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Freudian Excuse / Western Animation

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Malory: He'll be back! Crying for his mommy! Just like that Christmas break when I moved and forgot to give my new address to his stupid boarding school. I mean, he rode the train into the city all by himself; he couldn't pick up a phone book? Nine years old and bawling in that police station like a little girl! Huh - what's that tell you?''
Cheryl: Kind of a lot, actually.
Malory Archer, unintentionally explaining her son's personality

Some cartoon villains and jerkasses may just be that way for the sake of being that way. Others may have gone through a lot of pain to get to their current natures.

  • American Dad!:
    • Roger reveals that the reason he's such as selfish Jerkass is because it would literally kill his people to be nice: if they don't "let their bitchiness out" on a regular basis, it will turn into bile and poison them to death. Despite this, the Smith family does not seem to believe him on this as at that time, they were trying to reform him and to add insult to injury, Roger still gets chewed out for his behavior even though such behavior is necessary for him to survive. Of course, this still doesn't absolve Roger of the numerous crimes and atrocities he's committed. There's a fine line between being rude and bitchy and being an amoral sociopath, and Roger's crossed that line numerous times. His "Ricky Spanish" persona alone has done such things as defecating in the chest of a person undergoing open heart surgery to stabbing Avery Bullock's wife to death, all For the Evulz. Roger develops another one of these excuses when he finds out that he was sent to Earth as a crash test dummy, which devastates him for a month. It turns out that his own race lied to him about why he was being sent to Earth by telling him that he was "The Decider" and that he was to decide the fate of Earth. It's unknown why Roger deserved any of this but it's implied in a later episode that Emperor Zing did this to Roger in revenge for having an affair.
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    • Stan Smith is frequently abusive towards his son Steve, in hopes of toughening him up because of his own history as an unpopular kid, and in "Bully for Steve", a victim of a cruel bully himself. It's also revealed that part of the reason he does such a terrible job helping his son through any Coming of Age moments is that his own father was never there to do it for him so he literally has no idea how to handle it. He also had to deal with his mother's antics during his childhood as well.
    • Emperor Zing, the villain of the episode "Lost In Space" is a member of the same species as Roger so the rule of "act like a jerk or die" technically applies to Zing as well. However, Zing's own biology is not the reason for why he has acted like a tyrant who humiliated his own slaves in public by showing their flops in their love lives and then taking away their private parts for propaganda. It turns out that his chosen soul mate was Roger but Zing's heart gets shattered into pieces when he catches Roger cheating on him with another man. He kept this excuse a secret from the public until Jeff exposed him but it's obvious that the affair caused Zing to jump off the deep end starting with him becoming obsessed with shopping and then declaring an all out war on love itself.
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  • Big Hero 6: The Series: Obake, the Big Bad of Season 1 got brain damage to the part of the brain responsible for regulating empathy. On top of that, he was taught that a genius shouldn't have limits and refuses to treat his condition, viewing emotions as a hindrance.
  • In The Boondocks, the reason why Uncle Ruckus is such a Boomerang Bigot is from all the beatings he received from his father, and his mother idolizing Caucasian people leads him to become the man we know today. His father may include one as well, dealing with the racism of Jim Crow, and his own shrew of a mother.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Mr. Cat's past is mostly unknown, but what we do know of it involves abusive older brothers who were so violent he had to run away from home, an alcoholic father, the death of one or more loved ones, and an extremely annoying mother.
    • Stumpy acts like a rude brat to everyone because of the way Kaeloo and Mr. Cat have treated him his whole life. It's also suggested that this gave him self-esteem issues.
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Ice King has one revealed for all of his obsessive princess-kidnapping in the episode "Holly Jolly Secrets". He obsessively kidnaps princesses in order to replace the "princess" he lost to his sanity degraded by an Artifact of Doom, his fiancée Betty, when he used to live in the pre-apocalypse world as Simon Petrikov.
    • The Magic Man in "Sons of Mars" shown that he used to be a decent, respectable person who had a loving girlfriend named Margles. When Margles passed away, Magic Man became a psychopath, and began to take out his anger on everyone else.
    • Lemongrab is miserable all the time because he's the only "socially awkward, sour lemon person" in existence, and he is desperately lonely and longs for someone to understand his strange ways. (It was only after Princess Bubblegum made him a clone of himself to be his companion that Lemongrab actually became a happy, genuinely nice person. Except not really, as future appearances show when he becomes even worse.)
    • Marceline acts like a rambunctious prankster to distract herself from the fact that she is immortal, and will live long enough to see all of her closest friends die before her very eyes. Not to mention the fact that she has had a troubled past including Being abandoned during/after the mushroom war and seeing her surrogate father, Simon Petrikov become the crazy Ice King.
    • Inversion: Finn is a righteous hero because of an experience he had as a baby. He was alone in the woods, crying and stuck to a leaf with his own excrement. Several people passed him by and flat-out ignored his cries. Margaret and Joshua came by and picked him up, took him in, and raised him as their own; thus, Finn developed his Chronic Hero Syndrome. (He still cries when he poops. Thanks for being cool, guys.) However, he still has a great deal of personal problems such as locking traumatic moments into a mental vault. Having been a hero since 12 or younger and only having his adoptive older brother as a mentor doesn't help with dealing with the possibility of being the last human, especially since as he grows older, he won't have anyone who can help him with more complex matters.
    • In "I Am a Sword", Bandit Princess explains that she turned to a life of crime because she was born with rabies and her parents didn't love her because somehow they both had mononucleosis.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The villainous Prince Zuko was raised in a nightmarish, back-stabbing court where his sister was always more successful and favored, his once-renowned war hero uncle breaks down after losing his son in battle only to later lose his place on the throne, his mother killed his grandfather the night she disappeared in order to keep her husband from killing Zuko, and his father not only publicly ridiculed him when giving him his trademark scar and banishment from home, but is voiced by Mark Hamill. Let the Star Wars parallels begin! (Even his voice actor couldn't deny it.) And the key motivation of the outburst that got him burned and banished was caring about the common soldiers of his father's army and being morally offended by a general calling new recruits fresh meat. Show traits that could lead you to be a caring leader someday, experience agonizing pain and lose everything you have. Is there such a thing as a Skinnerian Excuse?
    • The series finale gives Azula her Freudian Excuse: due to Ozai's raising of her, her mother was distant from her throughout her childhood, leading Azula to believe that she didn't love her and only loved Zuko who, according to her father's teachings, is doing everything wrong and shouldn't be loved. Her upbringing also gives her her extreme perfectionism, as she's afraid that her father will not love her if she screws up even once. She even lampshades it in the Beach Episode, when all the teen villains' Freudian excuses come out.
      Azula: My own mother... thought I was a monster. [perks up] She was right, of course, but it still hurt!
      • Thus, Azula shuns love and lives life making people fear her instead. But when this ends up failing her, and the one person she thought did love her, her father, turns his back on her despite her doing everything "right", the poor girl snaps.
      • The tie-in comic "The Search" really makes it worse when you learn that Because of a fake letter sent out by Ursa claiming Zuko wasn't Ozai's child (he was, the letter was just to see if Ozai was intercepting her letters), Ozai subtly threatened to treat Zuko like he wasn't his own son, which meant he had no qualms of beating or even killing him just to get back at Ursa. Tragically, Ursa knew what Ozai would do; and so she doted and protected Zuko more...which even with perfect justification, still had to have the consequence of neglecting Azula; which fueled Azula's fears that her mother wouldn't love her because she believed her own daughter was a monster.
    • Ty Lee is an incredible flirt and all-around weirdo because she had six other identical sisters and got no attention. Mai grew up a rich only child who had to stay quiet and unemotional so as to not screw up her father's political career. And with the birth of her brother is The Unfavorite.
    • In Ozai's case, it's implied he was The Unfavorite to his father Azulon. The Search comic series gives another possible reason why Ozai is abusive to Zuko: he thinks Zuko is the love child of Ursa and her childhood friend Ikem after reading his wife's letter to Ikem. It turns out that he knew all along that Zuko was his son and the reason he abusive to Zuko was he was punishing Ursa for her lie.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Amon's Alleged Back Story is one of these. According to him, he was once a simple Farm Boy in a family of non-benders who were bullied and extorted by local firebending criminals, who killed his parents and permanently burned Amon's face after his father tried to stand up to the firebenders. Amon is revealed to be lying. However, he and his brother, Tarrlock, still have a genuine one, having been raised by a crazed father who sought to use them as Tykebombs against the city that once imprisoned him.
    • Hiroshi Sato, whose wife was murdered by a firebender. He truly believes that the world would be better off without benders and therefore follows Amon.
    • Next, we have Aang and his children. You would think that Aang of all people would be a great father, right? Well, his daughter and first son beg to differ. Since Tenzin was the only Airbending child in the family, Aang spent a lot of time with him, leaving Kya and Bumi with Katara. Tenzin didn't realize that it was him and his father that went on vacations, which upset his siblings. This may be the reason why Tenzin's siblings picked on him and were more rambunctious than him. They vied for their father's attention and love while Tenzin didn't; he got it without knowing it.
      • To be specific, Bumi is such a glory seeker is because he's the only non-bender in his family and goes to great lengths to show he's useful without bending.
      • This also nicely explains Tenzin's stick-in-the-mud personality, as being Aang's favorite (and the only Airbender) meant he was hand-picked to carry on Aang's legacy. Between being beaten up and bullied by his siblings as a child, having to fill his father's massive shoes, and growing up knowing it was his responsibility to preserve a long-dead culture and entire way of life, it's understandable he's a bit humorless as an adult.
      • Aang, himself, has a Freudian excuse or two for his sub-par parenting. The first being that he was raised by monks; he has no idea how to be a part of a nuclear family. The second is his guilt for having been frozen and unable to help defend his people from the Fire Nation's genocidal attack on the Air Nomads. He focuses on Tenzin, his only child to have been born an airbender, because he's desperate to preserve the Air Nomads' culture and way of life.
    • Season 4's Kuvira also turns out to be this, though unlike many examples, the excuse itself is actually fairly Heroic, befitting her Fallen Hero status. She was abandoned as a child and had to live on her own until Suyin took her in. Thus she doesn't want the Earth Kingdom to suffer like she did in the wake of the government collapsing, it's just that this belief eventually twisted her into a Knight Templar Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Totally Spies! has a rather big list of villains who do bad things for something that happened in the past. There was one episode where a lady decided to mind-control all the guys through cologne so that they worshipped her because she was not chosen the prom queen at her high school. Seriously?
    Clover: Finally, an evil villain who isn't bitter about being dissed or something.
    Jerry: It says here that the Lady Dragon left the video game industry several years ago because they refused to make some of her more eccentric games.
    Clover: Figures.
  • Moral Orel:
    • Clay had a very complex abusive relationship with his father after he accidentally killed his mother, and he's only an alcoholic in a failing marriage because Bloberta convinced the once-sober Clay to get drunk and tricked him into marriage. After watching these events unfold, it's actually quite difficult to blame Clay for much of his behavior.
    • Bloberta herself had issues with her parents. Much like Clay, she got along better with one parent (her father) than her other—her mother who clearly showed Parental Favoritism toward her other siblings. She was also afraid of never getting married, as everyone around her in a fifties-esque Moralton was.
  • In Quest for a Heart, when Millie remarks on Footman's disagreeable personality, the other Rollis tell her that he had a hard childhood. She asks for more details, and they say he had to grow up in a Rolli village in the midst of Rollis.
  • Parodied in a Buttons & Mindy short on Animaniacs. Mindy, a curious little toddler, accidentally walks in on a bank robbery...
    Mindy: (to one of the robbers) Whatcha doing, Mr. Man?
    Robber: What's it look like? We're robbin' the bank!
    Mindy: Why?
    Robber: 'Cause we're bank robbers!
    Mindy: Why?
    Robber: 'Cause that's what bad guys do!
    Mindy: Why?
    Robber: 'Cause maybe our mothers didn't hug us when we was kids!
  • Subverted in Ruby-Spears' Mega Man, in the first episode: Wily mentions having a less than perfect childhood—then goes right on to working on Protoman, expounding on a different subject. The show never brings it up again, implying that Wily's bid to take over the world is simply due to his villainous nature, not this trope.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb sometimes has these, played for laughs — as part of his speech, he'll refer to some unpleasant past event that motivated his current act of villainy. Possibly the most outlandish was his deciding to steal all the lawn gnomes in the Tri-State Area because as a child, he had been forced to take the place of his family's lawn gnome after it was repossessed.
    • He hates birthdays because neither of his parents showed up for his birth.
    • During his school's Science Fairs his machines always lost to a baking soda volcano. So what does he do several decades down the line? He infiltrates an elementary school Science Fair and sets up "The World's Largest Baking Soda Volcano!"
    • He hates swimming pools because his mother didn't let him swim. Humorously accompanied by a very short clip of Doofenshmirtz's mother simply saying to him, 'No.' Doofenshmirtz argues not every backstory has to be dramatic.
    • Other components to his backstory: he had to wear hand-me-up girls' clothing (his parents were expecting a girl when his younger brother was born), his mother loved said brother more than him, his father loved the dog more than both brothers and named it "Only Son", his only friend (a balloon with a face drawn on it) flew away, his artistic masterpiece was destroyed, his girlfriend left him for a whale, and he was raised by ocelots. Yes, all of that.
    • In Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Doof-2 is both more evil and more competent at being evil than Doof-1, yet the only tragic event in his backstory was that he lost a toy train once. None of the stuff listed above happened to him. Doof-1 is outraged that someone with such a lame backstory could be a better villain than him, and then gives his own toy train (which he never lost) to Doof-2 just to make him go away. Doof-2 is so happy to have the train back that he stops being evil immediately.
    • Subverted in Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!. Doofenshmirtz has a fully functional -inator at his hands to destroy Christmas. The only flaw in his scheme is that he doesn't actually hate Christmas, and therefore has no reason to use the machine.
    • In the Clip Show episode "This Is Your Backstory", Doofenshmirtz tries to weaponize his terrible life, channeling his negative memories into a "Backstory-inator" to make himself more evil. It backfires when Perry negates the negative memories of all those backstories with positive ones, first of Doof's beloved daughter Vanessa then of himself helping out Doofenshmirtz.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • All of Vlad's evil tendencies were blamed on the pivotal portal experiment in college. But in spite of disfiguring his face, the positives started to pile up after a while. Vlad's insanely rich, and has super powers. What more could you want? The answer: love. Vlad lost the woman he loved to the one who accidentally caused the accident to start with, and Vlad's been bitter and lonely ever since. Deconstruction as the excuse is demolished when Danny goes back in time to try and stop the accident. However, circumstances are changed to where Jack is the victim of the accident. Vlad is married to Maddie and seems to be pretty stable. We later discover that he forbade Maddie from doing ghost-catching and he kept Jack and Maddie from communicating. Ultimately, it shows Jack and Maddie were meant to be together and that Vlad was doomed from his own bitterness.
    • Freakshow uses this troop to give an excuse to all the bad things he does. Everyone in his life, including himself, likes ghosts more than him. Being upstaged by ghosts his whole life messed him up but then again he might very well just be insane. Maybe a bit of both. Jazz certainly thinks so, pointing out he has Ghost Envy. Danny exploits this when Freakshow has the 'Reality Gauntlet', causing Freakshow to turn himself into a powerful ghost... and making himself vulnerable to the Fenton Thermos.
    • Dan Phantom or Dark Danny, the evil future version of the show's protagonist, is an example of this as well. All of his loved ones (his mom and dad, Jazz, Tucker, and Sam) along with Mr. Lancer were killed in an explosion at the Nasty Burger. Grief stricken, Danny moves in with Vlad, who sympathizes with him. Eventually, Danny can't take the pain anymore, and wants his human emotions removed. Vlad does so, separating Danny's human half and ghost half. Unfortunately, Danny's ghost half proceeded to separate Vlad's two halves and fuse with his ghost half. The combination became Dan, and he proceeded to go on a rampage, starting by killing his former human half. He then goes back in time in order to cause the explosion at the Nasty Burger and therefore ensure his own creation.
  • The eponymous Dr. Thaddeus S. 'Rusty' Venture of The Venture Bros. has his horrific upbringing by his father to blame for his Jerkass tendencies, something that season 3 goes out of its way several times to point out. Several times, it's hinted that Rusty was forced to murder several people in his childhood by his father. That would screw up anyone.
    • "That's nothing. My father made me kill a man with a house key once. I was ten!"
    • Every single horrifying thing Dr. Rusty Venture has ever done can be traced back to his just as horrifying childhood; more specifically, his complicated relationship with his father, which has left him with some very odd (and neglectful and abusive) notions about how to play father to his own teenage sons. This trope was played with in "The Doctor is Sin," in which Rusty is forced to relive "the moment that his father went from protector to tormentor/rival," and drawn upon even more heavily in "Assisted Suicide," with Dr. Orpheus entering and traversing Rusty's subconscious mind.
  • Drawn Together lampshades this in the song "Who's Afraid of a Bully" from the episode "Requiem for a Reality Show".
  • In Transformers Animated, why Bumblebee would rather work on his own than to learn the value of teamwork could be attributed to what happened in "Autoboot Camp." His first team was consisted of jerks who went as far as unscrewing his legs then locking him inside a locker. It didn't help that his Drill Sergeant was Sentinel Prime, who took every opportunity to humiliate him. The only ones who didn't treat him like crap were Bulkhead (who he had written off as a hic from the energon farms) and Longarm. Bumblebee eventually warms up to Bulkhead, and takes the heat for him - which boots him out of Sentinel's good graces and gets him demoted to Space Bridge Repair duty (resulting in his Stingers being downgraded to be useless in combat).
  • Played with by Demona, one of the two main villains on Gargoyles. She has certainly endured more than her fair share of misery over the centuries, and a lot of it seems to be the fault of the humans, thereby setting up her motivation nicely. Closer inspection, though, reveals that Demona herself directly or indirectly caused all of her own suffering, with the humans sometimes large players, but sometimes just scapegoats. It's implied that Demona is aware of this (and of her own evil) on some level... pity she's the queen of the Ignored Epiphany. This trope is outright averted with the other main villain, Xanatos, who by all accounts had an idyllic childhood but wound up a wealthy Diabolical Mastermind anyway. And yet he's still not entirely unsympathetic.
  • Most, if not all, of Batman's rogues gallery in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, as well as Terry's in Batman Beyond. The only two of Terry's that spring to mind is the "skeleton Joker Gang" guy who attacked Max because she scored higher then him on an SAT, making his ice-queen mom very disappointed in him. There's also the geeky technopath student whose Jerk Jock dad didn't care either way about him, even after he stole his construction equipment and later buffed up in prison, although his particular hang-up was over a girl who naturally didn't care about him either.
    • For reference, the above two villains of Terry's are, respectively, Terminal and Willy Watt. In the latter's case, his father frequently mocked him for being too much of a "wimp" to stand up to the bullies at school...and when Willy got Psychic Powers, his dad was one of the first ones he tried to kill in retaliation. At the end of the episode, his abusive dad actually seems proud to see that "at least he's not a wimp anymore".
    • A third villain of Terry's who's got a Freudian Excuse is the one-shot villain named Payback. He's a child wielding Powered Armor that's designed to make him appear as an adult, whose father (ironically enough, a school counselor) doesn't spend enough time with him due to work, prompting him to get rid of his dad's clients' tormentors in order to free up the man's schedule.
  • Being a show about supervillains, Abusive Parents and tragic backstories appear throughout Harley Quinn (2019) and are played for both laughs and drama.
    • Harley's parents were emotionally abusive throughout her younger years, and try to kill her in the present day for a bounty.
    • Poison Ivy's father was emotionally and physically abusive, belittling her for not having any friends during her One-Person Birthday Party on at least one occasion and killing her "pet" ficus before beating her after she caught him sleeping with the maid.
    • Doctor Psycho's teenage son Herman angrily lists off the things he did to make his life a living hell such as locking him in the basement, murdering his friends, and naming him Herman. However, the two of them make up after Psycho explains that he did it all in order to make him a better supervillain out of Tough Love.
    • Parodied with Doctor Psycho himself. When he was a kid, he always wanted to ride the Ferris wheel but he was too short and his mother told him to be patient and he'll big enough next time. As time goes on, he still hasn't grown big enough to ride the Ferris wheel. Then one day, the Ferris wheel collapses with people still on it and he felt satisfied watching all those people die and it was on that day he decided to hate women. It makes no sense and even Darkseid isn't sure how those two things are supposed to connect.
    • The Joker, being The Joker, keeps his past a mystery but during a group therapy session at Arkham being asked about his family was enough to make him murder the psychologist working there before Harley. When Harley questions him on this, he steals Ivy's maid story above but replaces her plant with a ferret (much to Harley's annoyance after discovering this in the present day, as she had bought him ferret paraphernalia for years).
    • Kite Man's parents resent him for not being born with superpowers like them and talk down to him at every opportunity. He put up with their verbal abuse his whole life but finally learns to stand up for himself through Ivy's encouragement.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Saddam Hussein tries to use this trope during part of his Villain Song. He's possibly lying, or at the very least, the movie does not imply this justifies his actions:
  • Murdoc Niccals, resident Jerkass of the animated band Gorillaz, suffered a thoroughly unpleasant childhood at the hands of his father, his brother, various school bullies, and (if you believe him) the dinner lady who took his virginity when he was nine.
    "I'm often asked why my behaviour is so crooked now, but it's a lot clearer when you see what manky loins I sprang from. 'Man hands on misery to man', y'know."
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Eddy's characterization can be summed up as Jerkass. That was because he was trying to emulate and impress his Domestic Abuser older brother. His breakdown and admission to this led to the others accepting him.
  • Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog. It turns out that his mother is even worse than him and never liked him as a child. In addition, she favored his older brother Horst over Eustace, the former always rubbed his success in the latter's face, as well as giving him his nickname "Useless". Now we know how Eustace became the selfish Jerkass he is as an old man. While this doesn't in any way excuse his cruelty towards Courage, you can't help but feel just a little bit sorry for him for what he's been through in his childhood.
  • Played for Laughs in an Adult Party Cartoon episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Ren is an Ax-Crazy Domestic Abuser to Stimpy. He reasons his tendency to be violent with "the first sensation I felt in my life was unspeakable pain. From then on, I wanted to inflict the pain on others!". He was referring to a doctor who slapped him on the butt after his carriage.
  • Virtually every Kim Possible villain there is. Seriously, it would be easier just to list the ones who didn't complain about everyone laughing at them.
    • The most famous is Dr. Drew Lipsky aka Dr. Drakken. Apparently he had a rather twisted childhood, something that he often ranted about, given an offhanded comment Ron said. His breaking point occurred when he attempted to build robotic dates for his friends, which included Kim's dad, Dr. Possible. They laughed him off and he dropped out and became a super-villain. As Dr. P explained, it wasn't a minor chuckle, but laughed and joked about it for days.
    • Shego may or may not count. Her shift to evil was because she grew to like it; it's implied that it was also because she was the common sense of her group between her hammy brother (Hego), the one with a complex about his shrinking powers and ego (Mego) and the twins (Wego, whom are presented as the least annoying.)
    • Kim's archrival, Bonnie Rockwaller, also qualifies, because in one episode, it's strongly implied that her mean, sour disposition stems from an inferiority complex as a result of her two older sisters (named Connie and Lonnie) looking down on her and possibly overshadowing her, (they claim, "Connie got all the brains, Lonnie got all the looks, and Bonnie got the rest."
  • Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) is shown during a Villainous Breakdown to have deep seated shame at not living up to the potential his mother saw in him.
  • In previous Scooby-Doo incarnations, the villains in the monster costumes had viable reasons for donning their disguises. However, in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, any time excuses are given, they are usually always lame and pitiful, which actually makes them more villainous, especially since they are more dangerous.
  • In an episode of the Earthworm Jim, we have this exchange from Professor Monkey-For-A-Head:
    Professor Monkey-for-a-Head : (Sees a fruit cart) Fruit carts?! I hate fruit carts!!! (The monkey fused to his head mumbles something to him) Why?! I'll tell you why! It's because a fruit cart, a STINKING FRUIT CART, killed my pa!!!
  • Regular Show explains through various flashbacks and implications why Benson is such a Mean Boss with one of the worst Hair Trigger Tempers in the history of Western Animation: He was very quiet and meek when he was a boy until his parents explicitly taught him to raise his voice to get things done, even when it came to passing the salt. His various flings in his young adulthood ended tragically, and now the only thing he has to pride himself on is his dead-end job as park manager, dealing with a curmudgeonly Mean Boss of his own. Half the reason he is so hard on Mordecai and Rigby is him venting back the stress he takes from Mr. Maellard, while the other half is because he wants them to clean up their act while they still have the chance and not end up like him.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr. Burns. Despite being an evil, cruel and heartless businessman who has done a lot of evil things, we find out that in his childhood he was a light-hearted and pleasant child, who was even nicknamed "Happy" because of his pleasant nature and had very loving parents. But his own grandfather, a twisted and heartless millionaire, lured him away from his loving parents and forcibly adopted Burns. His grandfather was a coldhearted businessman who cared only about greed and power, and is directly responsible for transforming Burns from a carefree and pleasant boy to a miserable evil old man. There's also the loss of his teddy bear, Bobo, but that may or may not have actually contributed to it. He did resolve to change his evil ways once the bear was returned to him, but unfortunately couldn't take note of it since he didn't have a pen handy.
    • When Bart was five, note his preschool teacher belittled him and verbally abused him to the point that Bart considers suicide. This probably lead Bart being a troublemaker that we know today.
    • Reverend Lovejoy was once a man eager to be a Good Shepherd, but was worn down after years of Ned Flanders coming to him for every last misdemeanor.
    • Jessica Lovejoy claims that it was her desire from attention from Reverend Lovejoy that made her act out in a way that frightens Bart.
    • Homer's mother abandoned him because she was wanted by the law, while his father told him he would never amount to anything.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Apple Bloom's cousin Babs Seed was apparently bullied herself, and only became a bully to avoid ridicule from Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. Luckily, she realized that she's no different from the bullies from Manehattan, and stopped.
    • Trixie was revealed to have had her life ruined by the Ursa Minor incident, which left her a laughingstock throughout Equestria and demolished her career (yes, she was a jerk guilty of false advertising, but this is a universe where one can normally Win Back the Crowd). This drives her to take her Revenge on those she deems responsible for her suffering (Ponyville, Twilight in particular) and get the Alicorn Amulet. It gets worse from there. After it's removed, she regains her sanity and apologizes, leaving on good terms with Twilight.
    • Even Discord has one. Turns out the guy has never had a single friend in his entire life, so he fails to understand the value and even concept of friendship and thinks of others as little more than playthings for his own amusement. It's the realization that acting that way will cost him the only friend he's ever had that makes him promise to use his magic only for good. Mostly. We also found out in "Discordant Harmony" that he will disappear if he's no longer chaotic.
    • Then, there's Starlight Glimmer. The creation of "Our Town" and getting the ponies there to surrender their Cutie Marks to be "equal" was because as a filly, her best friend Sunburst gained his Cutie Mark, then disappeared for Celestia's school. Because of this, she feared of making any other friends because another Cutie Mark or even another difference could cause it to be ruined.
    • The aforementioned Diamond Tiara turns out to have her own issues leading to her being such a jerk. The big one is Spoiled Rich, her unloving, unforgiving tyrant of a mother.
    • Discord, in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Tirek, implies that Tirek thirsts for power because he feels inferior to his Father, king Vorak.
  • Played for Laughs in The Tick, when Big Shot's reaction to running out of bullets after spending the episode (over)acting like a '90s Anti-Hero is to mournfully ask "...Why didn't you love me, mom?" and break down sobbing on Arthur's shoulder.
  • One episode of Belphegor hints the titular character had suffered a great loss in the past - the death of someone close to him due to a passenger plane crashing. Said plane was sabotaged by a general in order to kill just one man on board, who was transporting plans for a new weapon. The episode doesn't fully explain the incident and exactly who was the person close to Belphegor that died, but Word of God confirms this was what caused his transformation into an unfeeling criminal, detached from the rest of the world, constantly provoking life and living on the edge.
  • Interestingly, an advertisement for the Winx Club showcased the girls coming up with hilarious Freudian Excuses for why Lord Darkar is the Obviously Evil stereotypical villain that he is. The main show, on the other hand, never showed any signs of the excuses they came up with for him.
  • Family Guy:
    • Parodied with Stewie Griffin, whose Freudian excuse is that he was trapped in a prison for the first several months of his life. The name of the prison? "The Womb". Simultaneously subverted; he was implied to be already evil as a sapient sperm cell!
    • Played straighter with Peter, that not only that his mother is negligent but his stepfather was abusive towards him. His sister Karen always abused and picked on him really bad to the point that years later, Peter take his pain out on his only daughter Meg. The worst thing is that Peter's parents didn't do anything to stop Karen from picking on him.
    • Also parodied in one sketch which suggests that the evil monkey who torments Chris was once a regular dude until he walked home from work one day and found his wife in bed with another monkey, then he started living in Chris' closet after losing everything. It is revealed he points at people to strike up a conversation, suffers from a copper deficiency which explains why his arm shakes, and the sinister expression is merely the face he makes while he's thinking.
    • Lois' brother Patrick became "the Fat Guy Strangler" after witnessing his mother have an affair with Jackie Gleason.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • Crocker wants to destroy all fairies due to losing his own fairies as a child. And do you know who was responsible for this? Timmy Turner. To be fair, though, he tried to prevent it from happening, which failed miserably. May or may not be an example of Stable Time Loop. Timmy went back in time to prevent it, but ended up causing it anyway (the original circumstances were hinted to be Cosmo's stupidity.) However, Crocker ended up gaining his obsessions with fairies and a working scanner with fairy DNA (which he lacked in the present timeline, meaning that the past was changed, albeit only the circumstances, with the outcome being the same.))
    • Remy Buxaplenty is a Lonely Rich Kid in the extreme: his parents are so money-obsessed that they spend only two minutes a day with him and can't even remember his name. His stunts during his first appearance are partly for attention, and partly out of hatred of Timmy, stemming from the fact that Timmy has regular parents and godparents that both care about him.
    • Parodied with Vicky in one episode where she and Timmy end up trapped together in an icy mountain cave: the predicament causes her to have a Villainous Breakdown followed by a temporary Heel–Face Turn, during which there's a brief scene of her lying on a psychiatrist's couch, explaining her life story to Timmy (who, for bonus points, is actually dressed as Sigmund Freud).
      Vicky: —then, when I was eight, my parents said my turtle ran away... but he didn't run away. [cue Ocular Gushers] TURTLES CAN'T RUN!!
      • Interestingly, Vicky may actually have a legitimate Freudian Excuse: the episode that shows Crocker's backstory also reveals he was tormented by a babysitter named Vic, who is heavily implied to be Vicky's father. If he treated Vicky half as bad as he treated Crocker, then it's no wonder she turned out the way she did.
    • In a Bad Future, losing the race and the love of his life caused Mr. Turner to go into denial. As dictator, he demands everyone else do the same.
  • The 2012 Ninja Turtles's version of Baxter Stockman is this, having been picked on and abused by everyone he knows, from school growing up to his co-workers.
  • On Ever After High, Apple White is honest, polite, kind and public-spirited in every way except one, that she refuses to accept that anyone destined for an evil or tragic fate has the right to try to avoid it or even that anyone with a destined romance can pick someone else. This arises out of a childhood trauma which gives her a great dread of an uncertain future.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • Ms. Helga G. Pataki, ooh boy. Ever since she was a little girl, she has always lived in her older sister's shadow and hardly got any attention from her parents. One day, because her parents were too busy listening to Olga play the piano, she walked herself to and from preschool, had her lunchbox stolen by a dog and fell in a mud puddle. The only one nice to her on that day? Arnold, who complimented her bow and held out his umbrella for her. The next day, after Harold stole her crackers, he gave her his. Then all the kids started laughing at her when she fawned over him. Then she snapped and became the brash person she was in the present. She had a whole episode dedicated to explaining her character, which was generous of the writers to do.
    • Olga gets one as well that explains why she's always so annoyingly perky and optimistic, and why she breaks down if anything she does comes up short of perfect: their parents don't pay any attention to Helga because they pay all their attention to Olga, who acts perky and sweet as a cover for the anxiety she's developed from constantly having to live up to and exceed their expectations.
  • The Mickey MouseWorks short "Mickey and the Color Caper", which premiered as part of an episode of House of Mouse, had the Phantom Blot steal all the colors and add them to himself to become the Phantom Rainbow because he was apparently forced to wear his colorless black cloak his whole life by his parents.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Pacifica Northwest was portrayed as a Flat Character, but it turns out she was raised by neglectful stage parents who never even taught her the idea of sharing. Their treatment of Pacifica behind closed doors goes to outright mental abuse, as they've conditioned her to obey whenever they ring a bell.
    • Gravity Falls: Journal 3 reveals that Blind Ivan got into and eventually led the Blind Eye Society because, when he was a teenager, the other people at the carnival he worked at locked him up in a haunted house attraction for an entire night because of his tattoos. He wanted to forget the whole experience. This is why, in 2012, he leads the secret society that captures people to erase their memories of any of the town's oddities.
    • Grunkle Stan has a pretty painful one that explains why he's such a greedy, miserly con-artist: he accidentally ruined his brother Ford's chances of getting into a top-tier university and potentially becoming a millionaire scientist. This causes their father to disown Stan, claiming that he won't be welcomed back until he can repay the family for the potential income they lost because of his actions. He lives a miserable existence well into his 30s and, after a fight with Ford causes Ford to become lost in another dimension, channels his talent for lying into turning his brother's home into a tourist trap, allowing him to maintain Ford's home and secret lab so he can fix the dimension gate to bring his brother home. His greediness comes from his father's ultimatum making him believe that earning money was his only value to his family, and considering his only talents were lying and fighting while his brother was a genius, his self-esteem wasn't good enough to let him refute that.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Amethyst typically acts mischievous and rambunctious to relieve herself of the fact that she is the product of Ancient Space Nazis, and her troubled past including A Friendless Background in the Kindergarten, and watching her mother figure die before her very eyes.
    • Onion acts in the same manner due to the fact he appears to not have very many friends, and rarely has the chance to see his dad.
    • Lapis is a prominent example, as she nearly attacked the Crystal Gems (except Steven, the only one she liked) for leaving her imprisoned in a mirror for 5000 years (and because the reason she got trapped in the mirror in the first place was because she was mistaken for an agent of the Crystal Gems by Homeworld forces).
    • Lars acts like a jerk to Steven to hide his own insecurities.
    • Peridot becomes hostile towards the Crystal Gems for destroying the things she worked hard to build, though this ends later as the series goes on. We get an explanation for this in "Too Short To Ride": Peridot treats technology as an emotional crutch since, being an Era 2 Gem made for building and maintaining technology, she has no magic powers like Quartz gems or even Era 1 Pearls, who she has been taught are beneath even herself in the Gem hierarchy. Technology is literally the only thing she has, so her anger may stem from the Gems destroying what she considers her only viable contribution to a society that demands usefulness from all its subjects.
    • Pearl's crippling self-esteem issues, and all her issues that branch off from that, are because as a Pearl she was literally created to just look pretty and take orders. Despite her intelligence and insistence that she's no longer a slave, she still feels like she's only useful when she's being told what to do, fueling her emotional over-dependency on Rose and, later, Garnet.
    • Rose Quartz turns out to have a spoilery one for her Innocently Insensitive tendencies. As Pink Diamond, she was both isolated from her subjects and never taken seriously by the other Diamonds, and she lost one of the only friends she was allowed to have, her Pearl, when she injured her in a fit of rage over the other Diamonds' abuse (it's implied Pink never forgave herself for this). Pink basically had to teach herself social interaction from scratch, and developed bad habits it would take millennia to break.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: Doug decided to become a tattletale back when he was six years old and Marci berated him for not telling her on Randy and Howard as soon as he saw them sneaking out of her day care center.
  • Murky from Rainbow Brite loved colors as a toddler. His mother yelled at him when he colored on the walls, and this traumatized him enough to want to get rid of all the world's colors as an adult.
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode "Mutantcy on the Bouncy", the villain Cement Head states that he turned to a life of crime because his parents disowned him for being born a cement mutant.
  • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race the reason the Ice Dancers are so obsessed with winning is because Jacques accidentally dropped Josee when they finally got the chance to get gold in the Olympics, becoming national embarrassments instead. Also, Josee apparently had a pretty bad Stage Mom who taught her that anything other than first/gold was a failure.
  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries had Sylvester the Cat try to capture and eat Tweety Bird as usual, but the episode "Happy Bath Day to You" revealed why he's so obsessed with eating that darn canary. It is shown in a flashback that when he was a kitten, Granny gave Sylvester Tweety as a birthday present with the intent of the bird being a playmate. When Sylvester instead tried to eat Tweety, Granny scolded the cat and told him that he'd never get any more birthday presents until he learned to play nice with Tweety.
  • In the Road Rovers episode "Dawn of the Groomer", General Parvo shoots down the Groomer's plan to mutate cats as his soldiers and it gets so bad that the Groomer ends up leaving Parvo for a whole year. After they reunite at the end of the episode, Parvo reveals why he was adamant about not using his technology on cats: He himself is actually a mutated cat and he apparently didn't want other felines to suffer as he did.
  • In the Trollhunters episode "Airheads", during the Touch-A-Truck-athon, in an effort to cause Jim to lower his guard, Steve gives one about himself to Jim. It works, and though Steve taunts Jim over "falling" for it, the show actually paints everything he said to be pretty accurate.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in an episode of Stripperella with the villain Dr. Cesarian who was targeting supermodels.
    Stripperella: Why do you hate models so much?
    Dr. Cesarian: Why? Because my whole life beautiful girls have spurned my advances. I vowed that one day I would make them all pay.
    Stripperella: So just because-
    Dr. Cesarian: Also, my mother was a model, she ran off when I was five; I declared then and there that I would make all models pay.
    Stripperella: But what are-
    Dr. Cesarian: Also, I once had a promising career as a model. I had a scholarship to go to modeling college and everything, but then I became horribly disfigured in a modeling accident and they said I would never model again and I vowed to make them all pay! Oh-also, my grandparents were killed by models.
    Stripperella: I'll admit, you definitely have some valid reasons for not liking models.
  • Bojack Horseman:
  • Jem:
  • Partway through Olive, the Other Reindeer, the Postman remarks that his hatred of Christmas is partly because Santa didn't give him the toy train he wanted as a child.
    Postman: Santa didn't cut me any slack, so now I'm not cutting him any slack!
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Mojo Jojo wants to destroy The Powerpuff Girls due to them replacing him as Professor Utonium's lab assistant.
    • Princess Morbucks reason to becoming evil is because The Powerpuff Girls didn't let her become a powerpuff girl. She attempts to pass this off as some kind of villain tragedy, despite the fact that she was rude and insensitive towards everyone before that, and only acted nice towards the Powerpuff Girls so that she could get her way (they noted this and didn't let her join because of her stuck-up attitude). On a more serious note, a case can be made that part of her bad attitude stems from the fact that her parents (her father in particular) don't really seem to care to raise her properly, showering her with money instead and spoiling her rotten.
  • The Pound Puppies (2010) episode "The Pupple's Court" has Miss Stiffwhiskers try to get Lucky in trouble by taking him to court over matching dogs with their owners without following proper procedure, lying that he was completely unhelpful in assisting her in finding Pugford's perfect person and that he was generally an apathetic slacker. It later turns out that the reason Miss Stiffwhiskers is doing this is because she resents Lucky for failing to match her with her perfect person when she was a puppy and now wants to get back at him by having him impounded.
  • The Loud House has Lynn receiving one in the episode "Middle Men" after her advice that Lincoln and Clyde should be as aggressive as possible on their first day of middle school backfires HARD. Turns out her first day of middle school was absolute hell and she had to develop the aggressive personality she's infamous for just to survive and despite her desire to turn off "school survival mode", she can't.
  • Subverted in the Love, Death & Robots short "Sonnie's Edge". Sonnie is a confident and tough-as-nails rape survivor who participates in evening Kaiju Beastly Blood Sports, and she always wins. Many characters believe her edge is the anger and hate she still feels over being gang-raped and torn apart. It's not that. Sonnie was so badly injured by her rapists that they had to permanently implant her consciousness into Khanivore and she controls her otherwise brain-dead human body via an implant chip. That's why she keeps winning: because she is the only competitor who is really fighting for her life every night.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • In the second season, it's revealed that Chloé largely acts like a jerk out of a desire to impress her mother, who left when Chloé was little to focus on her career. Of course, when Audrey comes back to Paris, she constantly belittles Chloé - even doing so on live television - and doesn't even get her name right until Chloé brags about what a jerk she is. It doesn't help that her father constantly spoils her, implicitly in an attempt to fill the void caused by Audrey's absence.
    • While Adrien isn't a bad person overall, he's shown a nasty possessive streak toward Ladybug and an inability to assert himself socially, both of which stem from his upbringing. Adrien's father, wealthy fashion mogul Gabriel Agreste, obsessively micromanaged his upbringing while at the same time utterly failing to spend any time with his son (and it doesn't help that his own love for his wife Emilie is not overly healthy, as his reaction to her going comatose was to become Hawk Moth). Not helping matters is that Adrien, due to his father's controlling nature, was unable to make any friends other than Chloé, who as mentioned above has her own issues note . The result? By the time the show begins, Adrien is fairly weak-willed and has some incredibly unhealthy views on love. That being said, being around more positive influences like Nino and Marinette is helping him grow past these flaws.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Implied. It's unknown why Cree Lincoln turned against the Kids Next Door, only that she got older and changed. However, "Operation: M.A.U.R.I.C.E." gives a big hint on a possible reason, when her sister Abby just gives up and says that there was no point in fighting that her sister and her friend Maurice since they're teens, and she's practically a teen now herself. At first Cree is shocked, but then gets happy and hugs Abby, saying she was waiting for her to say that, implying that she went though the same thing, but unlike Abby, Cree did not have someone to bring her up and give her hope.
    • Implied in the comic "Operation F.O.R.G.E.T.". After known boy hater Numbuh Eighty Six/Fanny Fulbright accidentally gets decommissioned, she's shown to be a boy-loving maniac. This hints that her Straw Feminist attitude was caused by a particular Noodle Incident.
    • Father's entire messed up state can be blamed on his father, Grandfather. A cruel tyrant who manages to outdo Benedict in the evil category, he was too much of a coward to stand up to him and it's implied that he turned to evil as a result. Grandfather showed little leniency to his children; heck, he preferred Monty, Ben's older brother, over him, if because it's implied he had the guts to stand up for himself, unlike Ben. From a traumatic fear of eating broccoli to perhaps his entire motivation for doing evil things and tormenting children, it can all be traced back to Grandfather.
  • Central Park:
  • The Garfield and Friends episode "The Man Who Hated Cats" had Mr. Block, the titular feline-hater, sing a song where he reveals that his hatred of cats is because he used to have one as a pet when he was a kid, only for his cat to disappear one day and never come back.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Part of the reason why J. Jonah Jameson hates Spider-Man is because his wife was murdered by a masked gunman, causing him to have a hatred of people who wear masks.
  • DuckTales (2017): "The Last Adventure" reveals where Bradford Buzzard's vendetta against the McDuck family stems from. As Isabella Finch's grandson and the first Junior Woodchuck, Bradford was dragged along on several dangerous adventures under the pretense of them being "educational". He grew up to resent adventure altogether, came to the conclusion that the world was far too dangerous for its own good, and set on a quest to eradicate everything adventurous. Scrooge McDuck, being the patron saint of adventure and epicenter of all sorts of craziness that he is, was the thing Bradford concluded he needed to curtail most of all.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has at least one of these for pretty much every major character.
    • Catra and Adora's excuses deserve special mention because it's actually the same excuse, namely Shadow Weaver's stellar parenting skills, albeit manifesting in vastly different ways.
      • Catra has some serious tendencies toward Never My Fault, usually blaming Adora for anything that goes wrong because Adora didn't stop it. This can be traced back to when Shadow Weaver would constantly punish Catra for her mistakes, while chastising Adora for not having stopped it, leading Catra to develop the habit of always having Adora there to take the fall. Having also pretty much no meaningful relationships outside of Adora also means that she takes her perceived betrayal very hard.
      • The same abuse caused Adora to have a serious Guilt Complex and a need to justify her existence. Since she grew up being constantly told that Catra's actions were her responsibility, she grows overly protective of her friends, frequently stifling them out of a desire to help and protect them. Being constantly put on a pedestal in an enviroment that does not tolerate failure also means that she feels she needs to live up to everyone's expectations, or else she has failed. This guilt complex is so extreme that when someone finally asks what she wants, the only thing she can say is "what's best for Etheria".
    • Glimmer was raised in a war, and lost her father at a very young age. This caused her mother, the queen, to be overly protective and careful. Because of this, Glimmer has a Inferiority Superiority Complex the size of a mountain, manifesting as a constant need to prove herself, usually ignoring her mother's orders so she can prove how right she is. This complete disregard for orders and safety becomes a big problem in season 4, when she's the queen, and still feels the need to prove how right she is, while also having the power to steamroll any objections.
    • Hordak is a defective clone of the Galactic Conqueror Horde Prime. His "youth" was spent as the only being with self-awareness in an army of non-sapient clones who's only purpose is to act out Prime's will. Further complicating things, Hordak has no idea that his "defect" is just his capacity for independent thought, so he's constantly trying to prove his capabilities when Prime would rather he just lie down and die.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus implies that Entrapta was raised by robots, which would explain her complete lack of social skills.
  • Principal Strickler from Teacher's Pet was very vocal about his dislike of dogs (which made it a good thing that Spot attended school disguised as a human boy named Scott Leadready II), with the first episode implying that he grew to dislike dogs because one that was brought to school bit off half of his thumb when he was in the fourth grade.
  • Ready Jet Go!: The reason why Mitchell is such a stuck-up jerk is that he doesn't know how to interact with others and has a hard time forming friendships, making him a loner.


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