My God What Have I Done / Real Life

  • A common tactic used by domestic abusers the first time they strike their mate. The assailant will look on in sheer horror at the realization of what they've just done, cry and beg for forgiveness — in essence, "My God, I didn't mean it!" — and the victim will take back their mate ... only for a cycle to begin, and the aggressor eventually losing the "My God What Have I Done" edge and showing little to no regret later on, with some even gaining sadistic pleasure out of hurting their partners. This is why domestic abuse victims are often urged to get out the first time. (For those wanting to leave in the United States, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to ).
  • The main page image is of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible holding the body of his son, the Tsarevich (heir apparent) Ivan. The Tsar decided that his son's pregnant wife was too immodestly dressed (or something), and the younger Ivan jumped in to defend her; in a fit of rage, the Tsar proceeded to beat down on his son with his scepter. Heavily. But when Tsar Ivan realized that his son was almost dead, he started kissing him and trying to stop the bleeding, crying, "May I be damned! I've killed my son! I've killed my son!". His son regained consciousness long enough to deliver some Tearjerker last words, and then remained comatose until dying a few days later—during which his father remained awake for long hours praying constantly for a miracle.
  • Captain Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, watched the city of Hiroshima disappear in an atomic blast. Some members of the crew would claim that Lewis was at first caught up in the moment and yelled, "My God, would you look at that sonofabitch go!", but after he calmed down, Lewis wrote in his log, "My God, what have we done?" (The rest of the crew maintained that they did what they had to do).
  • Ashoka the Great, emperor of India in the 3rd century BC, is said to have uttered this line after a bloody military campaign and then converted to Buddhism and never waged war again. That's right, Older Than Feudalism.
  • Alfred Nobel developed dynamite in order to make the nitroglycerin used for mining, quarrying and construction safer to use. Instead it became widely employed as a weapon, to the point that a paper mistakenly published his obituary on the occasion of his brother Ludvig's death, with the title "The merchant of death is dead". His personal fortune at the time of his death was approximately 250 million dollars in today's money. He bequeathed 0.5% to his family, and the rest to the newly founded Nobel foundation. He also specified that race and nationality was not to be a factor in choosing recipients, which caused a major stir at the time. (The prize committee made good on this specification relatively quickly, giving the Literature Prize to Indian Rabindranath Tagore in 1913.)
  • Sociologist Robert Putnam was so horrified by the results of a study he performed that among other things suggested that racially diverse societies caused individuals to become more isolated that he almost didn't publish it. He did eventually. When criticized about witholding his findings he explained that he was terrified his work would be used by racist organizations to justify their hatred.
  • When the hysteria died down following the Salem witch trials, the people of Salem went straight to Psalm 51.
  • A classic sports example of this happened when Lawrence Taylor gruesomely (but inadvertently) broke Joe Theismann's leg. As soon as it happened, Taylor — known then as a vicious defensive player and a bit of a trash-talker — immediately and frantically called to the sidelines for the medical staff to come and help Theismann, knowing that he'd inflicted an exceptionally serious injury and spent the rest of the game crying on the sidelines. Indeed, it ended Theismann's career.
    • Ironically, that didn't stop pundits from thinking LT was making fun of Theismann.
  • Another sports example: this was MLB umpire Jim Joyce's reaction when he blew a call and cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
  • A rather literal example is HMS Beagle captain Robert FitzRoy, who was a fundamentalist Christian creationist. He regretted being part of the Beagle expedition that led to Darwin publishing On The Origin Of Species, thereby indirectly contributing to the development of the theory of evolution, which is often said to contradict The Bible's account of creation. It may have contributed to the depression and anxiety later in life that ultimately led to him committing suicide. The ultimate irony of this being that FitzRoy had taken Darwin onboard as a companion, solely to prevent him from following in the footsteps of his relative Viscount Castlereagh, who had killed himself.
    • Even more ironic, considering how it is viewed now, Darwin considered his work to be proof of God's existence and wrote extensively and approvingly about the religious implications (despite knowing how controversial the work would be). According to his own account, it wasn't until many, many years after Beagle that he abandoned his faith. There is a considerable debate as to why he did this, but one possible explanation is the tragic and prolonged death of his own daughter.
  • A common reaction by people when they kill someone, especially the first time. The degree of trauma depends on a number of factors, such as group participation (squads, teams, etc), range (greater distance = more detachment), emotions and weapons used. Sometimes called "Killer's Remorse".
    • It's a YMMV reaction more than anything else; it is impossible to know how someone will react to killing beforehand. Some people BSOD, others find the experience intoxicating. Most people just feel a bit uncomfortable about it for a while but remain psychologically healthy.
    • The same holds true for killing animals. Some are Squicked out if they so much as squash a bug, while others go out and kill gigantic animals like elephants and moose for fun.
  • Stephen King had one of these after he found out about the number of school shootings that had been linked to his novel Rage, in which a high school student snaps after being expelled from school, takes out a pistol, and then kills multiple people as well as hold several students hostage and is portrayed as a Sympathetic Murderer. Investigation of students who had started shootings in their schools revealed that several of them had copies of Rage in their possession. Stephen King then requested that Rage be taken out of print in an attempt to make up for it.
  • The story goes that General Launcelot Kiggell, Chief of General Staff in the British Army in World War One, saw the conditions at Passchendaele at the end of the battle, cried "My God, did we really send men to fight in that?" and burst into tears. Now considered to be anecdotal, as the higher-ups knew damn well what the conditions were but had legitimate military reasons for continuing. (Whether those reasons constituted justification for continuing is a matter for debate.)
  • The aftermath of drunk driving. Sometimes someone who heavily drinks can cause a nasty car accident when driving and cause the other person(s) to be critically injured or even get killed, causing the drunk driver to be hit with remorse for what they did since they could have prevented the accident by not drinking and driving. Ditto for texting while driving.
  • Many raiders who run in on people in their homes threatening the occupants and getting them to tell said raiders, for example, the password to the home safe, will hate having to do this to parents of kids (particularly if the kids are seeing the whole ordeal). There have even been cases in which robbers have turned themselves in due to their guilty conscience about how they traumatized a poor kid haunting them. Some raiders will even try and comfort the kids, if they have to.
  • A Real Life self-styled Evil Debt Collector quit the industry after he discovered that a woman he'd tried to collect from died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
  • Oft experienced after a binge drinking session, especially with some of the more foul tasting beverages. Or over-indulging in anything, really, even junk food.
  • During the French Revolution, a lot of people felt this way after the execution of Madame du Barry. When she was taken to the guillotine, she screamed, "You're hurting me? But why?" and tried numerous times to escape, only to have been led back after being caught, or grabbed by another person. Her cries for help and in struggle could be heard from across the city, and it took several men to restrain her as she kept screaming and begging for her life. Even the executioner, who had seen this a lot, was getting unnerved by how much of a struggle she was putting up, and instead of crying for blood, several people in the crowd were walking away, really unnerved, and some were allegedly crying for her to be spared. Needless to say, a lot of people felt this.
  • An incident in 2012 had Fox News showing off a car chase that accidentally showed the criminal taking his own life. On national television. The horrified newscaster realizes what the man was about to do and repeatedly orders the studio to cut to commercial, then when they come back on the air, apologizes to the viewers who had to see it.
  • Charles Reboul Sacré, the chief mechanical engineer of the Manchester-Sheffield-Lincoln Railway (later Great Central), blamed himself for the 1884 Penistone disaster, as he had bowed to political pressure from MSLR director Edward Watkin on the brakes fitted to the locomotives. Sacré retired, lost the will to live, and Ate His Gun in 1889, a few weeks short of his 58th birthday.
  • Alexander the Great had been drinking when one of his Macedonian companions, Cleitus, complained about the way Alexander had been showing favoritism to his new Persian subjects. A bitter argument ensued which finally ended with Alexander throwing a spear at Cleitus and killing him. When he sobered up, Alexander was distraught over killing Cleitus, especially because Cleitus had once saved his life in battle.
  • George C. Wallace, the notoriously racist governor of Alabama, renounced his pro-segregation past in the late 1970s. In 1979, referring to his past efforts to block integration at the University of Alabama, he said, "I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over." In his final term as governor in the '80s, he appointed record numbers of African-Americans to state government posts...and spent the remainder of his life reminding people of that as often as possible.
    • Wallace's own personal views were fairly moderate on race - he was one of the few Southerners who would address black lawyers with "Mister" in his younger days while he was a judge, and though he didn't like President Truman's Civil Rights proposal in the 1948 Democratic National Convention it was on grounds of states' rights rather than civil liberties (he wasn't among the Dixiecrats who walked out of the convention). What drove him to become the foremost figure of segregation in the 60's and early 70's was his crushing defeat to John Patterson (who was supported by the Ku Klux Klan and rode racist populism to victory) in the 1958 Democratic primary for the governorship of Alabama (Wallace himself had the support of the NAACP for that campaign).
  • Then-WBA World Lightweight Boxing Champion Ray Mancini went through a period of severe depression after he accidently mortally wounded challenger Duk Koo Kim during their title fight in 1982, who died four days later from brain injuries. He blamed himself for Kim's death, and his depression only got worse after Kim's mother killed herself after the funeral. The referee for the fight, Richard Green, also blamed himself for letting the fight go on for too long, and comitted suicide as well in 1983. As a result of Kim's death, the boxing organizations changed the standard number of rounds in title bouts from 15 to 12 to prevent further incidents like this.
  • Fred Phelps, founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, may have had one of these moments shortly before his death in 2014. Phelps allegedly did a complete 180 on everything he stood for, resulting in excommunication from his own church. On the day of his excommunication, Phelps is said to have stood in front of the "Equality House" (a rainbow-colored house owned by gay rights activists situated across the street from the WBC) and told them that they were good people. (This actually makes Phelps at once a more and less confusing figure; although he'd spent decades at the helm of one of the most outspokenly bigoted organizations in the United States, he had started his career as one of the most highly effective and committed civil rights lawyers in Kansas.)
  • Many Nintendo fans suffered this after Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015. Their last communication with him was anger and disappointment towards Nintendo's E3 2015 presentation, which included the divisive Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Iwata apologized and promised next year would be better. He never got the chance to do it and many fans are now upset that this was the last thing they said to him before he died.
  • During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the American Admiral William Halsey Jr's Task Force 34 was lured away by a Japanese fleet acting as decoys while two other fleets would attack the now virtually defenseless American invasion force in a pincer movement. While the Japanese Southern Force was met and annihilated by Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf’s “Ghost Ships” (battleships that had been sunk or crippled at Pearl Harbor and were later refloated and repaired) at Surigao Strait, the Center Force (the most powerful of Japan’s battleships and heavy cruisers) proceeded through San Bernardino Strait, with only Rear Admiral Ziggy Sprague’s “Taffy 3,” a hopelessly-outnumbered and outgunned force of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers standing between them and an utter massacre of the American invasion fleet. When Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Commander-in-chief of the Pacific Theater of Operations, heard the distress message from the Taffy 3, he sent a message to Halsey asking him to confirm the location of Task Force 34, which, due to a previous misunderstanding, hadn't been made completely clear. As per American coding doctrines at the time, the message was "padded" with irrelevant phrases at the start and end of the message, intended to throw off Japanese codebreakers. In this case, the padding at the end of the message was "the world wonders" and in most cases, when the message arrives at its destination this padding is discarded for the true message. However, due to a mistake in decryption, the end padding was left on, and Halsey received, "Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four? The world wonders." Normally, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but the phrase, possibly borrowed from a poem depicting a group of soldiers charging to their ultimately meaningless deaths unintentionally added an ill feeling to the simple question, as many interpreted it as Nimitz harshly criticizing Halsey for rushing off and leaving Taffy 3, the troopships, and 200,000 men in the clutches of the Japanese forces. Intentional or not, it made Halsey realize he had left the invasion force without their defenses:
    Admiral Halsey: "I was stunned as if I had been struck in the face, the paper rattled in my hands, I snatched off my cap, threw it on the deck, and shouted something I am ashamed to remember, letting out an anguished sob."
    • The message was what convinced Halsey to halt his pursuit of the Japanese fleet and return to defend the transports, but even then he arrived too late to make an impact. However, Taffy 3, by fighting so hard that the Japanese force thought Halsey hadn't fallen for the decoy (the destroyer USS Johnston put up such a fight that Japanese accounts of the engagement insisted that she had to be either a Baltimore-class heavy cruiser or an Iowa-class battleship, while the even-smaller destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts is remembered by the US Navy as “the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship”), was able to force the Japanese to retreat before they ever sighted the transports, but not without taking very heavy losses.
  • Scipio Aemilianus, the adopted grandson of the Scipio Africanus who defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama, and who will forever go down in history as the man who destroyed Carthage, had this to say when looking upon The Ruins I Caused:
    Scipio, when he looked upon the city as it was utterly perishing and in the last throes of its complete destruction, is said to have shed tears and wept openly for his enemies. After being wrapped in thought for long, and realizing that all cities, nations, and authorities must, like men, meet their doom; that this happened to Ilium, once a prosperous city, to the empires of Assyria, Media, and Persia, the greatest of their time, and to Macedonia itself, the brilliance of which was so recent, either deliberately or the verses escaping him, he said:
    And when Polybius speaking with freedom to him, for he was his teacher, asked him what he meant by the words, they say that without any attempt at concealment he named his own country, for which he feared when he reflected on the fate of all things human. Polybius actually heard him and recalls it in his history.
  • There's a Mexican belief of a woman called La Llorona. According to the legend, she killed her children and realized what she had done just after their death.
  • The story of Kim Hyon-hui, a North Korean responsible for the bombing of (South) Korean Air 858. She was trained from youth to become a spy, learned fighting skills and undercover skills. The terror bombing order came directly from the future North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il. She and another agent placed a bomb on board the plane and left on the transit. After the airplane exploded, customs agents in Bahrain caught them with fake passports. The other agent committed suicide with a cyanide cigarette while she was restrained before she could ingest the poison. Kim Hyon-hui was handed over to South Korean intelligence where she denied repeatedly of being a North Korea agent. South Korean agents took her on a ride across Seoul many times and after 8 days, she cracked. Kim Hyon-hui couldn't deny the truth anymore: South Korea was a land of prosperity and freedom, while North Korea was a dictatorship hellhole who spread lies to its people. Worse is that she killed 115 innocent people, all for the caprices of a crazed dictator.
  • On November 1, 1918, Italian military officers Raffaele Paolucci and Raffaele Rossetti, using the first operative manned torpedo, breached the Austro-Hungarian naval base of Pula and set a limpet mine on the flagship SMS Viribus Unitis before being captured... And informed that, shortly after the raid was launched, the Italian government had been informed that the fleet had been handed over to the newly-formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and the ship, renamed Jugoslavija, was now a neutral target. They immediately informed the crew of what they had done in the failed attempt to prevent a massacre, and years later, upon learning that the widow of admiral Vuković, killed by their mine, was in serious financial troubles, devolved to her the money awarded them by the Italian government for their action.