Laser-Guided Karma

"Karma police, arrest this man."
Radiohead, "Karma Police"

While in Real Life there is rarely a direct and easily traced cause-and-effect relationship between Bob's actions and their subsequent reward or punishment, in fiction the connection is usually a lot more... express. Did Bob help an old lady across the street? Several chapters later, she'll turn out to be an elite ex-commando who will gladly help him storm the Big Bad's castle. Did he kick the little dog just because it was barking at him? The dog will sniff him out and lead the heroes right to his Supervillain Lair.

The Golden Rule states Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but in fiction the rule seems to be more What you do unto others will be done unto you. If you mistreat the people and things around you, karma will strike you down. Treat them well, and you will be rewarded. Accordingly, every notable act of a fictional person will yield a meaningful return before the end of the story; every little action, good or bad, will be repaid in kind with the accuracy of a laser guided missile. Whether its payload is sunshine and puppies or painful irony depends on whether Bob was a saint or a bastard.

If taken too far, stories with this aesop can turn anvilicious or into a Space Whale Aesop: always be kind to strangers, never kick puppies et cetera, or the universe itself will make your life a living hell. It also undermines the standard "do good for goodness' sake" lesson, since Bob never has to suffer for doing the right thing or accept virtue as its own reward — in Fictionland he always gets repaid. That being said, it's worth noting that the negative consequences tend to fall more directly than the postive; the villain's evil deeds turn out to be the ultimate cause of his downfall, while the hero's virtuous reward gives him some much-needed assistance but still leaves it up to him to save the day.

On the good side of the karma coin:

On the negative side of the karma coin:

See also Pay Evil unto Evil, Sweet and Sour Grapes and Sexual Karma, especially Karmic Rape. Contrast Karma Houdini and Karma Houdini Warranty. For karma punishing a hero for their mistakes, see Tragic Mistake. Also contrast with "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", which is a corrupt form of this trope; as well as Can't Get Away with Nuthin' , where the slightest misdeed committed by the hero results in Disproportionate Retribution.

When you help someone but receive punishment rather than reward, you might be looking at The Farmer and the Viper.

See also: Hoist by His Own Petard, when a villain gets killed by their own weapon, or The Dog Bites Back, when they're killed by an abused lackey.

For sake of trope differentiation, examples should be limited to bad karma, heroic or villainous, and when an opponent's "good karma" combines to double wham the antagonist.

This trope is by its nature Spoileriffic; spoilers will be unmarked.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Every Dragon Ball Z villain (except Bills) falls "victim" to this trope, usually via Kick the Dog that invokes a Heroic Second Wind.
    • Back in an early episode of the original Dragon Ball, Krillin cheats during training and as a result gets dinner while Goku goes hungry. However, Lethal Chef Lunch cooks dinner that night with toxic pufferfish, meaning Goku avoids getting sick.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch chose to wear a mask and use the Power of the King so he could invoke this.
  • Probably about 90%-95% of the death toll or sufferers of A Fate Worse Than Death in Franken Fran are the result of this, although some of them are rather excessive. Chapter 10 is probably the worst here. An arrogant germophobe who sees the rest of humanity as immoral, filthy fools who need to be educated and improved by the "elite" gets swarmed by cockroaches, nearly raped, has all her skin burned off, and gets skin grafts made from cockroach exoskeletons. The stress causes her to go insane and try to tear off her skin. An epilogue page in the collection shows her to have recovered from her insanity and attempt to remove her own skin... only for the graft to have gone wrong and her face to be covered in living, twitching cockroach legs.
  • Ichiban Ushiro No Daimaou: In episode 3, Junko assembles a lynch mob to kill Akuto, only for Keena to say something that causes said lynch mob to turn on Junko as well. When Junko pleads with them that they've misunderstood and should listen to her explanation, Akuto points out that he's been trying to say the exact same thing to her almost since he arrived at school, and that they're unlikely to listen to her any more than she did to him.
  • Love Hina:
    • Throughout much of the first part of the series, Motoko constantly belittled Keitaro for his failed attempts to get into Tokyo U. After the first Time Skip, Motoko herself is trying to get into Tokyo U, and has discovered firsthand just how tough it is.
    • Naru also gets some when Kanako comes along and subjects her to everything she did to Keitaro during the first part, particularly since Keitaro took notes on the specifics of the torture she put him through.
  • After a millennia of forcing innocent girls to die painful, horrific deaths and getting away with it, Kyubey and his entire species finally get what's coming to them at the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. Being an entirely emotionless species that sees humans as cattle, the Incubators have never felt any reluctance or guilt about doing so. Then Homura repurposed them into her new universe - where they suddenly felt the pain and despair of all the girls they'd harvested, and were forced to bear it as their victims had borne it. Kyubey's plans: destroyed beyond repair. His species: enslaved by one of his own "cattle" to serve as the outlet for all the curses of the world. Kyubey himself: Mind Raped.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Nena Trinity attacks a wedding purely out of spite ("How dare you have fun while I'm busy working!"), killing all but one of the attendees, who loses a hand. Karma bites Nena extra-hard: firstly she gets to watch her beloved brothers get killed by Ali al Saachez, then after the four-year Time Skip to the second season she's forced to be The Dragon to the Dark Chick (a position she considers humiliating), and finally the lone survivor of the wedding massacre, who became a mobile suit pilot herself in the intervening time, finds and kills her.
    • Ali Al Saachez falls victim to this. He gets overpowered and badly injured by the only survivor of a family he almost destroyed. The man, Lyle Dylandy, is willing to spare him because he doesn't want to sink to Ali's level. Ali tries to take advantage of this, only for Lyle to beat him on the draw and blow his brains out.
    • Ribbons has his plans collapse around him due to the child he manipulated behind the scenes and who inspired him to try and play God. Said kid? The Hero, Setsuna F. Seiei.
  • Tsubarov and Quinze in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Tsubarov dies when the Mobile Dolls that he held to be superior to manned suits were reprogrammed into destroying his base. Quinze was killed by the original Gundam Scientists on board the crippled battleship Libra while attempting a Colony Drop at the end of the series; the Colony Drop being what Operation Meteor originally was, and the very Gundam Scientists who retooled it to be the less deadly version we saw ended up giving their lives to prevent Quinze from making it happen.
  • Some of the stuff Lelouch does in Code Geass eventually bites him in the ass. The Geass Cult he massacred? His army is appalled once they find out.
  • In the first revival round of the Liar Game, interestingly Nao chose the one man who apologized to her after the rest of the contestants turned against her, to get kicked out of the game. When he asked why, she explained this revival round was a chance for one person to escape from the game and be free from debt. So after she won the round, she gave him her winnings, which was enough to pay off his debts and walk away from the game a "free man".
    • Also done more negatively to Yokoya. By bullying and blackmailing his team in the Second Game, he had them all under his rule. However, in the end, three of them turned traitor to the other team and were able to successfully pay off their debts with the help of Nao and Akiyama
  • Sword Art Online gives us Nobuyuki Sugou, aka Oberon. He's shown to be a complete scumbag when he's introduced, conspiring to marry Asuna (who hated his guts even before being trapped in SAO), trapping her mind in another VRMMO, then near the end of the Fairy Dance arc, tortures Kirito by running him through and decreasing his pain inhibitor while sexually assaulting Asuna, all the while promising to rape her comatose body in the real world. Karma comes in the form of Akihiko Kayaba's digital ghost giving Kirito administrative control, so he can set Sugou's pain inhibitor to level zero and beat him so badly, he started going partially blind in the real world.
  • Hell Girl plays with this exceptionally well. Not only you can get thrown into hell for as much as making your personal stalker angry, but Ai and her subordinates will make you relive your worst nightmares right before doing so.
    • In addition, those who use Ai's services are, themselves, doomed to hell when they eventually die. In this series, karma is a double-edged sword.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors demonstrates both sides of the Karmic Coin, though to be honest the dark side more often. However, the episode with the little girl who wants a bodyguard, and treats him kindly and with care, stands out as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming for the series.
  • Happens surprisingly often in the Crapsack World manga Cage of Eden. A group of men who raped and killed Oomori's senpai are eaten by vicious carnivores. Two other students who helped Zaji build a raft and later pushed the others off, claiming to have planned to betray them all along find out that the island they were hoping to reach was just an illusion, and then they get eaten by a large aquatic dinosaur.
  • Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto (despite it not sticking). Abuses his Mangekyo Sharingan so much during the fights with Bee, the Kage's, Danzo, and finally Team 7, his vision completely vanishes just as he completes Susano'o. He was weakened to the point where Kakashi or Sakura could have killed him.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, this is applied to a few of the homunculi. Gluttony, who ate his victims, was himself devoured by Pride. Envy killed himself when in his helpless maggot-form the humans started pitying him, and Pride was Brought Down to Normal, made into the human boy whose form he was inhabiting, despite being extremely, well, prideful of his homunculus superiority.
  • Comedic example in Mahou Sensei Negima!. Chamo makes fun of Negi in his internal monologue and instantly gets hit by a car. He's an Iron Buttmonkey, so it all works out.
    • Non-comedic example: Quartum cuts Chachamaru in half, then suffers the same fate at the hands of Negi.
  • Digimon Adventure's Myotismon gets karmic payback for everything that he did to the Digidestined but more specifically, for murdering Wizardmon. This causes Gatomon to Digivolve into Angewomon, the Digimon predestined to kill him. The karmic retribution for the crap he put the others through comes when they combine their energies with hers to form an arrow she uses to shoot him through the heart and kill him (but not really).
  • Bellamy from One Piece. Had he not been such a nihilistic, unrepentant bully and pissed off Monkey D. Luffy, he wouldn't have ended up being punished by his own boss for disgracing the flag he sailed under. But at least he learned from it.
    • Spandam. A complete Jerk Ass whose status as such was established years before the main storyline began, his abuse of Robin throughout the entire Enies Lobby arc had him positively begging for retribution. Robin's last act to him as the Straw Hats escape with her, considering as she does so all of the pain he had caused her, is clutching him so hard that his skeleton breaks in half. But of course, this being One Piece, he survives (albeit in a full-body cast and hospital bed).
    • Lampshaded in one cover arc; at one point of "Caribou's Kehihi in the New World", he abandons his brother to steal their ship and sail away from a Navy base. The next episode features Caribou being caught in a storm, with the episode title "Punished By the Heavens".
  • In Innocent Venus, both Jin and Drake are killed by their pet-project war machines which are driven by the brains of little children cloned for the purpose and then implanted in the 'gladiators', where they obviously undergo horror and torment. When they get a chance for revenge, they're not particularly forgiving.
  • Seraphim gets this in Kore Wa Zombie Desuka when she decides not to follow through with the hit on Eucliwood. One episode later, when she's killed in an ambush, Eu was on hand to supply blood to revive her.
  • Mr Don in Eyeshield 21 had earlier used Gaou as his punching bag and ran Yamato out of Notre Dame. In the Japan vs. America game, those two are the first who end up beating him for the first time.
  • Wyald of Berserk is a hedonistic Apostle who is after the Band of the Hawk and Griffith in particular on orders from the King of Midland and has a particular delight in raping people. When he tries to do this to Guts' Love Interest Casca, Guts almost kills him despite being half-dead and "takes his weapon away from him" in graphic fashion. Things only get worse for Wyald when Zodd shows up to teach him a very painful lesson about trying to get in the way of Griffith's destiny as a Godhand and rips him in half for his trouble.
  • Dark Yugi / Pharaoh Atem of Yu-Gi-Oh! loves the crap out of this trope. He's the laser-guider in which whenever a villain of the chapter (in the first dozen volumes) causes trouble, he uses that specific action against them, especially when he knows they are cheating in his Shadow Games. In the Duelist Kingdom arc, he pretty much Mind Rapes two guys with his Penalty Games because of their crimes (one was tricked into thinking a puppet of himself was attacking him when he tried to mock the [then in a coma] Kaiba with his puppetry, and one was trapped in an illusion where he was hung at the gallows after threatening to hang Yugi).
  • Muteki Kanban Musume: Parodied when Megumi, just seconds after tries to curse Miki with The Power of Hate nailing a wara ningyo to a sacred tree, sees Kayahara Sensei falling from that same tree and takes her for a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl that is going to curse Megumi.
  • In Princess Mononoke, the whole mess was started when Eboshi started using the iron from her foundry to produce guns with which she drove out or killed the spirits of the forests that she needed to tear down to expand her business. In the end, she gets defeated by the head of the giant wolf spirit she just killed. But since she ran the foundry and gun factory mostly to provide jobs and homes for the outcasts of society rather than for her personal profit, she survived having her whole arm ripped off, but won't ever shoot any guns again.
  • Arguably, what happened to the Frost brothers in After War Gundam X. Yes, they survived to the end of the series and the only physical consequence is that Shagia is in a wheelchair, but they were massive warmongers who tried to orchestrate the destruction of society, and now they can only watch as the world finally blossoms in peace. And they can't do anything to change that.
  • Wong Lee in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam proved to be a jerk and a bully who put the profits of Anaheim Electronics over the needs of the AEUG, going so far as to beat Kamille Bidan to a pulp and calling it "correcting". When he returns in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, he's put into his place by Judau, greatly humbled by the young teen.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Deshiko Deshi, one of the members of the corrupt Security Committee. Like all the other members of the committee, she regularly abused her authority and made the other students' lives hell For the Evulz, until Tsukune's Unwanted Harem take down her leader Kuyou. By the time of her reappearance in Capu2 episode 8, a year after Kuyou's downfall, she's been reduced to a sad, pathetic wretch and a target of ridicule for the very same students she used to victimize.
  • Invoked with Ange, the protagonist of Cross Ange, in the very first episode. When she witnesses a Norma for the first timenote , while the mother was begging that she will take care of her kid, Ange's response is to tell her to just give birth to another one. Karma caught up with her the very next day on the biggest day of her yearnote  when she was found out in public that she's also a Norma. She then gets sent to Arzenal to fight and slaughter dragons like a slave while losing her mom, her family honor, and her entire life turned upside-down, with the mother yelling "Serves you right!" as she is taken away. As it turns out, the rest of the mana society is no better, as the townspeople are chanting for her death simply for being a norma when she is lured back by her brother, including the mother of the norma baby taken away.
    • Speaking of her brother, Julio, who is responsible for most of the events mentioned above, used his army to order a genocide of all the normas after his original plan to have Ange killed failed. This comes back to bite him big time in episode 13 when Ange, who at this point has become a One Woman Army, completely decimates much of his forces and was ready to kill unless he called off the massacre. Even after he does, Ange, who is understandably pissed at him, is prepared to kill him anyway, leaving him pleading for his life. Ange is about to deliver the final blow, but is stopped by the series Big Bad, who proceeds to do the deed himself, taking Julio and a good chunk of his army down.
  • DNA˛ provides us with Ryuuji Sugashita, an extremely successful playboy, who justifies his continuous cheating on his girlfriend Tomoko with him having such a superior DNA that women can't help but throwing themselves at him, and also adding that's why she'll never break up with him: her own DNA will force her to stay with him. Then Tomoko meets the Mega Playboy, who does have such a superior DNA that women can't help but throwing themselves at him, and she dumps Ryuuji and justifies her sudden feelings for the Mega Playboy with Ryuuji's own speech on DNA.

    Comic Books 
  • In Love And Rockets, Gato and Sergio are killed in a car crash immediately after murdering Fortunato.
  • In Camelot 3000, Sir Tristan's reincarnation as a woman initially seems purely random, until it's revealed that he'd raped at least one woman in his previous life. His new female form is therefore both a deterrent and a karmic lesson, especially when he/she is stalked by his/her reincarnation's former fiancee, who won't take no for an answer.
  • In the early days of Firestorm, the villain Plastique tried to blow up a building full of innocent people with a suit that had a bunch of bombs attached to it. So how did Firestorm defeat her? He vaporized her suit to get rid of the bombs, leaving Plastique herself naked in public, laughed at by her would-be victims.
  • Happens to Iznogoud in almost every episode.
  • Spider-Man in his origin story allows a burglar to escape from a pursuing policeman. One page later his beloved Uncle Ben is dead, killed by the same man. Not a Tragic Mistake, as this event then galvanizes him to devote his life to heroically fighting crime instead of propelling him towards a tragic catastrophe. Which is also why Spider-Man decides not to interfere with the event when he travels back through time in ASM #500.
    • Flash Thompson seems to be an aversion, as he ends up sharing an apartment with Peter Parker. Averted/lampshaded when he loses his legs when serving in Iraq, saving a fellow soldier, fulfilling the jock ending up crippled aspect of this trope.
      • Subverted, or maybe double subverted, after he becomes the new host of the Venom symbiote. Yeah he gets awesome superpowers that make him more like his hero Spider-Man and gets his legs back. On the other hand, the symbiote has a nasty tendency to bring out the worst in people and he's already eaten someone.
  • Cassidy the vampire is captured and tortured mercilessly by a hitman until Jesse arrives to save him. Jesse knocks the hitman into the pit where Cassidy's been contained, breaking his neck in the fall and paralyzing but not killing him. The last shot is of Cassidy leaning right over him with a big grin and saying "How're yeh?"
  • In Scrooge and Flintheart's second confrontation for determining who was the world's richest duck, they convert all their holdings into silver dollars and will have the piles measured. Glomgold, worried he might lose, tries to cheat by purchasing a special liquid that can shrink things with the goal of using it to shrink Scrooge's pile of money. His plan is thwarted, and he ultimately loses... by the same amount of silver dollars that he spent to buy the juice.
  • In one issue early in his time as The Flash, Wally West expresses contempt for a homeless man who seeks shelter in his apartment building. Then he's evicted, and thanks to various other misfortunes (his credit cards being inexplicably declined, his superspeed shorting out from hunger, losing both his luggage and his mother) he's reduced to eating pretzels from mud puddles in less than a day and getting the same amount of scorn from passersby (one of who dropped that pretzel in the puddle to see if he was desperate enough to eat it). It eventually turns out that it's all due to machinations from aliens who were deliberately putting him under stress.
  • In the Tintin story ''The Blue Lotus", Tintin defends a rickshaw driver from an abusive racist bully. Later, when the Japanese put a price on his head, he manages to escape the town with the help of the driver's brother.
    • Likewise, in "Prisoners of the Sun", he defends Zorrino from bullying foreginers, and is given a talisman which will save him from death.
  • If you encounter the Runaways, stay far away from Molly Hayes. Do NOT yell at her, spook her, be mean to her, point a gun at her, breathe fire at her, or try to hurt her in any other way. And definitely do NOT kidnap her and try and kill her, even if her evil parents killed your whole gang and psychically paralyzed you. It never ends well. Just ask the Punisher.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis showed karma being paid onto a resident of Earth-3. Superman-Prime kidnapped Annataz Arataz, the evil doppelganger of Zatanna, and forced her to help him torture Mr. Mxyzptlk for information on Earth-Prime's whereabouts. When Annataz is first shown, she's a sniveling coward who begs Prime not to kill her, but as her ordeal went on she found the strength to help Myx and turn against Prime, foretelling that he would never find his home. Myx offers to help Annataz escapes, but she sends him away as a way of acknowledging what a horrible person she truly was, and that Prime's torture was karma getting even. She pulls a Heroic Sacrifice as a way to fully atone for her past deeds, allowing Prime to kill her when he brings down his headquarters on top. Even Mxyzptlk, the mercurial trickster that he is, felt Annataz didn't deserve to die that way.
  • After Red Mist is revealed as The Mole, Kick-Ass soundly beats the shit out of him the first chance he gets, and without much effort to boot. And this is pre-Took A Level In Bad Ass Kick-Ass, for those keeping track.

    Fan Works 
  • In Getting Back on Your Hooves, Checker Monarch's decision to screw over her own allies, the Diamond Dogs, is what ends up motivating them to turn on her. What's more, her decision to follow through with her threat to ruin the protagonists' lives and homes even though she's gotten what she wanted (forcing Trixie to become a homeless recluse) is horrifying enough that her own henchman Helping Hoof betrays her, helps rescue Trixie back, and helps the protagonists to take Checker down. Ultimately, Checker suffers a complete mental breakdown when her two favorite pawns slip from her grasp.
  • The Nuptialverse has a few examples:
    • The Flim Flam brothers suffered this, as told by Apple Fritter in Post Nuptials. She tells Applejack they tried their luck at Appleloosa, but Braeburn and Thunderhooves weren't pleased with what occurred in Ponyville and ran them out of town, trashing their machine in the process. Then they went to Canterlot to see if they'd do any better there, but skipped town as fast as they could when they found out that Celestia was friends with Applejack.
    • At the end of Families, Olive Branch gets his in the form of a spell performed by Luna herself. The spell subjects him to feel all the pain and torture that he inflicted onto others, directly or indirectly. All of it. And the best part? If he ever causes anypony pain ever again, he'll feel that too.
    • Also at the end of Families, Speedy and Quick Delivery are "rewarded" for their abuse by being forced into a Sadistic Choice. Either rot in jail for the rest of their lives or be forced to give up their child in trade for lighter sentences.
  • A Growing Affection: Naruto spent most of Part I watching Sakura fawn all over Sasuke, Sakura spends most of the fanfic watching Naruto and Hinata fawn all over each other.
  • In Mega Man Recut, Ballade is introduced torturing a man and woman for money. At the end of the episode, he fails to kill Dr. Wily and gets tortured by the Syndicate bosses as punishment.
  • In First Try Series: Sasuke and Sakura spread rumors that Naruto dropped out and is faking being a ninja and refusing to believe that he legitimately graduated. Sakura is humiliated by a clerk when she tries to report Naruto for defending himself when she tried to hit him and humiliated by her own incompetence when she joins Team Tetsuo with Naruto. Sasuke is told that his attitude was the reason he was passed over early graduation and discovers that Naruto outclasses him.
    • In Team Tetsuo, when Sakura and Sasuke find out that Naruto outclasses them in skill by a mile and they are not as good as they thought they were when they are made to go on a three-month training trip when they are transferred to Naruto's team.
    • In First Try a Iwa Genin sets up a fatal trap for the Konoha team in the Kiri Chunin exams to get revenge on Konoha for her father's death. The trap kills and maims the Konoha team, but unfortunately for her Naruto survived and rips her Iwa team to literal shreads with the Iwa nin barely escapes.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act III: Apoch and Astreal spend several chapters treating Yukari like crap and even try to kill her out of fear that she would steal Ahakon from them. After said attempt to kill her goes wrong, Tsukune unleashes Inner Moka, who is anything but pleased with how Apoch and Astreal have been treating Yukari and promptly beats them senseless.
  • This is played with in the Gensokyo 20XX series. The first instance is in 20XXIII when Seija tries to brainwash Yukari into killing the children and she is punished in a the harshest way there most possibly can be and that was by having her limbs cut off and having her gapped far enough away. However, in 20XXV, this is an arguable case with Reimu stabbing Yume Ni with a pair of scissors in the arm for kicking her in the face and breaking her teeth. Considering what Yume Ni had been doing so far, it's either this or Disproportionate Retribution.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Travels of the Trifecta, when traveling through Route 216, Paul threatens to release Weavile and his other Pokémon for wanting to help him get through a giant wall of snow. He ends up being able to break through the snow wall on his own, but is too tired and frostbitten to notice his surroundings and ends up falling off a cliff, where he would have died frozen and bleeding if his Pokémon hadn't disobeyed his orders and gone to get him help along with Conway's Slowking and Castform.

    Films — Animation 
  • Played with in The Incredibles. Thanks to Syndrome's Kick the Dog, his Dragon Mirage does a High Heel-Face Turn in favor of the merciful Mr. Incredible.
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast has the prince and his castle and staff transformed for denying a beggar woman shelter. She was really a beautiful (if somewhat petty) enchantress.
    • The prince really was a real Jerkass, and more importantly he was also a prince with the power to make people's lives really unpleasant. This was not his first act of selfishness, and even on becoming a Beast it was not his last. There is no telling what sort of authority he might have grown up to become without learning a lesson about love and selflessness.
  • In Toy Story 3, Lotso leaves the toys to die in a garbage incinerator after Woody and Buzz saved him from the shredder. For a moment, it looks like he's going to be a Karma Houdini, as Woody tells the others "he's not worth it" upon escaping. But then Lotso is found by a Cloudcuckoolander garbageman (Sid from the first movie), who straps him to the front of his truck and drives off with him.
  • In Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, when Mickey interferes with Pete conning a family into buying a badly-made 10-foot tall Christmas tree, Pete takes the money he would've gotten out of Mickey's paycheck, leaving Mickey broke. He then proceeds to put his cigar in his back pocket along with Mickey's money, then runs into and ignites the buckets of highly flammable glue he used to make the trees, sending him into the sky and causing flaming shrapnel to fall down and burn the lot to the ground.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In No Country for Old Men, Anton Chigurh murders the innocent wife of the protagonist even after she argues with him that he has no reason to kill her. As soon as he drives off, he gets hit by a car.
    • The laser was off that day; Chigurh gets through the car crash with a broken arm, but it is made clear that was more because of pure luck than anything else.
  • A very literal use of this trope was utilized in Austin Powers in Goldmember, specifically in regards to the film's titular villain. To put it simply, Goldmember betrays Dr. Evil (who surprising for his name, undergoes a Heel-Face Turn when he learns that he is actually Austin Power's long lost brother, and that Nigel Powers is his father) and attempts to fulfill that Dr. Evil nearly started: The destruction of the planet with a Golden Meteorite dragged onto the planet by the Preparation H tractor beam. He also kept a spare of the master key (hint: It's his gilded groin) after losing the original Master Key into the shark tank. Dr. Evil, now Dougie Powers, manages to reverse the polarity of the tractor beam, causing the energies caused by his activating the tractor beam to backfire on Goldmember, electrocuting him, fall near the shark tank's edge. He is then arrested, and going by his comments is most likely going to await execution.
  • The Dark Knight Saga:
    • In Batman Begins, a Smug Snake crime lord named Falcone, who is implied to have caused a lot of poverty and corruption in Gotham, eventually gets confronted by Batman during a drug shipment, and chained to a searchlight for the police to find. That's not all, though; in prison, there's a scene where Falcone's talking to a corrupt psychiatrist named Jonathan Crane, and trying to resort to blackmail against him. Crane sprays fear toxin in Falcone's face in response to this, forcing Falcone into an intense panic attack that leaves him permanently insane.
      • Crane uses his fear toxin on Batman in their first encounter and has a grand old time taunting him as the Scarecrow before setting the Caped Crusader on fire. In their second encounter, Batman sprays Crane with his own fear toxin ("Taste of your own medicine, Doctor?") and tries to intimidate information out of him while Crane freaks out thinking that Batman is some kind of monster before an irritated Dark Knight bashes his head in.
    • The Dark Knight:
      • Coleman Reese is about to use his information on Lucius Fox as a means of extortion, but backs off when Lucius calls his bluff by pointing out a few theoretical flaws in his strategy. Getting off with a warning might make him seem like a Karma Houdini, but then later in the movie he is apparently considering revealing Batman's identity so as to appease the Joker. The Joker goes back on the idea and threatens a terrorist act if Reese isn't killed by any random person within an hour, and crowds of people in the streets try to kill him. Before he could even resort to appeasement, he ends up being the victim of others' appeasement. It would be too cruel an irony if not for the fact that Reese was, conveniently, an extortionist.
      • Another crime lord, The Chechen, is ordered to be put to death by the very same psychopath he had no qualms about hiring earlier in the picture.
  • Ron reducing Hermione to tears at the end of the Yule Ball after she made fun of his crappy dress robes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire may count.
  • Happens in Deconstructing Harry as the payoff for short story written by the protagonist: borrow a sick friend's apartment, pretend it's your bachelor pad, use his name to introduce yourself to a High-Class Call Girl... hey, that's The Grim Reaper at the door. And he won't believe you're not the guy.
  • What happens to Rodmilla de Ghent and Marguerite in Ever After. They verbally and emotionally abuse Danielle and Jacqueline and also mercilessly bully the servants, punishing them for "stealing" household goods when they themselves are secretly selling off those same items to buy jewelry and other fripperies. So it's a glorious comeuppance at the end when Danielle - now Princess Danielle - and her royal in-laws enact a lavish spectacle to humiliate the pair in front of the court, then banish them to work in the palace laundry. The karma runs in the other direction too; Jacqueline, the stepsister who always treated Danielle with kindness, gets to live in the palace with her and (presumably) marries the Prince's personal guard, and the servants who raised and loved Danielle all her life likewise get to live with her in the palace.
  • Hang 'Em High has a rancher's murderer, who framed an innocent man for the crime and nearly tried to get him hanged by vigilantes. He himself is hanged for his crime onscreen shortly afterward, with his exonerated would-be victim being treated to the sight from the sheriff's office. As for the vigilantes, most of them (save for the Big Bad) are killed by their intended target, who turned out to be a former lawman from a different town and was appointed deputy so he could personally deal with the vigilantes without himself committing a capital crime for real.
  • In Little Big Man, the Seventh Cavalry ride into a Cheyenne village at Washita and rape, kill and destroy everything in their path, with the mad Custer roaring encouragement. In the background, musicians are playing the regimental march, Garryowen. Indeed, the faint distant strains of Garryowen are the first sign the cavalry are coming. The next time we hear Garryowen, the Seventh are riding to their death and destruction at the Little Big Horn.
  • In Plunkett And Macleane we get a pretty vicious example of this. General Chance, who is quite fond of eye torture, ends up with a bullet through the eye whilst he's about to gouge yet another person's eye out.
  • In the movie Polar Storm, a soldier refuses to believe (including turning off the generator) that Cynthia Mayfield (who has received information) and know how to survive the EMP blast and told her to get out and to not show the map again (no one went and believed her except two people who went with her). A few minutes later, the EMP activates, the generator short-circuit and a bolt of electricity went inside the church, killing everyone.
  • Subverted in The Rape of Richard Beck (also called Deadly Justice): a cop who is flippant and insensitive in his dealings with rape victims is assaulted himself, but as the message of the film is that no one deserves or "asks" to be raped, his attack is not portrayed as karma so much as a terrible experience that he eventually turns into a useful lesson.
  • Return of the Jedi:
    • Done both positively and negatively. Palpatine ends up telling Luke after he (literally) disarmed Vader to kill Vader and take his place as his apprentice. Luke refuses, so the Emperor attempts to kill Skywalker instead. Negative Laser Guided Karma was inflicted on Palpatine as, because of his attempt to replace Vader and hurting Vader's son, has Vader grabbing the Emperor and throwing him down the Death Star's reactor shaft. Positive Laser Guided Karma was inflicted on Luke as, because of his earlier refusal to kill Vader, Vader ended up saving Luke from Palpatine by doing the above act, also redeeming himself in the process.
    • When Luke, Han, Chewie and the droids are surrounded by the Ewoks. While they could've probably fought their way clear, Luke instead gives up his lightsaber and urges Han & Chewie to hand over their guns and surrender. By sparing the Ewoks, and later trying to non-violently win their confidence, the Rebels gain valuable allies in the coming battle. Behind-the-scenes footage of Mark Hamill, George Lucas and director Richard Marquand shot on the set reveal that this was the intention of the scene.
      • "Valuable allies" is an understatement here. Palpatine's plan was perfect, but the Ewoks proved to be enough of a Spanner in the Works to make it all unravel; if it wasn't for them, Palpatine may have still died at Vader's hands, but all of the other victories would have been beyond the Rebels' reach.
    • A similar example later (or earlier) in the saga was how Qui-Gon befriended Jar Jar in The Phantom Menace, which later leads the Gungan to bring his people to aid the good guys in the battle on Naboo.
    • The discovery of Dantooine to have an abandoned Rebel base, and not much besides, could be this to the Empire for the destruction of Alderaan in A New Hope. Then again, Leia is a Force-sensitive, so she may have deliberately lied to Tarkin, knowing that he'd destroy Alderaan regardless. Tarkin wouldn't find out until after the scouting mission to Dantooine, and Vader quickly calls him on his blind arrogance—arrogance that would later get him and his subordinates on the Death Star killed later in the film as an example of this trope hitting the Empire with a double whammy for the same act of wanton and callous destruction.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Stacey, with a big smirk, tries to manipulate the conversation so that Ramona and Knives discover that Scott is dating them both. A moment later, Wallace steals her boyfriend.
    • Arguably inverted as she was trying to stop her brother from two-timing.
    • Later in the movie, Gideon kicks Ramona down a flight of stairs during the climax, and gets his ass promptly kicked soon after by both Scott and Knives.
  • In the movie Snakes on a Plane, an absurdly, cartoonishly snooty bald guy tries to throw a small dog at the snakes to cover his escape. This is after he insulted a woman and her child for simply sitting next to him and genuinely being a tremendous douche from scene one. His plan ironically failed because he stopped to gloat about it afterward, allowing the snake to eat both the dog and him. Oh but wait, that's not all: afterwards he and the snake eating him were both sucked out of the plane as it crashes. In keeping with everything else, it's was a borderline Humiliation Conga with fatal results.
  • The plot of Snatch centres around a stolen diamond that most of the other characters are trying to steal so that they can profit from it... except for Turkish and Tommy, two hapless boxing promoters who don't even know the diamond exists and are doing nothing more morally or ethically questionable than trying to survive a rigged boxing match organised by a psychotic gangster. They end up finding the diamond and profiting from it, while everyone else either dies, gets arrested or loses out.
  • Played for Laughs with the gassing of the Nazi radio tower during the climax of Escape to Athena.
  • Alan uses roofalin with malice aforethought in The Hangover Part II, and the third film has been confirmed to revolve around him being committed to an insane asylum after treating himself and the rest of the Wolf Pack to roofalin.
  • In Skyfall, James Bond's boss M gets a heart-wrenching version of this. Having given up one agent to save six others in the past, years later she can only watch helplessly as the same agent exposes five others to certain death.
  • In Kidulthood the film begins with a group of vicious bullies, including the show's antagonist Sam, beating up and humiliating an innocent girl, leading to her suicide. This doesn't come back at him until during the movie's climax, when he meets the girl's big brother. Who happens to have a gun. He is forced to the ground, obviously crapping his pants, before the protagonist manages to talk the brother out of pulling the trigger. Granted, Sam doesn't die, but the sheer humiliation of having to beg for his life in front of a majority of his school still make this a memorable moment.
  • The Avengers - Loki spends much of the movie belittling Bruce Banner/Hulk, basically describing him as a mindless uncontrollable subhuman to anyone within earshot, even to his very face. Loki even manages to use Banner's more vicious side to steam-roller SHIELD and the Avengers. No prizes for guessing who gets to ram a thick, humbling slice of marble and concrete flavoured pie down his slimy gullet in the denouement!
    • The icing on the cake? Hulk catching Loki as he decides to Monologue about being a god. "Puny god" indeed.
  • In Terminator II: Judgement Day, a guard at the mental hospital commits a rather squicky sexual assault on Sarah Connor, and is also seen harassing sleeping mental patients by banging on the doors with his nightstick. Needless to say, viewers didn't feel much sympathy for him about two scenes later, when Sarah escapes from her cell and gives him a teeth-shattering wallop around the face. (He's even worse in the extended cut, making his comeuppance that much sweeter.)
  • In The Fury of Hercules the mute warrior Kaldos kills the Queen by throwing a spear at her, stabbing her in the back. Shortly thereafter, a very, very, VERY pissed off Hercules kills Kaldos by breaking his neck with a spear.
  • Downfall: Hitler is dining and elaborates about being The Social Darwinist, how compassion is an evil sin, to feel empathy for the weak is treason to nature, and how Hitler had always chose the most reasonable path: to destroy the weak inside and outside Germany. Just then, he gets a report about Himmler surrendering to the allies. Himmler just had Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and, reasonably, is abandoning the weak (Hitler) to join the strong. Of course Hitler fails to see the irony and begins yet another Villainous Breakdown.
  • Man of Steel: Clark gets back at a rude trucker who was harassing a waitress by smashing his truck instead of fighting him.
  • The Bling Ring has a rather embarrassing example. What did Nicki expect when she burglarized the home of a regular lawbreaker?
  • In a deleted scene from the second Godfather movie, Michael is told that his treacherous bodyguard Fabrizio has been tracked down. The man is seen leaving work and getting into his car, which promptly explodes, killing him exactly the way he murdered Michael's first wife Apollonia.
    • The first film starts with Don Vito sending Clemenza and some "people who aren't going to be carried away" to demonstrate lex talionis by beating up two young men who had escaped justice after violently violating family friend Amerigo Bonasera's daughter, having decided against outright executing them ("We're not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks").
  • In An Innocent Man, the two dirty cops who framed the main character James get sent to the same prison, on the same block at the end (although in Real Life they likely would be put in protective custody).
  • Early on in Carrie, instant karma hits a boy on a bicycle who dares to mock Carrie as they cross paths. His bicycle goes off the path and crashes almost at once.
  • In Youth in Revolt, Jerry screws over a trio of sailors by selling them a car that immediately breaks down. They respond by disassembling the car, and reassembling it piece by piece in his living room.
  • In Trading Places, Louis Winthorpe, a racist and an elitist, gets a black man arrested for accidentally bumping in to him - although to be fair, Winthorpe honestly thought he was being attacked and Billy Ray Valentine had already caught the police's attention as a con beggar (pretending to be a blind, disabled veteran). Over the course of the movie, he gets his job, home, and social life taken away from him, and ends up a street hustler himself, thinking that the very man he sent to jail stole it from him. Ultimately, he gets better and loses his old habits.
    • That's more than you can say about his bosses the Duke Brothers, who not only caused his fall from grace but planned to leave him there, and Valentine as well, all over a one dollar bet. Valentine and Winthorpe, whom the Duke Brothers trained in commodities trading, give them theirs by giving them a fake crop report, resulting their attempt to corner frozen orange juice bankrupting them.
  • Godzilla (2014): Albeit with both parties unaware of the fact: right when Godzilla is being pinned down by the MUTOs, Brody sets fire to the nest and draws the female's attention, giving Big G an opening to stand up and regroup. His assistance is rewarded when, just as the female MUTO is about to kill him, Godzilla appears out of nowhere to bite on the MUTO's neck and let Brody get away.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Erik kills Shaw with the very same coin that "Dr. Schmidt" killed his mother over. Very slowly.
  • Highwaymen In the climax, the serial killer Fargo temporarily leaves his car to inspect Cray's totalled car. Molly uses the opportunity to get behind the wheel and run Fargo over with his own murder weapon.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: A tragic example. A commander of a concentration camp happily partakes in the murder of Jews. His own son is inadvertently gassed.
  • Die Hard: Dick Thornburg endangered Holly by inadvertently revealing her relation to John on television, resulting in her being taken hostage. When he requests a live interview, she appropriately punches him in the face.
    • In Die Hard 2, he acts like smarmy ass on the plane, and later causes a panic at the airport by revealing and embellishing the terrorist plot impeding John from taking down the terrorists, and possibly injuring hundreds. Holly tases him.
  • In The Grey Zone, during the revolt, one of the Nazi officers overseeing the mass incineration of the Auschwitz victims is himself loaded into one of the burning ovens by the Sonderkommandos.
  • Happens in Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie. Scowler nastily attacks and beats up his brother Patchi, kicks him out of the herd, and leaves him to die all for leading said herd from drowning in a frozen lake which Scowler himself lead them into. Minutes later, Scowler gets attacked and mauled by Gorgon with the rest of the herd abandoning him.

  • Arianna Ortega from The Dresden Files falls prey to this; she kept her dad from interfering with her plan to gain the prestige to dethrone him by citing legal reasons; when the father of the girl she kidnapped and planned to sacrifice came calling, he used the same excuse that she did to get her father to let him challenge her, which ended with Arianna impaled by ice spears.
    • Then her father tried to back out of his deal with the father to let him and the child go. It cost him more than his life when karma came calling.
  • Lots of fairy tales rely on this trope. Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm have a lot of stories like this, such as Diamonds and Toads and The Queen Bee. In at least one Russian story, Baba Yaga's gate/pets/household goods help the heroine to escape because she was kinder to them than Baba Yaga was.
    • Many fairy tales have poor, hungry, often ugly old women who just want some food or a place to stay. They may or may not be a fairy queen in disguise, but it's always a Secret Test of Character, generally with good advice for the people who succeed and deadly curses for those who don't. The most obvious example is "Beauty and the Beast".
  • And you know what it means when the tale of "Androcles and the Lion" runs on this...
  • In Loyal Enemies, one of the Co-Dragons attempts Karma Houdini by escaping from the evil castle at the very end of the battle. His mistake was stealing a kelpie, a horse belonging to a powerful water spirit, for the purpose. Guess what? A few minutes later, the spirit calls the kelpie to him and the horse obliges, dragging the CoDragon with him into the ice-cold deep.
  • In the The Lord of the Rings, each of the Ring-bearers shows mercy to Gollum and is rewarded for it later. Bilbo refrains from murdering Gollum in the goblin caves, and is rewarded (according to Gandalf) by taking very little hurt from the evil of the Ring, and being able to give it up at the end. Frodo is merciful when Gollum finds him and Sam in the Emyn Muil, and is rewarded when Gollum successfully gets the two of them into Mordor. Finally, Sam himself shows mercy to Gollum on the slopes of Mount Doom, and is rewarded when Gollum bites the Ring from Frodo's hand (thus freeing Frodo from the Ring's control) and falls with it into the Fire. Conversely, the Ring's malevolent corruption of Gollum ultimately results in the Ring's own destruction.
  • In Harry Potter, this trope is subverted and then played straight, then subverted again. Harry allows Wormtail to live, even though Wormtail was responsible for the death of Harry's parents, which first allows Wormtail to find Voldemort and return him to full power. However, as Dumbledore suggested, Harry's kindness meant that Wormtail felt that he was in Harry's debt, eventually leading to Wormtail saving Harry's life in the final book. Wormtail is then rewarded for this act of mercy by being strangled to death by his own magical prosthetic hand, which had been programmed to do so by Voldemort in case Wormtail's loyalty ever wavered again.
    • Snape does this. Voldemort kills the woman he loves, he betrays Voldemort and spies for the Order. Also, Narcissa Malfoy in Deathly Hallows: Voldemort tries to get her son killed, takes over her house, and treats her family like dirt; she lies to him at a crucial moment, causing Harry to win.
    • A possible case of Laser-Guided Karma existed in the first part of the film adaptation of The Deathly Hallows, where, after Harry Potter managed to deactivate Umbridges' patronus keeping a hive of Dementors at bay, she and the court were engulfed by them.
    • Umbridge at the end of Order of the Phoenix. Hates "half-breeds" like centaurs, mermaids, etc. Traumatised so badly by them that the next time we see her (not too long after the incident in question), she's practically catatonic.
    • Marietta Edgecombe betrays Dumbledore's Army, only to have the word "Sneak" written with pimples all over her face because the contract each of them bound themselves included a betrayal curse.
    • Lockhart, who takes credit for other people's achievements then erases their memories. He tries to do the same to Ron and Harry in Chamber of Secrets but uses a broken wand which causes the Obliviate spell to backfire and wipe his memories.
    • Having unsuccessfully goaded Harry into inflicting a Cruciatus on her in Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix gets hit by Harry with an epically painful Cruciatus in Deathly Hallows.
  • One particularly horrific version appears in the Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel Festival of Death, in which a character wipes out a species as research into how they are able to resurrect at the beginning of their lives with memories of how the last one went, in the hope of doing this and saving his parents from a shuttle accident. He succeeds, and learns he can only watch, not interfere with what's happened, essentially forcing him to watch all the tragedies and atrocities of his life an infinite number of times.
  • The Eludidated Brethren of the Ebon Night, who summon the dragon in Guards! Guards!, end up burnt to death as soon as the dragon slips the leash. The Discworld Companion lampshades this in the entry for the Brethren "The thing about karma on the Discworld is that it often happens real soon".
    Brother Watchtower: We just wanted what was due to us.
    Death: Congratulations.
    • The Last Hero mentions one tribe with no imagination, and therefore no gods, that was wiped out by a nearby tribe who believed a light from the moon was a signal from their god to increase their hunting grounds. The second tribe was years later wiped out by a third tribe, who apparently got a message from their ancestors living in the moon that all non-believers in their goddess should be killed. That third tribe was years later killed by a rock falling from the sky, as the result of a star exploding a billion years ago.
    What goes around comes around. If not examined too closely, it passes for justice.
  • Walter The Weremouse, by John Dashney, works on this trope. Walter Wampler stops on his way home from work to help an old woman who's struggling with her grocery bags, and when they've been successfully trucked home she reveals that it was actually a Secret Test of Character; she appears to people who don't even have the opportunity for potential (much like Walter, whose life is at such a dead end that occasionally people forget he exists), and if they pass her test, she gives them a special cheese that, aside from being the most delicious cheese anyone's ever tasted, gives them just enough of a shove that they can make their lives go much better, but will have unpleasant consequences if eaten after midnight (hence why the book is called Walter the Weremouse).
  • In How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse'', Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III spends the whole book on a dangerous quest for the believed-nonexistent potato to save his friend Fishlegs from the bite of a poisonous dragon. That's a good thing, because guess who was really bitten.
  • Although Artemis Entreri was a Karma Houdini in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, taking Regis captive and cutting off two of his fingers, karma catches up to him shortly after. In The Legacy he tortures Regis even more, to goad Drizzt into fighting for his friend's life. But when it's all said and done, Entreri ends up badly injured and hanging from a cliff by his torn cloak. He is stuck in that position for over a day before he is found... by Regis. Regis taunts the helpless Entreri, takes several of his possessions, wonders aloud if he should bring help for the assassin... then decides that he's not feeling too merciful, and cuts the last remaining strands of Entreri's cloak, causing him to fall. And while Entreri does survive this, he winds up stuck in Menzoberranzan, and he is absolutely miserable there.
  • In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, an amoral, self-centered pedophile with no redeeming qualities whatsoever is working for the book's bad guys to create a super-virus. When he along with the child slaves being used for both test subjects and his personal gratification are rescued by the protagonist team, two of the children he abused use a shoelace and pencil to create a tourniquet they use to kill him by strangulation.
  • In O. Henry's "A Retrieved Reformation", safecracker Jimmy Valentine tries to make a new life for himself as "Ralph Spencer" after pulling a few jobs, but his nemesis police officer Ben Price tracks him down. During Ben's visit, a little girl gets herself locked in the bank vault. Jimmy puts his safecracking abilities to good use by rescuing the little girl, confirming his identity to Ben beyond a doubt. But when Jimmy resigns himself to being arrested, Ben pretends not to know him and says goodbye to "Mr. Spencer".
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Jonathan's father Lawrence decides to punish a servant who annoyed him by sending him out on a long and pointless journey on a cold night. When he comes back feverish Lawrence insists that the man attend him as he works all night, and opens a window. He overlooks that feverish as the man is, he's in much younger and in better health, and in the morning Lawrence is found to have died of exposure.
  • In Warrior Cats , Tigerstar has been manipulating events for a while in order to become ThunderClan's leader. He got set a trap for Bluestar at the edge of the Thunderpath with the intention of killing her, but Cinderpelt ended up investigating the Thunderpath and getting hit by a car, which permanantly damaged one of her legs and dashed her hopes of ever being a Warrior. Before that, in Into The Wild, he killed Redtail, ThunderClan's deputy at the time. Not many moons after that, he learned that Ravenpaw, his apprentice saw what happened, and Tigerstar tries to turn the clan against Ravenpaw, and planned to kill him to make sure he stayed silent. In Forest of Secrets, he led a group of rouges in an attack against ThunderClan, and he surely would've killed Bluestar if Firestar hadn't been present. In A Dangerous Path, he led a pack of dogs to Snakerocks, which ended up killing one apprentice and disfiguring another as well as killing another cat to give the dogs a taste for cat blood. It all came to a head In Darkest Hour when he wanted to unite the clans as one(which is a lot worse than it sounds) under his leadership. He managed to get RiverClan to join "TigerClan" and tried to get Graystripe's kits killed by having Stonefur, Bluestar's son, to kill them. When Stonefur refused, he sic'd Darkstripe on him, and when it looked like Darkstripe was going to lose, Tigerstar got another one of his followers to kill Stonefur. And after his betrayal, Bluestar completely lost her mind, which made her stop caring about her Clan. While his death at the hands of Scourge wasn't one that any sane cat would wish on another, you have to admit that after all that happened he really deserved to die. In fact, Tigerstar was so despised, that his son carried the suspicions of his Clanmates.
  • Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile. The title character's misdeeds towards other animals throughout the book backfire on him big time, and devious attempts to eat kids are thwarted at every turn. He ends up being thrown into the Sun by the elephant he bit earlier.
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs on this with regard to the four naughty kids — their selfishness, pride, etc. is such that they disregard Willy Wonka's instructions and warnings as the tour of the factory progresses, and in each case it backfires on them big time.
    • Screw that, Roald Dahl loved this trope. If anyone does anything bad in his books, there will always be a nastier punishment for them.
  • Played straight in The Millennium Trilogy. Every single evil doer gets their comeuppance.
    • Gottfreid Vanger is murdered by the daughter he raped and abused for years.
    • Gottfreid's son, Martin, who also turned out to be a serial killer, committs suicide after being attacked and chased down by Lisbeth.
    • Nils Bjurmann first gets "I am a sadistic pig, a pervert and a rapist" tattoed on his abdomen by Lisbeth, then in the second book he is murdered
    • Best laser guided karma in the final book with members of the Section. First Zala is shot shot point blank and murdered by Evert Gullberg who then turns the gun on himself
    • Gunnar Björk is murdered and staged to look like a suicide
    • Peter Teleborian is arrested for possession of child pornography which Lisbeth and her fellow hackers found on his own laptop!!, after being exposed as a liar and a criminal by Lisbeth's lawyer, Annika Giannini
  • All the members of the section are Arrested by the police in a highly organized raid and crackdown
    • Niedermann is shot by a rival gang members and then those gang members are arrested by the police!
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has several instances of this. Probably one of the most shining examples would be Tywin Lannister getting killed by Tyrion, the son he always misliked and mistreated by the end of A Storm of Swords.
    • His daughter gets the same treatment near the end of A Feast for Crows. She gets arrested by the story's Church Militant and gets punished for her sins in a most humiliating way. Thats right, the same Church Militant she raised back to power earlier in the same book.
    • After the Freys broke the Laws of Hospitality by killing several Starks and their bannermen during the Red Wedding, their reputation is tarnished. Even worse, many of the Northerners and the Brotherhood without Banners actively hunt down and kill any Frey they capture.
  • In Speak, outcast Melinda befriends and helps out the new girl, Heather, but Heather ditches her the second she finds a more popular clique to hang out with, even returning the friendship necklace the latter gave her for a Christmas gift. Several months later, Heather comes crawling back to Melinda, asking her help in decorating the Route 11 Holiday Inn ballroom for the prom, as she is unable to do it herself. Melinda refuses, and the last we hear of Heather is that she missed school the day after prom because everybody is grumbling about her lame decorations. Immediately afterward, Melinda remarks that Heather should run away and join the Marines; "they'll be much sweeter to her than a swarm of angry Marthas".
  • Struwwelpeter from Germany has the story of the Inky Boys: Three kids who tease a black boy get their just desserts when Nikolas dips them into a gigantic inkwell.
  • In The Land That Time Forgot, U-Boat commander Baron von Schoenvorts drives one of his men to suicide and brutally whips another for a minor offense. Near the end of the novel, Plesser, the guy he whipped, kills him by stabbing him to death with a bayonet during a battle. Plesser explains he did it because of the systematic abuse he'd suffered at von Schoenvorts' hands and because it was his friend who had been driven to suicide.
  • In the final Mythos Academy book, Gwen is fighting Vivien, who murdered Gwen's mom and countless others, and is just all-around evil. Gwen uses her psychometry to push every bit of suffering she's experienced in her own life and through others into Vivien's mind until it breaks. Vivien is left curled up mumbling to herself and begging for it to stop — apparently for the rest of her life. Even Vivien's thoroughly evil mentor is horrified and looks at Gwen with fear.
  • In the first book of the The Hunger Games trilogy, Foxface keeps stealing everyone else's food. In the end, she dies after stealing some berries from Peeta that turn out to be poisonous.
  • Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt has three heinous villains (because one creep obviously wasn't enough). But at least, Karma eventually caught up with them.
    • Count Rosenschiöld is a sadistic serial abuser of women, who rapes and almost kills Beatrice (the poor female protagonist) on their wedding night, ends up dying what we only can hope is a painful death. As a beautiful irony, Beatrice survives to find happiness with another (much younger) man and work for women's rights.
    • Edvard takes his sadism too far once too many, leaving him brutally maimed and hiding in a hospital in Germany.
    • Wilhelm is a cruel domestic abuser, who has to lose everything in the end. His son has been maimed, his daughter no longer wants to see him, even his doormat wife has left him, and Beatrice (his niece) claims the right to "his" house, which turned out to be her inheritence from her grandmother.
  • In Storm From the Shadows, Solarian admiral Josef Byng slaughtered three Manticoran destroyers out of hand while their wedges were down and the ships were entirely unprotected in the star system of New Tuscany; the fourth and last member of the division survived only because it was hiding out-system. Later in the novel, Admiral Michelle Henke, a bit irritated at the unprovoked destruction of a part of her fleet, guides karma comprised of lasers — the kind that make up the RMN's ridiculously powerful, precisely targeted, and very lethal missile heads — right into Byng's flagship. Neither flagship nor Byng survive the encounter.
  • In Watch on the Rhine, Sergeant Major Krueger, a rejuvenated SS soldier who once served in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, loved to boast about how easy it was to rape the female prisoners - you didn't even need to ask their names. His commanding officer was also a rejuvenated SS soldier - but one who later in life had joined the Israeli military as a form of penance, and ended up marrying a survivor of Ravensbruck. At the end of the book Colonel Brasche ends up alone with Sergeant Major Krueger.
    Hans Brasche: This is for my wife Anna, whose name you never asked, you NAZI SON OF A BITCH!
  • In Holes, White school teacher Kate Barlow and black onion seller Sam kiss, and as a result the town of Green Lake lynch Sam and burn down the school house. In bitter retribution, Ms. Barlow becomes the feared outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow and the town suffers a drought that dries up the lake it was named for, also causing the fortune of the man who led the mob to dry up as well. Ironically, an old woman who saw the kiss commented "God will punish you!" As the narration notes, who did God punish, indeed?

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Auction Kings, Jon tries to trick Cindy into thinking a Ouija board is haunted. Cindy notices the fishing line Jon used to scare her (by pulling a chair out). She plays along and suggests telling Paul. Jon eventually ends up having to bring in a psychic to cleanse the board. Later, Cindy reveals that she knew he tricked her.
  • The premise of My Name Is Earl. Not just laser guided, a karma satellite orbital attack grid is aimed at the cast of characters.
  • On Tosh0 this trope is invoked in a Web Redemption, when a video shows a man attempting to do a complicated slam dunk falls into a garbage can immediately after littering. In his words "that would be some fast-acting karma."
  • In the The Adventures of Superman episode "The Defeat of Superman", The villains discover that kryptonite can harm Superman, and use a tiny sample of the real substance to create synthetic kryptonite. They lure Supes into a trap, using Lois and Jimmy as hostages, then leave all three of them to die. Lois and Jimmy save Superman by wrapping the kryptonite in lead, and the Man of Tomorrow throws it into space—which is where the karma comes in. The three villains see this as they're driving back to Metropolis, and they're distracted enough that their car goes over a cliff, killing them all. To make it even more karmic, they tumble down the cliff they planned to throw Lois and Jimmy's car over.
  • Exemplified in Angel Season 2, when Darla and Drusilla crash the Wolfram & Hart party after Darla was brought back by them. Angel bursts in, the Wolfram & Hart people wait expectantly for him to save them despite all they've done to him, and then watch on in horror as he slams the door shut and traps them inside with two bloodthirsty evil vampires. Needless to say, they do not survive.
    • Karma tends to creep up on Angel nearly every season, particularly after his attitude problem in season two.
  • In Gilligan's Island, the end of the episode "The Hunter" reveals that the sportsman who tried to shoot Gilligan snapped upon his return to the mainland. He had to be packed off to a mental hospital, muttering the name of his intended victim all the way.
  • Alexander Armstrong presented an episode of Have I Got News for You where one of the questions was about a survey claiming women laugh longer at punchlines than men. The joke on the autocue was "Shame you're not as good at delivering them, eh, girls?" He tripped over the line. Repeatedly.
    • Similarly, in another episode, the host ruined a joke about David Beckham being inarticulate.
  • In a positive example from Deadliest Catch, the Hillstrand brothers rescued a man from another boat who fell overboard, and ended up with a record haul that season.
  • The Jaleel White show Grown Ups featured the lack of a response to some negative deed he'd done, prompting some other character to comment on how it will come back and bite him in the ass eventually. Cut to him waking up and looking at himself in the mirror, then commenting with surprise: "what the hell bit me in the ass?!"
  • Dakota Fred seemed to be on the receiving end of this in the second season of the Discovery Channel series Gold Rush; kicking the Hoffmans out of Porcupine Creek while being a relentless Smug Snake came back to bite him big time when his house and everything in it was ruined by flooding.
  • Inexplicably, what happened to Rob & Amber at the end of Season 7 of The Amazing Race. Over the course of the season, Rob played the game like he had Survivor, including convincing two other team to quit a Roadblock and voluntarily take a penalty, and talking his way onto a closed flight. Alone this was nothing to get upset about, except he gloated constantly and guaranteed their victory, pissing off fans and the other teams in the process. Then, in the finale, when Rob & Amber are sitting alone on the plane to the Final Destination City, the race in hand, Uchenna & Joyce beg their way onto the plane, despite the gate already being closed and the pilot already having pulled away. Uchenna & Joyce eventually win, despite running out of money and having to beg to pay their cab driver at the Finish Line, as Rob & Amber get lost looking for the final clue in Little Havana. The comeback was so improbable (especially with Uchenna & Joyce getting all their money and possessions taken away for losing the previous leg) that it had some fans claiming the whole thing was staged (this rumor was started by a bitter Rob).
    • It happened to them again on All-Stars. Even before winning the first three legs, Rob's ego was flying as high as ever, and he was already declaring them the winners. Then every single thing went wrong for them on leg four, and Rob had to watch as Charla & Mirna made up a twenty minute deficit to pass them at the Roadblock.
  • Russell Hantz on Survivor: Redemption Island set off a chain reaction of karma for his tribe. He might have been able to get away with some of his old tricks in Heroes vs. Villains, back when he was an unknown quantity. Not this season (which began through a dare from Rob). Ran the exact same play in the exact same way, which triggered the no-less stupid decision to throw an immunity challenge while only two players ahead. He was the first one gone from the tribe, with the rest following in short order.
  • In Big Brother, Jeff pretty much spends the entire game trash-talking the newbies and calling them "Floaters". (Ignoring, of course that his girlfriend Jordan was doing the exact same stuff they were yet somehow got away with it.) After he thinks getting rid of their apparent leader will cause them to run around recklessly and give him the easy win he was promised), one of his supposed goons decides to start playing the game for herself and decides to join the newbies in getting him out. When him and his partners fail to win Head of Household and Veto, guess who's sent out the door?
  • When Roy Walker left the British game show Catchphrase (a show he was very well-known for hosting), he was replaced by Nick Weir. He tripped and broke his leg within the opening of the first episode he hosted.
  • The Malcolm in the Middle episode Malcolm Defends Reese: Mr. Herkabe, not wanting his title of "highest GPA ever" stripped by Malcolm, has his brother Reese publically humiliated in front of the class, and when Malcolm tries to stick up to Reese, he ends up risking to fail his class, and thus not get the highest GPA ever in order to keep Reese from being humiliated again. After Mr. Herkabe lets slip that he failed Gym, his title is automatically stripped, and he has to retake PE as a student. And to add insult to his (rather deserving) injury, he has to take it the exact same PE Class as Reese, who takes sweet revenge on Herkabe by absolutely creaming him at Dodgeball.
    • Hal has also been victim to this at least twice. Once where his earlier claim that the nads were easy pickings when playing basketball with his sons resulted in him being hit in the crotch, another time was in the episode Red Dress. He ended up burning Lois's red dress that she intended to wear for their anniversary. As a consequence, he ended up having his anniversary dinner all by himself while waiting for Lois, and presumably burn the house while completely drunk in Lois and the kid's absence.
    • So has Lois when her Control Freak nature finally comes back to bite her in the butt. In Jury Duty despite the fact that she and all of the other members of the jury believed the defendant was guilty Lois forced the other jurors look at every single piece of evidence. This in turn caused a member who before voted guilty to vote innocent based on nothing other than the defendant went to church.
  • In the first episode of Heroes Volume 4, when Nathan is rounding up and imprisoning people with superpowers, Peter runs into Mohinder and asks him what he thinks of Nathan's plan. To Peter's dismay, Mohinder thinks it's a good idea because of his own experience with turning into a dangerous monster after giving himself superpowers not long ago. Immediately after Peter leaves, Mohinder is kidnapped by Nathan's goons - and realizes that he really doesn't think it's such a good idea after all. . .prompting a Heel-Face Turn by episode's end.
  • In the 2nd episode of Sherlock, General Shan is the only member of the Black Lotus to escape, much to Sherlock's disappointment. At the very end, we see her communicating with Moriarty, right before the laser sighting of a sniper rifle appears on her forehead, and a gunshot is heard as the screen goes black.
  • Pretty Little Liars has Alison being bullied in a similar manner to how she used to bully people.
  • One episode of Only Fools and Horses has Del become romantically involved with an antiques dealer named Miranda. It's obvious to the audience she was only interested in a painting that hung in the Trotters flat, which they apparently don't know the value of. She manages to coerce Del into giving her it for a birthday present, assuring him that she just want to hang it in her home. At the end of the episode Del goes to meet her at an auction house, and finds the painting up for sale. Miranda smugly tells him she's registered the painting to show that it has been in her family for years. Turns out Del knew how valuable it was all along; his grandmother stole it from an art dealer she had been a cleaner for, and Miranda is going to be in a lot of trouble.
  • Despite any retribution being absent from the actual movie (save for a deleted scene), Saturday Night Live has the "lost" ending of It's a Wonderful Life cover the duly-deserved just desserts for Mr. Potter. Uncle Billy remembers what happened to the money he lost, and the town storms Potter's office to get it back. As George starts giving him a beating, Potter reveals he could walk the whole time. The short ends with George, Mary, and Harry simultaneously whaling on Potter as the town sings Auld Lang Syne.
  • "The Summer of George" from the eighth season of Seinfeld is pretty masterful example. The episode's main plot revolves around George receiving a huge severance package from the New York Yankees and deciding to use it to fund a summer of laziness, or "The Summer of George" as he calls it. This is all derailed when George slips on a glossy party invitation from the same invitation store where he purchased the cheap invitations that led to Susan's death one year prior. At the hospital the same doctor that gave the gang the news that Susan had died tells them that George will walk again but now will have to spend the whole summer in rehab. Hilariously, Jerry, Elaine and Kramer react with the same indifference the whole group had towards Susan's death as George laments the loss of his summer.
  • Used quite frequently on The King of Queens anytime Doug or Carrie (or both) come up with a selfish scheme to benefit themselves. A good example: in the episode Buy Curious an elderly neighbor dies and Carrie convinces Doug to buy her house for a small sum then "flip it" to make a larger profit. However, it costs them too much to make repairs to it, they inadvertently insult an African couple who attempt to buy it, and are forced to sell it to Lou Ferrigno (whom they had forced away from the house, despite him only tending the plants) for much less then they paid for it.
  • Gregory House of House sometimes finds his underhanded actions will undermine the very goal he was aiming to achieve. Perhaps one of the most poignant instances was when he plugged up various sewage mains at the hospital as a result of his anger at Wilson deciding not to seek cancer treatment. When he finally accepts the decision and resolves to enjoy what time he has left with Wilson, he's jailed for felony vandalism as a result of flooding the hospital and loses that remaining time.
  • Monty Python - it's likely Michael Palin's travel agent character is a recipient, as he has to vicariously experience the numbing tedium of a typical package tour via customer Eric Idle's nonstop droning play-by-play of such a trip.
  • On the October 12, 2009 game of Jeopardy, one of the contestants was Jeff Kirby, who originally appeared on the show in December 1999. As stated in Game Show Winnings Cap, Trebek-era contestants are not allowed to appear again (unless expressly invited back by the producers), but Jeff somehow got through the audition process. He didn't get caught until someone on the show's message board pointed out that he was wearing the same tie he had worn in his 1999 appearance. (Either he has a spectacularly limited wardrobe, or he was thumbing his nose at the powers that be.) What makes him fit into this trope? He finished in third place on both shows (and of course, was denied the $1,000 third-place winnings from his 2009 episode).
    • Another example is Barbara Lowe, who competed for five days in 1987 and retired undefeated. She was said to be quite testy on-set, even quibbling with host Alex Trebek when an answer was ruled wrong. After her fifth game, it was discovered that she had lied about how many game shows she had competed on previously (at the time, you could only be on two in five years), and her winnings were withheld until she threatened a lawsuit. She was also barred from the Tournament of Champions.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Best of Both Worlds part II'', Picard, as the Borg "speaker" Locutus, almost sneeringly says to Data that as an android, he would be obsolete in "the new order". Soon, Data realizes that he can connect to the Borg collective consciousness through Picard, and after he does, Picard tells him to tell the Borg to enter their regeneration cycle, which causes an overload that destroys the Borg cube and frees Picard from their control.
    • In "Chain of Command: Part I", Picard is assigned to investigate the possible existence of a Cardassian base. But when he, Worf and Dr. Crusher finally get to the location of the apparent base, they discover there's simply a probe delivering false sensor data, and the Cardassians capture Picard. Later on, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Die is Cast", the combined fleet of the Cardassian's Obsidian Order and Romulan Tal Shiar launches a surprise attack against the Dominion's Founders' homeworld, only for them to realize the planet was, in fact, deserted save a probe delivering false data, leading to an ambush by a Jem'Hadar fleet.
  • Regina in Once Upon a Time had been mainly a Karma Houdini back in season 1 but come season 2, she gets hit hard with karma. In the episode "Queen of Hearts", she could only watch as her adopted son Henry happily goes to dinner with his biological mother, grandparents and friends without inviting her. Yes, she did just save Emma and Snow's lives but she was also the reason why they ended up in the magical world in the first place.
    • In "The Cricket Game", Regina is blamed for the death of someone who turned out not to be dead despite huge amounts of evidence against her. This is exactly what she did to Mary Margaret in season 1.
  • In one episode of Strange Luck, just when it appears to be too late to stop the execution of a wrongfully-convicted man, the person trying to stop the execution, Chance Harper, hits a road slick and crashes into a power pole, resulting in the innocent man living... and the real murderer being executed in absentia in his place by way of being struck by a falling power line. Additionally, Chance met the real murderer when the latter was working as a mechanic and he needed the brakes in his car fixed. Just before Chance hits the road slick, the murderer admits he never fixed the brakes.
  • JAG:
    • Lt. Williams' fate in "Desert Son", accidentally killed by an artillery strike fired by the same battery he was spotting for when the accident happened.
    • In "Boomerang, Part II", Admiral Chegwidden and Captain Howell, Mic's superior in the Royal Australian Navy, deliver this onto Mic and Harm for throwing punches and ended up breaking Bud's jaw in two places when he got between the punches. After Bud covers for the two, Chegwidden decides on a "non-judicial punishment" is chosen and Mic and Harm are put in a storage unit until they inflict the same level of harm onto each other as they did to Bud.
      Captain Howell: I always did like Yank SEALs.
  • The Pretender is filled with this - both positive and negative. Jarod's plots always seem to leave him with someone in his debt that will delay or foil Miss Parker and the rest of the Centre hunters at the end of the episode. Of course, Jarod's plots themselves are usually manufactured karma.
  • Law & Order and its spinoff Law and Order: SVU had a crossover, where in a Mother/daughter conartist team seemed to be Karma Houdinis in the first half, "Design". However, Karma bites hard in the second half, "Flaw", when at first, the daughter turns on the mother when the mother tried to claim self defense in the murder of their partner in crime. The detectives, itching to try to find a way to nail the daughter as well, learn that she had killed her own baby at the age of 14. When the daughter seemed willing go to trial and bluff her way out of it as she and her mother had done before, the detectives reveal the mother was willing to testify against her daughter.
  • A subplot on an episode of ER had a pharmaceutical rep showing up at the hospital bearing gifts of food, typical of this profession. Kerry Weaver went off on one of her usual endless diatribes, ordering the staff not to eat the food, lest they feel inclined to use the drug that the rep was promoting despite the fact that it was no more effective than similar drugs. This turned out to be very good advice regardless of the drugs, as the food had been improperly cooked. Everyone who ate it came down with a wretched case of food poisoning. Including of course, Kerry, who in her customary hypocritical manner, had done something she told everyone else not to do. Considering all the rotten things she usually got away with, it was nice to see her get some sort of comeuppance for once.
  • Happens to a few characters in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight
    • Camo is introduced as an underground martial arts fighter who doesn't mind strapping wrenches to his fists to win a fight. Who does Camo end up fighting? Torque- a Rider with an arsenal of very large guns. Camo gets killed quite quickly. Possibly a meta example in that Camo was killed the very next episode after he was introduced.
    • Torque himself gets a heaping dose of Karma. He attempts to manipulate Dragon Knight into turning on his teammate Wing Knight. When he fails, he is soon after killed by Strike- one of Torque's teammates.
    • Happens to one of the good guys too. Siren constantly mocks Earth's riders for being amateurs not worthy of being Kamen Riders. She even waits to give her friends Survive Mode Cards to drastically enhance their powers because they were fighting Axe and Strike- two "amateurs," and they didn't need them. Guess who ends up killing Siren. It's not Axe; he's dead by the time this happens.
  • Blue Mountain State's football squad builds up enough negative karma in the course of three seasons to cost them the national championship.
  • In the Kenan & Kel / Cousin Skeeter crossover, Kenan and Skeeter are wandering about the wilderness. Kenan comes across a giant tree branch in their path and flings it away, then worries that it might hit someone. Skeeter assures him that they're in the middle of nowhere, and "That branch would have to be laser guided to hit someone!" Sure enough, the branch hits the special's antagonist, who trapped Kyra and Kel in a pit earlier.
  • On The Strain TV Series, Gus transports the Master's coffin across the river in return for his brother's criminal record being erased. During the resulting vampirism outbreak, Gus' best friend, mother, and the aforementioned brother are turned into vampires.

  • In Queen of the Wave by Pepe Deluxé, it's strongly implied that Atlantis was destroyed because of the moral failure of its citizens: both "Grave Prophecy" (in which Atlantis's destruction is foretold) and "Riders of the First Ark" (in which the destruction happens) prominently mention The Book of Laws being "forgotten". An even more direct example is when Zailm begins an adulterous affair with Lolix: "The nemesis of Karma starts pursuing him. A pursuit that will eventually lead to the deaths of both Zailm and Lolix..."
  • The whole idea of "God's Gonna Cut You Down". If you're a sinner, God is pissed and He's coming for you. It doesn't matter how long and far you run for, you will get the judgment you deserve.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The "Eye for an Eye" law established by Moses can be interpreted as applying this directly to real life.
  • In the New Testament, Acts 12 (21-23) (NIV);
    "On the appointed day, Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died."
  • And in Matthew 7 (1-2) (NIV), Jesus warns, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
  • God's justice is described as this in Galations 6:7 (KJV): "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap."
  • The Bible also hints in a few places that Heaven and Hell reward and punish proportionally, though exactly how the rewards and punishments are proportioned is not explained.
  • The story of "Androcles and the Lion" is a good example. In most versions of the story, a Roman fugitive slave named Androcles takes refuge in a cave, and finds a lion wounded by a thorn in its paw. He removes the thorn, and cleans the infected wound, nursing the beast back to health. Years later, Androcles returns to civilization, only to be arrested and condemned to be devoured by the wild beasts in the Circus Maximus, the usual punishment for a fugitive slave. The emperor (presumably either Caligula or Claudius) shows up to watch, and as fate would have it, the most vicious beast that is sprung upon Androcles is the same lion that he healed, who remembers and shows affection towards. The emperor is impressed by the display, pardons him, and gives him custody of the lion.
  • Some might say it's subverted in Greek Mythology because most times karma is just the gods helping or messing with the heroes, but the fact is that the heroes good or bad actions have consequences, and the gods represent universal forces, so this is still technically true. Here are some examples:
    • Achilles's profanation of Apollo's temple led to his death by Paris, who was a servant of Apollo.
    • Depending on the version, Apollo cursed Cassandra that her prophecies may never be believed, because she lied to him to get her power in the first place. Sometimes it was just because she rejected his sexual advances.
    • Odysseus blinding Polyphemus was what incited Poseidon to curse him, setting the stage for The Odyssey.
      • Other examples include the greed of Odysseus' crew leading to Aeolus' gift blowing them off course, the plunder at Ismaros being rewarded by storms that blew them off course, and Odysseus' patience and faithfulness at Calypso's island leading to divine intervention aiding his escape. On the other hand, Odysseus only put out Polyphemus' eye because the cyclops meant to eat him, so they were kind of holding each others' lasers. Odysseus' tribulations are as much because of hubris as anything else, because he would have gotten away with blinding Polyphemus if he hadn't decided to boast by shouting his real name at the monster as he left. Polyphemus initially offered to feast with Odysseus instead of on Odysseus in his honor for his cunning; it was only after Odysseus cursed him that Polyphemus cursed him back.
    • Jason helping an old woman across a stream was fortuitous, for she was actually Hera in disguise, and she set in motion the events that let to his later adventures with the Argonauts.
      • Jason would suffer both good and bad karma with this trope, as his efforts to dump his lawful wife Medea (who had allowed the Argonauts to escape the land of her father Aeetes) for another woman cost him Hera's favor and led to his disgrace and eventual death.
      • Jason's betrayal was a case of Laser-Guided Karma for Medea, who betrayed her father, murderer her brother and later tricked the daughters of Jason's uncle into murdering their father.
      • Her father was actively trying to murder (indirectly) Jason using undead skeletons and an unkillable dragon. His uncle was a Lawful Evil despot who murdered Jason's father and stole his throne, and was ALSO trying to get Jason killed indirectly. Her brother...was just kinda in the way, and his murder forced her father to stop his pursuit of Jason to bury him. Not to mention that there are versions, where her brother's death was an accident anyway.
    • Ixion is another mention, given that he first murdered his father-in-law, fled to Mount Olympus to escape punishment, and repaid Zeus's hospitality by attempting to rape Hera. An infuriated Zeus banished him to Hades, where he was strapped to a flaming wheel and left to spin around for the rest of eternity.
      • Ixion's son Peirithoos is just as bad, convincing Theseus to sneak down with him into Hades and kidnap Persephone to be his bride. Needless to say, Hades was not amused. When Heracles came down to the Underworld on the last of his Twelve Labours, he was allowed to free Theseus from Hades' captivity. The Underworld shook when he tried to free Peirithoos, which was Hades' way of letting our hero know that this was a very bad idea.
    • Tantalus was a king who tried to steal some ambrosia from the gods. They found out and banished him from Olympus. He invited them to a feast at his home to "try to make it up to them"; he killed his children and fed them to the gods as revenge for being banished. They found out about that, too [they are gods, after all] and now he's in the Fields Of Punishment. He's standing in a lake under a fruit tree, and he's starving. Every time he tries to eat or drink, the food/liquid moves away from him.
    • Sisyphus' attempts to cheat death (and by extension Hades) ended in failure and got him stuck pushing a boulder up a mountain for eternity.
    • The moral of these stories? Don't piss off the Greek gods.

  • When Kix Brooks (formerly of Brooks & Dunn) took over as host of American Country Countdown, he cut the show from 40 positions to 30 after program directors complained about the unfamiliarity of the lower-charting songs. In 2012, Brooks released "New to This Town", his first solo single since the breakup of Brooks & Dunn. Where did it peak? #31.

  • Lakers player Andrew Bynum put a major hit on Gerald Wallace in a game in late January 2009, a hit that caused Wallace to get a broken rib and a collapsed lung. In Bynum's very next game, he got into a collision with Kobe Bryant, which caused Bynum to have a major MCL tear which put him out for 8-12 weeks, the amount of time some NBA fans believe he should've been suspended for the hit on Wallace.
  • Another sports example would be in the National Hockey League with Eric Lindros and Scott Stevens. Eric Lindros was viewed as the next Wayne Gretzky when he was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, only to enrage Quebec fans by refusing to play for the team and demanding a trade to Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, his behavior led many to view him as a self-centered, pampered Jerk Jock who didn't care about anyone but himself and his own stats. This attitude, along with his punishing physical style of play, made the many injuries he suffered, particularly the brutal concussion he suffered from New Jersey defenceman Scott Stevens in the 2000 playoffs, become viewed by many fans as karmic retribution. Stevens himself could also be construed as a victim of this trope. His fierce physical bodychecking led not only Lindros but several other victims to suffer major injuries, while he himself would eventually be forced to retire due to post-concussion syndrome. Connection, perhaps?
    • Karma didn't spare him in his personal life either: one of the rationales he and his parents gave for him not reporting to Quebec (in an interview years after he retired), was the difficulties/challenges of playing in a market that was culturally and linguistically different from the rest of Canada. Basically broken down, he didn't want to learn/speak French. Cue a few years after that: it turns out he married a French-Canadian woman. So, he either was a liar who didn't want to play on a REALLY bad team experiencing financial struggles, which the Quebec Nordiques were, or now his in-laws and wife get to teach him the finer points of Quebecois French.
    • To add insult to karmic injury, his trade to the Nordiques (who eventually became the Colorado Avalanche) instantly improved the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise. The players acquired from his trade were all instrumental in leading to the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 and again in 2001. Lindros only managed to get his team to the Finals once in his 8 year tenure as a Flyer, and never saw the Stanley Cup Finals the rest of his injury-filled career.
  • Another example from the NHL in which during a match, player Steve Sullivan was hit in the face with a teammates stick causing a cut across his nose. Cue a fan heckling Steve as he skates off. Two short handed goals by Sullivan later, the opposing teams goalie Patrick Roy tries to clear the puck, only to have it go over the glass and hit the same heckler in the forehead. Bonus points for the man's female friend (who is covering his cut with a cloth) giving Steve a thumbs up as he skates by with a few words of his own.
  • A rare case of MMA Instant Karma, but by former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans' own admission, he was actually in the process of taunting Lyoto Machida (or reassuring himself) by attempting to say "you hit like a bitch" only to be cut off by a looping right hook from Machida made all the more effective by Evans' open mouth.
    • Another case of karma in the MMA, Anderson "The Spider" Silva, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the MMA, was facing Chris Weidman in a title bout. Silva believed this was a routine fight, no challenge at all following the brutal second Chael Sonnen battle, and so he went out to have fun. For most of the fight he toyed with Weidman, but then he stuck out his chin to taunt him... and Weidman slugged him right out, winning the fight. Anderson came back to fight Weidman for real a couple of months later, and in the battle, he shattered his shin in a block attempt, but both fighters showed class throughout this match and after. And with Silva returning to the MMA after rehab and taking a few undercard fights to get back into shape, it's only a matter of time before Silva-Weidman III.
  • Another MMA case: In 2009, Mike Cook was to fight former WWE star Bobby Lashley. Cook entered the ring wearing a Rey Mysterio mask. A visibly annoyed Lashleynote  proceeded to choke Cook out in under 30 seconds.
  • In the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference playoff series between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, LeBron James was having a bad game 3 and was missing many free-throws. Pacers player Lance Stephenson decided to taunt the NBA star by making the choke sign from the bench; which rudely hinted at the history of how LeBron would seem to crack under pressure and lose the big games. The Pacers would go on to win game 3. But the action by Lance would light a fire in LeBron and he began to play some of the best basketball in his career. The Miami Heat would go on to beat the Indiana Pacers in the series and eventually win their second NBA championship in franchise history. Even though Lance apologized for the choke sign, many sports experts believed that if it wasn't for his actions, the Pacers might have won the series and LeBron wouldn't have gotten his first NBA Championship Ring.
  • At the 2012 Vuelta a Espańa, on stage 4, Alejandro Valverde crashed while being the leader of the general classification. This was during a time where Team Sky were setting the pace, trying to use the sidewind to see if other teams could be dropped. When Valverde crashed, Sky accelerated and Katusha went up to help them, despite the unwritten rule that if a GC-contender comes in trouble where they aren't to blame (crashes and punctures), the pack slows down and lets them back in the group. On stage 17, Rodriguez (leader of team Katusha) had a bad day, and third GC-contender Alberto Contador (leader of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) was in a huge attack, about to win the race. Valverde could have helped Rodriguez. Instead, Valverde accelerated away, leaving Rodriguez to fall to third and eventually Contador won the general classification. Team Sky didn't really get their karma back, as their captain, Chris Froome, got his ass handed to him during the late stages.
  • During a regular-season NHL game in December 2010, the Anaheim Ducks' Bobby Ryan had his stick stolen from him by Minnesota Wild player Mikko Koivu. Later on that same play, Ryan steals Koivu's stick and scores with it.
  • In the 2011 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and "Vicious" Victor Ortiz, Ortiz realized early that he was being out-boxed by Mayweather and would be in for a long night. So he decided to fight dirty by trying to forcibly break Floyd's nose with a headbutt. Afterwards, the ref stopped the fight and took a point away from Ortiz. Victor began being very apologetic, even giving Floyd a kiss on the cheek. After the ref called time in, Ortiz was still apologizing, which Floyd pretended to acknowledge and accept, however, suddenly he unleashed a brutal two punch combo, sucker punching Ortiz and knocking him out. Some fans praised Mayweather for his actions because of what Ortiz did, while others criticized Floyd for not giving Ortiz a chance to get set. Either way, everyone agrees that the KO was legal and Floyd Mayweather Jr. won the fight.
  • In the penultimate game of the 2011-12 NHL regular season for both the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, Sharks forward Ryane Clowe broke up a King rush from the bench. The Sharks won that game (plus the rematch in San Jose) to ensure the #7 seed and the St. Louis Blues while the Kings had to play the Presidents' Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks. The Blues would dismantle the Sharks in six games in round one. The Kings, however, strung together one of the most dominant playoff runs in sports history en route to a Stanley Cup. To pour more salt on the wounds, the Kings also swept the Blues in the 2nd round.
    • During Game 6 of the 2011 Western Conference Quarter-Finals, Joe Thornton exuberantly celebrated his winning goal by sliding across the Staples Center ice surface on his back like a rookie scoring his first NHL goal. It appears that the Sharks are paying the price for these two events: the Sharks have stumbled against the Kings for the past two years, bowing out against the Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals in 2013 and suffering a particularly painful defeat in the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals in which they held the series lead 3-0 before losing 4 consecutive games, 2 of them on home ice at SAP Center.
    • After Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, then-Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo gloated in an interview about how the save that Tim Thomas, then-Boston Bruin goalie, had missed was an easy one for him in Vancouver's 1-0 win and putting Vancouver up 3-2 in the series. Come Game 6, Boston scored four goals in the first three minutes, Luongo was replaced after the third by the backup (who let in two more through the rest of the game), and just like that, Boston took a 5-2 victory to send the series back to Vancouver for Game 7, which Boston won 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup. In recent years, Luongo's play has diminished to the point where he now plays for the Florida Panthers, typically attributed the dubious title of the NHL's worst team. Not only did karma cost his team the Cup, it cost him his career.
  • In 2007, The Colorado Rockies led by manager Clint Hurdle won an important game against the San Diego Padres despite his runner not touching home plate when the winning run scored. In 2011, Hurdle now of the Pittsburgh Pirates wound up on the other end of a game like that against the Atlanta Braves (despite the runner clearly having been tagged out.)
    • On another, closer-to-date note, the Rockies got to the World Series, but ended up getting swept by the Boston Red Sox. They seemed favored, but then they got the rug dragged out from under them.
  • In general, when a player is wrongly awarded a free kick/foul/penalty giving them a chance to score, and misses, opposition fans will see it as this.
  • In the 1992–93 Serie A season in Italy, AC Milan played Brescia in the next-to-last round. Milan entered the game needing only a draw to win the title ahead of crosstown rival Internazionale, while Brescia believed a draw would be enough to stave off relegation to Serie B. In a 2004 look back at the "dodgiest games" in football history, two British journalists remarked, "For over 80 minutes, the two teams engaged in a shameful game of cat-and-mouse, in which the cat appeared to have fallen asleep and the mouse was on tranquilisers." Milan scored in the 82nd minute... but then took a breather on defense, letting Brescia level the score two minutes later. The game ended 1–1, giving Milan their title. As for Brescia, other results went against them and they were relegated anyway.
  • Possibly the definitive football example, in an English Championship Play-Off Semi Final match between Leicester and Watford, Anthony Knockaert dives in the last minute to win a penalty for Leicester. With an aggregate score of 2-2, a goal will send Leicester through to the finals. Knockaert himself takes the penalty... which is saved by Watford's keeper, who instantly starts a counter attack, from which Watford score the winner in the dying seconds of the game.
  • In another football example, the 2014 MLS Cup playoff Western Conference Finals, between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders. Earlier in the playoffs, Seattle defeated FC Dallas 1-1 on aggregate, winning by away goals (they drew 1-1 in Dallas, an drew 0-0 in Seattle, meaning that since Seattle scored more goals away than Dallas did, they advanced on the draw). The Dallas fans were irate, but the Seattle fan were... shall we say a little less than graceful about it. LA won 1-0 at home in the first leg. In the second, Seattle wen up 1-0 off a Clint Dempsey strike in the 26th minute, evening the score at 1-1. A draw would have sent the game to extra time here, but in the 32nd minute, Seattle scored again to lead 2-1 on aggregate. In the second half, in the 62nd minute, Juninho scored a goal for LA to bring the score to 2-1, 2-2 on aggregate with LA holding away goals advantage. The game ended thus, sparking mass outrage from the Sounders fans at the rule and mass gloating from the other fans.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Instant Karma is an optional game mechanic in GURPS: Thaumatology that can strike people who use ritual magic to harm others.
  • Magic: The Gathering has It That Betrays, a card that makes any card your opponent sacrfices yours. It also makes your opponent sacriice two cards each time it attacks. Given that Eldrazi (the creature type It That Betrays is a member of) cause people to sacrifice permanents...this is more like Laser Guided Theft.
  • In Traveller judicial slavery is sometimes used as an alternative to capital punishment in the Sword Worlds. If this is interpreted to imply that this is the penalty for human trafficing which seems likely, then the poetic justice of this is rather grimly amusing.

  • In Twice Charmed, Lady Tremaine tries to summon her Wicked Fairy Godfather, Franco DiFortunato, to wreak havoc at the ball. But since they failed to separate Cinderella and Prince Charming, the Tremaines are forced to do Franco's chores for eternity.

    Video Games 
  • Beyond: Two Souls: During the "Homeless" chapter, a group of thugs burn down the building where Tuesday has just given birth and beat Jodie into a coma. As revealed in a newspaper article Jodie sees when she wakes up, the thugs were arrested shortly afterwards because of the smell of gasoline on their clothes.
  • In the prologue of Resident Evil 4, you can choose to rescue a stray dog from a bear trap. Most players do this solely due to the dog's Woobie-ness, to be rewarded when he jumps into their fight with El Gigante, distracting him and making the fight easier.
  • Early at the fair in Chrono Trigger, Crono has the opportunity to help a little girl find her cat, and to eat a random man's lunch for HP. A few sequences later, though, he needs character witnesses, and every Good or Evil act comes back up... not that it will matter. Sure, being found innocent nets you a couple Elixirs, but...
  • At the end of Metroid II Samus spares a baby Metroid that imprinted upon her as its mother. In Super Metroid, the Metroid returns the favor by not draining Samus to death, and then sacrificing itself to save her life in the fight against Mother Brain, triggering the mother of all Mama Bear moments from Samus, who, by the way, now has the Hyper Beam.
    • In the beginning of Metroid Fusion, Samus gets infected by the X Parasite, whose only natural enemies are the Metroids she all but annihilated. Her life is saved by cells extracted from the last Metroid and these events would have happened with less favorable results even without the baby Metroid.
    • Another cross-game example: Remember those cute critters that taught you how to shinespark and wall-climb in Super Metroid? At the end of Super Metroid you can take some time off your busy schedule of escaping the self-destructing planet and help them reach their own ship (it's the small dot flying away from Zebes in the ending cinematic). These critters appear again in the middle of Metroid Fusion trapped in a research habitat, and Samus saves them once more; after which, they return the favor by saving your ship from the rampaging Omega Metroid, allowing you to escape the doomed space station.
  • Especially common in adventure games by Sierra such as Quest for Glory and King's Quest, being based off of The Hero's Journey and Mega Crossover Fairy Tales respectively. Kill a rare flower? You'll eventually get turned into one. Fail to stop a cat from attacking a rat? Well now who's going to chew through your ropes?
    • Quest for Glory tends towards the positive karma version of this trope (usually negative karma is quite predictable since someone is present and may warn you not to do something). Fail to rescue the monkey from the cage? Well good luck going to the lost city. Didn't show compassion to the woman turned into a tree? Well no magic fruit to make a dispel potion!
  • In a franchise that allows and even encourages wholesale pot destruction, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword manages to sneak in a bit of this. In one of Skyloft's houses lives a woman who says she's an antique collector. Break her stuff and she'll make you pay for it.
  • A minor act of kindness by Disgaea 3's Chew Toy Almaz towards Sapphire (she overheard him defending her in the guard barracks) in the background story is the ultimate source of his case of Throw the Dog a Bone and Rags to Royalty.
  • In the second Ryu Ga Gotoku game, Kazuma helping out a fun-loving old lady with item quests will allow him to learn some useful fighting techniques, and eventually discover that she is in fact the former martial arts instructor of a Triad leader he fought in the first game.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has this. At one point late in the game, you can choose to either help a man who once betrayed you with a large heroin deal (you're ordered to do so by a mafia boss), or just kill the guy for revenge. Whichever choice you make though, you end up paying for it DEARLY. if you help with the H deal, not only do you get double-crossed AGAIN, but your cousin gets killed. If you go and kill the guy who betrayed you, the mafia boss that ordered you to work with him comes along and shoots your girlfriend. During a WEDDING!
  • Near the end of Dead Space, you desperately fight to put an artifact back in place on a pedestal to neutralize all the alien monsters on the planet. Then The Mole shows up and steals it away, mocking you. Not five minutes later, said Mole is smashed into paste by the monster that would have left everyone alone if the artifact hadn't been disturbed.
    • In the sequel, Daina Le Guin dies about 20 seconds after you find out she was a Unitologist using you the whole time.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 absolutely love punishing egotistical behaviour on higher difficulties. The game actually actively spawns Special Infected next to people that wander off on their own to scavenge some pills or think they can survive on their own. Chargers in particular have a reputation for this.
    • Rumour has that "tea-bagging" a downed/dead team-mate spawns a couple of hordes which home in on you.
  • In Final Fantasy you have a sort-of example with Tonberry enemies, which cast a spell called "Everyone's Grudge" (varies from game to game) which does damage that scales with how many of their friends you've murdered.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a priest locked himself in a small fortress with a powerful artifact that could've been used to save his village from vampire attacks for his own personal protection. Almost immediately after the main character takes the artifact from the priest to use against the vampires, the priest gets torn apart by vampires who seemed to have been waiting for the moment they could kill him.
    • In the original series, a now-retconned plot point revealed Alucard to be Trevor Belmont's father. This would have meant that Dracula had been getting taken down by his own descendants, generation after generation.
      • This twist has been applied to the sequels of the Lords Of Shadows universe as Trevor and Alucard are the same person.
  • One of the choices at the end of The Dark Meadow is to corrupt your daughter's soul in exchange for a longer life. If you decide to cross the line, your character will land in a mental asylum for the next 17 years of his life. Have fun!
  • In the first Dead Rising, Frank comes across a paranoid gun shop owner warning another man to stay away, while the other man is asking him to let other people use his guns. Finally the shop owner shoots the man with a shotgun, blasting him out of the store. After defeating him in a mini-bossfight, he staggers out of his shop blubbering and terrified, only to run headfirst into the zombie of the man he killed.
    • In the sequel, Dead Rising 2, Chuck comes across an unhinged CURE (basically a zombie rights group) supporter in a bathroom. He's been keeping a zombie around to spread the disease, because he thinks it's a blessing of sorts. Shortly after you beat him, he stumbles right into the bathroom stall he was keeping the zombie in, and is bitten. Rather than become a zombie, he opts to slit his own throat.
  • In the scenario of "Battle of Okehazama" in Samurai Warriors 2, a dying Yoshimoto threatens Dark Lord Nobunaga with a speech about Karma that will eventually find him and make him suffer a painful defeat. Nobunaga's answer?
    Nobunaga:"...I cannot wait....."
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas downloadable content Dead Money, you spend most of the time trying to access a secret pre-war fortress of technology for the insane former elder of the Brotherhood of Steel, Elijah. At the end of the DLC, when you finally access the Sierra Madre Vault, you have the option of talking him into coming down, then simply leaving. Elijah will walk into the vault and try to access whats inside. Then he'll accidentally trigger an event on the computer that traps him inside. There's no way out of there now, he's trapped in there until he dies.
    • The hordes of nightmarish Ghost People are victims of karma. The entire construction crew that was building the Villa around the Casino was pulling a scam; they were cutting every corner possible to make the flimsiest, least safe town ever constructed, and saving a ton of money in the process. Partially as a result of their shoddy construction, a dangerous toxic cloud began building up in the ventilation systems. After the bombs fell, with no one to turn off or repair the vents, the Cloud spewed out unstopped for centuries, and the construction workers can be found shambling around the Villa in a horrid parody of life, still wearing their hazmat suits.
      • The hazmat suits themself are also part of the whole karma play. In order to get back on the costs of the Villa's creation, the client got in contact with a group of crazy amoral scientist, who used the Villa as a test lab for their newest creations. One of them being the hazmat suits which were made of an experimental material and could seal people inside them because contact with the cloud quickly corroded the seals. This means the workers who were trapped in the cloud were unable to free themselfs of the suits because of the client having to get back money they displaced.
  • Arguably the sacking of the Dales in Dragon Age. While not directly connected to it, it was likely triggered primarily by their choice to not involve themselves in preventing a potential apocalypse, thus souring their neighbors attitudes to them further and considering the elven attitude towards humans, their reason for noninvolvement was likely a petty one when compared to the fate of the world.
    • Also in Dragon Age: Origins's Dwarf Noble origin, Lord Harrowmont is a Reasonable Authority Figure who will support your character if you were falsely accused and puts his political career on the line to try and save your life (although he ultimately fails because your accuser was one step ahead). You later return to Orzammar and find him deadlocked in a battle for the throne with your accuser, and have the option of handing him the crown.
    • If you spare Loghain and allow him to live, he's a Grey Warden and is being shipped off to Orlais after Awakenings. Loghain hates Orlais.
  • In The Reconstruction, Yacatec is a slave trader who sells his own race into slavery, but he's revealed to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold due to Love Redeems. After the apocalypse, his wife is murdered, and he himself is enslaved by the si'shra.
  • One of the PvP factions in Dark Souls, the Darkmoon Blade, is all about this. When players kill other players and NPCs, they accumulate sin. The Darkmoon covenant is a covenant specifically based around hunting down those with a large amount of sin.
  • In one of the Beyond Good & Evil trailers/in-universe Hillian News propaganda videos, Fehn Digler warns that pearls are illegal to use as currency, and quotes the Alpha Sections as describing the damage the Mammago Garage (which accepts them) has suffered as "poetic justice".
  • Sirrus and Achenar rightfully fall prey to this in Myst. After pulling off their scheme to trap their parents in books, they wind up trapped in prison books themselves.
    • To extend the karma even further, in Myst III: Exile, after trapping Saavedro for 20 years, Sirrus and Achenar remain in their respective prisons for the same amount of time.
  • The player can invoke this on Alexander in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Alexander is revealed to be a Manipulative Bastard who is responsible in torturing and killing hundreds of people to harness the orbs power. He is also manipulated Daniel into torturing innocent people, and lied that he would protect him from the Shadow that's chasing him, and would have just left him to be eaten by it. The player can disrupt the portal from opening leaving him to be eaten by the Shadow.
  • Pretty much any online game can have this happen. Kill another player unprovoked? Be prepared for them to quickly respawn and gun you down. Destroy something that belonged to someone else? Prepare for the same to happen to you. Steal someone's items? Yours will quickly go missing as well.

    Web Comics 
  • When Morris of Domain Tnemrot punches Cheerful Child Mia in the stomach, her Parental Substitute Angel grabs him by the back of the head and smashes him face first into a table, shattering his nose.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • After conquering the hometown of the paladins, Redcloak loses his eye to a paladin that he had tortured in order to gain information about a plan for which he had, in Start of Darkness, murdered his own brother, who himself had lost an eye to a paladin of the same order who helped conquer Redcloak's hometown. It's like a karma palindrome. For bonus points, it's the other eye! And afterwards, when Xykon's phylactery is falling, it bounces off the statue of Redcloak, hitting the same eye he lost!! Brilliant! For double bonus points, Redcloak, as a cleric, has access to the Regenerate spell that would let him get the eyeball back... but Xykon forbids him from ever using it, so that he'll always have a reminder of his failure.
    • Also from their first fight with the Linear Guild the guild disables their cleric and moments later loses their own. Roy even said at the time "I think karma just evened that score".
    • From the same fight, Nale falling off the bridge that he ordered destroyed. And lampshaded again with "Karma-riffic!"
    • Vaarsuvius unleashes a spell called Familicide that wipes out an enormous number of black dragons and their descendants. Turns out the Draketooth clan that guards one of the gates is descended from a black dragon, wiping out the clan and leaving the gate unguarded.
  • Material Girl has this happening to the main character right at the beginning.
  • In WTF Comics, Nikisha (a Dark Elf Dark Action Girl working as an assassin for the villains) helps an imprisoned child she was supposed to be guarding escape. The same child promptly acts as a Character Witness and prevents the heroes from killing her. That is not enough; the Big Good happens to meet her shortly after, and gives her advice on how to protect herself from the Big Bad. Karmariffic, indeed.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the exact moment Cloney tries to bite off Aylee's head, Torg chops Cloney's head right off.
  • A Loonatic's Tale: Not a villainous example, but certainly notable: Dr. Chester is mean to everyone, and the degree to which he is mean is in inverse proportion to how much they need someone to be nice to them (so to his bosses, he's merely surly, but to Dr. Qubert or his own patients, he's actively derisive and hostile). As a result nothing ever goes his way-machines won't work, his bosses wonder why they hired his useless butt, and his coworkers have nothing nice to say either to or about him.
  • From Blip, this guy trying to slip some roofies to a succubus.
    • Also worth noting is the children at Hesters summer camp who could have saved themselves some future therapy bills and mental trauma had they been actually 'nice' to Hester, as it stands their hazing of the red headed witch is directly linked to their terrorizing by a vampire.
  • In Dead Winter, Arlen insists on kicking Liz, Alice, Monday, and Lou out of his shelter (in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse)—and as if that wasn't dickish enough, he also steals the keys to Lou's van. Then the hitman Sixgun comes looking for Monday, and the van out front convinces him that Monday is inside the shelter. Arlen attempts to bar Sixgun's entrance, and just gets shot.
  • In Urban Underbrush,
  • In White Dark Life, Dark Matt becomes the embodiment of this post-Time Skip. Before the Time Skip, on the other hand, he spends pretty much every other appearance getting hit with it instead.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm, Regent is baffled in the Shell arc by Taylor's refusal to seek any revenge on those bullying her civilian identity. After they discover one of these bullies to be a Type V Anti-Hero, Regent takes control of her for a mission then fakes driving her out of town for his team. In actual fact, he puts her through a Humiliation Conga by exposing all of her misdeeds that he can and revealing her nature to her family, culminating in nearly having her kill herself, all because she messed with his teammate and he knows she'd never do it herself.
  • Played for laughs in Team Four Star's Let's Play of Left 4 Dead 2 custom campaign I Hate Mountains. During the rescue, they remind each other to remember the lessons learned when they played Hard Rain. After a Beat, they start shooting Kaiser Neko, who was the Sole Survivor of Hard Rainnote . When the rest of the group runs to the escape plane, a Tank appears and starts kicking their butts; they instantly declare it the Karma Tank (though two of them still manage to get away).
    • In Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged, Lanipator gets hit twice with this during part 3 of "Blood Harvest". At one point Takahata has been incapped and Kaiser Neko asks if anyone wants to help him. Lani just says he's shooting Taka. A Charger then attacks Lani. Later, Ganxingba gets trapped by fire and Lani decides to throw a gas can and a propane tank to make it worse. He's then grabbed by a smoker. In both instances he calls it karma.
      • In a Serious Sam: BFE mission, Lani made a joke about fat people and was blown up seconds later. He calmly admitted that was karma.
  • In the Yogscast Minecraft machinima, Simon jokingly sets fire to the Yogcave, then stands around yakking while Lewis panics trying to put the flames out. Moments later, Simon is "accidentally" knocked into a deep underground pit. He climbs out and promptly burns to death. Later, when he's respawned and the fire's gone out, he wanders out the back door... and triggers a booby trap and blows up.
  • Of all people, The Runaway Guys are struck by this in episode 8 of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, when ProtonJon is attempting to guide the others through the fortress, and JoshJepson decides to have a little fun...
    Chugga: Hey, Jon. Hey, Jon. Don't eat the mushroom.
    Jon: ...I hate your face.
    *Chugga laughs, NCS groans*
    NCS: Man, talk about perfect timing!
    Chugga: I was saving that joke!
    Jon: I like how you scripted jokes for— to say—
    Chugga: Well, I just thought of it on the plane!
    Jon: You thought of it on the wa— You literally have thought of this for days! You've been waiting days to make a "Don't eat the mushroom" reference!
    Chugga: Well, I guess I knew it would bug you! I knew it would bug you, that's why I did it.
  • While she's too oblivious to see it as such, The Nostalgia Chick has got her disregard for the privacy of others thrown back at her a few times, like Obscurus Lupa hiding in her bed or Nella popping up next to her out of nowhere.
  • Bitey is usally the victim of this in the Brackenwood series. This is mostly because he keeps being a total Jerkass to the many peaceful animals of Brackenwood. However in a twist, in "The Last of the Dashkin" it's revealed that some of those sweet little animals may be just as deserving of that karma as Bitey.
  • Played for laughs by The Whitest Kids U Know with the Instant Karma Bigot.
  • Back in 2008 during the midnight launch of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, ScrewAttack members Craig and Ben went to their local Gamestop to auction off an early copy of the game they had received, with the proceeds going to charity. At one point a customer in line for the game objected to having his face on camera and angrily ordered them to turn it off. (His face was edited out with a paper bag with a frowney face reading "I don't want my face on camera") Eventually, he accused them of assault and called the cops. When they showed up and the guys gave their side of the story, the cops turned around and arrested the guy who called them.
  • In Achievement Hunter's Let's Play of Far Cry 3, a lot of the gang gets hit with this constantly. Incidents include Jack getting ran over by a truck twice after he reveals that he refused to help Ray with being attacked by a dog, Ray getting attacked by a dog for taunting Jack over being ran over by the truck and Michael getting attacked by a dog when he says that the dogs were attacking him because he was Puerto Rican.
    • This has been a thing with the AH Let's Plays, especially with the Let's Play Grand Theft Auto V series as Ryan enjoys being a dick and trying to mow down everyone during certain events (especially the Heist episodes). Karma will usually come back and bite him hard.
  • In the Bad Call TV episode "What's in a Name?", both of the executives that oppose changing the name of Ayds Candy in light of the growing AIDS crisis wind up dying of AIDS.
  • In Noob, Omega Zell, in addition to being a misogynist with three female guildmates, also has quite a few cruel words for Sparadrap. Guess what happens when he gets into his dream guild through the back door, hence angering greatly its female recruiter, teams up with the recruiter in question and pretty much ends up being The Load.

    Western Animation 
  • On Archer, this is pretty much the driving force behind most of the bad things that happen to the characters. Archer himself stands out in that while he sometimes seems like a Karma Houdini, almost any time he is injured or a mission goes bad, it is because of his own actions, tendency to get distracted by trivial things while in dangerous situations, or penchant for antagonizing other people.
  • Despite being a Sadist Show, Family Guy believes in this trope. Lois falls victim to this when Meg gets back at her for negligence on at least two different occasions, Connie falls victim to this when Chris made her unpopular (and when she made fun of Meg for going to the prom with Brian, with Brian calling her out on making fun of Meg by pointing out that the reason she does that is because she developed sexually earlier than Meg did and takes out all of her low self-esteem on an innocent victim), and Peter falls victim to this at times for all the idiotic and/or jerkass things he's done (one episode had him stand trial for blowing up a children's hospital).** Inverted when he gets charged a jail sentence... till next Sunday night at 9:00.
    • The most infamous example involved Quagmire's sister's abusive boyfriend, Jeff. After emotionally, verbally, and physically abusing her, Quagmire, Peter, and Joe all hatch up a plan to kill him. It backfires, and Jeff proceeds to assault Peter and Joe before trying to kill Quagmire. When it looks like he's won, Quagmire gets in a car and murders him with it. Easily among the darkest, and most satisfying moments of the show.
    • Even Quagmire gets some of this trope when he hooks up with a woman who has an even more voracious sexual appetite than him, and ends up kidnapped, held as her sex slave, and tortured for her amusement until the gang finds and rescues him. These are no worse than the things he routinely does to women.
    • Carter Pewterschmidt FINALLY is completely humiliated in "Christmas Guy".
    • Depending on your point of view, any character that has a status of Butt Monkey temporary in the show (like Stewie) can be seen as Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Chow Hound, and its infamous ending, "This time, we DIDN'T forget the gravy!"
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy are ALWAYS falling victim to this. For example, when the Eds play a trick on Jimmy in "Tinker Ed", this leads to Sarah and Jimmy setting up an elaborate trap for them to fall into, resulting in an embarrassing photo being taken of them in fairy-tale costumes which is promptly handed off to Kevin to show to the other kids.
  • In The Movie, however, the Ed-boys actually have this work for them in the end, when it turns out that Eddy's brother is a sadistic bastard who beats up on Eddy when the poor guy was just looking for protection from an angry mob. Funny how quickly said angry mob changes sides once they see that the person they're chasing isn't the biggest bad on the block.
  • A good example in Kim Possible happens to Bonnie. It is revealed that she was the only senior in Middleton High who wasn't graduating because she missed an important quiz on the last week of school, forcing her to attend summer school.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka tries to stop Well-Intentioned Extremist Jet from robbing a harmless old man belonging to the hostile Fire Nation, and when later Jet attempts to destroy the village, Sokka is able to successfully evacuate it after the old man speaks out in his favor.
    • In the sequel, Korra accidentally injures a baby dragon bird and takes it back to its nest. In return, the parent dragon bird carries her to the spirit portal and later saves her from Unalaq.
  • Adventure Time example. In the episode "You Made Me," Lemongrab tortures several people in an electrical chamber, tries to KO his mom, spies on the citizens of the Candy Kingdom as they sleep, and assaults a baby. In his next episode, "Mystery Dungeon," he is KO'd by the Ice King, separated from his family (who are in the process of slowly starving to death, as is Lemongrab himself,) brought to the Mystery Dungeon against his will, and is nearly killed when a giant monster squeezes out all of his blood.
  • In The Boondocks, Riley is playing a game of basketball where he got the center to run off crying by telling her that her parents were getting divorced and waiting until after her birthday to tell her, and she was replaced by an autistic kid. Said socially challenged child turns out to be a child-prodigy at basketball.
    • Another example was Uncle Ruckus Tempting Fate by declaring that if he wasn't correct, may God strike him down. God does. At the same time, this is positive Karma for Huey, who had spent the entirety of the episode trying to prove the innocence of a man on death row. The lightning strike knocks out the power on the electric chair for just long enough that the appeal proving him innocent came through.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman gets bitten in the ass by this every so often. For example, he feigns Tourettes syndrome (mental disorder that strips people of control over their behavior and speech) so he could swear to his heart's content without reprimand. All goes shiny until he loses control of himself and starts spilling out all his embarrassing secrets.
    • To balance this, however, he is often thrown a bone on the rare occasions those he plots against are presented with similar cruel intentions (eg. bumbling terrorists or immoral anti-tobacco companies). In recent episodes, odd occasions have shown the other boys turn on Cartman without provocation or go to similar ruthless measures in their Escalating War with him (especially Kyle, who has an exceptional hatred of him) only for it to fall flat on them (eg. Fatbeard). That said, this doesn't prevent Cartman from taking his retaliation completely overboard at times (given all the unprovoked pain and humiliation Cartman went through in Scott Tenorman Must Die, fans seem to be mixed as to whether his revenge on Manipulative Bastard Scott Tenorman counts as Moral Event Horizon or Moment Of Awesome).
    • "Humancentipad" is possibly the ultimate case of Cartman getting an episode of this trope. His mother stands up to him for once for the episode and just as he's about to be rewarded for humiliating her on national television, his reward is taken away. So he starts yelling insults and accusations at God, and gets struck down by lightning.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, a show that thrives on contrived coincidences, if Doofenshmirtz doesn't do anything particularly malicious in an episode, he'll usually get a happy ending along with the other characters.
  • In The Batman vs. Dracula, when The Joker shocks Penguin and tosses him into the river, Penguin recovers just in time to see Batman swing after a retreating Joker. He nearly drops the trope name:
    Penguin: Instant karma, Joker!
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • The Joker is usually a Karma Houdini, but he got it good in episode "Beware the Creeper". He pushes Jack Ryder into a vat of chemicals after dosing him with laughing gas. Ryder comes back as The Creeper, who hits on Harley and eventually chases Joker through Gotham in a chase scene so wacky it ends with Joker yelling, "He's a lunatic!" and practically begging Batman for help, only to get arrested.
    • The Creeper wasn't the Joker's first comeuppance. In Joker's Favor, he forced an ordinary man to beg for his life in exchange for a favor, stalked him when he skipped town, called in the favor for a meaningless task, and then left him to die anyways. That same man confronts him, knocks him down, and threatens to blow him up, forcing him to beg for Batman.
    • Not to mention the various nutshots he received throughout the DCAU shows he appeared in.]
    • In ''Return Of The Joker" he is killed by the child he tortured. When he is revived, he gets zapped by one of his joy buzzers.
  • Spongebob Squarepants
    • Squidward's horrific luck was intially presented as a product of this trope due to his jerkass attitude, as the show evolved however, his Butt Monkey role became less provoked and leaned more into Comedic Sociopathy territory. Now he's widely considered the show's biggest woobie.
      • This also makes the moments where he finally gets his revenge, or when karma finally hits Spongebob, all the more satisfying.
    • Mr. Krabs tends to be a victim of this in episodes centric on him. Coincidentally these are the episodes when he's at his greediest and being antagonistic.
    • Plankton's schemes to steal the Krabby Patty always fail…except the one in the movie, where he frames Mr. Krabs for stealing King Neptune's crown, steals the formula when it becomes unguarded, popularizes his Chum Bucket restaurant with the Krabby Patties, and, when Squidward catches on to his plan, uses his technology to brainwash everyone in Bikini Bottom and become its ruler. But in the end, Spongebob recovers the crown and, through use of a music number, breaks the mind control devices. Plankton is trampled into a puddle, and then arrested.
  • Tom and Jerry has Jerry provoking Tom for little to no reason at all and almost never gets punished for it, but one rare exception occurs in "The Million Dollar Cat", where Tom got tired of Jerry's shenanigans and attacked him even if doing so would cost him a million-dollar inheritance.
    Tom: Gee, I'm throwin' away a million dollars... BUT I'M HAPPY!
    • Especially noticeable since Jerry had been pestering Tom because he knew the cat couldn't fight back.
    • Actually this happened to Jerry on a deceptively frequent basis, especially in the later Hanna Barbara shorts. At least a dozen instances where Jerry provoked Tom first or took his retribution to vindictive extremes, Tom would get the last laugh. Cases both characters were as bad as each other often ended in a stalemate. Similar odd cases Tom made a truce with Jerry often gave him a Karmic Jackpot.
  • Cyril Sneer both suffered and benefited from this trope. When he was a nasty Corrupt Corporate Executive, he would be repeatedly burned and lose money whenever one of his schemes was thwarted. After Character Development turned him into an Honest Corporate Executive and he became a better person overall, his luck dramatically increased and he began winning Karmic Jackpots.
  • Alejandro suffers this in the Total Drama World Tour season finale. After manipulating most of the female cast for most of the season, he falls in love with Heather....who tricks him into holding off his victory and kneeing him in the balls before pushing him down a mountain. He suffers the same fate he inflicted on all his victims. DAMN. And in Heather's victory, he THEN gets burned alive under an avalanche of molten lava. He's singed to a crisp and still alive, but still.
    • The show's host Chris always gets his at the end of each season. Being an egotistical Jerk Ass Dungeon Master who's job is to keep all the challenges on the show interesting, he goes the entire seasons making the contestant's lives as miserable as possible, all the while cutting corners on the budget whenever possible and making sure the Red Shirt interns get killed. Karma always ends up biting him in the ass in some way or another, but it finally all accumulates to the ultimate punishment when the government arrests him for turning Wawanakwa Island into an environmental disaster.
    • In Total Drama Island Heather bullies Lindsey and at one point threatens to cut off her hair. In the episode Triple Dog Dare the dare Lindsey created was for the person to be shaved bald, resulting in Heather losing almost all her hair.
  • An episode of Johnny Test was devoted to karma. Johnny insulted a man with a "glandular problem" that made him look fat by calling him fat. Thanks to testing a muscle-enhancing bar for Bling-Bling Boy, Johnny gets the same problem and is insulted by the same man as earlier. Throughout the episode, Dukey keeps telling him to do good deeds, but Johnny doesn't believe in karma...things keep going bad for Johnny until he finally does a good deed, triggering a series of events that returned him to normal. Bling-Bling also tried to help Johnny return to normal, and ultimately became a pop star.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown the monks choose to save a little old lady, letting the villains get away with the "Bird of Paradise." Guess what the little old lady turns out to be.
  • Happens in Lola And Virginia where the Rich Bitch Virginia always gets her comeuppance in the end.
  • Later episodes of The Angry Beavers has this happen to Norbert a lot as a result of his increasingly Jerkass behavior.
  • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Barbary Coast Bunny", a sleazy con-man swindled Bugs out of an enormous gold nugget he'd found. Later on, Bugs walked into the man's shiny new casino and every game paid off for him (even the man's gun dispensed coins for Bugs). Hence the moral of the story: don't steal karats from a rabbit.
    • Also sometimes happens both ways, since rare occasions the usually infallible Bugs acts like an unprovoked Jerk Ass usually result in him being the luckless pursuer for once. His bouts against Cecil Turtle for example were always pivoted by him pompously belittling and challenging Cecil. Cecil beat him every time.
  • In the Daffy Duck cartoon "My Favorite Duck," Daffy, in his Screwy Squirrel persona, goes out of his way to torment a camping Porky; every time Porky is pissed off enough to threaten violence, Daffy produces various signs that state it isn't duck season and Porky will be fined $500 bucks if he harms Daffy in any way. By the end of the cartoon, Daffy gets his just desserts when the final signs end up stating that it is duck season, and Porky eagerly takes the opportunity to get back at Daffy with a shotgun.
  • A relatively minor example from an episode of The Simpsons, when Homer taunts Bart for his joining the Junior Campers:
    Homer: How was jerk practice, boy? Did they teach you how to sing to trees and build crappy furniture out of useless wooden logs? Huh? [The chair that Homer is sitting on collapses] D'oh! Stupid poetic justice!
  • Angelica Pickles of Rugrats gets hit with this. However, how she gets hit with this depends on if Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil are involved in what she's doing. If the babies are involved in any way, then, yes, she'll get hit with this. However, she's been shown to pull the wool over her parents and the other grown-ups' eyes easily and incidents involving Suzie solely tend to have things go in Angelica's favor.
  • Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force is incredibly and unremorsefully: rude, greedy, selfish, lazy, arrogant...and constantly abusive towards his roommate, Meatwad. Unlike most Jerkass characters from recent comedy cartoons though, he receives this trope on a frequent basis.
  • Pete on Goof Troop suffers this constantly. Sometimes he will try to do something selfish and end up having to deal with the consequences of his selfish action gone wrong. Other times he'll try to manipulate Goofy, only to have that backfire in a way that causes more problems than it solves. Treating his son as a lesser being can often lead to the boy getting either some sort of passive-aggressive revenge or aid from outside sources (if not the universe itself, which has actively guilt-tripped him about it via bus ads). And in any episodes he appears to be, if only slightly, a Karma Houdini? There's another episode matching it somewhere where out of context he looks like a harmless Chew Toy.
  • On Garfield and Friends, Jon's cousin's son gets a variation of this and Karma Houdini: On one hand, he gets off scot-free for framing Garfield twice. On the other hand, Garfield manages to get some revenge on the kid despite being scolded and shamed by Jon.
  • One Looney Tunes cartoon had a mouse destroying the friendship between Sylvester the Cat and a bulldog all so he could get some cheese. At the end of the cartoon, the two are pummeled senseless by the mouse's last prank and, as he heads for the cheese, the magnet he used to perpetrate the last prank ends up pulling a ceiling lamp down on top of him, knocking him senseless.
  • Done in a Robot Chicken episode where Billy Joel insults the patrons of the bar he plays at through song, especially once such individual who he reveals he's sleeping with his wife and claiming his novel that he's writing will fail horribly. As Billy leaves for the night, said person stabs him repeatedly and kills him. Then gets a call from his agent that his book is a hit, meaning he can leave his blue collar job. And that his wife died from an STD. The man happily hangs up and shouts "POETIC JUSTICE!".
  • The dog from Bad Luck Blackie bullied that short's main character before being stalked by a black cat for it.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Twilight's Kingdom Part 2:
    • Discord stabs Equestria, and Fluttershy, in the back siding with Tirek. Tirek, after convincing Discord he was an ally and a friend, stabs him in the back. This seems to cause Discord to have a true Heel Realization.
    • Likewise, Tirek going back on his word to share Equestria with Discord. The medallion was meant to be a sign of trust between Discord and him. When he doesn't uphold the symbolism of such, it shows Discord the error of his ways and gives Twilight the very thing needed to beat him.
    • In A Canterlot Wedding, Celestia ignored Twilight's warnings about Cadence, who was really the Changeling Queen, Chrysalis, in disguise. This gave the Queen the time she needed to absorb enough love from Shining Armor to defeat Celestia in combat. Later, the Changeling Queen is defeated by Shining Armor and Cadence, with the same love she claimed to live off of.
  • The king in Wat's Pig did not do his part to protect the kingdom from the invaders, so he needs to help his family farm in their new cottage home (where Wat was raised). Cue the Rain.

Alternative Title(s):

Poetic Justice