Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse

"You think you are the only ones who lost people? You think you are the only ones in pain? You think you can take your shit and dump it on me? You don't get to do that! So you take your goddamn pain and you live with it, assholes!! You lost your parents? Welcome to the goddamn club! I lost mine in some random accident! Do you see me trying to kill every shitty driver? NO! Because I don't work my shit out on other people! So keep your goddamn feelings to YOURSELF!"

This trope is a standard Deconstruction of the Freudian Excuse. Sometimes, characters that have gone through something horrible believe that they have the moral high ground or that they are in the right for their actions, no matter how evil they are or who are the targets are. This tropes comes into play when a character or even the narrative itself (possibly even the characters themselves, if they're going through Character Development) acknowledges that their actions are wrong, no matter what they have been put through, one bad action won't justify another.

This trope only happens when there's an acknowledgement of this. A character has to receive a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, a speech on why they're wrong or voice an acknowledgement that their past don't justify their current actions.

It's important here to differentiate "explanation" from "justification" in this trope: If a Freudian Excuse is used as an "explanation", then it's meant to give a reason why a character acts this way, if it's a "justification" it means that the narration is giving the character the right to act that way. This trope never accepts Freudian Excuses as justifications.

Related to Freudian Excuse and Dark and Troubled Past. Often present if a character is a Troubled Abuser. Compare Kirk Summation, Playing the Victim Card and Shut Up, Hannibal!.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Vento of the Front in A Certain Magical Index despises the Science Side of the world because she and her brother were critically injured in a ride that claimed to be scientifically proven safe and her brother gave up his life so that she could live, so she seeks to dystroy Academy City as a form of payback. Touma calls her out on her way of thinking, stating that she's only lashing out because she feels she failed as an older sister and that the doctors did try to save both of them regardless to the limits of what they were able to do. She's basically acting like an Ungrateful Bitch.
  • Black Clover: When the Big Bad starts bemoaning his tragedies and the people he has lost, Yami quickly parodies his own Dark and Troubled Past, by mentioning that he's suffered a lot to get to where he is, but he never made a big deal out of it, held someone else accountable or became evil because of it.
  • Dragon Ball Z: During the Buu Saga, Majin Buu kills because he doesn't know any better, and it's all he knows, which is why he continues his rampage even without Babidi to order him around. While Goku is somewhat sympathetic, Piccolo rebukes it, declaring outright that one's background does not excuse acts of evil.
  • Kiznaiver: At the ending's climax, Nico attempts to rile everyone up to gather together and save Sonozaki. When she is called out on trying to save the one that caused them so much hardship, Nico explains she feels no sympathy for her, and doesn't care for her sad backstory seeing how she basically tortured them psychologically and physically for the entire summer. But since Agata, their friend, is asking to help the girl he loves, they should help him.
  • My Hero Academia: Once Izuku learns about Shouto's abusive childhood, he is sympathetic to it, but when he spends their entire battle calling him out on the fact that, because of his abusive father, Shouto has decided to become the greatest hero by using only half of his powers, which to Izuku is no different than spitting in the face of their peers who are giving it their all to achieve their dream.

    Comic Books 
  • In Seven Soldiers of Victory, Sally Sonic became magically trapped in the form of a teenager for decades, causing her to suffer abuse and degradation at the hands of a failed superhero who had a grudge against her late father. She uses this as an excuse for seducing married men, culminating in her encouraging mentally-unbalanced scientist Lance Harrower to perform dangerous experiments on himself to try and gain superpowers, thinking that if he became a superhero, he and Sally could be together. These experiments ultimately killed Lance and turned his wife Alix into the Bulleteer. When Bulleteer finally confronts Sally about the carnage her selfishness has caused, Sally tries to kill her, all the while insisting that Lance's obsessions were Bulleteer's fault because she failed to please him. Bulleteer finally has enough of Sally's excuses and beats her with an engine block, saying that she doesn't care what kind of shit Sally went through, she had no right to mess with Lance's life or hers.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ghosts of Evangelion, Ryuko calls her mother out, pointing out that childhood trauma doesn't justify a crappy disposition when you're in your forties. Asuka's reaction is, in fact... hugging her and expressing how proud she is of Ryuko.
    Ryuko: Bullshit! 'The best you can,' you say? Whatever. Today you were fine. I felt like you were an actual parent for a change, and that was nice. But last night? Fuck that noise. Back in the day I guess you could get away with it, since things were really rough for you back then. But now, not so much. We deserve better, father and I, and so do you!
  • In X-Men: The Early Years, Scott Summers' parole officer asks him to go soft on a bully whom she's trying to reform, explaining Bruno's a bully because of his abusive father. Scott replies it doesn't make his behavior okay.
    Carol: Good, now that we're alone. I'm asking you to try to be a little nicer to Bruno, okay? I know it's not an easy task and he's not the most pleasant person you'll ever meet. Bruno's not a bad kid Scott. Yes, I know he's a bully, but he's only acting out what he knows. What his father taught him.
    Scott: So? That makes it okay for him to threaten to hurt Bobby? That makes it okay for him to threaten to hurt someone younger than he is?
    Carol: No, of course not. But Bruno has only threatened, and he actually hasn't made a move to hurt Bobby. That leaves a lot of room for you to let it slide off your back and compromise until he actually tries something. If Bruno tries to hurt Bobby, you won't be the first one to trounce him. Trust me.
  • Pokémon: A Marvelous Journey: Amara's Jerkass behavior all began when her best friend was killed by a rampaging Gyarados, and her actions are because she's lashing out in grief at that. However, in the process, she's stolen Pokemon and Gym Badges, abused several of said Pokemon, and attacked innocent bystanders either by herself or by using her Pokemon. It's made clear in-universe that Amara's grief and pain do not excuse her behavior; Julia herself openly states as such and tells their mother she wants Amara to be arrested.

    Films — Animated 
  • Toy Story 3: Lotso the Hugging Bear was accidentally lost and replaced by his original owner with an identical Lotso, causing him to believe toys are just "trash meant to be thrown away." But as Woody points out, it doesn't excuse him of his crimes, especially as he kept lying to Big Baby about this.
  • Paranorman: Norman calls the witch out on her behavior when they confront each other. She excuses her own actions by remembering what the zombies did to her in life, but Norman says she has done just as much, if not even more bad than they ever had, and that her behavior has turned her from a victim to a bully.
    Agatha: They hurt me!
    Norman: So you hurt them back?!
    Agatha: I wanted everyone to see how rotten they were!
    Norman You're just like them, Agatha!
    Agatha: No, I'm not!
    Norman: You're a bully!
    Agatha: No I'm NOT!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Scream 3: The Ghostface Killer gives his past rejection by the world as the reason for his murderous rampage during his Motive Rant to Sidney. However, Sidney has heard this story too many times from previous killers to care, and calls Ghostface out by pointing out that it's just an excuse for their own sadism.
  • Towards the beginning of A Wrinkle in Time (2018), Meg loses her temper and throws a ball at her archnemesis' face. When called out on her behavior, she tries to invoke the fact that her father is still missing as an excuse for her acting out. Her principal tells her that having a missing dad only buys her so much sympathy, especially when he's been gone for four years.
  • GoldenEye: Alec Trevelyan/006 is seeking revenge for the betrayal of his family, who were Lienz Cossacks, a group that sympathized with the Nazis against the Russians during World War II. The Cossacks, who believed that they were under British protection near the end of the war, were instead sent back to Stalin, who promptly had them all shot. Trevelyan, needless to say, is pissed about this and seeks to make the British government pay, as these events caused his father (a surviving Cossack) to kill Alec's mom, then himself out of survivor's guilt. But James Bond calls him out on this, stating that "mad little" Alec's Evil Plan of causing a global financial meltdown by breaking into the Bank of England via computer in revenge boils down to "nothing more than petty theft," and believes Alec is simply in it for the money, with his Freudian Excuse being a lame and flimsy cover for his crimes. Which does makes sense: 006 appears to have faithfully served the British Government for years before faking his death.

    Live Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake is a big fan of using his past without his father to justify a lot of his more childish behavior or even to try to gather sympathy. He uses this as an excuse for being a jerk to Santiago when she tries to host a Thanksgiving dinner to the detectives, since his memories of thanksgiving weren't pleasant and again to try to convince Captain Holt to give him half a million dollars to pay for his apartment. It doesn't work on his captain, and he eventually drops it, as a sign of Character Development.
    Holt: I won't give you half a million dollars because of your mildly sad childhood.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Out of Mind, Out of Sight," Marcie Ross had a Friendless Background and was ignored by everyone, including the teachers, to the extent that the Hellmouth's influence literally turned her invisible. Marcie subsequently becomes a psychotic Invisible Jerkass who takes violent revenge against everyone who scorned and ignored her. Buffy is initially sympathetic to Marcie, but drops it when she realizes just how twisted she's become and how far she's willing to go for payback.
      Buffy: Y'know, I really felt sorry for you. You've suffered. But there's one thing I really didn't factor into all this. You're a thundering loony!
    • In "Lie to Me," Ford is Secretly Dying from brain tumors and wants to become a vampire to escape that fate. To that end, he's willing to sacrifice Buffy and several innocents to Spike in exchange for being turned. While Buffy is sympathetic to Ford's plight when he reveals his brain cancer, she still points out that he's essentially committing mass murder, and nothing will make that okay.
      Buffy: Isn't this exactly how you imagined it? You tell me how you've suffered and I feel sorry for you. Well, I do feel sorry for you, and if those vampires come in here and start feeding, I'll kill you myself!
  • Flash: Hunter Zolomon/Zoom falls into this. He had Abusive Parents, including watching his father kill his mother, leading to him being put into an orphanage at young age. Zoom is convinced that Barry, who had a similar past of having his mother killed when he was a kid, could easily turn out like him. He tries to prove it by murdering Barry's father in front of him. However, despite this traumatic event, Barry still remains righteous and never succumbs to becoming the sociopath that Zoom is. Ultimately Barry shows that Zoom is rotten to the core, Freudian Excuse or not.
  • The Good Place: Throughout the first season, Eleanor often mentioned how her terrible upbringing messed her up. She is then quickly called out when the so-called "Real" Eleanor (the good Eleanor that was supposed to go to the Good Place) mentions that she was orphaned twice in her life but still managed to be a high-achieving lawyer and humanitarian and the demon Trevor points out the fact that a lot of people have messed up childhoods but don't become massive jerkasses like Eleanor herself. Then, in the later episodes "Mindy St. Clair" and "Existential Crisis", it's shown that her parents really were every bit as terrible as Eleanor described, but even still this is never used as a justification for her actions, just as an explanation for it, and she accepts that she can't keep invoking that excuse and has to rise above that.
    Jason: Your parents suck.
    Eleanor: Yeah. And I've been using their crappy parenting as an excuse for my selfish behavior. But no more.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In season 9, Marshall has an imagine spot where he talks with Lily, 7-years-ago Lily, his father and briefly, Robin, about a fight he just had with Lily where he accused her of considering him and their family to be a consolation prize for her failed career and brings up when she left him for a summer 7 years prior. When he attempts to make a point out of her biggest mistake, Marvin calls him out on it.
    Marvin: What's your point? That just because she hurt you, you now get to hurt her? That's not how a marriage works, son.
  • Jessica Jones: The titular character delivers a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech in season one to a woman who plots to kill her when, as a way to avenge her mother that died due to the other gifted Destructive Savior of the Marvel Universe.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Lilian uses the death of her husband to justify her animosity towards Artie and why she opposes gentrification so much. He is sympathetic to it... up until he learns that said husband actually died 40 years ago, and Lilian has been resisting to move on and living in the past ever since and he calls her out on it. They start arguing and he calls her out on the fact that when they were young, they were fighting for change, and that change can be something good.
  • Supernatural:
    • Subverted in "Jus in Bello". After catching a pair of violent Satanic murderers, FBI Agent Henriksen addresses the upbringing they must've had before saying it still doesn't justify their actions... of course, he's saying this to the two heroes of the show, who aren't guilty of (most) of the crimes they're accused of. While their childhood really was bad, he has also figured it to be even worse to rationalize how the brothers came to be as seemingly deranged and delusional as they are. Unlike most examples on this page, all this combined with his borderline Smug Snake behavior in the scene makes him come off more as a Jerk Ass than Genre Savvy, though he still comes out of the episode looking pretty damn heroic thanks to more screentime.
    Henriksen: Oh yeah, I forgot. You fight monsters. Sorry, Dean. Truth is, your daddy brainwashed you with all that Devil talk and no doubt touched you in a bad place. That’s all. That’s reality.
    Dean: Why don’t you shut your mouth?
    Henriksen: Well, guess what. Life sucks, get a helmet. ‘Cause everybody’s got a sob story. But not everybody becomes a killer.
    • Also inverted in the case of Bela from Season 3. Dean is irritated by her behavior and flat-out asks her what happened to make her the way she is, mockingly suggesting her father didn't hug her enough. He later finds out that she killed her parents and when he confronts her on it, she has a flashback indicating that her father sexually abused her - before smiling and telling him that they were "wonderful people" who she only killed for money. It makes her look more despicable than ever to the other characters, but had the strange inverse affect on much of the audience of making them feel incredibly sorry for her when before they'd hated her guts, despite Henriksen having voiced the above take on Freudian Excuses only a few episodes before, because it drove home how deeply damaged and closed-off she is that she refused to make herself vulnerable even to save her own life. Thus playing straight the often intended side effect of Freudian Excuses to make the antagonist sympathetic, which this trope usually subverts.
    • Played straight with Lucifer in Season 5, who strongly believes he was wronged by God when he was ordered to be imprisoned for thousands of years in Hell by his most beloved brother, the Archangel Michael. Lucifer's take on it makes it sound like God did all this just because Lucifer criticized God's beloved humans as flawed and murderous. Word of God (ie Eric Kripke) even agreed that he was a sympathetic, tragic villain. This ignores canon established less than five episodes previous that Lucifer was actually imprisoned after he forcibly transformed a human soul into the first demon (Lilith), which involves massive amounts of spiritual mutilation and torture to the point that the person loses all humanity and memories of their human life, and becomes pure evil. Lucifer tries to convince many other characters of his righteousness, but it works a grand total of once. Every other single character he tries to persuade reject his attempts to get sympathy, treat him with disdain, and even his own brothers call him a Psychopathic Manchild who caused his own problems and drove God away. Funnily enough, his argument suddenly gets stronger in Season 11 as the Mark of Cain is RetConed into the show as an ancient, powerful force of darkness that corrupts everyone who bears it - with God having entrusted it to Lucifer to bear, and influencing him to turn him as evil as he is, taking away Lucifer's responsibility for his own Fallen Hero status. By the time this comes out however, Lucifer's character is written much differently from his Season 5 incarnation, into an overly comedic, thoroughly evil villain who no longer cares about getting the heroes to agree with him and is exactly the kind of Psychopathic Manchild he was described as back in Season 5.

    Video Games 
  • New Dangan Ronpa V3: The chapter 3 killer tries to justify the deaths he caused by saying that all he wants is to send friends to his sister that has already died. It does not work, as even Monokuma finds him and his incestuous love for his sister to be disgusting.
  • Ace Attorney: A recurring thing is that a crime is a crime, no matter what the victim has done to the killer or how much of an Asshole Victim they are, nothing justifies killing someone else, and you'll be arrested for it. The Big Bad of the AAI2 game is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, who had met nothing but misery in his life, trying to take revenge on the people whom they blamed it for (which they believe all to have deserved their fate). While Edgeworth acknowledges their woobieness, it's still no "Get out of Jail Free" Card and he gets arrested at the end of the game nonetheless, though one can argue this was good for him, as he gets to live with his Parental Substitute Doghen. During their confrontation, he mentions that his actions have made them no different from the people they were trying to get revenge on.
  • World of Warcraft: During Garrosh's duel with Thrall, Thrall tells Garrosh that he failed the Horde during his destructive reign as Warchief. Garrosh responds by telling him that Thrall had made him, a man with no experience in leadership, the Horde's Warchief during a severe crisis that he wasn't equipped to deal with, and that it was Thrall who failed him. When Thrall has Garrosh in his death grip, Garrosh states that Thrall was responsible for making him into who he was. Thrall responds by telling him he had chosen his own destiny, and then kills him.
  • At the end of Far Cry 4, an interesting example happens where Big Bad Pagan Min explains his Freudian Excuse, and then he himself admits that he was just using his infant daughter's murder as an excuse to do whatever the hell he wanted to do.

     Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman: Bojack gets seriously called out on the fact he keeps blaming his very Dark and Troubled Past for his faulty behavior, and expects everyone, especially Todd, to just forgive his actions based on it. While his story is bleak and he himself is suffering from depression, Todd is right that having that story doesn't make him unaccountable for the damage he causes to others, no matter how self-destructive he has become because of it.
  • In the The Boondocks episode "The Color Ruckus", we learn that much of Uncle Ruckus' personality (particularly his hatred of other black people) resulted from extremely traumatizing childhood abuse by his hateful father, Mister Ruckus. It later turns out that Mister became the way he is because he was also treated like shit by his own mother, Nelly Ruckus. After Nelly passes away, Mister takes his family to her funeral just to celebrate her demise. However, Uncle finally gains the courage to stand up to his father and call him out for taking out his frustrations on his own family.
    Uncle Ruckus: "No no, that's okay. Keep talking. Keep talking, Daddy. That's the eulogy this woman deserved. She did this to you, and now you're doing it to me. You've been doing it our whole lives, and it's getting old! It's gettin' real old, old man! So get it out yo' system, then sit down AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!"
  • The South Park episode "Splatty Tomato" gives this lesson to these two characters whose actions and behaviors are inexcusable, no matter how much hardships that they've recently endured:
    • First up is Kyle Broflowski who tries to justify his actions to Ike (trying to censor Canadian TV) by telling him he's been through a lot in the past few episodes (getting dumped by Heidi, her becoming another Eric Cartman, getting picked on afterwards etc.), only for Ike to angrily retort by saying back that his actions resulted in the president nuking Canada, Ike's birth country, and causing millions of deaths.
    Ike: Oh, quit being a victim! Jesus Christ!
    • The next one Heidi Turner who, after hearing Kyle's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, realizes that even though she suffered a mentally abusive relationship with Eric Cartman, it doesn't mean she can act like such a horrible person.
  • Wakfu has this as a Recurring Element. All of the Big Bad faced each season have varying degrees of sympathetic reasons and are all Anti Villains, however, every season they're called out for their actions and their justifications at the end of the season:
    • Upon realizing his plan has failed, Nox bemoans the death of his family and states that he was told that he could make time go back, to meet his family again and undo the calamities he caused. When Yugo sees this, he automatically reacts with anger.
    Yugo: So you did all of this because you are crazy?
    • At the end of season 2, Quigly is cornered, and Yugo expands that the fact that he remembers all his past lives is not a reason for him to have done the atrocities he has, including ending several planets and starting a war against his own race.
    • In season 3, it's Amalia who gets to call out Oporo for his actions. Yes, he is a different version of Yugo and has seen everybody else of his race die, but he keeps looking for justifications for his own actions and try to show he is in the right because he is Yugo and aggressively tries to assume his place in the Brotherhood of the Tofu, ignoring those he hurt, blaming Yugo for creating him and causing every tragedy of the series to keep the Stable Time Loop, Amalie tells him in clear terms he and Yugo are nothing alike and that the latter would never dodge guilt and manipulate others like he does.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FreudianExcuseIsNoExcuse