Was Too Hard on Him

When it comes to doing something that is the right thing to do, we will find out that it isn't really nice. Many of these things can be either reproving a character for doing something that is either stupid or immoral, physically harming another for seemingly in the verge of losing control of himself, or criticizing others' abilities just to motivate them to do better. After doing the deed, there's an uncomfortable feeling inside the character, and that feeling is regret for doing what he needs to do.

Let's say that a child is misbehaving badly, or did something he knows he isn't supposed to do. The parent comes in to punish the child. As soon as the parent is finished chastising the child, the parent feels guilty, asking themselves "Am I being too hard on him/her?" Another character, usually the parent's friend, objects, saying they're doing the right thing, and the child will get used to being disciplined sooner or later.

It can involve two siblings, two friends, or a married couple. This can often be a part of a Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario if reconciliation is always optional, but if not, then the relationship will harden and may be broken. This may cause the audience to sympathize with the one doing the right-but-not-nice thing or even the one who has made an error.

Compare Minor Insult Meltdown which is where the victim being punished will fall into this. Also compare My God, What Have I Done? where the action was reprehensible and is not justified, but the character regrets it. A rather lighter version of Dirty Business. See also Jerkass Realization and Made Out to Be a Jerkass.

May be Alas, Poor Villain if taken to extremes. A nice guy who had his buttons pushed may experience this. Can somewhat be a Family-Unfriendly Aesop since this is about a person feeling remorseful for their justified actions towards the person who shouldn't have done wrong to them in the first place. Can be Truth in Television for some parents don't feel comfortable in punishing their children. This is often the reaction to a child being The Runaway. A very suitable reaction of the Pushover Parents. Can be why Being Good Sucks.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: Before dying to save Gohan from an attack from Nappa, Piccolo apologizes to Gohan for being so tough on him in the Training from Hell.
  • In one episode of Naruto, Sakura felt this way about Naruto after attacking or berating him whenever he does something thickheaded or annoying. After complaining about Naruto's immaturity, only to have Sasuke tell her that Naruto's that way because he doesn't have parents and she can't possibly understand, Sakura wonders if she's been unfairly judgmental on Naruto.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate is in a pinch (as always) this time needed a team to do a dungeon crawl to get his job back and naturally goes to Hinagiku first (as always). She's still pretty upset at him exploiting her fear of heights during the marathon race the day before to take them both out of the race so Nagi could win (which she didn't, thus why he had to do the dungeon crawl) and gives him a really hard time. After he bolts without even asking for her help, she starts to feel bad and notes that it looked like he might have had something serious to tell her so she winds up getting worried and going to help anyway.
    • It also proves important to Hina's character arc as even she didn't know why she was being so hard on him for something so minor and why it bothered her so much, eventually realizing that she was in love with him and in immense denial due to trauma from her past after a pretty long period where she would give Hayate the cold shoulder only to regret being so hard on him and try to make up for it.
  • Aiko asks this of herself in Mo~tto! Ojamajo Doremi after she calls out Momoko for accidentally getting Hana sick. Doremi replies she would have said the same thing. Later on, Aiko apologizes via an audio message from Mimi.
  • In Sand Chronicles, Ann's grandma Misayo blames herself for her daughter's suicide, regretting that she had scolded her not long beforehand to "get a hold of [her]self" when she really meant to tell her to do her best.
  • Your Lie in April:
    • Kousei's abusive mother, also a My God, What Have I Done?. In episode 13, we get a look at the situation from Hiroko's point of view and despite the numerous instances of abuse she put Kousei through, Saki loved Kousei and only wanted to make sure that Kousei would be able to move on after she was gone. Her last moments in the hospital were spent lamenting that she wasn't a better mother to him and that she hoped that "her treasure would find happiness."
    • In a way, Kaori towards Kousei. In the posthumous letter she wrote to Kousei, she tells him how much she loves him and that she was sorry for being so mean to him and hitting him.
  • A Pokémon episode has Bayleef constantly hugging and tackling Ash, and he ends up yelling at her for it. After Bayleef runs away and Ash wonders why she ran away, Misty hints that he was the one who told Bayleef to "go away and stay away", making Ash regret yelling at his Pokemon. He later finds Bayleef and tries to apologize, but she refuses to go back to him until the end of the episode.
    • After losing against Wulfric for the first time, Ash gets angry at Serena for trying to cheer him up. Serena, who has a bit of a crush on him and is a Nice Girl, actually angrily calls him out on taking his anger out on her and thinking that Ash was not being as great as she believe he is at the moment. But she does end up feeling horrible about feeling this way even when her anger at him is justified, and the same can be said for Ash.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • King Triton dwells over this after scolding Ariel in The Little Mermaid. He also thinks this after destroying her secret grotto filled with human treasures. To be fair, he did go overboard with the latter.
  • Marlin feels this way about Nemo in Finding Nemo.
  • In Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, after Scamp runs away, Tramp worries that his son ran away because he scolded him for thinking like a wild dog.
  • In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Alex and the others decide to track down the penguins and chimps, thinking that they had abandoned them in Africa despite planning to come back for them. As part of an elaborate plan to confront them, Alex decides that step 1 is meeting them, step 2 is to give them hell for abandoning them, and step 3 is to realize that they were too hard on them and apologize. The plan ends up going off the rails, and Alex accidentally skips to step 3 when they meet them. Skipper accepts the apology without question, and orders his men to move out. Alex angrily realizes that he told them he was sorry without chewing them out first.
  • The Wild: Right when Samson the lion yells at his son for causing them the game out of "jealousy" that he couldn't roar, Ryan flinches. Samson sees this and apologizes, but Ryan inverts the I Have No Son trope by saying he wishes his father really wasn't his father.
  • In Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Mickey send Pluto to his doghouse after his attempt to put the star on the Christmas tree ended up with all of Mickey's decorations destroyed. Later, when Mickey fixes everything, he begins to feel bad for how he yelled at him and goes to the doghouse to apologize, only to find that Pluto had run away.
  • In the The Prince of Egypt, Moses asks Seti if he was too harsh on Rameses by calling him a weak link who will bring Egypt to shame, just after Moses took blame for goading Rameses on their chariot race. Seti responds that he has to be tough on Rameses: he's the crown prince and the one who will one day rule over all of Egypt, and cannot afford weakness.
  • In The Good Dinosaur, Arlo's Poppa is frustrated that his son freed a pest who was eating their crops. He urges him hard to get through a windy pass in an attempt to help him get through his fears. But when Arlo gets injured on the job, Poppa's frustration turns to concern, and he apologizes for pushing him too hard.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In A Brother's Price, after Corelle is severely punished for not staying at the farm to protect her brother, and the punishment is so severe that the siblings pity her, the family decides that she should be one of those who get to accompany Jerin to the capital. This is a treat, and it is said that they want to give her a chance to prove that she has learnt from experience.
  • The Left Behind series have both God and Jesus who did not enjoy sending the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the people who rejected Him to the Lake of Fire for eternity. This quote from Jesus sums this up:
    Jesus: Like My Father, with whom I am One, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but justice must be served, and death is your sentence.
  • In the S.E. Hinton book The Outsiders, Darry cries to Ponyboy who was in the hospital, but Ponyboy comes to realize that Darry is acting hard with him throughout the story because he wants a future for him.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, McGonagall thinks she was too hard on Peter Pettigrew during his school days, due to the fact that he went on to die a heroically foolish death. Or so she thinks.
  • Firestar from Warrior Cats feels upset that his daughter Squirrelpaw (later Squirrelflight) ran away because of what he said. When he realizes that he told her she wouldn't be a warrior if she kept meeting with Brambleclaw (who's from the same Clan but he's keeping them away for a slight reason), he blames himself.
  • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Peter realizes that his berating of Edmund helped lead to the latter's betrayal. In the 2005 film version he says this phrase word for word.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Happy Days, Ritchie's father threatens to make Fonzie pay for damages to his roof due to a pigeon house that the Fonz built on the roof. He admits later to his family that maybe he was too hard on Fonzie. Played with, in that Fonzie later decides to sue him.
  • In the Full House episode "Joey Gets Tough", Joey, who plays the Parental Substitute for Danny, asks Jesse about how D.J. feels after he grounded her for sneaking to karate class.
    • Another example is when Jesse seems a bit hurt when both Nicky and Alex referred to him as a "mean daddy".
    • In another episode, Jesse catches D.J. supposedly drinking beer at a school dance and is hard on her. After Stephanie tells the adults what really happened, Jesse feels bad for being harsh on D.J.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air hilariously played with this trope in the episode "Asses To Ashes" where Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley chewed out Will for (accidentally) killing Judge Robertson, figuring it would get him out of his funk. Then Will starts wailing like a little kid and the three were a bit shocked. This led Carlton saying "I could be wrong."
  • In the Lazytown episode "Zap It", Stephanie apologizes to Pixel for being harsh with him for creating the zapper device which makes everything invisible instead of disappearing.
  • This doubles with Why Did You Make Me Hit You? in the second season of Rescue Me where Sheila's lesbian lover beats her in a fit of jealous rage. After that, she comes to console her, saying "I'm sorry I was so rough with you, but sometimes you just make me so angry."


    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: A few scriptures such as Jeremiah 8:21 shows us that God doesn't take pleasure in punishing those who sinned against Him:
    "For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me."

    Video Games 
  • In World in Conflict, Col. Sawyer is emotionally distraught by the fact that he previously treated Capt. Bannon like crap (entirely justifiably, by the way), after Bannon pulls a You Shall Not Pass on the Soviets and dies by nuke. This, along with general stress upon him, contributes to Sawyer making several strategic mistakes late in the campaign.
  • In The World Ends with You, Shiki calls out Neku for going against the idea of friendship in Day 4. Then she realizes she was being harsh and apologizes to him.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Quistis tells Rinoa off for suggesting a risky plan for neutralizing the sorceress while Quistis and her fellow SeeDs are already in the midst of preparing the assassination they've been hired for. Shortly afterwards, she lets her worry that she might have been too harsh towards Rinoa prompt her to leave her post in an attempt to apologize - a poorly-considered emotional decision that leads to Quistis and her entire team getting locked in General Caraway's study(which was only supposed to lock in Rinoa, who'd already left) just as the mission is supposed to begin and barely making it back to their post in time.
  • In Persona 4, when the police have identified a suspect in the serial murders who, in reality, is only guilty of one copycat killing, teen detective Naoto Shirogane approaches the party, and says that their "game" of investigating the murder will soon be over, prompting Rise to angrily say that Naoto's the one playing a game. A month and a half later, at the fireworks festival and after the apparent suspect's arrest, the group brings up Naoto, and Rise says she regrets saying what she did, hoping to not part on bad terms with Naoto. Even later on, when Naoto reminds Rise of the earlier remark by denying that she considers it a game, either, Rise is horrified, believing that what she said caused Naoto to risk herself to lure out the true culprit.

    Western Animation 
  • Stewie asks this to Brian when he spanks Chris while acting as a Parental Substitute in the Family Guy episode "North By North Quahog", despite that Chris was framed by a student for drinking vodka.
    • Another examples comes from "Peter's Two Dads" where Lois spanks Stewie, but then as soon as Stewie starts crying, Lois begins to feel terrible and starts to apologize, but Stewie runs from her.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas And Ferb Get Busted", Lawrence tells Linda that they've been too hard on the boys after sending them to the Smile Away Remoratory School for engaging in their usual activities.
    • Another example is found in the episode "Dude, We're Getting The Band Back Together" where Phineas asks the lead singer of Love Handel, Danny, was he tough on the guy who wasn't playing the guitar properly. His response was "He'll be back when the spirit calls him!"
  • Ren has occasional moments of this concerning Stimpy in The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants:
    • In "Gary's New Toy", Spongebob was hoping that Gary isn't upset with him when he restrains him from constantly chewing on his new red ball.
    • Another example happens in "Whatever Happened To Spongebob?" where the others get tired of Spongebob's clumsy behaviour and very bluntly tell him to get lost. They are guilt ridden when they find out he has run away because of this later on.
    • In "Fools In April", Squidward, who was really irritated with Spongebob's April Fools pranks, realizes how much of a jerk he is for making him cry with the nasty prank he set up.
  • Fairly Oddparents. In the end of episode "Pipe Down", Timmy's Dad apologizes to Timmy for yelling at him for making the family lose to the Dinklebergs in a game of charades.
  • Played to it's most poignant tee in the Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special. After Brain repeatedly chews out Pinky for ignoring their plan for his Christmas letter, driving Pinky to tears, he eventually reads the letter out of curiosity, to find it is a touching speech about his 'best friend in the world, the Brain' that asks Santa to give all of Pinky's gifts to him, since he never gets the reward he deserves. While he does not mention this trope, the emotional exchange makes it very clear how he feels.
  • Done similarly in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Sisterhooves Social" after a fight with Sweetie Belle over causing problems including, among other things, using all her gems to make a picture, Rarity begins to dwell over this. The final nail in the coffin is when she finally looks at the picture Sweetie Belle made; her and her big sister inside a giant heart made of gems. Cue hammy My God, What Have I Done?.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, after Mac gives Goo a not-so-nice speech, causing her to cry, he opens the gift she attempted to give him. He then feels bad about the things he said, and decides to comfort Goo by telling her she doesn't need to make a lot of imaginary friends to feel less lonely. This causes an excited Goo to glomp Mac happily.
  • Popeye: The titular sailor feels a bit guilty for spanking Swee'pea, who ran away because of it.
  • In the episode "Trail of the Missing Tails" from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic states he can't forgive himself for making Tails run away by scolding him for putting himself in danger of Dr. Robotnik's trap.
  • In the episode "Big Fat Alien Wedding" of Ben 10, Mr. and Mrs. Tennyson apologized to Camille for being tough on her, but this was due to them being against the wedding due to her being a sludgepuppy, which they despise. She instantly forgives them and accepts them into the family, though.
  • In the "King of the Hobos" episode of The Little Rascals, after Porky runs away, Darla suggests to the other boys that exiling him from the treehouse might have been too harsh a punishment for eating all of their food.
  • In the Super Mario World episode "Born to Ride", Princess Toadstool gets mad at Mario and Luigi for scolding Yoshi for eating the bamboo pipes they were using to get indoor plumbing into the cave.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", after Bart runs away after being sent to his room, Homer and Marge feel this way when explaining to the police what happened.
    • In "Mona Leaves-A", Homer gets mad at his mother Mona for always leaving him to go on and calls her a horrible mother. Later that night, Homer feels bad about what he said and decides to make a card for her, only to find she died later that night.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Mutants Are Revolting", Leela yells at Fry when she's banished to the sewers after he inadvertently revealed she was a mutant. She later remarks "Maybe I was too hard on him. He didn't ruin my life on purpose."
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Twisted Sister", the girls scold Bunny for breaking criminals out of jail instead of helping them, causing Bunny to fly away crying.
    Bubbles: Aww, do you think we were too hard on her?
    [girls see the criminals Bunny freed surrounding them]
    Criminals: Not as hard as we're gonna be on you! [cut beatdown]
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Bato Of The Water Tribe", Sokka yells at Aang for hiding their father's map from him and Katara. But after they split up and Bato reveals that he had been abandoned by his fleet, Sokka thinks that he was too hard on Aang and decides to go back.
  • This is the case of Arthur Puppington, father of Clay in Moral Orel, full stop. His near-use of corporal abuse following his wife Angela's which he blames on his son, directly followed by him completely shunning him, leads Clay to see corporal punishment as a show of love, which ultimately leads Clay down an incredibly dark path that he regrets by the events of Beforel Orel, leading him to bond with his then 4-year-old grandson Orel.
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Charlie Ball", Charlie becomes a jerk when it comes to basketball, and Grizz tries his hardest to keep his temper. But when Charlie insults Panda, Grizz bluntly kicks him off the team. He does feel bad about being hard on the Sasquatch, though, and Panda and Ice Bear tell him he did the right thing.

Alternative Title(s): Was Too Hard On Her