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Most comedy is practically built around the Straight Man as the Only Sane Employee having to take heaps of abuse from other characters. This is most brutal when the other character is a well meaning but clueless Ditz who doesn't realize the inconvenience or frustration they're causing.

Of course, our poor straight man takes it like a man rather than ask them to stop... or maybe they do. After repeatedly and politely asking them to do things differently and/or tone it down, the ditz seems to get a clue... and then proceeds to make things worse.

At which point the Straight Man, having manfully endured more punishment than any sane person could endure, exasperatedly yells "Stop Helping Me!!", "Quit it!" or even "You're making things worse!". These words may seem tame, but they will cut the Ditz deeper than a dozen Hannibal Lectures being hammered in with "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Of course, they may well use a Precision F-Strike with exactly what they think of the ditz, which would hurt anyone.

Her eyes will go wide, and she'll run off crying. Any third parties witness to the event will give the Straight Man the third degree and put the blame for it squarely on their shoulders. After a quick sermon or two, the Straight Man will find the Ditz, apologize and explain why they were so angry. And this time, the Ditz will understand why what they were doing was so damn annoying or obstructive, and promise not to do it again. Heartwarming "Aww!" optional.

It's worth noting this trope is comparable to Kick the Dog. Maybe it's because the Straight Man, being pretty high on the Good-Guy-O-Meter, doing this is being unusually cruel compared to their normal behavior. It may also have to do with the Ditz being so innocent and vulnerable that acting verbally harsh towards them (not even abusive, just harsh) is comparable to kicking a dog.

Sometimes, instead of being chastised for the outburst, the Deadpan Snarker or the Alpha Bitch will give a thumbs up to the Straight Man for making the Ditz cry, giving him all the reason he needs to realize the error in his actions. Stories on the idealistic side may even present a strange Double Standard in this regard: it's fine for the Alpha Bitch or Deadpan Snarker to insult anyone, but the Nice Guy character's slightest insult to another good guy is akin to a cardinal sin in terms of wrongness.

Compare Rant-Inducing Slight: a person takes all kinds of abuse without complaint, but finally snaps over something that normally wouldn't trigger such a reaction. Contrast Hero Harasses Helpers, when the "obnoxious" person does actually help. See also Kick the Morality Pet.

Examples of Minor Insult Meltdown include:

Comic Books

  • The Sandman had an arc where Dream and Delirium try to find Destruction. Never easy company on the best times, Delirium wears thin on Dream's patience along with the general destruction (lowercase D) their quest was causing. Though he doesn't insult her, he basically tells her the whole quest was his idea of a lark, he didn't really want to find Destruction, and he's not going to help her look and anymore... all in a polite yet cold manner. Delirium knew her extreme ADHD made her odds of finding Destruction (her favorite sibling) alone next to nil, so she hides inside her realm crying and closes the portraits leading into it. Death gives Dream one of her most severe dressing-downs in the series and gets him to go apologize, which he does despite the risk Delirium could drive him permanently insane. It all turns out for the best, they reconcile.


  • In Due Date after suffering at Ethan's negligence and repulsiveness quite a bit, Peter tells him off (and not gently) for being a waste of space. He later apologizes and they reconcile, and resume their trip to see Peter's wife... but then Ethan reveals he actually did act maliciously by stealing Peter's wallet. Cue fireworks.
  • About halfway through Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Steve Martin can't stand John Candy's screwups and babbling anymore and gives him a big old "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Candy's hurt, but defends himself, and by the end of the movie they're on their way to being lifelong friends.
  • In Jane Austen's Emma, after Emma makes fun of the poor Miss Bates in front of their whole social circle, Mr Knightley (rightly) tells her off. When she starts crying he feels sorry but, being the Nice Guy he is, explains to her that he told her the facts in her best interest as a friend and that he prefers her being angry at him over her not realizing her mistake.


  • In Anathem, this happens at one moment between Erasmas and Ala, just before they decide to date.

Web Comics

  • Vaarsuvius and Elan in Order of the Stick have an exchange like this. Elan is annoying V by saying he was a wizard just like the elf (he was in a robe and gown with a beard glued on). When Vaarsuvius snaps at him, he runs off sad and crying. V is persuaded to go apologize to Elan, who did it, of all things, because he greatly admired Vaarsuvius. They made up and managed a pretty good working friendship afterward.
    • Also worth mentioning is the contrast in how they view their respective classes. When V asks Elan how he'd respond if V made fun of bards, he says he'd probably laugh, because "we walk into dungeons and sing at people." Wizards, of course, take their jobs a bit more seriously.

Web Original


 Vegeta: "Son of a gum-chewing funk monster! Why the fruit does all this funny stuff happen to me?! Forget my life! Always surrounded by miserable failing clods! Like this whole world just likes to bend me over and find me in the Alps! Like I'm some sort of slot receptacle! Well as far as I care, these miserable cows can have a fancy barbeque, with a Goddamn pig!"


Western Animation

  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Mac is annoyed to no end by the well meaning but irrepressible girl, Goo. When Mac at one point loses his cool, Goo runs off crying and makes a new batch of imaginary friends (the source of Mac's annoyance) to try and console herself. Mac does manage to explain to her that her creating imaginary friends on a whim rather than getting to know them meant she was overcrowding Fosters', afterwards she helps get most of them into loving homes and becomes a recurring character.
  • The Simpsons episode where Marge tries to join a country club has Marge arduously resew her Chanel dress each time she visits to appear to have a varied wardrobe. When Lisa comes in and starts bugging her with questions about the horses in the country club, Marge yells at her to be quiet. Lisa goes from happy bed bouncing to stunned, and leaves without saying a word. This, among other things, made Marge reconsider the importance she placed on joining.
    • They do it again in the same episode when Lisa asks more questions about the new, expensive dress Marge buys to replace the old one. Finally, Marge snaps at Lisa again, who cowers and says "You look nice, is all." This, among many other things, makes Marge realize that her desire to get into this club is making her act like a terrible person.
  • An episode of Ka Blam!! had June teasing Henry in the begining, which made him leave the show. However, June starts to realize what she did and was even in tears for it. Henry found this out and came back.
  • Corpse Bride has this when Emily finds out about Victoria, though the insult isn't that minor.

 Victor: Maybe in different circumstances, well, who knows? But we're much too different! I mean, you're dead!

Emily: Maybe you should have thought about that before you asked me to marry you.

Victor: Why can't you understand that this is a mistake, I would never marry you!

*cue Puppy Eyes from Emily*

  • From The Emperors New Groove. What tips Yzma's loyal minion Kronk over the edge and causes his Heel Face Turn? Was it constantly hounding him about how useless and incompetent he is? Nope. Forcing him to make horrific decisions? Nada. Calling him "a big stupid monkey named Kronk"? Not quite. All Yzma had to say was that she never liked his spinach puffs. Even Kronk's shoulder devil took offense at that one!

Real Life