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It's relatively common that the reason that Alice wants to kill Bob is because Bob killed Charlie. Revenge seems pretty straightforward. But it gets a lot more murky when Charlie was trying to kill Bob and Bob was just defending himself. They were in a war, it was a fight, Charlie surprised Bob at the worst time, it was an accident, the list goes on. He didn't really want to kill Charlie, and would have avoided doing so if possible. It's likely he regrets it greatly. That doesn't matter to Alice, though. Even if unknown to her Charlie was an assassin that had killed hundreds of people and Bob is just some bodyguard that happened to take him down, Bob has to pay.

Related to Avenging the Villain, but in that case Charlie was a genuinely bad person. This applies to; a) Gray And Grey Morality situations, such as (but not limited to) wars and family feuds where both sides are flawed/justified to an extent, and b) situations where Charlie is clearly a good guy.

A Revenge by Proxy scenario can result. This may be a part of a Feuding Families or Cycle of Vengeance situation.

Expect angst and drama and unmarked spoilers.

Examples of Revenge Myopia include:


Anime and Manga

  • One episode of Kino's Journey had Kino meet a woman and the man she had hired as a guard as they were about to set out on a journey. She sat with the man for a while, and learned that he had killed her husband several years ago accidentally while robbing his store, and had been reformed and set free by their justice system, on the condition that he make it up to the woman by mutual agreement. It's made clear that his reform and desire to help the woman any way he can in penance for his crime are genuine. They part, and later Kino is riding through the woods when she hears a gunshot...
  • In Naruto, Sasuke wants revenge on all of Konoha for ordering Itachi to kill the Uchiha just because the Uchiha were about to pull a coup and likely get half of Konoha killed in the resulting civil and world wars.

Film

  • Kill Bill: "You deserve terrible deaths for doing the kinds of stuff for a living that I did up until a few months before you did it to me! And that I would have done to you. And that I actually did with you, come to think of it."

 Bud: We deserve to die. Then again, so does she.

  • In the third Spider Man movie, Harry Osborn has this as his motivation. He wants to kill Spidey because Spidey killed the Harry's father, the Green Goblin. However, just before the movie's climax, his butler revealed that Green Goblin was killed by his own hover-board.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me: In the opening scene, James Bond kills Anya's lover, who is trying to kill him at the time. When she finds out about it she vows to kill James.
  • Khan in Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. Lampshaded even. After Khan explains his beef with Kirk, Chekov says, "Captain Kirk was your host. You repaid his hospitality by trying to steal his ship and murder him!" Khan ignores the point.

Literature

  • In one of the James Bond books by John Gardner, the Big Bad was the daughter of Blofeld, who wants revenge against Bond for killing Blofeld back in You Only Live Twice (the book).
  • In Enuma Elish, Tiamat does her best to avenge Apsu's death at the hands of the Annunaki, completely ignoring the two small facts that Apsu was actively planning to kill them and that she herself ratted him out to them, allowing a preventive strike.
  • In The Iliad, Hector of Troy gets the bad end of this. His country is at war with the Greeks (who are the invaders) and he kills Patroclus in battle. Achilles, Patroclus's best friend, kills Hector in revenge and desecrates his corpse. Today, Hector is the one usually portrayed sympathetically.
  • In David Eddings' The Redemption of Althalus, when working as a mercenary Eliar kills the ruler of the city state the mercenaries were attacking. He ends up being captured and Andine, the daughter of said ruler enacts personal revenge. He gets rescued eventually. And she eventually gets over it. They end up married.

Live-Action Television

  • In the very first episode of Farscape, Crichton accidentally crashes into a ship piloted by Bialar Crais' brother, killing him instantly. Crais becomes insanely obsessed with ferreting out Crichton and killing him, an obsession that lasts most of first season, to the point where eventually Crais loses his job because his priorities are entirely focused on revenge -- despite the fact that Crichton continually tries to convince him that it was an accident.
  • In Soap Danny wants to kill Burt, his step-father, because he killed his father. Burt also feels horrendously guilty over this fact but it turns out that Burt only killed him in self defense. Danny eventually agrees with him.

Video Games

  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Karst seeks to kill Isaac in revenge for the death of her beloved older sister Menardi in the first game. Everybody who played the first game knows that a) Menardi murdered bystanders, b) she was going to kill Isaac, and c) Menardi committed suicide after Isaac and his friends defeated her and Saturos non-lethally. Nobody ever tells Karst this.

Western Animation

  • In American Dad episode "Escape from Pearl Bailey", the popular kids swear revenge on Steve and his friends for Steve's revenge plot against Lisa Silver and her Libby friends for Debbie's class presidential campaign getting sabotaged, and persist even after Steve realizes it was his friends who did it, and apologizes for it.
  • In the X-Men: Evolution episode "Blind Alley", Mystique pretends to be Scott's brother Alex, supposedly stuck in Mexico after losing his passport, in order to lure Scott out on his own, knocking him out and leaving him stuck in the middle of the Mexican desert without his glasses to stop his eyes, saying "That's payback!" after Scott let her get captured inside a military base in "Day of Recovery". However Scott did that because she had abducted Professor X and impersonated him throughout the two-part episode "Day of Reckoning", and refused to divulge the location of the real Professor X. Note that when he managed to find his way to the city, she intended to knock him out and do it again, somewhere even more remote.
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