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Adaptational Karma

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An adaptation of a story changes the fate of a character who was a Karma Houdini in the original work, by having them receive a fitting karmic punishment. This trope was mandated by The Hays Code, and thus, often sprung up in films made during that period. Similarly, it can sometimes occur to appease other Moral Guardians.

Sometimes, however, it may simply be used by directors who think that the story is strengthened by a Karmic Twist Ending, or are simply responding to fan complaints about how the villain should have been punished. In any event, it adds an element of Not His Sled for adaptations of very well-known stories.


In some instances, the film is an adaptation of the first installment of a series, and the change allows for finality when sequels are unplanned or uncertain. This may overlap with Death by Adaptation and Super Hero Movie Villains Die.

Not just limited to official adaptations — a lot of Fan Fiction does this, as disgruntled fans who want to see the villain get comeuppance but have no official material to supply this may decide to write their own.

Examples are sorted by medium of adaptation, not by medium of the source material.


Due to the trope's nature, unmarked spoilers abound in the examples below.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The novel and anime versions of Candy Candy never show the fall-out of Neil Legan's failure to get Candy for himself. In the manga, he is publicly humiliated due to Albert's intervention and is last seen literally crying to his mommy about it, much to his sister Eliza's secondhand embarrassment.
  • Doraemon: In "The Truthbeaker", Nobita lies to his friends about his dad being able to perform amazing feats, such as smashing a boulder with his bare hands, so Doraemon him gives a gadget that turns all of his lies into truths. In the manga and 1979 anime, Nobita suffers no consequences from this, and even makes his dad buy a telescope and bike for him (this is a callback to the beginning of the story. When Nobita is about to ask his dad to smash a boulder, his dad assumes that he's going to ask him for a bike or telescope). In the 2005 anime, after saying that his dad is a super hero, Nobita says that his his dad has zero tolerance for those who deceive others. His dad then flies towards him and punches him in the face, ending the episode.
  • Dragon Ball Super: In the anime, Goku Black is an Invincible Villain who never lost a fight and a Karma Houdini who fused with Future Zamasu so he never paid for his crimes as an individual. In the manga, he isn't so lucky, getting beaten and humiliated by Vegeta twice and driven into a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette: In the original book, M. Thenardier manages to escape to America with Marius' money. That does not happen here, since Javert decided (at the last second) not to commit suicide and was able to arrest him.
  • Cyrus from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl suffers nothing beyond frustration at his plan to destroy and remake the universe failing. But in the anime, he ends up Deader Than Dead when he jumps into his new universe as it's fading from existence.
  • Persona 5: The Animation: In the original game, during Makoto's Confidant, the harasser Tsukasa's only comeuppance was that he got his plan exposed that he had to stop on that, and nothing else. In the adaptation, however, Eiko proceeds to put his misdeeds on her in the Phan-Site and then his other victims follow suit. This made him a target for the Phantom Thieves, who proceeded to eventually defeat his Shadow in Mementos.
  • Black Lagoon's anime adaptation of the "El Baile de la Muerte" arc, "Roberta's Blood Trail" does this to Roberta. While she still gets to go home and retire in peace after a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, she does so minus an eye and several limbs.
  • In Shaman King, the Big Bad, Hao/Zeke, obtains the Great Spirit, making him invincible which eventually makes him as the Shaman King. In the anime (the first one at least, the series got a remake later), Yoh defeats him by cutting him in half despite Hao still getting the Great Spirit.
  • In the first anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist, Envy got away with a lot of his evil deeds, including temporarily killing Edward and permanently killing fan-favorite Maes Hughes. While he does die in the Finale Movie The Conqueror of Shamballa, it's only due to Hohenheim sacrificing himself to do so, allowing Envy to pretty much get everything he wanted. Hiromu Arakawa must've really taken notice of fan complaints, as in the manga and subsequent Brotherhood anime, Envy suffers a lot of humiliation once the heroes understand how to fight him, culminating in Mustang flaming him repeatedly in revenge for Hughes' death to the point that he's forced to revert back to his pathetic smaller form and ultimately taking his own life when he realizes he can't manipulate the heroes anymore.
  • In SiN, Elexis Sinclaire always escapes from getting caught, usually using her appel to distract Blade long enough for a getaway. In The Movie, after Blade has defeated the monstrous mutant form of her father, the ensuing explosion throws Elexis off the SinTek tower, and she presumably falls to her death. There is no indication she survived, making this the one time Elexis is directly punished for her crimes.
  • In Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, Azalie Cait Sith was a Broken Bird character in the first anime but she still got away with a lot of her misdeeds, particularly when she took over Childman's body and engaged in all sorts of shady acts. Despite all that, Orphen would continue to defend her and try to help her, no matter what evidence to the contrary was presented or how much Claiomh tried to tell him Azalie wasn't the same person he once knew. Towards the end, Azalie is brought back to normal and gets to sail off into the sunset without really having to answer for much of anything. In the 2020 anime, the Bloody August story with Azalie is resolved relatively early on and towards the end of it, Orphen finally comes around to seeing the kind of person Azalie is and calls her out for her wrongdoings against him and Childman, culminating in a sword fight where Azalie is beaten down.
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Colbasso, Rei's senior maid, is a Jerkass who treats Kimidori, the younger maid, like dirt and is rather cold to Lag Seeing. She listens in on Lag's conversation with Kimidori and finds out that while Kimidori was the one who anonymously sent the picture postcards to Rei, Kimidori has no intention of revealing herself. Colbasso then lies and says that she was the sender, so she can ask Rei for a reward, prompting Lag to use his Shindan to show Rei the feelings Kimidori put into her postcards. In the manga, Colbasso is never seen again, and the end of the chapter focuses on Rei recognizing Kimidori as her old friend, as well as Lag considering sending a picture postcard to his friend Gauche. In the anime, there's a brief scene of Colbasso swearing revenge on Lag, and the fact that she's wearing civilian clothes and carrying suitcases implies that Rei fired her for her deception.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) cartoon, there were a few characters who escaped their comeuppance. Agent Bishop, despite eventually having a Heel–Face Turn and repenting of his evil ways, still committed arguably the most horrific acts in the series and never had to directly pay. And there was Darius Dun, Cody's Evil Uncle, who managed to still be at-large due to Fast Forward not being extended into another season. In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) series, Bishop is killed by a Slash clone during a battle against the Turtles and Darius Dun after his defeat is executed by Jennika at Splinter's orders.

    Fan Works 

Multiple fics:

  • Carter Blake from Heavy Rain gets away with abusing his position as a cop, with only two ways to get his comeuppance through bittersweet deeds: losing his job by getting Ethan killed by him while Jayden is alive, and being haunted by Jayden through the ARI if said FBI agent dies throughout the investigation. There are a number of fanfics in which Blake gets better punishments than the ones done through the game. Examples include A Son's Revenge and Under Arrest.
  • Roy Earle in L.A. Noire receives no punishment for ruining Cole Phelps' life by reporting his affair with Elsa Litchmann and being indirectly responsible for his death, but a number of fanfics have him being killed off to satisfy the audience. Examples include A Happy Ending and LA Noire 2: The Return of Cole Phelps.
  • Alan Jonah of the MonsterVerse is a Karma Houdini at the end of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019); having massacred dozens of Monarch operatives in cold blood, awakened King Ghidorah (who manages to kill millions of people around the world before being defeated), and conceded to letting Ghidorah eradicate man and nature alike rather than lift a finger to stop it; with the movie's sequel and especially its novelization hinting that Jonah's warranty hasn't expired. A number of fanfictions based on the franchise see Jonah get what's coming to him sooner — examples include Abraxas (Hrodvitnon), where Jonah is driven insane, assimilated by the Many, and finally killed by a Titan that he personally wronged; Titanus Normandy, where's Jonah is killed by Commander Shepard whilst setting Ghidorah free; and Hear All, Ye Who Wish to Listen, where Jonah pulls a Redemption Equals Death in the same role as Emma in the movie.
  • In canon, Bakugou Katsuki of My Hero Academia suffers no consequences for his bullying of Midoriya Izuku. This is changed in many fanfics to the point that on Archive of Our Own, the tag Bakugou faces consequences has hundreds of fanfics with that tag.
  • Fairly common in Neon Genesis Evangelion with Gendo Ikari, though often with a side order of Adaptational Villainy and changing his goals to more generic Take Over the World fare.
  • Also fairly common in Persona 4 with the girls for getting away with the boys' misery at the Amagi Inn. Examples include The Amagi Inn Revenge Scheme and The Hot Springs Revenge Plan. (Although, the latter involves the school bullies...)
  • Downplayed by several Thomas & Friends Fan Films which try to present an on-screen version of Diesel's Offscreen Karma between Dirty Work and A Close Shave based off of the Fat Controller's comments in The Railway Series version:
    • "The Devious Diesel" and "Sent Packing": Diesel attempts to blackmail the trucks into supporting his attempt to frame Henry for a coach-bashing incident he actually committed, but once the trucks realize that whether for trying to carry out said blackmail of bashing the trucks or for having his lies about Duck and Henry coming to light, the Fat Controller will send Diesel packing either way, decide to reveal the whole truth to the Fat Controller, leading to all the other engines turning on Diesel and the Fat Controller sending him back to the mainland.
    • "Percy's Ploy": After Diesel tricks Henry into believing he's been given Gordon's express in retaliation for Henry getting mad at Diesel for misplacing his and Gordon's coaches at the wrong platforms the previous day resulting in an argument between Henry and Gordon, Percy gets back at Diesel by telling the trucks that Diesel thinks of them as easily controlled by him, resulting in the trucks paying Diesel out by derailing Diesel in front of the express's platform, which when the Fat Controller steps out of his office to survey the mess, causes him to find out about the lie Diesel told Henry, resulting in him sending Diesel away.
  • Numerous stories in YuyaVision obtains this, given how many evil characters get away with their actions.
    • Main story: Leo Akaba gets to live a happy life despite the entire anime being his fault. From what is shown in the fic so far he gets to lose his memories about Ray Akaba — aka the reason for Akaba's actions — all while Zarc leers at him.
      • Many of the Tops in the Synchro Dimension just suddenly get a change of heart after Yuya wins the Friendship Cup. They are instead now crushed under the Commons they loved heckling and Synchro is now run by Yliaster.
      • Academia doesn't get any punishments for how they followed Akaba's teachings and hurt others. Zarc changes this into a Creepy Cathedral with the students now repenting sinners, some of them going as far as to injure themselves. For example, Zane purposefully broke his legs and confines himself in a wheel chair. A later story reveals that Zarc essentially unleashed the equivalent of a nuclear bomb that preyed on the darkness in the Fusion duelists' hearts, turning them into monsters.
    • Doppleganger Court: Neither Reiji nor Shingo got any punishemnts for what they did in early Season 1, ranging from attempting to steal Yuya's cards, endanger the lives of four chidlren and nearly stole You Show under the flimsy excuse of Shingo stating "Yuya attacked me" (when it was actually Yuto). The first chapter, which is a Courtroom Episode, shows how they essentially ruined themselves with Shingo most likely expelled from Leo Duel School and Reiji losing everything: his job, his reputation as CEO and not being able to mass produce Pendulum cards for the upcoming fight against his father.

Individual fics:

  • As Fate Would Have It: While Ghetsis suffered a Fate Worse than Death in the original Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, in this fic he ends up getting incarcerated for good. In addition, the Shadow Triad, who had remained a Karma Houdini even well into the post-game, end up giving in to the authorities after Nate, Black, and Yancy confront and defeat them.
  • Unlike in either the anime and manga of Elfen Lied, in The Butterfly Effect (Elfen Lied), Mayu's stepfather does not get away with his sexual abuse of her. Kaede and Kohta are so horrified and disgusted that, after punching him out and knocking some teeth loose, Kohta steps outside and does nothing as Kaede beats him to a pulp before using her vectors to destroy the hypothalamus in his brain, utterly ruining his health and causing multiple organ failure that he will have to shell out small fortunes in medical bills to take care of.
    Kaede: Hope he enjoys the rest of his miserable life.
  • Code Prime: A rare societal version of this trope is applied to Britannia, as the Autobots are doing considerably more damage to Britannia's forces and image than anything Lelouch could accomplish as Zero. And at the end of R1, the Deceptions straight up destroy the empire in an especially brutal and thorough way, with Pendragon being destroyed, Britannia's leadership being killed, imprisoned, and enslaved, and its armed forces being horribly slaughtered.
  • Codex Equus:
    • Played with Noble Grace and her assistant/friend, Professor Bubbling Beaker. In the original movie, both Madam Mumblechook and Dr. Dee have their lab destroyed by a transformed Peter, with the former being left completely powerless after absorbing her magic, and in the end they are both surrounded by the enraged animals they used to experiment on, implying a very grisly fate for them. While the events were more or less the same in the Codexverse, here they both had their magic absorbed by a transformed Page Wheel, were arrested, transferred back to Pferdia, and then properly tried for their crimes after Scarlet Bell, one of their former students, notified the Grittish authorities. It's noted that lawful authorities refused to let the jury take matters into their own hands, regardless of the damage and harm Noble Grace and Bubbling Beaker have inflicted on their victims, because it would make the jury no different than the criminals. To quote a Pferdian Pony judge on the day of their trial:
      Pferdian Pony judge: Considering how many animals and ponies she and her colleague had experimented on, the popular choice would have been to let the victims decide her fate. But cases like these is why we have the law - to bring justice to those who have harmed the innocent without resorting to measures that would make us no better than the criminals we punish.
    • Night Terror is punished for his misdeeds and attempting to trick himself out of his well-deserved punishment in Temnobog's hell-realms when Princess Luna and Tenya teamed up to defeat him and throw him in the real world. A furious Yarost was waiting for him, having learned that Night Terror got away thanks to Ispita, Yarost's Fallen mother, and dragged him down to the hell-realms once and for all. It's rumored in-universe that he was reduced to an immortal plaything for Yarost to torment.
    • In Story of the Blanks, the Sunnytowners were turned into zombies for murdering an innocent filly, though exactly what caused the curse is ambiguous. Here, it's stated that the curse was of divine nature - Pakak had been attending the party disguised as a pony when he witnessed the murder of Ruby Heart, and was so enraged that he cursed the entire town until they repented for their crimes.
    • In Dead Silence, Mary Shaw wins in the end and escapes without punishment. Her Captain Ersatz Bitter Thicket, on the other hand, is tracked down by Maud Pie, her sister Pinkie Pie, and the Black Herons after the events of the film. They proceed to defeat her, at which point she is Dragged Off to Hell by Malus Manes and the spirits of her victims.
    • Dreaming Mary:
      • Boaris isolated his daughter, Mary, in her own bedroom and sexually abused her for years. He was also implied to have been responsible for the deaths of his wife, Mary's mother, as well as her uncle Penn Guindel, her tutor, and her maid. The Golden Ending has Mary finally escape captivity by herself, but it's ambiguous whether it was real or she imagined it, while Boaris continues to abuse her. Here, Sweet Words' crimes are made explicit, but they would catch up to him when Terran Princes Bright Eyes and Written Word heard Rosy Dreams' telepathic calls for help, with the spirits of Sweet Words' murder victims either guiding Bright Eyes and Written Word to Sweet Words' home or seeking out authority figures in the area to help apprehend him. This led to Sweet Words being imprisoned for life for homicide and child abuse/molestation after his arrest, allowing his victims to rest in peace knowing their abuser/killer was finally caught.
      • The Chaser terrorizes Mary and pursues her when she tries to escape the dream world, letting out an incredibly terrifying Nightmare Face once Mary is captured. While Mary successfully escapes in the game's Golden Ending, it's left ambiguous whether she truly escaped or merely dreamed of herself doing it, and the Chaser faces no punishment for his actionsnote . Here, after sadistically abusing Rosy Dreams and putting her in a coma on Sweet Words' orders, he eventually meets his end when Rosy, upon witnessing the Chaser kill Mr. Penguin for defying him, gets angry enough to retaliate by unleashing a large burst of psychic energy. The Chaser is killed by the attack, upon which Rosy is able to wake up from her coma in the real world.
    • In Stephen King's short story "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band", all the dead rockstars trap anyone who wanders into the town Rock and Roll Heaven and force them to attend an endless series of concerts for eternity - all For the Evulz. And they amputate the finger of one inhabitant when she tries helping two of their would-be victims escape, leading to a Downer Ending. In the Codexverse, all the wicked celebrities who did similar things were hunted down, cornered, and brought to justice by various Death deities and their allies in an event called the 'Applewood Rescue'.
  • A long-deleted Lucky Star fanfic, Cries Unheard, gets a variation of this trope. The antagonists were explicitly dead, and that in turn was the reason Miyuki and Kagami spent the flash-forward prologue and some follow-up chapters throughout the story under police interrogation. We just never got to see said deaths play out before the fic died and was eventually deleted, until another fic, THIS IS IT!, took care of that in its place another four years later. (And their defeats were just the tail-end of a full-blown Humiliation Conga: Three of them suffer a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown hours before their actual demises, primarily by Hiyori and a few girls they never got to account for, who then reveal knowing about an arms deal they were planning and having set Yutaka free on them while they were all too busy raping and torturing Konata as their "dog", who then bites back at Kenji (part-literally) . Riku and Brick are forced to retreat, and Yamato Nagamori makes good use of Brick's phone that she had swiped in order to undo all the boys' efforts to keep everyone divided. Kenji, meanwhile, betrays his accomplices for not only breaking a promise Satoshi made to him in CU, but then for killing Soujiro without him, and assists in killing them just when they think they have Miyuki, Minami, and Kagami back under their thumbs (and just moments after Satoshi was about to publish something he had been blackmailing Miyuki with, which Minami had just derailed). They are unable to fight back, and a freshly Groin Attack-ed Brick is just barely able to try to outrun a chainsaw-wielding Minami. Then, Kenji does everything in his power to escape Kagami and get away with his own part in things, and it's all for nothing. (It's also implied that their families are next, each in for an angry mob, now that some serious dirt is up on YouTube about them; even if they had won, they still wouldn't likely have much left to look forward to.))
  • In Essence, Charmander's previous owner Damian gets his Pokémon license revoked for Pokémon abuse and neglect. He forgot that Pokédexes record every capture, so Nurse Joy was able to figure out that the severely injured Charmander she saved was Damian's. He also gets arrested and sent to juvie.
  • The Fire Has Burnt Out: Several characters, such as Ashfur and Clear Sky, end up in the Dark Forest rather than StarClan.
  • In the backstory to Formerly Known as Harry Potter?, Lily's abusive uncle and aunt were arrested for child abuse and child neglect. They've been in prison for six years come time for Lily to enter Hogwarts.
  • In Hope of the Shield Hero Motoyasu suffers the consequences for his incompetence far earlier than in canon, starting with how he was able to become the Lord of Lute without Naofumi's interference and the townspeople revolting.
  • Infinity Train: Blossomverse: Discussed and Played With. The author notes for Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily Chapter 10 says that while Grace Monroe did lose a lot in Book 3. She felt like Grace Monroe got off too easy. Because she most likely injured and crippled numerous denizens for 8 or 7 years, led a cult of children that followed her words and worshiped her because of a simple lie of her being the total expert on the Train. And considering the size of her number, she much had done a lot (to note in the show, when she confessed her crimes, the number that was on her wrist ends up as either a 4 - 5 digit number on her palm). Hence Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail ends with the Apex disbanded, never wanting anything to do with her again, and she must take a walk of shame as she reflects on the things she could have done if she wasn't such an arrogant, haughty bitch. And then Infinity Train: Voyage of Wisteria ups this by revealing that she died and was reincarnated.
    • The Cat pretty much gets away with the fact that she abandoned Simon to save her own skin and never came back for him nor did she ever tell him what numbers meant despite having knowledge of it. The confession of her cowardice is live streamed to the entire Train, so now everyone knows that the biggest thorn in their sides is indirectly her fault.
  • Infinity Train: Tesla Star has two examples:
    • Lynn Loud Jr never faces any commeupance for causing the events of "No Such Luck" in Canon; in this story, she suffers two Humiliation Congas with the last one revealing all of her past misdeeds, gets subjected to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Luna, and finally getting her reputation ruined.
    • Ronnie never faced any commeupance of being a bully toward Lincoln in Canon; in Chapter 13, her mother discovers that she was a bully from Luna, resulting in Ronnie getting grounded for three weeks and being forced to confess all of that to her familia.
  • The Solitas Arc of RWBY shows that the heroes' actions, namely, hiding the Awful Truth regarding Ozpin and Salem from Ironwood before revealing it at the last minute and Blake and Yang going behind everyone's back to to Robyn about the Amity Project lead to the canon fall of both Atlas and Mantle. In the Volume 7 AU Ironside, their actions are met with more derision, and while some recognize the hypocrisy in their actions, Blake and Yang only dig themselves deeper.
  • In the postgame of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the player faces every past main villain in the franchise, each one hailing from an alternate world where their plans succeeded; the only karma they get for this is getting beaten by the player and transported back to their own worlds. Poké Sisters changes this by making sure every villain sans Giovanni has a karmic fate awaiting them when they get back to their own universes. Specifically, Archie, Maxie, and Lysandre see their plans get undone by the Legendary Pokémon opposite of the one they used before getting confronted by another (Rayquaza for the first two, Zygarde for Lysandre); Cyrus finds his universe unchanged and gets confronted by Giratina; and Ghetsis finds himself faced with Looker of the International Police, N, and numerous other Trainers. Additionally, Faba — who assisted the villains with the takeover — ends up in jail for what he did, compared to the practical slap on the wrist he got in canon.
  • In Prehistoric Park/Walking with Dinosaurs crossover Prehistoric Earth, Original Character Cynthia Night was a run of the mill Alpha Bitch who managed to act like a major Jerkass to a large number of the other characters in the story even before she was revealed to be a Good Is Not Nice spy hired by the story's Big Good to try to foil the efforts of a more villainous spy hired by the story's hidden Big Bad. And despite going so far as to be perfectly willingly to blatantly risk obstructing subsequent efforts at foiling the villains' plans altogether by choosing to keep the truth about her spy work and how she'd roped fellow Prehistoric Earth employees Will and Alice into assisting her hidden even when the secret about there being an evil spy trying to sabotage the park was no longer necessary to keep a secret, she ultimately managed to get off relatively scot-free without any real comeuppance. In subsequent Continuity Reboot Prehistoric Park Reimagined, on the other hand, Cynthia ultimately finds herself very swiftly undergoing incredibly humbling events not too long after committing some of her less pleasant actions and behaviors (while ironically being considerably more sympathetic and likable in this story than her counterpart in Prehistoric Earth was).
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: In the original manga, Kuyou, Kiria, and Hokuto all survived the final battle with Alucard and went on to rebuild Fairy Tale. Here, both Kuyou and Kiria are killed by Tsukune at the end of Act III, and Hokuto is killed as well during the climax of Act IV; the final chapter of Act IV specifically shows them being brutally tortured in Hell.
  • In Shakugan no Shana Final, the fused Snake of the Festival and Yuji Sakai ultimately emerged victorious in the Haze-Denizen war, and Yuji got away with a promise to make amends. In Shakugan No Shana Eternity, Yuji breaks free of the Snake's control with help from Shana and Hecate, then uses the Synchronization between him and the Snake to completely obliterate him from existence.
  • Orochimaru in the Naruto canon was Easily Forgiven despite all the atrocities he committed, and not only achieved his goal of immortality, but still continues to perform his experiments by the time of Boruto. In Son of the Sannin, he's defeated in battle by Jiraiya and Tsunade, the latter of whom sucks out his soul using the Rinnegan. To drive the point home, Anko Mitarashi had gotten her cursed seal removed, which means there's no way he can resurrect himself, unless of course Orochimaru has other cursed seals lying around...
  • While Sasuke in canon was given a full pardon and his only punishment was his self-imposed exile, in Sorry's Not Enough his chakra is sealed, his sharingan eyes removed, and he's sentenced to twenty years of house arrest. Also Sakura marries Naruto rather than Sasuke.
  • In Naruto canon, Obito died but got to be Together in Death with Rin. In Spark of Creation, a temporarily revived Rin denounces him, declaring That Man Is Dead, before Naruto leaves him and Madara to the mercy of the Blind Eternities.
  • What It Takes: In canon, Felicity Smoak's selfishness is constantly ignored or glossed over. Here, not only is it openly acknowledged once her actions come to light, it ends up costing her everything — her friends, her job, and above all else, the relationship with Oliver that she wanted so badly.
  • Total Drama Pahkitew Island Reordered: Whereas in canon, Chris received no comeuppance for his usual Jerkass behavior throughout the season, here upon suggestion from the runner-up, the rest of the cast, along with the past season winners and Chef, have him shot out of the Cannon of Shame (after getting relieved of his pants by Duncan).

    Films — Animation 
  • Both the 1950s animated film and the 1999 live-action film of George Orwell's Animal Farm end with the pigs' regime falling. In the former, the animals, led by Benjamin the donkey, overthrow and presumably kill the pigs. In the latter, the animals decide to leave the farm after deciding the pigs have gone too far and it fully collapses upon Napoleon's death.
  • The Wicked Fairy in Sleeping Beauty disappears from the story after cursing the princess, and gets no comeuppance for her evil deed. In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is slain by Prince Phillip when she turns into a dragon to stop him from breaking the curse.
  • The Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid is an unnamed, amoral figure who merely gives people what they want for a price. In Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989), she is named Ursula, upgraded to a rival for Triton's throne, and dies in the end when Eric impales her on a ship's bow.
  • In Rapunzel, the witch is never seen again after throwing Rapunzel and the Prince out of the tower. In Tangled, her counterpart Mother Gothel gets a Disney Villain Death combined with such Rapid Aging that she hits the ground as a pile of dust.
  • Inverted in Pinocchio: in the original book, the Fox and the Cat are reduced to beggary in the end, but in the Disney version, Foulfellow and Gideon are Karma Houdinis.
  • In the aftermath of The Judas Contract, the Teen Titans decide to preserve Terra's reputation and hide the fact she was really The Mole for Deathstroke and Slade himself managed to escape going to prison. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract sees the public aware of what Terra really was and Slade's possibly dead and even if he isn't, he's not going to be so lucky to escape legal repercussions.
  • Averted in the 2008 film adaptation of Horton Hears a Who!. Originally, everyone was going to turn their backs on the Sour Kangaroo, but the producers decided instead to stay true to Dr. Seuss' creative style, which did not include comeuppance.
  • In the Mortal Kombat reboot trilogy, D'Vorah got away with little to no repercussions for her murders of Mileena, Baraka, and the present-day Hanzo Hasashi. Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms sees D'Vorah get beaten by Sonya Blade.
  • The Tale of Despereaux: In the original book, big bad rat Botticelli simply stalks off in anger after he's denied the chance to manipulate Roscuro, leaving not on his terms but otherwise as a total Karma Houdini. The animated version, on the other hand, is last seen locked in a cat cage—with the cat. Horrible Scream Discretion Shot ensues.
  • Astro Boy: Hamegg generally gets away unpunished with his cruel actions against robots in most versions of Astro Boy, but in the film as he tries to escape again, Astro's friends steal his car as Zog holds him.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets is a case of this in regard to the source novel Israel Rank: in the film, the Villain Protagonist narrowly escapes being executed for a death in which he had no involvement, but then the film ends with him realizing that he left his Memoirs (in which he had confessed to everything) in his cell. In the source novel, Israel Rank, there isn't this kind of twist (the Villain Protagonist is on trial for the murders he did commit), but an Adapted Out love interest kills herself and takes the blame for the crimes.
  • The George Sanders film The Private Affairs of Bel Ami has the Villain Protagonist Georges Duroy get in trouble for posing as an aristocrat. In the novel the film is based on, Guy de Maupassant's Bel Ami, Duroy gets away with everything and the "posing as aristocrat" is a minor detail (he is from a town called Canteleu starts calling himself Du Roy de Cantel).
  • Topkapi ends with the band of thieves and the protagonist Arthur Smith breaking rocks in prison, but on good terms and plotting escape/future jobs. In the source novel The Light of Day, the thieves escape and Smith (who in both versions was planted as a Sixth Ranger Traitor by the Turkish police) who is a much more anti-heroic character, leaves with a small reward, but is essentially stateless. At the end of the sequel novel Dirty Story (written after Topkapi), he ends up in a slightly better position.
  • In the original version of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Alfrid, the greedy servant of the corrupt Master of Laketown, escapes with a haul of money and is never seen again. In the director’s cut, Alfrid dies in a hilarious way when he hides in the launching arm of a catapult. The weight of his gold triggers the catapult and he is launched into the mouth of a troll, killing both himself and the troll.
  • Les Misérables (2012) has this with the Thenadiers in regard to both the original novel and the source musical:
    • In the novel, M. Thenardier, who is the evilest character in the book, is given money by Marius to settle a debt, and the narration indicates that he became a wealthy slave trader in America.
    • In the musical, Thenardier and his wife (who is Spared by the Adaptation) have the role of Plucky Comic Relief but still do the same evil stuff as in the novel. At the end, they crash Marius' wedding and are paid by him as in the book, and sing a cheery song about how people like themselves who scavenge off society without moral compunction always win.
    • In the newer film (which is mostly an adaptation of the musical but is also in some respects more faithful to the novel), the Thenardiers are physically thrown out of Marius' wedding and don't receive any payment (although oddly, they still sing the same song about "winning"). This may have been a case of What Might Have Been, as set photos show the pair crashing the cake and generally having a good time of things.
  • In The Bad Seed, the Devil in Plain Sight Enfant Terrible Rhoda manages to survive her mother's attempt to kill her when she discovers what kind of being her daughter is and it is implied that she has a new victim in her sights. The 1956 movie adaptation, because it was made during the Hays Code era, wasn't going to allow such a monster to live... and because her mother failed, Rhoda was struck down by lightning on the very last scene (an epilogue right after that has the actresses of Rhoda and her mother break character and, in a pretty comedic moment, Rhoda's actress gets spanked).
  • Thanks to the fact that Joker Immunity wasn't in play, The Joker is actually killed in Tim Burton's first Batman movie rather than being sent to a Cardboard Prison.
  • A Little Princess (1995) does this to the evil Miss Minchin, who was a Karma Houdini in the original novel, by having her lose the school and forced to become a chimney sweep.
  • Notes on a Scandal: In the book, Barbara's plan worked and she got Sheba all to herself, with no end in sight and Sheba's completely emotionally broken. In the film, Sheba finds out about Barbara's behaviour, gives her a blistering "Reason You Suck" Speech, and leaves her alone. It's not what she deserved, but it's still a change from the book.
  • Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice tend to do something regarding Wickham who, after nearly ruining Lydia, is bribed into marrying her to save the family's honour. Joe Wright's film implies that Domestic Abuse might be in their future, Bride and Prejudice has him getting busted by Darcy before he can do anything harmful to Lydia, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has Lizzie stabbing him in the chest.
  • Rebecca had Mrs. Danvers escaping Manderly after she burns it to the ground. The film — by order of the Hays Code — shows her dying in the fire.
  • Subtly done in Matilda with the setting change from the UK to America. In the end of the book, the Wormwoods flee the authorities to Spain. At the end of the film, they flee to Guam. But since Guam is a US territory, it's likely that the FBI might catch up to them, thus giving them a direct comeuppance for their abuse of Matilda.
  • The Hong Kong film, The Warlords is a remake of the older Shaw Brothers war epic Blood Brothers (1973), both movie which revolves around a trio of Blood Brothers joining a war, getting promoted, only for a Plot-Inciting Infidelity in the form of a love affair between the oldest brother and the second brother's wife, leading to the two brothers betraying and killing each other, with the youngest of the trio eventually seeking Revenge causing the brotherhood to end in ruins. Blood Brothers (1973) ends with the three brothers dead and the wife, whose flirtation leads to all the mess, alone but alive; but in The Warlords, the unfaithful wife ends up being stabbed by the youngest brother in the third act.
  • In Witness for the Prosecution, Christine Vole commits perjury in her husband Leonard's murder trial, and deliberately gets caught doing so, in order to sabotage the case against him and get him acquitted. The Agatha Christie short story it was based on ends with her admitting what she did to Leonard's defense attorney and the reason she did it: she knew he was guilty. In the movie, Leonard abandons Christine for another woman shortly after his acquittal, and she murders him in rage.
  • In A Street Car Named Desire, Stanley was able to win back Stella, despite being an abusive husband and raping Blanche and getting her sent to a mental institution. In the film, it cuts to the credits after he kept crying "Stella," heavily implying that she was finally going to leave him.
  • In the film adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, Offred kills the Commander (one of the movers and shakers of the intensely awful Republic of Gilead, who has been keeping Offred as a breeding slave) before she is taken away. In the original novel, the Commander is still alive and in power at the end.
  • The Chocolate War: In the original book, Archie gets away with manipulating everyone and setting Jerry up to suffer a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at the hands of Emile Janza. In the film, his luck runs out when he draws a black marble and is forced to take Janza's place in the boxing match he himself set up. The end result: Archie himself suffers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at Jerry's hands, and Obie takes his place as the Vigils' Assigner with Archie himself demoted to Obie's secretary.
  • In Treasure Island, Long John escapes with some loot, is believed to have settled down after that, and the protagonist makes no effort to pursue him. In Muppet Treasure Island, Long John Silver escapes with the loot, but his previous warning to Arrow about unsafe lifeboats turned out more accurate than he expected. He ends up trapped on a desert island with its annoying inhabitants. An interesting example because Silver in this version is much more affable.
  • Ready Player One:
    • The book's climax suggests that Nolan Sorrento may get away with his many wrongdoings due to lack of solid evidence and very good corporate lawyers (on the other hand, the protagonists now have enough wealth to get lawyers of their own along with the support of millions of people that can act as witnesses). In the film, the last we see of him is getting locked away in a police car and getting socked in the face by a disgruntled ex-employee that was arrested with him, making it clear that no lawyer is going to save him.
    • This also applies to one of his henchmen, I-R0k. In the book, he disappears from the plot after giving Sorrento the location of one of the keys. But in the movie, Sorrento activates a bomb that wipes out all the avatars in the area- and I-R0k is the first to be killed.
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000): In the original film, the people who hired Maindrian Pace to steal fifty cars end the film completely untouched by the law (and aside from the scene in which they hire Pace, not appear any further in the film). Raymond Calitri, however, ends this film very much dead and it's heavily implied that the people who hired him to get the cars will have the LAPD on their tails in very short order.
  • The three villains of Holes are arrested by the Texas attorney general's office at the end of the movie, while the book doesn’t mention their fate (and furthermore, the continuation has the Camp reactivated a few years later and them getting back their old positions).
  • The 1987 adaptation of Flowers in the Attic had this enforced by the studio. In the book, Corrine marries another man and doesn't get any form of comeuppance until the third in the series (where she tries to win back her children's love and dies in a fire). The higher-ups felt the audience would want to see Corrine get punished, and so she is exposed by her children and hung on her wedding day. Understandably, the sequels where she plays a big role never got adapted.
  • The novel In This Our Life saw Stanley framing Parry for her drunk driving accident and getting away with everything. Per the Hays Code, Roy and Craig find out what she did and she dies in a fiery car crash while being chased by police.
  • In the original musical version of Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II is able to kill Seymour and the original Audrey, sell itself to every household in the world, and start an apocalypse. This was the plan for the movie, too, but test audiences didn’t like the ending, so they changed it so that Seymour is able to save Audrey, then destroy Audrey II by electrocuting it.
  • In the 2019 remake of Lady and the Tramp, Aunt Sarah and her cats are forced to leave the house after Jim Dear and Darling find out about her mistreatment of Lady. In the original, they don't get much punishment, and Aunt Sarah apparently learns her lesson after realizing she misjudged Lady and sends a gift of dog biscuits for Christmas.
  • Inverted with Uncle Ben's killer in The Amazing Spider-Man Series. Unlike other versions, Peter never managed to catch him at all in either film.

  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the eunuch, Huang Hao, is one of the few people responsible for the downfall of Shu by manipulating Liu Shan into his favor. After Shu surrendered to Wei, Sima Zhao had the eunuch executed. In historical records of the Three Kingdoms Era in Imperial China which the novel is based from, Deng Ai wanted to execute the eunuch after he heard of his reputation, but he escaped by bribing his officials.
  • Star Wars: In Legends continuity, the last that is heard of Mas Amedda after the Empire's formation in which he was a direct accomplice is him being demoted but taking delight in collecting Sith knowledge for the Empire. In Disney's continuity, the Aftermath Trilogy and Lost Stars show that after Palpatine's downfall, Mas is driven to despair and becomes suicidal as his influence wanes and the Rebels refuse his surrender, and whilst he is pardoned of his war crimes, he's consigned to be nothing more than a puppet ruler for the rest of his days and is remembered by history as a weak-willed sycophant of Darth Sidious.
  • The Bulgarian adaptation of The Wolf and the Crane by Ran Bosilek. Yeah, the ungrateful bear had managed to get out of paying the stork with the usual excuse... but what happens when she needs to get another bone out? Well, the stork doesn't want to be fooled a second time, so, just in case, he's going to pull out the bear's teeth first.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Saturday Night Live adapted the final scene of It's a Wonderful Life (which ended with Mr. Potter being a Karma Houdini) for one of their sketches... which immediately goes this route by having Uncle Billy finally remember that he had accidentally left the missing $8,000 in the newspaper he gave to Potter and then learning from a bank teller that Potter deposited the cash in his own account after he left. George mobilizes everyone gathered at the Bailey house to confront Potter and he, Mary, and Harry proceed to take turns beating Potter into a pulp.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax", the villains get away. In the adaptation by Granada starring Jeremy Brett, they are caught — although Lady Frances also suffers brain damage.
  • Happens in both the BBC and the ITV adaptations of the Miss Marple novel At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie. In the original novel, the murderer is not seen to be apprehended, although Chief Inspector Fred "Father" Davy vows to go after her. In both screen adaptations, she is exposed by Miss Marple and taken into custody.
  • After episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents ending with a criminal still at large, Hitchcock's closing remarks would often dish out some Offscreen Karma by stating that they were brought to justice afterwards; this was generally not present in the original short stories being adapted. It should be noted, however, that Hitchcock himself did not actually want to include these in his closing remarks and only did so in order to placate the sponsors.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): In the books, Mr. Poe placed the Baudelaires in one abusive home after another throughout the first seven books (except Book 2) and never got punished for either doing that or or just being an incompetent moron. Here, he has to face the consequences for his incompetence when the Baudelaires run off at the end of The Wide Window and almost loses his job at the beginning of The Miserable Mill.
  • Watchmen (2019), a Sequel in Another Medium to the original Watchmen comic book series, sees Veidt finally get arrested for what he did to New York in the original comic at the end of "See How They Fly".
  • In Horton Hears a Who! and most adaptations of the work, Jane Kangaroo is Easily Forgiven for harassing Horton the entire story, and a Happy Ending ensues without forcing so much as an apology from her. In The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss however, a lot of Jane's nastier or more careless moments backfire onto her, to the point of nearing Can't Get Away with Nuthin', with her nearly always displaying remorse and trying to make amends. This is an unusual case where the trope also leads to Adaptational Nice Guy, since these consequences often made the show's version of Jane rather sympathetic.

    Video Games 
  • In Disney's Cinderella, the wicked stepmother and stepsisters don't face any punishment for their treatment of Cinderella besides losing their live-in servant. Conversely, the silliest of the villains, the stepmother's Righthand Cat Lucifer, gets the closest to a comeuppance (being chased by the dog Bruno, who previously got in trouble for doing so), and falling out the tower window (he survives and returns in the sequels). In the level it inspired in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Lucifer is merely chased off by the protagonists, whilst the stepfamily try to murder Cinderella out of hatred with a summoned Unversed, and one of the monster's bombs ends up hitting the stepfamily instead. It is not known if they died, but Aqua hints that the trio might have become Heartless.
  • In the Disney film Pinocchio, Pinocchio merely escapes the Coachman and his slave camp on Pleasure Island. In the video game of the film, Pinocchio kicks the Coachman off a cliff.
  • One of the perks of the Super Robot Wars series is that if there is an anime villain that became a Karma Houdini in their origin game, chances are you will be able to have a Hot-Blooded Humongous Mecha pilot swing the hammer of justice without fail onto these villains. Haruki Kusakabe is one of the most common examples of this.
  • In The Incredibles movies, villains Bomb Voyage and the Underminer both are able to escape with hauls of money and are never seen again. In LEGO The Incredibles, however, both return for a pair of attacks upon the city and are subjected to boss battles before being arrested.
    • In Rise of the Underminer, a non-canon game, the Underminer is killed when he is thrown into his own machine, causing it to explode.
    • In the tie in game for the first movie, Bomb Voyage decides to attack Mr. Incredible again after he gets the bomb he puts on Buddy off. He loses the fight when Mr. Incredible blows up his helicopter, and presumably doesn’t escape this time.
  • While Uncle Ben's killer in The Amazing Spider-Man Series is an inversion, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game does see Uncle Ben's killer die at the hands of a pre-Carnage Cletus Kasady.
  • Inverted in the 2012 reboot of Twisted Metal: while Calypso gets killed, arrested, Dragged Off to Hell, or punished in some other way in several of the endings of the previous games in the series, here he comes out unscathed while all three of the game's playable characters are killed by their wishes. The game ends on a Sequel Hook where Needles Kane/Sweet Tooth's son Marcus vows to take revenge on Calypso for killing his father, but this ultimately went nowhere.

    Web Animation 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


SNL's It's a Wonderful Life

Played for laughs on SNL. The sketch starts with William Shatner claiming to have found the lost ending of the movie, which has Billy remember giving the money to Potter. George then leads everyone to confront Potter where they all beat the old miser to a bloody pulp.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptationalKarma

Media sources: