Mills: I killed your son because he kidnapped my daughter!
: *slaps Mills*
I DON'T CARE
WHAT HE DID!
It's relatively common that the reason that Alice wants to kill Bob is because Bob killed Charlie. Revenge seems pretty straightforward. But it gets a lot more murky when Charlie was trying to kill Bob and Bob was just defending himself.
They were in a war, it was a fight, Charlie surprised Bob at the worst time, it was an accident, the list goes on. He didn't really want to kill Charlie, and would have avoided doing so if possible. It's likely he regrets it greatly.
That doesn't matter to Alice, though. Even if Charlie was a zombie actively trying to bite someone and Bob just defended them, Bob has to pay
Related to Avenging the Villain
, but in that case Charlie was specifically killed for committing and/or trying to commit evil. This applies when;
- Gray and Grey Morality is in effect, such as (but not limited to) wars and family feuds where both sides are flawed/justified to an extent at some point.
- Charlie is a good guy.
- Charlie was not himself, being possessed or such.
- Charlie was going about his business when a fatal accident happened, even if he was an Evil Empire mook.
A Revenge by Proxy
scenario can result. This may be a part of a Feuding Families
or Cycle of Vengeance
situation. A subtrope of Moral Myopia
. Again, if the one killed was a villain, the example goes in Avenging the Villain
See also Revenge Before Reason
Expect angst and drama
and unmarked spoilers.
Anime and Manga
- One episode of Kino's Journey had Kino meet a woman and the man she had hired as a guard as they were about to set out on a journey. She sat with the man for a while, and learned that he had killed her husband several years ago accidentally while robbing his store, and had been reformed and set free by their justice system, on the condition that he make it up to the woman by mutual agreement. It's made clear that his reform and desire to help the woman any way he can in penance for his crime are genuine. They part, and later Kino is riding through the woods when she hears a gunshot...
- In Samurai Champloo, Jin killed his master Mariya Enshirou in self-defense. Try telling that to Mariya's other students, who are hunting for Jin throughout the series to avenge him. Particularly notable is Not-So-Harmless Villain Ogura Bunta, who managed to hold his own against Jin when he finally encountered him. The shame of his defeat, however, caused Bunta to be Driven to Suicide, according to Jin's Unknown Rival Yukimaru. For his part, Yukimaru doesn't care about their master, and just wants to kill Jin to absorb the reputation of the thousand man killer.
- In Enuma Elish, Tiamat does her best to avenge Apsu's death at the hands of the Annunaki, completely ignoring the two small facts that Apsu was actively planning to kill them and that she herself ratted him out to them, allowing a preventive strike.
- In David Eddings' The Redemption of Althalus, when working as a mercenary, Eliar kills the ruler of the city state the mercenaries were attacking. He ends up being captured and Andine, the daughter of said ruler, enacts personal revenge. He gets rescued eventually. And she eventually gets over it. They end up married.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Lord Karstark wants revenge against Jaime Lannister for killing two of his sons. He does this by killing two of Jaime's relatives who were held captive, killing several men on his own side to get to them. It's pointed out that killing defenseless prisoners and your own allies is not the same as killing an enemy in battle, but the distinction seems lost on him.
- There are other instances where someone (Balon Greyjoy and the Sand Snakes) acknowledges that the people they spent years plotting revenge against are all dead, yet they still want revenge against their House.
- The Martells are seeking vengeance against Ser Gregor Clegane and his liege lord Tywin lannister for murdering Princess Elia Martell and her children during the overthrow of the regime she married into. (True, it was a war and the children were in line to the throne, but it was a particularly brutal and unnecessary murder.) Oberyn Martell is granted the chance to fight Clegane in a duel... and when he loses fair and square, his children start clamoring for revenge against the Lannisters for HIS death, even though Clegane admitted his crimes and died of his wounds anyway, and Lord Tywin is dead from unrelated causes.
- In Diane Duane's novel Spock's World, the Big Bad is seeking revenge on Spock for the death of a mate. What the Big Bad fails to take into account is that the mate took a suicidal risk to get closer to the Big Bad because the mate thought that said character's brooding over the last encounter with Spock was romantic.
- In the Honor Harrington series, Solarian Fleet Admiral Rajampet Rajani states, in no uncertain terms, that he does not care how justified the Manticorans believed they were in killing Admiral Josef Byng, and goes on to say he doesn't care how justified they actually were. His biggest concern is the blow to the Solarian League Navy's prestige their actions have caused and the precedents it could set. This attitude is not helped by the fact that the Manticorans keep Curb Stomping his navy.
- Angel: Turns out that Wesley took Connor to protect him from a False Prophecy stating that "The father will kill the son." Angel accepts this, and tells Wesley so before picking up a Vorpal Pillow. Having one's child sucked into a hell dimension can do that to a person. To be fair, Wesley wasn't the one who sent his son to a hell dimension. The people who did had cut Wesley's throat by that point.
- Farscape: In the very first episode, Crichton accidentally crashes into a ship piloted by Bialar Crais' brother, killing him instantly. Crais becomes insanely obsessed with ferreting out Crichton and killing him, an obsession that lasts most of first season, to the point where eventually Crais loses his job because his priorities are entirely focused on revenge — despite the fact that Crichton continually tries to convince him that it was an accident.
- In an episode where an Evil Sorcerer brings both of them (or, at least, their minds) into his "temple", he does his best to fuel Crais's desire for revenge. Crichton once actually manages to almost convince Crais that it wasn't Crichton's fault by pointing at simple facts: Crichton's Farscape One pod is nowhere near as advanced as a Peacekeeper Prowler (no weapons, minimal defenses, pitiful maneuverability), so there's no way his brother's death could have been intentional. Unfortunately, Malgus chooses this moment to show an image of his brother burning to death, knowing how Crais will react. After Crais becomes a temporary ally, he admits that his own career was waning, and he was projecting this frustration onto his brother's "killer".
- "Pilot" starts with a group of militiamen trying to take Ben Matheson into custody peacefully, and he's even willing enough to go; all he asks is a few moments to make arrangements for someone to care for his children, which the militia leader grants him. Unfortunately, his son Danny overreacts and rouses half the settlement to resisting (and dying). The militia may be bad guys, but this particular scene was a pretty clear cut case of self-defense. The heroes don't see it that way.
- "No Quarter" has one militia soldier guilty of it as well, in a far more blatant and infuriating fashion. Danny Matheson kills one of the militiamen (Templeton) and the friend of this militiaman (Private Richards) gives this speech about how "that soldier had a name and a family", clearly trying to up the guilt for Danny's "senseless slaughter". When Danny coldly points out that said soldier killed Danny's father first, just seconds earlier, as the first shot fired in the battle, the soldier's friend simply chuckles and says, "Well, let's be honest, that was no big loss."
- Soap: Danny wants to kill Burt, his stepfather, because he killed his father. Burt also feels horrendously guilty over this fact, but it turns out that Burt only killed him in self-defense. Danny eventually agrees with him.
- In American Dad! episode "Escape from Pearl Bailey", the popular kids swear revenge on Steve and his friends for Steve's revenge plot against Lisa Silver and her Libby friends for Debbie's class presidential campaign getting sabotaged, and persist even after Steve realizes it was his friends who did it, and apologizes for it.
- In the X-Men: Evolution episode "Blind Alley", Mystique pretends to be Scott's brother Alex, supposedly stuck in Mexico after losing his passport, in order to lure Scott out on his own, knocking him out and leaving him stuck in the middle of the Mexican desert without his glasses to stop his eyes, saying "That's payback!" after Scott let her get captured inside a military base in "Day of Recovery". However Scott did that because she had abducted Professor X and impersonated him throughout the two-part episode "Day of Reckoning", and refused to divulge the location of the real Professor X. Note that when he managed to find his way to the city, she intended to knock him out and do it again, somewhere even more remote.
- The Dexter's Laboratory segment Mandarker cements Mandark's motive for outshining Dexter, as revenge for destroying his lab (through Dee Dee). But while it does a good job creating sympathy for Mandark, what it fails to mention is that Dexter did that in retaliation for Mandark forcing him to shut down his lab. A later episode reveals that Mandark's real motive is payback for Dexter making fun of his original name - "Susan".