Playing With / Karma Houdini

Basic Trope: A villain justly deserving punishment either ends the story without receiving any or receives punishment so minor as to be fairly negligible.
  • Straight: Alice murders a hero. She gets away with it.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Alice murders a hero. She gets rewarded for it.
    • Alternatively, Alice blows up a couple of galaxies. she gets away with (or gets rewarded for) it.
    • Alice crosses the Moral Event Horizon, but went to heaven instead of hell for her crimes.
    • Alice became God.
    • Alice's victim's/victims' family receives further punishment for trying to retaliate, and Alice is rewarded directly for her actions on top of that.
  • Downplayed:
    • Alice murders a hero. She gets a lifetime in prison, which is a life she is used to, but still wishes she could go outside more.
    • Alice plays an annoying practical joke and gets away with it.
    • Alice was punished, but it was off-screen, leaving no satisfaction for the audience or the characters.
    • Alice is punished, just not as severely as she deserves.
    • Alice is punished, but she doesn't care because she's The Sociopath.
    • Alice does something bad, but no one calls her out on it.
    • Alice gets away with it, but the things that happened to her during the act was punishment enough.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
    • Alice seems to be escaping, but at the last minute receives appropriate punishment for her crimes.
    • Karma Houdini Warranty
    • Alice spends the rest of her life plagued by guilt and shame.
    • Alice gets away with it and dies peacefully in her sleep at a ripe old age and surrounded by wealth... only to get sent immediately to Hell for her sins.
    • Alice avoids punishment for a crime she apparently committed... only for a flashback to reveal that she really was innocent all along.
  • Double Subverted: ...which Alice still manages to escape.
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged:
  • Averted:
    • Alice receives just punishment for her crimes.
    • Figuring that Alice will somehow weasel out of her punishment, the heroes summarily execute her.
  • Enforced:
    • "The universe is unfair, sometimes the guilty aren't punished, and I think this story should reflect that."
    • "Wow! Alice's so awesome I can't bring myself to punish her!"
  • Lampshaded: "You're kidding me! After all we've been through, she got away scot-free?!"
  • Invoked: "I'm a villain. I'm very good at escaping punishment for my actions."
  • Exploited: Alice murders a hero. She gets away with it. Then she robs a bank and also gets away with it. She realizes that her actions don't seem to have consequences, so she runs around doing whatever she damn well pleases.
  • Defied: Bob vows that Alice will not escape punishment and takes matters into his own hands to ensure this.
  • Discussed: "It's a cruel world; sometimes, people do get away with murder."
  • Conversed:
    • "You're kidding me! I read that whole thing and Alice got away with it?!"
    • "You know what? If you're gonna let her get away with all that malarky, this world deserves to burn!"
  • Implied: Alice doesn't seem like she's done anything bad, but there's hints that she did get away with it, but it's not for certain what did Alice do.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Alice seems to be getting away with it, at least on the surface; however, deep down, she has to live with what he's done and the memories and guilt rotting away at her soul for the rest of her life. Furthermore, she has to constantly worry about justice catching up with her, meaning that she spends the rest of her life dealing with lingering paranoia. And Saint Peter isn't exactly happy with her either (The devil, however, is tickled pink to have someone to test "Murdered Ever After" on.). As a result, although she's gotten away with the crime, she's never truly happy.
    • Alice's karmic immunity allows her to avoid punishment for her evil deeds, but also means she's never rewarded for the rare instances where she does something good.
    • In the long run, Alice is still going to pay.
    • Because of karmic immunity, Alice;s world ends up devolving into a dreadful Crapsack World brimming with corruption, violence, selfishness, depravity, and all other kinds of terrible things.
    • Alice was trying to get punished.
    • The heroes friends are in despair that Alice will never be punished for her evil deeds. It makes them question what they're fighting for if ultimately, evil wins.
    • Alice receives karmic immunity and is never punished for her crimes. However, due to word of mouth or the resulting publicity she receives, she is shunned by everyone she knows and becomes a social pariah. Alice, in a fit of irony, ultimately lives out the rest of her days alone and forgotten.
  • Reconstructed:
    • But because she's The Sociopath it doesn't bother her for that long.
    • Either that or the fact that the powers that be are too stupid to catch on to the fact that she's playing them like fools.
    • The hero's friends accept that although it feels unfair that Alice wins, it's part of life. They recognize now that winning isn't everything and carry on the hero's mission to defeat Alice. Because although Alice's won the battle, she hasn't won the war.
  • Played For Laughs: It was revealed that Alice only wanted to go to the grocery store and get cucumbers.
  • Played For Drama:
    • The hero's attempt to stop Alice goes in vain, resulting in the world descending into chaos it has no chance of waking from.
    • The hero's attempt to stop Alice goes in vain, resulting in dilemmas among the world and the characters, leading to even stronger attempts to take her down.
    • The hero's attempt to stop Alice goes in vain, resulting that if Alice can get away with her crimes, so can the hero.


Back to Karma Houdini, unless you want me to get away.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/PlayingWith/KarmaHoudini