One of the most devastating Awful Truths
a character can recieve.
"You caused the death of your friend/parent/mentor."
Often a Wham Line
, there is no more reliable way to send a heroic character spiralling into grief
than to reveal that they were responsible for the death of someone close to them. The surprise element is the important part here; the character has hitherto been living perfectly happily and innocently, completely oblivious to what they've done. Common consolations include telling the character that obviously, its not their fault if they weren't even aware
of the damage they were causing, but this is often of little comfort to the stunned recipient.
Telling someone this with the direct intention of hurting them is one of the cruelest things any character can do. Doubly so if they're Blatant Lies
Subtrope of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
sometimes. See also Survivors Guilt
, You Should Have Died Instead
, and Failure-to-Save Murder
, all of which can also be present.
This is a subtrope of The Reveal. Not to mention a Death Trope. Expect MASSIVE spoilers!!!
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Anime and Manga
- In Btooom!, Ryouta applies this trope to himself when he realizes Taira's death was largely because he seemingly ignored other people's thoughts and feelings, as well as doing whatever he wanted to do. As a result, his friend started going insane due to his injuries, which ultimately led him to attack both Ryouta and Himiko when he starts to hallucinate about his family and meeting them again.
- In episode 16 of Code Geass, Mao calls out Suzaku for the death of his own father, Genbu Kururugi.
- In episode 12, Shirley tells Lelouch about her father's death during the previous episode when the Black Knights, which Lelouch leads as his alter-ego Zero. During the fighting there, he was one of the casualties of the battle. Made more painful to Lelouch when she tells him that her father wasn't a Jerk Ass, and was actually a caring person who loved her very much.
Film - Animated
- In The Lion King, right after killing Mufasa, Scar tells Simba that he's responsible for Mufasa's "accidental" death. Much later, rescinding his lie was one of his last mistakes.
- They did it again in The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride. After watching Nuka try to climb an unstable log dam after Simba and subsequently fall to his death, Zira turns on Kovu, claws him across the eye, and snarls, "Nuka is dead because of you. [...] You've killed your own brother!"
Film - Live Action
- Not directly said, per se, but it seems in 28 Weeks Later that the kids realized that they were a tiny bit responsible for the events that tossed the big pile of fecal matter into the air circulation device, leading to the death of just about everybody but them.
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith:
Where is Padme? Is she safe? Is she alright? Darth Sideous: It seems
in your anger, you killed her.
- In Memento, the main character eventually finds out from Tommy that his wife was a diabetic and that the story he made up about "Sammy Jenkis" killing his wife by giving her too much insulin was actually a self-protecting projection of what he did.
- Shutter Island: Leonardo DiCaprio's character's family is dead because he ignored his wife's mental illness and when she murdered his kids he killed her then "imagined" that he was looking for his family's real killer. It's implied this truth is so horrible that the second time he realized it he chose to get a lobotomy instead of living with what he's done.
- In the big battle scene in the middle of Kagemusha one of the retainers points at a number of corpses of young Takeda samurai and tells Kagemusha (impersonating Shingen Takeda): "These men died to defend you."
- Harry Potter pulls this a number of different times.
- It happens twice regarding Harry's parents; first when Harry discovers that Peter Pettigrew sold them out and second when he learns that Snape told Voldemort about the prophecy in the first place, not counting when Harry yells it at Sirius falsely believing him to be the traitor.
- When Sirius is killed Harry blames himself for causing Sirius to put himself in danger and not listening to Hermione and forgetting Snape, Dumbledore for not explaining stuff to Harry and keeping Sirius cooped up, Snape for not being especially helpful and mocking Sirius about being useless, and Kreacher for locking Sirius in his room and lying.
- At the end of the series, Harry blames himself for everybody's deaths as they did, essentially, die in his name.
Live Action TV
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Manfred von Karma tries to convince Miles Edgeworth that he (accidentally) killed his father, Gregory Edgeworth, by getting angry and throwing a gun that went off and hit him.
- In Dragon Age II, Merrill's Act III personal quest ends with this. Anders and Fenris remind her cruelly of this.
- In Final Fantasy II, if you go back to Altair and speak to Hilda after getting Gordon in your party the first time, there is special dialogue between the two, where Hilda is infuriated with Gordon, saying that his cowardice caused Josef's death.
- Certain game-over conditions in Night Trap cause the Mission Control commander to blame the player for the deaths of the heroine and the other victims.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Delivered in a devastating, defensive rant by Rey to Annie about why none of the psychopomps came for Annie's mother; Annie had been unknowingly draining her mother's lifeforce as she grew older until there was 'nothing left to take' to the afterlife. The effect is instantaneous, and doubles as a Wham Line.
- In Universal Compass, Two's sadness parallel tells her she died because Two died. This trope has the potential to happen to every character because the empty parallel and emotional parallel's lives are linked.