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Hoist By His Own Petard: Literature
Words on paper can't act out an epic battle scene as well as other media, but they're just as good at depicting characters' downfall by their own means.

  • In Foundation, many characters that are fighting the protagonists are victim of their own success or of the things they expected to use against the main characters. It is exemplified in this quote:
    Salvor Hardin: An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.
  • Two examples from The Hunger Games:
    • Coin gives Katniss the bow and arrow to execute Snow with. Guess who she ends up shooting.
    • Snow would constantly drink a poison to build up his resistance so that he could poison his political opponents. After he was deposed, it's strongly suggested that he was dying partly from the effects of the poison catching up to him (although it didn't have time to kill him before he was trampled to death...)
  • The term is actually used in The Green Mile to describe how by trying to plead innocence, Percy Wetmore ends up looking extremely incompetent.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events,
    • Count Olaf is killed by the same harpoon gun he packed planning to release the biological weapon on the island. This is after being nearly poisoned by that same biological weapon.
    • The Adults Are Useless mentality of everyone the kids meet probably made most of them Too Dumb to Live when they refuse to believe the building they're in is on fire. YMMV on whether the (potentially lethal) negligence displayed by characters who were otherwise good people made this Laser-Guided Karma.
  • At the end of A Tale of Two Cities, Big Bad Madame Defarge fights Jerry and Miss Pross and is killed when accidentally shot with her own pistol during the struggle. As well, the very last scene implies rather strongly that all the other villains will eventually be Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves by the selfsame revolutionary government they helped create.
  • Used in Jurassic Park. The monsters where created for a theme park rather than as weapons but the trope is still followed.
  • In the final story in Thanks to The Saint, "The Careful Terrorist", Simon Templar is opposed by a gangster, and his professional hitman, nicknamed "The Engineer", and manages to make him blow himself and his employer up. Then he quotes the Trope Namer.
  • Harry Potter
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort is finally defeated when his own Avada Kedavra is reflected back in his face by an Expelliarmus from Harry — which in fact is merely the culmination of an extremely subtle and drawn-out Petard-Hoisting, in that the only reason Harry's spell worked against the otherwise-unblockable Killing Curse was because the Elder Wand, Voldemort's anticipated uber-weapon, had been set up to recognize Harry rather than Voldemort as its true master, and "chose" to abandon Voldemort while backfiring his spell; thus, the very wand Voldemort thought would guarantee him victory turned out to be the fatal weakness that got him killed. Arguably, the first time Voldemort tried to kill Harry, only to have it backfire and blow up in his face, counts too - even though he didn't stay dead.
    • Voldemort is infamously the poster boy for this trope in the fandom's eyes. He never learns from this up to his final, and permanent, defeat. His whole trying to kill Harry in the first place sets forth his ultimate Doom. In an act of cosmic irony, Voldemort ended up causing his own prophesied demise in trying to prevent it.
      • On that subject, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Voldemort's extremely convoluted plan to get Harry to a certain location relies upon Harry taking a level in badass. Harry's year-long training regimen advances his abilities considerably, allowing him to win the Triwizard Tournament, and also leaving him much more capable of defending himself. Harry is then able to teach dozens of his friends in defense against the dark arts. The result of all this is that by the final books, Harry and his friends are more than capable of taking on any of Voldemort's supporters. Voldemort's rise to power may well have succeeded if he had not inadvertently forced his arch-enemy to level up.
    • Something similar occurs in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Lockhart's memory charm backfires on him, because he was using Ron's very broken wand to cast it. Dumbledore mocks this ("Impaled on your own sword, Gilderoy!").
    • The basilisk fang that is used to destroy Riddle's diary in the same book. The basilisk's fangs screw him over again in the last book when they are used to destroy another Horcrux.
    • Non-fatal example: In Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, we see a memory of Harry's dad picking on Snape by making him hang upside-down in midair. In the next book, Harry finds the potions book of the guy who invented that spell...and at the end of the book, it turns out to be Snape himself.
    • In Deathly Hallows Crabbe tries to kill the main trio with Fiendfyre. Since he lacked the skill to actually control Fiendfyre, the cursed flames consumed their summoner.
    • Tom Riddle Sr., upon finding out that his pregnant wife was a witch and had used magic for making him fall in love with and marry her, abandoned her and her unborn child and purposefully never bothered to find out what happened to either of them. Said child grows up to become Voldemort, learns the truth, and decides to kill Tom Riddle, Sr. in revenge for his having been abandoned by him and left to be raised in an orphanage.
    • Umbridge really shouldn't have gotten onto Harry for even perceived lying. He actually weaponized his detentions under her at least twice later on. The second time basically ended up like this:
    Harry: "I must not tell lies." STUPEFY!
    • A minor one in Half-Blood Prince: Horace Slughorn contains a memory that is crucial to Harry knowing how to defeat Voldemort, but as he is bitterly ashamed of what he told Voldemort in the memory, he resolves never to show it to anyone, and keeps several means of fighting off people who come for the memory on his person at all times. However, at the beginning of the year, he gave a bottle of Felix Felicis (Liquid Luck) to the person who made the best Draught of Living Death on their first day. Harry made the best Draught of Living Death potion, and later that year, was able to coax the memory out of Slughorn under the influence of the exact same potion Slughorn gave Harry during their first lesson.
    • Actually happens to a protagonist, Sirius Black. He mistreats Kreacher, Kreacher sells him out to the Death Eaters. Sirius dies.
    • Averted in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix when the Centaurs debate on taking Hermione and Harry as well for using the Centaurs to take care of their problems. She and Harry only get away when Grawp enters the scene.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Sr. broke his son out of Azkaban by having his dying wife and son trade places. He kept his son under control with the Imperius curse and hidden for many years. Barty Jr. finally broke free of his father's control and Imperiused him. When Barty Crouch Sr. broke free of the control, he tried to warn Dumbledore that his son was at Hogwarts in disguise but was killed by his son before he got the chance to warn anyone.
  • In a supplementary material to Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a Tropical Screech Owl named Honeyvox drinks the potion meant for his enemy, muting him for life.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000: Gaunts Ghosts novel First & Only, Rawne is kidnapped and tortured by Heldane before Corbec and other Ghosts rescue him. He intended to make him a "pawn" but succeeded in only making him sensitive to influence. This, however, let Rawne sense when Heldane was about to unleash his actual pawn, and bring his weapon to bear beforehand.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Honsou has Uriel killed by putting him into the daemonculaba. He breaks free. Since this was the process by which the Unfleshed were created, they smell it on him, and are willing to listen to him; he gets them to join him on an attack on Honsou's fortress.
  • In Logos Run, an evil circus master tries to kill the heroes with his dangerous poisonous snake. Once introduced to a scent, it will unerringly kill that person. His comrades all wondered why the snake had never bitten him. After sending the snake, he is injured in an unrelated event. The intended victim actually helped him by bandaging him. When he woke up, the first thing he asked was who put the bandages on him. The snake struck right after he got the answer...
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Sanguinius, Inquisitor Stele summons a daemon to a battlefield. It chooses him as its flesh vessel.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the loathsome city of Astapor brutally trains eunuch slave Super Soldiers for sale as mercenaries as well as to defend the city. Astapor has nothing to fear from its own soldiers, who are robotically loyal and cannot disobey an order from their masters. However, no one thought it was a bad idea to sell every single soldier they have to an ambitious warrior queen, thus turning their entire garrison into a foreign army that's already inside their walls.
    • Then there's Cersei's actions as Queen Regent: she reinstates the Church Militant wing of the Faith of the Seven in order to pacify the rioting faithful, while plotting to frame the betrothed of her son (the crowned king) as engaged in an extramarital affair. However, the guy she sends to seduce and spill on her son's fiancée ends up tortured by the new High Septon, and confesses that he's had relations with Cersei as well. She ends up in the cells rather quickly.
    • Hell, the very first book has Ned Stark, whose plans to expose Cersei's adultery and Joffrey's illegitimacy end with him playing straight into the Lannisters' hands.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, Robert Stadler tries to take over a Death Ray installation that he feels belongs to him. The outcome of the struggle is the obliteration of him, the building, and everything within a 100-mile radius.
  • In Matthew Reilly's novella "Hell Island", the Island is overrun by 300 mountain apes who were genetically modified to be supersoldiers. They were controlled by silver disks, and anyone wearing one was immune to them. The island hadn't been overrun at all... it was part of an exercise. Schofield has Mother wipe out the disks, so nobody is immune, and everyone who was previously safe was killed by the apes, before Schofield drowned them.
    • Also in Ice Station when the one remaining French soldier attempts to take out the marines by planting a Claymore mine at a dead-end corridor. Rebound discovers his plan and turns the mine around, resulting in the gruesome death of the Frenchman at the hand of his own mine.
      • Somewhat amusingly, the aforementioned French soldier? His name is Jean Petard.
      • And later, the "bad guys" were themselves hoisted by not cleaning up the body of Petard.
  • In "In the Penal Colony" by Franz Kafka, the officer is killed by the machine he helped create. Somewhat subverted in that the officer went into it willingly.
  • A throwaway joke in one of the Discworld books mentions that it's not often that weapon inventors are killed by their own creation and the widespread belief in this happening is due to the unfortunate death of William Blunt-Instrument in an alley.
    • Also, in The Colour of Magic, Garhartra the Guestmaster casts a spell to stop a flung bottle of wine in mid-air. Eight hours later, he returns to the room just in time for the spell to wear off, and the bottle resumes its interrupted journey, smacking him on the head.
    • In Wyrd Sisters, Felmet commissions a play to slander the witches and make it so that people recognize him as king. Said play forms the perfect opportunity for the witches to meddle, and the ghost of the old king to possess an actor and tell everyone that Felmet killed him.
    • Lilly in Witches Abroad uses mirrors to amplify her powers. In the end she is trapped in her own mirrors, probably forever.
    • The vampires in Carpe Jugulum bite Granny Weatherwax in order to make her a vampire as well. Unfortunately, she sent her spirit into the blood they drank, so instead of transforming her they find themselves becoming more like her.
    • The villain in Feet of Clay attempted to poison the Patrician by using candles with the wicks soaked in arsenic. Vimes pretends to have done the same trick with holy water in the climax. The villain also used a golem to help with the plot, and it's a golem that ends up arresting him.
  • The Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" features a villain who dies after being bitten by the poisonous snake he intended to use to murder his stepdaughter so he could keep her money. Holmes even remarks that he is indirectly responsible for what happened when he hit the snake with his cane to drive it away, which made it retreat and bite its owner in anger, but says he's unlikely to lose much sleep over it.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Grey Knights, the Big Bad Valinov is freed at his execution by Ligeia's death cultists and proceeds to use the servitor-mangler meant to kill him on Riggensen, who had succeeded in breaking him.
    • Basically, Warhammer 40000 stories tend to end due to the villain inevitably screwing himself over (unless he actually succeeds, which happens a lot).
  • Two books in the Demon Headmaster series do this. The first one is when the Headmaster falls into a machine that he uses to clone life, although that only lasts until the next book, where the machine clones him. The clone—who has the Headmaster's powers—is undone by an information overload in his brain.
  • In The Killing Star, both humanity and then our alien nemeses get Hoisted: first a race of aliens, whose only apparent purpose in the universe is to cause the deaths of others, nearly destroy mankind by flinging giant rocks at us at just under light-speed. Their reasoning? Because they heard "We Are The World" once centuries ago, and thought we meant it to say humanity was a unified nation that would attack them now that we have relativistic spaceships, and that seemed like a logical train of thought to them. One wonders how they ever got into space. In the end the humans nuke the Earth's sun, killing a good chunk of their fleet, and a few humans flee with the genetically engineered clone of Jesus Christ into deep space, planning to retaliate when they get the chance.
  • Honor Harrington, as you'd expect, has multiple examples:
    • In Field of Dishonor, one of the villains is Denver Summervale, a professional duelist. He hires himself out to kill people by goading his victims into challenging him to a duel and killing them there, where it's considered legal. When he kills someone close to Honor, her eventual response is to walk up to him, accuses him of murder-for-hire, goads him into challenging her, then shoots him down with contemptuous ease during the duel itself.
    • Mesa certainly has one of these coming, seeing as how their massive conspiracy to exterminate the Star Empire of Manticore and the Republic of Haven by keeping them constantly at war with each other has resulted in a massive, massive increase in the levels of technology employed by the Manticorans and Havenites. Well, as it turns out, Victor Cachat and Anton Zilwicki are very, very much Not Quite Dead, and the end result is that Manticore and Haven - whose space navies are now approximately a thousand times more Bad Ass than they were - are teaming up to turn all that technology, skill, pent-up anger and experience on them. Essentially, Mesa is facing the single set of Allied nations in the galaxy that is ready, willing, and able to destroy them, and has spent the better part of a century honing themselves to do just that.
  • In The Dresden Files:
    • Lord Raith has a fairly squicky predilection, which he ultimately becomes the victim of. Lord Raith, as a White Court Vampire, establishes dominance over his daughters by raping them and showing them that his mojo is more potent. His mojo, however, is also capped off and incapable of being refilled due to a death curse laid on him by Harry's mom — who's also the mother of Lord Raith's son Thomas. Raith expends the last of his reserves trying to kill Harry and Thomas, which would break the curse... and provides the perfect opportunity for Lara, the eldest living child, to return the favor and use him as a Puppet King.
    • Big example in Changes on Red Court vampires who tried to curse Dresden's bloodline to death. To wit: the Red Court has the ability (through massive and incredibly difficult preparation) wipe out everyone within a certain bloodline, killing the sacrifice, all their siblings, their parents, all their siblings, their grandparents, their siblings, etc, etc. The plan was to use Harry's daughter to kill the Blackstaff, the White Council's assassin and one of the strongest wizards on the planet and who is Harry's grandfather. Instead, Harry sacrificed the newest Red Court Vampire (who happened to be his lover at her own request) which wiped out every single Red Court Vampire that was still alive and older than her at that point.
    • In Ghost Story, this is how the Corpsetaker is finally taken down, as Mortimer Linquist, an ectomancer who she was torturing with hundreds of wraiths, seizes control of those wraiths and uses them to destroy her for good.
    • Another example occurs in Grave Peril. Bianca enlists the help of a few fellow sorcerers to stir up turbulence among the ghosts of Chicago, which messes with the barrier between the living and spirit worlds, allowing the ghosts to have a greater influence (i.e. cause more havoc) among the living world, for the sake of sending one particularly nasty ghost with a grudge against Harry after him. This backfires on her at the end of the book, when Harry uses that same turbulence to his advantage, empowering all the spirits of people killed by Bianca and her minions. The ghosts proceed to go wild and slaughter every member of Bianca's entourage, including Bianca herself (who was killed by the ghost of woman she killed but blamed Harry for, which is what set off her whole vengeance scheme in the first place).
    • In Small Favor, Archleone is basically invulnerable due to his necktie, which is actually the noose Judas hanged himself with. Turns out he's not immune to being strangled with it, leaving him almost literally hoist by his own petard.
  • Codex Alera has Kalarus, whose entire province becomes Alera's Pompeii when Gaius Sextus sets off the volcano he planned to unleash on the entire continent in the event of his defeat.
  • In Memory Sorrow And Thorn, forgemaster Inch spends a great deal of time torturing The Hero, Simon, by strapping him, crucifixion style, to the giant waterwheel used to power the forge's works. Simon manages to escape with Guthwulf's help; in the ensuing confrontation, Inch's belt gets caught in the wheel and he's carried off to his messy doom.
  • The Big Bad in Black Dogs summons a demon to destroy another character, but it backfires and demons, being the hostile creatures they are, attacks him instead.
  • Snot Stew: Toby teases the family's vicious dog Butch by leaping down into his enclosure and slipping out through a hole in the fence. He also bullies his sister Kikki by eating all of her food. Turns out these don't work well together, as he discovers when he tries to squeeze through the hole... and can't. Horror follows as Butch proceeds to maul his back end, with Toby screaming that he's eating him alive. He survives, but only because the humans rush him to the vet, and he loses his tail in the process.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Slithering Shadows", Thalis's Cold-Blooded Torture of Natala means Thalis is still there where Thog arrives to kill.
    • In The Hour of the Dragon, Zorathus tells Valbroso how to open his chest, without mentioning that if you do it with your bare hands, you will be poisoned.
  • To cash in on The Outer Limits franchise, a series of short Outer Limits children's books were released a few years ago. One of those books, The Lost, was about a rebellious teen who uncovers a conspiracy in her neighborhood where the adults are brainwashing their own teenage children with a machine that changes their brainwaves into sensible, hard-working adults. Like any Cruel Twist Ending, she ends up brainwashed herself and becomes good-hearted and obedient, much to their parent's joy. Then she and the other teenagers take their parents (as well as the doctor responsible for administering the "therapy" in the first place) and subject them to their own machine out of the belief that they will be helping them become just like them.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, the Three Shadowed Ones use Mephisto's Staff of Summoning against him and two companions, to summon a chimera. Mephisto goes "Hi, Chimmie!" and chases after them with its aid; the staff only summons, it does not command, and the chimera likes him better than them.
  • Quite a few baddies from the Nightside series have gone down this way, either having their deadly gifts backfire or turned against them by John and his allies, or suffering a Villainous BSOD that leads them to commit suicide with their own destructive powers.
    • In the Lilith War arc, Lilith resurrects the dead as an army to unleash upon the city and fight at her command. She overlooks the fact that one of the resurrected is her human husband, John Taylor's father, who turns out to be necessary to stop her by reversing the Babylon Working.
  • Subverted in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: it is officially claimed that Bob Ewell fell on his own knife, but actually he was backstabbed by Boo Radley as Ewell was trying to kill the children.
  • The Atrocity Archives has as its villains the remnants of an alternate universe's Third Reich. They managed to turn the Holocaust into a massive necromantic working, attracting the attention of a Great Old One they got to fight on their side. Thing is, after it destroyed the Allies, it proceeded to drain everything from the universe, to the point that said universe is facing imminent heat death only 60 years later and the Nazis are breaking into our universe in order to find a way to keep that from happening.
  • The victim in the Father Brown story The Fairy Tale of Father Brown orders his men to shoot first, ask questions later; he is later gagged so he is unable to reverse the order.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, Pixie Opal Koboi arrogantly declares that she has no need of magic when she has science, and has a pituitary gland surgically implanted in her skull so that her body will generate more growth hormone and make it easier for her to masquerade as a human child. The hormones generated by the gland sap her of the last of her magic just as she needs to use her mesmer power.
    • Even better: the need arises just after she used that power in a way that she didn't think through. Her magic runs dry before she can correct her mistake, forcing her into days of manual labor before the LEP picks her up.
    • Her former partner, Briar Cudgeon, suffered a more fatal version of this. He activated the defense systems in Koboi Labs in order to stun the Bwa Kell crime ring after his plan to betray them was revealed. However, he was later thrown into the plasma powering the defense systems and was fried by the substance he had activated himself
  • In False Memory, the antagonist is a psychiatrist who mind rapes his patients and has them do all kinds of terrible things for his own entertainment. When things start to fall apart around him, he puts off a persistent patient (who has a pathological fear of Keanu Reeves) by telling her The Matrix is real, and she must hide from the machines. It works, but she decides he's an Agent and shoots him dead in his office. Then hires his secretary.
  • Non-fatal example: In Too Many Magicians, the Marquis of London attempts to coerce Darcy into working for free to solve a murder, by using circumstantial evidence to have Darcy's right-hand sorcerer, Master Sean, locked up on suspicion of the crime. Darcy turns the tables on the Marquis, citing circumstantial evidence to suggests Lord Bontriomphe, the Marquis's right-hand man, was the culprit ... and had killed the victim on the Marquis's instructions. Foiled, the Marquis grudgingly pays Lord Darcy's expenses, Master Sean is released, and they join forces with Bontriomphe to track down the real killer.
  • Goliath: In a moment of badassery, Alek kills Nikola Tesla with his own electrified cane
  • Grahame Coates, step up and be recognized! Grahame always fires his employees mere weeks before they have been employed long enough to qualify for the severance package. The exception: Fat Charlie Nancy, who has been working for Grahame Coates for an unprecedented two years. So, naturally, when Fat Charlie's brother makes Coates think that Fat Charlie is on to his long-running embezzlement scheme, Coates thinks that Fat Charlie would be the guy to pin it on. Fat Charlie is arrested and then promptly told by the policewoman interviewing him that it's laughably obvious that this has been going on for longer than even Fat Charlie has been working there, and he's being let go on grounds of being innocent.
  • In the Red Dwarf novel Last Human, an alternate reality evil Lister takes a massive dose of Luck Virus to protect himself from the Rage, a hive mind of fury that kills anyone it possesses. However, when he gets a taste of the Rage, as per its nature, he wants to be possessed by it more than anything in the world. And the luck virus has a way of granting one's deepest desires.
  • In Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books, the antagonist is occasionally killed by their own weapon. And it's very rarely a simple or clean death; if Anthony Horowitz ever loses his present career, he's got the makings of a nice Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant.
    • Most notably are the executives of Scorpia who made the fatal mistake of underestimating Alex; in Scorpia, Julia Rothman tries to use a hot air balloon to transmit lethal radio waves from satellite dishes on its base, and dies when Alex disables the balloon, and it crashes down on top of her.
    • Then in Snakehead, an even more gruesome example: Major Yu is using a prototype bomb as powerful as a nuke to create a tsunami in order to stop a group of popular Non-Idle Rich people from addressing the public to help encourage eradication of poverty (Satire Alert: they were commissioned for this by one of the world governments to keep the status quo in check). Alex infiltrates his base and detonates the bomb too early. And how does this kill Yu and not Alex, when considering that Yu was half a mile away from where he was, and the bomb was thousands of feet below sea level? Because Yu had a very acute form of osteoporosis, and the shockwave from the bomb shattered his skeleton.
  • In John Lymington's novel Night of the Big Heat, spider-like aliens from another planet are heating up a Scottish island in the middle of winter, in order to better suit their preferred hot climate. It gets hotter and hotter until just when the entire cast seems doomed, the intense heat causes the island's trees and shrubs to catch fire. Although the humans escape unharmed, the aliens end up getting burned alive by the fire caused by the very heat they created.
    • In the 1967 movie adaptation, the screenwriter apparently felt that it made no sense for heat-based aliens to be vulnerable to fire, so that film's example of this trope has the intense heat created by the aliens (which are changed to energy creatures resembling living scrambled eggs) instead cause a storm, and the ensuing rain melts them all.
  • Comedy example: In Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Sheila and her friends booby-trap the bathroom toilet seat by coating it with toothpaste, hoping Sheila's sister will sit down without looking. Not only does it fail to fool Libby, but Sheila herself forgets about it overnight and gets a toothpaste-covered rear in the morning.
  • Inkspell: " But one day, the monster didn't come to fulfill Capricorn's will. It came for Capricorn's life..."
  • In the D&D pick-a-path book Dungeon of Dread, the best ending has the Evil Sorcerer, who stocks his dungeon with monsters by transforming victims into them, gets transformed into a nasty little lizard/vulture critter.
  • In A Brother's Price, the Porter family rigged a theater to explode, killing their older mothers, who were getting senile and indiscreet, as well as several members of the royal family. It was specifically chosen so that Keifer Porter, who had encouraged them to visit that theater, could duck into a protected bathroom and survive. He missed his cue, so his Eldest came to get him - and they both died in the explosion.
  • The Big Bad of Galaxy of Fear, Borborygmus Gog, willingly participated in an experiment that cleansed a planet of life. Twenty years later, visiting that planet to try and kill off our heroes, he's dragged away by the 'wraiths' which are all that's left of the natives.
  • Seems to be very common when finishing off the main antagonist of each Agent Pendergast novel. Either something of their creation is turned against them and winds up killing them (Brimstone, The Wheel of Darkness), or one of their own actions winds up directly causing their own death (The Cabinet of Curiosities, Cemetery Dance)
  • In E. D. Baker's Unlocking the Spell,
    • Moonbeam tries to cast a spell on Annie. It rebounds. Moonbeam demands that she tell her who made magic reflect off her. Annie points out that Moonbeam herself had, years ago.
    • Queen Marissa is forced to don the ruby necklace she had given Snow White to kill her.
    • Also happens to the dwarf turning himself in a squirrell.
    • Happens in the previous book, The Wide-Awake Princess, with two different witches and some other fairies.
  • In the Redwall series this happens a few times. One notable example is in The Sable Quean Queen Vilaya who poisons an young slave because he talked back to her, at the climax when his vengeful friend is chasing her at the climax Vilaya trips and her vial of poison shatters cutting herself thus being killed in a rather karmic way with her own weapon.
    • In High Rhulain, Riggu Felis is killed by being struck with a small shuriken like weapon. The same weapon he wounded a character with at the start of the book.
    • In Mariel of Redwall, Gabool the Wild had a giant scorpion in a pit which he throws in those he doesn't like. At the climax when escaping the horde of heroes all wanting his head, he isn't looking where he was going and... guess what he ends up falling into.
  • In A Civil Campaign Lord Vormuir has a clever scheme to "manufacture" liege people by breeding hundreds of daughters using uterine replicators, confiscated eggs and his own sperm. It's not just for ego - they're all his because the government can only terminate his parental rights in cases of abuse or neglect, two things that he's been quite scrupulous in avoiding (if only because badly adjusted liege people would screw up his plan.) They're all girls because traditional Barayaran chattel and inheritance law grants fathers enormous paternal rights over daughters and since girls cannot inherit non-dower property they can't threaten the succession of his legitimate children. Finally, the Gender Rarity Value inherent in Barrayar's currently skewed demographics practically ensures that they'll all eventually attract husbands, making each child a two for one deal. It all comes crashing down on him when the emperor, citing the exact same chattel and inheritance laws, orders him to provide each one with a dowry. A fairly large dowry.
  • In The Magicians of Caprona, the Duchess decides to punish her captives by transforming them into Punch and Judy puppets and forcing them to live out the show, complete with all the painful beatings involved. Fortunately, one of them manages to turn the spell (and the hangman's noose) against her.
  • In Karo King's Seven Sorcerers series the Big Bad Strood is a human subjected to Death Bane, a spell that makes his death unable to reach him, which for some reason also forces his Death to obey him. He thus weaponises it and kills many with it... until one of his orders breaks the spell and Death finally catches up with him. Gotcha!
  • In Brazilian novel O Homem Que Matou Getulio Vargas (released in English as Twelve Fingers: Biography of an Anarchist), the Serbian assassin protagonist tries to kill the titular Brazilian president (who is distantly related to him) in a jockey club, using a gun hidden inside a paper picker (used by the janitors to pick discarded bets). He ends up seeing how that such a gun doesn't work when it's filled with grass and dirt.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Outbound Flight a Trade Federation task force gets obliterated by a much smaller force that figures out how to use the Trade Federation's own weapons against them.
    • The captain of said Trade Federation task force is killed by his own laser pistol shot bouncing off his own personal force field which had been secretly reconfigured by Thrawn
  • Inverted in Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock: Garth's malicious plan to get Shan fired, by freeing the wolverines, saves Shan's life. (Garth himself would have died either way.)
  • In Michael Flynn's Spiral Arm novel On the Razor's Edge, Donovan reflects on a maxraj, whose brutal repression of revolt brought new revolt and The Mutiny — and how the political situation he's going into resembles that.
  • James Bond
    • Bond actually uses this term when discussing his would-be assassins in Casino Royale. They were given two bombs (disguised as cameras) by Le Chiffre's men, both of which were run-of-the-mill bombs. They were told that one was a smoke bomb, and to throw the "real" bomb at Bond, while setting off the smoke bomb to escape. The assassins decided instead to set off the "smoke bomb" first, blowing themselves up.
    • Anton Murik in Licence Renewed is killed with the Gyrojet pistol he used earlier against Bond in the final gunfight while trying to make his escape.
  • The titular Mad Scientist of Dr Franklins Island forces Involuntary Transformation on three planewrecked teenagers. His compound has electrified fencing to keep subjects trapped. Trying to contain them after they escape, he's thrown into the fence.
  • In Coda, Anthem's original rebellion wouldn't have worked out anyway. But by letting him and his bandmates live and produce what they think is approved music, the Corp sowed the seeds for their downfall.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, Jack Frost stealing the Princess Fairies' tiaras, particularly Eva the Enchanted Ball Fairy's, made his own ball a complete failure.
  • The Reynard Cycle: In The Baron of Maleperduys, Drauglir offers an enormous bounty for Reynard's head. Reynard responds by hiring an equally enormous army of mercenaries that ends up overwhelming Drauglir's army. He then pays them with said bounty.
  • The Wheel of Time:
  • Seen in The Protector Of The Small. The main protagonist Kel is the first girl in over a century to openly train as a knight, something which puts her on the receiving end of some pretty nasty nasty hazing. In an effort to embarrass and discourage her, one of her bullies ensures she gets a weighted training lance. Instead, Kel learns to excel despite the extra weight, becomes an expert at lance-work, and merely impresses everyone when the truth comes out.
    • On a related note, the Chamber of the Ordeal makes all would-be knights face their worst fears before finally earning their shield. However, when a bully and serial rapist goes in, the chamber makes him feel every pain he wrongfully inflicted on another person, killing him.
  • In The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, three immortal sorcerers steal the remains of ancient sages and powerful leaders to summon their spirits and force them to share their mystic knowledge. They frequently share these ashes around, while constantly reminding each other never to summon any spirit they are not one hundred percent sure they can contain and banish again. After at least two centuries, one of them leaves the ashes of one particularly powerful spirit out in his lab, where an investigator searching the place accidentally mutters the spell of summoning. When he awakens, he is in the house upstairs with any trace of there ever having been any labs vanished, and he later learns the other two sorcerers died in the destruction of their mansions in Europe shortly after.
  • Nicolas looks like he's going to get everything he wants in The Kingdom of Little Wounds. He's set himself up as regent to the child queen Beatte, he's groomed her to both like him and think of herself as a queen, and then he's all set to marry her when she comes of age. This grooming backfires. When he gets too close during an engagement celebration, she stabs him in the leg with a knife he gave her to protect her virtue until their wedding, and the wound ultimately kills him.
  • In "The Heroesof Olympus" Evil Chancellor Octavian, in trying to kill Jason (though his motives were questionable seeing as he was just straight up insane by now) kills himself when his clothes are stuck in the catapult he is trying to launch. Because of his actions and nature, nobody tries to stop him.
  • In both the Agatha Christie novel Curtain and the G. K. Chesterton novel The Man Who Knew Too Much two cups of coffee, one poisoned, are put on a table-height revolving bookcase. When the poisoner is looking elsewhere, the bookcase is turned around by someone looking for a book. Later, the poisoner drinks the poisoned cup of coffee and the intended victim drinks the other one.
    • Coincidentally, in both cases one of the people involved is named Hastings.

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