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Punished For Sympathy
A character is punished or ostracized for showing sympathy to the enemy.

(permanent link) added: 2013-06-24 15:22:07 sponsor: 313Bluestreak (last reply: 2013-06-27 07:07:19)

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And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, "I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you." And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
--The Bible, Judges 2:1-4, (King James Version)

Whenever a person does something wrong, whether it be stealing from a bank, betraying people's trust, or has savagely killed millions of innocent lives, this is part where someone must come in and give him something he rightfully deserves. Exactly. But then we find out that there was someone who's willing forgive and forget all of the bad he has done. Not to mention that they're having fun together like old buddies. This is vile! That person needs to be punished, too!

This is the trope where a character will receive punishment or ostracism by others for sympathizing, forgiving, sparing, or just being plain nice to an enemy, although downplayed versions would have him just being called out of it. If there is one way to put someone or everyone over the edge, it will have to be someone who is supposed to be on their side who looks beyond the bad of the despised individual. On a moral level, when it comes to this trope, it's one thing for a character to do wrong, but holding soft feelings for those who have done wrong can be just as bad, and it's even worse if the person who has done wrong is truly beyond redemption.

Other situations can vary. The person whom the character sympathizes may be someone who's a reject to society, and they don't take kindly of those who associate with them. The sympathizer may be a part of a group who detests other groups and would treat those with contempt if they're friendly to each other. The sympathizer may be a Reluctant Warrior and him showing mercy to the enemy has put the race of warriors to shame.

This is quite common in many war fights. If there was a general who commands soldiers to kill a certain race they oppose (and they do mean, every single one), expect one to spare at least one life or just refuse to kill everyone. This means that the soldier has disobeyed the general, and when he hears about this, he will tell him to turn in his badge.

This can be a suitable reaction towards a Stupid Good character as well as characters who's friendly to each other despite being supposedly enemies. Sympathy for the Devil is also defied by this trope.

Contrast Made Out to Be a Jerkass if a character is given backlash for rightfully showing no sympathy for the offender. A Knight Templar may give out these to those whom he thinks are in the way of the greater good. This is what will happen to those who assist an Outlaw. This can serve as a one of the tenants of the With Us or Against Us philosophy if being friendly to an enemy makes them an enemy. Throwing roses when the authorities want you to throw mud in Come to Gawk can produce this.


Anime & Manga
  • In episode 16 of DokiDoki! Precure, Makoto, who's hates seeing wrongdoers go unpunished, calls out Mana and even abandons her for trying to befriend Regina, who shares the blame for destroying Makopi's country.
  • Only barely averted in Fullmetal Alchemist. During the Ishvalan War, Alex Louis Armstrong becomes so horrified about the genocide brought down on the Ishvalan people, that he ends up letting a couple of them escape the extermination. Solf J. Kimblee notices this and quickly kills the two Ishvalans. As Kimblee states himself, he could easily get Armstrong in trouble by reporting him to the court-martial. However, he doesn't do this, which makes his character all the more disturbing.
  • In Black Lagoon, Balalaika (a Russian veteran from the Afghanistan war and current crime lord) reveals that although her discharge was medical, and on-request, she was unofficially dishonored because she saved a child from a refugee camp, mirroring Caxton stopping his superior officer in 'Nam from leading the unit to rape a young village girl.

  • Occurs to Hiccup in Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon, when his father discovers that Hiccup's success against dragons comes from understanding them rather than ruthlessly destroying them. Once Hiccup's compassion for the Night Fury Toothless comes to light, Stoick drops the hammer: "You're no son o' mine."

  • The Yeerks from the Animorphs books are a Puppeteer Parasite race that considers sympatizing with or befriending the host the worst possible crime, and their laws punish it with a painful death sentence.

Live-Action TV
  • The M*A*S*H episode "The Trial of Henry Blake" puts this into perspective: in an attempt to have Henry relieved of duty as commanding officer of the 4077th, Margaret and Frank have him charged with a number of misdemeanors, including giving aid and comfort to North Koreans. In actuality, Henry had been contributing pinicillin, among other drugs, to an elderly American nurse who runs a clinic in enemy territory dedicated to aiding poverty-stricken civilians.

Professional Wrestling

  • The Bible has a lot of examples involving God punishing His people for showing pity to those He commanded to hate and sparing those whom He commanded to destroy:
    • Leviticus 10:1-6: Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, were burned to death by God for offering strange fire which they were commanded not to bring. He then invokes this trope by warning Aaron that he will, too, kill him and the rest of the Israelites should he mourn for their losses.
    • Numbers 16:41-50: The Israelites complained to Moses about God burning 250 of the other Israelites to death for burning incense. God's response? He gets angry and starts killing 14,700 more of the Israelites.
    • Judges 2:1-4: Quoted from above, an angel of the LORD scolds the Israelites for incomplete genocide of the inhabitants of Canaan as well as being friendly with them. To punish them, God allows the Canaanites to be Israelites' oppressors.
    • I Samuel 15:18-23: King Saul is chastised by Samuel because he had spared only one Amalekite which is King Agag as well as the sheep and cattle which were valuable. This is where God has officially rejected Saul as king of Israel.

Tabletop Games
  • Tabletop Game/Champions supplement Red Doom. Yuri Kamonov (AKA Sputnik) is a superpowered member of the Supreme Soviets. He won't use lethal force against opponents unless it's absolutely necessary and there's no other alternative. He also tries to avoid conflict and resolve confrontations by negotiation or non-lethal force. This has caused him to get in trouble with Colonel Vasalov, the leader of the Supreme Soviets, on multiple occasions, and Vasalov has punished him by denying him any promotion.

  • Antigone's brother Polynices dies an enemy of the state, and Creon commands that Polynices' body shall not be buried. Antigone gives him a proper burial anyway, so she is sentenced to be locked in a tomb.

Video Games
  • The entire plot of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten is more or less driven by the fact that the Big Bad Nemo was once a human who was injured in a war and helped by an enemy nurse called Artina, who was executed as a traitor for it (and ended up convincing Valvatorez to give up blood, allowing Nemo to take over his position). Thus leading to his Start of Darkness (and her becoming the angel Vulcanus).
  • Part of the backstory of World of Warcraft's paladin Highlord Tirion Fordring. Not long after the second war against the orcs, Tirion has his life saved by one, Eitrigg. When Eitrigg is captured Tirion tries to save his life and return the favor, only to be ostracized, declared a traitor, and exiled.

  • A flashback in Terra has Talos Antares try to fake having killed a human civilian to protect her from his immediate superior, Solus Kalar. Solus isn't fooled, hunts down and kills the civilian in cold blood, then starts beating the crap out of Talos (as pictured above). Agrippa Varus, Solus' equal in rank at the time, rescues Talos.

Western Animation
  • The pilot episode of TRON: Uprising has Beck hijack a train full of Programs about to be arrested by General Tessler and either killed or made to fight for the Big Bad. During the hijacking he spares the life of a Mook, who is shocked at being spared and does a Mook-Face Turn over it. He helps Beck find and free the Programs, and seems about to switch sides when he gets a fist through his torso, courtesy of General Tessler.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Clash of Triton", King Neptune reveals that the reason he is sad during his 5,000th birthday is because he misses his son Triton, whom he locks in a cage in the Island in the Sky for 10,000 years (although specifically, Triton has only been in the cage for 1,000 years) because he made a cure for all mortal diseases, hoping that would teach him how to be a god.
  • In Exosquad, the Neosapien ace Thrax is demoted for repeatedly showing mercy to Terrans, such as refusing to finish off Kaz Takagi after winning a space duel against him on Mercury and disobeying direct orders to detonate thermonuclear charges under Venus City, killing all Terran soldiers and captured civilians inside.

Real Life
  • Russian dissident author Alexander Solzhenitsyn first expressed his independence of mind as a Red Army officer during the battle of Berlin in 1945. He openly complained against the barbaric treatment of captured German civilians, especially mass rape of German women, and sought to prevent men under his command from ill-treating Germans. He also sent reports higher up the command ladder expressing his moral objections and pointing out this was not only corroding the men, it was breaking down normal discipline in the Red Army. Alas for Solzhenitsyn, this went well against official policy that had whipped the Russian soldiers up into a frenzy of hate and vengeance against all Germans. He was relieved of command, arrested, and ultimately sent to the Gulag for refusing to obey orders. Other Russians who objected to the terror inflicted on conquered Germany included war correspondents who were in a position to freely move around and witness what was being done in the name of Stalin and the Soviet Union. One in particular was given twenty-five years for "spying for the West" - all he had done was to trade stories with British and American war reporters in tripartite Berlin, telling them the horrors he had witnessed Red Army soldiers committing.

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