Accuser of the Brethren

So, you've got The Atoner, he has done some bad things and regrets them. He works hard to be redeemed and you think he's going to get support, right?

Wrong. There is a character, a very vindictive person who wants nothing better than to force the Atoner to wallow in his guilt.

Perhaps The Atoner was once The Dragon, and his master wants him to feel that redemption is impossible. Perhaps it was someone who was hurt by The Atoner and doesn't want them to be redeemed, because what they did to them is something they cannot forgive. The former often overlaps with Evil Cannot Comprehend Good and the latter case usually overlaps with He Who Fights Monsters. In some cases this is because the person who refuses to forgive The Atoner believes that he is only faking his remorse. Sometimes, the accuser may become the sole reason why the Atoner decides to become evil again.

Compare to Never Accepted In His Home Town, Inspector Javert, Reformed, but Rejected, and He Who Fights Monsters. Contrast with Karma Houdini and also Easily Forgiven. If the accuser is right along but no one believes him, it overlaps with Cassandra Truth.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In one episode of Kino's Journey, a man who was once a ruthless killer tries to atone by accompanying a woman whose husband he had murdered. However, not long after their expedition, the woman shoots him several times, unable to forgive what he had done.

  • The League of Shadows are basically this in The Dark Knight Rises. Years after their first attempt to destroy Gotham in Batman Begins, they try again, even though their job is to destroy cities filled with corruption. So they try to reinstate their plan to destroy the city after eight years of peace in Gotham. Gets worse when you realize that 90% of the new crime wave in Gotham was their fault (not such a surprise given that a large part of the reason Gotham became such a Wretched Hive in the first place was because of their manipulations).
    • The league justifies this by pointing out that street crime is down, but that the rich are basically above the law, which is another flavour of corruption.
  • Benchwarmers: One of the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits turns out to be a former bully who regrets his past actions. The other Benchwarmers and their fans feel betrayed and kick him out when they find out because he had hidden this from them and pretended to have been bullied instead. They forgive him when his former victim intercedes on his behalf after receiving an apology.
  • Played around with in 'Ringu 0''. The journalist Akiko Miyaji was determined to find out about and get revenge on Sadako, knowing that she was responsible for her fiancé's death. However, we see that Sadako isn't really evil and malicious as the former believes. But when Akiko reveals Sadako's past traumas to the entire theatre group and audience, it leads to an inevitable yet depressing Downer Ending.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the gypsies who gave Angel his soul, in retaliation for the murder of one of their own, in an effort to make him suffer eternal guilt. Generations later, the gypsies would still try to make sure Angel never finds happiness. Justified as him being happy will be enough to unleash his demonic split personality Angelus.
    • Likewise, the spinoff Angel has Daniel Holtz, season three's Big Bad, whose vendetta towards Angel runs so deep, he actually goes as far as to erase Angel's heroic acts from recorded history, and his Evil Plan was to keep Angel from truly redeeming himself.
  • In House Of Payne, CJ becomes this when Blue, a drug dealer and Big Bad of the story arc of Janine's crack addiction, seeks repentance in a church as he was dying of AIDS. When Janine and Ella work to help take care of him and pray for him, CJ doesn't support him and gets mad at Janine for helping him. At one point, he goes to the church and simply says "I don't know what you're trying to prove — that man is beyond your prayers." and walks out. He gets better when Ella gives him a What the Hell, Hero? speech about being a true Christian, and at Blue's last moments, CJ goes to pray for Blue's repentance at Blue's bedside.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Trope Namer, Satan, is called this. It is said when a sinner seeks repentance, that Satan would fill their hearts with guilty feelings to make them feel separated from God and force them over the Despair Event Horizon.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 1994, Tammy Lynn Sytch tried her hand at wrestling alongside Chris Candido in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Deciding it wasn't for her, she went back to being a full time valet in 1995, stating that women shouldn't be wrestlers, period, which just so happened to coincide with women wrestlers disappearing from the national pro wrestling scene almost entirely until 2002. By the late 2000s, Sytch had changed her mind and became more supportive of her peers who wanted to be wrestlers, which went over well enough in WSU, but got her chewed out by The Lovely Lacey in Ring of Honor for being the reason women had such a hard time making it as wrestlers.
  • In 2004, Ring of Honor lost one of its founders and its DVD distributor to the RF Video scandal, was facing the very real prospect of going out of business and their premier Tag Team The Briscoes weren't there to lean on due to Mark being injured in a motorcycle accident and Jay not taking any bookings anywhere, refusing to continue on a pro wrestler without his brother. They returned to ROH in 2005 and with praise for Generation Next for keeping things going in their absence but one member, Roderick Strong, was not reciprocal, refusing to acknowledge that Jay was anything but a Tag Team wrestler and or Mark as anything other than "baby Briscoe" for eleven years.
  • Jeff Hardy showing up unfit to defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Victory Road caused fan and critic alike to call it the worst pay per view of 2011. Six months later in August, Hardy would return to TNA for the purpose of making up for the embarrassment he caused the company and found himself hounded by TNA founder Jeff Jarrett the whole way, for causing an embarrassment to the company.
  • In 2008, Ring of Honor got some welcome publicity when it was used for the climax of the critically acclaimed The Wrestler. Unfortunately, Austin Aries found the film so depressing he declined to return to ROH, EVOLVE, or Dragon Gate, with intent to give up pro wrestling until he was convinced to return... to TNA, the company that in the past had fired him for appearing at an ROH show. ROH fans were pleased to see Aries return in 2015; Kyle O'Reilly, on the other hand, wanted to hit him in the face for leaving in the first place.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Dave Chappelle has a hilarious double-subversion in a skit in which he exacts revenge on several people who wronged him in the past. However, the last person seems to truly feel bad for what he's done (banning him from his club) after things have gone downhill. At first, he seems to have forgiven him...before pushing him down a flight of stairs in his wheelchair, and still setting the whole club ablaze.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is part of the backstory for the iconic Slayer Zadim in Pathfinder. Sent to kill a Taldan noble who persecuted followers of Sarenae, he tracks him down but ultimately finds a Paladin who is actively working to atone for his past transgressions. He finds himself torn between becoming this or letting him find his forgiveness.

    Video Games 
  • The Greek Gods of God of War Series are more or less this, given that Athena tells Kratos that while they will forgive him for killing his family, they will never let him forget. However, Athena also notes even the Gods couldn't forget what he did, so it's less intentional than others.
  • Alistair Smythe is this to Curt Connors in The Amazing Spider-Man. Ever since the Lizard's rampage, Smythe was made the head of Oscorp's science experiments, and always blamed Connors for the continuation of the Cross Species experiments. When the virus breaks out and Connors develops a cure, he kidnaps Connors, and later reveals the reason he did so was because he didn't want the city to be saved with the solution Connors created, rather than the nanobot cocktail Smythe created.
  • A heroic example with the Phantom Thieves from Persona 5. While they cause Heel Face Turns in their Targets by stealing hearts, forgiveness and redemption is never part of the equation; the express purpose of inducing such crushing guilt in people like Kamoshida and letting them live with it as pariahs rather than killing them is because they think it's a far worse fate for them.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy episode, "And I'm Joyce Kinney", the title character tries to ruin Lois' reputation by revealing that she was in a porno movie, as payback for when Lois humiliated her in High School. When Lois is forgiven, Joyce gets angry.