"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
One character has done wrong, which upsets or enrages
another character. But the offending character sincerely apologizes to the wronged party and asks for their forgiveness and start all over again. Much to his displeasure, the wronged party rejects his apology and vows to never forgive him for what he's done
And along came this trope. As a result for the character's unforgiving approach and his tendency to hold a grudge, they soon find out that he is receiving criticism and antagonism from other characters for not being forgiving to the wrongdoer. They knew that the person's apology was very sincere and it was the appropriate for the other to forgive. They may know that the more the character holds a grudge, he will be just as bad as the one who wronged him
. The grudgeholder may realize that the remorseful character is emotionally distraught or will become furious of the other character's lack of forgiveness.
This can be taken to ridiculous levels if the wrongdoer never apologizes for his actions or at least his apology isn't sincere enough, yet the wronged character gets flak for not forgiving him, which brings to the Family-Unfriendly Aesop
to forgive one another even if they still continue to torture you
. When it's bad enough, the grudgeholder may well let go of their grudge and sincerely apologize to the people around, but then people will still hold him in a bad position, creating a chain of grudgeholders.
One reason why this provokes such anger is that if you refuse to accept reparations, you may end up making your destruction a tactical necessity for someone who has nothing against you and maybe never did; a form of Don't Make Me Destroy You
Many revenge-related plots will involve a character successfully carrying out their revenge on their tormentor, but as a result, their loved ones will become ashamed of him
and abandon him. It's possible for them to feel remorseful for carrying out revenge
, and may undo the damage that revenge has caused. Or maybe not.
The opposite of Punished for Sympathy
where a character receives contempt from others for showing pity, kindness, and mercy to the offender. This can be one of the ways where character is Made Out to Be a Jerkass
. A subtrope of The Complainer Is Always Wrong
. If the character has more deeply injured a third party, the Ordered Apology
may be demanded for forgiveness. Can be due to the belief that If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him
or If You Taunt Him, You Will Be Just Like Him
Anime & Manga
- Rurouni Kenshin: Yukishiro Enishi causes much of the strife and violence, both indirectly and directly, that occurs in the series. He is angry at Kenshin Himura for having unwittingly killed his sister Tomoe in an accident that occurred during the Meiji Revolution. Even after Kenshin's repeated genuine apologies for that tragedy, Enishi still wishes to make the lives of him and his friends and family a living hell. Thus, Kenshin calls him out on these unjustified acts that have cost numerous people their lives because Enishi wanted revenge rather than forgiving Kenshin as he should have in the first place.
- Discworld: In The Truth, Mr. Tulip tells Mr. Pin that as long as you have a potato and are sorry, it's all right, you'll get another chance. So Mr. Pin steals Mr. Tulip's potato, murders him, and when he dies, assures Death that he's sorry. Death proceeds to Exact Words him.
- In Louisa May Alcott's Little Men, Jack leaves a letter saying that neither Nat nor Dan had stolen the money and runs away. His father sends him back. Professor Bhaer informs that he will have to apologize to the boy he stole from, and the boys he let suffer under the suspicion, and Jack is sulky because he had said he was sorry in the letter. The professor tells him he will have to work to regain trust.
- Pavel Young does this to Honor Harrington. His grudge for a beating she gave him at the Academy (which she did because he tried to rape her) led him to spend years pulling strings trying unsuccessfully to sabotage her career....all while thinking she was hounding him, taking his constant stream of crap assignments and missed promotions as evidence she was plotting against him with an army of partisans. In reality, his obsessive grudge-holding had gotten him onto the black books of a lot of senior officers, especially those who actually had met Honor and been impressed.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians Nico holds a book-long grudge against Percy for Bianca's death, even if it wasn't his fault and Percy apologizes profusely. Bianca herself tells him to knock it off, and that holding grudges is the Fatal Flaw for children of Hades. In the sequel series, he seems to have gotten over his grudge-holding, but he reveals under duress that he irrationally resents Annabeth for ending up with Percy, when Nico had feelings for him.
- In George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire most of the problems in the feudal society happens because everybody holds on to grudges and refuses to learn how to forgive. Stannis Baratheon is perpetually angry that he is not respected as is Tyrion Lannister, Ned Stark towards the Lannisters and later, the undead who returns to perpetuate her cycle of revenge. Likewise Daenerys Targaryen refuses to see the enemies of her psychotic father as anything other than "usurper's dogs".
- In-Universe, House Frey are seen this way. They hate their fellow nobles who look at them as Nouveau Riche and upstarts, while their fellow nobles resent House Frey because they are petty in settling their grudges and refuse to render leal service to their Liege Lords without asking for the tiniest advantage and leg-up. This leads to a Self Fulfilling Prophecy and even if, the Freys had genuine grievances towards Robb Stark, their cruel massacre at the Red Wedding is so much a Moral Event Horizon that everybody wants the Freys dead.
- In A Week in the Woods, the protagonist Mark (whose family is constantly moving) behaves rudely to his new teacher Mr. Maxwell but regrets his actions soon after. He gives him an apology letter, but Mr. Maxwell refuses to forgive him and his grudge lets him pin the blame on Mark when the kid appears to have brought a knife to their field trip. When he and another teacher discover the knife isn't Mark's, Mr. Maxwell is rebuked but not for very long as he too has realized the idiocy of holding in hate against the kid.
- In House of Night, Rephaim murders Dragon's wife. He later switches sides, and the heroine is shocked- shocked- that Dragon doesn't forgive Rephaim.
- Hilariously played in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "The Script Formerly Known As...". Will and Hilary beg for Philip's forgiveness for bringing a dismissed juror of his trial to Hilary's talk show. As Philip watches the apology, an old woman comes up to him and yells outs "You should be ashamed of yourself!" and hits him with her purse.
- In Matthew 6:15, Jesus states to his disciples that if a person doesn't forgive the transgressor, then neither will God forgive the person who doesn't forgive, which implicates that holding a grudge will land you in hell. This pretty much makes sense considering that Jesus wants humanity to forgive one another because God has done the same to them.
- One of the reasons the Dwarves of Warhammer don't get along with other races is because their grudges are treasured from generation to generation (no matter how minor or long ago), even kept in a Big Book of War that they take to battle. It goes without saying that their attempts to resolve one results in more dead dwarves, meaning more grudges to be settled later on. Humans, who have a much shorter memory, don't understand why they won't drop it (for example, a noble who'd commissioned a castle from them paid three boatloads of gold, and his name went in the book when it was discovered the sum was three pieces short).
- In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Squid's Defense", after learning how to defend himself through karate, Squidward goes to beat up a thug that tries to steal his groceries earlier, but finds out that it was going to return them to him. An ashamed SpongeBob and Sandy scold Squidward for using karate for vengeance and not self-defense and took off his karate belt, followed by Squidward being arrested.