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Apology Gift

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Sometimes you screw up, and you know it. Your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, roommate, sibling, parent, or partner in crime is mad at you, and with good reason. How better to say "I'm sorry" than with a heartfelt gift?

Sometimes the gift is meant as proof of your sincerity... sometimes it may stem from a sense that just words aren't enough to make up for the wrong. Either way, when you give someone a gift as part of an apology, you're following a time-honored storytelling tradition.

There are a few standard apology gifts that show up consistently in media of all times. For couples, flowers (particularly roses) are a standard gift for a man to give his romantic partner when he's done wrong. If someone has really screwed up (or has a lot of money to throw around), jewelry may be offered instead of flowers. Food is also a popular apology gift, especially homemade food, or in a romantic relationship, chocolate. But of course, there are other gifts that may be offered instead. A common gag based on this is a spouse being given a gift automatically assuming (often correctly) that their lover's about to admit to something serious.


Compare Buy Them Off, in which the apology is not sincerely intended. If the screw up is one of epic proportions and requires considerably more than roses or jewelry to make up for it, see Must Make Amends or Redemption Quest.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dear Brother, when Junko falls out of favor with Fukiko and is about to get kicked out of the Sorority, she tries to give her a bouquet of red roses (Fukiko's favorite flowers) as an apology. It doesn't help her case.
  • In The Demon Girl Next Door, Yuko sends Momo an indirectly-phrased challenge letter calling her out for a duel, which Momo interpreted as asking her to go out and have fun for the afternoon. When Momo shows up in a breezy summer dress, Yuko grudgingly apologizes for the misunderstanding, goes out shopping with Momo, and buys her a pair of black hairclips. Yuko then puts the hairclips on Momo while gloating that she's finally managed to turn some small part of her to darkness. Momo never wears her old iconic pink hairclips again.
  • In Haibane Renmei, in the Crystal Dragon Jesus festival near the end of the series, baubles of different colors are given to people, with yellow signifying an apology.
  • Lampshaded in I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying with Hajime's list on how to calm girls down:
    1. Don't talk back ☆!
    2. Apologize and keep quiet
    3. It can't be helped even if you get hit
    4. Give some valuable presents later.
  • During the first arc of Laid-Back Camp, Sakura gives a bag of kiwifruit to Rin to make up for her ditzy sister Nadeshiko disturbing Rin's camping, since Nadeshiko had fallen asleep on the bench after leaving her cell phone at home, forcing Rin to let Nadeshiko borrow her cell phone to call Sakura.
  • In My Daddy Long Legs, after Jervis hurts Judy's feelings by harshly criticizing her novel, he shows up outside her dorm with flowers . . . twice, because she wasn't there the first time. Persistent fellow!
  • In New Game!, Umiko is introduced informing Aoba that some of the NPCs she made had bugs, and complaining about how graphics designers only care about appearances. After leaving, Umiko realizes she went too far, and offers Aoba a spent shotgun shell as a gift.

    Comic Strips 
  • Nest Heads strip for July 19th, 2013. A guy gives his girlfriend flowers and a balloon with the word "Sorry" on it after having a spat with her over their relationship.

    Fan Works 
  • Referenced, and slowly deconstructed in I'll use you as a makeshift gauge, of how much to give and how much to take. Laurel recalls how Oliver slowly stopped buying her flowers as a gift, and started getting them only as an apology. To the point that the mere sight of him with flowers became an omen. Now, she can't stand to be given flowers at all.
  • Trading Secrets, a fic of Dragon Age: Inquisition, plays with the idea of Leliana being a romance option. After Evelyn Trevalyan pushes for mercy she realizes her Spymaster is rather pissed at her interference, and later seeks to apologize with...what else, shoes.
  • In The Vow, the initially hostile relationship between Lord Shen and Lady Lianne begins its improvement after she openly defends him against an official's low insults. To apologize for his earlier treatment of her, he gives her a book that tells about her mother's homelands (something she knows very little about). The gift is accepted gratefully, and they begin to be civil to each other.
  • Much Ado About Shakespeare: Love's Labours Won (Hornblower TV 'verse fic): Horatio buys a copy of Shakespeare's sonnets as an apology gift for Archie. They've had an argument because of their wager (Archie has to speak only in Shakespeare's quotes for six hours). Shakespeare is Archie's favourite, and the book is especially nice.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Emma.:
    • Emma brings a basket with food to Miss Bates after she carelessly insulted her at the Boxhill picnic. In the book, it's only mentioned that she immediately went to visit her the following day.
    • Emma goes to Mr Martin to make amends after she realizes that she was wrong to persuade his love Harriet to refuse his marriage proposal. She brings him a basket with a goose and a picture of Harriet which Emma painted. It's a hint that Harriet still loves him and it also means that Emma herself approves of their match now.

  • In Boundary Madeline gives a gift of chocolate and hand-made artificial flowers to Joe as an apology after they have an argument. She acknowledges that it's Gender Flipped from the traditional format, but she's not aware of a traditional gift for a woman to give a guy as an Apology Gift.
  • Happens in the end of the Labyrinths of Echo novella "A Talkative Dead Man": a stranger who accidentally broke Sir Max's favorite cup earlier pops up unexpectedly and presents him with a new one. It quickly turns out that nobody except Max recalls ever seeing this man and that the cup once belonged to the legendary King Mönin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Altered Carbon. After the Ghostwalker frees a prisoner, kills two cops and puts Detective Ortega in hospital, Captain Tanaka turns up to give her an expensive bouquet of flowers. However Kovacs quickly works out that this is an act of guilt, because Tanaka has been taking bribes from the same people who sent the Ghostwalker.
  • In Season One of Arrested Development, Lucille Bluth reveals that most of the items in her jewelry collection were gifts George Sr. gave her after she discovered his various affairs.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Episode "The Shiny Trinket Maneuvers"'s A-Plot revolves around Sheldon attempting to make up with his girlfriend Amy via "empty financial gesture" after he insults her work and devalues a career milestone she reached with his usual level of tact. At first Amy is entirely unimpressed with him for even attempting this, but then she opens up the bag and sees he got her a tiara. She switches gears and begins freaking out with glee.
    • In one episode, Sheldon apologizes to Howard (Sheldon's responses to an FBI agent's questions led Howard to not get security clearance to work on a big project) by giving Howard his spot on the sofa, which he demands back again before the end of the episode.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • After yet another Magic Misfire in "Something Blue", Willow bakes cookies for the Scooby Gang. And has to detail Giles' car.
    • In "The Prom", Xander ends his Snark-to-Snark Combat with Cordelia (their relationship broke up after he was caught cheating) by paying for a prom dress she can't afford.
    • In the spin-off Angel, the title character spends half a season being Darker and Edgier, driving away his friends, until he eventually comes back, tail between his legs. However, Cordelia doesn't forgive him until she discovers that Angel had bought her nice clothes to replace the ones Angel gave away to charity without asking.
  • In Degrassi, to "apologize" for his abusive actions, Rick presented Terri with roses. The first time he hurt her, he gave her a huge bouquet of them. Unfortunately, this is Truth in Television as some abusive spouses/significant others use gifts to keep the victim with them longer.
  • Dexter:
    • In season 4, when Rita is annoyed that Dexter doesn't spend time with his family, he buys them all presents. Astor gets a small laptop, Cody some video game, baby Harrison a geeky item of clothes and Rita a home oven for baking bread. Dexter says they are always out of bread, but it only makes Rita angrier — she would have to bake it. She also thinks that presents cannot fix everything that is wrong in their relationship.
    • In season 6, Dexter asks the clerk at the donut shop "What's good for an apology?" when he needs to patch things up with his sister. (FYI, the clerk recommended a cruller.)
  • In the Dénouement of the Doctor Who serial "Robot", the Doctor realises that Sarah Jane is angry with him (for being suddenly different, trying to leave in the TARDIS without her, going off to fight despite being in a manic post-regenerative state, and killing a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds that loved Sarah) and tries to talk to her. When she doesn't respond positively he takes a bag of sweets out of his pocket and rather awkwardly asks her "Would you like a jelly baby..?" Amazingly, this works, and offering jelly babies to people becomes one of his standard Obfuscating Stupidity moves ever after.
  • Firefly. The crew of Serenity are surprised when Jayne buys them an expensive bushel of apples. Only Mal is aware it's an apology gift for betraying them in the previous episode.
  • In The Good Place, Michael tries to make it up to Team Cockroach for disrupting their ethics lessons, he gets each person their own gift: a shrimp dispenser for Eleanor, the world's largest diamond for Tahani, a Pikachu balloon for Jason, and a copy of one of Immanuel Kant's never-seen-on-Earth notebooks for Chidi (the ethics professor). While most of them are happy with their gifts, Chidi doesn't even look at the notebook before throwing it in the trash. He bluntly calls it bribery and demands (and gets) an actual apology. The others love their gifts.
  • Home Improvement: This gets lampshaded in an episode where Tim buys the flowers ("Tail between legs Taylor Special" and Tim is a fairly known customer at the flower shop) before making his wife angry. Hilarity Ensues and Tim ends up trying to sell the flowers to his neighbor.
  • In an episode of I Love Lucy, Fred tries to play peacemaker between a quarreling Lucy and Ricky, by having a bouquet of roses and a box of candy delivered to Lucy on Ricky's behalf.
  • On Jane the Virgin, Rogelio likes to give personalized apology gift baskets to people he's inadvertently offended — he calls them "Ropology" baskets.
  • After driving Ed away in Las Vegas and realizing she needs him Monica gifts him a hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of super car. Being well...driven up the wall by her antics and wanting nothing to do with her Ed sends a car of his own, a little gourmet chocolate car, with a note: BITE ME.
  • Implied in a Law & Order: UK episode as Detectives Devlin and Brooks enter a flower shop and pass a man leaving with a huge bouquet.
    Brooks: Blimey. What's he done wrong?
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, after Lois and Hal miss Dewey's big performance in the school play, they try to buy his forgiveness, first by giving him a new video game, when that is not enough, Hal gives him Malcolm's birthday present, a rare, and expensive, comic book. When Dewey ponders forgiving Hal and Lois, he walks back to his room to read his new comic and play his new game, and wishes Malcolm a happy birthday as he and Reese do menial labor around the house as part of their punishment for engaging in a fight that landed them in the hospital.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In one episode, Hawkeye and Trapper try to butter Frank up with a handful of wild flowers, after they secretly drew a pint of blood from him to give to a wounded POW; Frank is touched, but then they kill the moment when Hawkeye says, "Glad there's no hard feelings Frank, because there's a new heart procedure we'd like to try, and you're just the right type."
    • During a company picnic, Margaret gives Frank the cold shoulder since he won't loan her money to buy her sister a wedding present; Frank tries to butter her back up with a balloon, only for her to pop it with a hairpin.
    • In another episode, Frank tries to make peace with Margaret (this after she had gotten engaged earlier in the season), by presenting her with an American-made Japanese umbrella; of course, Frank isn't able to curb his lust, and Margaret throws it at him as he runs out of her tent.
    • In "The Winchester Tapes", Charles apparently had upset Radar, and insincerely brings him an entire case of grape nehi to butter him up in order to contact his former commanding officer to get him transferred back to Tokyo General Hospital.
  • Perfect Strangers. The morning after a typical "wacky hijinks" episode—which for once was Balki's fault rather than Larry's—Larry calmly assures Balki that although his wife Jennifer was initially angry, that after much discussion, she has forgiven him. He then opens the door to accept a huge bouquet of flowers and before heading upstairs, asks Balki to "let me know when the guy from the jewelry store gets here."
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Neelix brings Kes flowers to apologize for his jealousy. When she starts eating them, he drags her off to Sickbay (as it turns out, she's going through her species' rather extreme fertility cycle).
  • In The West Wing, Leo tries to make up for his Forgotten Anniversary with an elaborate dinner and evening at home, including a very beautiful pearl necklace. Sadly, the problems in his marriage can't be made up for that easily, since the incident was the last straw for his wife, who couldn't endure him being Married to the Job.

  • The video for Ruben Studdard's "Sorry 2004" features the protagonist repeatedly leaving these for his ex-girlfriend to atone for whatever he did to hurt her. Unfortunately, by the time he spray paints an apology on the wall opposite her job, it's essentially crossed over into stalking.


  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Barbra's mother convinces her to apologise to Jacob for not doing much to help him after he slipped in vomit. She shows up to school the following day with a cupcake for him, which only stresses him out more because his own mother ordered him not to speak with Barbra.


    Western Animation 
  • In a flashback on Arthur, we see the evolution of Francine and Muffy's newfound friendship: Muffy copies Francine's answer, but claims innocent to protect her name and reputation, leaving Francine to take the punishment; later, Francine sees a fruit basket and a balloon Muffy left on her desk in detention, to which Francine pops the balloon, and throws the basket into the trashcan.
  • Bao: The Chinese woman's son gives her a box of buns to apologize for running away with his girlfriend.
  • The The Fairly OddParents episode "Fairy Idol" had Timmy give his fairies apology cookies because he had been overusing their magic at the beginning of the episode. Cosmo, being The Ditz, accepts the apology, but Wanda does not accept until a later scene where Timmy cries because he thinks that they are dead.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Screwed the Pooch", Peter tries to apologize to Carter after Brian impregnates his prized dog Seabreeze by making him a picture of them out of glue and macaroni. When the situation gets worse when both Brian and Seabreeze disappear, Peter imagines Carter stomping on the picture.
      Carter: Wow, Peter, that means a lot to me because you made it.
      Peter: Really?
      Carter: NO! GET OUT OF HERE!
    • In "April in Quahog", Peter tries to regain the respect of his kids after he said that he hated them, but his attempts at doing so failed. This prompts him to buy all of them an Xbox, and the kids automatically love him again.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Golf War", after Dipper, Mabel and Pacifica escape from the golf course, Mabel gives to her former rival a sticker of "A-Paw-logize" to apology her about the Lilliputians. Pacifica accepts, claiming its just because it looks good on her.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: One episode involves Po accidentally attacking the reformed criminal Hundun and his waiters when he's forced to investigate Hundun's noodle shop to satisfy his paranoid dad. When he finds himself proven wrong about Hundun trying to get after his dad, Po decides to give the rhino an apology basket full of pears(Which both Hundun and his dad agree can never have too many pears). Subverted when it's revealed that Hundun really is still evil and planned everything to get back at Po for breaking his horn.
  • The Loud House: In "Cereal Offender", after Lincoln's sisters ruin his chances at getting a cereal he wanted and get him into hot water with Mom, they all feel terribly guilty and decide to make it up to him by buying the cereal for him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In the episode "Marks for Effort," Twilight bans the Cutie Mark Crusaders from the School of Friendship after she accuses them of deliberately teaching Cozy Glow the wrong things for a test, believing that they did it to get back at Twilight for not letting them become students at the school. But then Twilight soon finds out the truth; Cozy Glow failed the test on purpose, thinking that it would show Twilight that the CMC need to learn more about friendship and let them become students. Twilight then apologizes to the CMC by making them tutors at the school.
  • The Simpsons: In "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy", Grampa tries to give Homer a bouquet of flowers as an apology for calling him an accident. Homer slams the door in his face, so he pushes the flowers through the mail slot.
  • Sofia the First: In "The Amulet and the Anthem", Sofia's amulet curses her to croak like a frog when she brags to her friends about being chosen to sing the Enchanchian anthem at a festival, leaving her unable to directly apologize to them. After Belle teaches her that actions speak louder than words, she makes it up to her friends by inviting them to sing with her, which lifts the curse.
  • South Park: In "The Death Of Eric Cartman", Cartman offers Scott Tenorman a fruit basket to make up for killing his (Scott's) parents.
  • Shows up a couple of times in Spongebob Squarepants:
    • At the end of "Jellyfishing": To make up for getting Squidward injured even further (and zapped by a gigantic queen jellyfish), SpongeBob and Patrick give him a jar with the jellyfish he captured. Squidward responds by releasing the jellyfish to let it chase after SpongeBob and Patrick, stinging them all the way. Granted, they weren't tormenting him on purpose, but he still has every right to be angry at them.
      SpongeBob: You're not still mad, are you?
      (Squidward opens jar in SpongeBob and Patrick's direction)
      Patrick: Yup, he's still mad.
      (The jellyfish chases after SpongeBob and Patrick, stinging them repeatedly as they sprint into the distance)
    • In "Squidville", SpongeBob and Patrick went to find Squidward in Tentacle Acres while bringing a cake which the word "sorry" was engraved on with frosting in compensation of destroying his house, although they never really done it since both are confused on which Squidward-like characters is the real Squidward.
    • "Good Neighbors" had SpongeBob and Patrick giving Squidward a similar "Sorry For Bugging You So Much" cake as an apology for ruining Squidward's relaxing Sunday. But Squidward refuses accept it, so the situation only got worse.

    Real Life 
  • This runs a lot in relationships when words fall short. A proverb says "An action is worth a thousand words" (still this is from the "a picture is worth a thousand words").
  • George Burns tells a story how his wife Gracie had discovered he was cheating on her. He ended up buying her a brand-new stove over it. Later, Gracie apparently told one of her girlfriends, "I hope George cheats on me again. I could use a new refrigerator."
  • This was cited on a true crime show about the Lori Hacking murder when the detectives arrived at the Hacking home after her husband Mark reported her missing. One of them notices a large bouquet of flowers and immediately deduces that he's lying about their supposedly happy marriage.
    "There's "Honey, I was just thinking of you" flowers, and there's "Honey, I'm sorry, I fucked up" flowers. These were "I fucked up" flowers." note 
  • There's an old saying that specifies what type of gift is appropriate for these circumstances: "Flowers say, 'I'm sorry' — chocolate says, 'I love you!' "
  • Following the rape allegations against Kobe Bryant, his wife was noticed to be wearing several very expensive pieces of jewelry (he vehemently denied the accusations, but admitted to infidelity), prompting some people to crudely comment that she was enjoying the unexpected benefit.


Video Example(s):


Apology Basket

Miss Woodhouse goes to Mr Martin, a young farmer, with a basket in hand to make amends. She persuaded Harriet, a girl Mr Martin loves and who actually likes him back, too, to refuse his marriage proposal.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / ApologyGift

Media sources:

Main / ApologyGift