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 telling 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 does this unintentionally when she tells Lelouch that her father died during the previous episode in a landslide which Lelouch (in his alter-ego Zero) triggered in order to gain an advantage against the Britannian forces. Made more painful to Lelouch when Shirley asks how the Black Knights can call themselves protectors of the innocent when they kill people like her father, who was always kind, loving, gentle man through and through.
- In episode 3 of Cross Ange, Ange gets this from her squadmates for getting her captain and two fellow new cadets killed.
- Though it wasn't intentionally directed at her, Claire Cruz in episode 4 of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta is Genre Savvy enough to piece together the events that Kal-el tells her about his past to realize that as her alter ego, Nina Viento, she was indirectly responsible for causing the overthrow of his royal family during a rebellion a few years earlier, and subsequently their deaths. She's shocked enough by this to be uneasy around him for the rest of the episode, and partly into the next one as well.
- in the Emergency! fic Lost and Found, John's captor torments him this way. Roy was his original target, but John begged to be taken instead, to spare Roy. Roy is shot, but survives. However, John's captor lies and says Roy died and suffered and would have lived if not for John's actions.
- In Necessary To Win, this is said practically word for word by Teru, to Saki. On the other hand, someone close to the speaker doubts whether she actually truly believes this.
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!"
- This happens in Frozen when Hans tells Elsa she killed her sister with the intent of getting her to cross the Despair Event Horizon so that he can finish her off. He's lying in that Anna's not dead yet that that point, but she does freeze to solid ice a few moments later as a result of the freezing curse Elsa (accidentally) put on Anna, but is saved by the act of love she performs to save her sister.
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 the third case of the second game, a variant of this happens when Regina is forced to face the fact that her Deadly Prank was why Bat went into a coma.
- In Trials and Tribulations, Godot tells Phoenix that he was responsible for Mia Fey's death, and that he himself could have prevented it.
- 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. To elaborate, they needed to get inside Kasuon Keep for a special torch, and the only way of entrance is either with a certain bell or the voice of a member of the royal family. On the mission to get the bell, the party encounters Borghen on the way out, and Josef pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save them from a boulder trap; the implication is that this all could have been avoided if Gordon had helped them.
- 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.
- In certain missions during the various Call of Duty games, especially the ones that rely heavily on stealth, if you attract unwanted attention, say by shooting at a platoon of enemy soldiers instead of letting them pass you by undetected, you'll probably get a Non-Standard Game Over, either by you getting killed by the overwhelming firepower, or your ally gets killed in the event you somehow manage to outfight/outrun them. The game makes sure to tell you caused their death.
- In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Saionji tells Kuzuryuu that because he played the game that was Monokuma's "motive," he caused the deaths of Saionji's best friend, and Kuzuryuu's childhood friend and bodyguard; the latter killed the former while believing herself to be carrying out his will, and was executed for it. Kuzuryuu agrees, then attempts Seppuku as penance.
- In Warcraft III, Furion says this to Illidan: "At no heed to the cost? Because of you, Tyrande is dead!" (Kael informs them a few seconds later that they Never Found the Body.)
- 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.