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Seraph: I can take you to [the Oracle]. But first, I must apologize.

Neo: Apologize for what?

Seraph: For this. * attacks Neo*
The Matrix Reloaded

One of the Stock Phrases. Character A apologizes in some way. Character B is confused, as A hasn't done anything worth apologizing for, and usually asks "For what?" or just gives a rousing "Huh?" Then Character A does whatever it is he was apologizing for - usually attacking the other character and knocking them out. Sometimes this precedes a Heroic Sacrifice, but not always.

See also Preemptive Declaration.

Examples of Preemptive Apology include:

Anime and Manga

  • Shinji Ikari would probably have been much better off without this tick, as it is what pisses Asuka off the most. Other than this personality difference, their backgrounds and current status would probably have resulted in some sorta relationship.
  • There's also a slight variation in Dragonball Z, where Vegeta gives a little speech about taking care of the family and then apologizes, right before knocking out both his kid and Goten and then doing a Heroic Sacrifice in an attempt to take out Buu.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: "Full Metal Alchemist Sir! We Apologize in advance for this!" *Slap* "You behaved like a spoiled child!"

Comic Books

  • Y: The Last Man has an interesting variation, where the apology is not over anything violent... Yorick apologizes to a girl for the two times he kissed her. Then he interrupts her confusedly asking when the second time was, with a kiss.


  • A show by Dara O Briain includes a part about a midwife he and his wife were visiting during his wife's pregnancy. When he comes to a part about childbirth, he runs over to two boys in the front row he talked to earlier, to explain what's going to happen when he tells this story, and the whole situation becomes more and more hilarious as he's constantly apologizing to the women in the audience about the joke he's going to make.


  • The example above, from The Matrix Reloaded.
  • From The Cowboys, Jebediah Nightlinger is about to be killed by Asa Watts. Knowing that the Big Damn Heroes are on their way, he asks for a moment to make peace with God, then he prays aloud:

 Jebediah Nightlinger: I regret trifling with married women. I'm thoroughly ashamed at cheating at cards. I deplore my occasional departures from the truth. Forgive me for taking your name in vain, my Saturday drunkenness, my Sunday sloth. Above all, forgive me for the men I've killed in anger... [looks directly at Asa Watts] ...and those I am about to.


  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Sorrowful Men are a league of assassins who always apologize to their victims.
  • In Interesting Times, Rincewind gets a fortune cookie that reads "Many Apologies". He just has time to wonder what it means before the Red Army knocks him out.

Live Action TV

  • When Casey does this on Chuck, Chuck assumes it's for one of the many things Casey has already done--nope, it's for being about to handcuff Chuck to a table.
  • Used by the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who at least once with his catchphrase "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," just before he wipes Donna's memory of their time together to keep her alive in "Journey's End".
    • Also every other time Ten uses that phrase. Generally he's saying it to the Villain of the Week just before killing them.
    • Also done to Martha before the kiss "genetic transfer", though she doesn't have time to be confused about the apology.
    • Also used by the 11th doctor in the episode "The Eleventh hour" as he apologized to Rory for the phone bill for calling the Atraxi.
    • The Eleventh Doctor also apologizes just before doing something incredibly reckless.

 Doctor: You know how I sometimes have really brilliant ideas?

Amy: Yes...

Doctor: Sorry.

Doctor: [runs from cover and shouts] Look at me, I'm a target!

  • In the Lost episode "He's Our You," Sawyer walks into Sayid's cell, apologizes, and then head-butts him.
    • And before that...

 Michael: "I'm sorry."

Ana Lucia: "For what?"

(Michael shoots Ana Lucia)

    • And in 'The Man From Tallahassee' Locke apologizes to a confused Jack seconds before the submarine explodes.
  • Near the end of season 2 of Leverage, as Nate sets into motion a plan to find evidence linking a corrupt mayor to the gunrunner, Kadjic:

 Nate hands Kadjic a bag full of cash

'Kadjic: What is this for?

Nate: Ah, it's an apology.

Kadjic: What for?

Nate: For what's about to happen.

    • The first episode of season 3 also features Nate apologizing to someone, then stabbing them.
    • Leverage loves this trope. In the second episode of season 4, Elliot goes up to a murder suspect, and out of the blue says, "I'm not gonna lie to you, man, this is gonna hurt for a second." The suspect justifiably acts confused, and Elliot explains: he knocks his head against the table, hard.
  • From Angel, when the titular character is being arrested for a brutal murder.

 Angel: "I'm sorry."

Kate: "Save it for the judge."

Angel: "No, I didn't do that. I'm sorry for this." *hits her, breaks free, and escapes*

  • An episode of Human Target, in which Chance pretends to be a "cleaner" taking part in a jewel heist:

 Chance: *knocks out his "partner"*

Receptionist: "What the hell is going on?"

Chance: "Well, it's a little complicated. I know it doesn't seem like it, but I'm actually one of the good guys. Sorry."

Receptionist: "Sorry about what?"

Chance: *knocks out everyone else in the room*

  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine - Worf tells Morn "I will apologize for this at a later time," before shoving him off his barstool.

Video Games

  • Rikku pulls this before knocking Tidus out early in Final Fantasy X, though it means even less than usual since she does it in Al Bhed.

Web Comics

  • Taken to the extreme in Sluggy Freelance, Bunbun once apologized to Torg for taking him off life support and letting him die. This has yet to happen. (Torg was on life support for awhile in 2000, but Bunbun was busy.)
  • This strip of Order of the Stick:

 Hilgya: Sorry about this. I really do like you.

Durkon: Sorry 'bout what?

Hilgya: This.

(Sabine drains his energy.)

Western Animation

  • Transformers: Beast Wars plays with this in one episode, when Silverbolt apologizes to Cheetor before knocking him out. When Cheetor doesn't go down, Silverbolt helps him back up, makes sure he's okay, then does it again, this time knocking him out.
  • The Legion of Super Heroes cartoon has a creepy example; at the end of "Message In A Bottle" Brainiac 5 apologizes to Superman before wiping his memory, after Superman learns too much about his future.
  • In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Donatello is trying to evacuate a power plant that is about to explode but is confronted by a worker.

 Donatello: We don't have time for this! Please accept my apology.

Worker: For what?

Donatello: For this. (hits the worker with his bo.)

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