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Greg Thomas: (Holding up a cricket ball, after Viv Richards had played and missed at a couple of deliveries) Hey, Viv, it's red, round, and weighs about six ounces.
"You bowl like your momma. Unless of course she bowls well, in which case you bowl nothing like her."
—Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory
Intimidation and distraction are perfectly valid strategies to win a game, duel, or fight. It might not be classy or "sportsmanlike", but every edge helps. Then again, there are some duelists who are so arrogant and smug that they'll trash talk a blue streak across the arena out of sheer Pride.
During the course of a sporting event, Serious Business duel, or an armed fight, one, both or all present will start trash talking their opponents to psych them out. They'll say their two year old ADD niece is more competent, that their equipment is liable to explode before the fight starts, and they are blessed to fight someone so Magnificent that this Tuesday will be the single greatest day of their (doomed) opponent's life.
Don't expect the trash talker to lose time over it, either.
It's worth noting that like in Real Life, Trash Talk can be either harmless fun or spiteful. How Worthy an antagonist is can usually be determined by what kind of Trash Talk they use. If they say proud or hurtful things, they're usually bad guys, while if they 'just' say overly self confident things, like "Don't Hold Back!" or matter of factly and humbly state they are simply more powerful than an opponent, they're usually Defeat Means Friendship material, or at least an enthusiastic competitor. In especially satisfying reversals, the trash talking antagonist will say "This Cannot Be!!" when the hero shows how truly powerful and/or competent he is.
On a meta level, Arlen Theory is about using Trash Talk to get decent wiki pages created.
- In Bowling King, Doufu Ma does this to Tz'how, stealing a reporter's microphone to tell him, over television, that the only reason he's in the God's Hand Cup tournament is to defeat him with his Eagle Dive. Normally, this would make him look tough, but his stammering just makes it creepy.
- In Breakshot, which is about billiards, The Stoic and closet Arrogant Kung Fu Guy (he simply manages to mask the fact that he thinks he's better than everyone else) Ryoji taunts main character Chinmi in their match in the finals of a big tournament, telling him that when they played for kicks earlier he let Chinmi win.
- Hellsing has this more than once.
- Naruto's battle with Neji is almost half composed of this, before Naruto gets mad.
- There's a reason they call it the Talk-You-To-Death-no-Jutsu.
- And he seems to be such a master that, if a villain throws it back at him, he simply ignores it or takes it in, yet has the final word anyway, even if the villain has the greatest of points.
- There's a reason they call it the Talk-You-To-Death-no-Jutsu.
- Saint Seiya. Even the good guys will get overconfident on the strength of their attacks.
- One Piece's Roronoa Zoro is the Straw-Hat Pirates' resident trash talker in a fight (or, given Usopp, the resident trash talker who can also back it up). For example, Zoro's reply to Mr. 1's comments that nobody has ever broken through his Made of Steel body is assure him that's because Mr. 1 hadn't met him yet. There's also his vowing to defeat a fiercely powerful zombie samurai and take his sword as his own.
- Mr. 1 also turns it back on Zoro with an Ironic Echo. When Zoro remarks that no one had ever been able to take his ultimate attack unharmed, Mr. 1 just calmly responds "That is because you have never met me before".
- While not one of the greats, Luffy has occasionally indulged in Trash Talk. One of the best examples being when he faces Arlong, he makes a list of all the things his crew can do that he can't (use swords, sail, lie, cook). When Arlong's response is to mockingly ask Luffy what he can do, Luffy replies "I can beat you." This encourages everyone watching the fight and infuriates Arlong.
- There are also cases of Luffy just being Luffy being seen as trash talking. One shining example of this is in the first fight against Crocodile, where, after Crocodile talks down on Luffy for standing by his comrades and claims to "have left hundreds like him in the dust", Luffy replies with "Well, then I guess that makes you pretty stupid". Croc was NOT amused.
- This is common practice for Ranma from Ranma ½.
- The all-time king of this trope has to be Bleach. With the possible exception of Chad, Orihime and Shunsui, every single character—good or bad—in every single fight spends most of the encounter bragging about how great they are and how utterly worthless their opponent is.
- Ulquiorra gets bonus points for actually calling his foes “trash.”
- Kyoraku and Ukitake do something else, though, to get under an opponent's skin. When they fight Starrk their words are nice enough, but it's the tone which suggests otherwise. Kyoraku also makes seemingly harmless comments and queries in an attempt to distract Starrk.
- Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh! is this trope personified.
- Kaiba's good, but Eyeshield 21's Kongo Agon easily annihilates him in this category. He even uses the word "trash," but unlike the above-stated Ulquiorra, every other sentence that comes out of his mouth contains it (calling someone trash is actually his version of Hiruma's F-Bombing).
- In Gintama episode 79, Gintoki, Kondou, Binbokusai, and Tojou took a restroom break from fighting, but got stranded in the restroom without tissues. Unable to continue fighting without first finding tissues to wipe their butts, they spent an entire episode trash talking and mind gaming.
Kondou: I never imagined that the enemy captain is an old man. But we won't go easy on you. Let's settle this!
- Spider-Man vs. any of his opponents, ever.
- Deadpool has been known to try this. It rarely stays there.
- In Star Wars, this is a common Sith technique known as dun moch. It's used to psychologically damage the opponent during combat, in order to gain victory over them. If your opponent is distracted or upset, he's easier to kill. And as an added bonus, if your opponent snaps, it makes him easy prey for The Dark Side.
- However, it should be used with some caution; successfully talking an opponent into giving in to their anger can be a bad idea, as Count Dooku finds out.
- A similar technique used by Jedi is used to similar effect, but without utilizing normal trash talk techniques. Notably Luke utilized this to turn Darth Vader back to the light and in one EU game this must be utilized to sever a Sith's connection to the force to actually be killed.
- An official part of the titular sport in Baseketball, the purpose is to make the thrower miss their throw.
- In The Big Lebowski, rival bowler Jesus Quintana is a veritable font of this. Made even funnier by the Dude's Lame Comeback.
Jesus: You ready to be fucked, man? I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we're gonna fuck you up.
- In Ip Man 2 the Arrogant Boxer frequently mouths out at his Chinese opponents.
- Clubber Lang from Rocky III.
- Yan Ti San/Thunderleg, the villain of the first Drunken Master film, is a master of this. When Fei Hung demands that Yan stop insulting his father's kung fu, Yan replies with "Judging by you, your old man's kung fu stinks. I wouldn't ask him to wipe the shit from my damned asshole!" And he just keeps on going from there, folks.
- A British officer and a Pathan tribesman do this to each other in Rudyard Kipling s Ballad of East and West. Truth in Television for the Indian Northwest Frontier, did have a little of that.
- In The Chosen the baseball game at the beginning actually takes this to the point of being a Holy War between the Hasidic team and the other Jewish team. After all Jews Love to Argue.
- In The Hot Gate, "Comet" Parker takes advantage of a tense cease-fire in a warzone to trash talk a shuttle pilot for the other side, who's also something of a Point of View character for them.
- In the later Honor Harrington novels, clashes in the imminent war between Manticore and the Solarians tend to be proceeded by some exchange of messages. These are usually something to the effect of,"Your state is a greedy, warmongering bunch of idiots ruining everything. And "You can't fight our glorious navy." And "Spare the lives of your innocent spacers."
- Both the Greek and the Trojan champions indulge in The Iliad.
- Doctor Who: In "Battlefield", Ancelyn and Mordred spend some time exchanging insults before charging at each other, even though they're in the middle of a battle.
- A MOTD in Power Rangers Time Force had some pretty good trash-talk; the Blue Ranger had just said that no one was too tough for the Power Rangers, prompting the monster to yell, "Well, let me introduce myself. I'm No One, and I'm too tough for the Power Rangers."
- The Colbert Report: Stephen loves to trash talk and he is good at it.
- In honor of Earth Day, Stephen participates in a little interplanetary trash talk.
- During World Cup of Soccer 2006 Stephen trash talked together with Alexi Lalas.
- Stephen and Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson trash talk spheres in the running to be new planets.
- Stephen and George Wendt trash talk Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo for competing against Chicago's 2016 Olympics bid.
- Stephen trash talks an opponent of the Saginaw Spirit.
- iCarly: Carly badly, then Sam quite well, during iFight Shelby Marx, Aruthor (Spencer) and Aspartamay's taunt war in iStart a Fan War.
- The Player Hater's Ball is about a convention of haters who are hating on each other on a professional level and are competing for "Hater of the Year" award. It's seven minutes of nonstop trash talking.
- In the CSI: Cyber episode "Python", Avery Ryan the Team Mom of Cyber Division used discoveries made in the journal and the former bedroom of an online drug lord to to goad him over Skype into giving away information. As it happens they were typical adolescent insecurities that would be painful for anyone to remember and Avery would not have mocked him for them were it not for the fact that he was a drug lord needing to be taken down with any weakness that could be found.
- A fair amount of rap has this. Same with punk rock.
- A freestyle rap battle is essentially a trash-talking contest.
- Pretty much this entire song about Final Fantasy
- "Your defense is weak; Fartin's tougher than you!/ Good Knight turned bad Knight? Goodnight for you!/ Surrender the Princess or Surrender your Life/I'm light speeds ahead of you, now bleed on my knife!/That was a critical hit; Critics are thumbin' in awe/Garland you look like shit, go home and cry to your ma!" It only gets better from there.
- "Destroyed Lich with fire, wrecked Kary with might, sockin' Kraken blockin' knockin' as we Nuke Tiamat tonight! A-na-na, I got the Crystals, time to go back to the past, as I put this motherfucking sword in Chaos' ass!"
- "I got a thousand volts of lightning runnin' through my veins; three feet of steel in my hand, and it's flavor is pain! You've been playin' with fire, now you gonna get burned; you're in over your head, another lesson to be learned! I'm gonna run you through! You gonna pay for your crime! (fucker) I just cast Haste, and now you're running out of time!"
- Every sentence of every other song by The Adventures of Duane and BrandO as well, crossing over with Cluster F-Bomb.
- Mega Man: "You fucking meanie, you ten-pound weenie, to get the world, you'll have to go through me! My name is Mega Man, but you can call be Rock, 'cuz I'll be rockin' yo shit, up and down the block!"
- Bomberman: I'm T-N-T, I'm dynamite! I'm here representin', yeah I'm down for life; You can't fuck with the man with the master plan! Bitches don't think that I'm comin', you can bet that I am!"
- Simon Belmont: "Armed with a whip and a fucking stake, I'm gonna find Count Dracula and seal his fate! With a one, two three (ha ha ha!) annihilatin' zombies on my way to the gate. I'm Simon Belmont! The vampire slaughterer! Equipped with holy water and I got enough for all 'a ya'll. I'm callin' ya out! I'm takin' ya down! Killin' you again and puttin' ya back in the ground!"
- All About the Pentiums by "Weird Al" Yankovic, when he's not bragging about how great his own PC is.
Your motherboard melts when you try to send a fax, where'd you get your CPU? In a box of Cracker Jacks?
- "Arschgesicht" (ass face), by Knorkator is nothing but trash talk and taunting. Played for laughs, as the vocals are done by one of the band members 10 year old son. In the video, he is playing a board game with a man looking like a heavily muscled hooligan.
- The title character of Big Nate sometimes plays chess. In one tournament, his opponent tried to psych him out by pointing out that this game would decide the match between their schools.
Evan Hinkley: "I know I welcome that kind of pressure, but what about you, hmmmm? Can you handle all the—"
Religion and Mythology
- First Corinthians 15:55 is about trash-talking Death!
- Biblical: David and Goliath both indulge in ritual Trash Talk before they fight.
- All the time in Professional Wrestling. In the ring, outside the ring, before, during and after the matches, to the opponent, to the powers that be, to the audience... You name a form of Trash Talk, wrestling delivers. Examples are not needed; this folder would collapse into a Word-Hole under its own weight and consume the rest of the page.
- In Mage: The Awakening, Wizard Duels traditionally determine who goes first (as well as getting a slight attack bonus) by having the combatants Trash Talk each other, although some choose to forgo this in favour of a simple Death Glare. The magical field which the duel takes place in measures which duelist is the most intimidated, which is how the order of attack is chosen.
- The Jester class in 3.5 edition Dungeons & Dragons lives and breathes this trope; with magical augmentations to their cutting wit Jesters can goad their enemies into making mistakes, insult them into losing confidence, frighten them into fleeing, and even deal damage at higher levels.
- In lieu of fisticuffs, this is one of the forms of combat/information gathering in Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!.
- CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas often trash talks his enemies while in combat.
- This has been a stable of pretty much every sandbox game since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
- The P'Kunk in Star Control 2 can only regain battery points by insulting their foes. ("Worm, idiot, fool!")
- In Kenka Bancho, this is the proper way to start a fight after staring down your opponent.
- Common in tri-Ace games, notable Valkyrie Profile (nearly every character can be a cocky bastard) and the Star Ocean series. Reasonably common in other RPGs with voice acting.
- Valkyrie Profile plays with this in a few ways. To start, Lenneth's quotes change depending on her Seal level; high, she's gung ho and thirsting for battle. Low, and she's questioning her mission. Some characters parody others' quotes, and in the sequel, going into battle with certain combinations of Einherjar will have them talking to each other instead of taunting enemies.
- In Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer there's actually a programmable button on the joystick/keyboard that has the sole function of screaming insults at your opponents. It really doesn't do anything in a race but it certainly makes the player feel better. Unfortunately, since most of the racers are aliens, the only character you can actually understand is Anakin (such gems as "Eat fumes, wormo!")... and half the time his are in Huttese anyway.
- Happens before, during, and after races in the first two Midnight Club games. Due to the character tripping over his words, one example backfires hilariously:
Larry:You reckon you got a chance against the Queen of Ki-I mean the King of Queens?
- In both Eternal Champions and Art of Fighting, taunting your enemy reduces the energy they need for their special moves. Sadly, this only matters in the latter; in the former, the computer doesn't care about its meter.
- A key tactic in the Wing Commander games is using your comm system to shout insults at your Kilrathi opponents. Being the Proud Warrior Race Guys they are, this will often provoke them into ignoring their mission objectives (like, say, the ships you're protecting) in favor of chasing after you specifically.
- Kirby enjoys doing this to his opponents in Kirby's Avalanche, insulting them in full sentences while sometimes also throwing in an Incredibly Lame Pun.
- Suikoden V has Logg, Lun, and Subala do this in the Fishing Minigame. Pretty amusing to look at while the Prince is minding his own business.
- Everybody except the Pyro (who could be trash-talking but could also just as likely be discussing the weather or reciting T. S. Eliot) in Team Fortress 2, especially with their domination quotes. Highlights include:
Sniper: Too slow, medicine woman!
- Every character in Mortal Kombat trash talks their opponent to an extent, but Shao Kahn takes it Up to Eleven by mocking not only his opponent, but the player as well:
"It's official... you suck!"
- Johnny Cage is also quite the trash talker. In Mortal Kombat 9 he trash talks everybody, to the point where even his teammates turn on him.
Johnny: "I'm talking you down. I'm taking you down. I'm taking you out." (turns to Sonya) "And I'm taking you out...to dinner."
- All the opposing generals in Command & Conquer: Generals's General Challenge love filling the air time with insults and boasts.
- Monkey Island sports Trash Talk as the normal form in sword fights. Basically who is better at trash talk wins.
- Enemy generals always say something just before Destiny of an Emperor's nonrandom battles, and about half of them are trash talk.
- Asura's Wrath during the fight between Asura and Augus, though it tends to come across as more s death threats from the former:
- Xykon from The Order of the Stick is a master at this, coming up with the nastiest lectures to completely crush his opponent spirit and destroy any measure of confidence they had. It backfires on him once when a lecture of his ends up having a much-needed therapeutic effect on his opponent.
- The Light Warriors from 8-Bit Theater do a lot more trash talking than fighting. Without an opponent present, they use this on each other.
- Rowasu of Juathuur loves this and Bring It.
- Evil Inc. mocked this one, too.
Lightning Lady: You guys gonna fight or banter each other to death?
Ronnie Cordova: "Go forth and tell your alien brothers... THAT RONNIE CORDOVA SAYS THEY'RE GAY!"
- The Freelance Astronauts tend to do this. Most notably was Tetris Smackdown, which largely consisted of pipes! engaging in some epic level trash talk.
- Episode 20 of Dragonball Z Abridged (which is pretty much entirely devoted to parodying Professional Wrestling) has Recoome delivering a long rant of Smack Talk to Vegeta.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Commonly used in the Earth Rumble matches, but for both the ring and the entire series, Toph is the master.
- Terry from Batman Beyond is fond of this strategy, which in fact is instrumental in helping him take down a resurrected Joker.
- The Boondocks: Colonel H. Stinkmeaner speaks nothing but trash talk when he isn't using the N-word like it's going out of style:
"Who in the hell parked in my space?! That's like calling 1-800-Collect-An-Ass-Whoopin'! And no, that ain't no toll-free call, PARTNAH!"
- Of course, Riley is no novice in the art of trash-talk either: "Hey, Bitch Magnus! I called you a bitch 'cause you's a bitch! What, you thought I wasn't gonna come see you? You thought you wasn't gonna get the taste smacked out your mouth for trying to jack Young Reezy? You better fall back, n***a!"
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes featured a Creepy Doll that did nothing but this, thanks to Jimmy.
- Kim Possible villain Shego's cutesy nicknames for "Kimmie" carry the implicit suggestion that she's just a little girl who should run along home instead of trying to fight with the grownups. (To be sure, some fans have another interpretation....)
- According to stories, Samurai stopped to give the names of their glorious ancestors before falling on in a Duel to the Death.
- Truth in Television in cricket, oddly enough, where it is known as "sledging".
- And as has been asserted by anyone they play (particularly Pakistan), the Australians are the best at it.
- Part of Michael Jordan's overall mystique was his penchant for backing up his Trash Talk. Over and over again.
- And Yao Ming somehow picked this up in between his English lessons.
- Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen was no slouch either. At the tail end of Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals with the game tied at 82, he famously told Karl "The Mailman" Malone "Just remember, The Mailman doesn't deliver on Sunday, Karl," just before the Utah Jazz star went to the free throw line. Malone clanked both shots off the rim. Jordan then buried the winning shot at the buzzer.
- Pick any online game with any form of free communication between players. Most of this communication will be either people gloating and telling you that This Loser Is You because they beat you, or people accusing you of cheating or using cheap tactics because you beat them.
- The rule of thumb for trash talk is that, if anyone is better than you, they have no life. If anyone is worse than you, they are a noob.
- It can actually work pretty well with text based chat. If they're busy typing they probably won't notice the column of tanks you're about to shove up their ass.
- John Romero all but invented FPS trash talking with Doom deathmatch.
- Muhammad Ali, to the point of being a Warrior Poet at times.
- Larry Bird, former NBA player for the Boston Celtics and patron saint of this trope.
- During the three-point shooting contest on All-Star Weekend 1986, Bird entered the locker room, looked around without saying a word, then finally said, "I want all of you to know I am winning this thing. I'm just looking around to see who's gonna finish up second." He won the shooting contest.
- During one game on Christmas Day against the Indiana Pacers, before the game Bird told Chuck Person that he had a Christmas present waiting for him. During the game, when Person was on the bench, Bird shot a three-pointer on the baseline right in front of Person. Immediately after releasing the ball, Bird said to Person, "Merry fuckin' Christmas!", and then the shot went in. This was no doubt inspired by Person (nicknamed the "Rifleman") stating prior to the game that "The Rifleman is Coming, and He's Going Bird Hunting."
- Reggie Miller recalled his encounter with Larry Bird's legendary trash talking ability in his book "I Love Being The Enemy". Reggie tried to disrupt Larry's concentration when he was shooting free throws late in a game. Larry glared at him, made the first free throw and said, "Rook, I am the best fucking shooter in the league. In the league, understand? And you're up here trying to fucking tell me something?" Then Larry buried the second free throw.
- Late in a tied game against the Seattle SuperSonics, Bird told Sonics forward Xavier McDaniel, who was guarding him, exactly where he would hit the game winning shot. After a timeout, Bird made two baseline cuts, then posted in the exact spot he had indicated to McDaniel, paused, turned, and hit the shot in his face.
- After Bird made four straight baskets with Rodman guarding him, he ran over to Chuck Daly and asked "Who's guarding me, Chuck? Is anyone guarding me? You better get someone on me or I'm gonna go for 60." Then he'd continue the banter the next time he got the ball with Rodman inches away.
- After Craig Hodges won the NBA All-Star Game Three-Point contest in Bird's absence, Hodges was asked if the victory was tainted because Bird hadn't participated. "He knows where he can find me," was Hodges retort. Told of Hodges' challenge, Bird replied, "Yeah, at the end of the Bulls bench."
- Knicks' forward Charles Smith remembers when Bird barked "Sorry, Charlie," as he released a long, last-second shot to win a game. "That kind of a thing makes you want to jump on a guy," said Smith.
- Bird even precipitated a fight with Julius Erving by repeating a single phrase over and over. The phrase? 42-5, or the number of points each had scored during an easy Boston victory.
- At one time during World War II some Italian defectors went into the line beside the Americans. The Germans yelled out, "How do you like your new ally". Whereupon the Americans said,"You can have them". And the Germans said,"We don't want them."
- Often used in Poker. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow is a master of it, but Tony G is the absolute king.
- Many games just wouldn't be the same without Trash Talk; Hearts, Spades, Dominoes, Darts...you know you're among trusted friends when you can verbally abuse them without fear while they're flinging sharp pointed objects.
- This story from Not Always Right. Also qualifies as Oh Crap moment for the trash talker.
- In Vietnam ARVN and VC would occasionally Trash Talk over the radio.
- There was a variation in Afghanistan. The Afghans would set up loudspeakers not imported by the CIA at the crest of a ridge and set them to blare down at Russian columns below various themes such as the supposedly low manhood of Russian troops, the incontinence of their female relations, etc. If the Russians just marched past they got a score in morale. If they went to find the loudspeakers, they found them playing tapes automatically while snipers waited behind the next rock.
- One time during the American Civil War a group of pickets were shooting at each other while trash talking each other. One Rebel and one Yankee got so angry with each other that everyone agreed that guns were to impersonal, and so they called a truce to settle the manner with Good Old Fisticuffs. Once that was done, they had a rest. Then they went back to shooting at each other.
- Subversion, during the Napoleonic Wars British preferred to remain silent while the French were approaching to make sure that there was as much tension begging to be released when the order to fire and charge came.
- In one time during the Battle of Waterloo, Cavalier Mercer, commanding a battery of British Horse Artillery, cheered his men's morale by exchanging insults with a French skirmisher.
- If you think of it, some of Winston Churchill's most famous speeches were to some degree a high-class form of trash-talk.
^ A rather gruesome example was given during the prelude to the Iwo Jima and Okinawa landings where the carrier force swept close to Japan in a preliminary blow, rather like a boxer's left jab. On one of the missions was a leaflet drop on which a cartoon was written with a caricature of Emperor Hirohito leading his people to disaster, and below, ominously, was written,"The companion to war is disease."