks her in her room, and then rushes down to the Zoo of Death to kill Westley. This happens in the film version too, but he comes across as far more berserk in the narrative.
  • From the Vorkosigan Saga: For the love of all that is holy, don't mess with Aral Vorkosigan's prisoners, especially when he's given his word they'll be safe.
  • From The Kingdoms of Evil: Kendrick and anything from Skrea.
  • Lestat's abduction by Akasha in The Vampire Chronicles: Queen of the Damned was this for Louis, especially considering they'd just reconciled before that.
  • Did you just talk smack about any of the Pevensies in Prince Corin's hearing? Talk to the Fist!
    • Actually, that would be talk to the thunder fist.
  • If you ever find yourself in the world of Warrior Cats, do not attempt to touch Jayfeather's stick. He will murder you. Also, do not call any Clan cat a kittypet. And do not harm Sasha's kits.
  • Barbara, the hero of the Special Circumstances series, is rather nice and accepting of others' religious beliefs. If someone speaks badly of Christianity, however, all bets are off.
  • For Elphaba in Wicked, Animals, animals and heck, even insects are a bit of an obsession. She has a major freakout when Killjoy goes after Chistery, as well as when the children at Kiamo Ko are bothering him.
  • Han Pritcher in the Foundation novels is initially a rebellious intelligence operative, resentful of being passed over for promotion and more than willing to break orders to do what he sees as right. Then he's controlled by the Mule. He's promoted all the way from Captain to Colonel and then to Lieutenant-General and becomes the Mule's best operative, but if his control were ever to be broken...
    • And in the prequel novels, don't lay a finger (or a blaster, or a neuronic whip) on Hari Seldon, unless you want Dors Venabili to cut you into tiny pieces.
  • More literal than most: in Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich, Hatchet becomes very violent at any disparaging remarks about his sanity (or lack thereof).
  • In the In Death series, harm Eve and after the NYPSD makes your life a living hell, Roarke will show you new types of pain. The same applies for harming Roarke where Eve is concerned.
    • Led to a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Roarke. A Smug Snake hacker managed to program music that caused Roarke to more or less rape Eve. Roarke then asks for five minutes alone with him, at home, before Eve interrogates him officially. When she accepts, he locks all the doors and cuts off surveillance. He comes out without a mark on him, but when Eve does an official interview a day later, the mere mention of Roarke causes the man to break into a cold sweat.
    • Like most examples of this Trope, if you hurt, injure or kill another cop, no matter who you are, the NYPSD will drop everything to hunt you down.
    • Police corruption for Eve.
    • No matter how injured she is, even when a case is over Eve will still fight to avoid going to a hospital.
  • In The Pale King, Toni Ware really loves her dogs. Do not mess with them if you value your life.
  • Eugene, from Purple Hibiscus, does not like it when you question Christianity.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, do not harm anyone Daenerys Targaryen considers under her protection. This is a rather large number of people. Hurt any of them, and you will die screaming. Also, just being a slaver in her general vicinity is bad for your health.
    • Craster reacts extremely poorly to the suggestion that he may be illegitimate: "WHO CALLS ME BASTARD?"
    • If you dare mention the fact that he isn't a lord to "Lord" Vargo Hoat, or, heaven help you, mock his thpeeth impediment.
    • Like Craster, Ramsay does not react well to any mention of his low birth. Just using the word "bastard" or "Snow" in his presence will likely lose you the skin on your face, if he's in a good mood.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Ned Land discovers that he must never surrender to The Empire while Nemo is The Captain at the Nautilus.
  • In Gone, not much phases Caine. But hurting Diana? Yeah. Generally a bad idea.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The Jury shows that if you mistreat a horse, Nikki Quinn (who loves horses) will come after you. Final Justice reveals that Lizzie Fox really does not like being called a coward. Fast Track shows that the president of the World Bank Maxwell Zenowicz prefers that you call him Maxwell or Mr. President, and if you don't or if you call him Max or Maxie, then you will taste his wrath. Deja Vu reveals that Henry "Hank" Jellicoe did not react well to being called a monster.
  • In Animorphs, do not torture Tobias or Rachel will personally rip you apart with her grizzly paws. Only Tobias's pleading saved Taylor.
    • Best not to insult Andalites around Ax...his arrogance will start to come out. Also don't compare Andalite technology to Yeerk technology.
    • Claiming to be an Andalite bandit around Visser Three will probably get you missing some body parts very soon. Ditto with just failing him in general.
    • Marco's is hurting his mother or going after his dad...he would have killed Visser One long ago if he could have.
    • Ditto with Jake and his family. He really wanted to kill Tom's Yeerk way sooner but it wasn't possible.
      • Along the same lines, he had a major verbal freakout when he was worried about Tom and someone accidentally referred to Tom's Yeerk by Tom's name.
    • And Cassie-do not be an animal abuser around her.
    • Tobias-Be nice to Rachel or it won't be pretty. Also, be nice to hawks. He went postal on the used car guy who had a hawk mascot in one of the early books. He also doesn't take kindly to bullies like the ones who were hassling Erek. He dive-bombed them at least once.
  • In Needful Things, don't call Danforth Keeton "Buster." He WILL kill you. As his wife discovered when she did it.
  • In Ice, "man of the cloth" Brother Anthony does not take kindly to people who don't think his somewhat... er... ample girlfriend Emma is as sexy as he thinks she is. And don't think for a second that Emma doesn't return his affection. Tim, the novel's Big Bad and Brother Anthony's killer, found this out the hard way after he got off scot-free of his main crimes when she killed him in return.
  • Half Prince. Do not ever try to hurt Prince, or Gui will get you.
    • And Gui, do not go Yaoi on Prince. Prince will get you.
  • Septimus Heap: Don't try to kill Septimus or else Jenna will take you down.
  • Insult Oliver Twist's dead mother and he will destroy you.
  • Kill Time or Die Trying: Dylan's bald spot is a literal Berserk Button, James in particular likes to press it, or draw on it if he gets the chance.
  • The Stand:
    • Stu does not take kindly to doctors who don't do full disclosure and keep him locked up.
    • He also does not take kindly to Frannie getting hurt. And even moreso if half the Free Zone gets hurt with her. His reaction to finding out it was Harold and Nadine, the cold, vengeful smile and the Fist of Rage scared Franny badly and she told him never to do it again.
    • Randall Flagg does not take kindly to drug use. Just don't go there unless crucifixion appeals to you.
    • Harold doesn't take kindly to Stu's advances on Franny. They weren't actually a couple, but Harold believed they were in his mind and saw Stu as stealing her and lying. That rage, fed by Flagg's encouragement,led ultimately to the bomb he set off with Nadine. But even in the beginning, he thought Stu was a troublemaker who was going to rape Franny and didn't even want him along for the ride.