Lock, Shock, and Barrel from The Nightmare Before Christmas get no comeuppance at all for bringing Santa to Oogie Boogie, even though Jack specifically told them not to. Jack doesn't even do anything when they throw snowballs at his face, he just smiles. They are children after all, and it is also implied that they served Oogie Boogie out of fear rather than out of a desire to do evil. Furthermore, this is Halloween Town, morals, values, and cultural norms are focused around scaring people and causing chaos, so they're just following the standard.
At some point they leave Ooogie Boogie's lair and bring back help to rescue Jack and Sally.
Lock, Shock, and Barrel: Here he is! Alive! Just like we said!
In All Dogs Go to Heaven, the entire family of canidae (dogs) are karma-dodgers. Carface (the Big Bad of the film) also ends up in paradise after he's offed, even though he flat-out murdered another dog, held an innocent child captive for weeks, and engaged in all other sorts of nasty business. The film states this is because dogs are naturally kind and loving, so they get a free pass. It's actually Fridge Brilliance because of animal's not having eaten from the fruit of wisdom they don't know the difference between good & evil, and can thus not be held responsible for their actions.
As it turns out, the first time he died, Charlieonly got into Heaven because he was a dog; Annabelle couldn't find a single redeeming quality in him. Of course, he does get redeemed at the end following a Heroic Sacrifice.
Carface is actually dissatisfied with Heaven, meaning karma may have actually caught up with him after all.
This is somewhat justified in that Cinderella actually does forgive her stepfamily in the original Perrault story.
The closest to punishment she ever got was being humiliated (along with Drizella) in front of the King and the local noblemen after the Fairy Godmother's wand she stole turns them into frogs and then, when reversing that spell, makes them wear Cinderella-like clothing, complete with brooms and all. This happens in Cinderella III, which happens right after the end of the original Disney movie and has Lady Tremaine, aside of abusing the wand's magic, manipulating a remorseful Anastasia (who's been retconned into a NaÔve Everygirl) so she takes Cinderella's place with magic.
In the "original" Perrault version, the younger of the two stepsisters was much less of an evil bitch than the other one. There have been other interpretations of the stepsisters with one of them being either the lesser evil or not so bad.
Speaking of Karma Houdinis in the Disney Animated Canon, Pinocchio's got three of 'em. Foulfellow and Gideon trick Pinocchio twice, first to send him to Stromboli (who lost his star attraction and his investment in Pinocchio when he escapes, so it can be assumed the karma bullet manages to get a decent hit on him), and later to Pleasure Island and The Coachman, who they're in cahoots with. Pleasure Island lures in and encourages boys to behave badly so they'll be transformed into jackasses and sold to salt mines as workers. Yeah, they turn children into slaves, wayward as they may be, and they NEVER get their comeuppance. Arguably tells an aesop that you can't simply defeat or get rid of temptations in life, you just learn not to be drawn in by them.
In the original book, the (unnamed) fox and cat end up as miserable street beggars; the cat who used to fake blindness really became blind, and the fox had to sell his tail. They beg Pinocchio to help them, but he essentially tells them "good riddance".
According to the book Mouse Under Glass that there was a planned idea that, while heading off to save Gepetto from Monstro, Pinocchio would run into Foulfellow and Gideon again. They try to convince Pinocchio that they can help him, but apparently the third time's the charm, because this time he doesn't listen to them, and when they attempt to chase him down, they get caught by the police.
Stromboli can be argued in a few different ways. Yes, he does lose his star attraction, so that could be seen as a brief punishment (and understandably he would be quite upset if he spent some time in town talking about his new act only to find his star attraction escaped). Given how he throws a temper tantrum when he finds a single fake coin amongst his 300 plus real gold coins, one can only imagine how big a one he will throw when he finds that Pinocchio is gone. But it could also be argued that at worst, this is just a minor setback or annoyance. Sure it might briefly cause some disappointment at first, but he's a puppet master whose been working for years. Odds are even if one or two shows bomb he'll find a new attraction to win the crowd with. Or maybe this is actually the beginning of his downfall. Who knows? Either way, he still gets to keep all the money he made from the first night.
There's also the SNES Pinocchio game where at the end of the Pleasure Island level you get to fight the Coachman and throw him off a cliff to a Disney Villain Death.
Another one from Disney: the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp, who completely disappear after getting Lady muzzled and kicked out of the house. At least their owner is implied to have done a Heel-Face Turn at the end and stopped hating dogs so much. The original cut was apparently worse, with the cats being far more malicious. Meanwhile, the rat who attacks the baby towards the end and does get comeuppance was portrayed as a comic bumbler. Walt Disney himself insisted that their personalities be switched with the rat portrayed as sinister (which also added some much needed tension to the climax) and the cats portrayed as more mischievous than evil.
Ken and the rest of Lotsoís gang in Toy Story 3 (arguably all of the toys in the butterfly room). Sure, they most likely did it out of fear, but the cold honest truth is that they still tricked new toys into going into the caterpillar room, knowing full well that they would be trapped there and get broken. The only reason Ken makes a Heel-Face Turn is because of Barbie. He probably would have continued to not care if it hadnít been for her presence, yet heís the one who becomes in charge when Lotso is gone. (Though it's heavily implied Barbie also became the leader.) The only butterfly room toy who had a good excuse for getting away with what he did was Big Baby. He was lied to by Lotso and honestly didnít really realize how bad the things he was doing were (being a baby and all).
However the expression on their faces after Lotso shows his true self shows had actually believed what Lotso had told them about owners and they switch to the side of Buzz and Woody.
To hammer this home, special teams of toys are set up to pacify the caterpillar room after Ken reforms the place. Most of Lotso's former gang are on these teams, and thanks to personnel rotation they're quite content with the job.
Miss Hattie runs an Orphanage of Fear, forcing her charges to sell cookies and putting them in the "Box of Shame" if they fail to meet their quota or rebel in any way. She receives no punishment whatsoever.
Vector's father, the Bank President who was actually the true mastermind behind what Vector was doing. It comes off as sort of ironic that the truly evil villains are the ones that get off scotfree.
To draw yet another one from the Disney Animated Canon, The Fox and the Hound''s Amos Slade terrorizes an old woman and her pet to the point where she must abandon it, breaks into a game preserve, starts a fire there, and shoots an animal on said preserve. And what does he get? A broken leg and a girlfriend.
The broken leg came from a bear attack, which evens the score a little bit. He also gets a bit of Laser-Guided Karma in the short term: he gets caught in his own bear trap, the ones he scattered all over the preserve.
Skinny from Dumbo, whose mocking of the title elephant actually caused his mother to attack the boy. Rather than punishing the boy, the Ringmaster decided to punish Dumbo's mother, by having several circus workers tie her down and then drag her away to be locked up, letting Skinny get away with his troubles!
It probably put a good scare into him even so.
Razoul, the Captain of the Guard in Aladdin, throws the hero off a cliff to certain death because Jafar paid him to eliminate the rival. This was when Aladdin was still disguised, so it wasn't even that Razoul was enacting vigilante justice on the thief he'd been trying to catch for years. Nevertheless, though Jafar gets his comeuppance at the end of the movie, Razoul not only escapes justice but retains his position as the resident Inspector Javert type throughout the 2 sequels (though he mellows at the end of the 2nd one).
Benny, Gnomeo's friend in Gnomeo and Juliet manages to get away scot-free despite committing credit card fraud to buy a $20,000 lawnmower, destroying two entire gardens and nearly inadvertently killing the main characters of the film. He even gets a love interest during the Dance Party Ending.
Completely averted in the original, as Ben is a pacifist and is one of the few characters still alive at the end.
Mirage from The Incredibles is an accessory to the murders of dozens of superheros. Her Heel-Face Turn at the end of the movie doesn't come close to making up for this.
In Beauty and the Beast the Witch that curses the Prince into the Beast and gets the entire plot rolling. The Witch shows up in an old crone disguise, offers the prince a rose that he doesn't have any real reason to take even if he wasn't a massive Jerk Ass at the time, and turns her away. She does it AGAIN the next night, and when he turns her away yet again she reveals herself and curses him for... what? Being rude to an old woman he had no reason to suspect was a powerful witch (A reaction she obviously deliberately tried to invoke) and was pestering him? Worse, the Witch doesn't just curse the Prince for this, she curses all of his otherwise perfectly innocent servants and anyone else who happened to be in the castle at the time into objects and as well as the castle itself and much of the area around it into a grotesque shadow of it's former self and puts a time limit to breaking said curse to "teach him a lesson", all of which for no reason as far as the viewers are ever shown. Worst of all, the Witch gets away scot-free for her terrible actions for all this without even a single mention of her by anyone after the introductory scene.
Films — Live-Action
Cole Williams, the brutal casino security chief from Twenty One is the primary antagonist, who not only makes things very difficult for the protagonists but brutally beats caught card counters and steals millions in winnings from one of the characters, and his only penalty is loss of his job due to being made obsolete by computers. At the end of the film he is shown on vacation in Caribbean with his stolen millions.
In Forty Days And Forty Nights, Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett's character) is abstaining from sex for Lent. His ex-girlfriend, discovering this, and that there is a bet on about how long he can manage it, goes to his house to attempt to seduce him. Finding him mentally completely out of it, she rapes him. The ex-girlfriend collects her winnings and walks off into the sunset, leaving Matt having to beg his new girlfriend for forgiveness for 'cheating' on her. There is no mention of the ex-girlfriend being punished in any way.
The Ephors in 300. We see Leonidas pay them a hefty sack of gold for their counsel against the Persian invasion and they claim their Oracle's prophecy prohibits Leonidas from fighting. This turns out to be a blatant lie as they told him this to sell out Sparta to the Persians for even more gold. As much as they deserve it, we never get to see the rotten old bastards be burned alive for this.
Although, considering that what we see them do is part of a story told by Dilios, chances are that they were found out.
After some illegal surveillance, a dognapping, and two murders, Alone With Her ends with the Villain Protagonist in a new town, picking a new girl to stalk.
Veronica herself qualifies as one for being the person who got Ron Burdundy fired in the first place for altering his lines. Granted she does admit this to Ron in the end that it was her doing but winds up getting away with it since the plot demanded it. If she had told the news team this or if one of them did tell someone about what Veronica did, she herself would've been fired for framing Ron.
In the 1982 version of Annie, at the end, Miss Hannigan is not punished for either her role in Annie's kidnapping, or the years she spent abusing the children at her orphanage. Instead of being arrested, she is Easily Forgiven and allowed to attend Annie's celebration party despite all the mean things she did to her. To be fair, Miss Hannigan does make a Heel-Face Turn and try to stop her brother Rooster from killing Annie, and it is implied that she will now be much nicer to the children at her orphanage.
Oliver Lang from Arlington Road orchestrates the bombing of the FBI headquarters and frames his neighbour for it, the death of said neighbour and his girlfriend and the kidnapping of his neighbor's son and walks away unpunished to presumably repeat the process with another government building in a different city. It is also heavily implied he did something very similar before the start of the film's storyline.
Throughout The Bad Lieutenant Port Of Call New Orleans, Terrence McDonagh steals drugs from his station's property room, bets money he doesn't have on college sports, robs people of their drugs, commits acts of Police Brutality against the elderly, extorts a young woman into having sex with him, extorts a college quarterback into going along with a point-shaving scheme, tips a drug kingpin off about a drug bust, and loses the key witness to a quintuple homicide. At the end of the film, he arranges for a group of gangsters who were trying to kill him to be killed by a different group of gangsters, gets the excessive force complaints against him dismissed, wins $10,000 betting on a single football game, gets his hands on a huge bag of uncut heroin, solves the quintuple homicide by Framing the Guilty Party, and is promoted to captain.
Barbarella: the Black Queen is saved by the angel in the end, despite her actions as a tyrant and her repeated attempts to kill Barbarella and the angel both. Because, as Pygar explains, angels have no memories.
Billy the killer from the original Black Christmas (1974) gets away with murdering 7 people and driving Jess insane. The remake however has him killed at the end.
Valerie Harper's character in Blame It On Rio. Granted, what her husband Michael Caine did was wrong, as were the actions of her sort-of-niece, Michelle Johnson. They shouldn't have been together, her age aside. But Harper started all this by cheating on Caine with Johnson's father, then keeping him at arm's length, always being angry with him. Yet she gets to glare, lecture, and sneer at everybody at the end. Caine screwed up by screwing the underage Johnson—given. But the film made it clear her sudden distance and anger based on her own wrong was what left him such a mess that he responded to the girl's seduction. Then again, Rhoda was another Karma Houdini.
In Born Yesterday, Harry Brock, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, comes to Washington, D.C. to bribe some congressmen into passing a law that would give him and his cartel monopoly control of the international scrap iron market (quite a big deal so soon after World War II). When his fiancee and her new reporter boyfriend scheme to expose him, he slaps her around and threatens to have them both killed, with the fiancee mentioning to the reporter that it wouldn't be the first time he'd done it, either. Although the fiancee does eventually manage to make him back off by holding for ransom the assets he's signed over to her over the years as part of a tax dodge, he is never brought to account for the bribery, the assault, the murder he apparently committed, or any of the other crimes he has committed and she could testify about.
The 2000 remake of Carrie sees Carrie survive and get smuggled out of the jurisdiction by a sympathetic Susan after killing hundreds of people. The film makes it clear that she doesn't remember her massacre but jarringly she doesn't exactly seem too remorseful.
The other finest example is Noah Cross, the villain in Chinatown. Not only is he responsible for the murder of Hollis Mulwray, he also raped his own daughter, and at the end of the movie he's acquired custody of his daughter/granddaughter, who can expect some severe raping, and gets off completely scot-free. And Jake Gittes can do absolutely nothing about it. Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.
In Con Air, most of the villains get their comeuppance, except for Garland Greene, a notorious serial killer who targets children and is possibly the most depraved criminal on the plane. Although he let a little girl live earlier in the film, so that's OK...
Chicago. Both Roxie and Velma get away with murder and become singing sensations. Billy lies to his client and abuses the justice system with no negative consequences to himself. And Mama Morton gets off scot-free for selling out both girls to each other. The whole point of the play/film is making a satire of a social system that allows such things to happen.
On the DVD commentary, the director mentions some fans who theorize that the last scene of Roxie and Velma making a hit show together is just another one of Roxie's fantasies like most of the other musical numbers, and they're really condemned to lives of complete poverty and obscurity. He more or less gives it approval.
Speaking of bad seeds, nothing ever happens to Mary Tilford at the end of The Childrens Hour; as far as the audience knows, she doesn't even get the TV taken out of her room. At least her grandmother has the decency to develop what appears to be a guilt-induced, permanent half-swoon (and maybe even the vapors), but Mary seems to have no consequences at all.
Richard Detmer, Andrew's Father from Chronicle. All we see from him throughout the film is nothing but him berating and attackinghis own son. Even the death of his wife doesn't cover the sheer volume of bad karma he had accumulated, ESPECIALLY during his final scene with him and Andrew in the hospital....
Though given there's not much anyone could have done about it, the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind kidnap people, holding them for 40 years, returning them unaged. They incite a psychological issue in people, destroying families (if Roy Neary's is a standard example). They terrify Barry's mother, abducting her son right out of her arms. All this and they get to leave with nary a complaining word from us humans.
This trope is the very essence of the Mexican film El Crimen del Padre Amaro, Amaro, the eponymous character is a young Catholic priest who upon arriving to a small town first he successfully blackmails the director of a local newspaper into withdrawing an article that exposed the friendship of the local priest with a notorious drug lord this provokes the firing of the author of said article, his girlfriend Amelia breaking up with him, and turning his father (who helped him in his investigation) into a pariah, it gets worse: Amaro then seduces Amelia (despite her being just a teenager) and impregnates her, fearing for his career's future and his reputation among townspeople he takes Amelia to an illegal abortion clinic where due to a malpractice she starts bleeding uncontrollably and dies in his arms, despite this with the help of a woman he convinces the ENTIRE town that it was Amelia's former boyfriend the one who knocked her up and he was there trying to save her. The final scene has Amaro presiding over Amelia's funeral.
The Dark Knight: Officer Anna Ramirez, who is revealed to be a dirty cop and is responsible for driving Rachel Dawes to the place of her death, is later confronted over this by Dawes's lover Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face and forced to participate in the threatening of Commissioner Gordon's family. Following this, Two-Face flips his infamous coin to decide whether she lives or dies. She lives, gets a non-fatal but still brutal Pistol-Whipping from Two-Face, and her fate is left unresolved for the rest of the movie leaving most viewers to think she got off scot free.
It's heavily implied, however, that Anna's guilt for what she has done will haunt her for the rest of her life.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Jonathan Crane, AKA Scarecrow is among the inmates Bane frees from Blackgate. He conducts several Kangaroo Courts and then vanishes. While it's possible the police caught him again or he was killed in the ensuing battle between the police and Bane's men, his ultimate fate is never revealed.
In Death Wish, the three punks whose actions send Paul Kersey into his Roaring Rampage of Revenge (referred to in the credits as "Freak #1", "Freak #2" and "Spraycan") are never brought to justice or killed. Kersey kills some street scum, but never those three (although, since one of them is Seth Brundle maybe they hopped into his telepad and went to another city). This is averted in the four sequels where, if you're a villain, you're not leaving the movie alive.
They're just street toughs; they'll probably end up dead by one of their own.
The last time we see Jim Cunningham in Donnie Darko, he is crying in his house alone, with nobody aware of the kind of person he is. Everything else that happened as a result of Donnie's actions at the end of the film was for the better.
Sylvia Ganush in Drag Me to Hell dies before she can receive any comeuppance for effectively murdering somebody over a bank loan. This is subverted when you realize how evil she established herself as earlier in her handling of a case involving a stolen gypsy necklace and a 10-year-old boy, which will remind you that even if she did succeed at murdering the protagonist (which she did), she'd definitely find herself in a lower circle (most likely Judecca, that icy spot in Level IX that's reserved for traitors to benefactors, and failing that, definitely Level VII, outer ring, at the very least) than the protagonist would.
Master thieves in Entrapment played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery pulled off a grand heist and escaped justice with the help of a crooked FBI agent.
Lilith* the one from Jewish mythology in Evil Angel. Any time someone flatlines and is resuscitated, she can take over their body. So in the end, she just walks away in her new body to wreak more chaos For the Evulz, and there's nothing the protagonist can do about it.
"Cobb" from Christopher Nolan's early film Following. He kills, manipulates others into setting themselves up as his fall guys, and disappears. The police don't even know he exists.
Funny Games uses this trope deliberately to subvert your expectations of horror films. The film involves the psychological and physical torture of a husband, wife and son by two sadistic young men. The two young men kill every member of the family one by one and receive no comeuppance. In one scene, the wife actually kills one of the psychos, but the other prevents the death of his partner by taking a remote control and rewinding the film to a point before his death happens. In the end, the dominant killer smirks triumphantly at the camera as he prepares to kill again.
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation though his plan is foiled, Cobra Commander manages to escape justice. Also Storm Shadow, despite aiding the Joes in ruining Cobra Commanders schemes and helping avenge his and Snake Eyes Master's murder, is allowed to walk away by Snake Eyes even though he murdered several Joes and innocent people in the first movie. It helps that in this film, he's portrayed more sympathetically.
In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors initially appears to be one of these; the time loop enables him to do whatever he wants whenever he wants to whoever he wants without ever having to face the consequences. Unfortunately for him, it eventually becomes apparent that the time loop is his punishment. Right around the point he starts repeatedly killing himself, in fact. The movie then becomes about him seeking redemption for his past behaviour.
The killer, Chris Vale, from the movie Halloween Night kills several people throughout the movie and afterward, tricks the female protagonist into shooting the main character (her boyfriend) by putting his mask and clothes on him while she was blindfolded and escapes. He's last seen hitchhiking and driving off into the sunset after being picked up by a hipster, who at the sight of his horribly burned body, only says that he must've had a good Halloween.
The eponymous Villain Protagonist Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. He commits multiple murders along with his partner Otis and gets away with his crimes. His partner Otis isn't so lucky; he is killed by Henry for trying to rape Becky. Later, Henry kills Becky while fleeing the city.
Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget averts this when he's arrested for murdering Dr. Artemus Bradford and attempting twice to murder John Brown, and it's stated in one novelization that he was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment and (as mentioned in the sequel) served with a bill of attainder. He does play this straight in the second film, though; he tries to rob the entire Federal Reserve in Riverton, and what's the only punishment he gets? Gadget, G2, and Penny run him out of town at the climax of the film, with Claw swearing his usual threat: "I'll get you next time, Gadget... next time!"
In The International, even though the CEO of the corrupt International Bank of Business and Credit is killed, the protagonists lose their only lead with his death and are unable to bring down the corrupt bank. In the credits, it's implied that the bank continues to run successfully despite the death of its CEO.
The theme of the movie is that friends and loved ones are the real riches in life. Potter is, by his own hand, a lonely old man with nobody who really cares about him. He doesn't need to have a punishment enacted on him; he's already the poorest man in town.
In L.A. Confidential, Edmund Exley's father was murdered by a man whose identity was never discovered. Exley gave him the name Rollo Tomasi and subsequently applied the name to anyone who pulls a Karma Houdini. Jack Vincennes invokes the name in order to trick the film's antagonist into unknowingly tipping his hand to Exley.
Lampshaded in Last Action Hero when the bad guy kills a random person in the street and realises that there are no police to stop him. For an actual example, the robber at the beginning, who admittedly lets Daniel free himself and leaves in exasperation when it turns out the house has almost nothing worth stealing.
Max, the Serial Killer protagonist of the The Last Horror Movie. Not only does he get away with his murders; within the reality of the story, he also follows you home and kills you after you finish watching the movie.
If we're talking femmes fatales, Kathleen Turner in Body Heat has to be the gold standard.
Xur from The Last Starfighter. The villain ends up fleeing in an escape pod and is never seen again.
In Limitless, Eddie steals money and drugs from a dead guy, does drugs, encourages others to do drugs, directly causes the deaths of at least three people, cheats on his girlfriend, has sex with his landlord's wife, and in general does some somewhat shady business. And yet, Eddie's almost certainly going to be president one day.
p.s. he killed a man and drank his blood.
The Frank Oz version of Little Shop of Horrors features Seymour, who ends up getting away with killing two people through inaction and gets a happy ending. The sympathetic nature of the character, and the fact that Seymour is not as directly responsible for the deaths as in the original play, makes it much more acceptable than many of the examples on this page. The pre-Executive Meddling ending used the play's The Bad Guy Wins version of the trope. Audrey II was a Karma Houdini in the original ending, but this was fully intentional (as part of The Bad Guy Wins) so it does not share the problems of the final product.
Little Sweetheart gives us Thelma. For a nine year old who tricked the police, blackmailed and robbed two people, got one killed by the police to shut him up, tried to kill her only friend and blackmailed her brother, she gets ice cream.
Nick Van Owen in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It can be said that every death in that movie is either a direct result for his action (sabotaging the InGen camp) or indirect result (stealing t-rex's baby and rigging Roland Tembo's rifle) but he lives at the end without any contribution for the death of at least 17 people. Ok, most of the casualities are bad people, but they are still people. And the worst thing they did is try to capture dinos.
Subverted with Joe Bomposa from Love And Bullets. When Detective Charlie Congers is taken off the case for leaving a trail of bodies in Switzerland and letting a key witness get killed, it looks as though Bomposa's going to get off scot free. Then Congers takes matters into his own hands, first by using a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on his accountant, Louis Monk, while Monk's in the pool and then by dropping off a casket supposedly containing the remains of the key witness while disguised as a hearse driver. Unknown to Bomposa and his men, the casket is booby-trapped, and everyone within its immediate vicinity is blown to bits as Congers drives away.
Machete — Several members of Vaughn Jackson's border patrol militia (including his lieutenant) manage to survive the raid on their compound to continue gunning down illegal Mexican immigrants. Albeit, this allows them to deliver a Karmic Death to corrupt senator John Mc Laughlin. Hey, lesser of two evils, anyone?
Also, Torrez's hench-woman, having beheaded Machete's wife on his order and later threatened to do the same to Machete's budding love interest, Agent Sartana, gets to simply walk away without anyone so much as taking a pot shot at her. And Osiris, the hitman responsible for Padre's death, gets away without a scratch as well.
Man of Steel: Glen Woodburn, the Jerkass who sold Lois out to the military and declared that Superman should surrender to Zod because it is his fault the Kryptonians came to Earth, disappears for the rest of the movie.
The eponymous character of 2006 horror film Marcus gets away with his murders, but it's not particularly irritating, since all but one of his victims are ridiculously unlikeable.
While not quite so serious as many of the other examples here, Peggy Brandt from The Mask wins Stanley Ipkiss' trust, makes him open up to her - and then instantly betrays him to Dorian Tyrell for a reward. Her only justification was "I just can't afford to lose my condo - you know how hard it is to find a decent apartment in this city!" Dorian gets flushed later on, along with all his goons... but Peggy just walks out the door with a suitcase of money, and is never heard from again.
Like with Happy Gilmore, her comeuppance —getting tossed into a printing press by Tyrell— was cut from the movie but can be seen on the DVD.
In Match Point, the protagonist had an affair and his wife never found out about it. When his mistress got in the way of his happiness, he murdered her, their unborn child, and her elderly neighbor (to make it look like a robbery gone bad) in cold blood and escaped justice. This ties into the main theme of the movie-luck is very, very important.
Similarly, Crimes And Misdemeanors — also by Woody Allen — is about a murderer who escapes any kind of punishment for his crime.
Max Payne. Nicole Horne seems to get away unscathed despite her part in the plot, and after abandoning B.B. to his fate.
Mean Girls. Janis, who, despite influencing and encouraging Cady to join the Plastics specifically to damage Regina, gets zero comeuppance when she reveals it to the entire crowd of girls following the revelation of the Burn Book. In fact, she gets applauded for it! Cady, in the meantime, is treated as a bitch by everyone because of what she's done, even though Janis admitted that she was the mastermind behind all of it.
Mini, the Villain Protagonist of Mini's First Time. She seduces her stepfather, manipulates him into helping her drive her mother insane and kill her, makes him think he's being blackmailed, tricks him into beating a neighbor into a coma, and gets him thrown in jail for it. Not only does she get away with everything looking like an innocent victim; in the end, she gets voted valedictorian by her high school class, despite being a C student.
The French people from Monty Python and the Holy Grail are prime examples; they taunt King Arthur and his knights with offensive insults and catapult animals (and a trojan bunny) at them. And they have reached the Holy Grail at the Castle of Aaaarrrggghhh (however you spell that) before King Arthur and Sir Bedevere do, and prevent them from entering, thus directly defying God, whom King Arthur made clear was the one who set them on their quest. If only King Arthur hadn't killed that famous historian and gotten arrested for it at the end, he and his knights could have brought justice upon them. The frustrating part is, if the grail does give eternal life as it does in Indiana Jones, these guys won't even burn in hell until the machines take over the world. On the other hand, if they happened to have the wrong Grail (one of them did mention earlier that they already had one) and the writer of the Grail's real location had a different castle in mind, they'd most likely age to dust faster than you can say "How do you like them apples, you silly French kniggets?".
The eponymous character in Mr. Brooks is a serial killer who is never caught.
Though to be fair, the eponymous Mr. Brooks does not like killing, and tries to resist it whenever he can. It is also implied his daughter will turn out just like him, something he fears the most, so karma sort of bit him.
Subverted by Tex Richman in The Muppets. He makes various uses of sabotage, acts like a complete jerk to The Muppets, causes property damage to The Muppet Theatre to win the deed... and then gets a bowling ball to the head just before the closing credits. It's implied following his subsequent Heel-Face Turn that the bowling ball managed to virtually lobotomize him to the point where he doesn't even remember that his head had previously been injured, giving a new meaning to the subheadline describing what explicitly isn't the motivation for his change of heart.
It's also implied that being hit by the bowling ball fixed the problem he had with not being able to laugh. It was mostly cut, but that was largely behind his hatred of the Muppets, not being able to laugh at them as a youth and being mocked for it.
In Mystic River, Sean Penn's character had previous murdered a person who got him in jail. He paid the man's family $500 per month in his stead and avoided justice for it. Later, he coerces a former friend Dave into confessing to the murder of his daughter. He promises to let Dave go if he confesses. Dave is innocent of the charge but confesses anyway to save his life. Penn's character kills him anyway. For the rest of the movie, he does not get his comeuppance for the two murders. It is possible he may be brought to justice later, but it's never resolved in the story.
Kevin Bacon's character makes what appears to be a threatening gesture to Penn's character in the final scene, which implies that there is still plenty more conflict to come.
The eponymous characters of Natural Born Killers escape jail, kill a television personality (not that we mind...) on live TV, and walk off into the distance. Sure, an alternate ending showed that a fellow escapee kills them, but the ending of the movie as is implies that two infamous spree killers manage to live Happily Ever After.
If it wasn't for neglect of police procedure resulting in a guilty man going free, the career of one of the most notorious villains in slasher film history may stopped before it truly began. When Freddy Krueger was a human child murderer, police searched his home and found the bodies of several of his victims. Here's the thing: they had never obtained a warrant or any other document giving them a legal right to make the search, so the charges were dropped, and he went free. This led to Freddy being killed by an angry lynch mob and him making a Deal with the Devil, turning him into a demonic monster that would be responsible for countless more deaths, all of which would have been avoided if the police had done their jobs right.
The gang from Oceans Eleven and its sequels, outside of a brief spot in jail in the second film, never see any real retribution for their crimes. However, that's more attributable to Rule of Cool than anything.
Nikki in Odd Girl Out. At the end Vanessa has a shouting match with Stacy and declares that she has "nothing that I want" which prompts the rest of the students to applaud her. Nikki however is the far worse of the bullies in the movie and started the bullying but by the end she never gets her comeuppance. It is implied that the bully clique disbands so that takes care of Tiffany's karma (she'll go back to being a wannabe) but Nikki appears to get away scot-free. She won't even have to see Vanessa again since they just graduated.
'Cooper' from Super8 never did much, just killed 3 people at the least and stole a bunch of other shit. After it becomes apparent that he's....technically the good guy in this situation, he's very easily forgiven.
Lynette from An Officer and a Gentleman. She fakes being pregnant in hopes of marrying Sid, a Navy Aviator in training. When Sid quits the program to marry her, she dumps him, leading him to commit suicide. Yet at the end of the movie, her worst fate is to cheer on her friend, who's being carried off in the arms of another aviator.
The villain of Oldboy, Lee Woo-Jin, kills himself at the end of the movie, but not out of guilt for having Oh Dae-Su kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, hypnotically manipulating Oh Dae-Su and his daughter Mi-Do into falling in love, killing Oh Dae-Su's wife and best friend (and framing Oh Dae-Su for his wife's death), and many more acts of bastardy—no, it's just that, having exacted revenge from Oh Dae-Su for spreading a rumor that Lee Woo-Jin had been having sex with his sister—which he had been, by the way, he's got no real reason to live any more. To say that his death isn't particularly satisfying is an understatement.
Irma Bunt from the James Bond film On Her Majestys Secret Service. Not the most well-known choice. After all, she is the one who kills Tracy, James Bond's wife, so I can see why many people haven't seen the film, or if they have, try to forget about her. She and Blofeld provide the film with its Diabolus ex Machina. It's not completely surprising that she's never seen (or even mentioned) in any of the other films in the series, though; the actress playing her, Isle Steppat, died mere months after the film was released. With that in mind, though, it can then be inferred that Bond killed heroffscreen before theCold Open to Diamonds Are Forever in which he grills a few people concerning Blofeld's whereabouts.
The family comedy Paulie has the titular parrot getting abducted by a criminal named Benny and forced to commit crimes for him. When one robbery goes wrong, Paulie is caught while Benny abandons him and gets away clean.
In Pay It Forward as far as we know the two bullies are not punished for murdering Trevor.
Perfect Harmony: Paul's general assholery tips over into assaulting Marc and then Taylor while wearing a KKK outfit, beating the latter so badly that Taylor is confined to a bed. True, Paul doesn't get to take Taylor's place singing lead at graduation, but he receives no real punishment, and no one even finds out what he did.
In Perfect Stranger, Halle Berry's character turns out to have murdered at least three people and successfully framed one of the murders on an innocent man, getting away with it all in the end. Whether this character gets their comeuppance later off screen is left open to interpretation.
In Pick Up on South Street, Richard Widmark is a pickpocket who accidentally steals a wallet containing microfilm that a gang of Dirty Communists are smuggling out of the country. When the cops pull him in, he tries to goad one into hitting him in order to get the man suspended. When they offer him immunity for the film, he decides to sell it back to the spies instead. When the girl from whom he stole the film (who turns out to be a Minion with an F in Evil) comes to get it back, he alternates between seducing her and slapping her around. Even when the commies murder his best friend in cold blood, he's still willing to sell the film to them, which would have gotten him killed, had the girl not knocked him out and taken it to the cops. And what's his comeuppance for being such an unrepentant louse? He gets the girl and rides off into the sunset scott-free...but not before dropping by the police station to rub the head cop's nose in it.
The original The Pink Panther ends with the good guy (Clouseau) stuck in prison after being falsely accused of stealing the eponymous diamond. The actual culprits - including Clouseau's adulterous wife - get to drive off into the sunset, laughing.
The culprits- Sir Charles Lytton, his nephew, Clouseau's now ex-wife, and others- do turn up in some of the sequels...and get away every single time, the smug bastards.
And the reason they get off scot-free? The princess who owns the Pink Panther knows that Lytton tried to steal it, but she doesn't want him to go to jail, so she herself frames Clouseau at the last possible moment!
The Player: Hollywood studio executive Griffin Mill murders an unsuccessful screenwriter, then steals his girlfriend. He corrupts an artistic film into a simple, conformist, Lowest Common Denominator movie for the sake of profit. He abandons one of the few virtuous characters in the movie, a character who put her faith in Griffin, allowing her to be fired, and leaves her sobbing in the middle of the street (with a broken heel), because he'd rather be with his wife in his big house. Yes, the wife is the writer's girlfriend, now heavily pregnant with Griffin's child.
In The Proposition, nothing bad happens to Eden Fletcher, one of the most horrifying Smug Snakes in all of film. This is a man who had a retarded 14-year old whipped to death.
Made even worse considering the sympathetic Captain Stanley is the one who the Burns Gang takes revenge on for the death of Mike Burns.
The Purge: By the rules of The Purge, anyone who commits a crime during the 12 hours will become exactly this. Unless someone takes advantage of the Purge to commit a crime against them.
Mr. White in Quantum of Solace. He escapes from custody after the attempt on M's life, evades Bond at the Quantum meeting in Austria, and thereafter simply disappears. Many people thought he would be dealt with in the next movie, but he wasn't.
Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs...almost. Listen closely to the last scene - it's very faint, but according to Quentin Tarantino, Pink is shouting at the cops who shot and arrested him.
Subverted in all of the endings of the video game (Psycho: Gets killed, Neutral: Gets arrested, Professional: Gets away but he accidentally spills the diamonds.)
Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley killed some people to assume a new identity and enrich himself thoroughly. In the sequels, he killed to protect his new life, and sometimes as favors for others. He never faced justice.
Scarface is of the Evil Versus Evil slant, with Tony Montana as A Lighter Shade of Black, true. But the evil-er villain, Alejandro Sosa, has Tony and the rest of his allies killed with a bunch of hired thugs and an assassin (the latter from In the Back), not even giving Tony the chance to lose in a climactic fight between the two of them.
If it's any consolation, in the video game remake Tony survives the assassination attempt, kills the assassin like a punk, and eventually makes his way to Bolivia to ice Sosa personally.
This happens and is lampshaded in the flashback backstory in Secondhand Lions. After being thwarted by Uncle Hubb for a second time, the evil Sheikh doesn't come after him again...because he gets distracted by finding oil and becoming one of the richest men in the world. As the lead character puts it: "The bad guy gets filthy rich? What the heck kind of story ends that way?"
In Serial Mom, Beverly Sutphin, the protagonist commits seven murders over the course of the movie. When she is arrested and put on trial, she wins the case and gets off scot-free!
And then promptly murders again, for someone in the courtroom is wearing white after Labor Day!
Doubly subverted in The Film of the Book of A Series of Unfortunate Events. At first, Count Olaf brags to the audience how he was legally wedded to an unwilling teenage girl before their very eyes. Then, we see the paper burst into flames, then hear that he is being sent to trial and a "what if?" scenario presents him being forced to endure all he put the children through. All is happy, right? Sadly, Lemony Snickett then narrates that what really happened was that Olaf escaped and is still out there.
In the book series, Count Olaf is eventually killed. But it took thirteen books....
In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Professor James Moriarty's right hand man Former Colonel Sebastian Moran escapes after killing the assassin who failed to kill Germany's Prime Minister during a peace summit. He will probably come back in the next movie.
During the course of A Shock to the System, Michael Caine's Villain Protagonist pushes a hobo in front of an oncoming train, coldbloodedly murders his wife, seduces and drugs a coworker to use her as an alibi, blows up his Bad Boss (and an Innocent Bystander), and has a jolly good time doing it. In the end, he seduces the same coworker again to get her to turn over the only evidence implicating him, puts her on a bus, gets promoted to vice president of his company, and, in the final scene, murders a member of the board of directors for his job (and his corner office).
Hannibal Lecter, what with getting away at the end of the movie and actually living happily ever after with Clarice in the book. This was definitely an example of an author growing overly enamored of their character, and thus many file it under Fanon Discontinuity.
The original Silent Night, Deadly Night begins with a criminal in a Santa suit robbing a store, nonchalantly killing the clerk, and later attacking Billy's parents, killing them in front of him (shooting his father, and slitting his mother's throat after trying to rape her). This, coupled with other factors, leads to Billy and his brother, Ricky, both going insane, and as far as we know, the Santa killer was never caught.
Senator Roark of Sin City. Apparently, the sequel will actually have Nancy going after him to give him his comeuppance.
The Skeleton KeyIn New Orleans in the 1930s, a voodoo priest and his wife tired of being servants. They used their voodoo to switch bodies with their masters' two young children, who, "caught" performing a strange ritual on their young masters, were promptly hanged. Approximately 60 years later they commit Grand Theft Me on their (Caucasian) caretaker and lawyer; at the end of the film their old bodies - with the young people now trapped inside - appear to be paralyzed and about to be taken to an institution while their new bodies get to inherit their "employers" property and assets. The kicker is that they used the caretaker's ignorance of voodoo to perform the soul-switching spell on herself (the lawyer was "turned" before they hired the caretaker). Their only punishment is that, once again, they fail to get proper black bodies because the local black population also practices voodoo and they'd quickly figure out what was going on.
In the 1974 zombie film Sugar Hill, the eponymous character had caused several horrifying deaths of a criminal ring with sadistic satisfaction using mostly voodoo dolls and zombies. To top it off, she pays off her Deal with the Devil with a woman, implying the woman used as payment is taken to Hell and raped. And all of this as "justice" for her lover being killed.
There is an alternate ending where they get away, only to discover that Hugh Jackman's character stole all of the money electronically, leaving them with nothing. They aren't really all that upset about it.
Since the remake stars Pierce Brosnan, a similar occurrence happens in The Tailor of Panama, except the spy used the cover of starting a war to become an eccentric millionaire. In the novel, the habitually lying tailor whom he used as a 'source' to ignite said war between the US and much of Latin America, is unable to stop the war. Hollywood attempted to tone down the Karma Houdini-ness by lowering the amount of terrible consequences which happen due to the tailor's wild story spinning to secret agent Osnard, but still comes off as a dog-rapingSmug Snake. It takes awhile however, to realise just what he was doing to get his money, as both Osnard and Brosnan are so Affably Evil you have to let it sink in that they've just started a war which will cause just as many deaths as the Drug War, all for $20 million and some additional assets. And he accomplished all this while blacklisted and without any resources! If there's ever a sequel, he has nowhere to go but up! (now there's an interesting dual role to fix the Houdini...Brosnan-Bond on the trail of Osnard.)
In A Time to Kill, the Ku Klux Klan commit kidnapping, murder, arson among other things, but only two of them get arrested at the end of the movie.
Iceman from Top Gun. He was responsible for Goose's death, and yet it is Maverick who faces a board of inquiry instead of him. Thankfully, he's not an Idiot Houdini, as he at least recognizes how serious the fallout is and feels sorry for pushing Maverick dangerously close to the Despair Event Horizon.
The real killer in 12 Angry Men. Well, at least as far as we know, given that we never actually see him.
Deliberately averted at the end of UHF. "Weird Al" Yankovic said he hates it when you don't get to see the villain get his comeuppance, so he puts RJ Fletcher through a major Humiliation Conga, including a Groin Attack from an old lady, and stops just short of Fletcher being arrested for, among other things, kidnapping, because apparently, even for all Fletcher had done, the hand of karma must've decided that the bastard had suffered enough without crossing into Jerkass Woobie territory.
In The Usual Suspects, Keyser Soze alias Verbal Kint simply walks away and drives off with Kobayashi.
Gavin Elster in Vertigo. In some countries, a final scene was tacked on mentioning that he'd been arrested.
Gordon Gekko, an outright villain in Wall Street, did get his comeuppance at the end of the first movie. To the tune of over a decade in jail. In the second movie, he's released, and seems to be making amends for being such a Jerkass...until he abruptly betrays everyone who was trying to give him a second chance, mostly his neglected and jaded (thanks to him no less) daughter. So after putting the other main characters through emotional (and economic) hell, the last 5 minutes of the movie decide to see him get his family back and inexplicably end with everyone happy and content.
X-Men: The Last Stand — Magneto not only manages to escape any legal action for his many crimes against humanity, it's also implied that the mutant cure isn't permanent and he'll eventually get his powers back. As established in the post-credits scene of The Wolverine.
In Young Sherlock Holmes, the Jerk AssPrincely Young Man Dudley dislikes Sherlock, apparently because well, someone has to. At the end of the subplot about him trying to discredit Sherlock, he gets Sherlock expelled from the school by framing him for cheating on his exams, and then disappears from the movie entirely. That's the last we ever hear of old Dudley.
Upstream Color: The thief who stole the life savings of a dozen victims under the effects of hypnosis, leaving them destitute and under the impression that they had a psychotic breakdown, never gets confronted and doesn't suffer any consequences save losing the means to hypnotize any more victims.
Phone Booth. Stu survives the ordeal and reconnects with his wife, but the Caller himself escapes in the end. He inconspicuously visits a medicated Stu just before leaving, threatening to kill him if he doesn't remain a newly upstanding man, and even tells him he doesn't have to thank him for everything he did for Stu. He takes his dissassembled sniper rifle with him, hinting he'll do all of it again somewhere else.
Von Ryan's Express has two examples. Fascist Italian officer Major Battaglia is sadist and a Smug Snake who forces captive British and American prisoners live under horrific conditions and punishes dissent with time spent in a sweatbox, which has killed many P.O.W.s. When the camp is liberated Ryan talks Fincham out of murdering Battaglia in revenge. As "thanks," Battaglia sells the P.O.W.s and his own former second-in-command out to the SS on, and never gets any comeuppance. At the end of the movie, SS officer Colonel Gortz shoots the fleeing Ryan in the back but like Battaglia survives the movie, his only comeuppance being slightly grumpy when the P.O.W.s get away.