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Detective Bob encounters events similar to something he's gone through before, and his emotions about their original encounter(s) begin to cloud and/or affect his judgment.

Compare It's Personal. Some particularly devious villains may invoke this when arrested and interrogated to sow suspicion among the heroes. Also see Trauma Button.

Not the be confused with the one-panel Newspaper Comic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Battle Royale: The manga's final chapter depicts a ship captain doing his best to get Noriko and Shuya out of the country, despite this being an incredibly difficult task. When a shipmate asks him why he goes to this length, he admits that looking into those eyes and having merely an idea what they must have gone through hurts him because he knows that it could be his own daughter next time.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • In one episode, Section 9 tracks down a group of organleggers. Major Kusanagi, herself a full-body cyborg since childhood, gets much more emotionally involved than usual because one patient who was affected by the actions of the thieves was a little 6 year old girl. She even pretends to be a member of the Yakuza and threatens to kill one of the criminals in order to Scare 'em Straight.
    • A few episodes later, Batou has one when it's revealed that a murderous psychopath has shown up in the city. Marco Amoretti was skinning his victims' torsos in a t-shirt like pattern and leaving them to die- a tactic he learned from a secret military operation designed to make the enemy lose the will to fight that Batou stumbled upon in the last war. Knowing that a sick bastard like Marco was running loose in Niihama, Batou wouldn't rest until he was properly and personally dealt with, all the while having to deal with suppressed rage and emotions dragged up from memories of that operation from the war.
  • In Fate/Zero, Kirei Kotomine severely struggles with an inability to feel love and happiness and only being able to revel in pain and evil. When he realizes his Arch-Enemy Kiritsugu Emiya's situation, which he believed was the same as his, is a complete inversion of his own (Kiritsugu is loved and loves in return, yet switches off his emotions in the name of pure pragmatism when it comes to the chance to save more people) he loses it, feeling Kiritsugu's life is a mockery of his own, raging in incredulity, jealousy and disappointment.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

  • In Murder by Numbers, the lead loses all objectivity dealing with one of the suspects, Richie, because his cocky, abrasive demeanor reminds her of her abusive ex.

  • Discworld:
    • Commander Sam Vimes of the Watch often relates a crime to his past of living in the ghetto. Don't pick on the poor in Ankh-Morpork because Vimes could find out about it, and this would not healthy for you.
    • In Feet of Clay, Captain Carrot confronts one of the plotters behind the plot to poison Lord Vetinari, which has resulted in the accidental murder of two people who lived in Sam Vimes's old neighborhood. When the plotter in question asks if the people killed were "anyone important", Carrot informs him that he should be lucky Commander Vimes wasn't around to hear him say that.
  • In Animorphs, Tobias has one of these when he spots a couple of kids bullying another boy. He unleashes what he calls a "talon haircut" on them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Lois is on jury duty. After viciously calling for the conviction of a teenage thief, she realizes that she's projecting her feelings about Francis on the defendant and resigns, but not until she's convinced everyone else and wasted an insane amount of time.
  • Monk:
    • Subverted in the episode "Mr. Monk and the TV Star"; when the evidence seems to say Brad Terry is innocent, Monk thinks that he was projecting his own resentment over a popular classmate who snubbed him onto the guy. It turns out Monk was right.
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk and the Foreign Man", Monk takes the case of an African man whose wife was killed in a hit-and-run incident because, as a grieving widower himself, he understands the man's pain. As the episode progresses, it becomes clear that he's letting his emotions about Trudy's death get too close to the case (Stottlemeyer even warns him about this).
  • Used twice by Kutner in House. One episode has him act very sympathetically toward a girl who claims to be orphaned (like him), but when he discovers she lied, the niceness stops. Averted in a later episode, in which Kutner is mean to a teenage Jerk Jock. Taub assumes that this trope is in effect, but it later turns out that Kutner was acting on guilt caused by his own high school jerkocity.
    • Used by Thirteen as she forces parents to tell a young child that he isn't biologically male but could be either sex. Related because of her own unusual sexuality (she's bisexual).
  • Sara Sidle in CSI tended to lose her objectivity if there was any indication at all in a case that a girl was being sexually abused or exploited. While it's never made explicit, it's strongly implied that she was abused herself.
    • Sara also gets a bit more assertive when there's evidence of domestic abuse. Her mother got beaten by her father, who eventually retorted by killing him.
    • Catherine Willows has a similar reaction in any case involving children.
  • Also played on CSI NY with Lindsay. She had a meltdown when dealing with a case that reminded her of the attack that killed her friends, though she didn't blow up, just ran off and refused to deal until Stella caught up with her.
  • Any case in Burn Notice that involves kids with an abusive father tends to get Michael's full attention.
  • In NCIS Agent McGee is interrogating a suspect who brags about beating up nerds, he plays along for a minute or two before revealing he used to be bullied and as a Federal Agent he was now the one in power and could make the bully's life a living hell.
  • Sam Hanna of NCIS: Los Angeles gets this way on a case where a girl has been kidnapped and Buried Alive, as he went through a similar hell when he was a SEAL.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit runs on a mix of this trope and It's Personal.

  • Played for Laughs in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance: After the pirates let it become known that they have a soft spot for orphans everyone they capture claims to be one, leading one character to observe "You'd think her majesty's entire merchant navy was crewed entirely by orphans!" Naturally, when the pirates find out that "General Stanley is no orphan... and what's worse, he never was!" their wrath is terrible. note 

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden's fight against Desperado/World Marshal takes a turn for the personal when he finds out that they've been kidnapping children to convert into cyborg soldiers. Raiden was a child soldier himself, and doesn't hesitate to cut down anyone who would inflict that same fate on others.
  • In Devil Survivor, this is the main issue with Keisuke. After seeing Midori being threatened by the very people she was trying to save moments before, Keisuke is reminded about his own experience when he was younger. He tried to stand up for a smaller boy who was getting bullied at school, but it backfired when everyone started picking on Keisuke instead... including the smaller boy he was just defending. Seeing Midori in a similar position is what drives him to go Knight Templar on everyone and could cause his death if you don't stop him.


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