Follow TV Tropes


Close to Home

Go To

"One of the things you learn in training is to avoid situations that cut too close. If you had a rough childhood, a situation with an abusive father and a vulnerable kid is gonna make you angry. That could be motivating. But it can also be dangerous."
Michael Westen, Burn Notice

Detective Bob is working on a murder case. He brings in one suspect for interrogation, a rather obnoxious fellow named Charlie. During the interrogation, Charlie begins making comments about beating up geeks, jamming them in lockers, and various other stereotypical bully things.

For Bob, this starts to hit home for him, because when he was in high school, he was bullied by folks like Charlie, and they always got away with it. Bob begins to let his emotions about Charlie begin to affect his judgment, and suddenly starts being much more abusive (either verbally or physically) toward ol' Charlie.

Of course, this is just one type of scenario. Basically, this trope occurs when 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 More Insulting than Intended, Berserk Button and Trauma Button.

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


    open/close all folders 

    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.
  • 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.
  • In Fate/Apocrypha, due to being abandoned as a child and making it her life mission to create a world where all children are loved, Atalanta is unprepared deal with Jack the Ripper, who in this incarnation is a child, or more specifically, a collection of spirits of deceased children. Not only does she try to stop Jeanne from exorcising them, believing it to be the same as killing them, but the encounter also causes her to develop a grudge against Jeanne that drives her insane during the final act of the story.
  • 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.
  • Maria no Danzai
  • One Piece:
    • Sanji nearly starved to death as a child, so anyone who would dare waste food in any way is going to meet the heel of his shoe very quickly.
    • Brook has died and come Back from the Dead thanks to the Revive-Revive Fruit. He knows the pain of death more than anyone in the world and takes issue with people who don't value their own lives. When Zeo orders his men to throw their lives away to become a grudge against humans, Brook singles him out for the callousness.
    Brook: Nothing but bones are left behind when you die, let alone something as a grudge.
    • Downplayed with Jimbei when someone talks down about the slavery of the Fishmen and assumes all Fishmen were slaves at one point. Jimbei himself was never made a slave but many of his old crewmates were, so he knew about the horrors they went through as slaves.

    Comic Books 
  • Due to the fact The Punisher's origin revolves around the death of his family (especially his two young children) if he sees a child being harmed or at risk he tends to flashback to the day of his family's death. Then things go horribly, horribly wrong for the abusive party.
  • Having his family gunned down in front of him was the event that gave birth to the Batman, and as such, if he sees this kind of thing happen to another kid, he is extra vicious to whichever lousy scumbags were responsible.
  • There's a story in Tangled: The Series where Rapunzel has to deal with someone using a magical being's power for their own ends, and another where someone has enslaved an entire kingdom against their will or knowledge. In neither occasion does she take it well.

    Fan Works 
  • In Holidays with Holmes, Watson comes home looking haunted one Halloween night. Ultimately, Holmes finds out that his patient, a young woman, died in childbirth, which unfortunately reminded him of his late wife.
  • In Rabbit of the Moon, Bell's parents both died before he could meet them and he lost his grandfather shortly before coming to Orario. So he's torn up inside for leaving Gascoigne's daughter an orphan like him when he's forced to kill Gascoigne and help kill Henryk.
  • In Old West, upon finding his lover Grace Glossy abused by her husband Benjamin Hares, Rattlesnake Snake has a Troubled Backstory Flashback when his mother was dying from the last beating given to her by his alcoholic father who blustered to little Jake that he'll grow to be just like him (which Jake has sworn won't happen). Thoroughly enraged, Jake brutally attacks Hares physically even though he has a gun at his disposal and kills him by injecting into him all the venom his fangs can provide, much more than would be necessary.
  • Severus Snape, in The Peace Not Promised, is very aware that due to him going back in time, he and Lily are the right mental ages for her to be one of his students (even though they're both adults, and they're married). When she tries to seduce him on Valentine's Day by play-acting a vulnerable schoolgirl, the sense of inappropriateness makes him flee the room.
  • Detective Abe Stone from Losing Him came from an abusive family, so he's particularly hostile towards the Loud parents when they admit to kicking their son out of his own home over the belief that he was bad luck. It's also mentioned he almost gave a concussion to a guy who beat up a little girl.

  • In Murder by Numbers (2002), the lead loses all objectivity dealing with one of the suspects, Richie, because his cocky, abrasive demeanor reminds her of her abusive ex.

  • 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.
  • In Firefly Carnival, Wash finds his wife's kidnapping this way not just because of the It's Personal factor but because of his and Mal' previous capture by Niska in "War Stories". He gets borderline hysterical recalling Mal's ear being cut off and fearing what could happen to Zoe.
  • Played for Laughs in A Certain Magical Index. After Touma eats a confectionery chick (which Misaka 10032 thought was real) and commented it tasted quite good for a dessert made of experimental ingredients:
    Misaka 10032: Even if they are part of an experiment, Misaka cannot let you take these chicks' lives!
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Any case in Burn Notice that involves kids with an abusive father tends to get Michael's full attention.
  • CSI:
    • Sara Sidle 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, being a mother herself.
  • Also used 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.
  • House:
    • Used twice by Kutner. 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).
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit runs on a mix of this trope and It's Personal.
  • 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).
  • 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.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Zia uses her telepathy to overload the mind of a monster that was attacking her friend, causing its brain to explode. The hole that's left in its head is what affects her the most, as it reminds her of when her father committed suicide by gun.

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, if Ban helps Akira get rid of the Screaming Author, then he reveals in the aftermath that he lost his own son to a spirit, so he always makes sure to pay respects to the dead if they were a child.

  • In Joe vs. Elan School, Joe sees a 2009 Huffington Post article about the "troubled teen" industry, along with some reader comments from a recent Elan School departee. This brings Joe's Elan PTSD back to the surface; after a brief Heroic BSoD, Joe angrily resolves to do something about Elan once and for all.