Crossing the Burnt Bridge

"Be nice to those you meet on the way up. They're the same folks you'll meet on the way down."
Walter Winchell (probably)

So you're never going to see those assholes again? Sweet.

Time to let them know what you really think of them! Tell the ex-girlfriend off, insult the constant jerk, rob the old neighbor, leave a surprise on the boss's desk, jack their last ice cream sandwich, whatever fits! They deserve it, and you're never going to have to live through the repercussions anyway.

Wait, what's that? You have a class with that ex? The jerk is your mentor's kid? You aren't moving or transferring after-all? You left your wallet in their freezer when you were stealing the ice cream sandwich?

Oh, hell.

This is when a character issues a So Long, Suckers!, expecting never to have to see the people they offend ever again, only to be forced to continue their acquaintance. Or even worse, seek their help. So now, they have to be on their best behavior, put up with all the same crap, and/or face the music for what they did, deserved or not.

May overlap with Off the Table, when the other party refuses to allow the bridge to be rebuilt.

Compare Not So Final Confession, We Meet Again, We Will Meet Again, Where It All Began, My God, What Have I Done?, The Exit Is That Way, Who's Laughing Now? and Take This Job and Shove It.


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  • The entire premise of Max Keeble's Big Move. Max, a student believing he is about to move, issues several So Long, Suckers!, then finds out that he isn't moving after all.
  • Flatliners was pretty much all about this, when the characters fry their brain-cells in a medical experiment, only to be faced with their own consciences. To overcome their dilemmas, they all have to make amends somehow.
  • A good chunk of the third act of Iron Man 2 is spent with Tony trying to repent for his assholish behavior from when he was dying in the first two acts.

  • In the My Little Pony/BioShock fanfic Vision, our Anti-Hero, Siren, due to a mix of Trauma Conga Line, Fish out of Water, and just not being all that nice to begin with, says some rather hurtful things to another character who was just being nice to her. As she walks away, she has a small My God, What Have I Done? moment, but doesn't go back to apologize. Guess who she ends up at the mercy of later?
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic On The Care and Construction of Bridges, Rarity and Applejack refuse to confess their feelings towards each other out of fear of burning bridges that they will need to cross later, while Rainbow Dash reflects on her own burnt bridge with her friend Gilda. In the end, however, Rainbow Dash asks herself the question of what ponies do after a bridge burns down, and resolves to try and patch things up with her.

  • In the first Galaxy Games book, the whole world thought they were about to be wiped out by an incoming asteroid. So all the adults went crazy doing whatever - the teachers didn't teach, many of the main character's friends' parents quit their jobs and so on. After the asteroid was revealed to just be an alien spaceship they all had to try and get their jobs back and return all the stuff they bought on an impulse. This was easy for some, but others, it was noted, had quit their jobs by telling their bosses what they REALLY thought...
  • In the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Elizabeth and Darcy are forced to ask Lady Catherine for help.

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Carlton trick Geoffrey into thinking he's won the lottery, causing him to cheerfully dance around and call everyone out before the truth is revealed. In a variation, while everyone forgives him (the boys take most of the blame) he's too embarrassed to return, and is the one that needs to be coaxed back.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm is basically this trope as the concept for a TV show. Plots are as follows: Larry David horribly offends a minor character, then realizes he needs their help. Larry tries to make amends, typically fails on an epic scale.
  • In the Doctor Who serial Inferno, the Doctor thinks he's got his TARDIS operational, and he's about to leave. So he says (about the Brigadier, in front of him): "I've had about all I can stand of this pompous self-opinionated idiot here!" But when he dematerializes, he only gets as far as the rubbish tip, and walks back, covered in dust.
    The Doctor: Erm, Brigadier, my dear fellah, I wonder whether I could borrow a couple of your stalwart chaps to give me a hand in bringing the TARDIS back? It's landed in rather an inaccessible position.
    Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: "Pompous, self-opinionated idiot" I believe you said, Doctor?
    The Doctor: Yes, well we...we don't want to bear a grudge for a few hasty words, do we?
    • Still, he gets off really easy for this trope - just a moment of embarrassment and slight crow-eating.
  • Cheers had an episode where Diane told off the gang, vowed never to return and left ... but forgot her purse.
  • In The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. Brisco and Bowler recruit Pete Hutter for a mission while he's in prison, promising a full Presidential pardon for all his outstanding crimes. He accepts and proceeds to piss off his cellmate. Then Brisco tells him that they have to talk to the warden and he should be out in a couple of hours...
  • A mild case in The Thick of It; Hugh has decided that resigning would be better for his long-term political career, and on his way to make the announcement, he says a few unpleasant things about his department and the staff. Predictably, his resignation is no longer necessary and he comes back, but nobody really bears any grudge because (a) while he was honest, he didn't say anything too hurtful or spiteful, and (b) most of them hate each other anyway and they all know it, and consequently everyone has a lot of experience with swallowing their dislike and working together to brace themselves for the next stage in the eternal Humiliation Conga which makes up their lives.
  • Married... with Children: When a rich man proposed to Kelly, Al quickly phoned his boss to do the bridge-burning, oblivious to Kelly rejecting the rich man in favor of a not-so-wealthy suitor.
  • In the final episode of Wings, Brian and Casey make plans to run off to a tropical island, and Casey takes this opportunity to tell off every person on the island, including her boss and random people in the park. Unfortunately, Brian has an attack of family loyalty and decides to stay and run Sandpiper Air for Joe (who's also leaving), leaving a horrified Casey stuck on the island (and working Helen's lunch counter).
  • A Late Night with Conan O'Brien sketch had La Bamba (the Butt-Monkey trombonist of the house band The Max Weinberg 7) get a check for a large sum of money. To which La Bamba responds "Ha! I quit!" and try to tell off the performers. Right after leaving (and the audience cheering him off), Conan gets a phone call from La Bamba crying claiming that he spent all his money on gum and asking to come back. Conan lets him come back with no ill will (and then shows the outtakes from his phone call).
  • The first episode of the second season of Arrested Development, "The One Where Michael Leaves", is focused on Michael's attempts to leave his family for good, but repeatedly getting pulled back to them again because the circumstances, mostly the results of said family's actions, forces him to.

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted in Homestuck. Karkat thinks he's going to have to apologize to Vriska in order to get her to join the Red Team. When he finds out that Vriska's been kicked off the Blue Team, he instantly rescinds his apology, and apologizes to himself for even making it in the first place.
  • Played for laughs in Gunnerkrigg Court when Parley with full sunset blush slams the door... then re-emerges to take the flower Smitty tried to give her in the first place.
    Parley: ...and ...give ...that! (SLAM again)

    Western Animation 
  • In Code Monkeys, this is the result of the Snap Back of Dave and Jerry's quit(s). Dave being, well, a Jerk Ass, actually forces this to happen to both of them, while Jerry tries to avoid it on the off chance they aren't as successful as they hope.
  • In a flashback episode of The Simpsons Homer, upon quitting his nuclear plant job, plays Burns' head like a bongo in front of all the other employees, and then throws Burns at a barrel of toxic waste. (Although one has to wonder if "acting like a jerk" can even apply to anything being done to Burns.) He LITERALLY burns a bridge he drives over on his way out. He eventually has to take the job back after impregnating Marge with Maggie. Of course, since this is Burns we're talking about here, he makes Homer crawl through a narrow tunnel to get the job, so that Burns would literally be looking down on Homer once Homer emerged, and put a big plaque in Homer's office saying "Don't forget, you're here forever". Luckily, Homer is able to cover the plaque with pictures of Maggie and change the message to "Do it for her".
    • A story in The Simpsons comic had Krusty the Clown leaving town to star in a movie, giving the crowd at the airport a few choice words about Springfield. The movie flops, and when he returns the crowd is more of a mob.
  • Subverted in South Park when Cartman finally pisses off his "friends" so badly that they end up ignoring him— making him think that he must be dead and stuck in Purgatory; and so he goes about trying to make amends for all the evil things he did, in order to get to Heaven.
    • Played straight in a season 19 episode. With the news of police brutality going around, the townspeople of South Park starts shunning everyone in the police force, harassing them and refusing to do business with them. Then the gentrified part of the town gets covered with homeless people due to the episode's B-plot. The townspeople realize that the only way they can get the homeless people out is to get the police to remove them. Needless to say, the policemen weren't really willing to help them out.
  • Jem and the Holograms had too much of Eric's abuse while working on a movie they quit. Then they learn one of the foster girls at Starlight Foundation needed an expensive surgery to avoid becoming blind so they had no choice but to come back. Eric got Jerrica to agree to becoming his assistant as a condition to let Jem and the Holograms back.
  • Happens in the Family Guy episode "April in Quahog", when Peter blurts out that he doesn't care for his children the moment before the world is supposed to end... only for said warning to be revealed as an April Fool's prank from the Quahog news team. Peter spends the rest of the episode trying to make it up to the kids.

Alternative Title(s): Hello Again Suckers, Crossing The Burned Bridge