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Here's a villain or an otherwise villainous character in the story who has been doing some very cruel and wicked deeds. The heroes are very indignant and want them to be struck with Laser-Guided Karma
or at least die a cruel, fitting death
if his actions are impossible to forgive
, but much to their shock and disgust as well as the audience's, the villain evaded their punishment
. They just got lucky.
However, to satisfy the heroes' moral sensibilities, the villain eventually did get punished or killed
, but it isn't shown. One character may have witnessed their punishment and was eager to tell the others about it or a narrator of the TV series mentions about the villain's unseen punishment. For the sake of the heroes' (and the audience), it could have been better if they would witness the villain getting what was coming to them, but as long as they're punished, that's good enough for them.
Keep in mind that while this trope usually involves situations where a character who are
being unseeingly punished and then the viewer is told about this, another variant is where a character will
face their punishment. In a sense, a character facing their future punishment in the end of the story can be more of a unseen Downer Ending
This can be an Offscreen Moment of Awesome
if it's a character who dished out justice to the villain in a way that sounds epic. Sometimes, the punishment is unseen due to how gruesome and graphic it is to the younger audience, especially if it involves them dying in the most unpleasant manner
. If a character's Offscreen Karma is deliberately planned by another character, it may result in Make It Look Like an Accident
. Such karma can be revealed in a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
. Compare Bus Crash
. This can be related to Put on a Bus to Hell
, when the character put on the bus was "bad".
Anime and Manga
- Such karma may be mentioned in a Where Are They Now epilogue, such as Animal House's Neidermeyer getting fragged by his unit in Vietnam.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, John Daggett spends the movie being an overgrown, spoiled-bitch-of-a-child until Bane grows weary of his shit. You don't see what happened to Daggett. You just hear his death announced over the radio.
- At the end of The Client, Uncle Johnny sends Barry for a drive with two of his associates. For Barry, this is likely to be a one-way trip.
- The Canadian tv movie Net Worth mostly has a Downer Ending with the NHL players union crushed and the corrupt management victorious. However, the end text explains that one villain was soon fired, another got into legal trouble and decades later several former NHL players sued for the pension money they were denied and got millions of dollars.
- At the end of Notorious, it's implied that Alex is going to be offed by his Nazi associates for marrying an American spy.
- Part of Shooter's Bob Lee Swagger's Establishing Character Moment is when the men of the Government Conspiracy read through his dossier, mentioning that the bastard Intelligence agent which left him and his friend behind enemy lines to die was "mysteriously" killed and nobody was able to pin anything on Swagger, so they gave him a honorable discharge. Of course, they don't manage to read between the lines.
- Old Rose mentions at the end of Titanic that her Jerkass fiancee Cal lost all of his money in the 1929 stock market crash. He was so distraught that he killed himself.
- Late in Deryni, Wencit of Torenth challenges Kelson to a four-on-four duel arcane and claims to have the sanction fo the Camberian Council for it. He even claims the Council will send four members to act as referees. Unknown to him, Denis Arilan (auxiliary bishop of Kelson's capital Rhemuth) is also a member of that Council, and no one told him about it. Arilan summons the Council and is told no one has requested their services. Suspecting a plot (Wencit having four extra partisans to help him win in an unfair fight), Arilan asks four actual members of the Council to arbitrate the duel, and they eventually agree. On the morning of the duel, Morgan asks when the Councillors will arrive, and Arilan simply tells him and the others that the Councillors are slightly delayed taking care of the four impostors.
- Krager from The Elenium might qualify — it's implied at the end of the last book of the Tamuli that he's finally developed cirrhosis of the liver and will die from it.
- Near the end of the Honor Harrington book War of Honor, Descroix (a member of the High Ridge Government) flees the ruins of said government with several million dollars of stolen money. It turned out later that she had a side job with the Mesan Alignment, and when her power base collapsed she outlived her usefulness.
- In "Old Iron" of the The Railway Series, two boys were on James' footplate, fiddling with his controls, and then run while James started. At the end, the narrator mentions that they were "soundly walloped" by their fathers.
- The behind-the-scenes villain of Snuff, Gravid Rust, is strongly implied to be assassinated by one of Vetinari's Dark Clerks in the wake of the exposure of his shady dealings.
- Whenever Alfred Hitchcock Presents had a story about someone getting away with a crime, the show was forced by the censors to tack on a "but they got caught afterwards" epilogue by Hitchcock, whose deadpan delivery seemed to hint at "yeah, right."
- On The Blacklist Hector Lorca is a vicious drug lord responsible for numerous murders. He kidnaps Liz and hires the Stewmaker, a ruthless hitman, to torture and kill her. Reddington agrees to fly Lorca out of the US and provide him with a new identity in exchange for information that could save Liz's life. At the end of the episode the good guys are outraged that Lorca is going to get away with all that he did but Reddington points out that Lorca was flown out of the country on one of Reddington's planes. Given how protective Reddington is of Liz, one can assume that Lorca will not survive his flight.
- As of season 7 in The West Wing, Jeff Haffley, a smug, unlikable, and pragmatic Republican, is given a bit of a final offscreen comeuppance when the Republicans lose control of the house, and the last we hear about Haffley is that he's out of a job.
- In the end of Mega Man Battle Network 6, the last game in the series, Lord Wily (Big Bad for 4 games) is mentioned in the epilogue to have been finally captured and sentenced to prison. Good thing, though, is that he turned a new leaf while there.
- A mild version occurs in the Super Friends 1973/74 episode "The Menace of the White Dwarf". Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog decide to fly to Washington D.C. to warn the rest of the Super Friends personally about Raven's threat instead of calling them on the phone. As a result they get captured by Raven. At the end of the episode Marvin says that Batman gave them quite a talking to about their bad judgment.
- Thomas the Tank Engine. In "Dirty Work", Diesel had made lies about Duck to The Fat Controller and the other engines that Duck called some names about them to the troublesome trucks, and succeeded in doing so. In the end of "A Close Shave", however, The Fat Controller told Duck that he realized Diesel's lies and sent him packing to the other railway.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Dueling Eds", Eddy is beaten by Rolf for desecrating one of his traditions while Kevin films the battle. As Rolf pays his respects to the Eds for consoling with him (in which stuffing eels in their pants), Kevin refuses to partake in this, and Rolf supposedly beats him up offscreen. Generally, Kevin almost always gets away with his antagonistic actions.