Karma Houdini / Folklore

  • There's also the story about the knight who has to find out what women most desire. He has a year and a day to find out, or he will be executed, and eventually promises to do the next thing an old crone asks of him in return for the secret (they want power in their relationships). She demands he marry him, and it turns out that she can make herself young and beautiful again. He lets her choose whether she will be beautiful in the day or night (or, depending on the version, beautiful and unfaithful, or old and true), and in return gets a beautiful wife all the time. Why did he have to find out what women most desire? He raped a girl, and in return gets a beautiful wife for it. There was absolutely no other punishment besides "find out what we want most and you can live."
  • The Jerkass king in Rumpelstiltskin who threatens to behead the miller's daughter unless she spins straw into gold. He gets the gold and the girl. Not to mention the miller himself, who boasted that his daughter could do it in the first place, simply because he wanted to sound important.
  • The Yellow Dwarf and the Fairy of the Desert in Madame d'Aulnoy's Fairy Tale The Yellow Dwarf get no comeuppance after they have led Princess Toutebelle and the King of the Gold Mines to their deaths.
    • Several other fairy antagonists in Madame d'Aulnoy's stories get away with either placing curses on princesses/princes or holding them captive. The Fairy of the Spring in The Hind of the Wood goes unpunished for cursing Desiree to not see sunlight, and Ragotte in The Ram triumphs once the prince she turned into a ram dies.
  • Many fairies who put curses on princesses/princes go unpunished. The evil fairy in Sleeping Beauty goes unpunished in Perrault's version and in the Brothers Grimm's version (in contrast to Disney's version).
  • Depending on the version, the Cinderella's evil stepmother and her daughters often get no punishment at all for years of being abusive to her stepdaughter and treating her like a slave. In some versions the stepsisters either redeem themselves or are blinded by Cinderella's birds and in the Grimm version, one of them amputates her own toe and the other her heel in an attempt to fit the slipper (mutilating themselves for nothing). Although, in the last case, their mother advised them to do this, so only enforces her Karma Houdini status.
  • In Greek Mythology, the goddess Nemesis was all about preventing Karma Houdinis. In fact, she was the goddess of karma.
    • Though the Greek Gods themselves are apparently exempt from Nemesis' Karma. As long as they don't offend a god that's more powerful then them, (which happens only occasionally) any of the Greek Gods can do whatever they want to both each other and mortals. Neither other Gods or especially mortals are able to do anything about it. In fact, if a mortal is involved in the slight, even if it's not their fault, (i.e. Medusa or the various women Zeus has cheated on Hera with), it's always the MORTAL who gets punished.
    • In on story King Midas has to judge who is the best musician, Apollo or Pan. Apollo punished him with having donkey ears merely for choosing Pan's music over his own.
    • There are a few times when Jerkass Gods go too far and upset Zeus himself, which pretty much always ends badly for them thanks to Zeus's status as Greek Mythology's undisputed king of Disproportionate Retribution. Zeus himself, of course, is never punished by anyone.
    • Medea. She first fell in love with Jason and helps him fulfilling the task her father gave to him. She used her magic to make her love reciprocal (Jason was already married to Hypsipyle). After she decided to fly with him, in order to delay her father, she killed her brother Absyrtus cut his body into pieces and strewed them on the road. When she found out her husband was about to marry another girl, she killed the latter and all the children she herself had with Jason. Later she also tried to poisoned Theseus, the son of Aegeus she remarried and managed to escape once again. There is no known story of her being punished for all her crimes. for some authors, she died in Colchis and after her death ended in the Elysian Fields (the paradise) where she married Achilles.
      • Some versions portrait Medea as a less evil person, where she only killed her brother through an accident, and Jason was a jerkass, who wanted to leave her for another woman. It goes at least back to Euripides, who made her a sympathetic character in his play about her. He even let her talk against the oppression of women in ancient Greek society!
    • Medea pales in comparison to King Minos. The guy steals youth from Athens, who had done nothing to harm him, and had them fed to The Minotaur, but when he dies, he becomes a judge of the dead, not only does he escpae punishment, he's REWARDED.