Your Approval Fills Me with Shame
"Had the Kryptonian or the Amazon taken that gamble, they would've lost. They do not have the strength or character to destroy an entire planet to achieve success. But you? A human? You'd kill your own kind to win battles. An admirable quality."
So our once-spotless protagonist has just performed a bit of Dirty Business
, or worse, in a moment of weakness, they've done something unambiguously wrong
, perhaps even lowering themselves to the level of the villain.
Either way, their character flaws
have just been laid bare
the evil villain says, "and I thought I
was the bad guy, here." At this point, the hero realizes that they must have done something horrible
to warrant a compliment from their most hated adversary. They may brush it off with a quick retort
but the villain's words will linger regardless.
This generally comes in one of two flavors: in one, the villain is genuinely impressed
by the unheroic deed and pays the hero an honest (if unwanted) compliment. This shows up more frequently in comedic works. In other, usually more dramatic cases, the villain's motive is to sarcastically mock
the hero's claim to the moral high ground
, mess with the hero's head
, goad him
into taking more actions he'll regret, or set him up for the ways of evil
Essentially an inversion
of What the Hell, Hero?
. Sometimes part of a Breaking Lecture
or a Not So Different
speech. Can occasionally occur solely among protagonists, with an especially dark Anti-Hero
or Sociopathic Hero
standing in for a villain; if the approval is expressed by a superior or a commanding officer, it's likely to be a Medal of Dishonor
. When villains compliment one another, it's Arson, Murder, and Admiration
. There's also its total opposite: the Insult Backfire
, where the villain appreciates the qualities the hero accuses them of. Can occur with So Proud of You
. Compare Compliment Backfire
(where the problem is not what is being said (or who is saying it), but how
); You Could Have Used Your Powers for Evil
, where a villain notes the hero could have made a good villain; Anti-Advice
, where the nature of the advisor causes the advisee to do exactly the opposite; At Least I Admit It
, where a villain notes that, unlike the "hero", he's honest about doing wrong; and Dismissing a Compliment
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Anime & Manga
- Jim Gaffigan has a bit about this. He claims that his skin is so white and pale that strangers will come up to him and tell him racist jokes. "Gee, thanks for reminding me I look like Hitler's wet dream."
- Dara Ó Briain used to tell a joke about Elton John's homosexuality as part of his act. He defended the joke when a gay rights group called "Outrage" targeted him with a letter-writing campaign, but a letter of support from a homophobic organisation that congratulated him on "Standing up to the forces of sodomy" persuaded him to remove the joke from the act. He mentioned this incident in a later show and accompanied it with a fear of the image of him playing golf with Jim Davidson (a British comedian widely despised among his peers for being a lowbrow racist).
- Discussed by Stewart Lee in a routine about Political Correctness Gone Mad and his reluctance to make jokes about Islam; he doesn't much care if Muslims are offended by anything he says, but he doesn't want the sort of people who find Islamophobic humor funny to be a part of his target audience.
- In the anti-hunger comic Heroes for Hope, Magneto is among those experiencing horrific visions, in his case, of a world where his dream of mutant supremacy has come true, at the cost of killing every other human, whose corpses then rise up to devour him. As this unfolds, he is complimented on his genocide by Hitler, who praises what a good student he was. Magneto, a Jew whose family died in Adolf Hitler's camps, has no trouble seeing the connection. The glazed yet horrified look on Magneto's face when Hitler congratulates him is priceless.
- There was once a similar exchange between him and The Red Skull. This trope is pretty common with Magneto, to the point that any direct compliment made to him has a decent chance of being this.
- As mentioned, this trope can occasionally occur among protagonists. In a story of the Uncanny X-Men in the late eighties, Havok is disturbed at the growing ease he's feeling in killing bad guys to save innocents. After their recent battle, Wolverine congratulates him for not hesitating to kill, offering to shake his hand. Havok is not flattered that he is being congratulated by the patron saint of anti-heroes.
- In DC's Elseworlds' The Golden Age, Al Pratt, The Atom, is among those stunned to learn that the would-be icon Dyna-Man, the former Dan The Dyna-Mite, is not at all who he seems. Pratt, who has never questioned the ever more sinister tone of the movement he's been in, is complimented by Dyna-Man, saying he would have made a perfect Nazi. Note that Pratt was a member of the Justice Society of America and had been actively fighting the Nazis in World War II.
- In Preacher, Jody tells Jesse Custer that he's proud of him. Jesse seems less ashamed and more royally pissed.
- In one Archie comic, Principal Weatherbee hires Jughead to write jokes for his assembly speech when a particular kind of joke is really popular. Then Weatherbee hears two girls complaining about the jokes. When he asks Jughead what happened, Jughead tells him that the jokes are completely lame now. When did they become uncool? "Oh, yeah. When word got around that [Weatherbee] was telling them."
- In Captain Britain and MI-13, Norman Osborn says he respects Pete Wisdom as a "fellow player". Wisdom is less than pleased.
Pete Wisdom: Brilliant... The %#@&%#$ Green Goblin thinks I'm a bit like him.
- During the The Reign of the Supermen, Guy Gardner backs the Last Son of Krypton visored Superman, who has the following reaction:
Last Son of Krypton: "Until this moment, my actions felt absolutely right. But... I did let my anger at Gardner get the better of me. I took it out on those less capable of defending themselves. And now Gardner cheers me on. That alone is reason to reflect, to question what I have done."
- In Transmetropolitan, while covering election, Spider visits one candidate's rally. An elderly man is mean to him so Spider, being the Anti-Hero he is, headbutts him. Other participants start praising him for keeping the weak down. Spider is clearly baffled and disgusted by this, and becomes utterly terrified when he finds out the man all those people came here for is A Nazi by Any Other Name.
- In History of The Far Side, writer Gary Larson remarks that he has one friend with a particularly offbeat sense of humor— when that friend calls to say how much he liked the strip that just appeared in the paper, it tells Larson he just pissed off most of his actual target audience.
- In Loki: Agent of Asgard, Loki meets somebody who put the pieces together about what Loki did at the end of Journey into Mystery and comments on it with simple "Nice, old chum". Loki already feels ashamed of what he did then, but it certainly doesn't help that person who just approved of it is Mephisto.
- Prowl is not flattered by the fact that the Constructicons, a bunch of laid back yet ever so slightly psychotic/sadistic working joes, like him in Transformers: Robots in Disguise. This is not helped by the fact that they're the only people who like him—not even the other Autobots like Prowl. Most of his biggest detractors are on his own side!
Films — Animation
- In Over the Hedge, the Vincent the bear compliments RJ when he let his friends get captured by Animal Control.
Vincent: So I was just on my way down here to kill you, and I stopped to watch the show, and I gotta say... that right there, is a thing of beauty. That is the most vicious, deceitful, self-serving thing I've ever seen. (chuckles maliciously) Classic, RJ. You take the food, and they take the fall. You keep this up, you're gonna end up just like me.
- In Monsters University, it's never directly stated, but implied that Jerk Jock sports team Roar Omega Roar re-offering Sulley membership is what makes him confess to cheating during the last segment of the scare games.
- Although not stated outright, but in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut Satan told Sheila she's responsible for the end of the world. She did not take the compliment well...
- In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Iago defects from Jafar to the good guys for his own gain, and eventually starts to actually like them. Once Jafar comes back, however, he bullies Iago into becoming The Mole and uses him to capture them all, though Iago's clearly not happy about doing it.
Jafar: That's what I love about you! You're so— predictable. A villain through and through.
Iago: Yeah... no problem...
- In My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, Sunset Shimmer is enraged and humiliated when The Great and Powerful Trixie praises her for tackling Rainbow Dash in an alleged fit of jealous rage.
Films — Live-Action
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: When Blackbeard compliments Philip's capture of Syrena with a hearty "Well done, sailor", this trope is written all over Philip's face, as well as My God, What Have I Done?.
- The Dark Knight plays both versions of the trope at once, in that the Joker, gives Batman a likely-honest compliment while attempting to play mind games with him:
Batman: You wanted me. Here I am.
The Joker: I wanted to see what you'd do. And you didn't disappoint! You let five people die!
- At the climax of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor grabs the Villain Ball as tightly as he can by congratulating and encouraging Luke each time he lets his anger take control of him, and each time Luke realizes that he is falling into the dark side and stops himself. It can only be justified if it were somehow important that Luke not just give in to anger, but also be aware of doing so.
- An example of the first variety occurs in the Prince Caspian film: when Caspian is about to kill Miraz, the latter compliments him on being a "true Telmarine king."
- Interview with the Vampire (the movie, at least) has this with Lestat applauding Louis and singing his praises upon finding the latter bent over the neck of a child. Louis's shame and disgust with himself is counter to Lestat's rather enthusiastic approval.
Lestat: My philosopher! My martyr! "Never take a human life." This calls for a celebration!
Louis: (runs off, weeping)
Lestat: Come back! You are what you are! (to himself) Merciful Death, how you love your precious guilt.
- Colonel Quaritch in Avatar tells Jake that the intel he's provided about the Home Tree will make destroying it easier, and that the video log saying the Na'vi don't want anything the humans have will give them the excuse they need to destroy it. Way to make the soldier that's spent two months with the natives feel bad.
- At the end of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly gives Andy a Not So Different speech, prompting her to quit the fashion industry.
- A somewhat less hostile version occurs in Star Trek Into Darkness, when Kirk wants to open a torpedo to see what's so secret about them. Dr. McCoy is less than thrilled. Neither is Spock, but when he sides with the Doctor:
McCoy: Don't agree with me, Spock, it makes me very uncomfortable.
- In Return to Oz the Nome King shows Dorothy that he's wearing the ruby slippers she lost when she went back home. "They just fell out of the sky one day. You were so anxious to get home. They're very powerful. They made it possible for me to conquer The Emerald City. Thank you." Dorothy gives her best What Have I Done look.
- Played with in Revolutionary Road. The protagonist couple, after they tell their plans of the husband quitting his job and moving to Paris so that they can have a dream bohemian life with only the wife working to support them, the only person who approves it is the mentally challenged son of his neighbors. Later, they both wonder if it means something that the only one who agrees with them is mentally unstable.
- Near the end of the Vince Vaughn/Reese Witherspoon vehicle, Four Christmases, Vaughn's character Brad tells his misanthropic father (who often belittles him and questions his masculinity) that he just broke up with his girlfriend Kate because she wanted to settle down and have children. The father says, "Good for you! I didn't know you had it in you!" and invites him in for a beer. Brad stops and realizes that he's made a terrible mistake, and later returns to ask for Kate's forgiveness.
- The protagonist of Falling Down is very seriously pissed off when a neo-Nazi lauds him for going on a violent rampage through Los Angeles.
- In The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond is pretty displeased by Scaramanga's compliments as one Professional Killer to another.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: both our protagonists and their arch villain are in dire straits. Sunny then proposes to set the building they are kept in on fire, despite the hundreds of people still being in it. Their past guardian Olaf then rejoices at Sunny's creativity: "it seems I've been a good educator after all!" Since he's spent the rest of the series killing their relatives, mistreating them and framing them for his own crimes in order to steal their fortune, putting them in that desperate situation in the first place and even allegedly killing their own parents by setting their house on fire... It has to be the most horrifying line of the whole series.
- Early on in the Animorphs series, Marco saves an old man from a bunch of gangsters by morphing gorilla, and beating the snot out of the gangsters. Later, when everyone else starts giving Marco crap about it, Marco firmly sticks to his belief that he did the right thing. Then Rachel agrees with him, and says (with conviction) that she also thinks Marco did the right thing. Marco quips, "Okay, now I know I did the wrong thing, if Rachel agrees with me." Rachel is not amused.
- Close to the end of The Magicians, Quentin meets Emily Greenstreet, another magician who chose to leave magic behind. She congratulates him on doing so, blames everything that went wrong in their lives on magic — including the death of Emily's boyfriend and Alice's Heroic Sacrifice — and accuses the same magicians that allow her a One-Hour Work Week of being menaces to society. Once they've parted ways, Quentin realizes that he can't blame magic or anyone else for his troubles like he has been for the past couple of chapters, setting up the ending when he abandons his life in the real world and returns to Fillory.
- Harry Potter
- In the fifth book, Hermione starts questioning her own idea after Sirius supports it. Sirius is a good guy, but he's known to be dangerously impulsive at times.
- There's a straight version in the same book, involving Percy, who had walked out on his family in favor of supporting the corrupt Ministry. After Ron is made prefect (which he did not want in the first place), Percy sends him a letter of congratulations, saying that "I must admit that I have always been afraid that you would take what we might call the 'Fred and George' route, rather than following in my footsteps, so you can imagine my feelings on hearing you have stopped flouting authority and have decided to shoulder some real responsibility." He then advises Ron to "sever ties with Potter" as "nothing could put you in danger of losing your badge more than continued fraternisation with that boy." Ron immediately tears it up, saying "he is — the world's — biggest — git" in a Punctuated! For! Emphasis! fashion.
- Star Trek Novel Verse:
- In Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers, Cleric Hadlo has a little of this. He proves willing to make a deal that involves sacrificing breakaway sects of his faith as scapegoats, to secure the safety of the mainstream religion. The fact that he's getting rid of troublesome elements to his church in the process, thus strengthening his position further, is praised by another character. She decides that maybe he is a modern Cardassian after all, despite his clinging to the Good Old Ways.
- The turning point in Star Trek: Hollow Men is Sisko being assured he did the right thing in "In The Pale Moonlight" (see Live Action TV below) by the ex-admiral whom Sisko himself prevented from staging a military coup of the Federation in the episode "Paradise Lost".
- The Dresden Files
- The "Bowling for Vampires" incident in White Night. Harry does something particularly clever in his duel with Madrigal Raith and follows it up with one of his patented wisecracks. The White Court vampire audience cheers. Harry is discomfited.
- In Ghost Story, Harry and his Godmother have a conversation about what happened at the end of Changes.
I saw the opportunity. If I'd stopped to think about the trouble it would create, I don't know if I'd have done it any differently. They had my girl. Leanansidhe:
Spoken as someone worthy to wield power. Harry:
Coming from you, that's... a bit unsettling, actually. Leanansidhe: How sweet of you to say so.
- And then in Cold Days, Harry is quite disturbed when Mab compliments him for manipulating Molly into being his loyal minion. Harry doesn't agree, and thinks she just doesn't understand The Power of Friendship, but even so it hits a bit too close to home...
- The Gunslinger: When the two finally meet, Walter, the man in black, congratulates Roland on letting Jake fall to his death in order to reach his goal. Roland's responds by attempting once again to shoot Walter.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Eramus is unsettled when Antonio congratulates him on everything he's most ashamed of.
- America (The Book) showcases a graph that displays how fundraising proceeds are invested - with the cost of a stamp always set aside to return the donation N.A.M.B.L.A sends the candidate.
- In Lord of the Clans, Thrall's feelings of triumph when he finally slays Blackmoore are ruined by Blackmoore's final words: "You are...what I made of you...I am so proud..."
- Divergent: After Tris beats another girl senseless Eric, the near-bully head of Dauntless training, compliments her on what she did. She gets the feeling if he thinks she did something right, she must have done something wrong.
- In A Dance with Dragons, Roose Bolton tells Theon Greyjoy that the Boltons could never have taken Winterfell without Theon's efforts. Theon takes this to mean that it's all his fault that his home is gone and his former True Companions are dead (because it is). Throughout the book, other members of the Boltons' entourage make similar statements. This ultimately contributes to Theon's decision to help rescue Jeyne Poole.
- Ally McBeal: Ally is horrified that Nelle joins Cage&Fish because of Ally's description of the law firm. Later, Ally is seen as wonderful by Ling, something that upsets her.
- Frasier: Every time Bulldog expresses pride in any one of Frasier's embarrassing public sex scandals.
- In "The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl", Frasier has just had sex live on the air, making the papers ("I Won't Fink Says Kinky Shrink").
Bulldog: Doc? I got one thing to say to you.
Frasier: Go ahead, take your best shot.
Bulldog: (admiration) I am so proud of you man.
(Bulldog hugs Frasier warmly.)
Frasier: (dripping with sarcasm) Well, doesn't that just put the cherry on the parfait.
Frasier: Oh, Roz... come on, you know it was just a mistake. What do you think I am, some kind of disgusting Lothario?
Bulldog: Hey, there's my man!
(Frasier has a priceless look of despair on his face.)
- When Niles covered for Frasier:
Bulldog: Hey, Dr. Doolittle. I heard your show. It didn't suck!
- In the pilot of Community, Pierce says to Jeff "You remind me of a younger me," to which Jeff replies "I guess I deserved that."
- In the season 4 premiere Annie notes the marked change in Jeff's demeanor, to which Jeff replies: "Don't ruin it by approving".
- In Supernatural, Alastair tells Dean that he was brilliant — at torturing souls in Hell. Dean is disgusted and ashamed by what he did down there, and Alastair makes it even worse.
- An interesting example where the approving party wasn't a villain, or even evil.
Aeryn: (after Zhaan had killed an extremely evil man in order to rescue her friends)
Zhaan, I feel I must apologize to you for mocking your courage. I see now that you're more of a warrior than I ever thought. (Zhaan looks like she is about to burst into tears and walks away) Aeryn:
What is the matter with her? D'Argo:
You called her a warrior. You could not have cut her more deeply.
- The later episode "Liars, Guns, and Money" features Bekhesh, who had previously found religion and quit being a mercenary, only to be dragged back in by Crichton, leaving with the words, "Farewell, my friends! Thank you for teaching me to kill again!" The look on Zhaan's face is priceless.
- Doctor Who:
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: There's "In the Pale Moonlight", which does this three times: once with Garak, who congratulates Sisko on being willing to tricking the Romulans to turn against the Dominion and later, Sisko congratulating himself. When Sisko bribes Quark to keep him from pressing charges against the man Sisko needs to fabricate damning evidence of a Dominion plan to betray the Romulans, Quark thanks him for reaffirming his faith in the 98th Rule of Acquisition: Every Man Has His Price. Sisko subsequently looks like he feels the need to shower.
- In an earlier episode, Gul Dukat voices his disappointment in Sisko for not being able to destroy the ship of his former friend. Sisko replies to it, that he "won't be losing any sleep over this".
- Wings: The episode "Ex, Lies, and Videotape" involves Brian going on a talk show and being depicted as a sexist, chauvinist pig. When he returns to the airport following the broadcast, Fay gives him a bunch of phone messages he received: "You got three death threats, ten calls from women who think they can change you, and an "Atta Boy" from Andrew Dice Clay."
- On Angel, the good guys are enthusiastically praised by villainess Lilah for defeating the fourth season's Big Bad Jasmine, because they have "averted world peace." (Jasmine was brainwashing everyone in a case of Utopia Justifies the Means.) In fact, she rewards them with the entire operation of Wolfram & Hart's L.A. branch.
- Season five has a non-morality related example. Angel likes Spike's poems. In fact, he's the only person - other than Spike's own mother - to voice approval of Spike's poetry while sober. Spike isn't flattered, because Angel also likes Barry Manilow.
- A few minor cases on The West Wing, such as the early episode where the president's personal aide's decision to pass on the option of screening an intentionally gratuitously sexual and violent new film at the White House is praised by the right-wing Christian Moral Guardians who are normally their worst political enemies. Before he even knows the reason for the praise, Sam says, "I don't like who we're being congratulated by."
- Nate rigs a table to give out an electric shock to help convince a Phony Psychic that Tara has real Psychic Powers. Parker approves of this, but Eliot points out that Parker approving is not a good thing, especially since Parker demanded that they kill the mark and chop him into pieces only a few minutes earlier.
- Another example is the praise that Nate receives from his father. It's not stated that it fills him with shame, but give their relationship and what's said, it seems likely.
- In the 7th season of 24, the captured Big Bad tries the Not So Different number on Jack Bauer. But, beyond trying to save his own butt, he goes on to say that he feels that Jack "is a hero", and that the earlier Senate inquiries into his deeds was wrong. Jack shuts him down real quick and tells him that they are nothing alike and that if he doesn't cooperate, Jack is personally going to nail him.
- In Jake and the Fatman, after McCabe wins gangster's trial, said gangster's lawyer congratulates him and calls his inspiration.
Lawyer: There's very few people I told such compliment.
McCabe: That's not a compliment. That's an insult!
- A running joke on The Good Guys involves rookie, by the book detective Jack Baily coming up with plans in desperate situations and his washed up, has-been Cowboy Cop partner Dan Stark commenting on their brilliance, saying "That sounds like something I'd come up with!" Jack will usually reply with a worried "That's what scares me."
- Played for laughs on The Red Green Show. On the rare occasions when Red does something that his nephew Harold is proud of him for, he's typically even more ashamed than he was in the first place.
- On an episode of Babylon 5, Ivanova is trying to persuade a race of Social Darwinists to ally themselves with Earth. When they stumble onto the station's "down below" slum, they assume it was deliberately planned in an effort to separate the "genetically inferior" humans from their superiors. Then they start talking about implementing a similar system themselves. The look on the Jewish Ivanova's face is priceless.
- In another episode Lennier saves Londo's life by shielding him from a blast and nearly dying from it, and when he comes out of coma, he's told that the Centauri government will probably want to officially commend him. Lennier ruefully notices that he would prefer to stay in coma and that while he does believe that all life is sacred, he feels that he did the Universe a disservice by saving someone who clearly doesn't share that belief.
- On the PETA episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Rodney Coronado, a guy who fire-bombed several animal testing labs, was polite and friendly in his response to Penn Jillette's call. This prompted Penn Jillette to remark, "cool guy, likes us, and likes our show. Too bad he's a fuckin' arsonist."
- Invoked in Parker Lewis Cant Lose when Parker is running for Student Council President. After he notices his opponent would actually be a better president than him, he makes it look like Ms. Musso endorses him.
- Boston Legal: When Alan fears that he is sexist, Denny's deeply chauvinistic attempt at reassurance does not help one bit.
- In the June 5th 2002 episode of Coronation Street Roy apologizes to Fred, noting that he has done so in large part because their tiff earns him the approval of Les Battersby.
- Mitchell and Hal in Being Human are vampires who've both committed horrific deeds in the past, but would now like to put that behind them and live ordinary lives amongst humans. Both have been praised by other vampires for their roles in past atrocities, and neither are happy about this.
- Brainiac is impressed that Chloe, a member of a "weak-willed" race, would be brave enough to use kryptonite on Kara.
- Tess ousts Earth-2 Lionel from LuthorCorp, which he had previously stolen from her. After she explains how she proved that he's not Earth-1 Lionel, she adds that she had spiked his drink with nanotrackers so that if he tries to hurt her or the rest of the Justice League, she'd know where to find him. As Lionel leaves he takes one parting shot by telling her that no matter how hard she tries to change for Clark, she'll always be a Luthor (which is one of the few times he acknowledges that she's more his daughter than just by DNA). Given the nervous and almost-ill look on Tess's face as he walks away, she was clearly thinking this trope.
- In The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Murray is staying up late one night to watch one of his favorite movies being broadcast by the tv station he works at, only to see that his favorite song from that movie has been Edited for Syndication. Murray's so mad he right then and there calls up the station, insults the station manager, and even gives his name. The next morning, he confides to the rest of the newsroom, worried about the sheer stupidity of his actions. He gets a call in front of the others from the station manager and says, no he didn't call up the station last night and insult the manager, it must have been some other Murray Slaughter. The manager believes him and hangs up. The others try to reassure Murray that he did the right thing. Ted adds, "I would have done the same thing." Murray replies, "I wish you hadn't said that, Ted," calls back the station manager and admits he did insult him. He's fired for the rest of the episode.
- In the fourth episode of Commander In Chief, President Allen is disgusted with herself after her political enemy, Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton, congratulates her on her ability to "understand the burden of the necessary evil" after she accidentally orders a terrorism suspect tortured for information, thinking that she was finally showing the backbone to get the job done. (She told the Attorney General, "I don't want to hear about any torture", and the Attorney General interprets this to mean "go ahead and torture him, but don't tell me about it" when she meant "torture is out of the question").
- Implied in Game of Thrones: Jorah Mormont explains to the exiled former prince Viserys that the death sentence he fled was for selling poachers to a slaver, something that's left Jorah with a lasting sense of shame. Viserys replies that under his reign Jorah wouldn't be punished for "such nonsense." Jorah's expression implies that he'd rather face the punishment than live in the kingdom Viserys would build.
- Happens on House of Anubis when Sinner!Alfie is praising Jerome for breaking Joy's heart. An odd case, in which Jerome and Alfie are best friends, and Alfie is usually the nice one- Jerome didn't know he was evil then. Alfie explained how much Jerome hurt Joy, Jerome was ashamed and in shock.
Alfie: You ripped her heart up into tiny pieces, then ripped those up too. Respect man, respect.
- In the Haven episode "As You Were", the Chief heartily congratulates Nathan for coldly executing the shapeshifter who had stolen Audrey's form, praising Nathan for becoming more like him. Nathan, already traumatized by the experience, is horrified.
- Rome. Julius Caesar sends Lucius Vorenus to bribe a former army colleague. Honest to a fault but loyal to his superior, Vorenus does so and reports back. Caesar comments that he didn't think the man would sell out so cheaply. "I must send you to handle all of my corruptions." Manipulative Bastard that he is, Caesar quickly sees how uncomfortable this makes Vorunus and says that he was only joking.
- Realising that war is coming between Marc Antony and Octavian, Posca flees back to Rome but makes sure to bring Antony's last will and testament with him. Realising the contents of the will contain everything he needs as a Pretext for War, Octavian thanks Posca for his "loyalty". Posca has the grace to look embarrassed.
- Happens more than once on Gilmore Girls between Lorelai and her parents (especially Emily).
- In the Being Human (Remake) episode "Too Far, Fast Forward!", the thing that finally convinces Aidan that he's gone too far is Bishop's praise.
- In the 2010 German GP, Felipe Massa was not-so-subtly told to give the victory to his team mate Fernando Alonso, who was better placed in the drivers' championship. Such blatant "team orders" are banned because they're dickish. Under a barrage of criticism, Ferrari found a defender — none other than Michael Schumacher, their legendary former driver but he's legendary for two things: winning lots and lots of races — and playing very dirty to do so. In fact, this instance drew parallels to the 2002 Austrian GP, when Rubens Barrichello was ordered to let Schumacher past for the win.note Congratulations, you have the blessing of the anthropomorphic personalization of "the ends justify the means".
However, karma was not finished with Ferrari. They got the backing of one of two people in the known universe who could make this worse — Nelsinho Piquet, Renault's ex-driver. He is considered unemployable because he intentionally crashed his car during the 2008 Singapore GP, to benefit (wait for it...) Fernando Alonso, his teammate at the time. It's OK guys, you can stop helping now...
What makes that second one even worse was that the Singapore crash had taken the race's leader at the time all the way down to a 13th place finish, who ended up losing the overall world championships that year by one point. Said screwed leader? Wait for it... Felipe Massa. So, the guy who screwed Massa for Alonso the first time congratulated Massa's own team for feeling the need to do it too.
- Compliments from HK-47 in the Knights of the Old Republic games are generally a sign that the player character is falling to The Dark Side, although whether the PC is startled back to a lighter path or genuinely takes the compliments as they are meant is up to the player.
- Deus Ex
- Appears if you take a more trigger-happy approach to the early missions. Wiping out the terrorists in Castle Clinton or executing a surrendering terrorist leader will earn you the approval of Anna Navarre, your psychotic trigger-happy partner and the foot soldiers of UNATCO.
- Later, in Paris, if you break into a stranger's apartment to steal weapons, Icarus says "Observe your motivations for breaking the arbitrary laws of the current government. Do not miss your chance to be one of us and create the new world order."
- In the later half of Part 3 in Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn, Micaiah ambushes the Apostle's escort as it travels through a deep canyon. After crushing most of her forces, she orders her men to pour oil down the ravine (which was quite damaging itself, incapacitating many of the Apostle's pegasi), with the intent to light it on fire, burning Sanaki and company alive. When Tibarn and Ike's men interrupt, Soren tells Micaiah how impressed he is with her strategy.
- Though it's impossible to speak of the reactions of a Heroic Mime Player Character, something like this is clearly aimed at in the Death Knight starting quests in World of Warcraft, trying to give the PC something approaching Character Development justifying their later Heel-Face Turn. Once a hero, the Death Knight character now must (really must) bow to the will of the Lich King and slaughter innocents. However, they are presumably shocked into remembering who they once were when they are asked to execute a prisoner who turns out to be someone they knew back in life. After this, their superior compliments them for their blood lust. It can be safely said this compliment is not meant to be taken as positively as it is given.
- In Ultima VII, the Guardian will congratulate you heartily if you kill Lord British. If you do it with the blackrock sword, the demon in the sword will react enthusiastically and taunt Lord British as you strike the killing blow.
- In Rulers Of Nations, if a figure you are having a meeting with has a poor opinion of you as your country's leader, they will reply "cut the crap... you and your hypocrisy" if you try to verbally congratulate them for their work and if you try to bestow medals and honours on them they will reply "for me this medal symbolises everything wrong with this country".
- In the video game for I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, AM makes it clear that he considers Nimdok (who was a Nazi in the Holocaust) to be an inspiration. Nimdok is far from happy with this.
- Dragon Age:
- If you ever see the text "Morrigan/Zevran approves" in Dragon Age: Origins without having given them something shiny or flattered them in conversation, odds are good you just did something evil or immoral. There are some exceptions, but at a whole approval for these characters = evil. Shale and Sten hold this true to a lesser degree.
- In Fable II the evil option for the "return the warrants" quest in the prologue involves giving the warrants to career criminal Arfur instead of the guard. If you take this option, when you go back to Bowerstone Old Town as an adult you'll be greeted by Arfur, who will congratulate you for helping to make the place a crime-ridden dump. Likewise, if you choose to take the million gold at the end of the game (instead of reviving your family or all the people who died making the Spire), Reaver will voice his approval.
- In Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, Varimathras compliments Sylvanas on her plan to form an Enemy Mine alliance with a human warlord, then stab him in the back once she controls the city of Lordaeron, telling her she has cunning that would rival a dreadlord. Sylvanas is not impressed.
- In Mass Effect 2, a Paragon Shepard will repeatedly try to instil this upon Grunt, bemoaning the fact that he's clearly In Love with Your Carnage and that he's still not learnt that, while they often blow the living hell of things, Shepard honestly doesn't want to do it and hates being forced to most of the time. Heck, one of the Renegade dialogue options is threatening to kick Grunt's ass if he goes after Garrus (in response to Grunt being delighted to discover that he hates Turians).
- Messiah has Satan comment on Bob the angel's (the protagonist's) questionable ethics a couple of times, with obvious pleasure.
- The Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate II features this in companion banter between Lawful Good Sun Soul monk Rasaad yn Bashir and Neutral Evil blackguard Dorn Il-Khan. Dorn mentions that his demonic patron Ur-Gothoz admires Rasaad's dark path and has seen fit to make him an offer, to Rasaad's utter chagrin.
- In Hyrule: Total War, Demise gives a speech to Hylia praising her for all the destruction she had brought to Hyrule. Hylia is so shocked she goes into hiding for millennia to cancel all her recordings from history.
- Just in case being forced to "euthanize" your Companion Cube in Portal wasn't already enough of a Player Punch, GLaDOS consummates the awfulness by telling you that you did the deed "faster than any test subject on record." Ouch.
- In The Old Republic, you often receive in-game emails from NPCs involved in the quests you finish, and many of the nastier ones move into this territory. Possibly the crowning achievement: on Yavin 4, during a joint operation, a Republic player can overrule Jedi Grand Master Shan and allow Darth Marr to torture a prisoner. If you do, Marr himself takes the time to write you and sends you credits for your choice.
- In the "Mind of Steel" Bad End to Fate/stay night, Shirou ends up choosing the needs of the many over the needs of the few by having his Love Interest Sakura Matou, a completely shattered young girl who is a Manchurian Agent for the Big Bad and has a Superpowered Evil Side who is eating people (although they don't know about the latter for certain) put down so she can't hurt anyone else as well as herself. Although this act ends up saving hundreds of people and ensures the Big Bad's defeat, this single-minded devotion to becoming an "Ally of Justice" costs Shirou everything he holds dear and sets him down the same path as his adoptive father Kiritsugu (and, for that matter, Archer). What compounds the whole thing is how Kotomine, of al people, finds the whole thing amusing (although not as much as the alternative) and states he's "looking forward to the end of it" (because Shirou will now have to kill all the other competitors to prevent misuse of the Grail) — by this point, of course, Shirou isn't going to change his mind over that, but the player just might.
- In Dangan Ronpa, Jerk Ass Byakuya Togami does not take kindly the praises coming from... Monobear.
Monobear: "I feel like you and I are of the same mind...!"
Togami': "...Stop it. I am nothing like a childish criminal like you."
- The Order of the Stick is the Trope Namer, where we find several characters shamed to receive Belkar's approval over the course of the story.
- In "The Prisoner Dilemma", we find the comedic variant — Roy is less than thrilled at Belkar's support for his plan to punish two minor villains, a father and his sorceress daughter, simply by forcing them to spend family time together.
- It appears again in "The Secrets", with Belkar earnestly complimenting Lord Shojo on the latter's use of degrading tasks to manipulate the paladins under his command.
- In "Convenience Story", Elan deliberately invokes the trope in the same manner, using an illusion of Belkar to sarcastically call out Vaarsuvius.
- In "It's Where the Cool Kids Swim", he welcomes Vaarsuvius "to the deep end of the alignment pool".
- Also, an inversion happens when Redcloak is about to go scout a dangerous path and the Monster in the Darkness compliments him on risking his own life instead of those of the hobgoblin minions Redcloak hates. All this does is remind Redcloak that he hates those minions and they have plenty of them. Cue We Have Reserves from Redcloak.
- That comic also features a sort of delayed effect of playing it straight. After Redcloak goes all We Have Reserves, Big Bad Xykon approves of the actions. Much later in the comic, Redcloak realizes just how much he's been acting like Xykon and is so horrified by that epiphany that he immediately begins changing his behavior and worldview.
- After Tarquin stabs Nale with no remorse and considers it nothing more than the removal of a plot element, Elan no longer wants his father to be proud of him.
- In the Yet Another Christmas Carol arc of Brawl in the Family, Wario, playing Jacob Marley's role, compliments Mario's shift in personality (making him the story's Ebenezer Scrooge) over the years:
Wario: Alright, so here's the scoop: after I kicked the bucket and you gained full control of the coin bank... You've become GREEDY, BITTER, and SELFISH! Well done!
- In an early Info Dump of Freefall, it's mentioned that the planet was designed to have two moons. It already had one with a diameter of about 1500 km, and Earth's moon has a diameter of 3476 km, so someone decided that, to even it out, they'd add a moon with a diameter of about 2000 km.note Helix asks if that was a good decision. Sam says that it's what he would have done. Helix immediately says that there should be safeguards against that kind of thing.
- When Florence wakes up after visiting Ecosystems Unlimited, she can't remember what happened there. Sam exclaims "I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!", causing her to think "Oh, this can't be good."
- Marten tries to invoke this on Steve in Questionable Content. It doesn't work.
Marten: Pintsize said the same thing. I hope you're proud of yourself.
Steve: Pintsize is a chill bro.
- Girl Genius has a few, from straightforward to villainously inverted, to indirect.
- Narbonic: When Artie tells Helen that Helen's mother had said she was proud of her, Helen freaks out and wonders what horrible thing she could have done. Keep in mind that Helen is a Card-Carrying Villain and Mad Scientist—her mother is just that evil.
- In the Korean Webtoon, Noblesse, the previous Lord praises the Noble, Karias, for the way he doesn't think like a Noble, and how he reminds him of himself when he was younger. Normally this would be a cause for pride, but the previous Lord was infamous for what essentially came down to trolling, and taking great amusement in doing so. This makes Karias comment that his praise brings him no happiness, and to wonder if there's something wrong with his personality.
- Shamus Plays World of Warcraft is told from the perspective of a Chaotic Evil demon who got suckered into becoming the familiar of a warlock who tries to be Lawful Good. After he admits that he fulfilled the requirement of becoming a warlock ("kill a virgin") by bringing a virgin sheep to a butcher to be slaughtered, the demon compliments him for being "a devious cheat". This trope is invoked.
- In Red vs. Blue season 12, when Tucker gets two men killed on a mission because he disobeyed orders and went to steal information, Felix congratulates him and says it's worth it because what's two soldiers in a war? Tucker is not happy with Felix's sentiment.
- The entire concept behind Pedobear. While often simply inserted into images of running or frightened children as a simple joke, adding Pedobear to advertisings and similar indicates that it includes over-sexualization of minors or implied pedophilia. Taken one step further with the "Pedobear Seal of Approval".
- A mild version occurs in The Lay of Paul Twister, when the Chaotic Neutral protagonist is having a conversation with a Lawful Good paladin who is forced to travel with him, despite not liking him much:
"[I allowed him to defeat me] so that he would capture me and interrogate me. Knowing the questions that a person wants answered can teach you quite a bit about that person."
I grinned at her. "Reverse interrogation! That's... almost devious of you, Aylwyn."
"I do not find your approval a mark of honor," she replied dryly.
- In The Clockwork Cabaret,[[Sociopathic Hero Lady Attercop]] is always esthaticly gleeful when it is[[Voice Of Reason Emmet]] who came with a evil scheme. She praticly think is her birthday each time.
- Phocion, regarded as the most honest politician in Athens at about the time of Alexander the Great, was making a speech. When the listeners cheered, he supposedly paused and asked a friend, "Have I inadvertently said something evil?"
- After Swedish pastor Åke Green was accused of homophobic hate speech and later acquitted, the Westboro Baptist Church proclaimed him a martyr and erected a monument to him. Green found it appalling, which led the WBC to deem him unworthy and take the monument down.
- Mary Whitehouse, patron saint of Moral Guardians, wrote to the BBC praising The Goodies for its wholesome, family-friendly content. (It's not clear what episode she watched.) They responded with an episode called "Gender Education" (or "Sex and Violence"), featuring a parody of Mrs. Whitehouse herself. When Whitehouse didn't rise to the bait, they kept adding sexually suggestive scenes to episodes until they got the desired denunciation from her.
- In his manifesto, Chris Dorner praised a number of prominent politicians and celebrities, including Piers Morgan, Wolf Blitzer, Joe Scarborough and Anderson Cooper, all of whom could probably have done without an endorsement from a mass murderer.
- Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, reported head of the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico, ranked 701st on Forbes' yearly report of the wealthiest men alive, and worth an estimated $1 billion, officially thanked United States politicians for making sure that drugs remain illegal.
- The political party UKIP (UK Independence Party) prides themselves in their anti-EU stance. They are often called "anti-immigration" and "racist" (they insist that they're fine with Britons of all races...it's just foreigners they have a problem with, including white foreigners); but when it was revealed that UKIP had the support of the EDL (English Defence League, a far-right group roughly analogous to Stormfront), UKIP did everything they could to distance themselves from the EDL, even insulting them in the process.
- Funnily enough however, UKIP seem a little more comfortable associating with the British National Party, who can trace their lineage all the way back to the British Union of Fascists and are Not So Different from the EDL save for having a thin veneer of respectability. Perhaps it's less this trope than "Your Approval Makes Me Look Bad In The Papers"...
- Happened again recently with the far-right Britain First group, who pump up their social media profile by circulating memes that very few people would disagree with (End Dog-fighting, Let's all praise this person who has collected for charity for years, things of that nature) but whose Facebook pagenote is an open sewer of festering racist hatred - almost as bad as YouTube comments. They claimed that UKIP and Britain First were a natural alliance; UKIP's Noooo! could probably be heard in Calais. Britain First then alleged that UKIP only said no because they were playing the political game- which, if you think about it, is simultaneously saying that UKIP are liars, and that they themselves are so reprehensible that any link with them would be political poison. Nice job...
- When Armenia's President Serj Sargsyan surprised everyone by backing rival Azerbaijan's President Aliyev being elected to a third presidential term in 2013, Aliyev's political rivals saw this as a boon to their cause and began devising ways to defeat Aliyev using an anti-Armenian stance, while Aliyev was filled with shame after working so hard to paint Sargsyan and all Armenians as Always Chaotic Evil. Sargsyan's reasons for approving one of his most hated foes to be reelected seems to stem from his seeing Aliyev's leadership as so bad it's actually more helpful to Armenia for him to stay in office.
- Right-wing Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky once publicly praised American paleoconservative pundit Pat Buchanan, saying that Buchanan was the only American whose views he agreed with. When Buchanan found out, he was completely appalled, and said that if Zhirinovsky were ever to somehow become President of Russia, he would personally assist any refugees who want to flee Russia and Zhirinovsky's likely oppressive policies.
- This political cartoon invokes the trope, criticizing one faction's views by showing that they're similar to the views of a faction they're normally completely opposed to.
- This is an article about a Dutch man who in protest of Israel's recent actions in Gaza sending his Righteous Among the Nations award back to Israel due to his perception that what Israel is doing is an insult to his and his family's heroic acts during the Holocaust.
- Several churches are vandalized by atheistic messages. Although it's unknown if the vandals really are atheists or pretending to be one to shock the churchgoers,and that's all going to be said, are condoned by the other atheists. Some even going as far as donating to the churches