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Karma Houdini
So is Satan just generous when people don't have a soul to sell? Maybe if you do enough deeds in his name...

"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning."
Calvin, about Moe, Calvin and Hobbes

Sometimes, even Laser-Guided Karma misses its target.

The character has done a number of things that deserve a karmic comeuppance, most importantly things that caused harm to the innocent. But when the time comes for the hammer to fall, that's not what happens. At least, not on him. He doesn't get what he deserves. Instead, he gets away scot-free. And he might even have reversed the Humiliation Conga that was being planned for him.

This is it. This is all there is to the story. The show is over. The book is finished. The author isn't going to write any more. The Word of God has been spoken. The guy has become a Karma Houdini.

Compare Butt Monkey, for which a character ends up having many disproportionately bad things happen to them throughout the story (and may also technically qualify for this trope, as hard as that sounds). The extreme counterpart of that trope, Cosmic Plaything, can be considered this trope's polar opposite. Also compare with No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, where the good guy suffers as a result of doing the right thing.

Contrast the aforementioned Laser-Guided Karma, for instances where the villain's comeuppance is swift and immediate. And Karma Houdini Warranty, when it takes a while. Also see Idiot Houdini, when a person is forever protected from the results of their stupidity.

Note that a character doesn't necessarily need to be a villain, or even evil, to qualify for this trope. They may simply end up doing unnecessarily hurtful things, yet not suffer the repercussions. Worse comes to worst, a stolen happy ending may take place at the expense of the hapless victim.

Note also: The work usually must be completed for a character to qualify as this trope. Only if there are no more opportunities for Laser-Guided Karma to strike can a character be said to have successfully avoided any consequences for their actions. Exceptions may be made in cases where Status Quo Is God, or when a character can be said to have permanently escaped, e.g. they died peacefully in their sleep at an old age.

This is a Spoileriffic trope. Spoilers shall be unmarked. You have been warned.


Humiliation CongaIndex Of ConsequencesKarmic Nod
Cartesian KarmaKarmaKarma Houdini Warranty
Smug SnakeOverdosed TropesKilled Off for Real
High Heel-Face TurnGender Dynamics IndexVillainesses Want Heroes
Justice Will PrevailMorality TropesKarma Houdini Warranty
I Will Punish Your Friend for Your FailureEvil TropesKick the Dog
Jerk with a Heart of JerkScrappy IndexKick the Dog
Justified TropeJustForFun/Tropes of LegendKick the Dog
In Love with the MarkHeel Face IndexKill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand
Jerk with a Heart of JerkCynicism TropesKick the Dog
Jumping Off the Slippery SlopeAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Karmic Death
Jerk with a Heart of JerkThe Jerk IndexKarmic Trickster
Jump ScareSturgeon's TropesKid-Appeal Character
KaijuVillainsKeeping the Enemy Close
Jerk with a Heart of GoldImageSource/Western AnimationWestern Animation

alternative title(s): Karma Houdinis
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