Created By: Koveras on December 29, 2012 Last Edited By: Koveras on December 10, 2014
Troped

Tragically Misguided Favor (last hat?)

Doing an uncalled-for favor for your loved one leads to a disaster.

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When one character cares a lot for another, who has a problem in his/her life, and the former decides to fix it, without asking the latter whether this is a good idea (or even in spite of his/her explicit request not to interfere). After his/her elaborate plan succeeds, however, it turns out that by doing it, he/she ended up ruining his/her relationship with the other character or even their very lives.

A cornerstone of Romantic Comedy but can also result in a form of Tragic Hero or even Tragic Monster. Compare Rhetorical Request Blunder, Stupid Sacrifice, Senseless Sacrifice. Related to Poisonous Friend.

An inherently spoiler-y trope, so be warned!

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Code Geass:
    • The Anti-Hero Lelouch starts a world war in order to make a new world where his blind, crippled sister Nunnally could live happily (his real motivations are a bit more complex, but that's at least what he declares them to be). In the end, it turns out that Nunnally was perfectly fine with being blind and crippled all along, as long as Lelouch was there to take care of her.
    • In season 2, Lelouch ends up telling Rolo twice not to resort to killing anyone while in civilian guise to protect his identity. The one time he is not around to say no to him doing so is the most tragic: Rolo kills Shirley. Subverted in that it was because Shirley knew about Nunnally and wanted to reunite her with Lelouch, an idea repugnant to Rolo, who wanted to be Lelouch's only brother, and feared he might be discarded after the two true siblings were to be reunited.
  • Played straight and subverted in the original series and the second season of Lyrical Nanoha, respectively.
    • In the Back Story of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the Evil Matriarch Precia Testarossa spent so much time at work to provide for her daughter Alicia, that she couldn't be with Alicia when she died. She then does the same mistake again, mercilessly using her other daughter, Fate, to find means to resurrect Alicia—as it turns out, what Alicia wanted the most from her mother was a little sister.
    • Happily subverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, whose "villains", the Wolkenritter, carry out a ritual which they believe will save their Mistress Hayate from paralysis and which Hayate explicitly forbade them to do. It turns out, the ritual would have actually killed Hayate and the knights themselves, but thanks to Team Nanoha's intervention, the worst case scenario is narrowly averted.

    Film 
  • A less tragic variation takes place in Hitch. Hitch himself starts dating Sera, and things go fine at first. Then Hitch decides to surprise her by taking her to the Statue of Liberty, thinking it would be a nice gesture to show her the Statin Island immigration records, showing her the ancestor that brought her family lineage to America. Sera starts to cry and storm off, pointing out that just being reminded of ancestor's name reminds her of how he was an infamous serial killer. Hitch spends a good part of the movie trying to rekindle their relationship.

    Literature 
  • In Jonathan Strange And Mister Norrell, the Gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair sets out to find Stephan Black's true name for him. He is greatly astounded when Stephan Black kills him before the gentleman can tell it to him.
  • Non-romantic example in one of the Brother Cadfael stories. An old lady has a devoted pair of servants, who kill an Old Retainer when they think she might spill the beans on a secret their mistress doesn't want let out. She is horrified, as she never would have ordered the retainer's death and the secret is out anyway. The two run away before the law can catch up with them.
  • In the original short story "It's a Good Life" three-year-old Anthony uses his godlike powers to "help" people but since he has a child's worldview his help is more often than not a hindrance. Such as when a woman misses her dead husband, so Anthony reanimates his corpse which digs its way out from the grave. At the end of the story he makes it snow because his aunt had complained about the heat, which kills off half the crops.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrested Development, George Michael decides to throw a 16th birthday party for his cousin, Maeby. He finds her address book and invites everyone in it. However, she had been posing as someone much older in order to hold down a job as a film studio executive. By inviting the people from her address book, George Michael unwittingly exposed her true age to her coworkers and got her fired.
  • Downplayed in an episode of Doctor Who: River Song breaks her wrist escaping from a weeping angle but when the Doctor uses some of his regeneration energy in order to heal it (without consulting her) this somehow just makes her (and Amy Pond) angry at him.
  • In an episode of Blackadder the King talks to his wife about the Thomas Becket situation one of his predecessors went through. Some knights just returning from an adventure walk in just as the King quotes "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest" and take it that they'd get in the King's good graces if they killed the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Unbeknownst to them the King and the Archbishop (who is also the King's son) are actually getting on very well.

    Oral Tradition 
  • In Finnish, the term for this kind of thing is "karhunpalvelus", or "bear's favor", which comes from a folk tale about a man with a pet bear. One day when the man was sleeping, a fly landed on his nose. The bear tried to swat it away, but ended up smacking him in the face with its paw, killing the man.
  • A joke goes that a knight comes to his king and reports that he's spent the last year defeating the kingdom's enemies to the south, the west and the north.
King: What?! I don't have any enemies to the north!
Knight: Oh. Well, you do now.

    Video Games 
  • Caius Ballad in Final Fantasy XIII-2 executes a centuries-long plan to stop Yeul's (a Waif Prophet he is charged to protect) cycle of reincarnation that leads to her being killed over and over again by her own prophetic gift. Towards the end of the game, it turns out that Yeul is Not Afraid to Die, and all she ever wanted was to spend her lifetimes with Caius and Noel—a dream that Caius himself ruined by his quest.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Bad Boys Love route of Hatoful Boyfriend, Shuu promises Kawara Ryuji to help the his son Ryouta if anything happened to him (such as dying). After a disaster abroad, Shuu next meets Ryouta in an orphanage that just witnessed a human-sympathizer attack and decides to grant the boy one wish: to stop the fighting between humans and birds. To this end, Shuu began experimenting with a virus that would instantly kill humans without them even knowing through Nageki, and after his suicide, implant Nageki's liver in Ryouta to continue his plan to end the fighting between humans and birds... by eliminating the humans. His first victim? His childhood friend Hiyoko, a hunter-gatherer human girl.

    Western Animation 
  • On the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Lost Mattress", Mr. Krabs has trouble sleeping because of his lumpy mattress, so SpongeBob and Patrick buy him a new one and throw the old one away. Unfortunately, the reason the mattress was so lumpy was because Mr. Krabs had all his money inside, and he goes into a catatonic shock while SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward (who took all the credit) look for the mattress at the dump.

    Real Life 

Will go under Poor Communication Kills and Mistaken for Index.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • December 29, 2012
    MrRuano
    Painfully done in the Bad Boys Love route of Hatoful Boyfriend. Shuu promises Kawara Ryuji to help the his son Ryouta if anything happened to him (Such as dying). After a disaster abroad, Shuu next meets Ryouta in an orphanage that just witnessed a human-sympathizer attack and decides to grant the boy one wish: to stop the fighting between humans and birds. To this end, Shuu began experimenting with a virus that would instantly kill humans without them even knowing through Nageki, and after his suicide, implant Nageki's liver in Ryouta to continue his plan to end the fighting between humans and birds...by eliminating the humans. His first victim? His childhood friend Hiyoko, a hunter-gatherer human girl.
  • December 29, 2012
    Goldfritha
  • December 30, 2012
    DRCEQ
    • In Hitch, Hitch himself starts dating Sera, and things go fine at first. Then Hitch decides to surprise her by taking her to the Statue of Liberty, thinking it would be a nice gesture to show her the Statin Island immigration records, showing her the ancestor that brought her family lineage to America. Sera starts to cry and storm off, pointing out that just being reminded of ancestor's name reminds her of how he was an infamous serial killer. Hitch spends a good part of the movie trying to rekindle their relationship.
  • January 26, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • January 26, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Non-romantic example in one of the Brother Cadfael stories. An old lady has a devoted pair of servants, who kill an Old Retainer when they think she might spill the beans on a secret their mistress doesn't want let out. She is horrified, as she never would have ordered the retainer's death and the secret is out anyway. The two run away before the law can catch up with them.
    • According to The Other Wiki, the most common explaination for the murder of Thomas Becket (the Archbishop of Canterbury) is four knights interpreting Henry's "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" as an order to kill him.
  • January 26, 2013
    MetaFour
  • January 26, 2013
    OmarKarindu
    This is definitely related to Poisonous Friend.
  • January 26, 2013
    toadking07
    Definitely a corner stone of most romantic comedies. Examples should be everywhere.
  • January 27, 2013
    azul120
  • January 27, 2013
    Koveras
    azul120, I would appreciate it if you didn't edit my YKTTW writeup without asking me first. :)
  • January 27, 2013
    bogiesbellow
    In How I Met Your Mother in order to show Stella that there is nothing between Robin and that they can both trust each other Ted invites Stella's ex only to find out that they are still in love and she gets back together leaving Ted at the altar

    Spoilers are probably a given in this trope
  • January 27, 2013
    captainpat
    Part of that Code Geass example needs to be fixed, there's no such thing as "partly subverted"
  • January 27, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I partly fixed the partly subverted example part.

    But seriously, though: this is exactly why I hate it when someone edits my YKTTWs without permission. They screw things up and I am the dumbass who gets the blame and has to fix it. For the record, that "partly subverted" was added to my original example writeup by azul120, who apparently wasn't content with the speed of my Rolling Updates, so he took matters into his own hands.
  • January 27, 2013
    azul120
    Sorry about that. Will defer to reply in the future.

    And it was subverted in that Lelouch used Nunnally as an excuse.
  • January 27, 2013
    Koveras
    Original post by Chabal2 accidentally blanked. Sorry!
  • January 27, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Oh Crap. Chabal2, I am so sorry, I accidentally overwrote your post. :( But I already copied your example to the writeup, so I hope you are not angry. :(

    ^^ Excuse for making a better world? That doesn't explain why he effectively tried killing himself twice after her death--by the Black Knights and by sealing himself inside the Sword of Akasha. His motivations are complex, okay? Let's go with the simplest explanation.
  • January 27, 2013
    azul120
    He still wanted to make the world a better place. Only thing that changed was that he now wanted to die. Which, btw, was not only because of Nunnally's presumed death, but also the Black Knights turning on him. Even if he only took Charles out with him, it still would have helped. Besides, he started consciously prioritizing the rest of the world over Nunnally in Turn 7 of R2. (Yeah, he freaked out when he sensed she was in danger, but that's another topic.) Let's just call it a zigzagged example.
  • January 27, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I rewrote my example.

    Also, I updated the laconic to be more laconic.
  • February 1, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump. Examples, suggestions, hats?
  • February 7, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Two issues, then an example: Rewrite the description with the Example As Thesis.

    The How I Met Your Mother one isn't... really an example, I don't think. Ted invites Stella's ex because Tony feels bad that he's being left out of the wedding. The favor that Ted is doing for Stella is picking up her child from Tony. Inviting Tony was a result of basically Ted filling awkward space with an invite.

    • In Arrested Development, George Michael decides to throw a 16th birthday party for his cousin, Maeby. He finds her address book and invites everyone in it. However, she had been posing as someone much older in order to hold down a job as a film studio executive. By inviting the people from her address book, George Michael unwittingly exposed her true age to her coworkers and got her fired.
  • February 7, 2013
    captainpat
    Two things

    • Please rewrite the description without the Alice And Bob scenario. That's an Example As A Thesis. You don't need an example in your trope description when you have an example section right below it.

    • This is a spoiler heavy trope so you should put a spoiler warning on the description and get rid of all the spoiler text. Some of these examples are useless to those unfamiliar to the work.
  • February 7, 2013
    Nomic
    • In Finnish, the term for this kind of thign is "karhunpalvelus", or "bear's favour", which comes from a folk tale about a man with a pet bear. One day when the man was sleeping, a fly landed on his nose. The bear tried to swat it away, but ended up smacking him in the face with its paw, killing the man.
  • February 8, 2013
    Koveras
    @Larkmarn and captainpat: Would it be better if I used character A and character B or just "one character, another character, the former, the latter"? Like this:

    One character loves another, who has a problem in his/her life, so the former decides to decides to fix it, without asking the latter whether this is a good idea (or even in spite of his/her explicit request not to interfere). The first character executes an elaborate plan and succeeds, but it turns out that by doing so, he/she ends up ruining his/her relationship with the second character or even their very lives.

    That's not an Alice And Bob Example As Thesis, so it's much better, no?
  • June 14, 2013
    Koveras
    So, I am still waiting for the answer four months later. :)
  • September 20, 2013
    Koveras
    Bumping.
  • September 20, 2013
    captainpat
    ^^ Oh sorry. Yeah, that's a better description.
  • September 20, 2013
    Koveras
    Well, since the sarcasm in my voice fell on deaf ears, I updated the write-up. :D
  • September 20, 2013
    TonyG
    On the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "The Lost Mattress", Mr. Krabs has trouble sleeping because of his lumpy mattress, so SpongeBob and Patrick buy him a new one and throw the old one away. Unfortunately, the reason the mattress was so lumpy was because Mr. Krabs had all his money inside, and he goes into a catatonic shock while SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward (who took all the credit) look for the mattress at the dump.
  • September 21, 2013
    DAN004
    Related to Rule Of Drama.
  • September 21, 2013
    qazwsx
    • A Song Of Ice And Fire: Ned Stark tries to help his friend King Robert by uncovering a secret that the queen has been keeping from him. Unfortunately, Ned is woefully unprepared to deal with the politics of the capital, and gets involved in a power play that gets both him and Robert killed and spurs a continent-wide civil war.
  • September 21, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
  • September 21, 2013
    Koveras
    @DAN004: As is everything in fiction. ;)

    @qazwsx: But doesn't Ned actually take quite a bit of coaxing before he agrees to help Robert out?

    @ShanghaiSlave: That works, thanks.
  • September 25, 2014
    Sahira
    • Downplayed in an episode of Doctor Who: River Song breaks her wrist escaping from a weeping angle but when the Doctor uses some of his regeneration energy in order to heal it (without consulting her) this somehow just makes her (and Amy Pond) angry at him.
  • September 25, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Examples section formatting
  • December 8, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • In the original short story "Its A Good Life" three-year-old Anthony uses his godlike powers to "help" people but since he has a child's worldview his help is more often than not a hindrance. Such as when a woman misses her dead husband, so Anthony reanimates his corpse which digs its way out from the grave. At the end of the story he makes it snow because his aunt had complained about the heat, which kills off half the crops.
    • In an episode of Blackadder the King talks to his wife about the Thomas Becket situation one of his predecessors went through. Some knights just returning from an adventure walk in just as the King quotes "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest" and take it that they'd get in the King's good graces if they killed the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Unbeknownst to them the King and the Archbishop (who is also the King's son) are actually getting on very well.
  • December 8, 2014
    DAN004
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=mkis24x07tio2h0l0gbm57ld