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Freudian Excuse / Film

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Film - Animated

  • In 9, the robot that kills all living things on the planet was made by a scientist for peace, but as the military of the country where he was made (it's not clear in what country the story of the movie happens) tears him away from his master, he seems to react as a child being torn from his mother. He then goes mad and tries to kill his oppressors. After being forced to make machines of mass destruction, he is sickened by humanity and orders the robots to slay everything that lives.
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  • In the original story board of Disney's Aladdin, Jafar had a Freudian Excuse themed song explaining why he was angry and evil. Jafar's excuse mainly focused on being mocked and unpopular when he was young, and having to live and work underneath the bumbling Sultan in adulthood. The song was later dropped and was replaced with a reprise of Prince Ali to satisfy the staff's wishes to have the voice actor sing. In the actual film, Jafar has no Freudian Excuse, but he's unhappy in his current position (which is sometimes all you need), thinks the sultan is an idiot, is greedy, and has a case of megalomania (thus the last genie wish). Sympathy is heavily undercut because Jafar now treats Aladdin as lowly as he himself was treated in childhood. The song and storyboards for it can be seen here.
  • In The Book of Life, Joaquin's obsession with heroism and large ego all come from an entire life spent on his father's shadow of a great hero.
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  • In Despicable Me, there are flash backs where it suggests Gru got an inferiority complex issue from his mother's lack of enthusiasm for his achievements, including building a fully functional rocket at a young age. Although he otherwise had a healthy relationship with his mother.
  • At one point in The Emperor's New Groove, Yzma mentions while on a rant for being fired from being Kuzco's advisor that she was the one who practically raised him, which implies that a lot of Kuzco's... personality and problems are a direct result of her influence.
  • Frozen: It seems that the major characters within the movie have some sort of backstory as to why they turned out that way as adults.
    • While not for villainy, Anna's desperate urge to marry Hans stems from years of isolation due to being unaware of why Elsa started to shut her out since childhood and having no other friends to speak with.
    • As a child, Elsa was a cheerful girl who happily embraced her powers and spend time with her little sister Anna. However, after Anna was hit in the head by her magic and needed her memories erased from the event, Elsa spent the rest of her life living in constant fear of what her powers can do, forcing her to act aloof to Anna.
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    • From what little was seen from his childhood, Kristoff was largely ignored by the other ice harvesters and lovingly embraced by the trolls, causing him to have a sour opinion on people in general until he met Anna.
    • Regarding Prince Hans, he has a Friendless Background and downplays the abuse in his family as "what brothers do," which causes him to react with confusion when Anna and Elsa reconcile with each other. By the time he's an adult, years of abuse warped him into a manipulative and remorseless man bent on seeking power. The tie-in book A Frozen Heart reveals that his backstory was far worse than what he described and that his family is indeed dysfunctional, what with his 12 older brothers using underhanded means to seek their parents' approval.
  • Hercules: Hades's villainy stems from the deep hatred of the dank and unpleasant job he's currently in as Lord of the Underworld (something which he sees as the cosmic equivalent of janitorial duty). He also envies his older brother Zeus for receiving 100% Adoration Rating by all of the Greek gods while he is virtually hated. Plus, it's mentioned in the animated series that his father Kronos devoured his children except Zeus, causing Hades to inherit his evil.
  • Alameda Slim from Home on the Range rustles cattle and then unscrupulously buys up everyone else's land, effectively running all other ranches and farms out of business, simply because he felt the need to avenge his being fired from being a ranch hand, caused by his superiors not appreciating his yodeling talents. His dimwitted nephews, the Willie Brothers, have a habit of reminding him of what happened, something which he does not appreciate.
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles technically has one, but it's not very good. Essentially, the superhero he idolized as a kid wouldn't let him be his sidekick and ultimately got him arrested. That's it. So he'll murder every superhero in the world...
  • Incredibles 2: When Evelyn Deavor was young, robbers broke into her father's house and he tried to call two superhero friends for help, but since this was after the Super Relocation Act had passed, there was no response, and the robbers killed him. So now the villain seeks to discredit superheroes forever so people will be forced to save themselves instead of looking for Supers to do it for them.
  • The underlying reason behind Tai Lung's fury in the original Kung Fu Panda. However, after he is told that he had no reason to feel this way, it doesn't matter to him and the years of feeling slighted by Shifu have turned him completely cold.
    • By contrast in Kung Fu Panda 2, Lord Shen's feeling of being rejected by his parents in his youth is completely blown out of proportion in his mind considering they did that only after being horrified at him committing genocide against the Giant Pandas.
    • According to Word of God, his albino coloring caused his parents to neglect him as child and others to treat him as a bad omen. It can be argued that Shen never would have turned cold enough to commit genocide if he had been more loved.
  • Scar's desire in The Lion King (1994) to rule over Pride Rock, even killing his brother Mufasa and try to have Simba killed as well, becomes somewhat understandable after reading some prologue books for the film that revealed that Scar (then known as Taka, which literally means "trash") was neglected by his own father, such as his father revoking a promise regarding teaching him to hunt. His earlier inability to be taught how to hunt might also explain why his unified hunting policies also resulted in Pride Rock being turned into a wasteland during his rule.
  • Hilariously inadequate to the point that it was most certainly intentional, the villain of Meet the Robinsons became villainous and lost his mind due to a minor mishap as a child in which he lost his baseball team the game because he fell asleep partway through. It fits in with the moral of the story of moving on, because while his team was upset for a while, they got over it and forgave him, but he focused only on that minor mistake and it ruined his entire life.
  • The titular supervillain in Megamind turned evil because of the constant rejection and bullying he had to face in school. Furthermore, he did crash-land in a prison and was raised by criminals, (incidentally, they were actually pretty nice to him.) He grew up surrounded by evil (well, criminality anyway) and it was pretty much all he knew.
  • On Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Pete mentions during his Villain Song that the reason he's so evil is because his mother didn't like him and he wants to impress her by becoming king.
  • Scarlett Overkill from Minions reveals in her bedtime story, disguised as a threat, with her and the Minions in it, that she was grew up an orphan, living on the streets, unloved and unwanted. She wants to steal the Queendom of England, or at least the crown, because she believes that by being crowned as a royal, everyone will love her, because "everybody loves a princess".
  • Subverted and parodied hilariously in Monsters vs. Aliens, in which the Big Bad claims he is about to tell the heroine his life story... but he's strapped to a machine that stamps him into the ground every few seconds, so you never hear exactly what he's trying to say; only fragments that skip most of the crucial information!
  • In ParaNorman, the "witch" Agatha Prenderghast who cursed the town turns out to be an eleven year old girl who was unjustly prosecuted (and sentenced to death) simply because of her being able to speak to the dead.
  • In The Prince of Egypt's take on the Book of Exodus, Pharaoh Rameses gets a hefty dose of this. Growing up with his emotionally distant father Pharaoh Seti, Seti constantly told Rameses that the legacy of the Egyptian Empire rested entirely on his shoulders, and that any show of weakness could bring down the dynasty that his forefathers started. With every childhood misdeed, Rameses was reminded, "One weak link can destroy a chain." As an adult, Rameses convinces himself that any show of mercy towards his Hebrew subjects would be just another sign of weakness, and so he doesn't flinch at working them to death, or sending his soldiers to slaughter them wholesale. Since Seti also attempted genocide against the Hebrews, it's implied that Rameses considers his own atrocities to be his way of following in his father's footsteps.
  • Wreck-It Ralph's titular character's in-game backstory is that the forest he lived in was cleared away to make way for Niceland Apartments, so he tries to destroy the building to get his home back.
    • Even when he's off the clock, he's treated badly by the Nicelanders, who don't see him as anything but the villain who wrecks their homes every day, even though that's only his job. This is what leads him to leave the game to get a medal, which resulted in the Fix-It Felix Jr game almost being unplugged, as it didn't work without Ralph there.
  • Before he defrosted, Shrek wasn't a very sociable ogre, scaring off those who entered his land and getting constantly irritated with Donkey. Later in the first film, however, he reveals to Donkey in a touching scene why he acts like this:
    Shrek: Look, I'm not the one with the problem, okay? It's the world that seems to have a problem with me! People take one look at me and go, "Ahh! Help! Run! A big, stupid, ugly ogre!" (depressed sigh) They judge me before they even know me. That's why I'm better off alone.

Film - Live Action

  • Played for laughs in The 51st State with the drug dealer Iky.
    Iky: Ya'see, you're like me, Mr. McElroy. You're a sky-high-etrist, I'm a sky-high-etrist. See, I always knew I'd be a drug dealer, even when I was a kid. I saw me dad hit me mother, me mother hit me brother, me brother hit me sister, and me sister fuck me father. So I suppose it's inevitable, really. I mean, you'd have to be on drugs just to live in that madhouse, wouldn't you?
  • 8mm has a character who goes out of his way to subvert the trope, blatantly declaring, "Mommy didn't beat me. Daddy didn't rape me. I'm this way because I am." The idea that some people are just twisted is a core idea of the film.
  • Satirized in Addams Family Values. The psychotic Debbie explains it was her parents getting her the wrong Barbie that caused her psychotic break. In the form of a slide show.
    Debbie: My parents, Sharon and Dave. Generous, doting, or were they? All I ever wanted was a Ballerina Barbie. In her pretty pink tutu. (slide change) My Birthday. I was 10, and do you know what they got me? MAL-I-BU Barbie.
    Morticia: Malibu Barbie.
    Gomez: The nightmare.
    Morticia: The nerve.
    Debbie: That's not what I wanted! That's not who I was. I was a Ballerina, graceful, delicate! They had to go.
    (Next slide shows their house on fire.)
  • In American History X this comes off as heartfelt rather than trite. Derek is transformed into the uber white supremacist after his father is shot by a black drug dealer, but flashbacks reveal that his father had laid the groundwork for this transformation by his rants against Affirmative Action. Derek had resisted buying into his father's racial stereotyping, instead looking to his high-school English teacher (a black man) as his mentor. It was only after his father was killed that Derek started to think: "Gee, maybe Dad was right all along."
  • In the backstory of Audition, Asami was physically and sexually abused as a child. Then she learns about piano wire...
  • As revealed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the whole worldview of Lex Luthor in the DC Extended Universe is due to his upbringing. Lex's father, Alexander Luthor Snr., was an abusive jerk, who hid behind the facade of a good family man. Luthor Senior used his son as a business ploy (claiming he named his company after Lex and encouraging investors to "write checks for Lex") while behind closed doors he beat (and possibly did worse to) Lex. Unsuprisingly, this upbringing did a number on Lex's psyche, which only gets worse when Superman appears, as Lex hates Superman, partly because Superman challenges Lex's beliefs that anyone with power cannot truly be selfless and innocent, and partly due to anger that there was no-one to save him when he was a child.
    Lex: No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from Daddy's fist and abominations. I figured out way back if God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all-powerful. And neither can you be.
  • In the anthology film Body Bags, Brent in the segment "The Eye" finds out through the dead serial killer John Randall's visions that he was horribly abused by his mother, such as putting out cigarettes in his face when he was still in his crib.
  • Boxing Helena: Part of the reason Nick grows up with multiple screws loose is a complete lack of attention from his parents; his father was cold and unloving, while his mother carried on a string of affairs and didn't even bother telling her society friends she had a son.
  • Noah from The Boy Next Door. His father had an affair with another woman and didn't seem to be sorry for betraying his wife. Because of the affair, his mother became depressed and eventually committed suicide. Noah came to hate his father enough to kill him and his mistress by sabotaging the brakes on their car.
  • After Sean in Boy Wonder watched his mother murdered and grew while the case was never solved, he grew into a solitary, obsessive, and violent boy. Having his father convince him to lie about who he saw at the scene didn't help.
  • Everybody in The Breakfast Club, villain or not... Bender's parents despise him (and they burnt his arm with a cigar for spilling paint in the garage), Claire's parents pamper her to get back at each other, Allison's parents ignore her, Andrew's dad is a Stage Mom who is obsessed with his winning, and Brian's parents coddle him too much and are obsessed with him getting good marks to the point that he considers committing suicide because he got an F.
  • Subverted gloriously in Carlito's Way In the beginning, Carlito dismisses this by saying, "Now, I ain't sayin' that my way would have been different had my mother been alive when I was a kid, 'cause that's all you hear in the joint. 'I didn't have a chance'. No. Bullshit. I was already a mean little bastard while my mother was alive, and I know it."
  • Catch Me If You Can: Frank Abagnale comes from a broken home and he ran away and became a con artist since he couldn't deal with choosing one parent over the other when they were divorcing. Averted in the book. Abagnale says he had a hard time when his parents divorced, [[Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse but he also says more than once that it's no excuse for his crimes, and most other children from "broken homes" don't become con artists (including Frank's own siblings, who the movie Adapted Out).
  • In The Cell:
    • Once Catherine Deane enters inside the mind of the Serial Killer Carl Rudolph Stargher, his innocent side shows her the abuse he suffered at his father´s hands.
    • Deconstructed, however, by the cop stating that being abused as a child does not have to make you evil. He strongly implies that he was abused as a child. While he's sympathetic toward what the villain suffered as a kid, he has no soft spot for him as a serial killer adult.
  • In the 2010 Centurion film, the Pict scout, Etain was raped and had her tongue cut out and had to watch her parents being murdered by Romans.
  • In the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka's dentist father forbade him from eating sweets, and his obsession with candy was born of rebellion.
  • Cherry Falls: Loralee beat Leonard throughout his childhood, resulting in him becoming the Ax-Crazy and mommy issues ridden killer that he is now.
  • On the sled symbolism in Citizen Kane, Orson Welles remarked: "It's a gimmick, really, and rather dollar-book Freud."
  • In Confessions of a Psycho Cat, Virginia's psychosis stems from her father not loving her, and her brother throwing her pet puppy to its death off the balcony of their penthouse. In her final breakdown, she falls to the floor desperately begging her (dead) father for his love.
  • As soon as Cruella was announced, there were jokes that to make an Origins Episode of a villain who wanted to make fur coats out of dogs, Cruella turns evil because Dalmatians hurt her. They were rightDalmatians killed her mother! Granted, it's not the whole reason for her shift in personality, and the dog attack was under orders of the movie's villain, but it didn't reduce how Narmy the "Dalmatians knocking a woman off a balcony" scene ended up being.
  • Subverted in The Dark Knight. The Joker explains what seems to be the source of his insanity when he reveals the origin of his smile-scars, involving an abusive alcoholic father who wanted to know why he was "so serious" — after killing his mother right in front of him. But later in the movie, he eagerly reveals the origins of his scars again, changing his story to one involving a wife who wanted him to smile more, who was disfigured to pay for her gambling debts, and taking to self-mutilation to make her feel better. Chances of both stories being outright lies (or at best delusions) suddenly look pretty good.
  • In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the events that would lead to the human-ape war are set in motion by one of the founders of the ape society, the bonobo, Koba. The reason he refuses to believe that humans and (super-intelligent) apes can live side by side in peace is because years before human civilization collapsed, Koba was kept locked up in a research facility, and experimented on.
  • In Days of Being Wild, a film by Wong Kar-wai: The main character Yuddy/York (played by Leslie Cheung) is a self-centered playboy who mistreats/manipulates women by making them fall for him and breaking their hearts. It is strongly hinted in the film that this is because his biological mother deserted him when he was younger and having a troubled emotionally distant relationship with his foster mother.
  • Deewaar: Vijay getting forcibly tattooed as a child with text saying that his father is a thief gives rise to his cynical outlook and motivates him to be as ruthless as he perceives the world to be.
  • Descendants: In the first film, Audrey, the daughter of Sleeping Beauty and her prince, is dumped in front of her whole school by her boyfriend, Ben, for the daughter of the witch who tried to kill her parents. Then, that same daughter shows she is trying to destroy Auradon, which Audrey always suspected. Mal does have a Heel–Face Turn and saves the kingdom from her mother, but Audrey is not convinced of her reform. The book Audrey’s Diary expands on this. It shows that after the events of the first film, Audrey went from being the most popular girl in school to having Mal and the other villain kids be admired and favored by her friends for saving Auradon. Audrey vents her frustrations further in the diary that she has been good her whole life while Mal has worshipped evil and only recently seen the light, yet Mal got Ben and the majority of Auradon’s approval while Audrey herself got left out in the cold. It’s also shown in the book and the third film that her family put a lot of pressure on her to win Ben’s heart and marry him, eventually becoming his Queen, only to be thrown over by their greatest enemy’s child. She finally snaps at the beginning of Descendants 3 when Ben proposes to Mal in front of the whole kingdom, and her grandmother Queen Leah shames her for not being able to hold onto Ben, even though it wasn’t really her fault. Tired of having been good her whole life, only to be rejected and thrown away in favor of those she considered irredeemable, Audrey has a Face–Heel Turn and steals the Queen’s crown and Maleficent’s magical staff and reeks havoc on Auradon and Ben for betraying her for Mal and the VKs.
  • Full Metal Jacket: The drill sargeant angrily mocks Private Pyle with this trope when he finds out the rifle Pyle is wielding in the barracks bathroom has live rounds in it. Doesn't turn out well for him:
  • Deconstructed in Funny Games, in which the male victim asks the two tormentors why they are hurting his family. The villains poke fun at the father, coming up with various reasons like one of them being a child of divorce which made him become a queer and a crook or him having five siblings with all of them being drug addicts while his father was The Alcoholic. None of this was true as they immediately point out.
  • In Gladiator, Commodus explains, prior to killing his dad, that all he wanted was a little love and a warm hug...and what he would have done to get it.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: Ever wonder why Godzilla's hell-bent on attacking humans post-mutation in this series? Getting attacked by the US army and abandoned by the Japanese garrison may stem from this.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019):
      • The Eco Terrorists' secret mastermind, Emma Russell, went down the path that led her to her Utopia Justifies the Means plan to release all the slumbering Titans on humanity as Gaia's Avenger as a hypocritical, Insane Troll Logic way of ensuring the death of her son Andrew, who died five years ago as a casualty of Godzilla's Kaiju battle in the previous film, wasn't "in vain".
      • The From Camouflage to Criminal eco-terrorist leader Alan Jonah meanwhile is a Misanthrope Supreme, who once King Ghidorah begins creating a rapid extinction event instead of just a population cull and ecological regeneration proves that he's a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist and just wants as much of the human race as possible dead. His dialogue reveals he suffered Madden Into Misanthropy due to repeatedly seeing the very worst of human nature first-hand during his decades-long military career fighting in one war after another, which made him believe that human nature only gets progressively worse with time. The film's novelization also reveals that the "tipping point" for Jonah was when his daughter was gruesomely murdered while Jonah was away on military service and the perpetrator was never caught.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: Walter Simmons in this film notably stands out for being the only significant human antagonist in the MonsterVerse continuity who has no Freudian Excuse or Tragic Villain backstory to his evil actions. His Dragon Ren Serizawa is scarcely hinted to have one in the film during his Death Glare at Godzilla, but the novelization confirms it and sheds some light. Ren suffered Parental Neglect from his father due to the latter committing his time and passion to his work for Monarch, which caused Ren to increasingly grow to resent his father, especially after Ren had to organize his own mother's funeral by himself and his father didn't even return home until two days after the ceremony. And after Serizawa's Heroic Sacrifice saving Godzilla permanently dashed Ren's hopes of reconciliation, Ren snapped and became a full-blown Antagonistic Offspring motivated to kill the very creature his father had saved for depriving him of his father's love.
  • GoldenEye: Former British intelligence operative and Big Bad Janus/Alec Trevelyan claims that what he is after isn't money, but revenge on Great Britain for the death of his parents (who were Lienz Cossacks). Bond, however questions both his reason and motive; there is no way in hell the son of Lienz cossacks would have passed the necessary background checks to join MI6, and his clearance would have allowed him to hurt Britain immensely just by turning whistleblower, so if he was just after revenge, why wait for decades for an opportunity to strike that just happens to be profitable?
  • In The Grizzlies, Zach's abrasive personality is shown to be due to neglect from his severely alcoholic parents. Kyle also mentions this to explain why he doesn't fight back when his alcoholic father physically abuses him and his mother.
    Kyle: He's a Boarding School of Horrors Residential Schoo survivor. He was, like...abused and stuff. And I just feel bad for him. It's like, I wish I could help him, right, but I don't know what to do.
  • Lampshaded in Grosse Pointe Blank. The main character, hitman Martin Blank, comments that it is very likely being raised by an alcoholic father and insane mother influenced his career choices. Blank doesn't treat his childhood traumas as an excuse, merely an explanation, and takes full responsibility for his own actions.
  • Half Past Dead centered around a group of mercenaries or whatever trying to get a location on stolen gold from a death row inmate by taking a group of hostages. One woman asks the leader what his motivation was, to which he insinuated he was beaten by his father and raped by his mother. Though he never actually admitted this to be true, he subverted the trope by claiming it had nothing to do with his actions as he's simply a sociopath motivated by greed. Earlier it was revealed that he suffers from Gulf War Syndrome and may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress as well, which may actually play the trope straight.
  • The new remake of Halloween (2007) attempts this with Michael Myers.
    • The original Halloween (1978), while appearing to be a shallow motiveless-serial-killer movie at first, it is notable for how it stresses just how strange Myers' behavior actually is. Behind the scenes, Nick Castle (the man behind the mask) reportedly tried to figure out just what would drive a serial killer like Myers and act accordingly, but Carpenter specifically insisted on the "soulless killing machine" approach. One of the main characters, Dr. Loomis, is an experienced psychiatrist who is both baffled and terrified at the seemingly causeless evil lurking behind Myers' eyes. The overall idea is that, by any realistic standard, there should be a reason for someone to be anywhere near as warped as he is.
  • In The Giver, it's implied that Rosemary was also the Chief Elder's daughter, showing why her loss drove her to be obstinate and controlling.
  • It's insinuated in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth that He-Man Woman Hater night club owner J.P. Monroe was molested by his parents, potentially explaining why he's such an asshole in his adult life.
  • Turned on its head in the Korean film The Host (2006). The hero gets a Freudian Excuse for his lethargy and occasionally carrying the Idiot Ball. He didn't get proper nutrition as a kid. A brain tissue biopsy later fixes all this. Apparently they removed his Awesome Inhibitor or something.
  • The live-action movie of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! gave The Grinch a lot of exposition explaining his Grinchiness. In both childhood and in a present-day incident in the film, he very nearly comes to enjoy Christmas, but something goes horribly wrong that just reinforces his view that it's a selfish, materialistic holiday. It's only after seeing Christmas still celebrated even after removing all material possessions from the equation that the Grinch comes around.
  • Martin from The Human Centipede II was sexually abused by his father. His psychologist surmises that his obsession with centipedes (and unbeknowst to him the first Human Centipede film) is a result of his father's abuse: centipedes being phallic-shaped and having a painful bite.
  • This is subverted in the made-for-TV film Intensity, where the sadistic, sociopathic spree killer Edgler Vess, after being accused of abuse causing his current state of mind, proudly proclaims that his parents were extremely loving and that he was truly a sadistic person from the start (in fact he murdered his loving parents).
  • In Ip Man, Rival Turned Evil Jin defends his actions, which include beating on all of Foshan's kung fu masters and robbing the factory of Ip Man's friend, by saying that he experienced poverty at a child and never wanted to starve again.
  • In Jack the Ripper (1976), the Ripper is a doctor who murders streetwalkers because he was abused by his prostitute mother.
  • Juice: It's heavily implied that the experiences that Bishop's father had in prison affected his overall outlook.
  • In Julia X, Julia and Jessica do what they do because they were sexually abused by their father as children, and later witnessed him murdering their mother.
  • The murder of his mother by his father (on the urging of his grandmother and his father's concubines) is used as a partial excuse for why the King becomes so unhinged in The King and the Clown.
  • In Madea's Family Reunion, Victoria let her daughter Vanessa be raped by her second husband in order to get him to stay. She says that she doesn't feel sorry for Vanessa because her mother pimped her out for crack.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor, the titular character's brother Loki is revealed to actually be adopted. What's more, his true father is Laufey, the leader of the Frost Giants, who are sworn enemies of the Asgardians. This combined with Odin's clear favoritism of Thor contributes to Loki becoming the main bad guy, as illustrated throughout the rest of the movie and in the subsequent The Avengers.
    • Iron Man 2:
      • Not only is Ivan Vanko driven to "avenge" his father, Anton, but that Anton spent the last 20 years of his life in Siberia in a "Vodka-fueled rage". In Nick Fury's words, not a good setting to raise a child — except Fury's tone definitely says "yeah, that sucks, but there's nothing we can do about it and you've still got to stop him."
      • Tony describes his father as emotionally distant, "calculating", and not given over to displays of affection or love. This might help explain some of his present-day problems.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Peter Quill's birth farther abandoned his mother, who died from cancer when Peter was a child. Then Peter was kidnapped and raised by Yondu, who beat him up to teach him to fight, kept him in terror by threatening to eat him and is implied to have used him for thieving since he was eight. These events have influenced his personality as an adult.
    • In Black Panther, what motivates Killmonger's actions (taking the throne from T'Challa and using Wakandan technology to wage war on the world and not caring if Wakanda is destroyed in the process) is the fact that his father Prince N'jobu was killed by his own brother King T'Chaka, leaving him alone in the slums of Oakland, where he experienced first hand the rampant institutionalized racism of the United States.
  • In Malevolent (2002), an aspiring serial killer starts stalking a police officer (Lou Diamond Philips) and tries to frame him for several murders, as well as following a stripper while pretending to be her ex-husband. The cop eventually figures out his identity and realizes that he's one of his father's former patients looking for revenge, a brilliant kid from a wealthy family who was committed after an extremely messed up youth. Specifically, his mother (a b-movie actress and pin-up model) carried on an incestuous relationship with her son before they were found out by her husband, who then killed his wife and himself in a Murder-Suicide.
  • Regina of Mean Girls: her mother is a mindless drunk who is so desperate to be seen as young, hip, and her teenage daughter's best friend that she has become a willing slave that Regina treats with total contempt — the suggestion being that her total ineffectiveness and lack of parenting is what created her daughter.
  • Most Likely to Die: Although it does not excuse the fact that he murdered most of his closest high school friends, DJ explains that his actions are revenge for the fact that the bullied kid John Dougherty had a rough life as an adult, and ultimately killed himself after DJ came clean about the series of pranks that got him expelled from high school. He also notes that he never wanted to be involved in the final prank, as he hid the gun in John's locker on Ray's request, so that Ray doesn't get into even more trouble and lose his hockey scholarship.
  • Cut from The Muppets, but the full version of Tex Richman's Villain Song includes his Freudian Excuse; when he was a kid the Muppets performed at his birthday party, and because he couldn't laugh, all the other kids laughed at him. Ever since, he's hated the Muppets.
  • Nixon:
    John Ehrlichman: You got people dying because he didn't make the varsity football team. You got the Constitution hanging by a thread because the old man went to Whittier instead of Yale.
    Kissinger: Can you imagine what he could have done if he had ever been loved?
  • Subverted in Phone Booth when the villain, while on the phone with Stu, starts sobbing and tells him that he had an unhappy childhood... then when Stu starts to believe him, he laughs and tells Stu that he actually had a very happy childhood.
  • Psycho even gives us a psychiatrist at the end of the film to give us an explanation of how the Freudian Excuse applies in this specific case.
    • Psycho IV: The Beginning: We get to see just how bad Norman's childhood was. Norma emotionally tormented and dominated him, at one forcing him to dress in mother's clothes. Norma's boyfriend Chet was a macho Jerkass who taunted Norman the same way. He ends up snapping one day and poisons their ice tea, but his guilt drove him to recreate his mother in his mind.
  • In Raising Arizona, the brutal biker and bounty hunter who kills furry animals for fun has a tattoo reading "Momma didn't like me".
  • In Red, White & Blue, Erica, when confronted about her cavalier attitude about having unprotected sex with practically every guy she meets and not bothering to tell any of them that she's HIV positive, reveals that she lost her virginity at age 4 to her mother's boyfriend.
    Erica: You get fucked two days after your fourth birthday, you tend to not care about anything much.
  • Redbeard: The Mantis Woman is clearly upset by being sexually abused as a child, but Dr. Redbeard is quick to point out that not all sexually abused children grow up to be serial killers. He thinks there's something organic wrong with her brain.
  • Remember the Night: Lee Leander's mother doesnt care for her, and blamed her for stealing money which Lee says she didn't take. She runs away to NYC, and what does she do there? Steal jewelry, clothes, meals — whatever she can get her hands on.
  • Replicant: When Edward Garrote was a child, his mother murdered his father, then locked him in a closet and set the house on fire — he survived because it started to rain. Since then, he murders women that he perceives as "bad mothers", and frequently taunts his now immobile and elderly mother about it.
  • Sadako Yamamura in Ringu and her American counterpart Samara Morgan in The Ring have a particularly tragic one. Though it's also a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario, with some of her own disturbing traits contributing to making her childhood all the more horrific.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves provides one for the traitor who agrees to turn Robin over to the Sheriff. Will Scarlet is Robin's illegitimate half-brother. He and his mother, the mistress of the Robin's father after he was widowed, were sent away due to a young Robin's anger at his father over the affair. As a result, he grew up in utter poverty, resenting Robin from afar for "stealing" his father.
  • In the Scream franchise, almost every killer has a Freudian Excuse. By Scream 3, Sidney has had enough of this, and yells at the killer that ultimately, these are all just excuses to cover up the fact that they're shitty people who kill people For the Evulz. The exception to this is Jill in Scream 4 who denies having an excuse and acknowledges that she's a monster, citing "Sick is the new sane".
  • In Fritz Lang's Film Noir Secret Beyond the Door (1948), the male protagonist, Mark Lamphere (Michael Redgrave) is an architect whose love for his bride (played by Joan Bennet) turns to pathological hatred when she inadvertently repeats some of his dead mother's actions, such as locking him out of a room or wearing a lilac in her lapel.
  • In Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, the murderer is committing his crimes because he is impotent and the only way he can possess the women he murders is in death.
  • The Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter profiles the serial killer Buffalo Bill.
    Dr. Lecter: Look for severe childhood disturbances associated with violence. Our Billy wasn't born a criminal, Clarice. He was made one through years of systematic abuse. Billy hates his own identity, you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage and more terrifying.
  • In Silent Hill, Sharon/Alessa Gillespie is revealed to have had a very troubled past, involving her being ostracized by her classmates, sexually assaulted by a janitor, and eventually burned alive.
  • Sky High (2005): Sue became an evil supervillain bent on turning all the superheroes into infants because she was put in the Sidekicks class.
  • In Snow White and the Huntsman, Evil Queen Ravenna Ravenna's behavior is explained through a childhood flashback and the way a previous king treated her.
  • In the David Cronenberg movie Spider, with Ralph Fiennes, a variety of flashbacks start to illustrate just what has turned Fiennes into a demonic version of Mr. Bean. It turns out that he imagined the whole thing, and just happens to be insane. His character suffered from schizophrenia, serious brain disease which you cannot control more than epileptic can control his convulsions. So he really could not help it.
  • This is at the heart of one of the better parts of Star Trek: Nemesis. Shinzon, a clone of Captain Picard, insists that he is what Picard would have grown up to be if he had lived his life. Picard tries to turn his "mirror" metaphor around on him, which Shinzon brushes off, but later admits that the idea has gotten under his skin. Data disagrees and (drawing a comparison to the "B-4" prototype he has been dealing with) sees a major difference: That in spite of their wildly different lives and experiences, he, like Picard, aspires to be better than he is, something Shinzon and B-4 seem to lack.
  • Star Wars:
    • Anakin Skywalker was raised as a slave on a hellish backwater planet, as Yoda pointed out in the very beginning. Then his mother gets killed by Tusken Raiders. Oddly, he seems to have been a fairly happy child. Probably would have cut his master's throat in the night if he'd made it to adolescence on Tatooine, though. This is expanded upon in the Expanded Universe though we do see that while Anakin had issues and deep-rooted problems, the real issue laid in that he had no idea how to deal with them and the Jedi didn't know how to help him nor paid enough attention. The Sith on the other hand, saw opportunity and exploited it.
    • Kylo Ren's parents are two characters that the audience knows and loves. However, given the tumultuous nature of their relationship, it makes sense that a kid of theirs might exhibit a few temper problems. This becomes a major issue when your son has some serious Mind over Matter abilities, and a voice inside his head telling him how evil he is. It all goes to crap when his parents send him away to learn to be a Jedi — where he's expected to be able to suppress all negative emotions, and, when his Uncle reacts badly to his failure to do so, he turns to the Dark Side.
    • General Hux is the illegitimate son of a high ranking Imperial officer and a kitchen worker, and, as a child, was regularly abused by his father, who considers him weak-willed and useless. His other mentors include Gallius Rax, who encourages him to lead/train child soldiers into ruthless killers, and Rae Sloane, who wishes him to be taught to become "the best the empire has to offer". In the tie-in comic, Star Wars: Age of Resistance, Snoke pretty much affirms that Hux's vicious nature stems from his past abuse. The additional summary of the character states that while his Dark and Troubled Past doesn't excuse the nasty actions he has committed as a First Order general, given his upbringing, it is almost impossible to see him become anything but a cog in the First Order Wheel.
  • In The Suicide Theory, Steve, a deranged hit man, claims that his earliest memory was of his father smashing him headfirst into a glass coffee table at the tender age of five or six, and that it was the only affection anyone ever showed him until he met his wife Annie.
  • Tragedy Girls: Subverted. The film goes out of its way to show that Sadie and McKayla had very normal, very stable upbringings, with parents that love them. They weren't bullied in school, or scarred for life by some traumatic event. Nothing made them bad; they just are.
  • Valentine: Jeremy Melton was a lonely boy who was framed for sexual assault as a youngster, beaten, and locked up in a mental institution. 13 years later, he's out and about, intent on taking revenge on the girls who framed him.
  • The psycho killer Colt Hawker in Visiting Hours grew to loathe women after witnessing his Domestic Abuser father being attacked by his mother.
  • In Watch It, according to John, the reason why his estranged cousin Michael is such a Jerkass towards women is because his mother was crazy. Things got better when John's parents adopted Michael, and John promised Michael wouldn't have to go back to his mother, but when John's mother died, Michael was sent back to his mother. This is also the source of the estrangement between John and Michael.
  • In The Water Boy, Mamma Boucher forbids her son Bobby from leaving the house and having his own life because everything "is the Devil." When she finds out that he's going to college and playing "the foosball," she fakes an illness and Bobby gives up his newfound freedom to be by her bedside. After she hears how much his playing means to everyone in town, she tells him why she did it. She tells Bobby she lied to him that his father died in the desert; when she was pregnant with him, Bobby's father ran out on them to live in the big city, and she was so scared of being alone that she made Bobby be afraid of life so he wouldn't leave her.
  • In Where the Sidewalk Ends, Mike is a brutal cop (he beats up his suspects and has an undying hatred of them) because he's haunted by his father's reputation as a criminal.
  • Subverted in West Side Story in the song "Officer Krupke" the teen-age gangsters of the Jets sing sarcastically about their deprived upbringings, acting out how they would play on the sympathies of social workers and juvenile courts.
  • The World Is Not Enough: Elektra King mostly blames her father for forcing her to sacrifice her humanity in order to survive her kidnapping ordeal.
    Bond: So, you killed your father.
    Elektra: He killed me. He killed me the day he refused to pay my ransom.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Magneto is a former victim of the Holocaust.
    • X2: X-Men United: Apparently William Stryker's son Jason blamed his parents for his "condition," so he used his Master of Illusion power to torture them with nightmares and visions, leading to Stryker's wife killing herself with a power drill. Of course, given that Stryker's not exactly the most reliable witness, how much of this information is accurate is debatable at best. We see plainly that he himself hated the fact that his son was a mutant and was under the impression Xavier's school was for "curing" mutants.
    • The Wolverine: Shingen covered for his father robbing his own company to extend his own lifespan, only for Ichirō to leave everything to Mariko instead.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: After Erik Lehnsherr loses his family, he's in so much grief that he's willing to follow Apocalypse, who convinces him that he's God, and God has granted Magneto a divine purpose.