Accomplice By Inaction YKTTW Discussion

Accomplice By Inaction
The victim or hir friends (also) blame those who refused to help or the ones who didn't try to.
Up For Grabs Better Name
(permanent link) added: 2013-03-01 05:48:34 sponsor: Lorialet (last reply: 2013-03-29 07:52:05)

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'''Launched as Accomplice by Inaction.'''

Igraine: I never did anything to hurt you !
Morgan: Indeed, my lady. You did nothing. You did nothing when my father had my mother killed so that you could sit in her place. As you did nothing when my father banished me.
Igraine: No queen questions her king.
Morgan: And I thought my opinion of you couldn't get any lower.
-- Starz's Camelot, during Igraine and Morgan's second scene together

So, let's say Alice was abused by her dad, Evulvz. She was a favorite victim of his, and his abuse was made of both emotional and physical patterns. From her childhood to early adulthood, he made her life a real mess and when she finally managed to make Evulvz Sealed Evil in a Can with help of her beloved, Danny, everyone expected them to rejoice. They were supposed to go straight to Charlie and Bob, the Apathetic Citizens, who watched the abuse thinking that it was Somebody Else's Problem, or to Claire, the Innocent Bystander who was unable to do anything, and to throw a party and invite them.

Except they want to have them caught. Now. And to charge them all as accomplices to Alice's dad's abuse. And burn their crops. And resiliate their suscribtion to cable channels. Turns out, doing nothing wasn't that much of a great plan.

The level of sympathy given to both parties (the accusers, be they the victim or not, on one hand and the accused, on the other) can vary, depending on whether it was the bystander being oblivious or knowing all along, but also on whether the character refused to help, or was also another innocent victim, or was simply incapable to offer help. There is also the issue of Alice's reaction to the abuse. She can turn into Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds or into a Knight in Sour Armor.

Compare Failure-to-Save Murder, which has a strong overlap rate. Compare and contrast Cruel Mercy wich the non-intervention may be from the point of view of the inactive party, thus making the accusation justified. See also a common cause for this trope, Moral Myopia, the All-Powerful Bystander who is likely to be seen as this, and You Were Trying Too Hard, for the almost-opposite.

Possible overlap with Hitler Ate Sugar, could involve Insane Troll Logic in some cases.

Animated Films
  • Zira blames Kovu in The Lion King 2, after Nuka dies in the fight with Simba.
    Kovu: I did nothing!
    Zira: Exactly! And in doing so, you betrayed your pride, betrayed Scar!
    Kovu: I want nothing more to do with him!
    Zira: You cannot escape it! Nuka is dead because of you! You've killed your own brother!
    Kovu: NO! *runs off*

Anime and Manga
  • This is an audience reaction to Ryuk from Death Note : technically while he didn't force Light to kill criminals he did cause the whole plot to even start by dropping the book in the human world.


  • In W.I.T.C.H., Ari of Arkhanta, who possesses a slave he uses only for his greedy motives, has a massive grudge against the oracle of Kandrakhar, the benevolent figure who saves everyone's life once a week. Why ? Unlike the man, who obsessed about changing his son, the Oracle didn't ever try to "cure" the child's autism.

  • In Samuel Richarson's Clarissa (1747-48), the longest book ever written in the English language, the heroine's mother and her aunt look like this from a modern reader's perspective because they never oppose the father's when he does his best to force the heroine into an arranged marriage. Richardson seemed to partially agree, at least for the good aunt Hervey, whom he describes in the preface as "lacking the courage to go against so strong a steam, [and] sailing with it".
  • Strangely averted and then deconstructed in Céline Raphael's La Démesure, a testimony of her life as a child and later as a young teenager with an unbelivably physically and emotionally abusive Stage Dad. She mentions that her mother and her younger sister never confronted her father about the abuse in the first years, and the reader assumes that they didn't know about the situation. Then, halfway through the book, she writes about how unsettling it must have been for them to hear all this from behind the closed door of the room her father locked her in for practice. She never had a grudge agaisnt her mother.
    • However, there were occasions when her little sister had to go walk with them, and while this was one of the rare moments during which she (Céline) wasn't beaten, her sister (Marie), who limped, was hit with a stick if she didn't follow quick enough. If her sister didn't accept to come for a walk to make their father cut Céline some slack, she and her mother yelled at her.
    • She also resented a P.E. teacher who taunted her for failing to attend his classes (because her father forbade her too for practice) out of pure anger towards her and herv family enjoying superior social standing and being allegedly able to break rules. It is one of the rare persons she seems to still ressent and look down upon.
  • After Lancelot hesitates a second and then jeopardizes his reputation and future for Guinevere in some versions of Arthurian legend, she refuses to even look at him. He thinks this is because he demeaned himself and is thoroughly humiliated. Actually, it is because he didn't totally humiliate himself immediately.
  • In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship , this is used for comedic effect, when Laura and Sophia are furious with the latter's cousin, Mac Donald, because he didn't sigh nor weep when he heard that they had been abandonned by their grandfather. He just saved them, providing them with shelter, food and stability.
  • In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, this is Played for Drama, since the eldest brother refuses to give anything to his sisters despite his father's unofficial will. They thoroughly despise him for this and for being a condescending, pitiless, Innocently Insensitive weakling. In The Watsons, another work by the same writer, sadly unfinished, the heroine similarly despises the brother who gained financial independance and could have helped her sister while she, despite being in a higher situation, couldn't do anything, but chose not to do anything except invite his favorite sister occasionally.
    • This is averted in many cases when the heroine supposes that someone did nothing when they could have helped, and a modern reader would be pissed, but because of Values Dissonance, this is a perfectly normal conduct. This includes Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Morland, Elinor Dashwood, and many others...
    • Strangely, this is not even left ambiguous with two of Jane Austen's most charming EnglishRoses, Fanny Price and Jane Fairfax, who sound a lot like nineteenth century gothic romance heroines. These sweet Proper Ladies don't take being neglected well.
  • The Three Laws of Robotics, specifically the second part of the first one were created to defy the trope
    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    First law of robotics

Live-Action TV
  • Morgan's reason for hating Igraine is apparently this, as Igraine never opposed her father when he tried to destroy her childhood. It appears later on that there is also a dose of Irrational Hatred in this since Igraine couldn't have escaped Uther's will (he was really a domineering violent king). When Morgan stabs Igraine in the season 1 finale, her stepmother reveals that Uther wanted to kill his own daughter, and that she convinced him to simply send her away in a covent to protect Morgan.
  • Desperate Housewives has this as the main motive of Paul Young, after the main characters couldn't do anything else than simply let him be framed. He is also offended because they didn't visit him in jail, still.
  • In the backstory of Justified Hunter Mosley was the sheriff of Harlan County when Henry Crowder kidnapped, raped and murdered Mosley's young niece. Henry fled and the other members of the Crowder family refused to reveal where he was hiding. Mosley made a Deal with the Devil with a Miami drug cartel and with their help located Henry and murdered him in revenge. He then went after the other Crowders and while he could not have them arrested as Henry's accomplices, there were plenty of other crimes they were guilty of and could be sent to prison for. Even years later he still holds a grudge against the Crowders even though the remaining members of the family had no role in the matter.
  • Canonically, on Once Upon a Time, this is probably supposed to be Regina's motivation for extracting revenge on Snow White, who was manipulated by Regina's mother Cora into revealing the identity of Regina's lover, all despite swearing to never to say a word about it to Cora, who then killed him. This is left ambiguous and she may believe that Snow White was more than negligent and planed it all from the start.
    Regina: (having an Indulgent Fantasy Segue about strangling the girl) My mother corrupts young souls. If you had been stronger, none of this would've ever have happened...
    • Fanon for makes this part of Regina's motivation for asking her dad to act as a manservant and later killing him to further her plans. He seems to expect this, but she denies this with an heartfelt Do Not Go Gentle speech and thanks him for always trying to help.
    • This may be her motivation for ruining the lives of every inhabitant of her kingdom. Her mother abused her for years, killed her lover and forced her to watch and to marry a middle-aged widower ? Well, they are fine with it. She tries to kill their princess ? They unleash their wrath on her.
  • Seinfeld is a prime example in the last episode of the last season. The episode is about the cast not helping someone getting mugged on the street in broad daylight, and them being arrested, trialed (with everybody they managed to somehow piss off with their Jerkassery over several seasons coming Back for the Finale as witnesses) and then put in jail because of a recently-passed "Good Samaritan" law.
  • Subverted in an episode of Taggart; members of a criminal gang are being murdered and the prime suspect is the daughter of a have-a-go-hero who got beaten to death for his trouble (by the leader, the other gang members just stood by). They arrest her after she shoots said leader however when they try to call her out for killing the other gang members, she denies it. They realise that said leader had manipulated her into shooting him (he was wearing a bullet proof vest) and was the one who killed his former partners in crime.
  • In V-2009, this culminates for Erica after she must watch her ex-husband die in her arms because of an attack by the aliens, just after escaping what everyone thinks was a kidnapping, and is just narrowly cleared of accusations of being The Mole. But this is not over, because she must bear her son Tyler's sneering comments about how she couldn't save her husband and should have, leading to Failure-to-Save Murder.
    • She is understandably angry and depressed and this souds shocking to her, just like the cases of teenagers chastizing the church for not meddling in V politics. Though, when you read Tyler's previous actions, you realize that he often blaimed her for not helping the cute (ruthless homicidal totalitarian) and charismatic Hive Queen of the Vs, his friends, or himself when she could barely intervene...

Live action Movies
  • Batman Begins : Bruce could, from the beginning, quite rightflly cause this reaction with one of his lines.
    I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you...
    • TDK has this somewhat as the reason for Harvey's rampage, as he goes after everybody who had something to do with Rachel Dawes' death, including (or would, at term, include) those who had nothing to do with it (like the mob boss other than Maroni he blows away at the bar, since he helped hire the Joker, but surely had nothing to do with him and the rest of the movie's plot after *that*).
  • In the film adaptation of Night Watch, a cornered vampire girl blames the Night Watch (ostensibly the good guys) for her turning into a vampire and subsequent crimes, since the vampire who turned her was doing so legally under the Balance Between Good and Evil treaty, so the Night Watch couldn't intervene.

  • Ulysses is constantly blamed for the amount of mind-boggling STUPID his crew members can wack. They are always eager to disobey the orders of the superior forces, and when he tries to apologize for them, he is usually held responsible.
  • Electra has the poor Chrysothemis, who seems to be blamed for not really taking a side in the terrible family conflict. She is sweet and is well-adjusted, so she probably will have an easy life...

  • In The Bible, Matthew 25:41-45 showcases the fate of those who are not chosen by God when the Day of Judgment comes :
    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Video Games
  • In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten Judge Nemo blames everyone for the death of Artina, and considers everyone evil because no one helped him when he was tortured.
  • In the game Misao, Kudou saw Misao being bullied, but didn't take action against it, and Misao executes him by driving a car over him.
  • World of Warcraft: Grand Magister Rommath (along other blood elves) hate the Kirin Tor because they did nothing when every elf in Dalaran, a city many of them considered home, was imprisoned and sentenced to death because of a false accusation.
    Rommath: "A monumental betrayal. In Dalaran, beneath the ever watchful eyes of the Kirin Tor."
    Aethas Sunreaver: They really had nothing to do with --"
    Rommath: "I assume you mean that the Kirin Tor did nothing. Did nothing to prevent it, did nothing to stop it. And instead left us to rot in the prisons beneath a city many of us called home as much as ever we did Silvermoon."

Web Original
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: After Lizzie learns that Bing Lee simply left her sister Jane because his sister Caroline and his friend Darcy told him that she wasn't interested in him, she is about to forgive him. Then, she realizes that he understood the situation later, but couldn't muster the courage to do anything. And from that point, she hates him.
  • In Squaresville, it is hinted that the group of protagonists which we follow are a bunch of social outcasts. They are victims, if not of bullying, at least of condescending remarks from the other children, even the comformist outcasts, and the mots jaded of them all, Esther, has a grudge against Shelly, a girl who "escaped" their current condition, and did nothing to help.

Real Life
  • This is very much Truth in Television in certain situations, as far as judiciary system goes, since you can be prosecuted for not taking any action to help somenone in peril (officially known as the duty to rescue concept)..
  • Céline Rapahaël, a Frenchwoman victim of a Stage Dad, wrote a book about the abuse she underwent. The examples are treated in the Litterature section.
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