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- Code Geass: In episode 21 of R2, when Lelouch points out that he only wanted to exact vengeance so that good may result, for others' sake, whereas his father committed crimes for his benefit (he would have thrown away his children's lives without hesitation) and only cares that he wins (declaring how people feel as a result of another's actions a worthless delusion), Charles doesn't get it.
- In fact, it's not just that he would've thrown his children's lives away; he did throw his children's lives away. Lelouch tries to get his parents to understand that it's not right for them to have done that and argue that he had no right to disagree just because the things they'd planned to reunite the dead with the living happened to turn out well, but they refused to understand how evil it was that they would've let their children die (without even knowing whether their plan would succeed or not), and, worse still, self-serving; and, then, Charles continues to blame God when he's been the one responsible for making the world as awful as it is (Lelouch points out that, regardless of the innocent lives that would be lost for Britannia's benefit, even with his children in exile, he was still bent on conquering Japan, and, according to Suzaku in the episode prior, he could've saved Euphy).
- In Bleach, the New Captain Amagai Arc has a villain whose motivation is that Head Captain Yamamoto killed his father. The only other clue he had is that the father's dying words were "Bakkoto," the MacGuffins and Empathetic Weapons featured in the arc. It turns out that the father's last words were actually "Beware the Bakkoto" and that Yamamoto killed him because he was possessed, making the entire arc a Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story as had he not sworn revenge, the original villain's schemes would have still outed him as a villain and Amagai(who committed suicide out of remorse after losing to Ichigo and learning the truth) would still be alive.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Arf tells Fate that seeing her sad and in pain from her quest for the Jewel Seeds is driving her insane with grief and begs her to stop. Fate's response is that she'll just have to repress her feelings to avoid upsetting Arf and try even harder to finish her mission. Fate eventually gets the point after her mother makes it clear that she never thought of Fate as her daughter, and regrets taking Arf's loyalty for granted and causing her pain by persisting in this painful and hopeless quest.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Teana, who's quite competent despite not having much magic power or many rare abilities initially assumes that the only appropriate response to any mistake or inability to adequately contribute is to try even harder, which in turn leads to more problems. During the mission to protect the hotel, she and the other Forwards, who are essentially the last line of defense, don't see much action, so Teana tries to let loose with a magical barrage rather than hold out until Vita arrives, nearly injuring Subaru if not for Vita's intervention. After getting a harsh scolding from Vita and a calmer lecture from Nanoha, Teana pushes herself in training for several days, and tries a reckless combination attack against Nanoha during a training exercise, resulting in Nanoha blasting her into unconsciousness (which is implied to be partly the result of exhaustion). When Teana wakes up that night and is temporarily taken off active duty out of concern for her health, Teana protests and states her desire to be useful until Signum punches her in the face. After learning Nanoha's backstory and more of her training plans, Teana gets the point and decides to use what magic she has strategically.
- This comes up in Teru Mikami's backstory in Death Note. As a child, Teru did what he could to protect his schoolmates from bullies, and while he enjoyed some initial success, in high school, the bullies retaliated against him, prompting his mother to advise him to give up on his crusade. The narration points out that she did so out of concern for his well-being, but Teru decided that his mother had no sense of justice, and actually rejoiced when she was killed along with a few of the bullies in an auto accident.
- A good chunk of suffering and death in the Marvel Universe is due to Thanos madly trying to earn Death's favor by killing people. Death apparently reciprocates those feelings, but she sometimes seems weary of Thanos' "offerings". At one point she bluntly told him that more death is the last thing she needs. This hasn't stopped Thanos' killing spree. He isn't called the "Mad" Titan for nothing.
- Commercials for the short-lived food Snack 'Ums would feature a kid trying out said product, then getting hurt doing a sports activity, such as high diving or street hockey. When asked by one of his friends if it hurt, he would reply "Yeah, but I think I liked it" and asks for some more, referring to the snack and not the injury.
- In Sorting Sideways, the Sorting Hat is worried students are more focused on trying to fit into the House they want rather than find a House that fits them. So he deliberately sorts an entire year into the House that represents what they most lack and/or need. For example, Hermione lacks humility and Draco doesn't see the value of hard work so both are sent to Hufflepuff. Meanwhile, Ron wants to prove himself but is daunted by his brothers' accomplishments so being in Slytherin will help him to greatness, though not easily.
- In Another Chance, while the most of the rest of Fairy Tail is attacking Lucy for hurting Lisanna, Natsu's confused as to why Gajeel, Juvia, Wendy and the Exceeds aren't helping out, especially Happy, given the history he and Natsu share with Lisanna. The point that Natsu's missing is that Lucy's the victim of a painfully obvious Wounded Gazelle Gambit by Lisanna, and if Makarov can smell the makeup that Lisanna is using to pretend to be injured, Natsu, as a Dragon Slayer with enhanced senses, should have been able to do so.
- In The Unsuspecting Side of the Force, Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi hears that for all the problems his arrival caused, pretty much everyone who actually talks to Harry Potter agrees that he's a decent if mischievous fellow. Mundi decides that Harry's brainwashing and enslaving them, including two Jedi Masters (Sinube and Qui-Gon Jinn), just by meeting them.
- In Hell is a Martial Artist, Hild goes from manipulating Ranma for her own amusement to genuinely caring about him and once he hits the Despair Event Horizon, she rewrites reality to make him her son. Urd, unable to see any good in her mother, drives herself up the wall trying to figure out her mother's angle and notes that even if she sent the request from Nidhogg, it'd still require Yggdrasil's approval and comes to the conclusion that Yggdrasil's been hacked, rather than realizing that God agreed with Hild.
- In The Stalking Zuko Series this essentially sums up Aang's position on sparing Ozai, something that most of the characters and the author believe is a grave mistake. For example, after turning Ozai over to the Fire Nation to be imprisoned, Aang is honestly confused that Ozai isn't grateful to Aang for sparing his life.
- At the ending of The Final, the parents of the victims dramatically miss the point of the attacks. Instead of the victims being seen as getting their comeuppance for years of bullying, they're portrayed as saint-like who were attacked for no reason. Also, rather than become "a moment in history", as one of the attackers said it would be, it's largely forgotten about after it's over. Though Kelly, realizing just what her behavior has driven people to do, eventually kills herself out of shame.
- In The King's Speech, Albert criticizes his brother Edward, who is heir to the throne, of acting unbecoming of the King of England. Edward thus accuses his brother of trying to take his place as king, when what Albert was really trying to do was telling Edward to get his act together specifically because Albert didn't want to be king. (Which is especially ironic, because Albert does end up becoming King (as George VI) precisely because of Edward's behavior.)
- The script for Pretty Woman started out a lot more tragic. One plot point was Edward renting a white fur coat for Vivian to wear during her hired time. When she is sad over their time nearly being up, he thinks it's just because he made her give the fur back.
- Star Trek:
- In both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek (2009), the Kobayashi Maru test is a major one for Kirk. In both timelines, Kirk is so determined to beat the training simulation that he actually hacks Starfleet Academy's computers and cheats his way to victory by changing the conditions of the starting scenario. He doesn't realize that the entire point of the Kobayashi Maru simulation is that cadets aren't supposed to beat it; the test is designed to be unbeatable to prepare them for the possibility of a no-win scenario, and to test how they react to defeat. Or rather, he rejects the point of the test, adamantly believing that there's no such thing as a no-win scenario. Kirk's refusal to accept this fact provides valuable insight into his pride, which proves to be his Fatal Flaw.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Valeris airs her concerns to Spock about this new Federation-Klingon peace. SF Debris noted Spock doesn't realize how concerned she is at this moment.
- In White Christmas, Betty is upset at what she thinks is Judy's betrayal at leaving the act to get married and Bob's double-dealing by using the show for publicity. Bob, on the other hand, doesn't understand why she won't sing for him and thinks she's just being difficult.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry didn't realize the way he was treating his son was driving a wedge between them. Indy states this when Calling the Old Man Out.
- Moulin Rouge!: Christian leaves before the finale of El Tango De Roxanne, depressed at the thought of Satine sleeping with the Duke, in doing so missing the point of the song; the Argentinian was playing the part of The Duke, not Christian, during the song; it was a warning that he (The Duke) was going to do anything, including rape, to be with Satine.
- Secrets & Lies: Cynthia thinks that Maurice and Monica don't have children because Monica doesn't want any while Maurice does. Going by the way she tries to cut her mother off when she confronts Monica, Roxanne has probably already cottoned on to the real reason.
- In Frozen when Hans starts to reveal his true colors to Anna, it's clear that Anna doesn't immediately grasp the situation.
Anna: But...you said you did.(Hans makes a smug face as if he's thinking "Are you kidding?")
- Over the Edge: After Richie is shot by Doberman for pointing an unloaded gun at him, Jerry calls a PTA meeting, but his discussion is less about how to deal with the problem of delinquency, and more about how to maintain the town's property values. This causes Fred, his own business partner, to angrily call Jerry, himself, and every parent in the meeting out for neglecting their children.
- Interview with the Vampire: Louis (the titular vampire) spends the whole of his interview with a reporter named Daniel discussing how he was sired by Lestat and the years he has spent as a vampire. He describes his unlife and the blood lust that came with it as a torturous existance that has been nothing but painful with any supposed benefits being far outweighed by the negatives. Daniel, however, becomes so enamoured with the idea of living forever as a supernatural being that he asks Louis to make him a vampire. Predictably (and understandably), Louis flips out.
- Done subtly in The Sandlot. At the end of the movie, Scotty and Benny meet the Cool Old Guy Mr. Mertle, a retired baseball star who supposedly once knew Babe Ruth personally, and always dreamed of beating the Babe's home run record before he was forced to retire when a wayward baseball left him blind. After hearing his life story, Scotty assumes that he never got to beat the record because he lost his eyesight. Of course, an older viewer will probably deduce the real reason: he's a middle-aged African-American man in the 1960s, and he would have played long before baseball teams were desegregated. In all likelihood, he was never allowed to achieve his dream because he was never allowed to play against White players.
- Vlad Tepes in Count and Countess, who doesn't understand why it's bad to conscript children into his army, nor why Elizabeth Bathory is so upset when her daughter dies.
- Everyone in A Song of Ice and Fire who treats the conflict over Westeros as a "game of thrones" and covets the Iron Throne as the ultimate prize. The entire point of the Iron Throne (an extremely uncomfortable and dangerous chair made of swords) is that ruling a realm is a responsibility and a burden, not a prize in a game. So far as we know, only three people in the series really seem to have understood this: Eddard Stark, who had the opportunity to seize the Throne but refused it out of a sense of honor and never regretted it; Robert Baratheon, who never really wanted it in the first place but was forced to claim it; and Aegon the Conqueror, who made the damn thing in the first place. Stannis and Robb get some credit, as both of them dislike what comes with being King. Both of them still aim for the throne, Robb in order to avenge his father and Stannis because it is his by right of inheritance and he's a massive Principles Zealot. Varys at least pays lipservice to the idea, but his true motives are too murky to say for sure; Aegon VI was raised to believe this, but he still seems to have a bit of an entitlement complex about the whole thing.
- Although in Robb's case, he'd be quite happy to just keep the North & the Trident an independent Kingdom from the rest of the South. His issue is a different way of interpreting this trope, as he is determined to accomplish one of two goals: take heavy reparations from the Southern Kingdom for the damages done to the Riverlands, the deaths of his own men in the conflict thus far, and for the death of his father and his sisters being captives in King's Landing (Arya escaped, but he doesn't know this); or dethrone the illegitimate Joffrey and eventually bring down the Lannisters in revenge and "justice", which if it ends with him claiming the entire Seven Kingdoms as a consequence is one that he (as his father's protege) is willing to pay. In the War Council at the end of the first book, his mother Catelyn attempts to point out the fact that killing the ones responsible for their dead will not bring her husband (or Lord Rickard Karstark's sons) back to life, as much as they might desire it (herself included), and they should be willing to make concessions for the sake of peace (including the retrieval of Robb's sisters). Sadly, thanks in no small part to his advisors, Robb decides to play the game full-tilt. With dire consequences...
- The Collector. Clegg stalks and abducts Miranda, a young woman he's grown obsessed with. After numerous escape attempts on her part, Miranda becomes severely ill and dies because Clegg refuses to let her out of captivity to see a doctor. The lesson Clegg learns from all of this? Things went badly because he was too lenient a captor, and the book ends with him stalking another girl, eager to put his new knowledge to use.
- In The Wheel of Time, the Aes Sedai are magically bound by the Three Oaths, to "speak no word that is not true," "make no weapon for one man to kill another," and "Never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Darkfriends or Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme defense of her life, the life of her Warder, or another Aes Sedai". In theory, this was to stop them from taking advantage of people, but in practice, they focus on the first one, and use it primarily to gain people's trust while twisting the truth, so they can more easily manipulate them.
- Also, their name; "Aes Sedai" means "Servant of All" in the Old Tongue, which, in the the Age of Legends would have been taken largely at face value, being a phrase in the language that everyone spoke. This meaning, while still known to those with knowledge of the Old Tongue, is now completely non-indicative, as modern Aes Sedai seem mostly to want to lead the world (at best), or rule over it with an iron fist/destroy it(at worst).
- One in Warhammer 40,000's backstory is shown in the Horus Heresy novel Betrayer. In the Night of the Wolf, Leman Russ and the Space Wolves confronted Angron about his practice of using forbidden technology to turn the World Eaters into raving berserkers, and the two legions came to blows over it. Angron always said that he won, that he thrashed Leman Russ in close combat until the Wolf had to crawl away. Decades later, Lorgar of the Word Bearers explained that Angron won the duel, but Russ won the battle - Angron's bloodlust led him to be surrounded by Russ' bodyguard while the rest of the World Bearers fought on oblivious, therefore proving Russ' point that Russ' soldiers were greater than Angron's warriors. The only reason Russ spared Angron was in hope that the Primarch learned something.
- In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the aesop of the story of the Deathly Hallows is that it's futile to fight Death and that one should accept mortality. Some wizards came to believe that they could achieve immortality if they collected all three Hallows. Dumbledore being one of those wizards who missed the point in his youth and arguably still didn't fully grasp it (attempting to use the Resurrection Stone to apologize and make up for past mistakes instead of letting go and moving on) until after his own death lamented this folly in his commentary.
Live Action TV
- Soap: Burt's doctor calls him in to tell him that he's got a rare disease.
Burt: OK, then what's the treatment?Doctor: Burt, there is no treatment.Burt: So, what, it just goes away by itself, huh?
- Arthur in Merlin is convinced that he's created a golden age of equality and justice where all men are respected. In many ways he has, as he's married a peasant girl who was worthy to be Queen, knighted the commoners who helped him take back his kingdom, and established the Round Table. However, he has remained oblivious to the people that need equality most: the magic-users, who were shunned and persecuted during his father's reign. This comes back to bite him hard when it is what eventually turns Mordred, until then a loyal knight, on him.
- The X-Files. In "Never Again" Scully complains that she has to share Mulder's desk; this and some Jerk Ass behaviour from her partner causes her to go off and engage in a number of Out of Character behaviors like getting a tattoo and engaging in a one-night stand. At the end of the episode Mulder says, "I don't understand...all this over a desk?" Scully just replies: "Not everything is about you, Mulder." The truth is Scully had just discovered she had cancer.
- In the seventh season of Psych, Juliet discovers that Shawn has been lying about being a psychic, and this implodes their relationship. He spends the following episode mulling things over and tells her that "If I hadn't given you my jacket, everything would be okay." No, Shawn, it wouldn't, and that's the point.
- It even seems to be part of his character that he can't stop himself from missing the point. Just before that scene he has a full dream about how to properly handle the situation from completely listening to Juliet's feelings to acknowledging and apologizing for his mistakes...Once he wakes up however and is immediately faced with the same situation he proceeds to do everything in the opposite way leading to the quote above which completely torpedoes the situation.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Towards the end, Weyoun notices that Damar isn't carrying booze for a change, and infers that the new alliance with the Breen has given him new hope that the Dominion will succeed. In actuality, Damar has come to the conclusion that the Dominion is bad news for Cardassia either way, and has begun to orchestrate a rebellion.
- Game of Thrones: In season 5, episode 2, Cersei and Jaime Lannister learn that their child Myrcella is in danger in Dorne. Cersei loudly and angrily threatens vengeance if "our daughter" is harmed. Jaime tries to quiet her and reminds her that no one can be allowed to hear that Myrcella is their daughter. Cersei reprimands Jaime quite venomously and tells him "then don't call her your daughter," somehow failing to realise that HER previous angry rant is why Jaime spoke up in the first place.
- Brenda in The Closer is many times blindingly oblivious to her hypocrisy when she calls out other people for being manipulative, arrogant, ignoring the rules, lying to her, or ignoring her authority even when others specifically try to make her realize this. It eventually comes back to bite her in the final season and she does start to realize that a series of murders the unit has had to deal with, not to mention the professional difficulties they've had that season, are largely her fault.
- Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman ends up killing himself, thinking that he will give his family a lot of money. At his funeral, at least one character points out that Willy could have chosen another path and have been happier for it. One of his sons, Happy, declares that he will succeed where Willy failed. He's blatantly ignoring the fact that Willy was no good at being a salesman and Happy has no reason to assume that he's any better, and that if any lessons were to be learned from events it was that it's more important to find something you're good at which makes you happy and look for success there, rather than follow someone else's idea of success.
- Persona 4
- When Mitsuo's Shadow is defeated, and disappears, Mitsuo starts gloating, acting as though he'd defeated it. In reality, this means that he failed to come to terms with the personal flaws that gave rise to it, in stark contrast to the heroes, who'd used those powers to defeat it.
- In Chie's Social Link, one of Chie's old friends, Takeshi, is infatuated with Yukiko. At Rank 8, he complains to her about how Yukiko had a "funky laugh" the last time he saw her, and points out that he thinks she "was better off gloomy." Chie points out that's how Yukiko naturally is, and it's subtly indicated that she gradually gains the confidence to be herself around people other than Chie.
- Kanji says that a great deal of his efforts to be a man at first, such as beating up biker gangs and hiding his interest in handicrafts, were a result of trying to follow his late father's advice to "become strong," out of the belief that his father didn't think he was strong enough. Kanji ultimately realizes that he had the wrong idea of what it means to be strong, and so decides to be true to himself.
- An especially tragic version of this happens with Peko Pekoyama in Super Dangan Ronpa 2. Having been raised to think of herself as a tool to the Kuzuryuu clan, when the scion to the clan, Fuyuhiko, insists that their relationship until now is null and void once they arrive at the "class trip," she assumes that he, out of his desire to prove himself independent of the clan, hates her as the clan's tool, when in reality, he wants her as a person, rather than a tool. As a result of this mindset, Peko kills Mahiru when a tense standoff between Mahiru and Fuyuhiko (who'd planned on killing Mahiru but was starting to get cold feet) breaks down, believing that because she acts on Fuyuhiko's behalf, if she's convicted of the murder, he'll be able to "graduate." In truth, Fuyuhiko didn't want her to do that, so Peko is found guilty and executed, with Fuyuhiko losing an eye in a failed attempt to save her and living with the guilt for the rest of the game. In Island Mode, however, Peko gets over this if you successfully reach her ending.
- The Order of the Stick: Miko Miyazaki immediately assumes that because her own conclusions led her to kill her lord, the eponymous band somehow made her do it. She then takes it as far as assuming everyone in the room is working against her, and she can do no wrong because she is the strongest member of the Sapphire Guard.
Roy Greenhilt: It's like she has that Monk ability that lets you jump as far as you want, only for her, it applies to conclusions.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Twilight's Kingdom Part 1, since Twilight's Element of Harmony is Magic, both she and Rarity assume that the lesson Twilight would have learned to get her key involved a difficult magical task, and not The Power of Friendship... even when Twilight acknowledges that the Magic in the Element of Magic is the Magic of Friendship from the beginning of the show.
- In the South Park episode "Kenny Dies" (with a semi-parody tone), where the boys are told Kenny is diagnosed with a terminal disease. "But he's gonna get better, right?" inquires Stan. Somber music plays in the background as the adults exchange saddened looks.
- A Boy Named Charlie Brown has Charlie Brown, who feels he is a complete loser as a spelling bee competitor, fails to realize he not only won the state Spelling Bee championship but he came in second in the National championship. Surely, someone like his parents could tell him that's nothing to be ashamed of.
- In Steven Universe, the Homeworld Gems have performed experiments with fusion as a means to strengthen their forces. Unfortunately, they see it as nothing but a power boost instead of a relationship. By forcefully mashing together gem shards, all they have created are misshapen pitiful horrors. So then they went "screw it" and used the results of their research to make a "fusion" out of millions of shards called the Cluster and stuck it in the Earth's core so that it will destroy the planet upon awakening.
- Many of the more moralistic examples of the Inspector Javert trope stem from this. Sometimes, you'll get a Javert who is simply confused or doesn't have all the facts, but the others persecute people they know are good simply because it's the rules. They're loyal to the letter of the law, but not its spirit.