Was Too Hard On Him
Feeling remorseful for berating or punishing a character, even if it was completely justified.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-01-15 17:28:48 sponsor: 313Bluestreak (last reply: 2013-02-07 18:22:22)

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When it comes to doing something that is the right thing to do, we will find out that it isn't particularly nice. One of these good-but-not-nice things is reproving a character for doing something that is either stupid or immoral, but because the wrongdoer seems traumatically hurt by his harsh words, this also brings sorrow to the other who did what has to be done. It can also be a character showing sorrow of physically harming another for seemingly in the verge of losing control of himself.

For example, let's say that a child is misbehaving badly or did something he know he isn't supposed to do. The parent comes in to do what he has to do and that is to punish his child. As soon as the parent is finished chastising his wailing child, he feels this displeasure inside him. Asking him this question "Am I being too hard on him?" Another character, usually the parent's friend, would usually object and says he's doing the right thing and the child will get used to being disciplined sooner or later. At the end though, the child will come to the parent and apologize for misbehaving and promises to become more mature and responsible while the parent will apologize for his harshness. All is forgiven and forgotten.

While common examples of this trope would be a parent and a child, this doesn't always have to be this way. It can be two siblings, two friends, or a married couple. They will experience the guilt after setting the other straight for their transgressions. Reconciliation is always possible, but if not, then the relationship gets colder and harder.

Compare Minor Insult Meltdown which is where the victim being punished will fall into this. Also compare My God, What Have I Done? which the action was reprehensible and is not justified, but the character regrets it. A rather lighter version of Dirty Business. See also Jerkass Realization and Made Out to Be a Jerkass.

May be Alas, Poor Villain if taken to extremes. A nice guy who had his buttons pushed can experience this. Can somewhat be a Family-Unfriendly Aesop since this is about a person feeling remorseful for their actions towards the person who shouldn't have done wrong to them in the first place.

Can be Truth in Television to parents who usually say to their child "This is hurting me more than it's hurting you." This is often the reaction to a child being The Runaway.

Examples:

Anime & Manga

Film

Literature
  • The Left Behind series has God and Jesus who did not enjoy sending the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the undecided to the Lake of Fire for eternity. This quote from Jesus sums this up:
    "Like My Father, with whom I am One, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but justice must be served, and death is your sentence."
  • In the S.E. Hinton book The Outsiders, Danny cries to Ponyboy who was in the hospital, but Ponyboy comes to realize that Danny is acting hard with him throughout the story because he wants a future for him.

Live-Action TV
  • In Happy Days, Ritchie's father threatens to make Fonzie pay for damages to his roof due to a pigeon house that the Fonz built on the roof. He admits later to his family that maybe he was too hard on Fonzie. Played with, in that Fonzie later decides to sue him.
  • In the Full House episode "Joey Gets Tough", Joey, who plays the Parental Substitute for Danny, asks Jesse about how D.J. feels after he grounds her from sneaking to karate class.
    • Another example is when Jesse seems a bit hurt when both Nicky and Alex called him "mean daddy".
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air hilariously played with this trope in the episode "Asses To Ashes" where Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley chewed out Will for (accidentally) killing Judge Robertson. Then Will starts wailing like a little kid and the three were a bit shocked. This led Carlton saying "I could be wrong."
  • In the Lazytown episode "Zap It", Stephanie apologizes to Pixel for being harsh with him for creating the zapper device which makes everything invincible instead of disappearing.
  • This doubles with Why Did You Make Me Hit You? in the second season of Rescue Me where Sheila's lesbian lover beats her in a fit of jealous rage. After that, she comes to console her, saying "I'm sorry I was so rough with you, but sometimes you just make me so angry."

Religion
  • The Bible: Jeremiah 8:21 shows us that even God is unhappy about punishing His creation for their sins:
    "For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me."

Video Games
  • In World in Conflict, Col. Sawyer is emotionally distraught by the fact that he previously treated Capt. Bannon like crap (entirely justifiably, by the way), after Bannon pulls a You Shall Not Pass on the Soviets and dies by nuke. This, along with general stress upon him, contributes to Sawyer making several strategic mistakes late in the campaign.
  • In The World Ends with You, Shiki calls out Neku for going against the idea of friendship in Day 4. Then she realizes she was being harsh and apologizes to him.

Western Animation
  • Stewie asks this to Brian when he spanks Chris while acting as a Parental Substitute in the Family Guy episode "North By North Quahog", despite that Chris was framed by a student for drinking vodka.
    • Another examples comes from "Peter's Two Dads" where Lois spanks Stewie, but then as soon as Stewie starts crying, Lois begins to feel terrible and starts to apologize, but Stewie runs from her.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas And Ferb Get Busted", Lawrence tells Linda that they've been too hard on the boys after sending them to the Smile Away Remoratory School for engaging in their usual activities.
    • Another example is found in the episode "Dude, We're Getting The Band Back Together" where Phineas asks the lead singer of Love Handel, Danny, was he tough on the guy who wasn't playing the guitar properly. His response was "He'll be back when the spirit calls him!"
  • Ren has occasional moments of this concerning Stimpy in The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants:
    • In "Gary's New Toy", Spongebob was hoping that Gary isn't upset with him when he restrains him from constantly chewing on his new red ball.
    • Another example happens in "Whatever Happened To Spongebob?" where the others get tired of Spongebob's clumsy behaviour and very bluntly tell him to get lost. They are guilt ridden when they find out he has run away because of this later on.
    • In "Fools In April", Squidward, who was really irritated with Spongebob's April Fools pranks, realizes how much of a jerk he is for making him cry with the nasty prank he set up, not that the others didn't find Spongebob's pranks annoying.
  • Fairly Oddparents. In the end of episode "Pipe Down", Timmy's Dad apologizes to Timmy for yelling at him for the charade incident with the Dinklebergs.
  • Played to it's most poignant tee in the Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special. After Brain repeatedly chews out Pinky for ignoring their plan for his Christmas letter, driving Pinky to tears, he eventually reads the letter out of curiosity, to find it is a touching speech about his 'best friend in the world, the Brain' that asks Santa to give all of Pinky's gifts to him, since he never gets the reward he deserves. While he does not mention this trope, the emotional exchange makes it very clear how he feels.
  • Done similarly in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Sisterhooves Social" after a fight with Sweetie Belle over causing problems including, among other things, using all her gems to make a picture, Rarity begins to dwell over this. The final nail in the coffin is when she finally looks at the picture Sweetie Belle made; her and her big sister inside a giant heart made of gems. Cue hammy My God, What Have I Done?.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, after Mac gives Goo a not-so-nice speech, causing her to cry, he opens the gift she attempted to give him. He then feels bad about the things he said, and decides to confront Goo by telling her she doesn't need to make a lot of imaginary friends to feel less lonely. This causes an excited Goo to glomp Mac happily.
  • Popeye: The titular character feels a bit guilty for spanking Sweeptee, who ran away because of it.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, we have Sonic who states he can't forgive himself for making Tails run away because he scolded him for putting himself in danger of Dr. Robotnik's trap.
  • In the episode "Big Fat Alien Wedding" of Ben 10, Mr. and Mrs. Tennyson apologized to Camille for being tough on her, but this was due to them being against the wedding due to her being a sludgepuppy, which they despise. She instantly forgives them and accepts them into the family, though.
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