Unwitting Instigator of Doom
"In a situation that's already a powderkeg, one doesn't ignore the man handing out matchbooks."
A character plays a small and/or unlikely but crucial role
in some horrible development.
The audience, fully aware of the For Want of a Nail
implications, will hate this character nearly as much as, if not even moreso than, the people who could more accurately be called responsible
for whatever happened. This hatred can be understandable, in that the antagonist more directly responsible in the development is playing their role in the story
, for the sake of Rising Conflict
. The character being put on task, meanwhile, only serves to bumble in and botch the hero's hopes of a surefire victory, and worse, quite possibly deprive the story of its Happy Ending
, all the while often remaining oblivious to the overall implications of the situation and their role in it. Their actions have no real necessity in elevating the drama, making them a walking Diabolus ex Machina
. A more temperate soul may simply wish that person were Put on a Bus
prior to the critical moment, assuming that this character may have acted out of idiocy rather than malice
, and that their presence and actions at that moment were their only errors.
An Unwitting Instigator Of Doom can be basically complicit with the villain, but in that case, they're generally seeing only a small portion of the picture. If they're being specifically manipulated but does not realize, they're an Unwitting Pawn
. Other times, they're simply blundering in like a wrench in some particularly highly valued machine
. Do not expect the levels of venom to differ between the scenarios. If worse comes to worse, they may also end up as the Idiot Houdini
. Will be seen as The Scrappy
by some fans, and expect no shortage of Fix Fics
, Revenge Fics
or Accusation Fics
on account of this character. Often causes A Tragedy of Impulsiveness
Compare Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
for when the heroes cause doom, and Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds
for a different type unwilling doom bringer. Also compare Chekhov's Gunman
, in which a seemingly insignificant character becomes more important later on. See also Interrupted Cooldown Hug
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Anime & Manga
- Remember how in Dragon Ball Z, Majin Buu became truly evil, killed off half of the Z-warriors, the entire human race, and then finally blew up Earth? It all happened because of a few goons a few episodes back titled aptly "The Evil of Men", where they attack and shoot Bee, the puppy, and Hercule, who was in the process of rehabilitating Buu. As a consequence, Buu snapped, steamed out Evil Buu.
- In the original Dragon Ball Emperor Pilaf releases Demon King Piccolo, who promptly proceeds to have many of the world's leading martial artists killed, including Goku's best friend, Krillin, and nearly takes over the world. Pilaf hopes to be able to be rewarded by Piccolo with his own territory, only to be backstabbed. Nice job nearly dooming the world, shorty.
- In season 2 of Code Geass, Schneizel makes a case to the Black Knights to surrender their leader Zero, who he reveals is his long-lost half-brother, Lelouch vi Britannia. While not without their doubts towards their leader based on some of his actions, they, at least counting the likes of Tamaki and Diethard, remain wary and skeptical towards Schneizel, who is rightfully suspected to be just as easily tricking them with the evidence and testimonies that he is presenting. Not more than a few moments later does Ohgi come along with his still secret love interest Villetta, a Britannian spy, with some additional cursory yet suspicious evidence the latter provided that leads everyone else amongst the Black Knights present into deciding to turn on Lelouch without giving any chance of there being a case made in his favor.
- This is significant in that afterwards, Lelouch believes there is no turning back for himself given what he has already suffered in the past in addition to this, and basically goes from a Well-Intentioned Extremist who at least had a sensible blueprint for neutralizing Britannia and had gotten as far as setting up a legitimate international front to that end to throwing away any last inhibition he had, and using a Genghis Gambit of questionable necessity, evidently to fulfill a death wish. The person responsible for this chain of events? Happily Married to the other person responsible, Villetta, and evidently elected as Prime Minister of Japan, making him among the few characters to get a Happy Ending in a mostly Bittersweet Ending. A more peaceful final solution to the global conflict could have been arrived at that would have also resulted in Lelouch living on and not abandoning his loved ones, or making the questionable decision of leaving Suzaku with the role of Zero.
- Rolo also has a role in instigating doom. Had he not murdered someone close to Lelouch, he wouldn't have prompted him to raid a camp where Britannia was preforming experiments to create more child soldiers like Rolo and pretty much kill everyone there. If that hadn't happened, Schneizel wouldn't have as much evidence against Lelouch as he would, which would probably have changed about half of the story. If you count him as such, Jeremiah also shared the blame. Why? Had he not used his Geass Canceller, he wouldn't have restored Shirley's memories and she wouldn't have confronted Rolo, thus causing the above to happen.
- Misa Amane from Death Note does this twice, to the severe detriment of both sides. Once, it's as a Poisonous Friend to Kira, giving L physical evidence in the case in her sending the tapes, and the other time, it's out of Mad Love to same, endangering her own life to the point that her shinigami has to intervene. For a fervent Kira supporter, she's really a bit of a loose cannon: she never seems to fully appreciate her role in either disaster.
- Sachiko asks her children to bring their father a change of clothes, and Sayu is reluctant to take the task. When Light volunteers, he ends up running into Naomi, learning about how close she is to figuring out an important part of how he kills people, and silencing her before she can reach L.
- Aizawa opens up his umbrella when it begins to snow and so just misses seeing Light and Naomi Misora together.
- Aoba Yamashiro. Don't know him? He's a recurring background ninja who was probably never formally introduced, databooks aside. Why is his name so well-known in some parts of the Naruto community? A single careless sentence out of Aoba's mouth revealed Itachi's whereabouts and goals to Sasuke. Following that, Sasuke tried to beat up Itachi, was soundly defeated, and pondered why Itachi would be interested in Naruto. Sure, Sasuke wasn't particularly stable before, but this huge blow to Sasuke's self-esteem was the catalyst for the event that would finally send Sasuke over to The Dark Side.
- Kakashi, of all people. He speaks about Naruto's birth at Rin's grave, and it just so happens that Tobi/Obito happened to overhear it, resulting in the Nine-Tailed Fox's fateful attack and the death of the Fourth Hokage. Furthermore, had Kakashi not abandoned his principles and went back to help Obito save Rin, then Obito would have died. If Obito had died then, then Naruto's parents would still be alive, Naruto wouldn't have been ostracized by the village in his youth, Nagato would have been less crazy, the Rain Village wouldn't have committed as much genocide, Madara's plan would have died with him, the Jinchuriki would still be alive, the Uchiha Massacre might have been stopped, the Fourth Great Shinobi World War wouldn't have happened, and the Ten Tails wouldn't have been revived to wreak destruction upon the world.
- Jiraiya, by taking pity on the three Rain orphans and training them. They grow up to be revolutionaries in their own village, and after Yahiko dies, Nagato turns evil, helps form Akatsuki with Tobi/Obito and Konan, and becomes an enemy of the Leaf Village, killing Jiraiya and devastating the village.
- Danzo does this quite a bit. He means well kind of but he's kind of a dick and his actions tend to cause people to make Face Heel Turns. He's responsible for the Start of Darkness of Nagato/Pain and Kabuto, worked closely with Orochimaru, and is one of the three major contributors to the tragedy of Sasuke and the Uchiha clan massacre.
- The biggest example might be Tobirama Senju, the Second Hokage. His bigotry towards the Uchiha clan set a lot of the plot in motion, and he created Edo Tensei.
- His brother Hashirama isn't much better, as he prevented Tobirama from killing Madara Uchiha before the Leaf Village was even founded.
- This trope is Played for Laughs in Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth. Whenever Hinata appears, expect someone to get hurt. Most of the time it's Naruto getting the receaving end of Neji's 8 Trigrams 64 Palms.
- In an early Pokémon episode, Ash is right on the verge of capturing a Weedle, when he is rudely interrupted by a samurai, who challenges him to a Pokémon match. During said match, which is a Mirror Match between their two Metapod taking Harden commands, the Weedle manages to escape back into its tree and alert the Beedrill, who capture Ash's Metapod. In one of the series' earliest Broken Aesops, Ash is forced to learn a lesson about not making excuses about not finishing what he started, even though it was the fault of the samurai, who berates him for all of this, that Ash wasn't able to finish in the first place, all because he didn't have the courtesy to wait until Ash was done. Even after all is said and done, and Ash rescues Metapod, he's still short one Weedle, which would eventually evolve into a Beedrill.
- Hitomi Shizuki of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. There's this friend of hers, Sayaka, who likes Kyousuke, who lost the use of his arm in an accident. Hitomi also loves Kyousuke and decides to confess to him, but not before offering Sayaka the first shot since she believes it's the fair thing to do and has NO idea that Sayaka REALLY can't confess. Sayaka doesn't act on Hitomi's offer, her depression only worsens when she sees Hitomi confess to Kyousuke, and because of the nature of her Deal with the Devil she becomes what she fights. Kyouko self-destructs to Mercy Kill Sayaka. In short: Because of one mis-timed confession, two girls died.
- Some consider Madoka to be one. Had she not tossed away Sayaka's Soul Gem, she wouldn't pass out/go all corpse-like and Kyubey wouldn't have spilled the beans, thus giving Sayaka that state of mind that she's no longer human. Although to be fair, her mother Junko also falls into this line for giving her that idea, although Madoka was not only ignorant of what happens when a magical girl is separated from her Soul Gem, but in addition to not mentioning that, gave her mother a vague description of what Sayaka was going through. As such, it becomes nearly impossible for Junko to give any good advice on that subject.
- Kyouko is also to blame. Had she not challenged Sayaka to fight, the already emotionally-unstable Madoka wouldn't had flipped her shit and tossed the Soul Gem to stop the eventual fight.
- Madoka gets another one too: Because she brought a mousy little introvert into their fold who took a great liking to Madoka, said introvert, Homura Akemi, became a Shell-Shocked Veteran. Moreover, in almost all of the timelines poor Madoka either dies or becomes the most powerful witch ever, due to Homura using her powers making Madoka more and more powerful as both a magical girl and a witch. It should be noted, however, that this is also what ends up ending the very concept of Witches in the universe altogether.
- Extrapolating on the above, the Drama CD reveals yet another one: the original Madoka's wish was to save a cat who was about to get hit by a car. Said cat, Amy, would eventually cause Homura and Madoka to make a bond, which would then result in Homura contracting, which would result in all the timeloops, etc. etc.
- Homura becomes one as well in the Rebellion Story. In the ending, she tells Kyubey of the Witch system, which because of what happened above is now just an unheard of thing for him. Bad idea, as he rigs the system to place Homura in a false world so that he could steal Madoka when she comes to save Homura just so he can use the Witch system again. Very bad idea for him though, as Homura takes matters into her own hands and she kidnaps Madoka, becoming the new Goddess. In a way, this trope zig-zagged, as Homura's mistake actually benefited her in the end... though it had to take someone else's mistake.
- Bleach: Uryuu Ishida's use of hollow bait to start a hollow hunting contest with Ichigo has the unintended side effect of causing a massive onslaught of hollow attacks on the town, that even draws in a Menos Grande. Uryuu is utterly baffled by this because he used only a tiny amount of a weak bait that should never have attracted so many hollows, let alone anything as powerful as a Menos Grande. The further unintended consequence is that the Menos Grande incident alerts Soul Society to both the AWOL Rukia's location and the fact she's AWOL due to having illegally given her power to a human, thus setting off the Soul Society arc. It's eventually revealed that Aizen manipulated the event to cause the onslaught because he both wanted to test Ichigo's power and alert Soul Society to Rukia's location whereupon he could fake orders from The Government to have Rukia retrieved and sentenced to execution to further his plans.
- In Bakuman。, one factor that contributed to Detective Trap losing popularity and being canceled is two other similar manga- Phantom Thief Cheater and Detective Gosuke Akechi- both of which were submitted while Mashiro was in the hospital and on hiatus, and debuted after Mashiro's release.
- Near the end of the series, Mashiro mentions his relationship with Azuki around one of his assistant Kato's friends, who posts about it on her blog. As a result, an in-universe Internet Backdraft against poor Azuki ensues, and Azuki's bosses urge her to deny her relationship with Mashiro. She refuses, and ultimately has to outperform all other contenders to get the lead role in Mashiro's anime.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. The pilots of Evangelion Transport Neopan 400, the American Weather Bureau and the technician at Airbase Ekta 64 are never named, are never spoken of again, but ALL are responsible for the entire Bardiel Incident and Cerebus Syndrome the show developed towards the later half. Long story short: not going around the suspicious-looking cloud equals The End of the World as We Know It.
- Takehiko Henmi from Oniisama e.... Six years before the story started, he visited his best friend Takeshi Ichinomiya's house and befriended his little sister Fukiko, who unbeknownst to Takehiko got a huge Precocious Crush on him. She made him promise that he'd attend her birthday party and hear her play the violin, but he couldn't get to the Ichinomiya mansion in time and Fukiko was completely crushed, becoming a Yandere over him.
- In Riyoko Ikeda's other manga, Claudine, we have Rosemarie. What did she do? Depressed because Claudine doesn't return her feelings and she has found out that Claudine's crush Cecilia is actually the lover of Claudine's *father* Auguste, she mentions this very complicated deal to her teacher Louis, who is also Cecilia's younger brother. Little did she know that Louis also had been Auguste's lover in the past... and that he would go Yandere on Auguste and Cecilia. The result isn't pretty.
- Satoshi Oginome from Mawaru-Penguindrum. Had his estranged daughter Ringo not seen him with his girlfriend and her daughter, she would've likely not sped up her "Project M" to bring her family back together via the Attempted Rape of her crush, with all that happened later.
- Inverted with Isumi in Hikaru no Go. If he hadn't insisted on playing Hikaru, Hikaru would never have discovered that Sai is still present in his Go, would not have started playing again, would not have become the "second genius" and, therefore, would have caused the thousand-year plan of the god of Go to fail. At least, unless the whole chain of events was just another part of the plan.
- In Digimon Savers pretty much every bad thing can be blamed on one villain, the Final Boss is just reacting to events. Drasil is such a self righteous blowhard that many people hated it just as much as the guy responsible for everything though, especially since much drama could have been avoided if Drasil had bothered to get off its throne years ago.
- In Sailor Moon: Sailors Uranus and Neptune believe that victory cannot be attained without some horrible angsty sacrifice that only they have the moral strength to make. So basically, they make such choices that would make things worse at the end of the run. What they did in the Grand Finale is a major example in their habit to make bad decisions: in a desperate gambit to reach for Galaxia themselves and keep their beloved Moon from dying, they pull a Fake Defector act that includes killing Pluto and Saturn (depriving Moon of two valuable allies right after the death of Princess Kakyuu and the Heroic Sacrifices of the Inners), attacking Moon herself and her remaining allies the Starlights (so she wouldn't suspect them, but also weakening her physically and devastating her emotionally) and ultimately take Galaxia on their own. But they didn't count on how Galaxia had already anticipated their plan, and they end up dying in front of Moon, Chibi-Chibi Moon and the Starlights without accomplishing anything in the end.
- Medaka Box: Onigase, and by extension, the Public Morals Committee. Their antagonism towards the Student Council ends up getting Medaka and the other members dragged into the Flask Plan. In addition, Medaka's defeat of Unzen makes her an ideal candidate for the project and thus a target.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Suzuka serves as one. She, not knowing about the Wolkenritter’s true nature or activities despite having met them as well as Hayate, plans to pay Hayate a surprise visit along with Arisa, Nanoha and Fate on Christmas Eve in Hayate’s. Nanoha and Fate, seeing the Wolkenritter with Hayate, then realize that Hayate is the true master of the Book of Darkness that they are searching for, and are forced into a confrontation with the Wolkenritter, who wish to prevent Hayate from being exposed. Things quickly get worse from there.
- In Mai-Otome Sifr, a cat wandering out on the hotel balcony leads to Sifr trying to retrieve it, and falling and having to be rescued by Lena, who berates her for going outside and risking being discovered. It's revealed that one of the poolgoers was an undercover Schwarz agent, and that night, a large Schwarz force attacks, succeeding in kidnapping Sifr with help from M9.
- Michiru Saotome from Getter Robo Armaggedon. She's infected with The Virus, and chooses to commit suicide via screwing up with a test flight. While such a situation is really bad, there are even worse things about it: her father, Dr. Saotome, mistakenly believed that the Getter pilots were to blame, leading to him to become a Mad Scientist... which is followed by his murder, Ryoma's imprisonment, Saotome being Back from the Dead and completely Ax-Crazy, and the invasion. (Not to mention her sibling Genki, who witnessed Michiru's death in first row, is horribly traumatised to the point of becoming a Creepy Child). On top of that, said incident drove a rather large wedge between Getter pilots Ryoma and Hayato, to the point where each of them outright wants to murder the other at the start of the story. It isn't until several years later, when they learn the truth about Michiru's death that they start really working together the way they did back as teammates.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Heinkel manages to corner Pride, only for some residents of the nearby slums to come by with sources of light. This enables Pride to set fire to the brush nearby, regain use of his shadow powers and severely wound Heinkel.
- Earlier on, Edward and a nameless character share responsibility for Winry getting a Heroic BSOD and trying to kill Scar, potentially putting her own life in danger. The former mentions Scar killing Winry's parents while unbeknownst to him, Winry is in earshot, and the latter, an MP knocked out by Scar, accidentally leaves behind a pistol for Winry to pick up.
- Kalos Eidos from Kaleido Star believes himself to be one of these. Ten years ago, he asked a famous acrobat and close friend of his named Aaron if he truly was up to performing the very dangerous Fantastic Maneouver, that had caused more than one death... and afterwards, Aaron failed to do it and died. This is the reason why, a decade later, Aaron's son and former Kaleido Stage Ace Yuri is pissed off at Kalos enough to try buying out the Stage as revenge... and Kalos does nothing to stop him since he thinks it's his punishment for letting Aaron die.
- In Mai-HiME, while Yuuichi's desire to help Mai is commendable, several of his actions end up making things worse for her.
- Yuuichi uttering Mai's name when he catches her with Reito when Shiho is with him as well results not only in Reito being upset at him but in Mai attracting Shiho's jealousy, since Shiho accuses Mai of lying to her about Mai's own desire to root for her love for Yuuichi.
- Yuuichi tells an ill Shiho that Nao is attacking Takumi. As a result, the increasingly unstable Shiho slips out of the hospital and destroys Akira's Child with her Hime powers, killing Takumi out of spite for Mai.
- When Yuuichi goes to save Mai from Yukariko, he also ends up missing an appointment to meet Shiho in the park, causing the despairing Shiho (who, for worse, is now fully under the influence of Nagi) to fully lose it and directly attack Mai, leading to a battle that ends in Yuuichi's death.
- In Mai's past, an unnamed girl called her over to play while she was watching Takumi. While she was gone, Takumi went into the river and almost drowned, forcing his and Mai's mother to save him, leading to her death, Takumi's weakened heart and Mai dedicating herself to taking care of Takumi in order to atone for her mistake.
- In the Soul Eater manga, most of the arc invading Arachne's castle started up when Kim was suspected of being a witch and a random, nameless DWMA agent decided to immediately arrest her by force instead of talking to her first like everyone else was planning. A bigger example would be Death attempting to 'free' himself from fear by creating Asura. Creating an Anthropomorphic Personification of unrelenting terror did not go well, as Death apparently made an entity that was a) equal to him in power and b) unlike his fellows eventually cannot be reasoned with.
- In Girls und Panzer, when Hana introduces her friends to her mother, Yukari mentions that she's in a different class from Hana, but they're doing tankery together. Yukari doesn't know that Hana's mother doesn't know or approve of Hana doing so, and Hana's mother ends up fainting on the spot and later (temporarily) disowning her. Yukari apologizes to Hana for her role in this, but Hana doesn't hold it against her, feeling as though it's her own fault for not telling her mother.
- Koume Akeboshi, whose tank plunged into a river during the previous tournament finals, resulting in Miho abandoning the flag tank to save it, and causing Black Forest to be defeated when their enemies fire on the flag tank, blames herself for Miho deciding to leave Black Forest, seeing herself as causing Miho trouble.
- In Jojos Bizarre Adventure, George Joestar I's well-intentioned adoption of Dio Brando leads to his death, his son's death, his grandson's death, the deaths of countless others, and nearly causes the end of the entire universe.
- Dio's father Dario also counts as one. If only he wasn't such a petty thief and a gigantic Jerkass of an Abusive Father, not to mention take care of his wife better, Dio could have tempered the evil within him that he carried since his birth, since it's known that he loves his mother, instead of causing... well, see above.
- In The King of Fighters: KYO manga, there are three of these: Iori Yagami, Sanae and Takaya Maeta. Iori challenged Kyo to a very violent fight outside the school grounds, which prompted Kyo's girlfriend Yuki as well as Athena Asamiya to defend him (and in Yuki's case, at great risk to herself since she's not an Action Girl). The day after this Sanae introduced Maeta to Yuki, trying to rope her into having a date with him despite Yuki's own reluctance. Unbeknownst to all of them, the botched fight with Iori had triggered Kyo's hidden insecurities — and it was soon followed by a challenge from Maeta and Daimon to Kyo, who lost badly. All of these factors piled up on Kyo's own psyche: soon he was so troubled that he got Brought Down to Normal, then suffered a severe Heroic BSOD. If not for Kyo's father Saisyu going Warrior Therapist on him, Kyo would have ended up as a Brainwashed and Crazy Blood Knight completely controlled by Orochi.
- In Lady, a group of English kids are seen playing with a ball in the streets of London during one of the first scenes of the manga... Had one of the kids not gone for their missing ball in the worst moment possible, the car Lynn and her mother Misuzu were in wouldn't have tried to dodge her too fast and wouldn't have crashed, which in turn would have not costed Misuzu her life and would've brought much less trauma to Lynn.
- In Marie D Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age, Eustass Kid wonders aloud in front of Madelyn what would happen if the Straw Hats were delayed, making it possible for the Kid and Heart Pirates to compete for One Piece. The "unwitting" part comes from the fact that he doesn't realize Madelyn, with her powers could make this happen, or that she would want to. Madelyn then concludes that Law has lost his spirit for pursuing One Piece because he thinks Luffy will win, and then wishes for him to get captured to force his crew to go after him; this ends with Luffy's execution and the deaths of all the other Straw Hat pirates, among other events.
- While most Imperfect Metamorphosis readers quite rightly blame Team 9 for nearly everything, they couldn't have even stolen Rin Satuski's can in the first place if Marisa hadn't stolen it from Patchouli. Marisa's Sticky Fingers are the only reason anything in the story happened.
- Back in the original series, Yamada Tatsumori/Aries Zodiarts was the one who instigated the Deal with the Devil with Ryusei so Ryusei could revive his friend. What happens in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades? The deal with Gentaro dead gave Ophiuchus a way to wreak his havoc on the world (and bring in other Serpents for the ride) and having nearly every named character from Fourze involved in multiple adventures to stop Gamou's advent of injecting former Switchers with Cosmic Energy, the origins as to why Ophiuchus is causing this madness and Ryusei being brainwashed and transformed into a cyborg. Didn't think this through, did you, Apostle of Sleep?
- Ryusei also should be blamed for killing Gentaro in the first place considering that Tachibana had stated that there was an alternate and safer way to bring Jiro back to life.
- In Boys Und Sensha-do, two pop up in Chapter 6, with consequences for Chapter 7. The gunner of the Semovente shoots Miho by accident. In the ensuing chaos, Mako almost makes the mistake of running over Miho. Miho, while disappointed in Mako, refuses to punish her, which results in Miho's mother disowning her.
- Twilight Sparkle in Divided Rainbow, for causing the Swap.
- TCB!Lyra Heartstrings is revealed to be this in The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum. It turns out that the reason why the Mirror Universe Equestria turned into the Solar Empire and is carrying out its ponification crusade against humanity is all because she went on a scuba diving trip with some friends where she happened upon the sunken ship of the KV-62 Archaeological Party coming from Dream Valley. Unfortunately, she also found the Bag of Tirek, which seeks to carry its maker's will out by enslaving every living being in existence and targeted humanity first out of revenge because Tirek himself had been by a human in the past. However, it's also heavily implied that she was just as much an Unwitting Pawn too.
Films — Animation
- P.T. Flea from A Bug's Life got Flik and the circus bugs ostracized by the colony and then later in the film incinerated a fake bird, thinking it was the real deal.
- In The Incredibles, Buddy Pine is arguably to blame for the Frivolous Lawsuit, Super Registration Act and everyone being forced into hiding. But in the end he makes the Supers re-emerge and being hold as heroes again, thanks to his failed scheme.
- Hot Rod was a borderline The Load during the fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron in Transformers: The Movie. He promptly was hostage by Megatron, resulting in Optimus's death.
- In Kung Fu Panda, Shifu's goose messenger to Tai Lung's prison gives him both the means to escape and the motivation to do so. Blame is also placed on the prison commander for dislodging the feather Tai Lung used to escape.
- Wreck-It Ralph: If Gene hadn't goaded Ralph into getting a medal, many, many problems could have been avoided. On the other hand, no one would have discovered a dark secret about Sugar Rush either.
- The whole main plot of Frozen is caused by Hans' horse. It knocked into Anna, prompting her and Hans' meeting, which led to their engagement, which led to Elsa's bout of Power Incontinence and her panicking, fleeing, and burying Arrendelle in snow. Of course, given what we learn of Hans later in the film, he may have arranged this.
Films — Live Action
- Star Wars:
- In A New Hope, the Star Destroyer officer who orders his subordinate not to fire on the escape pod containing C-3PO and R2-D2, thus ensuring that Luke Skywalker gets Princess Leia's message and brings about the end of the Empire. If this nameless officer had not been so frugal with laser ammo, The Dark Side would surely have triumphed.
- In Attack of the Clones, the one thing that Jar Jar actually does in the movie, other than stand in the background, is to make a motion in the Senate to grant Palpatine emergency powers. Yes, that Palpatine. Jar Jar was already so despised at this point that the reaction was mostly along the lines of "He was the cause of all the evil in the universe? I knew it!"
- If Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back hadn't been so impetuous and exited hyperspace too close to Hoth, the Rebels wouldn't have had time to set up the shield generator and the Imperial fleet could have just bombed them form orbit. This leads to the trope namer for You Have Failed Me.
- Wicket in Return of the Jedi is the only reason the Rebels won. If he didn't pull a Big Damn Heroes moment by bringing an army of Ewoks to fight the Imperials, the Rebels would never have destroyed the shield generator and never would have destroyed the second Death Star. The Rebels only met the Ewoks at all because of a Scout Trooper who knocked Leia off of her speeder bike, leading to her befriending them and the others to search for her. If he had aimed a little higher, none of the above would have happened (how appropriate that the Empire's downfall is ultimately caused by the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy).
- Anakin is the Instigator of his own doom. If he hadn't finished that protocol droid he had started in The Phantom Menace, things could have been very different. One possible unfolding: R2-D2 would have never been sold to the Lars family without C-3P0's endorsement, thus R2 stays with the Jawas, R2 gets vaporized when the detachment of Stormtroopers find the sandcrawler, and Leia's message never reaches Obi-Wan.
- Darth Maul, for all his popularity, does precisely one thing in The Phantom Menace: kill Qui-Gon Jinn. Except that by doing so he ensures Anakin is taught by a newly-Knighted Jedi instead of a wise Master with decades of teaching experience, which plays a huge role in his frustration in the Jedi Order and inability to deal with his phenomenal powers, which in turn plays a huge role in his Face-Heel Turn.
- In the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, his blind manservant Duncan gallops into Sherwood Forest in order to tell his master that Marian has been captured by the Sheriff; only for the bad guys to follow him straight to the outlaws' hideaway and start to massacre everyone there. Beyond getting ushered about by either Robin or Marian, it's the only thing he ever does in the movie.
- In Wrong Turn 4 Bloody Beginnings, a prequel to the Wrong Turn series, one of the characters beg someone not to kill the inbreeds. They spare their life, but in return are responsible for nearly every single death in the films.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, at least in the film version, Faramir is one. He is prepared to shoot and kill Sméagol for entering the Forbidden Pool and seemingly allows Frodo to call him out of the pool, but immediately captures him upon his exit. Sméagol thinks Frodo lied to him and, enraged by this apparent betrayal, regresses into his Gollum persona and starts plotting his and Sam's deaths for the sake of retrieving the Ring. In the director's cut, the honor goes to Sam: he spends the whole movie antagonizing the old ring bearer, so when he tries to explain to him at the end that his capture was not Frodo's decision, Sméagold is quite obviously unconvinced.
- In The Elite Squad, there's the unknown journalist who takes a photo of Matias and inadvertently reveals the fact that he's a cop to the drug dealers. It ruins Matias's relationship and leads to another character's death.
- The Shirley MacLaine comedy What A Way To Go! could alternately have been titled Unwitting Instigator Of Doom: The Movie, with MacLaine's character being widowed four times after her entirely well-meaning suggestions inevitably, relentlessly, snowball into her current husband getting killed in some bizarre fashion.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mystique's plan was simply to avenge a number of dead mutants by killing the man who had experimented with their corpses. That man had projects, rejected by the Congress, to build powerful robots to kill mutants. His death proved his point, that mutants were an actual menace, and so his projects were restored and continued. The Sentinels would prove so deadly and effective that they would cause the apocalyptic future seen at the beginning of the story. Of course, Mystique had never intended any of that, all she wanted was some basic and plain revenge.
- In the former trope-naming incident, from the Sherlock Holmes story The Final Problem, a Swiss messenger in Moriarty's employ catches up to Holmes and Watson with a message saying that an Englishwoman at the hotel they're staying at is on the verge of death and wants to see an English doctor. Watson obediently returns to the hotel, unknowingly leaving Holmes to face Moriarty alone at the edge of Reichenbach Falls, apparently leading to both of them falling to their death. However, it is implied that Holmes knew all along what was going down but saw no reason to put Watson at further risk.
- Catelyn Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire. Twice, but releasing valuable prisoner Jaime Lannister in an attempt to get her daughters back from the Lannisters is more cited than kidnapping Tyrion Lannister, believing him responsible for the attempted murder of her son on the word of her Unlucky Childhood Friend Petyr Baelish, Despite the fact that the Tyrion incident was the casus belli of the civil war that has made the entire world turn to shit ever since.
- Fans often cite the release of Jaime as a crucial step leading up to the Red Wedding, but there are parts of the text suggesting that said wedding was already being planned before it happened. Both Lord Tywin Lannister and the Stark's treacherous ally Lord Roose Bolton appear to be planning something around the time of his release.
- The irony of Catelyn is that, in most other fantasy worlds, she and Ned would be the most sympathetic characters in the entire story, and the clear virtuous protagonists of the piece. In the Crapsack World that they live in, though, they are either directly or indirectly the cause of something like 90% of the tragedy that follows.
- Also Sansa Stark with the whole Lady affair, or running off to Cersei when she did. Forgiven by many only because of what happened to her after that.
- When she was a girl, Lysa Tully was in love with her father's ward Petyr Baelish, who was light-years below her in social status so a marriage was impossible. Also, he was in love with her older sister Catelyn. So one night after watching Petyr dance with Cat and get very drunk after Cat wouldn't kiss him, Lysa crept into Petyr's bed in the dark and had sex with him. She told him she loved him and wanted to marry him, while letting him think she was Cat. Shortly after this, Cat's engagement to Brandon Stark was announced and (understandably from his point of view) Petyr challenged him. Short scrawny 15-year-old Petyr nearly died fighting tall strong 20-year-old Brandon and was promptly thrown out for this and for getting Lysa pregnant. This humiliation was Petyr's Start of Darkness, turning him into the villain responsible for the entire civil war - with Lysa manipulated into lighting the first fuse. Well done, Lysa!
- Harry Potter:
- Bertha Jorkins in Book 4. Doesn't appear 'on-screen', doesn't have any speaking roles, dies long before Book 4, but is absolutely crucial in giving the Big Bad the capacity to put together his Evil Plan for the book- she worked for the Ministry's Sports Department, so she knew about the Triwizard Tournement. She then went on holiday to Albania, where Voldemort was lying low with Wormtail. She happened to bump into Wormtail and recognised him, and then she was subjected to lots of tortures and Mind Rape to make her a source of information to Voldemort. It didn't help that she had coincidentally discovered Barty Crouch Jr.'s existence, either.
- Marietta Edgecombe. She revealed the existence of Dumbledore's Army, thus leading to Dumbledore having to flee Hogwarts and Umbridge taking over. This also indirectly led to Sirius's death, because had Dumbledore remained at Hogwarts, when Harry had that dream about Sirius being captured by the Death Eaters, he would have gone to him, instead of playing into Voldemort's hands. It was also a key factor in Harry's breakup with Cho Chang.
- Remus Lupin in Prisoner of Azkaban. If he'd remembered to take his potion before the climactic confrontation, he wouldn't have been a threat when he became a werewolf, and could have continued to concentrate on keeping Pettigrew from getting away. And if Pettigrew hadn't gotten away, and had been turned in to the authorities, Sirius would have been cleared of his murder charges and would no longer have to be a fugitive, meaning he could have a closer relationship with Harry. And if he'd had a closer relationship with Harry, Voldemort wouldn't be able to use their separation to trick Harry, and Sirius wouldn't have ended up dead.
- In Battle Royale, just as Shinji is about to pull off his plan to escape the Program, a fellow student, Keita Iijima, shows up, oblivious to what's going on, and accidentally ruins the entire plan, getting everyone involved killed.
- Cat's Cradle has whoever failed to perform proper maintenance on the fighter plane which crashed into the side of the castle.
- Lucy's mother in Dracula is partly responsible for killing Lucy by opening the window and removing the garlic so that Dracula can get into the room.
- In The Wise Man's Fear, The Cbaeth creates these by acting as a malicious oracle or saving peoples' lives.
- Jacob in The Red Tent Because he demands an outrageous bride price for his daughter (after a sarcastic comment by Joseph), because of a combination of greed and Overprotective Dad factor, his sons murder Dinah's True Love, and all the other Shechemite men. Jacob calls his sons out on it and dies full of regrets.
- Curley's wife from Of Mice and Men wanted to have a friendly conversation with Lennie, despite George's orders to Lennie to stay away from her. She eventually took advantage of Lennie's foundness of soft things, and offered Lennie to touch her hair; this soon lead up to Curley's wife getting scared and beginning screaming, which in turn made Lennie scared that George would hear her and squezed her hair tighter. Guess who winds up his or her neck broken. The death of Curley's wife quickly lead up to the novel becoming a Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story.
- Inverted in the Star Wars novel Death Star. Two utterly trivial characters from the first film (the guard who says, "Close the blast doors!" too late, and the gunner who says "Stand by... stand by....") turn out to have chosen to let Han Solo and Chewie get away, and chosen not to fire on Yavin, because they'd started to have doubts about the Empire. If not for them, the Rebellion would have been crushed.
- In Death: This trope has happened a few times. Vengeance In Death had a brilliant plan to catch the murderer ruined by a robot poodle that caused a chain reaction of events that caused the cops to reveal themselves and for the murderer to spot them and run for it. New York To Dallas contains two instances of this. The first one had a brilliant plan to catch the murderer's partner ruined by a dog that caused a kid to almost get run over by a car, a cop having to save the boy's life and reveal himself as cop, causing the murderer's partner to spot them and run for it. That instance got subverted by the partner getting caught despite a chase anyway. The second instance had the cops closing in on the murderer, only for the murderer to get away. How? The murderer was out shopping when he overheard a conversation between staff member and a stock boy about cops. The staff member recognized an undercover cop working in the area and he was just telling the stock boy about how this cop came to a criminology class and how cool he is. The murderer naturally chose to run for it. Clearly these minor characters would not get a lot of sympathy from readers.
- In Halo Contact Harvest, negotiations between Humanity and the Covenant are taking a nasty direction (the Brutes demanded the Earth and everything on it, humans said no). A frightened Grunt attacks a Marine, an act that triggers the entire Human-Covenant War and everything connected to it. The Halos, the Forerunners, the Flood, the Spartans like Master Chief — it's possible none of them would have been discovered or created if that Grunt had been less impulsive.
- The Kilo Five Trilogy has ONI's leader Admiral Parangosky, who went behind UNSC's leadership to instigate a civil war among the Elites, in hopes of tipping the scales to the UNSC's favor. By Halo 4 however, all of their actions cause more harm than good. The renegade Elites instead become willing followers to The Diadacts cause of eradicating humanity.
- Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, has his own personal version of this trope in Toren Divas who manages to be both his best and most hated friend. The best example is in the starship at the start of Death or Glory: while Cain and Jurgen struggle to get out of a room where the hull has been breached, Divas' attempts at being over-dramatic knock some guardsmen off balance as they hold open the emergency doors, trapping Cain and Jurgen and forcing them to get into a lifepod, making planetfall deep in ork-held territory. This sets off the whole plot, though as that involved Cain and Jurgen's flight to safety snowballing into liberating the planet, the people of Perlia would probably have thanked him.
- Trapped on Draconica: Yusef tells Gothon where the Eastern Alliance's HQ is and how to defeat their army. He thinks this will lead end the war with minimum casualites on both sides. This is his only action in the entire story.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy contains Arthur Dent making a comment about his difficult lifestyle... that gets sucked through time and space to the conference table of two armies, is interpreted in their language as the worst thing to ever say, and ultimately sparks a thousands-of-years-long war between the two that devastates all in its path and kills thousands. Then the two realise the problem and team up to attack the Earth where they are promptly eaten by a dog. Indeed, this sort of thing is hinted by the book to happen all the time, potentially making everyone this trope.
Live Action TV
- Wesley in Buffy overheard that Faith accidentally killed someone. The rest of the team is already on-board with helping her deal with her issues and giving her the support and acceptance she needs in order to not fall to The Dark Side. Wesley's response on the other hand is to call in some goons and try to ship her to England to be locked away forever. By the end of the episode, she doesn't trust any of them, resents all of them (because she thinks they want her to just be like Buffy), and has taken a job as the Big Bad's number two.
- Fortunately, when almost the exact same situation comes up again on Angel, he has learned enough to actually trust the protagonist and go with his plan. This time it leads to Faith turning herself in and beginning her path to some measure of redemption.
- Angel. Wolfram & Hart has a stated mission of bringing Angel to their side. Sound pretty far-fetched? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...
- In the second season of Criminal Minds, the team was trying to bring in a delusional war veteran who is panicking because the construction sounds like the war zone. Now, they find him and have swat surround the suspect as they coaxed him to surrender. They tell these construction men nearby in plain view of the drama to stop working until they are done, but naturally the men resume construction before the suspect is apprehended. This causes the suspect to panic and he runs towards a kid on a bike, forcing a SWAT marksman to shoot him. The construction crew couldn’t have waited 30 minutes for the damn police, SWAT, and FBI to finish?
- Degrassi The Next Generation gives us Paige Michalchuk, who gets her friend Terri drunk before a dance and ends up with the guy Terri wanted instead. Later on, Terri thinks she'll never find a man and ends up with abusive boyfriend Rick. Later, Rick comes back and Paige gets to be an inversion of this trope, albeit ultimately subverted because someone else pisses Rick off enough that he starts shooting people.
- In murder mystery Harper's Island, nine-year-old Madison is kidnapped by the Ax-Crazy Big Bad, John Wakefield. When rescued, she goes along with the lies Wakefield told her to tell the others — specifically that it was the Sheriff who kidnapped her. Even though she knew that Wakefield was evil. This gets several people killed and Madison became The Scrappy.
- Narrowly averted by Princess Mithian on Merlin, who in a bid to impress King Arthur, shoots a young deer in the forest. Unbeknownst to her, the deer is actually Guinevere under an enchantment. Only Merlin realizes what she's done and returns to the forest at night to hunt for Gwen and heal her from her injury.
- Power Rangers RPM: To escape from the research facility she spent most of her pre-series life confined to, Doctor K decided to release a sentient computer virus her captors had her design for them. She intended to keep it to the facility's computers, but two guards caught her before she could finish installing the firewall, ignoring all her protests. Cue the destruction of human civilization outside of Corinth City. In Power Rangers.
- Due to a lot of Time Travel and Anachronic Order being involved, the Blue Senturion in Power Rangers Turbo is often accused of being this, the negative result being Zordon's death. He'd come back in time a thousand years to warn of a massive war a year later — but the villains intercepted him, took the message, then wiped it from his memory, resulting in the evil side of the war being way more prepared than the good guys.
- Of course, time travel being what it is, no one really knows how different the end result would have been.
- In the BBC's Robin Hood the titular character is trying to make a tentative alliance with Isabella, the new Sheriff of Nottingham (and his ex-girlfriend) despite the grumblings of the other outlaws. His reasoning is sound, and after striking a deal with her he asks Little John to escort her safely home. For no reason whatsoever, John decides to tell Isabella that Robin "has eyes for Kate" (a fellow outlaw). This achieves nothing except pissing Isabella off and leading her to doubt that she has any kind of power over Robin. She turns on him at the next available opportunity which leads directly to two outlaws' deaths. Nice job antagonising the valuable ally, John.
- Octavia in Rome may have been indirectly responsible for the deaths of Julius Caesar and Vorenus' wife. Octavian told her about Vorenus' wife's affair and told her it was a secret. For no reason whatsoever, Octavia told Servilla this. When Caesar's enemies planned to assassinate him, this information became crucial and was used to drive Vorenus (who was supposed to guard Caesar) away, leaving Caesar as a sitting duck. Meanwhile, Vorenus confronted his wife and she ended up killing herself out of honor. And of course, there is the whole second round of war and murder until it is settled who succeeds Caesar, which ends with the establishment of The Empire.
- Baelfire in Once Upon a Time is arguably one of the main causes of the plot in the show. His father Rumpelstiltskin became the Dark One to protect him from becoming a child soldier. His disappearance into another world is what caused Rumpelstiltskin to search for a land without magic - and so create a curse dooming the entire populations of multiple worlds to years of misery. All of Rumple's deals and schemes, including turning Regina into a "monster," was part of his plan to find Baelfire.
- Queen Eva started the bitter and long feud between Cora, Regina and Snow's family because when she was young and a Spoiled Brat, she exposed Cora as an unwed mother to keep her fiancee King Leopold from marrying her. Then she tripped Cora, claimed that Cora hurt her, and thus began Cora's long vendetta against the nobles and in particular, her family.
- A particularly heartbreaking episode of Cold Case gave us a girl who had a crush on the Victim of the Week, who was a mentally-challenged teenager. One day alone in class, she tried to kiss him when her meathead boyfriend walked in and she lied and said he tried to sexually assault her so that she wouldn't get a "bad reputation", which essentially caused him to be beaten up by the said boyfriend and his gang of thugs (as well as him only friend, who was embarrassed by him), her parents deciding to file charges against him, he ending up in an institute instead where, due to his alleged sexual deviance, is in the worst tier of the facility where the care for the patients is horrifyingly neglectful, quite frankly. In addition to this, the boy's loving mother (and one of only two people at this point who gave a damn about him) is dying of cancer as all of this is occurring, the boy's father won't take care of him because of his mental status and the boy's caregiver, who was also dating the mother, takes him from the institute and rather than have him live a life of loneliness and neglect, has him ran over by a train. In present day, the girl FINALLY realizes the effect of her actions and is remorseful, but it's still too little, way too late.
- Fred Merkle. Had This Wiki existed one hundred years ago, no further explanation would have been needed. Basically, Merkle was a baseball player for the Giants back in the early twentieth century. In the bottom of the ninth inning in a game against the Cubs, there were two outs and the score was tied, and Merkle was on first base (someone else was on third). Another player scored, scoring a game-winning run, but in the excitement Merkle never actually stepped on second base. Thus, a player for the Cubs stepped on second base and called Merkle out, thus nullifying the run. As this game was played before electric lighting, the game was declared a tie. Thus, the Giants and Cubs ended the season tied for first place, requiring a rematch to determine who would go on to win the pennant. The Cubs won. The sheer amount of hatred directed at Merkle's one mistake was astounding, especially considering that he was far from the only person who cost the Giants the pennant.
- It wasn't excitement that kept Merkle from stepping on second; the fans stormed the field, and he ran for the clubhouse for his own safety. The game was called a tie after the Cubs player somehow made the play in that mess because they couldn't clear the field. It should also be noted that, since this behavior by the fans was quite common back then, such a force out had never before been enforced under those conditions. All of this really makes Merkle one of the worst cases of Mis-blamed in sports history.
- Steve Bartman. As the story goes, the Chicago Cubs were on their way to their first World Series since 1945 when hapless fan Bartman interfered with a foul ball, costing the team a precious out. What gets overlooked is that after the incident, Chicago still led 3-0 with one out in the 8th inning, and could have easily won the game if not for a bout of spectacular incompetence: a wild pitch, an error on an easy ground ball that could have ended the inning, two intentional walks that backfired to the tune of four runs allowed, and other hard hits. The tense 3-0 game became an 8-3 laugher. Oh, and that was only Game 6 of a seven-game series; the Cubs could have still made the World Series by winning Game 7, at home, with their best pitcher going. That didn't work out either.
- Similarly, Bill Buckner's epic error in 1986. History notes that the Red Sox had the Mets down to their final out, and three times down to a final strike that would have brought Boston a long-awaited championship. Buckner's famous gaffe was made possible only by three consecutive singles, a wild pitch, and pitcher Bob Stanley failing to recognize that baserunner Ray Knight had strayed so far from second base he could have been picked off easily. And, like the above example, this loss only tied the series at 3-3; the stunned team could have regrouped and won the next day, but did not. Furthermore, the game was tied (due to the wild pitch mentioned above) when Buckner made the game-ending error. Had he made the play, the game would have continued another inning, making this another case of Mis-blamed.
- In the bottom of the ninth inning of game six of the 1985 World Series, umpire Don Denkinger called Kansas City Royals baserunner Joge Orta safe on a close play at first base. ABC's replay showed that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell managed to get to first base and took the toss from first baseman Jack Clark at the base before Orta reached it. Cardinals fans will blame this call for costing them the championship and Denkinger was hounded by them for years. However, Orta was the first batter of the inning. The Royals eventually loaded the bases and it was the fourth batter of the inning, pinch-hitter Dane Iorg, who got the hit that scored two runs to give Kansas City a 2-1 victory. The Cardinals could have still won the series the next night in game seven, but were still unhinged by the events of the previous night and the Royals won 11-0, claiming the only World Series title the team has ever won. It didn't help that the Cardinals had won the first two games of the series in Kansas City and held a 3-1 lead in the series after five games, making the Royals the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 series deficit after losing the first two games at home. Oh, and Orta wasn't even on base when the winning run was scored...he was thrown out at third on a poorly-executed bunt play.
- In general, if there's any kind of controversial call that results in a team missing a chance to score (or stop the opponents from scoring), resulting in that team losing, the referees will usually be blamed for the loss, even if the players could have avoided the game even being that close in the first place.
- For all the flack Lebron James got for the Miami Heat losing the 2011 NBA Championship. it may have been Dwayne Wade that started the collapse. Miami looked to have a 2-0 lead over Dallas when Wade hit a three-pointer to put them up by 15 in the fourth - and he chose to taunt the Mavericks by posing in front of their bench. Dallas mounted a furious rally to win that game, posted another comeback in Game Four and ultimately took the trophy right from under the anointed Heat's collective noses.
- From the American point of view, an unidentified member of the Illinois Highway Patrol who escorted the Northern Irish World Champion golfer Rory McIlroy to the final day of the Ryder Cup; McIlroy was instrumental in Europe's comeback from 6-10 to retain the cup 14.5-13.5.
- Zeroth Law Of Trope Examples: Romeo's servant Balthasar in Romeo and Juliet, when he brings his message to Romeo telling him of Juliet's death. Sadly, the friar's letter telling him that the death was faked does not get through - so there are two Swiss Messengers, the one who delivers the wrong news, and the one who doesn't realize how important the real news is, and fails to deliver it. Actually seems to have achieved some degree of Pop-Cultural Osmosis, which runs counter to the norm for an author so prone to Everybody Knows That.
- In Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, the scatty Lady Markby brings a friend to a party, appearing in two scenes in the first act, and never appears onstage again. Said friend turns out to know their host's dirty secret, thus causing the events of the entire play.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Hilarously subverted by De Guiche: he is a villain who unwittingly derails his own plans: At Act I Scene IV, he utters a simple Dare to Be Badass to De Valvert, a small but crucial gesture that sets events that result in the derailment of his own plan to marry Roxane with De Valvert so de Guiche could bully her to be his mistress.
- Sweeney Todd would never have gone on his murder spree as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street had Anthony not barged into his shop, with Judge Turpin right there in the damned room, in order to inform Sweeney of his plans to elope with Johanna, bombing both plans to hell and making everything worse.
- Literally everything that happened in BIONICLE can be traced back to two characters' actions: Annona, who amplified the Great Beings' pre-existing compulsion to create, which eventually led to the Great Spirit Robot; and the Energized Protodermis Entity, who let the Core War happen and caused Spherus Magna to shatter. While it's debatable exactly how much of this was "unwitting", it's doubtful either of them foresaw just how much of an impact their actions would have.
- In Bastion The Manipulative Bastard who seduced and betrayed Zia indirectly caused The Calamity by driving Zia's father into sabotaging the Calamity and getting the Mancers panicked enough to set it off.
- In Dragon Quest IX, during a pre-game flashback, Serena's father is responsible for Corvus' Start of Darkness by showing up at the worst possible moment lying to the guards that Serena tricked Corvus into drinking a sleeping potion in order to have him sold out to the Gittingham Empire in exchange for their village's safety. Corvus feels that he has been betrayed, and in spite of fulfilling his end of the bargain, Serena's father, and Serena herself, who he was trying to protect, are both still murdered by the soldiers for their trouble, and Corvus is locked up for 300 years. When he is finally freed near the end of the game, he intends to destroy humanity in light of the perceived betrayal he suffered which has led him to believe that Humans Are Bastards. Thanks for nothing, old man]].
- Final Fantasy X: So Yuna and her friends have uncovered the truth about Maester Seymour, and are getting ready to send his ass to the Farplane, when Trommel intervenes and interrupts the ritual. Then, Trommel, after being confronted with Seymour's wrongdoing destroys the sphere of Seymour's father warning about his son's Start of Darkness, with the excuse that "the Guado deal with Guado affairs." Needless to say, with this action, Yuna and company are forced into hostile terms with not just the Guado, but the entirety of Spira as well, and the unsent Seymour goes on to attack the party several times, proving to be a deadly recurring villain. The decision does later cause trouble for the Guado when Seymour nearly wipes out the Ronso, leading to the near retaliatory genocide of the Guado in the sequel.
- Mass Effect 2 has a slight case of this in Joker. Shepard dies at the start of the game specifically because Joker refused to leave the Normandy when it was going down in flames. Shepard was forced to pull off a Heroic Sacrifice for him. Despite this, Joker is still a popular character, but it did earn him some haters. (Then again, if Shepard hadn't died in the beginning, Cerberus wouldn't have given Shepard the Normandy SR-2 and a whole new Badass Crew, and it's unlikely that the Alliance would have been so generous...)
- It stops being an elephant in the room in Mass Effect 3. In the Paragon post-Thessia conversation, Joker admits that he blames himself for Shepard dying and now being "like, half-robot at this point - no offense, EDI." It also has some surprising long-range consequences for the ending that no one could have anticipated at the time; because Shepard is a mixture of an organic and a synthetic, s/he can now select the "Synthesis" option, breaking down the barriers between synthetics and organics, but on the down side, "Destroy" will almost certainly kill Shepard along with other synthetics unless the player has enough Effective Military Strength.
- In the "Invasion of the Firelands" quest chain in World of Warcraft, the players can become one in a rare instance in which they cause disaster without being an Unwitting Pawn. Shortly before the attack on the Firelands is about to begin, Hamuul asks the player to investigate a Druid of the Flame nearby. The Druid of the Flame, Leyara, attacks the player and Hamuul, badly burning Hamuul and preventing the protectors of Hyjal from going on the offensive until the player gets enough Marks of the World Tree to unlock the next phase of daily quests.
- There were many people, events and circumstances that caused Garrosh Hellscream to become the Big Bad of Mists of Pandaria. But who ultimately introduced him to Thrall, causing him to bring Garrosh out of his Heroic BSOD and make him his successor as Warchief? The Horde players did, while questing in Nagrand, two expansions before Garrosh's rise to power.
- In Wrath of the Lich King, the Horde is betrayed by the Royal Apothecary Society of Undercity, under the command of Varimathras and Apothecary Putress. Who did the legwork for most of their twisted experiments with the New Plague? Three guesses, first two don't count. Horde players doing all those Apothecary quests all the way back to Vanilla.
- In Final Fantasy II, the party needs to get inside Kashuon Castle, but with Gordon, the only surviving member of the royal family, unavailable, they must go to look for an item that lets them gain entry. During the mission, Josef is killed, and Gordon gets a What the Hell, Hero? from Hilde, who blames him for Gordon's death.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Aventus Aretino is a boy who wants to summon the Dark Brotherhood to kill the evil headmistress of an orphanage in Riften. Being the Player Character, you, naturally, have to do the deed. By doing so, you actually come into contact with the Brotherhood, who want to recruit you. You can either turn on their leader, silencing what is possibly one of the last branches of the Brotherhood, or you can join them, starting a blood-soaked questline that culminates in you personally killing the Emperor. All because of this little boy's wish.
- In Metroid Prime, the Omega Pirate tried to crush Samus upon death, giving her the Phazon Suit. At first the suit proved useful for the protagonist, even helping her to defeat the eponymous Final Boss by using the Hypermode ability for the first time. But after the battle, the renmants of the DNA of Samus (and, by extension, that of the Omega Pirate) in the Phazon Suit led to the creation of Dark Samus.
- [Ashley Butler in a cameo in Grand Theft Auto V, has sex with the violently unstable Trevor Phillips for a quick fix. This leads to the death of Johnny Klebitz, the massacre of the entire Liberty City chapter of The Lost, and Ashley herself either being killed by Trevor, or dying in a crack orgy afterwards.
- Cole Phelps of L.A. Noire is a pretty big one. A good chunk of the horrible things that happen throughout the game are ultimately a result of his glory-hounding and incompetence during the war. Not only was he directly responsible for driving Hogeboom insane and hardening Courtney Sheldon's heart and indirectly for Kelso's code of silence about their respective misdeeds during and after the war, but the military surplus heist was entirely driven by his former comrades' resentment of Cole for his undeserved honors. When Cole realizes what he's responsible for he's ultimately Driven to Suicide.
- In Mega Man X, an archaeologist, Doctor Cain digs up a hundred-year-old genuinely heroic and kind fully sapient robot, X, who is more advanced than anything known to modern science, to the point that parts can't even be understood. Nevertheless, he tries duplicating the robot, and many other people follow suit, since the resulting replica androids are useful for all sorts of tasks and more intelligent than anything previous. This ultimately leads to at least a half-dozen apocalypses and, ultimately, the extinction of the human species. After waking X up and popularizing replica androids, Cain more or less never appears again. It is hinted that he died of old age only shortly before everything starts going to hell with the first Colony Drop.
- In "The Trouble with Clones" DLC of Saints Row: The Third the Aisha and Tag Brutes have gotten together and it looks like you'll be able to take them away without further trouble... then a National Guard helicopter blows the Aisha Brute up with a missile and the Tag Brute runs away again.
- Boah from Fire Emblem Akaneia is this, for convincing Princess Nyna to marry Prince Hardin, a man whom she cares for but is not in romantic love with (she loves Camus the Black Knight while Hardin is in love with her), for the sake of the Archanea continent. The consequences? Emperor Hardin finds out later and falls into drunken depression, allowing his defenses to become low enough to get Brainwashed and Crazy when given a certain Dragonsphere by a disguised villain... and ultimately, to have Hardin as the Big Bad of the second part of the game. And Boah pays with his own life, his Famous Last Words to Marth being an apology for the mess he caused while trying to help everyone.
- Sekai of School Days seduces Makoto because of her own unrequited feelings for him, despite actually hooking him up with another girl, Kotonoha. This action itself is what leads to Makoto developing a sex addiction, cheating on Sekai with Otome, and then Otome with every other girl in his class, Kotonoha becoming a Yandere, and well the nice boat.
- Otome and Makoto might be even worse ones in some routes. It's depending on Makoto pulling one or another action that Otome will or not tell Makoto's best friend Taisuke that girls like forceful dudes during sex — which will lead him to rape his crush Kotonoha, under the very stupid belief that the poor girl's barely whispered "no, don't..." are actually a part of the "protest pretend" kink. note .
- Umineko: When They Cry has Battler of all people, who drives Yasu to orchestrate the murders by unwittingly breaking a promise to take them away from Rokkenjima. Mind you, Battler didn't come back for it because of family complications, but unfortunately, Yasu took this very, very badly.
- There are two of them in Higurashi: When They Cry:
- Ooishi, whose Inspector Javert tendencies provoke the events of the Spirited Away and Atonement chapters.
- Oryou, whose actions and policies are directly responsible for Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening or indirectly responsible for many of the other chapters via the treatment of the Hojo siblings and in provoking Ooishi above.
- The Ace Attorney games have one (although it's more attributed to the series being a Long Runner more than anything): Tsukasa Oyashiki is indirectly responsible for the DL-6 incident, thanks to inadvertently hiding the IS-7 victim's body. This was due to the fact that she was trying to prevent the destruction of some ice statues made by the victim, and didn't even know the killer hid the body there. Because of that, she's responsible for the forgery of evidence and Manfred von Karma's black spot on his perfect record.
- And to really make things worse, the DL-6 Incident lead to the Feys losing their reputation, causing Morgan's husband to leave her and Dahlia to grow up to become a serial killer. Poor Tsukasa's got a lot of blood on her hands.
- Jake Marshall can be considered one for Case 1-5. He approaches Bruce Goodman, asking him to re-open SL-9, but Goodman refuses. Marshall then steals Goodman's ID to retrieve the evidence himself, prompting Goodman to have to enter the evidence room with Police Chief Damon Gant in order to complete the transferal. Not realizing he was with Neil Marshall's true killer, Goodman changes his mind and suggests reopening the case, and is killed on the spot before being transported to the underground parking lot. Marshall thus, either by stealing Goodman's ID or planting a seed of doubt in Goodman, indirectly caused Goodman's death.
- During Hanako's route in the Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo Misha decides to teasingly question her and Hisao about their relationship. As a result of this queston Hisao is forced into a situation where he had to tell Hanako about the suprise birthday party that he and Lily were planning for her. This just happens to cause Hanako to have a SEVERE panic attack. In Misha's defense she truly didn't know that Hanako's birthday was a trigger for her, and she's genuinely sorry for the consequences.
- Ryousuke Katayama of Corpse Party is a weird example, in that it's not exactly his fault. In Tenjin Elementary School, he loses his leg in a trap and bleeds to death. His friend Ohkawa, however, insists that he's still alive and needs to get to a hospital. In an attempt to "help" him realize the truth, Kizami pushes his body down the stairs. This works about as well as you'd expect. Ohkawa calls Kizami a murderer, which causes Kizami to have an "epiphany": It doesn't matter whether it's the school that kills you or him.
- In Kid Radd, two Moderators are given a large sum of money in order to hire an assassin to kill Radd, as Captain QB can't be directly implicated in illegal activities and needs to use a proxy. They reason that it can't be hard to kill someone in jail (as Radd is being imprisoned for illegally entering other games), and hire Kobayashi the discount ninja so that they can pocket the rest of the money. Radd survives the assassination attempt and Kobayashi becomes a recurring character who later meets up with Gnarl and, while training together, stumbles upon Chimera Point, the keystone to Crystal's plans, which eventually results in her finding it too.
- In the Chick Tract "Fatal Decision", Brutus, an orderly on the brink of being fired for rudeness to patients, makes hints that John shouldn't trust Dr. Bowers, leading to John destroying the vaccine and dying of his disease.
- The devils often invoke this trope, choosing someone who has an incidental relationship to the person whose soul they want to claim. In "The Assignment" they succeed in convincing Charles Bishop's subordinate's wife to badger him out of witnessing to his boss. They try to distract Cathy with a boy, only for it to fail when he proves to be a Jerk Ass, and try to have the previously mentioned subordinate call Bishop with a sales proposition, only for the angels to thwart this attempt twice. Charles ultimately dies in his sins, making the first example a successful one.
- In Kevin & Kell, Nick and Ki's arrival in Domain by way of interdimensional travel disrupts the balance between the animal- and human-dominated worlds to the point at which the other two humans living on the animal side Lindesfarne and Danielle are forced to leave lest the world suffer instinct loss. Luckily, Catherine and Nigel do it instead.
- Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick, having already lost her Paladin abilities through the unwarranted execution of of Lord Shojo, ends up destroying the Sapphire Gate, having once again misinterpreted what the gods wanted of her. Had she not been so hasty in doing this, the ghost of Soon Kim could have permanently ended the threat of Xykon and Redcloak, who, themselves, were aiming for the gate, anyway.
- Several characters in minus take actions that, unbeknownst to them, lead to The End of the World as We Know It. First, a mysterious man pretty much "breaks" minus by stuffing her into a briefcase. She is freed, but becomes a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. In an attempt to cure her, the green-haired girl throws a rock at minus's head, causing her to shatter. Because she is now a ghost, minus starts to spend more time with her ghost friends than her live ones. Which leads to the biggest example of this trope in the comic: the red-haired ghost asks minus to bring her back to life, because she has some Unfinished Business with certain humans that the readers don't get to see. minus agrees. Unfortunately, once the other ghosts find out, they demand that minus revive them too. She does, only for the sheer influx of bodies on Earth to suffocate every living thing on the planet, including those who were just revived. And that is why you should never ask anything of an omnipotent being, ever.
- Virtually everyone in Homestuck; the single good character who doesn't manage this is Nepeta.
- Tavros deserves special mention. At one point he attempts to save a young Jade from accidentally shooting herself by taking psychic control of her dog, Bequerel, and deflecting the shot at her grandfather (whom he believed was a hostile intruder), killing him. He then points out that Bequerel would have saved her even if he hadn't done anything (in a way that would not have killed Grandpa Harley) and that he only interfered so he could feel a little better about himself. Even when she points out that killing her grandfather was not appreciated, he still thinks he made the right choice.
- In Freefall, Florence has suspicions that Maxwell Post might be this when she learns that he is the spiritual advisor to the sapient robot population. So far, his efforts have been among the least of her worries.
- In Red vs. Blue, it's revealed in season 10 that Carolina's pride was responsible for nearly everything bad that happened to the Freelancers—her original AI was Sigma, but she gave him up to Maine. Sigma and Maine went on to become the Meta and kill several other Freelancers. When she finally did get an AI, she took two: the ones that were originally meant for Wash and South. South's jealousy due to her brother North getting an AI and her not led to South leaving North to die and shooting Wash in the back, and her own death at Wash's hands later. Wash, on the other hand, did get an AI... Epsilon. Which led to him going insane and plotting to take down the Director of Project Freelancer for his crimes. All because of pride.
- Even before that there was the Director's obsession with his dead love, Allison. When the Alpha AI, copied from the Director's mind, was created, the Beta AI (based on the Director's memories of Allison) naturally fragmented from it. This inspired the Director to torture the Alpha into making more fragments, the ones mentioned above, to figure out a way to "get her right".
- There was also the Sleeveless Insurrectionist Soldier, who shot Agent Maine in the throat several times, rendering him mute. This gave Carolina an excuse to give her A.I. Sigma away so that Maine could have an alternate way to speak. This contributed into forever turning him into the Meta.
- Trouble in Dino Attack RPG, being a mutant lizard who was adopted and trained by a member of the team trying to eradicate his kind, was the first to spark the tension between realist and idealist members of the team. Technically speaking he is responsible both for the campaigns by both Kotua and Cam O'Cozy, both of whom tried to commit genocide against idealist agents.
- In Death Battle, He-Man ended up as this during his fight against Lion-O. He just wanted to fend off Lion-O, but in doing so, he crushed the Eye of Thundera, which kept the Thunderan race alive.
- A strange example of a fictional character ending up being one for the real-life events. The Ren & Stimpy Show had the minor character George Liquor getting brutally beaten up by Ren in the episode "Man's Best Friend". Said scene was later one of the reasons for creator John Kricfalusi's firing.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender : The Earth King informed Azula (disguised as a Kyoshi Warrior) of the invasion of the Fire Nation. Cue next season where the invasion force finds all royalty in hiding, and the invasion ends in failure with almost all of them captured.
- Adventure Time:
- The Ice King continually interferes with Finn's attempt to prevent the Lich from reaching the Well of Power and regaining his full power. As a result the Lich, having regained his full power by the time Finn and Jake finally reach him, ends up jobbing Finn and destroying the Gauntlet, the one weapon that can hurt him, forcing Finn to find an alternative. Then the Ice King accidentally drops Bubblegum into the Well, which melts her and allows the Lich to possess her. After being frozen with help from the Ice King, she shatters, requiring medical attention to be put back together. Part of Bubblegum is missing though, causing her to come back as a 13-year old, which later results in Earl of Lemongrab assuming the throne, if only for an episode.
- The snail was responsible for the Lich breaking free in the first place. He just happened to have crawled into Finn's backpack right before Princess Bubblegum took Finn and Jake to the location of the Lich's imprisonment. As soon as he crawled out, the snail, having no psychic protection, was mind controlled by the Lich into freeing him and setting the above chain of events into place, not to mention the ongoing threat of the Lich when the Lich possesses the snail directly.
- If it weren't for an unnamed Scandinavian dock worker selling an old crown to an antiquarian by the name of Simon Petrikov, the Ice King would never have existed. However, if that happened then Marceline would have most likely died in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, so it isn't all bad.
- In the Alternate Universe "Farmworld", the Destiny Gang terrorising Finn's village and his family leads to him wearing the Ice King's crown, which in turn leads to the release of the Lich and the world being inflicted with another apocalypse.
- In the one episode of Combo Niños where neither Diadoro nor Gomez had released any Divinos, Principal Bronka accidentally released a Family of snake-like Divinos.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends special Destination Imagination, Herriman interferes with a resolution between the Face and the rest of the main characters, Frankie included, by scolding him, causing him to go berserk. Unlike most other examples of this trope, he immediately comes to regret this.
- Homer from The Simpsons does this at least once or twice a season. He's even responsible for the death of Maude Flanders; Homer tells a group of bimbos to aim their 'Free t-shirt' bazookas at him, only to duck at the last possible second as he grabs something off the ground. The barrage of t-shirts knocks Maude over the edge of the stadium to her death in front of her husband and two young children.
I'm the one whose antics drove her out of her seat. I'm the one who provoked the lethal barrage of t-shirts. I'm the one
who parked in the ambulance zone, preventing any possible resuscitation.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a vivid dream, got up and started writing it down as the epic poem Kubla Khan, but then there was a knock at the door, and a man from the nearby town of Porlock kept him talking just long enough to forget all about the dream and he never finished it. The Person from Porlock is now literary shorthand for an unwanted visitor.
- Though some have theorized that Coleridge never intended to finish the poem (or that it was finished already), and he made up the story of the visitor just to mess with people. It doesn't help that Coleridge was a heavy opiate user, and the "dream" could have been something more of a "drug-induced vision," and the man from Porlock may or may not have actually been there. (Cue images of a poet standing on his doorstep talking to nobody while hazy visions of Kublai Khan's utopia dissipate into the aether.)
- Andy Dick. At a 1997 Christmas party, he reintroduced Brynn Omdahl, wife of Phil Hartman to cocaine, leading to his death. Which led to Andy Dick making some tasteless jokes about his role in Hartman's death, which resulted in Hartman's friend Jon Lovitz kicking his ass. It appears that Dick lives up to his name.
- Floyd Wells. He told fellow cons Perry Smith and Richard Hickock that a farmer he worked for named Herb Clutter kept a safe hidden with plenty of cash inside. As it turned out, there was no safe. It was this false info that led Smith and Hickock to massacre Mr. Clutter and his family, the basis for Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.
- A rare inversion in Stanislav Petrov. While monitoring a satellite for the Soviet early warning system of a nuclear attack, he received a report of five inbound ICBMs. He decided it didn't make sense for a US first strike to be composed of only five nukes, and logged it as a technical error. Had he not been so cautious, World War III surely would have erupted.
- The failure of the Jay Leno Show on primetime had this effect on Conan O'Brien's tenure as host of The Tonight Show, as it damaged local 11pm newscast ratings, as well as Conan himself, leading NBC to move Jay and his show back to his old 11:35 spot, and pushing Conan just past midnight. Conan, not wanting to tarnish the legacy of the Tonight Show, wanted no part of the agreement, and was subsequently evicted from the show, with Jay back as host.
- Senator Stephen Douglas, the man responsible for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Originally, his intentions had simply been to get a railroad to California built, which would start in Chicago, Illinois (his home state). To do this, he proposed splitting the remaining unorganized chunk of the Louisiana Territory into the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Pro-slavery Southerners slipped in a part saying that the legality of slavery in each territory would be decided by the voters there. But then pro-slavery advocates from Missouri flooded into Kansas to support slavery, resulting in "Bloody Kansas", the prequel to The American Civil War. Douglas himself has been branded pro-slavery for years afterward following the fallout, with historians often leaving out that it was the South that suggested the decision of slavery by popular sovereignty and that Douglas himself wanted to build a railroad to California, obviously having no idea that the first planned transcontinental railroad would cause the biggest schism ever to hit the United States over completely unrelated circumstances.
- It is a bit more complicated, as Douglas came to support "pop sov" in the not unrealistic expectation that the majority in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska would vote against slavery. In the same expectation pro-slavery Southerners abandoned the idea of "popular sovereignty", instead propounding the doctrine that slavery had to be protected in U. S. Territories even against the wishes of a majority of their inhabitants. This stance was strengthened not long after by the Dred Scott decision.
- In 2007, [adult swim] launched a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie featuring battery-powered LED placards resembling the Mooninite characters being placed in numerous places around the US. However in Boston, police officials mistakenly thought that the LEDs were bombs, and treated the whole event as such. This event would turn out to known as the Boston Bomb Scare, which lead to legal implications being placed on Turner Broadcasting and their contractors, the internet to make mock "Never Forget" memes, and forced then-current Cartoon Network head Jim Samples to step down. It wouldn’t be long after until fans began to realize that Cartoon Network would not be the same since the incident. Not because of any legal incidents, but because Sample’s replacement, Stuart Snyder, became the instigator of the channel’s infamous Network Decay in the late-2000s, with an increase of live-action sitcoms and reality shows on the channel.
- Franz von Papen, ex-Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, who in 1933 convinced President Hindenburg to make Adolf Hitler chancellor in order to save his own political hide. By this point, the Nazis (forced by previous chancellors to fight repeated elections which sapped their funds) were rapidly losing support and were scraping the bottom of their piggy bank.
- And in an even worse example, Marinus van der Lubbe, the guy who started the Reichstag fire. He was a raving madman who was quickly captured that same night. It gave the Nazis the perfect opportunity to seize power, as the aforementioned repeated elections would eventually end in a loss of NSDAP seats.
- In the mid-'80s bribery scandal linked to Budd Dwyer (the inspiration behind "Hey Man, Nice Shot" by Filter), William Smith, an attorney linked to the case, gave dubious testimony in order to accept a plea bargain, which made a guilty verdict for the former practically inevitable. As a result, Dwyer himself publicly committed suicide the day before the sentencing was to have taken place.
- In the night of April 14, 1912 Jack Phillips, radio operator of the RMS Titanic, received a message alerting of an ice field ahead from the radio operator of the SS Californian, Cyril Evans. The message interrupted an information directed to a first class passenger from Cape Race, Newfoundland, and Phillips radioed "Shut up, shut up! I am busy; I am working Cape Race!" back to Evans. Annoyed, Evans turned off the radio and went to sleep... ten minutes before the Titanic struck an iceberg. This prevented the Californian (who was the closest ship to the Titanic) from hearing the Titanic's repeated distress calls and rescuing her passage before the ship went down.
- David Blair was originally slated to be Second Officer of the Titanic during her maiden voyage. However, in the last moment White Star reassigned the more experienced Henry Wilde, Chief Officer of the Olympic (at the time in drydock) to the Titanic, and the knock-off effect was Blair being given another post out of the ship. By accident, Blair left with a key from the Titanic, that turned out to be the only key to a safe in the Crow's Nest keeping the lookouts' binoculars. Without binoculars, the lookouts failed to see the iceberg in time.
- Jamie Gorelick, during her tenure as Deputy US Attorney General, was responsible for strengthening the restrictions on information sharing between domestic and foreign intelligence services. The lack of coordination this caused lead directly to the US government's failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks, despite ample evidence of the plot, up to and including one of the terrorists being (briefly) taken into custody not long before it happened.