We’ve all been there — that feeling, when you’re younger, of being bullied and picked on by someone else, subjected to feeling less-than. It’s hopeless and disempowering. That’s why, on those rarest of occasions when we get to see a bully get theirs, it’s such a thrilling, vindicating, and memorable moment.
In honor of It, which features a group of picked-on kids (aka “The Loser’s Club”) who certainly have their work cut out for them when it comes to bullies of all shapes and sizes, we’ve assembled a cathartic collection of the best bully shutdowns on film:
15. It (1990 miniseries)
Stephen King’s tale of unspeakable evil in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, features villains both supernatural and very, very real—the unforgiving social structure of grade school causes certain kids (namely those who must battle It) to be picked on by the neighborhood bullies. Watch as they take a stand.
14. Stand By Me (1986)
Another timeless King movie, Stand By Me, plays on very relevant themes around bullying: brotherhood, friendship, and standing up for what’s right. Here, the picked-on Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton) finally gains the upper hand against delinquent meanie Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland).
13. Heathers (1989)
Yet another ’80s tale built around bullying and the kill-or-be-killed social hierarchy of high school, Heathers simultaneously shocked and delighted with its frank approach and black humor. This closing scene finally sets one thing straight — at least for Veronica (Winona Ryder), the reign of the Heathers (this one played by Shannen Doherty) is over.
12. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
While most Disney villains are far too dastardly (or just plain evil) to be considered bullies, there is something so petulant and so immature about Gaston in the original animated classic, he more than deserves space on this list. His ego knows no bounds, even until the very end — just like any true bully.
11. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The rivalry between Peter Parker and Flash Thompson (who eventually becomes uber-bully Venom) has been well documented and even reinvented in the various cinematic iterations of Spider-Man, but watching Peter (here played by Andrew Garfield) use his arachnid abilities to one-up this jock remains just as satisfying now as it did the first time.
10. Pretty in Pink (1986)
No one plays a detestable bully quite as adeptly as James Spader in Pretty in Pink, as super snobby rich kid Steff. When Steff’s friend — and Andie’s (Molly Ringwald) love interest — Blane (Andrew McCarthy) finally tells him what he really thinks of Steff’s insensitive ways, the sting shows. Watch from the one minute mark above.
9. The Craft (1996)
Christine Taylor’s racist bully Laura Lizzie gets more than what she deserves — three times more, to be exact — after messing with Rochelle (Rachel True) and her ‘sisters’ in this high school witchcraft thriller.
8. Dazed and Confused (1993)
There is something so positively homicidal about Ben Affleck’s supreme a-hole O’Bannion in this cult comedy, which makes it all the sweeter when he finally gets his just desserts — getting covered in paint, then getting into his car and driving away the wrong way. Suck it, O’Bannion.
7. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Bullies come in a variety of forms — not necessarily always violent, they can try to assert themselves in other ways by appearing as intellectually superior. That’s what this unfortunate Ivy Leaguer tries to do to Affleck’s buddy Matt Damon in their masterpiece Good Will Hunting, which leads to one of the juiciest scenes in the whole movie: “How do you like them apples?”
6. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
Hard to believe, but Romy and Michele turned 20 this year. Relive one of the duo’s best moments here, when Romy (Mira Sorvino) finally tells perennially pregnant bully Christie (Julia Campbell) how she (and the rest of us) really feels. “And…yeah!” as Michele (Lisa Kudrow) so succinctly puts it.
5. Carrie (1976)
Another Stephen King title well-placed on this list, Carrie is a heightened allegory for bullying and the insensitive ways teens can treat one another. Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and Billy Nolan (John Travolta) are the cruel bullies who set this story — and its insanely violent, prom-set climax — in motion. Watch when Carrie (Sissy Spacek) finally delivers them to their fates.
4. Mean Girls (2004)
While this shutdown isn’t necessarily brought on by any of ice queen Regina George’s (Rachel McAdams) many bullied victims, it sure is swell to watch her get clobbered by a school bus. #sorrynotsorry
3. The Karate Kid (1984)
This movie is a trumpet call for underdogs everywhere, and the final scene — with that unforgettable dragon kick, practiced earlier on the beach — is the moment that makes it all worth it. Even blond bully Johnny’s (William Zabka) final words, “You’re all right, LaRusso!” sound sweet. But he’s still a total jerk. Let’s see how things play out for them in the YouTube Red sequel next year.
2. Back to the Future (1985)
In this quintessential fightback scene, George McFly (an incredible Crispin Glover) finally gets the gumption to stand up to bully extraordinaire Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) with explosive results. That closeup of Glover balling up his fist still causes jitters of anticipation.
1. A Christmas Story (1983)
No list of bully takedowns would be complete without this gem of a moment from a gem of a movie, A Christmas Story. You know that feeling when the rage has been building up inside for so long, you have no choice but to let it explode? So does Ralphie (Peter Billingsley). And mean little Scut Farkus (a character name deserving of its own bullying, here brought to life by Zack Ward) will never be the same.