FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
  • In Merlin, Uther is given one of these for all the atrocities he's committed in trying to wipe out magic. His excuse: He hates and fears magic because Nimueh cast a spell, at Uther's request, to give him a child. He asked her to do this even though he knew that in order to give life by magic, a life must be taken. Uther's wife died and Arthur was born.
  • Alan A'Dale gives one of these to BBC's Robin Hood when Robin finds out about Alan being The Mole.

 Alan: That's easy for you to say though, isn't it? Yeah? You get the glory, you get the girl, everyone loves you. Then when the King comes back, you'll have lands, property, a wife - everything. What will I have? You're always in the sun, Robin and I'm always in the shade.

Robin: Is that meant to be an excuse?

  • Dexter: Dexter himself as well as several supporting characters.
    • Then again, it is pretty traumatic that it may cause insanity. His mother was dismembered with a chainsaw in front of his eyes and then he and his older brother (Who went just as insane) were left to soak in their mother's blood (which filled the entire floor of the container and went up an inch) for days in a hot shipping container.
    • In the books, Cody and Astor Bennett, Dexter's step-children, were horrifically abused by their father early in their lives. They're growing into a serial killer tag-team, and Dexter has taken it upon himself to teach them the Harry Code in order to channel their murderous impulses into "something productive", just like Dexter's adoptive father did for him.
  • Every single Alpha Bitch will usually have one of these, sometimes it's revelation causing them to change their ways, sometimes not.
    • Libby on Sabrina the Teenage Witch: In the Chained Heat episode, Sabrina learns Libby's mother is a distracted snob who doesn't pay any attention to her.
    • There are exceptions. Madison Sinclair from Veronica Mars had great parents, and was still a horrible person.
      • Not just an exception, an outright inversion, being a (double) example of In the Blood. Avoiding spoiler tags, Madison is exactly who her parents raised her to be... for the correct values of those nouns and pronouns.
  • In NCIS, Ari Haswari tells Gibbs his reason for being a Complete Monster is that his father impregnated his mother, raised him badly, and killed his mother just so he could have a mole in Hamas. He gets shot straight after, by his own sister, in what ends up being her Freudian Excuse for having severe trust issues - which really isn't so much an excuse as a valid reason.
  • ICarly: Sam Puckett, despite not being the Alpha Bitch (she's more like The Dragon for Carly, who could with some Alternate Character Interpretation be seen as the Alpha Bitch at her school), has several of these: Her mother is horribly ignorant and a terrible parent who pays little attention to her. Her father ran away and never came back. Her family as a whole are hardened criminals.
  • In Girl Talk, the only sympathetic character in Stacey The Great's clique was shown to be The Unfavorite of her mother, who doted on the girl's other sister to the point of forgetting the very important ice skating even despite being reminded about it six times.
  • In the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock, Tess' almost-instantaneous Heel Face Turn comes as a result of her mother taking a cell phone call during her performance at Final Jam. To Tess' credit, she owns up to being a bitch despite the fact that the girls she's bullied don't actually show her any sympathy or even bring this up, making the application of this surprisingly somewhat less of a Broken Aesop than the previous examples.
  • Lost: The extent of the pain Ben's father heaped on him isn't quite clear yet, but we do know that he was horrifically verbally abusive. To whit (this is on tenth or so birthday):

  "It's hard to celebrate the day you killed your mother."

    • Sawyer is a perhaps more artful execution of Freudian Excuse. That his father killed his mother, then himself, in front of young James stirs our sympathy. However, it was used more to explain his self-loathing after becoming a con man like the one who destroyed his family.
      • Lost is full of characters with Freudian Excuse backstories...who, amazingly, become if anything more badass afterwards.
        • As of Recon, even the damned SMOKE MONSTER is claiming a Freudian Excuse. And in "Across the Sea", it's pretty well confirmed.
        • Given a variation with Locke who was middle aged when he met his truly monstrous parents who used him and discarded him like trash. A rare case of a hero having a freudian excuse for his behaviour (In Locke's case, his desperate need to stay on the island and serve a purpose).
  • Veronica Mars does this with several characters:
    • Logan isn't exactly a villain, but he does have a home life worthy of one: his famous father sleeps around and is physically abusive, his mother commits suicide, and his sister is an emotionally void, aspiring (and failing) actress whose primary motivation in life is to improve her career without working at all.
      • For that matter, Logan's father--a murderer himself--claims that it was his father's abuse which made him who he is.
    • Even more blatantly, Cassidy Casablancas is a psychotic mass-murdering teenager due largely to the physical and emotional abuse of his father and older brother.
      • I thought it was because he was raped by his Little League coach.
        • More along the lines of he was scared about what Big Dick and Little Dick would do to him if they found out. Or found out he liked it. In this case, it's arguable he killed a bunch of people to stop his Freudian Excuse from getting worse.
    • The show also has a Lampshade Hanging. In the first-season episode "Drinking the Kool-Aid," a boy joins a cult, and his rich parents ask Mr. Mars why he'd go when he was provided for. Mr. Mars says that it's often rich kids who leave, and the boy's father sighs (paraphrasing): "Yes, I know what you're thinking. Spoiled rich kid, no material need denied, no spiritual need fulfilled. That's not us."
    • Subverted by Meg, whose parents are crazy fundies, but is still a very nice person.
      • In the same episodes where we find out about Meg's parents, Sheriff Lamb also indicates his dad abused him, and combines it with a Pet the Dog moment.
  • Degrassi Junior High is fond of this. To take just some examples:
    • Kathleen becomes a bigger Jerkass every episode. Eventually we see that she has an alcoholic mother and chronically absent father. She remains a Jerkass for the rest of the show, although she does change in the sequel series Degrassi High.
    • Stephanie (Alpha Bitch) has an overprotective, very conservative mother, which makes Stephanie want to be the glamorous, all-powerful vixen at school.
    • Joey, the Ted Baxter, has clueless, weak parents.
    • Liz, a Snark Knight who is eternally negative and repeatedly harassed (but indirectly, via vandalism) a girl who had an abortion, was almost aborted at the insistence of her father against her mother's will. We later learn she was sexually abused for approximately 4 or 5 years before she came to the series by her mother's then-boyfriend.
    • There are decent parents on the show, but they are all subject to strict Parent Ex Machina. (This was a conscious decision by the show's creators, who wanted parents to appear as little as possible.)
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation uses the Freudian Excuse almost as much:
    • Liberty, the resident Control Freak, has pushy parents who had impossibly high expectations for her, and no expectations at all for her pesky little brother.
    • Alex started as an utterly evil gang member, until she was revealed to have no father and a drunken mother who was beaten by her revolving door of boyfriends. Alex eventually went through Badass Decay, but unusually, that wasn't until many episodes later. In the episode where we learn about her parents, it's just an excuse she uses to beat Rick up.
  • Every other perp on Law and Order Special Victims Unit, which never holds back on the Lampshade Hanging:

 Dr. Huang: What did your mother do to you?

Serial Killer: Please... with you people, it's always the mother.

... ...

Detective Tutuola: I don't want to hear how you didn't do it, it wasn't you, you were abused as a child.

... ...

Female Serial Killer: I was raped, more times than I can remember...

Detective Benson: Right, and your mother died, and your dad beat ya.

  • Naturally this shows up in Law and Order: Criminal Intent, most famously with Goren's ex-FBI profiler mentor 's daughter who, having washed out of the FBI several times decided the next best thing was to become one of his subjects. The constant "shop talk" at home and using dad's torture tapes to test potential boyfriends right before making out also had something to do with it... Another example is Stephen Colbert's master forger who was doing his best to discredit a soon-to-be canonized priest because his mom used the guy's charity to literally steal his childhood.
  • The Slitheen from Doctor Who, in particular Margaret Blaine. Also, the Master, as "The Sound of Drums" has revealed that at the age of eight, as part of a Time Lord initiation ceremony, he looked into the Time Vortex, which drove him insane. Of course, that episode also revealed that every other Time Lord saw the same vortex, and he was still the only one we know who went supervillainy as a result. "The End of Time" reveals that the root of his villainy is more complicated than just the Time Vortex.
    • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe audio drama Master, which predated the new series, gives another origin for the Master's evils that may or may not have affected his Vortex Madness[1]: In his youth, the Doctor was visited by Death, who wanted to make him her disciple. The Doctor avoided her by directing her to the Master, turning him into Death's Champion. He regretted this decision since.
  • Subverted by Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf; he has numerous elements in his back-story that could be used to excuse his actions as an adult - his mother and father despised him, his brothers and schoolmates relentlessly bullied him to the point of homicidal sadism, no one liked and encouraged him and he eventually died a horrible death as a useless, unfulfilled failure - but whilst these elements are sometimes used to promote sympathy for him, they are never used to justify his snide, cowardly and hypocritical actions or utter stupidity and incompetence, much as he would like them to. Despite his constant whining about the subject, no one excuses him because of it, and in fact it's clear to everyone around him that he himself merely uses his past as an excuse not to deal with his failings, even those that can't be brushed away so easily.
    • Further subverted in Back To Earth: when confronted with The Creator, his reaction is not to blame him for his own character flaws, but to be pissed at the crappy childhood and life he's had.
    • Not to mention his alternate-universe double, Ace Rimmer (what a guy!), a brave hero that causes women (and a good few men) to crush on him simply by being himself, had an equally poor childhood and is only different in that he was held back a year, letting him realise that life wasn't fair and he had to work with what he had.
    • Losing his Freudian Excuse actually appears to be one of Rimmer's greatest fears, as demonstrated in Back to Reality, in which he believes his lack of success can be blamed on his negligent parents, only to discover that Lister (believed to be his half-brother at this point) shared his upbringing -- implied to be much better here -- and became a rich, successful and famous member of the government. The realization that, in this reality, he no longer had this crutch to fall back upon was enough to drive him to attempted suicide. Which is strange because his brothers already also shared his horrible upbringing and they went on to be successful (at least until a deleted scene in season 6 implied they all had mental breakdowns in the middle of missions resulting in large body counts).
      • Rimmer's brothers shared his parents, yes, but Rimmer's brothers are also consistently shown to be among his most abusive tormentors in the rest of the series, doing things like burying him alive in their sandpit with only his face showing and smearing his face with jam for the ants, and tying him upside down from a tree and abandoning him. Because he doesn't have any memory of Lister having engaged in similar cruelty in that reality, it's possible that that was a contributing factor, along with the realization that in that reality, he was even more of a failure than he was in the game, and he'd also missed several opportunities to be awesomely badass in the game. He doesn't remember who he is, he shares an upbringing he doesn't remember with a man who's greater and more successful than him, and he's wasted four years of his life playing a video game in which he was playing the wrong version of Rimmer the entire time. Being told that not only is everything you thought you were a lie, but a lie many times over is quite a good reason for suicide. It is also worth noting that his reason for suicide was the most complex of the four, as befits his status as easily the most complex character on the show -- Cat was no longer cool, Kryten took a single human life, and Lister believed himself to be a fundamentally evil man responsible for genocide, but Rimmer has a multilayered reason for suicide.
    • In the episode "Inquisitor", Rimmer successfully uses this Freudian Excuse to justify his pathetic and worthless life and avoid being completely erased from history. "Yes, I admit I'm nothing. But from what I started with, nothing is up."
  • The pilot of Medium does go unusually far back in the cycle of abuse, thanks to Allison's ability to talk to ghosts. When questioning an imprisoned pedophile, she's accompanied by the spirit of the man who molested him as a child, and the spirit of the man who molested him as a child, and the spirit of the man who in turn molested him as a child, and so on.
  • In Smallville Lionel Luthor's refusal to show his son any affection, or leave his sense of self-worth intact is a major part of Lex's slide into villainy. However, as the show frequently points out, people are defined, not by what happened to them, but by the choices they make. Emotional abuse left Lex damaged, but he still could have pulled back. Lionel is himself the product of abuse, having received severe physical abuse as the hands of his own father, Lachlan. Both cases end with the son ultimately murdering the father.
    • Father Issues were also a reason some of the Freaks of the Week turned bad when most other teenagers just would've been like "Wicked cool, I got super powers!" In particular, the kid from "Leech."
    • A Villain of the Week devoted his life into killing meteor freaks because one of them killed his father.
      • Of course, it's been implied (if not outright stated) since then that the Kryptonite may actually be conducive to violent behavior.
  • Parodied and subverted in an episode of Scrubs where Jordan declared several times that "My parents were mean to me" when she was bugged for the hateful things she did, and eventually admitted that they were actually very nice and supportive.
    • But played straighter with Dr. Cox's family, as his father was a violent, abusive alcoholic while he mother just didn't do anything to stop his father.
    • Later subverted again with the manipulative intern Katie who justifies her actions to Carla with "My dad died when I was a baby, and my mother was a heavy drinker. I've had to do everything myself my entire life." Carla's response? "Awww...HEARD IT! Me? Dead mom. JD? Dead dad. Elliot? Emotionally abusive parents. Dr Cox? Emotionally and physically abusive dead parents who he may have killed. No ones really sure."
    • Though it should be noted that Carla and J.D. lost Their supportive parents when They were well into adulthood, giving Them little claim to this trope.
  • Lindsey Weir on Freaks and Geeks can't stand obnoxious Kim Kelly, until she is invited over to her house for dinner and sees how awful Kim's family life is.
  • Supernatural's Bela was sexually abused by her father and this gave her the motivation to make her Deal with the Devil. But as she tried to make the boys' life a misery instead of going to them for help like she should have done (which she realises now), she gets torn apart by the hellhounds instead of being redeemed. Which has the oddly powerful effect of making viewers who hated her before feel sorry for her instead.
    • Subverted in that when Dean finds out about the deal and calls her on it, she just smirks and says that her parents were nice, loving people, and she killed them anyway. Evidently, Bela wasn't one for sympathy.
  • This made for a particularly intense piece of characterization in an episode of Criminal Minds. The profilers bust the murderer of the week through their understanding of his crappy childhood, and Agent Hotchner, while interviewing him, says that with an intensely violent, abusive childhood like that, it's not surprising that some people grow up to be killers. As they're dragging him away, the murderer asks what Hotch, meant, that some people grow up to be killers. In his crazy-intense voice, (CSI's Horatio Caine without the sunglasses) Hotchner replies that some people grow up to catch them.
    • A slightly humourous example comes from an episode where Hotch and Reid go to interview a serial killer, Chester, on death row. After a series of events that leave them locked in the room with the killer, Reid saves them both by profiling the shit out of him for thirteen straight minutes, linking all of his violence back to his childhood and saying that Chester "never really had a chance" to be anything but. Cue chuckles when Chester asks if it's true that he never had a chance to escape his sociopathic tendencies, and Reid replies with an offhand, "I dunno, maybe," as he flees the room. It kind of speaks to his genius, that he's able to cook up an elaborate Freudian Excuse in seconds, spiel it for thirteen minutes, and then carelessly discard it.
    • A massive number of killers in the show have terrible childhoods. Often, it's used to explain not just why they kill but why they kill in that particular fashion. One of the major themes of the show is the question of how evil arises, so it's only natural that this trope would come into play a lot. Some of the most extreme:
      • Tobias Hankel was raised by an abusive religious fanatic who went as far as to burn a cross into his forehead with a red-hot poker.
      • Samantha Malcolm was sexually abused by her father, who then gave her repeated electric shocks to shut her up about it.
      • Darrin Call was raised by his abusive father, who was a serial killer himself and who would make him help bury the bodies of his victims.
  • Sticking with the serial killers and criminal profilers - it's regularly used and (occasionally) subverted in Cracker (and I guess probably its US remake as Fitz - I gather 'cracker' has another meaning on that side of the Atlantic...). It's a show about what makes people do terrible things, so it regularly delved into Freudian Excuse territory.
  • Parodied in Blackadder, in which Blackadder discovers and exploits a super-villain's Freudian excuse with deadly accuracy:

 Blackadder:Just one thing, Ludwig - were you bullied at school?

Ludwig: [Tense] What do you mean?

Blackadder: Well, all this ranting and raving about power. There must be some reason for it.

Ludwig: Nonsense, no - at my school, having dirty hair and spots was a sign of maturity.

Blackadder: I thought so. And I bet your mother made you wear shorts right up till your final year.

Ludwig: [Losing it] Shut up! Shut up! When I am King of England, no one will ever call me 'shorty greasy spot-spot' again! [Storms out]

Blackadder: Think we touched a nerve there.

  • Spoofed in the episode of Frasier, "Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice...":

 Frasier: Let me guess. Daddy didn't love me, Mommy didn't pay attention to me, the bully next door took my toys.

Nathan Lane: No, no, you got it all backwards. Dad loved me. Mom spoiled me. I was the bully next door.

  • Discussed in Everybody Loves Raymond where we learn that Deadpan Snarker Frank was indeed beaten by his father. What's interesting however is that they actually do go into depth about how his father being beaten as a child too, and i believe even his father as well... Ray and Robert both were surprised by this fact; because although Frank isn't exactly an 'ideal' father himself, he never actually hit them.
  • Stephen Colbert's Freudian Excuses are frequently hinted at, and were made explicit during the "Superegomaniac" segment celebrating Freud's 150th birthday.

 Stephen: Yeah, maybe a library shelf fell on me when I was three, but that's not why I hate books.

Bullet Point: It's Why He Burns Books

    • His book, I Am America and So Can You, is pretty explicit about most of his Freudian excuses.
  • Although they're not villains, it's clear that at least three of Murphy Brown's characters' traits come as a direct result of lousy parental relationships:
    • Murphy's competitive nature stems from her relationship with her father. In a flashback, we see him tell her point-blank that her B+ paper "should've been an A". On top of that, he worked constantly, and as such it was often very difficult for her to get his full attention. On top of THAT, Murphy reveals in one episode that her father wanted a boy. And as if all of that wasn't enough, her parents had a messy divorce plagued by frequent verbal battles which still continued whenever they encountered each other in the present.
    • Frank's constant need to validate himself stems from his parents, who never really hear the words that come out of his mouth. He's also one of seven children, so he constantly felt lost in the shuffle when he was young.
    • Jim's stuffy exterior can be attributed to his father, who told him that real men don't show their emotions. He was 10 years old at the time.
  • Scorpius of Farscape was revealed to have been engineered and brutally raised by the Scarrans, spawning an intense hatred of that species for his treatment as well as for the rape and death of his Sebacean mother. For this reason, he's prepared to do just about anything he can to take revenge - including the acts committed against John Crichton. However when Scorpius actually brings up these details close to the end of the third season, he does so not to make Crichton pity him, but to try and convince him that the Scarrans must be stopped before any more innocent people suffer - and given their actions in the fourth season, he's not exactly incorrect.
  • Parodied in 3rd Rock from the Sun -- when Sally decides to have a childhood and takes up a child's ballet class, Dick doesn't come to her performance. Harry and Tommy congratulate her on experiencing the neglect and rejection of a normal childhood, and Harry informs her that "if you ever flip out and kill a guy, you can blame it on Dick".
  • This was lampshaded in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when a psychotic vampire captured and tortured Buffy's mother and complained to her about his mother "stealing his self respect", before adding "I have mother issues. I'm aware of that."
    • He also indicates his mother may have castrated him.
    • Don't forget Faith, who's said to be who Buffy would be if she was never loved.
    • Spike's mother tried to rape him after he murdered her.
    • There's also the idea of how utterly disgusted he is with Angelus, a large part of the reason for their hatred seems to stem from attempts to make Spike just as much of a Complete Monster as he is.
  • Also played with in Angel.
    • Angel's father wasn't a bad man, not abusive, just stern. The two had a difficult relationship, and he was the last of the family that Angelus killed on being turned. Darla told Angelus that now he'd never be able to beat his father.
    • Wesley also has a difficult relationship with his father. He just can't seem to live up to the man's expectations.
    • In the first season, the team deals with a telekinetic girl who was molested by her father. Neither crazy nor evil, she does have issues.
    • Lindsey, one of the lawyer's from Wolfram & Hart starts a Hannibal Lecture about how he grew up poor, but in interrupted by Angel.
  • Subverted by House. While House's Daddy Issues make up a large part who he is, only one person knows about the real abuse (the ice baths and being made to sleep outside) and even that had to be dragged out of him.
    • This was one of his Pet the Dog moments too. He was trying to offer comfort to a rape victim. He was the first to figure out she'd been raped, and maybe this was because he'd been abused (Though not sexually as far as we know) in the past.
    • He also called that the teenage supermodel in "Skin Deep" had been raped by her father.
      • Is it really being raped if she gets him drunk first and is all part of her plan to get him to let her do whatever she wants?
        • Yes.
        • Certainly, if we're talking about law...
    • Lampshaded by Amber in a Season 4 episode. "Why are you afraid to lose?" "Mommy didn't love me! Daddy expected too much of me! ...Something! What is it you want me to say?"
      • Ironically, Hugh Laurie actually does have parent issues because he felt they disliked him and expected too much from him; his father Ran in particular was a distinguished medical doctor (how's that for irony) and an Olympic rower who won gold in the 1948 Coxless Pairs. They also apparently disapproved of his wife. Read and see enough interviews with him and his low self-esteem issues become fairly obvious. This has not, on the other hand, stopped Laurie from being described as a "panda" by everyone who knows him.
  • Sylar from Heroes. His father's even played by John Glover, who played Lionel Luthor in Smallville.
    • While it isn't depicted in the show itself, Malcolm McDowell has speculated that his character, Mr. Linderman, must have had "quite an unhappy childhood" to take his plans so far.
      • This is confirmed in Volume 4, where flashbacks show that he was placed in an internment camp simply because he has powers, and given his deduction on what the camp actually was, its likely that he may have spent time in the German Concentration Camps when he was younger.
  • Monk's mother was very uptight and neurotic, which is probably part of why he is. To overcome OCD, it's necessary to resist the compulsions, so Monk being raised by the kind of person who encourages excessive order may have allowed the condition to develop a stranglehold on him in a way it otherwise wouldn't.
    • The fact that his wife was killed in a Car Bomb also made his OCD condition grow even worse, suffering a total relapse that caused him to resign from the Police Force, and apparently nearly drown himself.
  • Law and Order: Mike Logan's temper is attributed to the beatings he received as a kid from his alcoholic mother. Lennie Briscoe's meth-addicted daughter blames all her problems on her former alcoholic dad's absence during her childhood.
  • On Mash, it's made pretty clear that a big part of the reason why Frank Burns is such a Jerkass is that his entire childhood was miserable, complete with heaping helpings of ParentalAbuse (both physically and mentally).
  • Inverted completely in Superhjaltejul; no villain were traumatized in their childhood by jerks, they were traumatized by jerky children in adulthood.
  • In Beverly Hills, 90210, Valerie is given a succession of increasingly horrifying Freudian Excuses. First, her father committed suicide. Then, it is revealed that she was the one who found him in a pool of blood. Later, we learn that her father had been raping her since she was 11 years old. And for the grand finale, she was the one who murdered him.
    • The spin-off, 90210, has Liam starting off as bad... so bad he's almost 'evil'. Then it's explained he had a jackass step-father. Dylan from the original series (mum's a hippie, dad's in jail) also works, and for some extent most flaws on most characters (Kelly's mum's a drunk, Steve's adopted, Gina grew up poor, David's the son of a serial cheater and a schizo...).
  • In Battlestar Galactica Reimagined the constant physical abuse Kara suffered at the hands of her mother, coupled with her father's abandonment of her, goes a long way towards explaining why she's so dysfunctional as an adult.
    • More noteworthy is Cavil. The entire genocide of the colonies was brought about because he thought his parents loved humans more than him.
  • Wings: Joe blames his mother abandoning him as a child for him growing up to be a tightass. In another episode Brian discovers the letters he wrote to Captain Kangaroo that he wrote when they were kids and that Joe was supposed to send and then expounds an elaborate theory about how believing he had been ignored by his hero eventually led to all his failures in life as an adult. Joe is skeptical.
  • Played with in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in an episode where it's invoked, dismissed, and averted all in the span of a moment when Data is held captive by a collector.

 Data: You are a fine debator sir. It is a pity you have used your verbal skills for mere hucksterism and the advancement of your own greed.

Fajo: (sullen) Perhaps... Perhaps you would not judge me so harshly if you knew of my desperate youth. Wasted, wasted, on the streets of Zimbala.

Data: Your past does not excuse unethical or immoral behavior, sir.

Fajo: (suddenly chipper) Eh, doesn't matter, isn't true anyway. My father was quite wealthy, actually. He was a thief.

  • Averted in The X-Files episode, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose". The FBI is tracking a serial killer with a penchant for purported psychics. It turns out the killer was actually trying to discover the Freudian Excuse behind his violent tendencies and killed the psychics when they failed to divine a satisfactory answer. Ultimately, he crosses paths with the titular Mr. Bruckman who is genuinely clairvoyant and we get the following exchange:

 Killer: So there's something I've been wanting to ask you for some time now. You've seen the things I do in the past as well as in the future.

Clyde Bruckman: They're terrible things.

Killer: I know they are. So, tell me, please, why have I done them?

Clyde Bruckman: Don't you understand yet, son? Don't you get it?

(The killer shakes his head and shrugs.)

Clyde Bruckman:: You do the things you do because you're a homicidal maniac.

(The killer thinks about it for a moment and smiles.)

Killer: That... that does explain a lot, doesn't it? It's all starting to make sense now.

  • It's suggested T-Bag is only a pedophile because he had been sexually abused by his father.
  • Lampshaded in The Electric Company Spider-Man clips segments, where the villain always has some pathetic excuse, like the little rich girl who didn't get a pony for her birthday...
  • Played for Laughs on Get Smart. After Max captures Sigfried, he asks him why he chose to be evil. Sigfried says it's because his mother never got him a sled for Christmas.

 Sigfried: Why, Smart? Why?

Max: I don't know Sigfried.

Sigfried: Do you think it was because we lived in Florida.

Max gives an Eye Take as the episode fades to the credits.

  • In Terra Nova Lucas Taylor is working with a group of Corrupt Corporate Executives to make the portal go both ways so that they can destroy Terra Nova and rape the alternate past earth where the colony is located. Why? Because he wants to get back at his father for failing to save his mother in Somalia when he was a kid.
  • Jill Taylor in Home Improvement grew up with an opinionated father and a passive-aggressive mother who yelled at or scolded her and her sisters for any mistakes. As an adult, Jill became afraid to admit when she was wrong, leading her to blame her mistakes on Tim or their chaotic home life. She gets better about it later on, though.
    • Her sister Linda suffered for it as well, it's implied her past overeating and crazy behavior were a result of their upbringing.
    • The Pattersons were also a military family who moved around a lot. This may account for her sister Carrie becoming a globetrotting photographer who rarely stays in her own apartment (she lived in it for years without ever unpacking).
  • On Roseanne, the titular character and her sister Jackie grew up with an abusive father and a passive mother who just let it happen. Such abuse led to Roseanne developing serious anger, control, and trust issues (she didn't even trust Dan during the beginning of their marriage). Jackie, who idolized their father and tried to blind herself to his abuse, ended up a neurotic woman who couldn't hold down a stable relationship and slept around with a lot of different men. She even wound up dating a domestic abuser and tried to defend him, much to Roseanne's shock and disgust.
  • In the Elementary episode "The Deductionist", a serial killer bloodily escapes from prison with a motive that turns out to be built around a profiler having mis-profiled his personal history and motivations -- something that ruined a family he'd already devastated by being a serial killer. That said, there's no line where he insists he's just the way he is, and his original spree was built around "blonde women of a certain height" for reasons which are not elaborated on.

Notes

  1. which would make a great trope name
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.