Created By: FrodoGoofballCoTV on December 2, 2011 Last Edited By: FrodoGoofballCoTV on January 3, 2012

The Penalty For Heroism Is Heroism

A character is Arrested For Heroism, found guilty, and given a suspiciously light sentance.

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Early Development Phase. Rolling Updates expected. Needs help with everything, including the name, description, etc.

Specifically looking for input on whether this is too specific or too vague.
The Hero has just finished off the Big Bad, but at the cost of getting into a whole mess of trouble. After the obligitory Arrested for Heroism moment, the court faces a dilemma: how do you deal with a gang of criminals who just saved the world? Simply pardoning them would show too much favoritism, but even the minimum normal sentance would bring massive cries of outrage when news of their good deads hit the press.

For an exceptionally Genre Savvy Judge, the answer is simple: craft a sentance that will place them in exactly the right position to save the world in the sequel! It allows the court to show that they didn't completely overlook The Hero's misdeads without making the court look Lawful Stupid, but more importantly, it preserves Status Quo Is God. For extra drama, the judge may sentance them harshly, then find an excuse to reduce the fine.

In keeping with the theme of Status Quo Is God, it's not uncommon for the character to be fired, loose any promotions, pay raises, etc. they might have recieved earlier in the episode, sometimes being fined the exact amount of any reward, lottery, etc., they might have won... and then be re-hired into the position they started out in.

Alternately, the character may be given a promotion as "punishment" instead. This is usually done when the character is new, a recent Heel–Face Turn, Sixth Ranger, etc., and is being made a permanent member of the team, or the writers decide to Throw the Dog a Bone.

A subtrope of Arrested for Heroism and Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving.

This typically is handled in two ways:
  • The judge may speak to the character privately, saying something like "What shall we do with you?", giving time for the drama to build before announcing their decision.
  • The character will be hauled before a Kangaroo Court, where a long list of charges will be read off, sometimes followed by, "and numerous other charges". The court will then drop most of the charges, and address the remaining charges in more detail before passing sentance. If the character is in the military, the remaining charge will often be "failure to obey orders", lampshading the fact that the hero did a good deed in defiance of the very authority that should have encouraged it.

NOTE: as this is often an ending trope, spoilers ahoy!


anime and manga:
  • In Zero no Tsukaima, after successfully completing an unauthorized rescue mission, the crew of the Ostland decides to turn themselves in. At Loise's trial, she throws herself on the mercy of the court, saying she'll accept any punishment. Queen Henrietta replies that in that case, the "punishment" will be to wear a royal mantle - legally making her Henrietta's adopted sister.

Film - Live Action:
  • At the end of Star Trek IV, the crew of the Enterprise NCC 1701 are finally brought to justice for defying The Federation and the Klingons in Star Trek III', and the loss of the USS Enterprise. All charges are dropped except for disobeying orders, for which Kirk is sentanced to be reduced in rank to Captain, and given an "appropriate command". A final dramatic moment follows as the crew is taken to their new home... a brand new heavy cruiser, the "USS Enterprise NCC 1701-A".


Live-Action Television:
  • In Babylon 5, after the death of President Clark, Captain Sheridan turns himself in to the new President of the Earth Alliance. President Luchenko says that she doesn't know if she should have Sheridan executed or awarded a medal, but she'll settle for his resignation. Coming out of the meeting, they're met by Delenn and G'kar, who explain that the ISA also needs a new president.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • December 2, 2011
    • Deb defends a woman charged with accessory to murder in Drop Dead Diva. She had not only turned her life around, but had gotten married, volunteered at numerous charities, gave to the homeless, and spent all her free time trying to make the world a better place . When she is found guilty anyway the judge is so moved by how much good the woman had done that she sentences her to "continue the exemplary life she's already living" aka community service. For a accessory to murder charge
  • December 3, 2011
    Does Mulan count? She broke many rules and traditions by joining the Chinese army. Shang would have killed her if she didn't save his life. At the end, she ends up saving the day. The emperor chastises her for all that she did, before thanking her for saving his kingdom.
  • December 3, 2011
  • December 3, 2011
    ^Facepalm. Forgot that one!
  • December 3, 2011
    In Eragon, Orik commits insubordination against The Twins by saving Eragon's life. Orik is released from the Varden, which really puts him in a position of power because he no longer serves the head of the organization staying in Farthen Dur, but the King of Farthen Dur himself, so he is now above the laws of the Varden.
  • December 3, 2011
    E: Nevermind, I can't read.
  • December 3, 2011
    • Doctor Who Fanon has it that this is what the Time Lords were thinking in "The War Games". The crime: interfering in Earth history, mostly by stopping alien invasions. The punishment: Being exiled to Earth at a time when it was about to experience lots of alien invasions.
  • December 5, 2011
    "Alternately, the character may be given a promotion as "punishment" instead." I feel like we have this.
  • December 5, 2011
    ^ That's Kicked Upstairs.
  • December 5, 2011
    That sounds like it's essentially the opposite of this. Kicked Upstairs is a "promotion" that's really a punishment or at least an unfavorable reassignment. With this trope, a good promotion might be framed as a "punishment."
  • January 2, 2012
    See also Unishment.
  • January 2, 2012
    In the 1978 kung-fu film The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, the main character, having mastered the 35 training methods, proposes the establishment of the titular 36th chamber, by which he means training of laypeople in martial arts so that they can resist the Manchu government. In response to the discord caused by his plan, the leaders choose to punish him, by exiling him, allowing him to train others.
  • January 2, 2012
    I think the name is just a little bit off. maybe something invoking 'faux penalty'. The trope itself looks good.
  • January 2, 2012
    Comics example Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller is arrested for running an unofficial black ops team composed of BoxedCrooks. She later gets a pardon for more or less resuming her old job.

    NB I've never read it myself and only gleened it fro its trope page.
  • January 3, 2012
    We Find The Accused Guilty Of Heroism? Little long but encapsulates the trope I think.
  • January 3, 2012
    No, because that title make no mention of the actual sentencing, which is the point of this trope.
  • January 3, 2012
  • January 3, 2012