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Freudian Excuse: Western Animation
Malory: He'll be back! Crying for his mommy! Just like that Christmas break when I moved and forgot to give my new address to his stupid boarding school. I mean, he rode the train into the city all by himself; he couldn't pick up a phone book? 9-years old and bawling in that police station like a little girl! Huh - what's that tell you?
Cheryl: Kind of a lot, actually.
Malory Archer, unintentionally explaining her son's personality

Some cartoon villains and jerkasses may just be that way for the sake of being that way. Others may have gone through a lot of pain to get to their current natures.
  • In American Dad!, Roger reveals that the reason he's such as selfish Jerkass is because it would literally kill his people to be nice: if they don't "let their bitchiness out" on a regular basis, it will turn into bile and poison them to death. Of course, this still doesn't absolve Roger of the numerous crimes and atrocities he's committed. There's a fine line between being rude and bitchy and being an amoral sociopath, and Roger's crossed that line numerous times. His "Ricky Spanish" persona alone has done such things as defecating in the chest of a person undergoing open heart surgery to stabbing Avery Bullock's wife to death, all For the Evulz.
    • Stan Smith is frequently abusive towards his son Steve, in hopes of toughening him up because of his own history as an unpopular kid, and in "Bully for Steve", a victim of a cruel bully himself. It's also revealed that part of the reason he does such a terrible job helping his son through any Coming of Age moments is that his own father was never there to do it for him so he literally has no idea how to handle it.
      • That last one isn't so much of a Freudian Excuse as it is Stan's own ignorance.
  • In The Boondocks, the reason why Uncle Ruckus is such a Boomerang Bigot is from all the beatings he received from his father and his mother idolizing Caucasian people leads him to become the man we know today. His father may include one as well, dealing with the racism, and his own shrew of mother.
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time has one revealed for all of his obsessive princess-kidnapping in the episode Holly Jolly Secrets. He obsessively kidnaps princesses in order to replace the "princess" he lost to his sanity degraded by an Artifact of Doom, his fiancée Betty, when he used to live in the pre-apocalypse world as Simon Petrikov.
    • The Magic Man in "Sons of Mars" shown that he used to be a decent, respectable person who had a loving girlfriend named Margles. When Margles passed away, Magic Man became a psychopath, and began to take out his anger on everyone else.
    • Lemongrab is miserable all the time because he's the only "socially awkward, sour lemon person" in existence, and he is desperately lonely and longs for someone to understand his strange ways. (It was only after Princess Bubblegum made him a clone of himself to be his companion that Lemongrab actually became a happy, genuinely nice person. Except not really, as future appearances show when he becomes even worse.)
    • Marceline acts like a rambunctious prankster to distract herself from the fact that she is immortal, and will live long enough to see all of her closest friends die before her very eyes. Not to mention the fact that she has had a troubled past including Being abandoned during/after the mushroom war and seeing her surrogate father, Simon Petrikov become the crazy Ice King.
    • Inversion: Finn is a righteous hero because of an experience he had as a baby. He was alone in the woods, crying and stuck to a leaf with his own excrement. Several people passed him by and flat-out ignored his cries. Margaret and Joshua came by and picked him up, took him in, and raised him as their own; thus, Finn developed his Chronic Hero Syndrome. (He still cries when he poops. Thanks for being cool, guys.) However, he still has a great deal of personal problems such as locking trumatic moments into a mental vault. Having been ahero since 12 or younger and only having his adoptive older brother as a mentor doesn't help with dealing with the possibility of being the last human, especially since as he grows older, he won't have who can help him with more complex matters.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender shows that the villainous Prince Zuko was raised in a nightmarish, back-stabbing court where his sister was always more successful and favored, his once-renowned war hero uncle breaks down after losing his son in battle only to later lose his place on the throne, his mother killed his grandfather the night she disappeared in order to keep her husband from killing Zuko, and his father not only publicly ridiculed him when giving him his trademark scar and banishment from home, but is voiced by Mark Hamill. Let the Star Wars parallels begin! (Even his voice actor couldn't deny it.)
    • And the key motivation of the outburst that got him burned and banished was caring about the common soldiers of his father's army and being morally offended by a general calling new recruits fresh meat. Show traits that could lead you to be a caring leader someday, experience agonizing pain and lose everything you have. Is there such a thing as a Skinnerian Excuse?
    • The series finale gives Azula her Freudian Excuse: due to Ozai's raising of her, her mother was distant from her throughout her childhood, leading Azula to believe that she didn't love her and only loved Zuko who, according to her father's teachings, is doing everything wrong and shouldn't be loved. She even lampshades it in the Beach Episode, when all the teen villains' Freudian excuses come out.
      Azula: "My own mother... thought I was a monster." [perks up] "She was right, of course, but it still hurt!"
    • Thus, Azula shuns love and lives life making people fear her instead. But when this ends up failing her, and the one person she thought did love her, her father, turns his back on her despite her doing everything "right", the poor girl snaps.
      • Ty Lee is an incredible flirt and all-around weirdo because she had six other identical sisters and got no attention. Mai grew up a rich only child who had to stay quiet and unemotional so as to not screw up her father's political career. And with the birth of her brother is The Unfavorite.
      • In Ozai's case, it's implied that he was The Unfavorite to his father Azulon. The Search comic series gives another possible reason why Ozai is abusive to Zuko: he thinks Zuko is the love child of Ursa and her childhood friend Ikem after reading his wife's letter to Ikem. It turns out that he knew all along that Zuko was his son and the reason he abusive to Zuko was he was punishing Ursa for her lie.
    • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Amon's Alleged Back Story is one of these. According to him, he was once a simple Farm Boy in a family of non-benders who were bullied and extorted by local firebending criminals, who killed his parents and permanently burned Amon's face after his father tried to stand up to the firebenders.
      • Then there's Hiroshi Sato, whose wife was murdered by a firebender. He truly believes that the world would be better off without benders and therefore follows Amon.
      • Amon is revealed to be lying. However, he and his brother, Tarrlock, still have a genuine one, having been raised by a crazed father who sought to use them as Tykebombs against the city that once imprisoned him.
    • Next, we have Aang and his children. You would think that Aang of all people would be a great father, right? Well, his daughter and first son beg to differ. Since Tenzin was the only Airbending child in the family, Aang spent a lot of time with him, leaving Kya and Bumi with Katara. Tenzin didn't realize that it was him and his father that went on vacations, which upset his siblings. This may be the reason why Tenzin's siblings picked on him and were more rambunctious than him. They vied for their father's attention and love while Tenzin didn't; he got without knowing it.
      • To be specific, Bumi is such a glory seeker is because he's the only non-bender in his family and does great lengths to show he's useful without bending.
      • This also nicely explains Tenzin's stick-in-the-mud personality, as being Aang's favorite (and only Airbender) meant he was hand-picked to carry on Aang's legacy. Between being beaten up and bullied by his siblings as a child, having to fill his father's massive shoes, and growing up knowing it was his responsibility to preserve a long-dead culture and entire way of life, it's understandable he's a bit humorless as an adult.
  • Totally Spies! has a rather big list of villains who do bad things for something that happened in the past. There was one episode where a lady decided to mind-control all the guys through cologne so that they worshipped her because she was not chosen the prom queen at her high school. Seriously?
  • Clay of Moral Orel had a very complex abusive relationship with his father after he accidentally killed his mother, and he's only an alcoholic in a failing marriage because Bloberta convinced the once-sober Clay to get drunk and tricked him into marriage. After watching these events unfold, it's actually quite difficult to blame Clay for much of his behavior.
    • Bloberta herself had issues with her parents. Much like Clay, she got along better with one parent (her father) than her other—her mother who clearly showed Parental Favoritism toward her other siblings. She was also afraid of never getting married, as everyone around her in a fifties-esque Moralton was.
  • In Quest for a Heart, when Millie remarks on Footman's disagreeable personality, the other Rollis tell her that he had a hard childhood. She asks for more details, and they say he had to grow up in a Rolli village in the midst of Rollis.
  • Parodied in a Buttons & Mindy short on Animaniacs. Mindy, a curious little toddler, accidentally walks in on a bank robbery...
    Mindy: (to one of the robbers) Whatcha doing, Mr. Man?
    Robber: What's it look like? We're robbin' the bank!
    Mindy: Why?
    Robber: 'Cause we're bank robbers!
    Mindy: Why?
    Robber: 'Cause that's what bad guys do!
    Mindy: Why?
    Robber: 'Cause maybe our mothers didn't hug us when we was kids!
  • Subverted in Ruby-Spears' Mega Man, in the first episode: Wily mentions having a less than perfect childhood—then goes right on to working on Protoman, expounding on a different subject. The show never brings it up again, implying that Wily's bid to take over the world is simply due to his villainous nature, not this trope.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb sometimes has these, played for laughs — as part of his speech, he'll refer to some unpleasant past event that motivated his current act of villainy. Possibly the most outlandish was his deciding to steal all the lawn gnomes in the Tri-State Area because as a child, he had been forced to take the place of his family's lawn gnome after it was repossessed.
    • He hates birthdays because neither of his parents showed up for his birth.
    • During his school's Science Fairs his machines always lost to a baking soda volcano. So what does he do several decades down the line? He infiltrates an elementary school Science Fair and sets up "The World's Largest Baking Soda Volcano!"
    • He hates swimming pools because his mother didn't let him swim. Humourously accompanied by a very short clip of Doofenshmirtz's mother simply saying to him, 'No.' Doofenshmirtz argues not every backstory has to be dramatic.
    • Other components to his backstory: he had to wear hand-me-up girls' clothing, his mother loved his brother more than him, his father replaced him with a dog named "Only Son", his only friend (a painted balloon) flew away, his artistic masterpiece was destroyed, his girlfriend left him for a whale, and he was raised by ocelots. Yes, all of that.
    • In Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Doof-2's only reason he's evil(er) than the original Doof is he lost a toy train once. Doof-1 deconstructs this because he suffered a much more miserable life, yet he turned out less successful. Once Doof-1 gives Doof-2 the train, Doof-2 decides to stop being evil.
    • Subverted in Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!. Doofenshmirtz has a fully functional -inator at his hands to destroy Christmas. The only flaw in his scheme is that he doesn't actually hate Christmas, and therefore has no reason to use the machine.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • All of Vlad's evil tendencies were blamed on the pivotal portal experiment in college. But in spite of disfiguring his face, the positives started to pile up after a while. Vlad's insanely rich, and has super powers. What more could you want? The answer: love. Vlad lost the woman he loved to the one who accidentally caused the accident to start with, and Vlad's been bitter and lonely ever since.
      • The excuse is demolished when Danny goes back in time to try and stop the accident. However, circumstances are changed to where Jack is the victim of the accident. Vlad is married to Maddie and seems to be pretty stable. We later discover that he forbade Maddie from doing ghost-catching and he kept Jack and Maddie from communicating. Ultimately, it shows Jack and Maddie were meant to be together and that Vlad was doomed from his own bitterness.
    • Freakshow uses this troop to give an excuse to all the bad things he does. Everyone in his life, including himself, likes ghosts more than him. Being upstaged by ghosts his whole life messed him up but then again he might very well just be insane. Maybe a bit of both.
      • Jazz certainly thinks so, pointing out he has Ghost Envy. Danny exploits this when Freakshow has the 'Reality Gauntlet', causing Freakshow to turn himself into a powerful ghost... and making himself vulnerable to the Fenton Thermos.
  • The eponymous Dr. Thaddeus S. 'Rusty' Venture of The Venture Bros. has his horrific upbringing by his father to blame for his Jerkass tendencies, something that season 3 goes out of its way several times to point out. Several times, it's hinted that Rusty was forced to murder several people in his childhood by his father. That would screw up anyone.
    • "That's nothing. My father made me kill a man with a house key once. I was ten!"
    • Every single horrifying thing Dr. Rusty Venture has ever done can be traced back to his just as horrifying childhood; more specifically, his complicated relationship with his father, which has left him with some very odd (and neglectful and abusive) notions about how to play father to his own teenage sons. This trope was played with in "The Doctor is Sin," in which Rusty is forced to relive "the moment that his father went from protector to tormentor/rival," and drawn upon even more heavily in "Assisted Suicide," with Dr. Orpheus entering and traversing Rusty's subconscious mind.
  • Drawn Together lampshades this in the song "Who's Afraid of a Bully" from the episode "Requiem for a Reality Show".
  • In Transformers Animated, why Bumblebee would rather work on his own than to learn the value of teamwork could be attributed to what happened in "Autoboot Camp." His first team was consisted of jerks who went as far as unscrewing his legs then locking him inside a locker. It didn't help that his Drill Sergeant was Sentinel Prime, who took every opportunity to humiliate him. The only ones who didn't treat him like crap were Bulkhead (who he had written off as a hic from the energon farms) and Longarm. Bumblebee eventually warms up to Bulkhead, and takes the heat for him - which boots him out of Sentinel's good graces and gets him demoted to Space Bridge Repair duty (resulting in his Stingers being downgraded to be useless in combat).
  • Played with by Demona, one of the two main villains on Gargoyles. She has certainly endured more than her fair share of misery over the centuries, and a lot of it seems to be the fault of the humans (thereby setting up her motivation nicely. Closer inspection, though, reveals that Demona herself directly or indirectly caused all of her own suffering, with the humans sometimes large players, but sometimes just scapegoats. It's implied that Demona is aware of this (and of her own evil) on some level... pity she's the queen of the Ignored Epiphany. This trope is outright averted with the other main villain, Xanatos, who by all accounts had an idyllic childhood but wound up a wealthy Diabolical Mastermind anyway. And yet he's still not entirely unsympathetic.
  • Most, if not all, of Batman's rogues gallery, as well as Terry's. The only two of Terry's that spring to mind is the "skeleton Joker Gang" guy who attacked Max because she scored higher then him on an SAT, making his ice-queen mom very disappointed in him. There's also the geeky technopath student whose Jerk Jock dad didn't care either way about him, even after he stole his construction equipment and later buffed up in prison, although his particular hang-up was over a girl who naturally didn't care about him either.
    • For reference, the above two villains of Terry's are, respectively, Terminal and Willy Watt. In the latter's case, his father frequently mocked him for being too much of a "wimp" to stand up to the bullies at school...and when Willy got Psychic Powers, his dad was one of the first ones he tried to kill in retaliation. At the end of the episode, his abusive dad actually seems proud to see that "at least he's not a wimp anymore".
    • A third villain of Terry's who's got a Freudian Excuse is the one-shot villain named Payback. He's a child wielding Powered Armor that's designed to make him appear as an adult, whose father (ironically enough, a school counselor) doesn't spend enough time with him due to work, prompting him to get rid of his dad's clients' tormentors in order to free up the man's schedule.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Saddam Hussein tries to use this trope during part of his Villain Song. He's possibly lying, or at the very least, the movie does not imply this justifies his actions:
    • Satan gives his own excuse in song, making it clear that he's just a sort of pathetic Punch Clock Villain who wants to get out of Hell.
    • Played for Laughs in "Royal Pudding" with Scott the Dick:
      Canadian Captain: You're a dick, Scott! You have always been... a dick!
      Scott: No! You all kept calling me a dick, and that turned me into a dick!
  • Murdoc Niccals, resident Jerkass of the animated band Gorillaz, suffered a thoroughly unpleasant childhood at the hands of his father, his brother, various school bullies, and (if you believe him) the dinner lady who took his virginity when he was nine.
    "I'm often asked why my behaviour is so crooked now, but it's a lot clearer when you see what manky loins I sprang from. 'Man hands on misery to man', y'know."
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Eddy's characterization can be summed up as Jerkass. That was because he was trying to emulate and impress his Domestic Abuser older brother. His breakdown and admission to this led to the others accepting him.
  • Played for Laughs in an Adult Party Cartoon episode ofThe Ren & Stimpy Show. Ren is an Ax-Crazy Domestic Abuser to Stimpy. He reasons his tendency to be violent with "the first sensation I felt in my life was unspeakable pain. From then on, I wanted to inflict the pain on others!". He was referring to a doctor who slapped him on the butt after his carriage.
  • Virtually every Kim Possible villain there is. Seriously, it would be easier just to list the ones who didn't complain about everyone laughing at them.
    • The most famous is Dr. Drew Lipsky aka Dr. Drakken. Apparently he had a rather twisted childhood, something that he often ranted about, given an offhanded comment Ron said. His breaking point occurred when he attempted to build robotic dates for his friends, which included Kim's dad, Dr. Possible. They laughed him off and he dropped out and became a super-villain. As Dr. P explained, it wasn't a minor chuckle, but laughed and joked about it for days.
    • Shego may or may not count. Her shift to evil was because she grew to like it; it's implied that it was also because she was the common sense of her group between her hammy brother (Hego), the one with a complex about hus shrinking powers and ego (Mego) and the twins (Wego, whom are presented as the least annoying.)
    • Kim's archrival, Bonnie Rockwaller, also qualifies, because in one episode, it's strongly implied that her mean, sour disposition stems from an inferiority complex as a result of her two older sisters (named Connie and Lonnie) looking down on her and possibly overshadowing her, (they claim, "Connie got all the brains, Lonnie got all the looks, and Bonnie got the rest."
  • Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) is shown during a Villainous Breakdown to have deep seated shame at not living up to the potential his mother saw in him.
  • In previous Scooby-Doo incarnations, the villains in the monster costumes had viable reasons for donning their disguises. However, in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, any time excuses are given, they are usually always lame and pitiful, which actually makes them more villainous, especially since they are more dangerous.
  • In an episode of the Earthworm Jim, we have this exchange from Professor Monkey-For-A-Head:
    Professor Monkey-for-a-Head : (Sees a fruit cart) Fruit carts?! I hate fruit carts!!! (The monkey fused to his head mumbles something to him) Why?! I'll tell you why! It's because a fruit cart, a STINKING FRUIT CART, killed my pa!!!
  • Regular Show explains through various flashbacks and implications why Benson is such a Mean Boss with one of the worst Hair Trigger Tempers in the history of Western Animation: He was very quiet and meek when he was a boy until his parents explicitly taught him to raise his voice to get things done, even when it came to passing the salt. His various flings in his young adulthood ended tragically, and now the only thing he has to pride himself on is his dead-end job as park manager, dealing with a curmudgeonly Mean Boss of his own. Half the reason he is so hard on Mordecai and Rigby is him venting back the stress he takes from Mr. Maellard, while the other half is because he wants them to clean up their act while they still have the chance and not end up like him.
  • Mr. Burns from The Simpsons has one: Despite being an evil, cruel and heartless businessman who has done a lot of evil things, we find out that in his childhood he was a light-hearted and pleasant child, who was even nicknamed "Happy" because of his pleasant nature and had very loving parents. But his own grandfather, a twisted and heartless millionaire, lured him away from his loving parents and forcibly adopted Burns. His grandfather was a coldhearted businessman who cared only about greed and power, and is directly responsible for transforming Burns from a carefree and pleasant boy to a miserable evil old man.
    • There's also the loss of his teddy bear, Bobo, but that may or may not have actually contributed to it. He did resolve to change his evil ways once the bear was returned to him, but unfortunately couldn't take note of it since he didn't have a pen handy.
    • When Bart was five, note his preschool teacher belittled him and verbally abused him to the point that Bart considers suicide. This probably lead Bart being a troublemaker that we know today.
  • Played for Laughs in The Tick, when Big Shot's reaction to running out of bullets after spending the episode (over)acting like a Nineties Anti-Hero is to mournfully ask "...Why didn't you love me, mom?" and break down sobbing on Arthur's shoulder.
  • One episode of Belphegor hints the titular character had suffered a great loss in the past - the death of someone close to him due to a passenger plane crashing. Said plane was sabotaged by a general in order to kill just one man on board, who was transporting plans for a new weapon. The episode doesn't fully explain the incident and exactly who was the person close to Belphegor that died, but Word of God confirms this was what caused his transformation into an unfeeling criminal, detached from the rest of the world, constantly provoking life and living on the edge.
  • Interestingly, an advertisement for the Winx Club showcased the girls coming up with hilarious Freudian Excuses for why Lord Darkar is the Obviously Evil stereotypical villain that he is. The main show, on the other hand, never showed any signs of the excuses they came up with for him.
  • Apple Bloom's cousin Babs Seed from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was apparently bullied herself, and only became a bully to avoid ridicule from Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. Luckily, she realized that she's no different from the bullies from Manehattan, and stopped.
  • Parodied on Family Guy with Stewie Griffin, whose freudian excuse is that he was trapped in a prison for the first 6 months of his life. The name of the prison? "The Womb".
    • Played straighter with Peter, that not only that his mother is negligent but his adoptive father was abusive towards him.
    • Also parodied in one sketch which suggests that the evil monkey who torments Chris was once a regular dude until he walked home from work one day and found his wife in bed with another monkey, then he started living in Chris' closet after losing everything. It is revealed he points at people to strike up a conversation, suffers from a copper deficiency which explains why his arm shakes, and the sinister expression is merely the face he makes while he's thinking.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, Crocker wants to destroy all fairies due to losing his own fairies as a child. And do you know who was responsible for this? Timmy Turner. To be fair, though, he tried to prevent it from happening, which failed miserably.
    • May or may not be an example Stable Time Loop. Timmy went back in time to prevent it, but ended up causing it anyway (the original circumstances were hinted to be Cosmo's stupidity.) However, Crocker ended up gaining his obsessions with fairies and a working scanner with fairy DNA (which he lacked in the present timeline, meaning that the past was changed, albeit only the circumstances, with the outcome being the same.))
  • The 2012 Ninja Turtles's version of Baxter Stockman is this, having been picked on and abused by everyone he knows, from school growing up to his co-workers.
  • On Ever After High, Apple White is honest, polite, kind and public-spirited in every way except one, that she refuses to accept that anyone destined for an evil or tragic fate has the right to try to avoid it or even that anyone with a destined romance can pick someone else. This arises out of a childhood trauma which gives her a great dread of an uncertain future.
  • Ms. Helga G. Pataki, ooh boy. Ever since she was a little girl, she has always lived in her older sister's shadow and hardly got any attention from her parents. One day, because her parents were too busy listening to Olga play the piano, she walked herself to and from preschool, had her lunchbox stolen by a dog and fell in a mud puddle. The only one nice to her on that day? Arnold who complimented her bow and held out his umbrella for her. The next day, after Harold stole her crackers, he gave her his. Then all the kids started laughing at her when she fawned over him. Then she snapped and became the brash person she was in the present. She had a whole episode dedicated to explaining her character, which was generous of the writers to do.

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