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"Your past does not excuse unethical or immoral behavior, sir."
—Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation summarizing this trope.
Turning the Freudian Excuse into a Deconstructed Trope.

A villain has a Freudian Excuse for their behaviour and motivations. When it's spoke aloud however, the general reaction is less understanding and more You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!

Exclusively an In-Universe trope, a "The Reason You Suck" Speech/a Kirk Summation will not be far behind as the other character will emphasize how Disappointed by the Motive they are. He Who Fights Monsters might also creep into it. Oftentimes, they'll be another character who went through similar, if not worse, circumstances and notably didn't become a villain, utterly negating the Freudian Excuse. While a Freudian Excuse explains why someone acted in a way, this trope makes clear that it's not justification for those actions.

Related to Dark and Troubled Past and Freudian Excuse. Often present if a character is He Who Fights Monsters, a Troubled Abuser or another link in The Chain of Harm. Compare Kirk Summation, Playing the Victim Card and Shut Up, Hannibal!. Also compare Disappointed by the Motive, when a character expresses disappointment at the villain's Freudian Excuse.

Compare Unintentionally Unsympathetic for when a fan finds a character's Freudian Excuse to be lacking.

Note that Tropes Are Tools, and if done poorly this can make the invoker come off as an unsympathetic Jerkass at best, and a Designated Hero at worst.

Anime and Manga

  • Accel World: Seiji Nomi had a fairly difficult childhood growing up under the thumb of his Big Brother Bully, Yuichi, who exploited Seiji and forced him to turn over his points on a regular basis. Seiji ultimately became strong enough to kill his brother's Duel Avatar repeatedly until Yuichi was driven off Brain Burst, then later became a similar bully himself when he began extorting Haru the same way. The most sympathy Haru has for him after learning of his backstory is expressing his belief that they could have been friends if they'd met as normal Burst Linkers (and he isn't too put out when Seiji laughs it off), and considering that all other Burst Linkers derive their special abilities from various trauma, Seiji isn't the only Burst Linker with a tragic past.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Touma Kamijou has this attitude towards his foes' Dark and Troubled Pasts and excuses in general, acknowledging that what happened to them sucks and even sympathizing to an extent, but also calling them out on using that as an excuse to hurt others instead of trying to make the world a better place to ensure it doesn't happen to other people.
    • Sherry Cromwell is a girl from the Magic Side who befriended Ellis Warrior, a boy from the Science Side. Ellis participated in an experiment to try to make him both an esper and a magician, but it failed and his body was ravaged, then several Magic Side enforcers who were against the experiment burst in and executed him after he sacrificed himself so she could escape. Sherry then attempts to trigger a war between the two sides by assassinating key figures, so that the two sides will be separated forever and the tragedy she went through will never happen again. Touma Kamijou angrily points out her tragedy doesn't excuse the fact that her plan will cause a lot more people than just Ellis to die, and the people she's trying to assassinate have nothing to do with Ellis' death. Touma then points out that two of the people she's trying to assassinate — Hyouka Kazakiri and Index — are friends from the Science and Magic Sides respectively, and she'll put them through her same tragedy if she kills them.
    • Vento of the Front despises the Science Side of the world because she and her brother were critically injured in a ride that claimed to be scientifically proven safe and her brother gave up his life so that she could live (they had a very rare blood type, and with no donors on hand, her brother told the doctors to give her his blood), so she seeks to destroy Academy City as a form of payback. Touma calls her out on her way of thinking, stating that the doctors did try to save both of them regardless of the limits of what they were able to do and her brother made his choice so that she could continue living, and now she's only taking out her anger on anyone associated with the Science Side for something they had no knowledge of, let alone any control over. He also calls her out for her Survivor Guilt, namely her belief that she stole her brother's future, asking if she'd tell someone the same thing if they were in her situation.
  • This is what Yuri Ishtar from Anatolia Story thinks and says about Queen Nakia's Dark and Troubled Past. She believes that, sad as her backstory of abandonment, child bridehood and loneliness was, it does not justify all the crap she's pulled on so many people (including Yuri herself).
  • Revy from Black Lagoon tells Rock about her horrible past as a much abused Street Urchin who completely lost her faith in the world after first being raped by a policeman and then killing her father when he has no sympathy for her. Rock, a Japanese salaryman who joined the crew after being hung out to dry by his superiors, finally gets fed up with this attitude and accuses her of wallowing in self-pity, which puts a serious crack in her shell.
  • Cross Ange: In the second half of the series, Chris joins the Big Bad Embryo after mistakenly believing that Hilda and Rosalie left her for dead. [1] When the two confront her, Chris explains that Hilda and Rosalie have always put her last when it comes to anything and them abandoning her was the final nail in the coffin. As Rosalie points out to her later, however, part of that is her fault for always keeping her emotions bottled up instead of telling them how she felt.
  • Deconstructed in Dragon Ball Z. During the Buu Saga, Majin Buu kills because he has the mind of a child and doesn't know any better, and it's all he knows, which is why he continues his rampage even without Babidi to order him around. While Goku is somewhat sympathetic, Piccolo rebukes it, declaring outright that one's background does not excuse acts of evil. He is soon proven wrong when Hercule, of all people, ultimately manages to end up befriending Buu because of Buu's child-like nature and very nearly manages to convince him to stop his killing ways. This means that if the Z-Fighters had taken the time to try and explain things to Buu instead of trying to deal with him the same way they did with every other enemy they fought beforehand, they very likely could have avoided the bloodshed of this arc. Unfortunately, Buu's temper is fully triggered when Hercule ends up being shot by some thugs and tried to purge himself of his evil side to better control itonly to be beaten by said evil side since it took the bulk of the power during the splitresulting in a more dangerous Super Buu.
    • Piccolo's own disregard is more notable when one recalls that he was similar to Buu, only to be changed by Gohan. In fact, he (or more accurately, his father, the original King Piccolo), was the evil half to the original Namekian (with Kami being the good half). The split was done when the Namekian was told that his exposure to the cruelty of the world had tainted his heart too much to be given the title of "God".
  • Subverted in Kaze no Stigma. During the first arc, Juugo learns that the Kannagi family's servants, the Fuga clan, want revenge on them for defeating them in a war centuries ago. Ayano believes that this doesn't justify their actions, since in her eyes all the Kannagis have ever done is help them. Kazuma, however, disagrees, stating that, in addition to making the Fugas their servants, the Kannagi family have looked down on them for centuries for practising what they view as a "lesser art", saying that it's Not So Different from his situation, except they've had to put up with it for exponentially longer. He even goes so far as to say he doesn't blame the Fugas for what they're doing and instead blames the Kannagi family for pushing them to this point. Juugo agrees completely.
  • Naruto: While the eponymous hero is a rather compassionate dude and does give his opponents and enemies the chance to tell him about their cruel pasts, he has very limited patience with their actual jerkish or villainous behaviors and swears by this trope after listening. According to him, even when he does sympathize with these people, their bad pasts and terrible circumstances are NOT excuses for what they're doing in the present.

Comics Books

  • When Sinestro reveals that he suffered from Parental Abandonment and is justifying his actions with that, Hal calls bullshit on it. Why? Because Hal's dad was also absent. And even then, that's not a free pass.
  • Discussed in My Little Pony: FIENDship is Magic. Twilight has some sympathy for King Sombra after reading his journals, but Cadance points out that, while her methods may have been flawed, Princess Amore didn't deserve to suffer Literally Shattered Lives for offering her hoof in friendship and genuinely apologizing to Sombra for not helping him sooner. To say nothing of enslaving the Crystal Empire and consigning it to a thousand years in limbo simply because his girlfriend went to study abroad.
  • Centurion in Revolutionaries. He justifies being Driven to Villainy by spending decades alone with humans. Kup was alone for literally billions of years in an Eldritch Location, one that reserves a special hatred for Cybertronians, so he's not particularly impressed by the Maximal's reasoning.
  • In the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters crossover, Darius Dun wants revenge on Splinter for his death. Though the Turtles concede that Villain Has a Point in his grievances with Splinter, they're quick to point out that Splinter gave Dun the chance to surrender and Dun spat in his face, all the while swearing to kill everyone Splinter loved. At the end of the day, Dun brought it all upon himself.
  • Transformers More Than Meets the Eye:
    • Whirl is an interesting case. He has a very Dark and Troubled Past that's moulded him into a Heroic Comedic Sociopath but he also refuses to treat his issues seriously lest he start feeling guilt for the horrible deeds he's done. While everyone on the Lost Light acknowledges that he needs so much help, no one is in a rush to give it to him because, if he's not going to take his issues seriously, then why should they?
    • Megatron. Cybertron was a Crapsack World that almost rivalled Oceania and Megatron was born into the lowest of the low castes. While it's a sympathetic backstory, it doesn't even begin to justify burning down half the galaxy, especially as some of Megatron's fellow miners actually became Autobots (albeit loose cannons). For what it's worth, Megatron accepts it and does his best to redeem himself but, when the time comes, marches to his execution in peace, aware that he could never run from it.
  • Transformers Robots in Disguise:
    • Prowl and Bumblebee discuss this after Starscream and Metalhawk try and portray the Decepticons as being oppressed by Autobot law. Prowl bluntly says that the Decepticons cannot legitimately portray themselves as freedom fighters as not only did they win their war against the Senate, they gleefully kill any group of people they come across.
    • Starscream. After Windblade understands Screamer's Freudian Excuse (that his Spark was never allowed to form his "true shape"), she hopes that it will help him be a better person. To an extent it does, but pretty soon, he's just sitting around and moping about it and Bumblebee outright tells him that his "excuse" means nothing as, not only did half the Cybertronian race go through the same circumstance, he suspects that Windblade, having no real idea of what Cold Construction was, totally misread the situation.
  • Reed Richards in Ultimate Fantastic Four. His descent into madness was motivated by having an abusive father who never supported his scientific dreams along with being bullied at school. As everyone points out, Reed likes to remember around the fact that he also had a loving mother and two loving sisters who supported his dreams and Ben Grimm who protected him from the bullies.


  • Chapter 7 of Changing of the Guard features an unusual example as Azmuth outright says that the Galvans' reasoning for tampering with the Petrosapiens' evolution was a hollow one, even if the science team who did it professed altruistic intentions when they started out.
  • The Danganronpa fanfic Fractured Fates deconstructs this trope. As far as Akira Rimutsu is concerned, a murder is a murder, and no amount of outside circumstances can justify taking the life of another. Problem is, this being Danganronpa, the culprits more often than not do have legitimate reasons for their actions, and so instead of calling the killers out on their bullshit, she instead comes off as an unfeeling Jerkass with a massive Lack of Empathy, to the point that even Hana can barely stand her. Not to mention her belief that All Murders Are Equal makes her Not So Different from Monokuma, though she's saved from being too similar by the fact that even she is appalled by his executions, if only because of how excessive they are. Her callousness reaches its peak at the end of chapter 4, when after the tragedy behind the murder was revealed, she is focused solely on the various ways Hinata, Rumi and Shiori put their lives at risk, resulting in an Armor-Piercing Slap from Hana and a "Reason You Suck" Speech from Hiroshi.
  • In Going Native, a Star Trek: The Next Generation/Battlestar Galactica crossover, this is everyone's attitude towards Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. She had a Dark and Troubled Past? Suck it up, the Twelve Colonies have been through a holocaust. She feels offended that the Lords of Kobol were just Sufficiently Advanced Aliens? Too bad. Everyone else is shocked by this but everyone else, even the religious zealots, has managed to cope by adapting their beliefs to the new status quo and didn't even think about murdering Gaeta for being Apollo's grandchild.
  • As the Tenth Doctor says in Chapter 4 of Interlopers, Invaders, Investigators of Doom, being smarter than everyone else does not give Gaz the right to talk down to everyone and be a bully. If anything, as the Doctor himself is an example of through the fic, it means that she's obliged to help and should know enough to be kind.
  • In Chapter 4 of the Victorious fanfic No Where Else, Tori calls out Jade justifying her Jerkass behaviour by citing her apathetic parents. As Tori points out, Jade is not the only one who suffers from Parental Neglect, even Tori herself suffers from it, but she didn't become anywhere near as bitter as Jade. While it initially seems that Jade takes this to heart, Jade, being Jade, decides to insult Tori prompting the Latina, finally at her limit, to simply beat the crap out of her. Even Trina says that Jade's excuse for treating Tori the way she does, being a Type A Tsundere, is a crap one.
  • The Second Chances series:
    • In Consequences, Howard Stark and Rhodey both separately note they can sympathize with Cap's actions in Captain America: Civil War, but that his bromance with Bucky doesn't justify violating international law or all the damage he caused.
    • In Catching a Spider, Natasha's lawyer tries to argue for diminished capacity based on her Dark and Troubled Past. As the prosecution points out, Natasha very clearly does know right from wrong, invalidating the argument.
    • In A Risky Undertaking, this is the Asgardian stance on Loki. For all his whining, he was raised in the lap of luxury on the most advanced planet in the galaxy and whatever beef he has with Odin, the Allfather saved him from freezing to death as a baby, a fate he was left to by someone who genuinely didn't want him. As Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls however, this doesn't work on the Avengers with Tony and Bruce saying that the Asgardians should have made more efforts to reach out to Loki.
  • Optimus Prime calls Megatron out on this in Chapter 18 of <Uninstall>. As Optimus notes, for all that Megatron loves hiding behind his Dark and Troubled Past, all he really wants to do is inflict suffering onto others. He goes further by pointing out that the others castes, despite living in ostensibly more luxurious circumstances, had their lives just as tightly regulated and decided for them as the miners and not being in danger of being killed on a whim is not a luxury. To hammer the point home, Optimus highlights that he not only agreed with Megatron back then, he agrees with him now about the new High Council and the situation that they're in (the Neutrals have assumed control of Cybertron with all combatants agreeing that the reinstitution of the old government is an insult to every Autobot and Decepticon who died) but Optimus can at least approach the problem with some diplomacy.
  • The Avengers discuss this in We're In The Endgame Now after Nebula explains Thanos' past. Thor, who went through a grief fuelled Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Avengers: Infinity War, says he can understand Thanos' pain of losing his people and Iron Man, who has an Evil Counterpart in Thanos, can't say to himself that he wouldn't act in the same way [2] if he were barred from saving his kind from extinction. What everyone agrees on however, is that Thanos has held onto his grief for far too long and he's now just a lunatic.
  • Weasley Girl features Hagrid, of all people, calling out Snape's treatment of Harry. Snape had a rotten life? Well so did lots of other people and they don't go around sneering at everyone.


  • Hot Fuzz: While most of the culprits of the murders did it for the petty reason of making sure their village wins the 'Village of the Year' award by killing off anyone who might undermine its reputation, the only one who at least has a Freudian Excuse is Frank Butterman. His wife killed herself after Sandford lost the 'Village of the Year' award she worked so hard to win because of travellers setting up. However, this still doesn't justify his actions and his own son, Danny actually calls him out on it.

Frank: Silence, Danny! Think of your mother.
Danny: [in tears] Mum is dead, Dad! For the first time in my life, you know, I'm glad! If she could see what you've become, I think she'd probably... kill herself all over again!

  • James Bond series:
    • Dr. No: The titular villain states that he joined SPECTRE in revenge as both NATO and the Warsaw Pact rebuffed his offers to lend his skills and expertise in atomic energy. Bond quickly deduces that it's just a lame cover for his crimes, stating that his plan is still insane.
    • Goldeneye: Janus/Alec Trevelyan, the former 006, claims that what he is after isn't money, but revenge on Great Britain for the death of his parents (who were Lienz Cossacks). Bond, however questions both his reason and motive; there is no way in hell the son of Lienz cossacks would have passed the necessary background checks to join MI-6, and his clearance would have allowed him to hurt Britain immensely just by turning whistleblower, so if he was just after revenge, why wait for decades for an opportunity to strike that just happens to be profitable? Ultimately, he concludes that "mad little" Alec is using his Freudian Excuse as a cover for his crimes, deconstructs it by telling him that it still doesn't justify his actions, and notes that Trevelyan is only using the satellite to make himself richer through an economic crisis. Which kind of makes sense from Bond's POV: 006 faithfully served MI6 for years before faking his death.
    • Skyfall: Rogue Agent Raoul Silva/Tiago Rodriguez (who is in many ways an Expy of Trevelyan above) was sold out to China, which triggers his wish to kill M and destroy MI6 in revenge. However, M calls him out, pointing out if he himself hadn't gone rogue, she wouldn't have to sell him out, especially because he knowingly committed criminal acts, namely his unauthorized hacking of the Chinese government.

Silva: They [the Chinese] kept me for five months in a room with no air. They tortured me and I protected your secrets. I protected you. But they made me suffer and suffer and suffer. Until I realized, it was you who betrayed me. You betrayed me. So I had only one thing left: my cyanide capsule in my back left molar. So I broke the tooth and bit into the capsule. It burned all of my insides, but I didn't die. Life clung to me like a disease. And then I understood why I had survived. I needed to look into your eyes one last time.
M: Well, I hope it was worth it. Mr. Silva, you're going to be transferred to Belmarsh Prison, where you will be remanded in custody, until the Crown Prosecution Service deem you fit to stand trial-
Silva: [interrupts.] Say my name. Say it. My real name. I know you remember it.
M: Your name is on the memorial wall of the very building you attacked. I will have it struck off. Soon, your past will be as non-existent as your future. I'll never see you again.

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • As Thor so aptly tells Loki in The Avengers, being passed over for the throne and a few petty insults is not a valid reason to conquer a planet.
    • Drax's vendetta against Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy is motivated by the Kree Accuser ordering the killing of his wife and daughter with his foolishness in getting Revenge resulting in Ronan getting the Power Stone. Furious, Rocket shouts that everyone is mourning someone and that's no excuse to endanger everyone else.
    • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Toomes justifies his black market arms dealing by having a family to support. As Peter points out, it's black market arms dealing. Nothing will justify that.
  • 7723 tells Mai as much in Next Gen. Greenwood is an unsympathetic bully who has been giving Mai crap all their lives, but isn't turning a billion dollar war machine (7723 himself) on a twelve year old girl overkill? And simply beyond that, he doesn't think that anyone is justified in hurting others.
  • In Scream 3, the Ghostface Killer uses his past rejection as the reason for his murderous rampages. Sidney, who's heard this a thousand and one times by now, calls bullshit on it and aptly pegs Ghostface as just wanting to indulge their sadism.
  • Taken 2: The Big Bad Murad Hoxha wants revenge on Bryan for the death of his son, Marko, who Bryan killed in the previous film. Bryan is less than sympathetic, since the reason he killed Marko was because A) he was a criminal who forced many young women into sex slavery and B) he kidnapped Bryan's daughter, Kim, and nearly subjected her to the same fate. So basically, Murad wants revenge on Bryan for something that his son started. When Bryan points this out, however, Murad simply slaps him and says that he doesn't care.
  • Woody says as much to Lotso in Toy Story 3. Daisy didn't abandon him, if anything he abandoned her, and has been preventing Big Baby from learning how much Daisy missed them. In fact, Daisy buying a new Lotso, which was probably bought by her parents and passed off as him, is proof that she loved Lotso above all her other toys.

Live-Action TV

  • As exemplified by his saying it to Emiko, Arrow is a firm believer in this trope.
  • In the fifth episode of Austin and Ally, the villain has been holding a grudge against Ally for ten years simply because Ally's song was chosen over hers. To emphasize the ridiculousness of it all, the song selection happened when they were in kindergarten. Not one person, even Ally herself, considers this a good enough reason to harass Austin.
  • Model One in Battlestar Galactica. He hates his creators for giving him a human body and planned a genocide of the human race to teach them a lesson. As is asked, why didn't he just build himself a perfect machine body? He has the technology for Brain Uploading.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • When Howard gets Sheldon to do various humiliating acts as a way to allow him to meet Stephen Hawking and get back at him for his cruelty, Bernadette calls him out on it by citing this trope. Yes, Sheldon is often blunt and callous, but his Ambiguous Disorder means that he literally doesn't know that what he's doing is wrong. Howard on the other hand does know better and his excuse for it is crap.
    • The Grand Finale has everyone apply this to Sheldon as his attitude begins to grate on them. After years, he should know better by this point. At the end, he realizes that they're right.
  • Pre-Character Development Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine loved using his Parental Abandonment issues to get away with anything until Holt shut him up, outright calling his childhood "slightly sad." When a perp later tries to use it on Jake, claiming he did it for love, he fires back with the infinitely quotable line, which also takes apart Draco in Leather Pants: "Cool motive! Still murder."
    • This is largely the show's stance. No matter what your sob story, you've still broken the law. You're going to jail for that. At best, you can get a reduced sentence but that's it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Subverted with the Master. The Doctor always scoffed at the Master's excuse of "the drums" because the Doctor himself was proof that the Master could have become a good person. Then the Doctor discovers that the drumming is actually real. Though played straight in Series 12. While she never outright says it, it's clear that the Doctor does not consider the lie of the Timeless Child justification enough for the Master to raze Gallifrey. Especially since, if the Master is to be believed, she's the Timeless Child. She should have the final say on how the Time Lords should pay for that lie.
    • The Ninth Doctor tells this to the Nestene Consciousness in "Rose." Whatever "constitutional rights" it may have, other species displaced by the Time War didn't even think of invading a populated world. There are countless uninhabited globes out there where it could have set up shop.
    • As the Twelfth Doctor tells Bonnie in Series 9, no one; no matter how right they think they are, or how justified they feel their cause is; ever has the right to start a war. Doubly so as Bonnie is just a child throwing a temper tantrum.
    • Twelve is on the receiving end of this trope in "Hell Bent." What Rassilon did to him was wrong, yes. But the lengths Twelve is going to are way too much. Twelve accepts this by the end.
  • Captain Cold cites his bad childhood as his Freudian Excuse in The Flash. As Iris furiously points out, everyone in the room, had a bad childhood.
  • As Friends progressed, the group became less and less willing to overlook Phoebe's morally questionable acts on account of her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • In the first season of The Good Place, Eleanor used her parents' divorce to justify her crap behaviour throughout thirty odd years of life. As a literal demon says, 50% of all kids in America lived through a divorce and didn't become Jerkasses. Eventually Eleanor realizes that this is a crap excuse and that she shouldn't hide behind it.
  • In Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall is revealed to still be angry about Lily abandoning him in Season 2, outright accusing her of considering their family a consolation prize for her failed art career. As he guilty reflects on this, his subconscious, in the form of his deceased father, tells him that being hurt is not an excuse to hurt others, especially one's wife. That's not how marriage works. By the next episode, Marshall has recognized his mistake.
  • Alice Cooper says this to the Black Hood, her husband Hal, in the second season finale of Riverdale. For all his talk of cleansing the town of sin, murder is a sin (and indeed, a worse one than any of the "sinners" he's killed). Even his reasoning for shooting Fred Andrews, being an adulterer, is a hollow one. Because Hal is also an adulterer.
  • Star Trek:
    • Said in the pilot of Star Trek: Discovery. Micheal's trauma; the colony she lived at being razed by Klingons when she was eight; does not grant her the right to mutiny, assume the Klingons' motivations, and open fire on their fleet. In fairness, the Klingons were going to fire, just not for the reasons that Micheal assumed.
    • Data, as quoted above, summarizes this perfectly in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "The Most Toys". The villain takes it in stride given that it was a fake story to try and win sympathy points.
  • Supergirl:
    • When Manchester Black goes back to his criminal roots, J'onn calls him out on this noting that Manchester's crusade has gone far beyond avenging Fiona's death and suggesting that Manchester was just looking for an excuse to return to crime and gang violence.
    • In It's a Super Life, Kara calls Lena out on this. What she's done goes way beyond not being told that Kara was Supergirl and Kara is through enabling her guilt complex.


  • Book 4 of the A Song of Ice and Fire series shows Jaime Lannister trying to make sense of his late father Tywin's atrocities. He hears from relatives of some of his past deeds like eradicating Houses Reyne and Tarbeck and of his love for his late wife Joanna. Jaime's subconscious (in the form of his mother) later appears in his dreams and concludes that it doesn't excuse anything.
  • Voldemort in Harry Potter. While his childhood does earn him some sympathy,[3] it's also noted that Harry went through similar circumstances and he notably didn't turn into a lunatic. And it doesn't exactly justify him splitting his own soul through remorseless murders.

Video Games

  • Ace Attorney: A recurring theme in the series is that a crime is a crime, no matter what the victim has done to the killer or how much of an Asshole Victim they are, nothing justifies killing someone else, and you'll be arrested for it. The Big Bad of the AAI2 game is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, who had met nothing but misery in his life, trying to take revenge on the people whom they blamed it for (which they believe all to have deserved their fate). While Edgeworth acknowledges their woobieness, it's still no "Get out of Jail Free" card and he gets arrested at the end of the game nonetheless, though one can argue this was good for him, as he gets to live with his Parental Substitute Doghen. During their confrontation, he mentions that his actions have made them no different from the people they were trying to get revenge on.
    • The culprit of the third case in Justice For All accidentally killed his benefactor and mentor while aiming to kill the man's daughter, who'd been responsible for pulling a Deadly Prank that resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and his brother going into a coma, while not understanding what she'd done. The judge asks if the killer is actually a victim, at which point Acro tearfully says that he's just a murderer.
  • Regime Superman in Injustice: Gods Among Us became a Fallen Hero after being tricked into killing Lois Lane by Joker. Prime Superman says that this doesn't give his counterpart the right to play god and decide who lives or dies.
  • Persona 5 investigates this trope. Several of the targets claim in their Motive Rants that whatever they did wasn't really their faultsociety made them gain distorted desires and create Palaces. Ranging from unrealistic expectations due to previous accomplishments, to their horrible pasts, or simply believing themselves to be better than others. Even the Traitor of the party blames how society treated them for being an illegitimate child and having big-time Bastard Angst for his father (Japanese culture has this be a much more serious issue than in the West and the Traitor's mother committed suicide, leading for him to be bounced around foster homes. The Phantom Thieves always hold the belief that this never excuses the actions of their targets, especially if one recalls how badly society has treated the Thieves themselves, and none of them chose to shrug their shoulders and just blame someone else.
  • Lionel Starkweather from Manhunt was one an accomplished movie director, but he eventually had his career tragically come to an end. This would make him sympathetic...but he then started making snuff films for corrupt clients, and he forced the people responsible for the death of his career to star in those snuff movies. He also is responsible for how miserable Carcer City is, as he bribed the police chief to let him do whatever he wants. Not to mention that one of the stars of his movies (Piggsy) went completely insane from what Lionel Starkweather put him through...

Web Original

  • The quartet's stance in After Hours. Hero or villain, no matter your sad childhood or lost love, you don't get to elect yourself judge, jury, and executioner.
  • In the CinemaSins review for Citizen Kane, Jeremy points out that no one should feel bad about Rosebud burning. Even if he mourned his innocent childhood, Kane was a Jerkass for seventy years and the sled burning was some Laser-Guided Karma that he deserved.
  • In Young Justice: Abridged, Aquaman is not shy in telling Orn that an absent mother is not a valid reason for world conquest, mocking him, and any supervillain who uses a sad childhood youth as a reason for their cruelty, as he unleashes a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.

Western Animation

  • Played for Laughs in the American Dad episode "Rubberneckers." Stan crashed his car due to rubbernecking[4]. While everyone reams Stan out for it, he's able to justify it by proving that everyone, man or woman, does this. While the judge accepts this, he's very quick to point out that the trial concerned insurance fraud, which Stan definitely did commit and sentences him to six years in jail.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Gaang finds a picture of Ozai showing that he Used to Be a Sweet Kid. They consider this for a moment but decide that it's unimportant as Ozai is now a genocidal lunatic who needs to be put down.
  • In Family Guy, after Quagmire is accused of statutory rape, he tries to win sympathy points by pointing out that he was molded by his mother's sexual deviance and that's all he knows. The judge admits that Quagmire's story is sad but also that it doesn't excuse his actions. As Brian later points out, Quagmire is a grown man and should be taking responsibility for his own actions, especially considering his At Least I Admit It mentality.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie:
    • Spinel realizes this in the ending. As she notes, there's really no point to any of her actions and she's hurting people who are totally unconnected to what happened to her.
    • Steven applies this to Pink Diamond. She was hurt and abused, but that didn't give her the right to hurt and abuse others.


  1. In truth, they thought she was dead already, and she would have been if it weren't for Embryo healing her.
  2. forcing his ideas for what's right on other troubled planets
  3. His mother used a Love Potion on his Muggle father who hit the road when it wore off. In her depression, she died shortly after childbirth and Voldy was raised in an Orphanage of Fear.
  4. checking out a hot girl
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