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Disproportionate Retribution: Live-Action TV

  • On Angel, a first-season episode features a 10-12 year old boy who sneaks into his little sister's room late at night, pours gasoline all over her and her bed, then sets fire to it. Why? She had more marshmallows in her hot chocolate than he did in his. This isn't because the boy is a demon or something. This is explicitly just a psychotic child. In fact, when the boy DOES get possessed by a demon, it's the demon who's in trouble.
    • The curse at the heart of Angel's back story is a case of disproportionate retribution. At face value it's a fitting punishment for Angelus killing thousands of people over the course of more than a century, but the gypsies were only punishing him for killing one of their own. However when the specific nature of the curse is taken into consideration, it's even more disproportionate to the crime. They are essentially tormenting the soul of a mortal to punish the demon running around in his body. Worse still the cure for the curse was true happiness, meaning they deliberately put in a clause that specifically forces Angel to be miserable or unleash Angelus back on the world.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Earth-Minbari War started when a human scout ship first encountered a Minbari battlecruiser and its hotheaded captain mistook the proper Minbari greeting for fellow warriors as preparations to attack and opened fire first. Among the Minbari killed by the initial salvo happened to be their highest religious leader and his apprentice ordered that the entire human race had to be eradicated for this crime. Though it later became clear that it had been an accident and the humans really did not want a war, the Minbari continued with their genocidal crusade anyway and only stopped at the very last moment when they discovered that Humans and Minbari are both incarnations of the same souls and the murder of other Minbari is forbidden. It was revealed in a later episode that the order was meant to be not to attack as Dukat, the leader of the council, realized that is was a bad idea to use the normal greeting, but the ranking Minbari present at his death were too angry to care.
    • The Vorlons and Shadows, when the planet-killers come out—destroying worlds, some with millions or billions of people, which were merely "touched by" (influenced by, whether willingly or not, or unable to resist such influence) their respective enemy. Which was a big part of the point Sheridan was making about these First Ones' failure as guardians of younger races.
    • When the Centauri reoccupy the Narn homeworld, the penalty for killing one Centauri was the execution of 500 Narns, including the perpetrator's own family.
    • G'Kar's father was hung from a tree by his hands for three days until dead, for spilling a hot beverage on the lady of the Centauri household where he was a servant during the last Centauri occupation.
    • Pretty much any punishment handed down by Emperor Cartagia, whether to captive Narns or to a court jester who was mirroring his actions with a little flare:
    Cartagia: "Humor is such a subjective thing, don't you think?"
  • Both versions of Battlestar Galactica.
    • In the old series, the Cylons declare war against the Twelve Colonies after the Colonials get involved in a border dispute between the Cylons and another race allied to the Colonies. It is never really explained why this so offends the Cylons that they pursue a thousand-year-war against the Colonials and desire the total extinction of humanity down to the last surviving member, even pursuing the last few thousand survivors across space and into another Galaxy for potentially decades to do so.
      • Considering that we late learn, or at least it is strongly implied, that the Devil had a direct hand in the creation and guidance of the Cylons, it seems likely that the border dispute was a pretext.
      • Iblis is not actually the Devil, but a parallel character imported into Islam from pre-Islamic myth. While the Devil is an Angel who was corrupted by his pride, Iblis is a rebel Djinn (who was also corrupted by his pride). When Angels and Djinn were ordered to bow down to Adam, he refused. This makes him a distinct but very similar figure to the Devil.
    • In the new series, the Cylons were robots created and enslaved by humanity as servants/slaves, which they came to resent due to their religious beliefs. However, the spin-off show Caprica exposes a significant problem: according to the timeline, the first sentient Cylon is created only a year or two before the war, and all robots existing prior to that time were not sentient. So the Cylons' desire to exterminate all of humanity seems odd given they were 'slaves' of humanity for only a year or two before winning their freedom in the rebellion.
      • Actually six years before the Revolt, plenty of time for the Cylons to be mass produced and get reasons to Hate the Humans; oh, and their AI coding being based on the minds of teenage members of a cult who wanted to violently overthrow the existing colonial society and replace it with their Cult doesn't help either.
      • In addition, revelations from the final season confirm that the mechanical Centurions actually had no problem letting bygones be bygones with humanity, and it was only Brother Cavil's machinations that saw the plan to exterminate humanity launched. Essentially, Cavil desired to wipe out and destroy the human race because the mechanical Centurions were slaves very briefly of humanity more than a dozen years before he was created and had already won their freedom in war. Given that Cavil then enslaved the Centurions himself using 'inhibitors' to repress their sentience and free will, this really doesn't make any sense at all. Not so much Disproportionate Reputation as Totally Baseless Retribution.
    • apparently he did so in order to enact revenge upon Ellen and the rest of the Final Five for creating him in an imperfect body. The whole killing the rest of humanity was probably more for shits and giggles.
  • The Big Bang Theory Penny touched Sheldon's food while having her own full plate of food and nearly ate his because she was hungry. She then sat in his spot to take a stand. He responded by banishing her from his and Leonard's apartment. Her response was to not serve him at the cheesecake factory, and then imply that she messed with his food. His response was to take away her wifi. When she ruined laundry night for him, Sheldon went too far and flung all of her laundry, including her underwear, outside on telephone poles. All of this escalating war tactis from Sheldon due to small mistakes from Penny.
  • In the American Big Brother, Rachel got houseguest Cassi evicted because she said a comment about Porsche off-hand that she didn't like. This gets even more annoying when you consider she did the same thing about Jordan and wondered why she hit Jeff's Berserk Button.
  • Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire is guilty of serial Disproportionate Retribution, generally resulting in the death of the offending party, no matter how minimal their slight. In his first scene he beats a Good Samaritan to death for essentially nothing. From this point on every character sharing a scene with Gyp is in immediate danger.
  • A lot of the humor in The Brittas Empire is based around this trope. A number of examples in the first episode include a workforce of builders going on strike, just because Brittas asked one of them to put his empty cigarette box in the bin, the cleaner quitting over a simple mix up about a spilt coffee, and one of his staff trying to kill him because he wasn't going to put in any table tennis facilities.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Vengeance demons embody this trope, along with the more malevolent side of Literal Genie. It gets gruesome very quickly. We never find out what personal romantic slight necessitated the Russian Revolution as vengeance, but it was probably nothing special. Even Anya herself, a former vengeance demon, lampshades this. She talks with a friend about how when the girl gets her third boyfriend in a row roasted and toasted it just might be the girl's fault.
    • Warren Mears: Someone should've told Buffy that crazy, pissed off people have no sense of humor. Willow's response to the killing of Tara consists of torturing him by pushing the bullet that killed her through his body before flaying and burning him alive, then going after his friends. This provoked some major questions, as many portions of the Fandom didn't really have an issue with her going after Warren.
    • Tucker Wells sicced hellhounds on everybody at prom because the single and only girl he asked out refused.
    "Will you go to prom with me?"
    "No."
    • There was also the time when Buffy burned down a vampire-inhabited building and killed any who escaped because Riley had been going there to have his blood drunk. While this might normally be part of her Slayer duties, these vampires were feeding off consenting victims, and it was explicitly pointed out (by Giles) that they weren't actually harming anyone.
      • To be fair, Buffy didn't actually kill any of the vampires until they ambushed her with the intention of killing her. Although given that that was because she'd burned their house down, it's a bit hard to work out who's disproportionately retributing who.
  • Comes up many times on Chuck:
    • Casey is pretty much the poster boy for Disproportionate Retribution. He's (initially) completely fine with complying with an order by Beckman and Graham to kill Chuck just for possessing the Intersect, even though he didn't want it in the first place. Casey readily threatens (or carries out) bodily harm for such infractions as just annoying him, or giving him a hug. He warns Morgan that if he breaks his daughter Alex's heart, he'll break Morgan's everything. He tortures and brainwashes Lester just for insubordination against Morgan at the Buy More, and implied he was willing to kill Harry Tang when Chuck asked whether he'd already offered to do so for Anna.
    • Emmett takes a bullet in the eye from a terrorist for calling him a pussy. Oh sure, he was Too Dumb to Live, but that was excessive even for him.
      • Earlier, Chuck nearly strangled him after being publicly berated by Emmet at the Buy More, and he had great difficulty maintaining control.
    • Arguably, Daniel Shaw's Face-Heel Turn. His wife is killed by Sarah, who was only ever given a place and a picture, because it was suspected she was a Ring operative. At least, that's what Shaw was told by The Director. Whether this was actually true was never investigated. But it led to Shaw trying to kill Sarah, Chuck and Casey, attempt to take over the CIA entirely, giving the Ring the Intersect, and the killing of Chuck's father.
    • Quinn. Good god Quinn. He goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Chuck, pulling the strings of Fulcrum and The Ring and destroying Sarah's memory and turning her against her husband as part of his plan to steal the Intersect for himself, all because he was supposed to be the Intersect agent until Bryce stole it and sent it to Chuck, leading to Quinn being captured in the field, tortured, and being forced into retirement after he finally was released. Never mind that Chuck himself wasn't responsible for the Intersect being stolen or Quinn's capture.
  • In the series premiere of Clarissa Explains It All, Ferguson takes Clarissa's training bra to school for show and tell, embarrassing Clarissa. Embarrassment is her least favorite emotion, so she hatches a plan for revenge which involves wrapping Ferguson in a straitjacket and attaching balloons to it to send him flying into the stratosphere.
  • The Cold Case episode "It Takes A Village". The killer was a former resident of a boys' home as a kid and he was beaten up by the other boys on order of one of the counselors. So instead of going after the now adult guys or the counselor who actually did this to him in the 80's, he's kidnapping, torturing, and killing 9 and 10 year-old boys in 2007 and leaving their bodies in freezers.
    • The episode Sabotage has the killer committing murder by slipping pipe bombs to his victims. Granted he had some shafted deals going for him (he lost his job to outsourcing, after which he lost his daughter to natural illness he couldn't afford the treatment for, which then resulted in his wife divorcing him), but that's still no excuse for some of his crimes — for example, planting a pipe bomb into the hands of a store clerk who refused to allow him to return a store-sold object because he attempted to do so one day after the item return time limit had already been reached.
  • A specialty of Pierce Hawthorne on Community:
    • "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" takes this Up to Eleven.
    • "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" is all about his complicated revenge.
    • His targets are not limited to the study group. In "Intro to Political Science", he enters the school election and repeatedly antagonizes fellow candidate Vicki until she drops out of the election. His reason? She wouldn't lend him a pencil. (Of course, Vicki later performs some disproportionate retribution of her own by lending Pierce a pencil...through his cheek.)
  • Played for laughs in Corner Gas:
    Davis: I heard we almost lost Brent.
    Oscar: What do you mean?
    Davis: The Stonewood Saints asked him to play for their team.
    Oscar: They what? Sons of... How would they like it if we went there and burnt down their rink?
    Karen: That genuinely seems like an appropriate response to you?
  • At the beginning of the Criminal Minds episode "Normal", a man is cut off in traffic by a woman. He pulls up alongside her and winds down his window to talk to her, only for her to verbally abuse him. So he shoots her. It turns out that that event was merely the straw that broke the camel's back for the killer. He clearly provoked her in order to get the justification to do it.
    • Maeve's stalker is eventually revealed to be working off of this. Maeve rejected her thesis years ago because the study she did on suicide and couples included her own dead parents in the sample group, which was also implied to be too small to hold up scientifically. For this slight the unsub decided to make Maeve's life a living hell and prove herself better by dating Maeve's old boyfriend and then trying to seduce Reid, again to one-up Maeve. She is only happy when being assured that Maeve is not as good as she is. And the real kicker? Maeve actually thought her hypothesis might have merit, but thought she needed to improve her sampling techniques in order to present it properly.
    • In the episode ''A Shade of Gray" the Unsub turned out to be a nine-year-old boy who choked his little brother to death because he accidentally broke a model airplane he was working on.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had a victim of the week who almost clipped a guy while pulling out of a parking space, and when he reacted to the near-miss by calling her a foul name, she told him to go to hell and threw her coffee at him. His response was to chase her down, rear-end her car at a level crossing and push it onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train.
    • Similarly, a subplot in the episode Unleashed had the teenage squad making obscene messages towards Maria, as well as making an extremely obscene website as well as a viral video that allegedly depicted her as calling herself a "slut" and a "whore", and was broadcast to millions all over the web, causing a lot more people to respond in kind to her, which caused her mind to finally snap and cause her to commit suicide while she was pregnant, after a combination of the trauma of the cyberbullying, her father's death, her mom not seeing eye-to-eye, and other factors. Why did they do it, you ask? It's because one of the cheerleaders, who was also supposed to be the homecoming queen, ended up dumped by the homecoming king in favor of Maria.
    • The episode Cats in the Cradle, had an eight-year-old girl stab an elderly woman in the heart with a pen just because she wouldn't let her have one of her cats.
    • The episode Compulsion, had a 14-year-old boy bash his little brother's head in with a lead pipe because he told everyone that he wets the bed.
  • On The Hangover episode "Dude Where's My Groom" on CSI: Miami the bride's dad drugs his future son-in-law and ditches him at sea on a tiny raft to die of exposure because he hurt his daughter's feelings by going to a strip club during his bachelor party when he said he wouldn't.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Voyage of the Damned" Max Capicorn gets ousted by his own board of trustees and blamed for the company's failure. So he contrives to crash the Titanic (2000 killed) into Earth (6 billion killed) and get the trustees jailed for mass murder. Wow.
  • Drake & Josh inflict this upon themselves in Megan's Revenge, which is actually a part of Megan's Paranoia Gambit scheme.
    • Officer Gilbert sabotages Drake and Josh in every way to make sure they obtain as many tickets as possible and ultimately end up in jail.
    • Mindy Crenshaw parked Mrs. Hafer's car in the middle of her classroom and framed Drake. Then she became the prosecutor on the trial, and managed to not only almost convince everyone he did it, but to humiliate Josh. The offense? Her grades were a perfect 4.0 until she dared to give her a B on a homework. Oh, and she hates Drake and Josh. And she's nuts. Yeah, Dan Schneider is fond of this trope.
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, the wife will often resort to physical abuse (in one episode she pours hot marinara sauce from right off the stove onto her husband's crotch, another time she flings him into a shelf full of books) whenever Ray does something mildly irritating. The sheer level of emotional and physical abuse she puts him through causes many fans to call out Dude, Not Funny! whenever she abuses him.
  • Aeryn is on the run from her people in Farscape because of a hilariously excessive Peacekeeper law: merely spending a little time with aliens is enough to render a Peacekeeper "irreversibly contaminated" and earn the death penalty. Captain Crais, who put Aeryn in this position, becomes contaminated himself following his Heel-Face Turn. He acknowledges in "Mind the Baby" that he still has a visceral reaction to interspecies contact, and since it comes from his Peacekeeper education, he's forcing himself to reexamine that reaction.
    • Crais himself (the Big Bad of Season One) persecuted the crew of Moya (and Crichton in particular) because his brother died when his spaceship crashed into Crichton's.
      • "That Old Black Magic" gave Crais a Freudian Excuse in that he was charged at a young age with protecting his younger brother - the only family he had for much of his life. Nonetheless, at the end of Season 1, Crais acknowledges the trope by admitting, "It was about my brother. It should have been about my brother."
  • In Firefly, the psychotic crime boss Adelei Niska takes extreme exception to Mal's choosing to not complete a job when he discovered it would kill a town if he finished it. Even after the money for the job is given back to him, he proceeds to hunt down Mal and Wash, capture them, and torture them endlessly until the crew kicks in the doors (though there was also the whole matter of kicking his Dragon through one of Serenity's engines). And he also tortured and killed his wife's nephew and hung his body upside down as a warning to our heroes, supposedly for "not getting the job done".
    • In the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" Captain Malcolm Reynolds accidentally gets married to a girl who's obsessed with pleasing him. The preacher on the ship gives Mal his view on the situation.
      Shepherd Book: If you take sexual advantage of her you're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.
  • In an early episode of The Following one of Joe Carroll's followers sets a literary critic on fire because he wrote a bad review about Carroll's book.
  • In the Frasier episode "The Last Time I Saw Maris", Niles finally stands up to Maris after she left for a three-day shopping spree without telling him and calls her out on her thoughtlessness, telling her that he'll be waiting for an apology. So she files for a divorce.
  • Friends
    • In the episode "The One After the Superbowl", Julia Roberts guest-stars as a childhood friend of Chandler's, whose underpants he once exposed to an auditorium of people. Twenty years later, she exacts her revenge by seducing him, telling him to wear her underpants, then offering to have sex with him in a restaurant bathroom and walking off with his clothes, leaving him in just her thong. This may be borderline disproportionate, because it wasn't just that he exposed her underwear, it was the fact that because of that, everyone at school called her "Suzy Underpants" until she was 18.
    • In the episode "The One with the Thumb", Chandler makes a joke about doing this:
    Monica: Where's Joey?
    Chandler: Joey ate my last stick of gum, so I killed him. Do you think that was wrong?
    • Another episode involved Chandler hiding all of Joey's underwear (he wasn't wearing any at the time, but wasn't about to do so in his rented tux, refusing to "go commando in another man's fatigues"). Joey threatens to do "the exact opposite" to Chandler, which turns out to be wearing everything that Chandler owns (except his underwear).
    Chandler: That is so not the opposite of hiding someone's underwear!
  • Game of Thrones: Robb Stark violates a marriage vow to one of Walder Frey's daughters and instead marries a field medic he's fallen in love with. He tries to make amends by offering his sincere apologies, a valuable piece of property, and his uncle's hand instead of his own. Walder Frey seems to accept, but then proceeds to have his men kill Robb's pregnant wife (by stabbing her in the belly), Robb himself, Robb's mother, and Robb's entire army.
  • Glee has this in the episode 'Special Education'. Finn lied to Rachel about sleeping with Santana the previous year before he and Rachel became a couple. In response to the revelation, Rachel decided to hurt Finn in the best way she could think of: by hooking up with his best friend who happened to be the same dude that knocked up his other ex. This was supposed to make them even. Finn didn't see it that way. There are some people in the fandom who don't see what the big deal is...
    • Burt threw Finn out of the house for what was essentially the use of a bad word directed at inanimate objects.
  • One night in Graduados, Andy, Loli, Vero, Dani, Tuca and Vicky were in the disco, and it was the moment for the slow dance with the 80's ballads. Andy and Loli are a couple, Dani and Vero are going in that direction, so they began to dance... and that left Vicky with her Hopeless Suitor, the Stalker with a Crush Tuca. She accepted to dance, but warning! If any of his fingers touch a forbidden area, she will break it! Of course, he did not hear. He had his hands on her back, slowly moved then down, down, until he touched the... AUCH! Vicky made good of her word: shouting several times "I'M NOT A WHORE!!" she broke his finger, twisted his arm to the back, punched him to the ground in agony, and Kick Him While He Was Down. Well, she DID warn him, so we may say he got what he deserved...
  • In the Happy Days episode "A Little Case of Revenge", Tom Hanks plays the part of Dwayne Twitchell, a karate expert who has harbored a grudge against Fonzie since the third grade. When Twitchell challenges the Fonz to a fight, the Fonz wins by not fighting back, allowing Twitchell to tire himself out.
  • Season 5 of Heroes. What do you do when you want to take a tour through your old house but the new inhabitants say no because they're having a party? How about create a massive sinkhole under it, destroying the entire property and killing three of the party-goers? That's what Samuel did.
    • He seems to like doing that a lot anyways. He destroyed a police station just because one officer and his friend killed a guy with abilities.
      • Well yeah, but they didn't just kill him, they dragged him behind a car until he died. And seeing as how the entire town was out for his blood, I doubt any of the other cops shed any tears over it. But the people having a party definitely falls under this trope.
      • Adam Monroe wants to kill thousands of Japanese soldiers, his best friend and the love of his life because said best friend stole his girl. Couldn't he just have gone on FML? 'Today I saw my girlfriend snogging my best friend. FML...no, wait, I'm going to kill everyone.'
      • This happened in 17th century Japan, so FML didn't exist yet.
  • Happens often in Highway To Heaven. Jonathan uses his powers to punish evil-doers, which often includes people who are wealthy and purpose-driven, siding with the poor and mentally-challenged.
    • In one episode, he pushes a little girl into a swimming pool. In the same episode, he makes her get wet again by using his powers to squirt her with a sprinkler. Her crime: she's rude.
    • In another episode, he makes two boys continuously wreck their bicycles because they make fun of a little girl.
    • He flips a guy's car over, which leads to a policeman writing the guy a ticket. The crime: parking in a handicap spot.
    • In one episode, he beats up three guys, throwing one of them violently up and over a parked car. Their crime: one of them stole another guy's lunch.
  • In "The Frogs and the Lobsters" of Horatio Hornblower, Marquis Moncoutant keeps beheading villagers one after another. The verdicts say it's for treason and crimes against the country. Mariette later says to Horatio that the baker was executed for selling old bread. Fans like to joke that the French take their bread very seriously.
  • In House, Detective Tritter is embarrassed by the titular character by having a thermometer used rectally on him and left alone in a private exam room for half an hour. This was after he acted like a total Jerk Ass to aforementioned titular character, kicking his cane out from under him when he refused to perform an unnecessary procedure. Tritter's response? Arrest the good doctor, freeze the bank accounts of anyone on House's team, ruin Wilson's oncology practice and remove his prescription license (potentially worsening or ending the lives of any number of cancer patients), draining valuable police funds, breaking into and searching House's home, and just generally being a dick. All the while, dangling false hope for House to avoid jail if he'll only go to rehab... which he does... and Tritter removes the deal from the table. On Christmas.
  • The How I Met Your Mother episode "Canning Randy" has Ted designing a the new GNB headquarters, which will replace a very old building being torn down to make room for it. When Zoey finds out, Ted says he doesn't care. Her response is to egg the window of Ted's apartment, get his entire class to destroy a billboard with Ted's picture on it, and get them all to abandon his class and turn against him. Especially disproportionate considering he did not choose the building site and has no power to change it.
  • Arguably happened a few times in Hustle, but explicitly so in a B-plot to one episode. The gang had been charged £60 for going £4 overdrawn at the bank. To get revenge on the bank manager, they incorporated him as secondary mark in their latest con, and cheated him out of thousands.
  • iCarly. WHERE DO WE START???
    • Briggs threatens Freddie to get expelled because of Spencer's presence; Howard gives Gibby triple detention for being "too Gibby" and his smart-ass replies; Devlin marks down Carly's report for being printed on three-holed paper which he hates; Ackerman gives Carly an F for a quiz she never took after Spencer broke up with her. The list goes on...
    • Also, Nevel. Carly refused to kiss him and stuck some food in his face. Therefore, he swore Carly would rue this day and he embarked on a campaign of revenge, which included fraud and cyberterrorism.
      • One episode showed a video of him picking up the last jar of a particular brand of pickle in a store. As he's about to put it in his car, a little girl accidentally runs into him with a cart, causing him to drop the jar, which falls on the floor and breaks. He flips, screaming at the little girl and taking a lollipop she had out of her cart, then throws it on the ground, taunting her and screaming at her more as she's crying. The little SOB calls her mother an idiot. The numerous hateful comments the video receives about Nevel are well-deserved.
    • iKiss. In retaliation for Freddie handcuffing her to Gibby, which was in turn all for the endless abuse she had given him, Sam reveals Freddie's embarassing secret, that he's never kissed a girl, to the world on the webshow.
    • Chuck Chambers. He was breaking a building rule by playing raquetball in the lobby, and Spencer couldn't get him to stop, so he told Chuck's dad, who grounded him for 2 days. Chuck got revenge... By keeping Spencer locked up in a storage cage in the basement (and squirting him with a "suspicious liquid"). And then he's perfectly willing to beat the crap out of Spencer. All for a 2-day grounding over something he wasn't supposed to be doing in the first place.
      Chuck: If I can't watch TV, then NOBODY CAN!
    • "iMove Out" also had the "petographers" (who, as you could guess, were pet photographers), who destroyed Carly and Sam's studio because they refused to shut down their pet photography business, claiming they can't have two pet photography groups in Seattle.
    • "iCan't Take It". Hooooo boy. At some point offscreen, Sam asks Freddie what time it is and he didn't know. Sam's response? To take his NERD camp application and make it look like Freddie's a dirty whore, which gets him rejected. Plus, Carly begs him not to dump Sam over that because it was before they started dating.
    • "iMeet Fred". Freddie mentions he doesn't think Fred is that funny on video. Fred responds by claiming he won't make videos anymore, which results in social isolation and emotional and physical abuse to Freddie until he took it back. Sam beat him with a tennis racket until it broke. And it turned out it was a publicity stunt by Fred.
  • In the JAG episode "Killer Instinct" a petty officer on an Aircraft Carrier killed two subordinates because they were sloppy.
  • In an episode of The King of Queens, a waitress is constantly seeking advise from Arthur. He gets fulfillment from this, until finding out from a dimwitted co worker that she only does so to follow the opposite of what he suggests. Following this he deliberately sets her up to follow ill advise (or ignore good advise). Whether or not he intended for this to get her fired and potentially bankrupt, he seems to find her outcome perfectly just in his gloating.
    Former Waitress: You cost me my job! How am I going to pay my bills?!
    Arthur: And you hurt my feelings, so now we're even!
  • The Law & Order episode "Aftershock" involves the execution of a man who committed an extremely violent act of disproportionate retribution; he got rear-ended in traffic by a young woman, so he dragged her out of her car, raped her and beat her to death.
    • In the show’s final-season episode "Pledge," a fact checker for a scientific magazine murdered a female biologist’s 12-year-old son. His reason for doing so? Thirty years earlier, an upper-crust girl from the mother’s college sorority rejected him and had him thrown out of a college party.
    • In the episode "Prejudice," the victim of the episode was killed because he took a taxi that someone else had just flagged down. Even though the killer was able to flag down another taxi right after the first one drove off.
  • The woman in this MADtv sketch admits to trying to kill a man and his family by driving them off of a cliff.. because he took her usual parking spot.
  • This is how everyone handles everything in Malcolm in the Middle. Whether it be problems between the brothers, Lois punishing the boys, or someone dealing with an outside problem, it's almost bound to be disproportionate.
  • Marcy Rhodes Darcy from Married... with Children has this trait. According to her, in school she got revenge on her classmates for embarrassing her by cutting the brakes of the bus they were on for a field trip. In the season three episode "Here's Looking at You, Kid", Marcy plots to catch a serial peeping tom, smash his toes with a hammer, and then turn the hammer around... And when the supposed peeper is caught (unfortunately, it's Al, trying to boost the un-peeped Peggy's battered ego), we hear (but don't see) the sound of a buzzsaw being turned on.
    • Another episode has Bud planning to humiliate a girl who once stole his underwear and ran it up a flagpole for all of the school to see. 5 years later, he's still smarting about this and has asked her to the homecoming dance, planning to engineer a scheme in which her underwear will be on display. Unfortunately, things get turned around and Bud ends up humiliated again. But at the end of the episode, we see that Kelly has come through for her brother—the girl is seen chained to a wall, wrapped in a towel, the end of which is being held by Buck the dog. Kelly calls to Buck, Buck runs toward her, dragging the towel. . .as hundreds of students pour into the building to start their school day.
    • One variant of the 'Psycho Dad! theme has: "Killed his wife case she had a cold!/Might as well, she was getting oldnote !/Psycho Dad! Psycho Dad! Psycho Daaaaaad!" It's a recurring theme in the openings. Psycho Mom!, for example, killed her husband with a frying pan because he had poor aim in the bathroom.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • By the fourth season, the enmity between Frank Burns and Hawkeye Pierce is well established, but it seemed excessive in "The Novocaine Mutiny" when Frank tried to have Hawkeye executed.
    • In the season 3 episode "House Arrest", Margaret insists Frank defend her honor after Hawkeye insults her. Frank does so by snapping Hawkeye's backside with a towel...and Hawkeye responds by punching him in the mouth.
  • Merlin:
    • Uther wanted an heir but his wife was barren. Nimueh cured his wife's sterility but to keep the balance of life and death she died in childbirth and for this Uther has mounted a genocidal campaign against all magic users. Particularly disproportionate if Nimueh is telling the truth that she didn't know it would be Ygraine that would die
    • We also have the episode where Arthur killed a unicorn and the keeper of the unicorns cursed Camelot. All the crops rotted overnight and all the water turned to sand.
    • No mention of "The Lady of the Lake" when a sorceress cursed Freya to turn into a bloodthirsty, killing Bastet every night for accidentally killing said sorceress's son in self-defense?
    • Also the dragon's attack on Camelot. Uther slaughtered his entire kind, and in response he attempts to raze the city to the ground, leaving Uther untouched as his subjects die. Well, it's the exact same thing that Uther did to him, but he was still killing innocents.
  • In one Mitchell And Webb sketch, David Mitchell's character is a huge Grammar Nazi who shoots everyone who mispronounces words or uses wrong grammar.
    - "It's just: The red mist descends whenever I am confronted with ignoramy."
    - "Ignoramuses. It's from the Latin "we are ignorant", this makes it a verb, not a noun."
    - "Oh god! What have I done?"
  • In Modern Family's "Schooled", Cam sets the plot in motion when he picks up and physically threatens a boy whom he saw pull his daughter's hair. On the first day of kindergarten.
  • In Mr. Monk Gets Fired, the Jerk Ass police commissioner, in response to Monk erasing several years worth of forensic files, has him not only removed from the headless torso/murder case, but even goes as far as his detective license revoked. It's also heavily implied that this was simply an excuse for him to do so, and he was really only doing it because Monk placed his friend, who also happened to be a very corrupt cop, in prison.
    • Monk himself nearly did the same thing in Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan, where he almost arrested a busboy at a local restaurant for urinating in public on the subway (which also had him getting lost in New York City in the first place) while arresting a man who killed both his own wife and the Latvian ambassador/his bodyguards.
      • Well, urinating in public is something you can be arrested for if the police catch you doing it, and in some places can get you put on the sex offenders registry.
    • In the novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, Monk gets so offended that an exclusive Chinatown beauty salon uses various bird excrements in its cleansing formulas that he calls in a SWAT team and Hazmat team.
    • In the novel Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse, an incident happens where Natalie has to talk Monk out of calling a Hazmat team to decontaminate an entire city block after she simply looks inside a dumpster.
    • In Mr. Monk in Trouble, there's a small subplot about a man who stabbed his girlfriend for not cooking his steaks correctly.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. The "Self-Defense against Fresh Fruit" sketch has Sgt. Major defending himself against banana and raspberry wielding "fiends" with guns, 16-ton weights and a tiger.
    • And 200 tons of gelignite in the walls.
  • Why did Pearl Forrester give Mike and the Bots Hobgoblins? Because they jumped on her rent-to-own couch.
    • There's also the time Tom attacked Crow with a biplane, riddling him and his little spiffy car with bullets. Why? Because Crow kept making Uranus Is Showing jokes.
    • Another example was in the host segments in The Wild World of Batwoman, based off the short Cheating - Crow copies Gypsy's paper about why cheating is bad and Tom suggests that Crow should die.
  • The Office (US):
    • Michael threatens to burn the Utica branch of Dunder-Mifflin to the ground after they attempt to hire away Stanley.
    • Lampshaded in another episode when Karen exchanges her squeaky chair for Jim's quiet one. To get revenge, Jim begins singing The Cardigans' "Lovefool," prompting the office Jerk Ass Andy to join in. Karen shouts out, "This is not a proportionate response!"
  • In Once Upon a Time this seems to become Rumplestiltskin's standard M.O. after he becomes the Dark One. A soldier humiliates you in front of your kid? Break his neck and kill all his friends. Your kid accidentally trips in front of a wagon and gets a scrape? Turn the driver into a snail and step on him. Your wife leaves you? Rip her heart out of her chest and crush it in front of her new lover.
    • Not to mention Regina, who goes to extremes to destroy Snow White and all Snow holds dear because she blames Snow for the death of her lover Daniel, which was actually her mother Cora's fault. Even given that Snow was the one who revealed that Regina was in love with Daniel (which prompted Cora to murder him), she honestly thought she was helping, and she was a kid. Launching a vendetta against a child and turning into an Omnicidal Maniac over this makes Regina utterly psychotic.
    • Taken even further by Cora. As a young woman she's humiliated by a bratty teenage princess. In response, Cora kicks off a 40+ year blood feud against the princess and her family, and royally screws up her own daughter by dragging her into it.
    • Actually, it is possible that something more than just that incident made Cora hate Eva, as she didn't technically start the blood feud right afterward, and the way she spoke to the dead Eva suggests there was a more personal animosity toward her in the past. Word of God confirms young Cora to feature in Season 3, so perhaps the answer is forthcoming.
  • Pair Of Kings: During Lanny's first brief stint as the King of Kinkow, he sent someone to the dungeons for defeating him in a checkers game years ago; another one for growing faster than him; several people, for unspecified reasons, to the dungeons, moss and tar pits (mostly the dungeons). And, if not for the fact the titular kings returned, we'd know what Lanny had in mind for people he didn't like.
  • In Power Rangers Zeo, Princess Archerina developed a grudge against Kat (the Pink Ranger) very quickly (even though the two had never previously met), simply because she detested the fact that there was another female warrior around who liked bows and the color pink. (That's right. This was a rare case where the villain was actually upset with the realization that she and the heroine might be Not So Different.)
  • On Reaper, a bunch of rebellious demons set up a human sacrifice so that Sam can get out of his deal with the Devil. When Sam protests, saying he won't send an innocent soul to Hell in his place, Tony contends that the guy isn't innocent, he's a drug dealer who tried to sell him weed in the park.
    Tony:It's a gateway drug!
  • In Rome, Titus Pullo murdered a man for cheating at cards, Atia had a girl's whole family murdered because she felt the girl was a bad influence on her daughter, Caesar had a man killed for publicly criticizing him and Marc Anthony bludgeoned a man to death for reading a message from Cicero that Antony had repeatedly ordered the man to read.
  • A teamwork version of this happens in an episode of Roseanne: Roseanne gets stiffed for a tip at the diner, sympathetic Scott helps her get revenge by calling the guy's wife and "accidentally" letting it slip that the guy was supposedly cheating on her. To quote Roseanne: "He stiffs me for a tip and you destroy his marriage, that's awesome!"
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch had a Candid Camera Prank show. Then came a man (played by Christopher Walken) which decided to prank a guy who kept using his parking space. By killing him with a tire iron!
  • Scandal: Becky, Huck's girlfriend, kills the entire family that Huck likes to keep an eye on. Why? Because he tried to have her taken down for shooting the President and framing Huck for it.
  • In Scrubs, anything The Janitor does to J.D. when he believes he slights him. Sometimes J.D. just being there is enough to set him off. This is mostly Played for Laughs.
    • It's especially disproportional because The Janitor's problem with JD stems from the fact that he thinks JD broke a door by sticking a penny in it on his first day.
    • Lampshaded in one episode:
    Janitor: I know you knocked that exit sign down.
    J.D.: Well I'm sure I can expect appropriate retaliatory response. Maybe you could shoot me in the neck.
    • A later episode inverts this when the Janitor proposes to Elliot after she flirted with him for a second.
  • In Sherlock, Moriarty murdered Carl Powers by poisoning his foot cream with Clostridium Botulinum so he'd drown at the swimming pool.
    Moriarty: [Carl] laughed at me. So I stopped him laughing.
  • Six Feet Under. The Fisher family buried two people who were murdered for being annoying (unrelated cases).
  • On Smallville the Freak of the Week would usually murder someone in the Cold Open. What was Ian Randall's reason for killing his shop teacher? He gave Ian a C.
    • He then went on to try at kill Chloe and Lana at once for... er... possibly noticing his Me's a Crowd powers... which probably won't happen if he didn't date them both at the same time...
    • A school football player tried to kill his coach with a shotgun, just for making a minor flirt with his girlfriend.
      • To his credit, he was under effect of a potion that made him an overdevoted and overjealous boyfriend.
    • Harry Bollston was sent to prison for murdering his music teacher's son...because the teacher recommended someone else for a scholarship to the Metropolis Conservatory. When he gets out, he starts plotting to murder the children of the jurors who convicted him.
    • Lois Lane also decides to administer some perfectly justified testicular 'justice' to a man who threw her out of a venue. The kicker? She was trespassing and he was the venue's security guard.
  • In one sketch from The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, folk music duo Mulligan and O'Hare sing a song about an insane man who murders his wife:
    I'm not saying I didn't kill you,
    But aren't you partially to blame?
    You gave me chocolate digestives,
    When you knew I preferred the plain.
  • Sonny With A Chance: Penelope frames Sonny for stealing twice, makes it look like Sonny has been telling the press Chad's secrets, accuses her of plagiarism, and tries to kill her by turning a cheeseball into a bomb, all because she was in love with Chad and was furious about Sonny's relationship with him.
    • It gets better. When Chad rejects her, for obvious reasons, she leaves him and several bystanders to die on a crashing plane that they have no hope of landing.
  • Ben Finney harbors a grudge against Kirk for years for reporting a mistake of his. In revenge, he frames Kirk and attempts to get him court-martialed. The pettiness of the grudgenote  lead fans to speculate that there were other reasons for Finney's bitterness.
  • Charlie Evans from the first series episode "Charlie X". Do anything he doesn't like, even if you weren't trying to hurt him, and he'll whisk you into oblivion, remove your face, turn you into a lizard, etc.
    • To be fair to Charlie, it's implied by the energy beings that gave him those abilities in the first place that he is simply incapable of controlling his abilities, his reactions to perceived slights from others being instinctive rather than premeditated. The entities in question separate him from humankind, for his own good and theirs.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Justice", Wesley Crusher is nearly put to death by the locals for accidentally crushing some flowers. Worth pointing out that Death was the only form of retribution on that planet.
  • In the final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Dominion destroys a Cardassian city, along with its two million inhabitants, in retaliation against an act of terrorism by a small group of freedom fighters. When this eventually prompts the Cardassian fleet to turn on the Dominion fleet, the Female Changeling orders the extermination of the entire Cardassian race. Fortunately, Odo changes her mind before the Dominion have finished doing it.
    • Contrasted with an earlier episode where Dukat reveals that he believed he was a merciful administrator during the Cardassian occupation. When Bajoran freedom fighters blew up a Cardassian warship carrying 100 soldiers, he rounded up and executed the same number of suspected Bajoran resistance members. This only strengthened their resolve to fight back.
    • In the original series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", the Klingons' Evil Plan is foiled with the tribbles' help, as they react angrily to Klingons and were able to detect the one disguised as a human. Apparently, the Klingons took their anger out on the tribbles badly. In the DSN episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", where the crew of DSN have to use Time Travel to return to that era to prevent an assassination attempt on Kirk, Worf tells Odo that the tribbles did so much damage to the Klingons' agricultural base (no doubt after Scotty beamed them aboard their ship at the end of the original episode) that they were considered "a mortal enemy of the Empire", and ultimately they were hunted down and exterminated. Specially trained warriors were sent to kill every tribble in existence, and an armada of Klingon vessels obliterated the tribbles' homeworld. (Odo thinks that's absurd, telling Worf sarcastically, "Another glorious chapter in Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of 'The Great Tribble Hunt'?") Of course, in Worf's defense, he had no idea when he told Odo this that there was any personal vendetta involved, thinking the Klingons only had pest control in mind due to the tribbles' appetites and uncontrollable reproduction rate. (The greatest irony of this is, at the end of the episode, the crew of DSN brought some tribbles back with them to their time, re-establishing the species and undoing their extinction, making the Klingon's long and likely costly campaign of vengeance against them ultimately pointless.)
  • Continuing with Star Trek, an episode of ''Voyager'' had B'Elanna on trial with a potential death sentence. Her crime? Being annoyed when someone bumped into her. This society is a race of telepaths who have eliminated violent thoughts, and so she was inadvertantly spreading violent thoughts to innocent people, who are overwhelmed by them since they rarely have these thoughts. But it turns out that there is a black market for violent thoughts on the planet, and the incident with B'Elanna was planned.
    • The punishment she faced wasn't death, but being Mind Raped so she could never think violent thoughts again. This may be worse than death.
  • On Supernatural The Trickster AKA Gabriel has this as his entire shtick. For example, he causes a frat boy to be abducted by aliens, probed eight times, and then forced to slow dance simply for being a dick. Ostensibly, he's a Karmic Trickster, but considering the number of lethal pranks (all but the one above), not that many people learn their lessons.
    • In the season 5 finale Death bumps into a man on the street and the man is rude to him. His last words were "watch were you're walkin pal".
  • "Boston" Rob Mariano of Survivor fame once had the majority of his alliance blindside another alliance member because he shook hands with the other tribe after they won a challenge. Apparently, you can't be a good sport!
    • Eh, that was more strategy on his part. Rob was afraid that Matt was potentially building a relationship with the other tribe, which increased his likelihood that he would flip at some point. A better example might be Lex from Africa having a Freak Out over getting a single vote that he wasn't expecting.
  • In Tales from the Darkside, a malevolent being frightens an old man to death just because he refused to give out candy on Halloween. It's not nice to be a wrench in the gears for Halloween but still.
  • That '70s Show, 'Eric's Hot Cousin' joins with all the usual Jerk Ass cast and convinces Eric that she was adopted, and therefore maybe interested in him, in order to set him up in front of his parents, looking like he was pushing her for incest. All this is to avenge a childhood prank that trapped her in a revolving door till she puked.
  • An episode of 30 Rock has Big Eater Liz issue the following threat when her sandwich goes missing:
  • Usually played for humor on Top Gear. Usually.
    • In the Polar Special (in which the three presenters attempted to reach the magnetic north pole, two in a truck and one with a musher and dogsled), this was played dead straight when the three of them started feeling the effects of the cold, exhaustion, and isolation. They started threatening each other with physical harm for tiny infractions, and Jeremy Clarkson destroyed James May's can of "victory Spam" with a shotgun for no apparent reason.
    • Then there's the time the three went through Alabama and marked each others cars as follows Jeremy's Chevrolet: "Country and Western is rubbish," Richard's Dodge: "Man-Love Rules OK," James' Cadillac: "Hillary for President" and "Nascar sucks." They stop at a small-town to get gas and get run out of town by big guys in pick-up trucks with guns. These guys even attacked the camera crew.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Silas was a warlock that was in a relationship with a very powerful witch named Qetsiyah, at some point Silas turned himself immortal and cheated on Qetsiyah with another woman, and wanted to turn said woman immortal as well. What did Qetsiyah do? In what is probably one of the worst cases of Disproportionate Retribution in history, real or fiction, Qetsiyah killed the other woman, trapped Silas beneath hundreds of feet of rock, gave him a cure for his immortality so he could die when he tired of his captivity. After all this, Qetsiyah STILL wasn't done. She created an entire sort of purgatory afterlife for all supernatural beings that died from that point on to be trapped in forever, not just Silas, so not only is Silas to be trapped in so he continue to be tortured and never reunite with the woman he loves, but all supernatural beings in TVD world would also be trapped forever, including other witches, possibly herself, for NO REASON WHATSOEVER.
  • Victorious does this a lot.
    • In "Jade Dumps Beck", Trina physically threatens Robbie because he refuses to write a good review of her play.
    • Jade went out of her way to keep Tori from playing the lead in "Tori Gets Stuck." The biggest part of this was leafing through Tori's medical records and exploiting them to make her donate two pints of blood in one night (Jade purposely misplaced the first pint). Rule of Funny, since you'd be advised to wait eight weeks to recover after donating one pint (never mind the third Tori ended up donating, which was Robbie's fault and might have been life-threatening had the show treated it more realistically).
    • In "Locked Up", while it's subverted when the chancellor not only sentences Tori to four years in prison all because of her shoe malfunction that blinded him, it's then taken Up to Eleven when he then sentences the entire rest of the gang after Robbie accidentally kills his electric clock and octopus!
    • "Who Did It To Trina:" Rex sabotaged the harness which lead to Trina being injured. All because she punched him in the face.
    • Robbie is viciously beaten up by a group of mothers because he offered their kids ice cream. Which he brought in a bucket and announced loudly, clearly not trying to be sneaky and steal their kids. And he was on his bike. They apparently chased him into an alley and beat him with sticks, stepped on his throat, and he has a black eye for the rest of the episode.
    • Jade shaving Cat's head just because she accidentally waxed her eyebrows.
  • The West Wing has episode named "A Proportional Response", which examines this trope on a geo-political perspective; Syrian terrorists funded by the Syrian Ministry of Defense have shot down an American military plane carrying doctors, including Bartlet's personal physician, to a military hospital. Bartlet rails against the 'proportionate' responses he is being given with, demanding "something which doesn't make me feel like we're docking someone's damn allowance", but is eventually persuaded that the 'proportional' responses are both more humane (as the 'disproportionate' response his military planners determine would cause a great deal of long-term suffering that greatly overshadowed the original crime) and appropriate.
    • For the record, the disproportional plan the Joint Chiefs drew up at Bartlet's request called for carpet bombing a crowded airport and crippling supply transport for surrounding region. Admiral Fitzwallace tells the President in no uncertain terms what the international reaction to this will be. Bartlet then agrees to the original plan, airstrikes against Syrian intelligence that will result in almost no casualties.
    • When Donna is critically injured in a carbombing in Gaza, Josh's contribution to the political discussion is simple and downright vicious. This is because it's Donna.
      Josh: We need to kill them. We need to find them and kill them. Then we need to find out who sent them, and we kill them too.
  • Wings - Joe is haunted three times by a girl he stood up in HS, all involving a series of psych-outs structured so that his friends and fiancee never believe him about her psycho nature. The real irony being that Joe is continually punished for this one slight, while horndog Brian must have a string of such ladies in his past. Her third episode must have been a case of beating a dead horse. A list of ratings for Wings eps had it near dead last of all episodes.
  • Situation comedies sometimes use this trope when a parent is particularly angry with a teenaged character and a hastily made severe punishment results. Rarely do they mean it. One example of this haste: A 1985 episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Arnold covers for a friend who had broken into Mr. Drummond's liquor cabinet and snuck a few drinks of alcohol, getting drunk as a result; Drummond jumps to the conclusion that Arnold is guilty and when he can't explain, Drummond permanently grounds him. Of course, Drummond relents and Arnold backs off.
    • Other times, this trope is inverted, as a teenaged character will misinterpret a severe punishment as unjust when they got what they deserved. An example: "Greg Gets Grounded," a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch, where Greg – after he had his driving privileges revoked for his distracted driving nearly causing an accident with Mike's car – defies his parents' initial punishment, claiming it was vague. An angry Mike restricts the eldest Brady boy to the house for 10 days, forcing him to miss a highly anticipated rock concert; a just punishment, but (mistakenly) disproportionate in Greg's eyes.
  • Hoo, boy, Carla Perrazo in the Law & Order episode "Couples". She kills her husband by repeatedly running him over with her car not for "his cheating" or "his perversions," but because, in her words, "I don't go under the knife for anybody."

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