Created By: aschwartz07901 on October 27, 2011 Last Edited By: aschwartz07901 on February 4, 2016

Failure Equals Treason

When a BigBad\'s minions are defeated or fail him, said villain believes that they did it on purpose.

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Trope
Needs More Examples

This is a very specific subtrope of Implausible Deniability that occurs when a Big Bad has never heard of, (and thus fails to take into account) the law of Hanlon's Razor. This means the he/she is so paranoid and/or insane, that he believes that anyone who fails him is not incompetant but a deliberate traitor. In otherwords, he believes that his mooks actually can beat the hero, but that they chose not to. Villains will typically display symptoms of this after sending out mooks to kill/capture the hero, since they will innevitably get there asses handed to them by badass Hero. This usually lead to one or more mooks getting the You Have Failed Me treatment. Any Comic book or Reoccurring TV show villain that follows this trope gets extra Hypocrite points for executing mooks who fail to stop the hero who has continually kicked the villain's own ass countless times. Any Big Bad who fits this trope is also by definition, a Bad Boss.

The rarest form of this trope is basically Sanity Slippage. It occurs when the villain takes this trope Up to Eleven to the point where the villain becomes so demented that he even starts using Insane Troll Logic or Bat Deduction to justify executing a supposed "traitors". In some cases, the villain becomes so deranged that the villain will execute minions when they succeed in carrying out orders that have unintended consequences like a Genocide Backfire! This form of the trope is so satisfying and funny to watch it qualifies as a Villainous Breakdown!

contrast with Properly Paranoid

examples

Film:

Literature:

Live Action TV
  • Alphas: An early character in the show had the ability to predict cause-and-effect ("twenty moves in advance") to such a degree that is cannot comprehend that other people cannot see the consequences of their actions like he can. As such, any time something bad happens to him, he immediately assumes somebody did it deliberately.

Video Games
  • Batman: Arkham City: Almost every Villain in the game. with the exception of Two-Face, and (possibly Joker)
  • Disgaea 4: Nemo becomes a victim of this back when he was a soldier. When the opposing country captures him, his own country immediately declares him a traitor and punishes him by killing his family.
  • Halo 2: the Arbiter was declared guilty of heresy for failing to stop the humans in the first game.

Western Animation

Real Life:
There are no Soviet prisoners of war, only traitors.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • October 27, 2011
    somerandomdude
    • Azula from Avatar The Last Airbender is so batshit crazy by the end of the series that the she interprets a cherry pit as an assassination attempt.
  • October 27, 2011
    Stratadrake
    So this is basically a failure to apply Hanlons Razor?

    • An early character in Alphas has such ability to predict cause-and-effect ("twenty moves in advance") that he is incapable of comprehending that other people just can't see all the consequences of their actions: any time something bad happens to him, he immediately assumes somebody did it deliberately.
  • October 27, 2011
    Bisected8
    • Near the end of the 5th Harry Potter book Umbridge accuses Snape of being deliberatly unhelpful when he points out that she already used up all his Truth Serum. She's actually right, and indeed the bottle he originally gave her wasn't real in the first place, but there's no way she would have known.
  • November 1, 2011
    Tuomas
    This is what happens to Adolf Hitler in Downfall.
  • November 1, 2011
    Tambov333
    A major motivation behind You Have Failed Me.
  • November 1, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    In Disgaea4 Nemo becomes a victim of this back when he was a soldier. When the opposing country captures him, his own country immediately declares him a traitor and punishes him by killing his family.
  • November 2, 2011
    Psi001
    I think this might make a better trope if you expand the reasons for not conprehending failure. Not many villains believe their minions are deliberately screwing things up, a good number of them however refuse to accept it as a perfectly justifiable error, eg. the good number of Big Bads that punish a minion for failing at 'such a simple task', falling victim to a Deus Ex Machina defeat or being beaten by the same hero that usually hands the bosses ass to them just as often. Naturally Big Bads tend to refuse to accept their own shortcomings when they screw things up instead, blaming the hero of cheating or being lucky, or naturally in the case of this trope, his minions ruining things for him.
  • November 2, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Good idea, except for one thing. Unless your talking about comic book villains and/or superhero TV shows, usually villains who are like this have never gotten their ass kicked by the hero, or even seen him yet. However, the villain could still be a hypocrite or an idiot.
  • November 2, 2011
    Psi001
    The Bad Boss thrives on it however (granted he usually doesn't need reasons to punish his minions anyway). Not to mention a common trait for evil villain bosses is that it's Never My Fault.
  • November 2, 2011
    nitrokitty
    I don't like the title, but Hanlons Razor Villain is the only one I could come up with.
  • November 3, 2011
    aschwartz
    Hanlons razor villain implies that the villain listens to Hanlons Razor and this villain wouldn't
  • November 3, 2011
    aschwartz
    Maybe Improperly Paranoid ?
  • November 3, 2011
    MorganWick
    Yeah, seeing this title made me realize that Evil Cannot Comprehend Good is approaching overdosed levels as a snowclone.
  • November 4, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Suggested names:

    Surrounded By traitors :this is usually what the villain who listens to this trope says when he/she is losing

    improperly paranoid: since this trope is basically the opposite of Properly Paranoid Up To Eleven

    How dare you fail me?
  • November 15, 2011
    ChickInTheMoonlight
    The example with Azula belongs in Western Animation, not Anime/Manga .
  • November 16, 2011
    Arivne
    How Dare You Fail Me sounds like a line of dialogue and site owner Fast Eddie will Cut List it if it's launched with that name.
  • November 17, 2011
    Chabal2
    How many Rage Quits has this trope inspired?

    • A great many mook leaders in Hokuto No Ken have difficulty believeing one man can so easily defeat their troops. So when Kenshiro arrives to kick ass, their defeat comes as a complete surprise (to them).
    • Mentioned in one Calvin And Hobbes strip: Calvin builds a snowman on his sled to test whether the slope is safe. When the sled crashes, Calvin claims he wouldn't have steered like that and thus the snowman deserved his fate.
  • November 17, 2011
    Damr1990
    • Related to No Delays For The Wicked which says that everything on the Villian's Side alywas is(OR MUST be) efficent to accomplish the Evil Plan goals withouth failing, incluiding things that theorically should be also out of their own circle of interference or just tangentially related to whatever is going on
  • November 18, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Why is "How dare you fail me" a bad name? Comments on naming aside, is this trope any different from Never My Fault ?
  • November 19, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    It's a bad name because there's a ban on anything that sounds even remotely like dialogue.

    And yes, I think that it's very different. Never My Fault is about characters entirely incapable of realizing when they're at fault. This trope is when the mook really did fail, but the overlord can't understand that it was unintentional. I don't even think that they're related.
  • November 21, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Actually I had intended it to mean Never My Fault (before I knew said trope existed) as well as what Psychobabble6 said. but Now I realize that one of them is already troped. obviously now its only going to mean what was discussed in the comment above.

    Out of curiousity, Why can't trope (names) sound Like dialogue? No one could possibly mistake this name for a stock Phrase, so whats the issue?

    Alternative name: Failure Equals Treason

    is it equals or =?
  • November 21, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    Equals is right. And it's because Eddie is really strict about it. Titles that sounded like stock phrases were being heavily misused because people weren't reading the descriptions, so there's just a blanket ban on them now to fully prevent it. Personally, I think it's a little extreme but he's the boss so I'm not gonna argue.
  • November 23, 2011
    morgulknight1
    During France's Reign of Terror (1793-94), this combined with quite a bit of Field Promotion and You Are In Command Now was the standard way of dealing with the remaining aristocratic generals for the Committee of Public Safety's representats en mission. This was partly done out of suspicion that an aristocratic officer who blew a battle might have actually been losing on purpose to topple the republic and restore the monarchy, as it was well known that there was a lot of Royalist sentiment among France's officers. As much as it sucked for the individual generals involved, the Committee's policy was effective at trimming the deadwood from France's officer corps and by 1794 France had gone from being on the brink of complete defeat to being on the offensive pretty much everywhere.
  • November 24, 2011
    mdulwich
    A real life example: Stalin claimed that "there are no Soviet prisoners of war, only traitors."
  • November 28, 2011
    JoeG
    • Real Life: British Admiral John Byng was executed in 1757 for "failure to do his utmost". This incident was parodied in Candide.
  • November 29, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    not entirely sure the above qualifies No one actually beleived that the admiral was guilty of anything resembling treason. His execution was not to punish a person who was perceived as a criminal, but to make an example of him, to show his predecessor that failure was not an option. this really fits more into You Have Failed Me territory

    (if I remember correctly that is. If I'm wrong than please feel free to call me on it)
  • November 29, 2011
    GoldenDarkness
    Do we have a Mistaken For Treason supertrope? It's just not bad guys that are mistakenly seen as betraying the cause.

    Anyway, in a recent chapter of the fanfic White Devil Of The Moon, a Sailor Moon/Lyrical Nanoha crossover where Nanoha is the reincarnated moon princess, Nephrite is accused of betraying the Dark Kingdom after some setbacks. First, he predicts that the moon princess will come to harm if she is attacked while she's attending her brother's wedding. Queen Beryl thinks this means the Moon Princess will die and sends Jadeite to kill her. Nephrite's prediction does come true, in the form of Nanoha overtaxing her body when she vaporizes Jadeite. Then, after an attempt to get close to Nanoha by trying to become the boyfriend of Nanoha's older sister Miyuki ends in feature when his cover is blown, he captures Miyuki insteads and brings her to Beryl. However, due to the injuries he sustanded earlier, he can't control Miyuki, who manages to break free and just scar the queen before being knocked out. Worst, one of his attacks on Miyuki ended up targeting Beryl. It's no wonder Beryl thinks he is a traitor.
  • November 30, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    ?
  • December 4, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    bump
  • December 5, 2011
    Statalyzer
    Paths Of Glory: The French high command believes that the only reason their (extremely poorly-planned) attack could have possibly failed is that their troops betrayed them and cowardly ran away from certain success.
  • December 5, 2011
    Statalyzer
    Paths Of Glory: The French high command believes that the only reason their (extremely poorly-planned) attack could have possibly failed is that their troops betrayed them and cowardly ran away from certain success.
  • December 5, 2011
    Blork
    • In Halo 2, the Arbiter was declared guilty of heresy for failing to stop the humans in the first game.
  • January 12, 2016
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Implausible Deniability (when it's subverted, however - it really IS treason - it becomes Plausible Deniability instead)

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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