Something about Danny Phantom that bothers me is how the show deals with bullying in regards to Danny himself, particularly in episodes like ‘Splitting Images’ and ‘Reign Storm’.
In both those episodes, Danny finally gets sick of how Dash pushes him around and uses his powers to exact revenge. He then gets taught a lesson about abusing his powers and that doing so makes him no better than any other bully. And while I can appreciate the message, the writers seem to miss one important thing: That Danny has no other way to deal with being bullied.
He can’t fight back against Dash as a human because he’ll either get beat up or punished by the teachers, or both. He can’t go to the teachers because they have blind spots for the A-listers and constantly let them get away with this shit.
He can’t go to his parents because their only choices would be to go to the teachers (which, again, doesn’t work) or transfer Danny to another school, which they would never do because Plot. So the only option left to him is using his powers against Dash, which we’re repeatedly told is wrong.
Now I’m not saying that Danny using his powers to torment Dash is right, what I’m saying is that when it comes to defending himself he’s left with no better options. And while Danny does ultimately take the high road, Dash never does, he just continues on bullying Danny until it gets to be too much and Danny snaps again and takes revenge.
The whole thing turns into a vicious cycle because the writers only deal with a symptom of the problem in Danny’s “ghostly get-backs” rather than the source, Dash’s abuse. It doesn’t matter if Danny decides not to use his powers against Dash if Dash is going to keep coming after him anyway. So the only way to break the cycle would be for Dash to get some character development and realize he was being a creep, or for Danny to settle things as a human outside of school where he couldn’t be punished for fighting Dash (although he could still get the shit beat out of him).
But for whatever reason, most likely the good ol’ Status Quo, that never happens. We just end up on the same rickety hamster wheel where Danny is the only one being held accountable for his violent relationship with Dash. And while this certainly isn’t as bad as some botched bullying stories I’ve seen (like the entirety of Severus Snape’s character in Harry Potter, where Harry is apparently supposed to be the mature one and let a grownass man in his thirties take his issues out on him), it’s still incredibly flawed.