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File:Octopus Taunt.gif

No, seriously. Don't.

Note to self: berating the invincible alien warlord is unwise.

The heroes are facing the villain, and appear to have some sort of power over it. Perhaps they've locked it up, or it's not as terrifying as they thought, or maybe it's lost all its powers. At any rate, one of the heroes starts to taunt it, confident in their success.

Also see Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? for the title's inspiration. To not be confused with Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? which is more about distraction, or Bullying a Dragon; which differs in that the entity is choosing not to splatter you and Mugging the Monster (where the unfortunate Jerkass has no idea what they're getting into). For now. And, please remember: Cthulhu is NOT Happy Fun Ball. Liable to Threat Backfire, for obvious reasons.

Examples of Do Not Taunt Cthulhu include:

Anime & Manga


  • Jubilee of the X-Men once thought it was a good idea to taunt a pack of hungry dinosaurs from the safety of the far side of a forcefield wall. Then the flying dinosaur riders turned up...
  • In The Sandman, the angel Remiel — who along with Duma has been given the unpleasant task of watching over Hell since Lucifer quit — visits Lucifer's bar and asks him to take back Hell. Lucifer laughs in his face and proceeds to mock Remiel for his cowardice. Remiel then spits on Lucifer's face in a fit of pique. Lucifer calmly wipes off the spittle, then just as calmly reminds Remiel that Lucifer was once the leader of Heaven's army and that he gave up none of his power when he gave up Hell and his wings. If Lucifer wished it, Remiel would cease to exist right on the spot. Taking the warning to heart, Remiel beats a hasty retreat.
  • Superman foe Mongul (the first one) met his end this way. When the demon lord Neron appeared before a gathering of villains and offered them power in exchange for their souls, Mongul arrogantly refused. Neron killed him on the spot.

Fan Fiction


 "Machine spirit. Why are we taunting the Angel?"

  • In one chapter of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Progress, Princess Luna, the immortal god-queen of the moon, is tormented with her fear of baseballs by Angel Bunny. In the next chapter, Luna starts to overcome said fear with a little help from Fluttershy and Applebloom, and proceeds to terrify Angel into submission when he tries it again (mainly because he broke her glasses).


  • In Star Wars A New Hope, Admiral Motti feels the need to mock Darth Vader (and the Force), who, it must be said, is a telekinetic, lightsaber-packing, 7-foot-tall armored hulk of a man who has no qualms about killing people. Just to make a point, Vader gives the first ever demonstration of what the Force is capable of by using it to casually strangle the admiral from across the room, stopping only after Tarkin made him.
  • Swimming To Cambodia:

 Athol Fugard: Spalding! The sea's a lovely lady when you play in her. But if you play with her, she's a BITCH! Play in the sea, yes, but never play with her. You're lucky to be here! You're lucky to be ALIVE!

  • Stuart Little 2 has something sort of like this. After being told that Margolo isn't going anywhere, Stuart replies, "Yes she is!" and fires an arrow at Falcon. This pisses him off to the extreme, and he almost manages to kill Stuart.
  • In the remake of Clash of the Titans the human characters do this a lot. Their plan is apparently to render the gods mortal by ceasing to worship them. They appear to have overlooked the fact that they're still invincible teleporting superbeings, who don't take kindly to humanity's rather laughable attempts to fight them.
  • Blazing Saddles taught us to not shoot Mongo, it just makes him mad.
  • In Godzilla vs Biollante Col Gondo decides to get snarky just after firing a rocket right into Godzilla’s mouth.

Gondo: “All this intravenous stuff is no good, stick to smoking.”

He’s then killed when the building he’s in gets demolished by a royally pissed Godzilla.


  • As expected, the Cthulhu Mythos has used this trope. However, Lovecraft doesn't involve Cthulhu, or any of the Great Old Ones directly. Instead, it's used with the Great Ones, weak gods of the Dreamlands that can be tricked by smart mortals. However, the Great Ones are protected by the Other Gods, who wreak retribution on those who would disturb their wards.
    • Brian Lumley's "The House of Cthulhu" focuses on some barbarians who go to R'lyeh. Their leader dismisses the legend of a star-spawned abomination as a myth to scare away the weak, and believes the "tomb" to hold vast treasures. He's wrong.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld books contains Rincewind describing Twoflower as such: if total chaos and destruction were lightning, Twoflower is the equivalent of "standing on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm, wearing full copper plate armour, while shouting at the top of your voice "ALL GODS ARE BASTARDS"."
  • Hysterically done to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Bilbo makes this mistake when talking to Smaug. While Smaug can't see him since he's invisible, he can smell Bilbo, as well as hear him breathing, so he's got a good rough idea of where the little hobbit is. Smaug also has fire breath. Bilbo gets somewhat burned for taunting the dragon, and in a rare example of this trope where the person who did the taunting figures out it's a bad idea, is prompted into saying "Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!"
  • In The Odyssey, Odysseus taunts Polyphemus the Cyclops after having blinded him and escaped back to the ship. An unwise decision on Odysseus' part, since this incenses Polyphemus' father - who just happens to be Poseidon, god of the sea, who ensures that Odysseus doesn't make it back home for another ten years. What really made this unwise is that Odysseus revealed his real name while taunting. If he just had let Polyphemus think it was "No Man" who blinded him, then he wouldn't have suffered for almost ten years.
    • A film version had Odysseus taunt Poseidon himself after the destruction of Troy, claiming humans no longer needed gods. After finally having enough of being fate's bitch, Odysseus asked Poseidon what he wanted. Poseidon replied that he merely wanted to show Odysseus that humans will always need gods.
  • In the Khaavren romances, Morrolan e'Drien sets off to kill the Physical God Tri'na'gore for various reasons, including that god's followers sacking his adopted home town while he was away. After slaughtering a village full of Tri'na'gore worshipers, Morrolan decides to relieve himself on the god's altar, causing him to manifest so quickly and angrily Morrolan barely has time to button up his pants. This was a bad idea on Tri'na'gore's part.
  • Hogwarts' motto is "Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon". Take from that what you will.
  • In The Dresden Files Harry does this pretty much all the time. Sometimes the "power" he has over the creature in question is that they consider that it would be politically disadvantageous or just impolite to kill him, rather tenuous protections. At one point when going to ask Odin for help he thinks of a joke, then remembers that he shouldn't mouth off to his door guards. Then does it anyway, and defends himself by pointing out that he's insulted the faerie queens, vampire courts, and demigods; at this point it's expected of him.
    • After a certain point in the series, Harry himself could be considered Cthulhu...
    • In the book Ghost Story, Harry makes the mistake of leaving the "el" off of the Archangel Uriel's name. Uriel, who's a cheerful and affable sort, very quickly tells Harry that he does not want to make that mistake again. The Fridge Brilliance behind it: "Uriel" means "Light of God", with "el" being the "God" part. Who else's name meant just "light"? Lucifer.
      • "Cthulhu's" reaction? To ask politely to not taunt him again. Also unique (particularly for Harry!) in that it was UNINTENTIONAL.
  • The Bible: DON'T take God lightly. There's a reason "Don't take His name in vain" is one of THE Commandments, and many Blasphemous Boasts have been answered. The same goes for His representatives; the best example is probably when a gang decides to start mouthing off to Elisha. They are promptly eaten by bears.
    • Most translations are quite clear that this is a "gang" of children.
  • And Stationery Voyagers takes The Bible and its use of the trope and shows it working out in a more modern setting. Do NOT threaten to rape an Filforth! It doesn't end well.
  • It's generally a very, very bad idea to mock the deities of Greek Mythology, even if you are also a deity or part-deity. The Greek gods could be very petty and very cruel to those who offended them.

Live-Action TV

  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fear Itself" has a subversion, where they see the Fear Demon that has been terrifying them all episode be no more than a barbie doll. Xander starts baby talking him when Giles tells him to "Don't taunt the Fear Demon.". Xander wants to know if it's a threat, but Giles assures him "No. It's just tacky."
    • And in "Something Blue":

 Buffy: Oh, look at my poor neck. All bare and tender and exposed. All that blood just pumping away.

Spike: Giles, make her stop.

    • Buffy is attacked by a vampire on the way home from the burger joint she works at, only for him to back off as she smells awful. The vampire is in the middle of saying he'll just have to try eating her another day when a pissed-off Buffy hurls a stake into his chest.
  • In season one of Heroes, Mohinder has Sylar tied up and begins to taunt him. The trope name didn't need to be said for the audience to start saying it.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", wherein McCoy taunts Khan who is holding a scalpel to his throat, and Khan indicates afterward that the taunting is what saved McCoy's life.
  • Picard learns the hard way that for all his flippancy, Q is still a near-omnipotent being of god-like power. When Q offers to join the Enterprise crew, even going so far as offering to renounce his powers and bring his near-limitless knowledge to their aid, they all but laugh in his face, claiming they are equipped to handle things themselves. With a snap of his fingers Q puts it to the test by hurling them into the path of The Borg. Even if Q wasn't exactly trustworthy, it was a supremely arrogant statement on the part of Picard, and one that ended up costing him not only his pride (having to beg Q to save them), but the lives of several crew-members.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, Q takes his son, q, to task for meddling with the Borg.

 Q: If the continuum has told you once, they've told you 1000 times, DON'T PROVOKE THE BORG!

    • In the same episode, q at one point seals Neelix's mouth shut. Later on, when his powers are removed temporarily, Neelix feels the need to mock and annoy an individual who may once again gain unlimited power in a week.
  • Deadliest Catch:

 Cornelia Marie Crewmember: Is that all you got?

(A few minutes later, a rogue wave washes over the aforementioned boat's deck)

Mike Rowe: It's not wise to taunt the Bering Sea.


 Dorium: All those stories you've heard about him. They're not stories, they're true. Really. You're not telling me you don't know what's coming.

    • In "Dalek" a Mook feels the need to taunt the silly-looking alien.

 What, are you going to sucker me to death?

  • Like the Doctor, this trope applies to Jack in Torchwood, and when he dies and comes back, Owen to some extent. People underestimate Jack, thinking he's nothing more than an ordinary human, albeit a very annoying one... with over a century of experience in combat, obfuscation and political intrigue. And that's selling him short.
  • Angel. Heartbroken Badass Wesley gets drunk and insults Illyria who has stolen the life and body of his former Love Interest 'Fred' Burkle. Illyria is indifferent to the insults, being more saddened by the fact that Wesley doesn't fear and worship her like all humans used to.


  • In the first SpongeBob SquarePants game, you are warned, "It's not a good idea to antagonize the Dutchman right now."
  • In Starcraft on a certain installation mission, a pair of marines are shooting at some zerglings in a pen. One complacently states "Hehe, they're not so tough, they bleed too."
    • Subsequently the base is overrun by zerg.
    • In a similar type of mission in the Brood War Expansion. When the base gets overrun by Zerg, your squad will eventually come across a group of Ultralisks trapped in a pen. One of the marines will say, "Well wouldya look at that! They're trapped!" And they really are.
      • It is played straight in the demo (which is set before the events of the retail game), where after a marine says the same thing, the zerg units escape through a door that opens right then and there.
  • As any experienced player will tell you, DON'T startle the Witch!
  • In Clive Barker's Jericho poor Cole decides to inform the team that the firstborn is going to unleash some crazy awesome reality bending magical shit, and in exchange for this he implodes her mortal form.
  • After solving a conflict between a priestess of Umberlee and some followers of Talos, the hero of Baldur's Gate notes that "Gods are not to be trifled with. They trifle back."
  • In Metroid Prime, on one of the Space Pirate terminals you can read "Science Team reminds all personnel to refrain from antagonizing Metroids. Severe penalties will be enforced for all violations of this order." Similarly, the Chozo warn against defacing their artifacts lest the offenders "face [their] wrath, unfettered and raw." Meta-Ridley missed the memo.
    • The space pirates where also warned to refrain from feeding the Metroids pet food. Do not domesticate Cthulhu?
      • No, you do not feed the Metroids pet food for the same reason you don't feed bears. They don't eat the pet food. But you still feed them.
      • Actually, it's because they can't digest solid foods. Pet snacks make them sick and (more) irritable.
  • Subverted in Arcanum. One of the end-game characters in a giant, humanoid dragon. Logic would suggest not pissing this creature off. However, as you can learn earlier in the game, this creature is actually a human who transformed himself with magic and a huge coward. Puff up your chest (or mention Nasrudin, the wizard who locked him up in the final dungeon in the first place) and he'll be cowed instantly.
    • Even better, he's one of the few characters in the game you can't provoke to attack you through dialogue. Keep threatening and insulting him all you like, he won't raise a talon.
  • The Neverwinter Nights module A Hunt Through the Dark contains a dream sequence in which your character is visited by and receives new powers from Lolth. Talking back to Lolth is a really, really bad idea. As is talking back to Piwiewen in the opening scene.
  • In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, do not taunt the chicken.
  • In one of the Extra Missions for Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, a berserk Arceus is tearing shit up, and Purple Eyes attempts to appeal to it in an attempt to wipe everything else out. Once the player has calmed Arceus down, it disappears to its home plane...and takes Purple Eyes with it. Says something about how all sorts of really nasty villains exist throughout the Pokéverse, and this is the guy deemed unfit for the mortal plane.
  • In City of Heroes there are classes and powersets that include a Taunt power. Tankers are especially encouraged to taunt high-level villains... including gods.
  • Yuuto lacks what might be considered proper respect for the godlike Wisdom in Eien no Aselia. As in, he insults it, berates it and ignores it whenever possible. Not that he has no respect, he's just rude in general.
  • In Brutal Legend, when confronting Doviculus Lars Halford boasts about his status as the Big Good. In return, Doviculus impales him with his weapon and notes that it was easier than he thought.


  • In Bionicle's Federation of Fear webserial, Carapar tries to attack their world's Cthulhu counterpart Tren Krom, only to get destroyed by one of the creature's laser eyes.



 Thor: How do you like that, you deicidal maniac? Huh? HUH? Now who's so big and tough?

Loki: Dude, don't taunt the god-killing abomination.

    • The OotS strip itself was a reference to the most hilarious of the many, many warnings found on the label of the Happy Fun Ball. (see also The Other Wiki).
  • Looking for Group, also coincidentally on Page 275.

 Gnome Guard: Heh. Looks like the powerful warlock isn't at his best.

Richard: Seriously?

(Gilligan Cut to Gnome Guard sinking into a pit of lava)

Richard: How's the magma?

    • Tossing him into magma was nice; early on, Richard animated the skeletons of his enemies while they were still alive.
  • 8-Bit Theater brings us this conversation between Black Mage and Sarda:

 Black Mage: Don't take this the wrong way, but that sounds like crap. Almost as crap-like as Red Mage Here.

Sarda: Are you done belly-achin'?

Black Mage: No, actually. I would like to take a moment to note what an odd choice... Oh, what have I done?


Fighter: What's crawling out of Black Mage's mouth?

Sarda: He's just vomiting his entire digestive tract.

  • Digger gives us a gem of wisdom by Ed:

 Digger (to Sweetgrass Voice): Mmmm, yes, wasted opportunity, that, very sad. When was that, exactly? Before or after Shadowchild tore strips out of you and sent you whining back to your mommy?

Ed: Um... Ed is not being sure if taunting ancient unspeakable evil is being the best idea...


Web Originals


 2. Do not taunt Cardinal Krozen about his inability to capture/kill the Crew. It's not bad, just tacky.

3. Do not taunt the The Lords of Dust about their inability to capture the Crew. It really should be bad, but it's not. Still tacky.

4. Do not taunt Queen Aurala about her inability to capture the Crew. Otherwise she'll stamp her foot and pout.


Western Animation


 Marge: Bart, stop pestering Satan!


 Rolf: Careful Eddy, do not taunt the doodle!

  • Eddy keeps doing so, chicken flips out*
    • Of course in this case it was reversed as rather harmless Ed was taunting his insane little sister Sarah
  • The trope is taken to its most depressing level in Superman: The Animated Series. Darkseid is trying to take over Earth. He's captured Superman and it looks like he's going to win. But Dan Turpin steps up, rallies the public, and even manages to free Superman. Then New Genesis shows up to scare Darkseid off. As Darkseid leaves, Turpin continues to shout taunts after him. Darkseid pauses, then tells Superman that every victory has its price right before vaporizing Turpin in an excellent example of not-played-for-laughs spite.
  • In Jumanji The Series, any player who tries to cheat, insult, or damage the malignant game gets randomly transformed into an animal, or gets attacked by its inhabitants. Of course it mostly happens to Peter whether it's his fault or not.


  • "Do Not Meddle In The Affairs Of Dragons, For You Are Crunchy And Taste Good With Ketchup." is a spin on the JRR Tolkien line "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger.", which is possibly an interpretation of a quote of the even earlier G. K. Chesterton: "Do not invoke the ancient gods, for they annoy very easily."
    • The (possible) origin of the "Dragons" version is Bored of the Rings. It has also been attributed to:
    • Another version: "Do not tempt Fate; it is fickle and has poor impulse control."
    • This one is quite popular on the TF bunny farm: "Meddle not in the affairs of Decepticons for you are squishy and make funny noises when violently deactivated"
  • Don't mess with Coyote. He's best friends with God, immortal, capable of shape-shifting, and could very well just kill you outright if he's not in a good mood.
    • In one story he uses a bear pelt to turn himself into a bear and brutally kills and eats the hunter who killed him twice before.
    • In another story, he's eaten by a giant, who taunts him that he'll starve to death in the giant's belly. Coyote proceeds to carve the giant up from the inside and dine on his guts.

Real Life

  • It's not wise to fool with Mother Nature.
    • Or Brother Wolf, or Brother Bear, or even Sister Fox... Even many of the more "cute" wild and domestic critters can seriously mess you up or outright kill you if you mess with them. Remember: The "cute" woodland creatures survive by being able to beat up Brother Wolf... And Brother Wolf can seriously kick YOUR ass.
      • Even Little Brother Raccoon will give you some stitches to remember him by. Seriously, they're wild animals people, not pets. Not that it's a good idea to taunt pets, either.
  • Very good advice, IRL, lest the person you're taunting gains the upper hand and pulls an awesome reversal. Of course, if you meet Cthulhu IRL then you're probably not going to be seen again anyway.
    • At which point, you might as well taunt.
  • Do Not Taunt Zinedine Zidane or this happens.
  • Be careful when heckling comedians. They make their money by being witty without boundaries or hesitation, as Jimmy Carr shows.
    • Another example: MSNBC's Jim Kramer finds out the hard way that you do not want to be on Jon Stewart's bad side.
  • After is hacked, Dana White taunts Internet hackers to "Keep hacking our site, do it again. Do it tonight." Their response? White's personal information is made public (Social Security number, a list of residential addresses, a VIN and a personal phone number). A tweet from the guy that's taking credit for White's info said "We don't want your site anymore. We are going after YOU!" Do not taunt the Internet.