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File:Superman 001 - 11 8183.jpg

...or a human, for that matter.

"Didn't you know that you don't hit a woman? You. Will. See." *THUD*
Takeshi Momoshiro, The Prince of Tennis.

There are men who Would Not Hit a Girl, and then there are these men amongst men who take this ideal to its logical, vengeful conclusion.

More often than not, these men are Gentle Giants and/or mild mannered Nice Guys who either are raised with traditional values of kindness and chivalry, or are scarred by childhoods of watching their mothers being beaten or worse.

Either way, the results are the same when he sees a woman being struck. The gentleman explodes into a roaring mass of homicidal fury and proceeds to pursue the offending coward with the relentless stamina of a wild beast; and should the brute be caught, he will be pounded into a bloody mess to the best of the Wife Basher Basher's ability. All cries for mercy and personal injuries will be ignored by the possessor of this trope, such is his unbound and righteous primal rage. Usually, murder is not the intent; the basher in question instead wants to humiliate the coward, and let him have a taste of what it's like to be the helpless one for a change.

This brutal form of chivalry generally earns a lot of brownie points with the audience, especially women. Nevertheless; friends of this normally gentle person would find these righteous outbursts quite disconcerting, if not downright chilling to witness. Not to mention the Broken Aesop of solving violence with more violence, although this one only gets invoked if a child is present nearby, to provoke a He Who Fights Monsters revelation from the hero temporarily. Occasionally, this can backfire against the Wife-Basher Basher himself in order to present another Broken Aesop of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished."

This trope is often invoked by female villains as Wounded Gazelle Gambit if they are attacked by male heroes in public. They know there are usually a few chivalrous big men ready to dish out Disproportionate Retribution, even if she started it, because most people with this mindset are seen to believe that Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male.

Note that just as often, if not moreso, this trope is possessed by senior members of organized crime with traditional values, such as the Yakuza and The Mafia. After all, they consider themselves the final bastions of traditional and honorable masculinity.

Compare and contrast with the similarly named Serial Killer Killer, and note that more often than not these two tropes tend to overlap each other.

See also Bully Hunter, Even Evil Has Standards, Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil, Disproportionate Retribution, and Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas.

Examples of Wife-Basher Basher include:



 Chopper: If you bashed a woman, well you're a weak, gutless individual! If you come to jail for bashing a woman or raping a woman, you will get dealt with. You will suffer. We will break your neck. You low, gutless, weak mice.


Anime and Manga

  • Quoted above: Takeshi Momoshiro from Prince of Tennis catches a Jerk Jock bullying Fragile Flower Sakuno and pushing Cool Big Sis An to the ground for defending her, and before even introducing himself he's laying the smackdown on said jerk, physically and verbally.
  • Miyagi Ryota of Slam Dunk, upon witnessing a delinquent backhand his long-time crush Ayako, leapt upon the significantly taller brute and beats him until he is disfigured and unconscious.
    • And he started the beatdown by delivering a flying kick to the guy's head! Seriously, it was awesome.
    • Hanamichi Sakuragi doesn't get many chances to show this, but he thinks exactly the same. A Filler mini arc in the anime has him thinking that his rival Oda has been abusing his girlfriend/Sakuragi's ex-crush Youko (and let's be fair to Hanamichi here, Oda did snap on her in The Movie, and it took them a while to rekindle their relationship), so Sakuragi was determined to hit the guy and spectacularly call him out on it. Then it's subverted as Oda was not deliberately abusing Youko, but was more worried about a sudden injury and was pulling a Don't You Dare Pity Me! instead. He still apologizes to Youko later.
  • The nicer techniques of Hokuto Shinken literally makes your head explode from the inside out: If you dare strike or abuse women, on the other hand, Kenshiro will literally make you strangle yourself to death. His older brother Raoh prefers the more direct method of LITERALLY slapping your head off. Rei, successor of Nanto-Seiken and Kenshiro's dearest-friend is equally ruthless when it comes to those who hurt or terrorize women.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac masochist Sado Tarou of MM! doesn't like to abuse people, the Nice Guy that he actually is. However, upon finding out that his adorable Shrinking Violet friend's fear of men come from being beaten by an abusive boyfriend who then spread rumors of her sleeping around for refusing his sexual advances, storms to the kickboxing gym of said abusive ex-boyfriend and proceeds to beat the evil martial artist into the ground, in spite of not possessing any proper combat training himself.
    • Sadly, the scene doesn't actually play out like that in the anime. Sado still gets his ass effortlessly handed to him by the evil boyfriend before he finally lands just one punch (and even then it was only because of outside intervention by Mio). Mio plays this straight by proceeding to do some nasty things to the downed boyfriend, but we don't get to see what she does, just the aftermath in the form of a photograph.
  • Toyed with in Captain Tsubasa. While Tsubasa is ticked off to see his would-be girlfriend Sanae being pursued by a loud and aggressive Hopeless Suitor, Kouji Kanda, he cannot openly fight him not only because the guy is stronger than him in fighting, but because he's a member of a school sports club and if he gets caught fighting, the whole team will be suspended from the National Tournament — so, Tsubasa gets his ass handed to him by Kanda when he attacks openly. It's then played straight when an injured Sanae begs Tsubasa to defend himself, and he does so by brutally kicking Kanda to the head and winning the fight in one single movement. Kanda then acknowledges that he has lost and backs off.
  • In Durarara, one of the few things that can set off the otherwise cool-headed Rokujou Chikage is hurting a woman in his presence.
  • Guts from Berserk could count for this one. Sure, he's changed a lot since the Eclipse — some would say for the worse — but Guts is still too decent of a guy to just standby and watch a full-grown man beat a little girl senseless. He usually dispatches them in his rare Tranquil Fury mode, but if he ever sees a woman in danger of sexual assault — which reminds him all too well of the person whom he failed to protect — well, it's not going to end pretty for whoever (or whatever) is doing it.
  • This is the bait that Ohtori Akio uses to rope Tenjou Utena into his dueling game: make sure Utena sees Saionji slapping around his "girlfriend" Anthy.

Comic Books

  • In the first issue of Superman back in the 1930's, our titular hero deals with a violent husband by throwing him into a wall and mercilessly beating him (as delightfully pictured above) until he promises to never hit his wife again.
    • He faced a similar situation in the Nineties, but since he'd become much, much stronger in the interim - to the point that any real beating would have killed the abusive husband in question - he had to handle the situation a bit more carefully.
      • Not just that he was stronger - in a bit of Deconstruction, we had a flashback to the Post-Crisis version of the above scene, and it doesn't solve the problem. The woman refuses to press charges and takes her husband back, and the next time he gets violent he kills her. Clark, being Clark, wonders if the humiliation of being beaten himself was what triggered this.
    • The new Action Comics #1 mentions the new Superman having done this as well, though we don't see it on panel.
  • Really, this is an expected attribute of the most loved Marvel Universe heroes such as Captain America, Wolverine and The Punisher. What differs the last two from the first, is that they're also killers.
    • Ultimate Captain America is particularly notable. After Ant-Man and the Wasp had a verbal fight that escalated and they attacked each other (he "won"), almost no one wanted to listen to his side of the story, and Cap, with his 50s values, literally ambushes him in a bar and beats the crap out of him even when Hank Pym is 50 feet all. Presumably, since the Ultimates don't want the bad publicity, and it involved national security matters, Cap is never charged.
  • It's been implied that the psychological origin of The Incredible Hulk was young Bruce Banner witnessing his father beating his mother and wanting to be one of these; rather notable, given that one of the more consistentally heroic portryals of the Hulk (namely, the dim-witted but extremely powerful Savage Hulk) is essentially a child in the same frame of mind as young Banner.
  • Marv of Sin City does not like it when guys rough up girls. At all. His response to a frat boy beating up his favorite stripper Nancy was to "straighten him out but good," mentioning that maybe he went a little too far (which implies that he beat the guy to death). In A Dame to Kill For, Dwight plays upon this in order to recruit Marv for the "rescue mission" of Ava, which he feels rather rotten for as he's doing it. Unfortunately, it's later learned that Ava, the dame of the title, was playing Dwight's own violent protectiveness of women like a two-bit fiddle.
  • Diabolik has a strange case: the titular protagonist is disgusted by wife bashers but doesn't care enough to punish them, but Eva does, and he'll gladly help her robbing them blind and closing them in their own secret vault (just to quote the most recent case at the time of the writing).


  • Bud White of L.A. Confidential. He literally rips AN OAK CHAIR in two with his bare hands out of rage after hearing a suspect's description of a sexual assault of a kidnapped girl. Then, to scare the location of a kidnapped girl out of the rapist, he plays a very non-consensual game of Russian roulette with the guy's face. Needless to say the sniveling little bastard immediately complied.
  • Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom, the Big Bad of Con Air and a mass murderer who claims to have killed more men than cancer threatened to throw "Johnny 23," a convicted serial rapist, out of the title plane if he dared to try to rape the hijacked plane's only female officer. Cyrus says he normally despises rapists, but will make an exception in this case, then delivers his ultimatum.
    • And The Hero Cameron Poe repeatedly rams Johnny's head into a bulkhead for trying to do just that later in the film.
  • Sonny Corleone of The Godfather kicks the living daylights out of his sister's abusive husband in public. Which leads to the ambush which kills him.
  • Major Payne demonstrates that he is unfit to be a police officer when he smacks a man until he falls unconscious for hitting his wife. Keep in mind that Payne did this during a training scenario and the man was an actor.
  • In The Expendables, Lee Christmas came home to find his girlfriend with another guy. Returning later on (presumably to pick up some things) he found her having been beaten up by the guy and proceeded to beat the absolute tar out of him and his basketball buddies in broad daylight. He openly admitted he would have killed the guy if it wasn't illegal, and then chastised his ex for leaving him in the first place because for all his faults he was still worth waiting for. While not shown, it's implied he doesn't take her back.
  • In To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, when the drag queens hear Virgil beating Carol Anne, Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) thrashes him soundly, ending with the delivery of a bum's rush out the screen door. All without mussing her pink satin peignoir.

 Vida: So, I gather you like hitting ladies.

Virgil: Some ladies need to get hit.

Vida: Then, conversely, some men need to be hit back.

  • In Sling Blade a man (Billy Bob Thornton) has been released from a mental hospital, supposedly cured. He discovers a nice lady he knows and her son are being brutalized by a sadist, so he kills the man, then calls the police and ends up going back to the looney bin.
  • John Kramer, aka the Jigsaw Killer in the Saw series. In Saw IV, one of the people he kidnaps and puts in deathtraps is a man who was abusing his wife and daughter. The trap that the wife-basher himself was in had him and his wife chained up with spikes going through both of them. In the Hannibal Lecture that John Kramer delivers through the tape, it is revealed that the spikes are going through his vital arteries and her non-vital arteries and the wife is meant to yank the spikes herself, killing him and allowing her to get away and go get help. She does
  • While it's not his wife he's beating, in Suicide Kings Denis Leary's character Lono delivers a warning to a drunken abusive father. The guy smirks and says to send his daughter back in so he can smack her again. So Lono picks up a toaster and beats the guy into a pulp with it.
  • In Goodfellas, when Henry finds out his then-girlfriend-future-wife Karen was sexually assaulted by one of her neighbors, he promptly walks to his house and pistol-whips him in broad daylight (as well as threatens to murder him). This action likely had a hand in causing Karen to marry him, as she admits in her narration that it turned her on.


  • In Honor Harrington, much of the male population of the planet Grayson is this to a degree, due to their very conservative culture, almost in contrast to the open misogyny that many Graysons were portrayed as having in their earliest appearances. Many of them were raised to see women as helpless in a man's world (though their dealings with the far more egalitarian Manticorans do much to change those attitudes) and thus, any man who is revealed to have injured or killed a woman (or a child) is not looked upon with very much favor.
    • Honor herself is one, in a manner. In the second book, upon finding out what Masadans do to female prisoners, she approaches the captured Masadan base commander, draws and unsafeties her sidearm, and has to be physically restrained by the officers under her from putting a pulse dart in the man's head.
      • Actually the 2 meters tall, power armored, badass, Marine Major, his petite Action Girl similarly powered armored second in command and every other officer present, except one, were frozen in fear by the look in Honor's eyes and didn't move a finger initially to stop here. It was the snot-nosed lieutenant with the standard issue plasma cannon and hero-worship that intervened and restrained his captain.
  • Harry Dresden will do horrible things to you if you hurt a woman/child, and he admits his Captain America levels of chivalry are a bit of a problem, with everyone lampshading this. Later he gets more savvy, but holds back until he is certain they are a) evil and b) capable of fighting. When he finds a ghoul that killed, (probably) raped, and partially ate twin Warden trainees, he blasts its lower body off (ghouls are really tough), sets fire to its body fat then kicks it down a very deep chasm. He only did that to one of them; for the other one, he threw it into a pit with slick glass sides, then poured orange juice on him and left him to the mercy of the local fire ants.
  • Niklas from Aldrig Fucka Up, the second part of Jens Lapidus's "Stockholm Noir" trilogy. He witnessed his mother's boyfriend beating her as a kid,, and after returning from a tour of duty as a PMC in Iraq, decides to take revenge on every bad husband and boyfriend, starting with his neightbour Jamilia's one. Towards the end, he turns into a rare, male Straw Feminist, and has a bodycount of three.
  • In Protector of the Small, Keladry of Mindelan always steps in to try to stop the strong abusing the weak, and on some occasions that's meant this. As a page, she had a maid who was sometimes the object of unwelcome attention, and, well, unwelcome attention often involves injury. Seeing this was one of the few things that could break her stoicism.

  "How dare you touch an unwilling woman?"

  • The Rainmaker's protagonist spends much of the book pining for an abused wife. The climax has a very cathartic scene where he beats the abuser to death with his own softball bat.
  • In Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby: do not dis the title character's sister within his hearing. Just don't. (It's not a good idea to let him catch you mistreating kids, either.)
  • Polgara The Sorceress: Daren deals with an abusive husband by asking the guy's father to choose whether his son will be flogged or have both his hands chopped off. (He suggests adding this to the Rivan law code, but we don't find out whether he did or not.) Later in the book, when Polgara is spending centuries as the Duchess of Erat, one change she makes in her villages is to have constables "encourage" wife-beaters to "find another hobby".
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: In a rare female example, the Vigilantes become this on Karl Woodley, a National Security Advisor who broke every bone in his wife, Paula Woodley's, body, in the book The Jury. They get into his home and break every bone in his body! Despite having apparently reached her breaking point, Paula takes him back. Fortunately, he is permanently crippled, wheelchair-bound, and can't lay a hand on her. A later book reveals that she is taking great pleasure in tormenting him, implying that she only took him back so that she can make him suffer as much as she had!
  • This one is Older Than Print, being a staple of the Chivalric romance. On at least one occasion Sir Lancelot was called on it by a battered gentleman, who proved to be in the right, and acidly suggested that the Knights of the Round Table would do well to inquire into the circumstances before dealing out retribution.
  • In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress the narrator proudly declares that on the Moon attacking a woman is a literal death sentence, as any male in the area will gladly kill you in the most painful way he can think of. The Earther Stuart Renè La Joie nearly gets killed because his Earth-style flirt was too aggressive for the Moon (he survives because the boys who caught him decided to give him a trial, and the protagonist, acting as a judge, realizes he was just ignorant. Stuart learned his lesson well), while the Moon revolution is triggered by Earth Peace Dragoons raping and killing a woman and their boss preventing the chief of the guards from having them hanged.

Live Action TV

  • An interesting variation occurs in the Very Special Episode of A Different World about domestic abuse. When the abuser is confronted about the rumors by one of his friends, he tells a story of a time when he tried to save a woman who was being slapped by her boyfriend in the street... and she called the cops on him. He says he learned two things that day: that every man can lose it sometimes and that whatever happens between a man and a woman is no one else's business. It is truly chilling that the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished lesson he learned from the incident seems to be part of his justification for abusing his girlfriend.
    • Fortunately his friend decides to make it his business and calls the cops on him.
  • In the White Collar episode Home Invasion, Caffrey need is taking part in a sting to catch his first killer (she is also an art thief). However Alex comes up to him and unwittingly blows his cover causing the murderess to run away from him, he catches her outside and tries to restrain her only for her to noticed several construction workers nearby and called for help, they came over and began beating up Caffrey allowing the villainess to escape. Peter was able to save his partner from getting beaten to badly but they still lost the killer.
  • In Burn Notice, it's implied that Jesse was removed as a field agent because he couldn't resist this trope, even while undercover.

 "Turns out some guys can watch a dude smack his girlfriend around in a bar ... some guys can't."

    • In an earlier episode, Michael's target happens to be abusive to his wife and stepchildren. This triggers Mike's Berserk Button, and he allows himself to let out some frustrations every time they meet.

 "Please, for someone smacking his wife and kid around, Michael will take on the Chinese Army."

  • In the Cold Case episode 'The Brush Man' The Victim, a door to door brush salesman named Roy Dunn, is revealed to have gone to prison after killing a wife beater in a bar fight. Before his death he had been keeping a close eye on a family of three, which included giving free brushes to the wife of the family, Diane, and playing baseball with the son of the family, Kevin. This arouses the suspicion of the father of the family, Glenn, who Roy distrusts. Glenn makes Roy take back the brushes he gave Diane and tries to keep his son away from him. Roy later finds Diane crying and comforts her, Diane is upset because her husband mistreats and lies to her, saying he is at work when he is not. Kevin sees Roy and his mother and runs off, Roy goes after him to make sure he did not get the wrong impression. Kevin tells Roy that he had caught his father cottaging in the park and that he had had his wrist broken as 'punishment.' This angers the wife-basher basher Roy who finds Glenn in his work-shop at night. Roy adopts a threatening tone and tells Glenn to leave his family and let them live their life. Glenn insists that Roy has no right to intrude on his 'family life' and that he will never leave. Roy than tells Glenn that he knows about his homosexuality and Glenn becomes more hesitant, but still reiterates that he will not leave. Roy than throws a punch at Glenn that sends him flying backwards, as Glenn scrambles to regain his footing he grabs a pair of scissors and plants them into Roy's neck, killing him.
    • Roy tells Glenn that he has an eye for people like him and that he can't ignore it like other people on the street or like they 'taught him to in jail'. It is suggested that Roy had experienced domestic abuse as a child in one scene in which he tells Kevin "My House was not a place you'd like to be"
    • Another episode of Cold Case had a cop as the abusive spouse to his wife, with the abuse starting to extend to his three-year-old twin girls. A rookie cop found out about it and gave him a preliminary beatdown with a warning to leave the wife he was abusing and stop beating up his little girls. Unfortunately, the rookie started to get close to the wife and the twin girls himself, causing the abuser to come back and kill one of the girls. The wife abandoned the other one in a church and ran away, feeling she would never escape him. The cop ended up dead in a firefight some months later, and the rookie (now an old man) all but admits he shot the guy himself in the chaos.
  • Third Watch's Boscorelli is like this, especially if the woman in question is his mother or partner Faith. He grew up watching his mother get beaten by his father and her subsequent boyfriends and also Wouldn't Hit a Girl because of it.
  • Shane finally beats resident wife-basher to a red pulp during episode 3. Of course he is more into releasing his sexual frustration than anything else.
  • Sons of Anarchy has Jax beat the shit out of a guy who beat his girl. Of course, the guy was also sitting on Jax's motorcycle, so he had it coming either way.
  • Angel, a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire who's usually fighting supernatural villains, does take take time out to Cold Open one episode by rescuing a girl who's about to be attacked by her abusive boyfriend. He jumps in right as the boyfriend's giving her a preemptive Why Did You Make Me Hit You?...

 Angel: Poor Lenny. The burden of terrorizing your girlfriend too much for you? Lucky for you, I can make it stop.

  • Awesomely, Bobby Singer of Supernatural was revealed to have been one of these to his own abusive father.
  • Horatio Caine from CSI: Miami can really lose himself when facing people that abuse women(and children). He is known to lock up the interrogation room and take matters into his own hands.
  • In Roseanne, when Dan finds out Jackie's boyfriend is beating her up, he goes over and does the same to him. In a bit of a subversion, he explains he first tried to scare him off and it escalated into a fist-fight, and he winds up spending the night in jail when charges get pressed. Also, when he gets home, the show does tackle the Unfortunate Implication of violence-vs-violence when he attempts to explain the situation to his son.

 Dan: Look.... it's not okay to beat up anyone, it's never okay to beat up women, but sometimes it's less not okay to beat up somebody when they beat up somebody you love.

DJ: .... What if a woman beats up somebody you love?

  • An episode of ER had Dr. Benton treating a woman who had been beaten by her husband (she denies it initially, but it becomes obvious when her story gets inconsistent). The husband happens to be a cop. When the cop and his partner arrive at the hospital to pick his wife up, Benton blasts him for his treatment of his wife. The partner doesn't say much, but later in the episode, the cop himself is brought into the ER, accompanied by the partner and several other police officers. When Benton asks what happened, the partner claims that the man fell down a flight of stairs while they were pursuing a suspect, but the strong implication is that he and the other cops took the guy somewhere and beat the crap out of him.
  • Somewhat of a meta example: Between takes for the pilot episode of Person of Interest, when the crew was filming in a less than pleasant part of New York City, Jim Caviezel, one of the main actors on the show, ducked into an alley where a drunk guy was beating up a woman; Caviezel clobbered the drunk, then sat him down on the pavement and proceeded to dish out some relationship advice. The meta comes in the second episode in the series, where Jim Caviezel's character takes out several hitmen sent to take out a guy whose wife had caught him cheating, *then* he proceeds to dish out relationship advice to the now cowering cheater.
  • A variation in the fifth season of Dexter: The Child Basher Basher. When Dexter discovers that a friend of his stepdaughter is being abused by her mother's boyfriend, he immediately takes action. He finds the guy and gives him an in-depth lesson on what hitting different parts of the body does to the victim, while hitting him in those locations. He then tells him to get out, STAT, and never come back. Appropriately, of course, Dexter is a Serial Killer Killer.


  • The narrator from Nickelback's Never Again. All the more wrenching because it's implied the narrator is the man's son, who is too young to do anything about it.

 Father's a name you haven't earned yet

You're just a child with a temper

Haven't you heard "Don't hit a lady"?

Kickin' your ass would be a pleasure

  • The song "Mary Can You Come Outside" by Kane.

 Should I sit here on these hands of mine one more time?

Or should I use them on him the way he does on you?


Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed II has optional side missions where you can defend women's honor by beating the snot out of their philandering husbands (the whole chain starts off when Ezio tracks down his sister's boyfriend for breaking her heart and spreading rumors about her). One of the missions has you do this.
  • Beating up a female in The Warriors will get certain male types to attack you for beating up a woman. However, the men that come out for this are no stronger than a regular NPC civilian, so they are just as easy to fight.
  • You can take sidequests to do this in The Godfather 2.
  • Near the end of Mafia II's story, Vito gets a call from his hysterical sister that her husband hasn't come home. Vito tracks him down (in the middle of banging a hooker at a party) and beats the snot out of him, threatening to kill him if he hurts his sister or is anything less than a stellar husband. It comes back to bite Vito when she tells him she wants nothing to do with him anymore.


  • In Suicide for Hire, Arcturus is normally (more or less) the Only Sane Man; he tries to dissuade their "clientele" and doesn't usually enjoy the killing as much as his partner Hunter. When a man who beat his wife to the point where she sought the pair out and utilized their services comes in...he changes his tune and participates enthusiastically in the Karmic Death.

Web Original

  • Zeke Strahm of Seeking Truth kicked off his relationship with Lizzie by beating up her abusive father. He's also not very fond of Albert Conaghan, the serial rapist and Karma Houdini whose sick pastime is likely what got him the attention of Tall, Dark, and Faceless himself.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is known to do this with his gun, even trying to shoot Lady Tremaine for abusing Cinderella so much.

Western Animation

  • Popeye, the spinach-eating sailor is notorious for walloping Bluto whenever the big guy makes one move too many on Olive Oyl, which is in nearly every cartoon. Olive may be often receptive to Bluto's aggressive flirting, but she still doesn't deserve to be forced into anything if she changes her mind about it.
  • In Ben 10 Chaos Rising, we have Ilene Edwards who fends off three misogynists with her Tsunami, Flooding Scar.