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Cycle of Revenge

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"An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."
— Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

This trope, which happens a lot in the less idealistic revenge stories (insofar as revenge stories can get idealistic), demonstrates the fundamental flaw in the common warping of the moral maxim "do unto others as you want others to do unto you" into "Do unto others what they did unto you".

The actual Golden Rule is about always attempting to look at things from the perspective of others, freely forgiving wrongs, and believing that no one should have to suffer at all, even if they deserve to. This warped form, however, takes this literally as Newtonian Equivalent Exchange "justice" or Call It Karma, not taking into account that acts of revenge/justice are not quantifiable laws of physics but social phenomena. Because of the complex web of genetic and social bonds that one forms over a lifetime, as well as the interactions between everyone entangled in that web, revenge might well begin with you but it most likely will not end with you. If he deserved to be treated how he treated you, his loved ones may also believe that you deserve to be treated like you treated him too. And yours may believe the same. And so on and so forth. It gets worse if it involves racism, fantastic or otherwise. The result of this is frequently what is called a Blood Feud or Vendetta.


Frequently in these stories, no side is completely wrong, no one is really right, both are very understandable, and such stories are usually painful to watch. Moral Myopia often deepens it, when both sides think that treating one of theirs is worth treating a dozen of the others, and so attempt to inflict that many torments and deaths in retribution. The escalating body count creates a vicious circle that spreads out like a virus, causing more and more casualties as it goes on, until it ends with one party (if not both of them) getting wiped out entirely or being stopped.

The Cycle of Revenge is one way to show that "two wrongs make a right" is a logically fallacious claim by deconstructing its use as justification for vengeance. It, more often than not, results in A Tragedy of Impulsiveness. Revenge Is Not Justice is often invoked to deter people from revenge or to call them out for following through with their revenge.


It's also very common in gangster stories, with the average gangster character avenging the death of a friend upon a rival gangster who may very well have had a similar motivation for his killing, as well as Romeo and Juliet-style Feuding Families stories. A lesser form of this tends to occur when two characters have a prank competition.

Very unfortunate Truth in Television, and Older Than Feudalism; the Lensman Arms Race and Serial Escalation of vengeance upon vengeance makes up much of the history of the human race, with examples like the infamous assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which triggered World War I which then fueled Germany's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in World War II, and blood feuds elsewhere that are still going on to this very day, with no one remembering just what started it, but motivated by all the violence that followed, with each successive revenge motivating the victims or others connected to them to strike back at the one who took the initial revenge.

A note on the "eye for an eye" maxim: many ethnologists believe that this wasn't a demand to go out and seek revenge, but rather a ban on inflicting Disproportionate Retribution (so if someone blinds you in one eye, you can only half-blind them back, and cannot justify torture or murder). According to this theory, those who laid down this rule believed that this limitation would ensure satisfaction of the Golden Rule for everyone and put a brake on the entropy of such vicious cycles.

According to another theory, espoused by Jewish rabbis, the Hebrew actually implies that monetary compensation can be given in place of the eye, with the amount of the compensation to be the same regardless of whose eye was harmed (hence, "eye for an eye"). Unfortunately, given human nature in general, people didn't much listen (especially when "monetary compensation" simply led to unjust instances of Screw the Rules, I Have Money!), and as a result — as Mahatma Gandhi, a well-known nonviolence activist, is supposed to have put it — "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

Kind of makes you wish someone, in an attempt to counter this cancerous mutation of the Golden Rule, learned to Turn the Other Cheek or ask for (and give) Forgiveness, or at least just deliver a Restrained Revenge. But it rarely works, as chances are you'll be punished anyway (for extra salt in the wounds, the enemy in question, especially if a Jerkass who deserved it, will continue their misdeeds unhampered, continuing to ruin the lives of people, you still being one of them). Or you could just exterminate the opposing party until there's no one left to want revenge on you. But it rarely works, because there's always a survivor. Or everyone can agree to only take revenge against the wrongdoing individual and to not avenge those who deserved what they got, but Moral Myopia and Poor Communication Kills tend to get in the way. Or as Romeo and Juliet proposed, we can try The Power of Love. But this rarely works either, so...

Used poorly, this trope can come off as a False Dichotomy, suggesting that if someone kills your loved one then your options are to either kill their loved one or let the person who killed your loved one get away with it. In reality you can narrow your revenge only to the guilty party (i.e. if you kill my loved one then I'll kill you but spare your loved one). Of course then your enemy's loved ones might try Avenging the Villain. After all, if he was evil to you, it doesn't mean he may not have been loving to them.

See Best Served Cold, Feuding Families, He Who Fights Monsters, Remember the Alamo, Revenge Myopia, Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Then Let Me Be Evil, and You Killed My Father. Reciprocal altruism (and, indeed, friendship in general) is quite possibly the flip side of this coin. Sometimes overlaps with Chicken-and-Egg Paradox if there's no obvious reason for the cycle to have started in the first place.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Afro Samurai has this as the main theme of the series. Sure, you can get the title of being the number one fighter, but you have to take lives to do so. Which won't sit well with the surviving kin/friends of the deceased, as Afro roughly finds out.
    • At the end of Resurrection, Afro has come to accept this. On reclaiming the Number One headband, he goes to a child whose adoptive father Afro killed in front of him — the same way Afro's father was killed in front of him — and hands him the Number Two headband, with a quiet, "Any time you're ready".
  • Akame ga Kill! has this in spades. One example from volume 2: Seryu's father was killed on duty as an Imperial Guard, so she vowed to be strong enough to avenge his death, and then the Night Guard kills Ogre, who not only was a Guard Captain, but also her master. So she swears revenge on the Night Guard. When she runs into Mine and Sheele, it becomes clear that Seryu's a bit too far off the deep end as she bisects Sheele, leaving Mine, in turn, with the desire to avenge her. Tatsumi swears revenge, too, but is quickly snapped out of it. And it doesn't stop there. Oh, no.
  • Brought up in Attack on Titan, in regards to the Marley vs. Eldia conflict. In a flashback, Eren Kruger tells Grisha, Eren's father that without love they're "doomed to repeat it all again. The same history. The same mistakes. Again and again." While it hasn't yet been made clear exactly what he's referring to, the context implies he's talking about this trope.
    • It's also mentioned in one of the chapter cliffhanger lines, "Will the tragic cycle ever stop?!", during the Liberio battle, when a lot of killing is going on.
    • Deliberately averted by Sasha's father when he's confronted with Sasha's murderer, Gabi. While he certainly mourns his daughter, he recognizes that she was a soldier who knew what she was getting into, and refuses to take vengeance on Gabi when she's entirely at his mercy. His refusal to stoop to Gabi's level shakes her to her core, and makes her realize that Eldians aren't devils, they're normal people with the same capacity for kindness as everyone else.
    • Turns out to be the whole reason the Attack on Titan world is as crapsack as it is now. The Eldian Empire subjugated its people to all sorts of atrocities during its reign, due to the actions of the despotic King Fritz and his abusive control over the powers of his slave Ymir. When the empire dissolved, descendants of those Eldians were subjected to xenophobic laws in response, with the worst treatment saved for the descendants of the Children of Ymir. And the people of Paradis, once they find out, want to take back their former "glory" as revenge for what the rest of the world subjected them to. Eren's plan to break the cycle once and for all? Commit genocide on the entire world outside Paradis, so there can be nobody left to remember the atrocities in any capacity and start the cycle anew. It doesn't work.
  • Averted in Code:Breaker: Kouji allowed Toki to believe he was the one who killed Nenene so that Toki wouldn't kill the real murderer, Saechika, causing the Prince to kill Toki to avenge her long-lost brother. "I killed your sister and your brother is dead. Things are neater that way."
  • This is the purpose of Zero Requiem in Code Geass. Unlike many of the examples in this list, the idea is that if Lelouch is hated by everyone, then dies with no one to avenge him, then the cycle will end. This has not really gone well with a large portion of the fanbase, as there are far too many things that Lelouch was never responsible for, and fails to exonerate Britannia in the eyes of its many victims, nor does it really provide a solution to Britannia's massive racism problems.
  • Durarara!!: Shizuo and Izaya hate each other. They don't even have a logical reason; they just don't like one another. The first thing they tried to do when they met was kill each other. The cycle goes: Izaya antagonizes Shizuo, either by setting him up or just existing in general, and Shizuo will chase after him causing massive property damage. Afterwards, Izaya will then once again antagonize him out of spite. They've known each other for around a decade and their relationship only gets worse, as Shizuo cannot be in the same room with Izaya without some kind of catastrophe and Izaya will simply refuse to even speak about Shizuo, unless he's talking about how much he hates him. In the Final Curtain Arc, Izaya finally decides to break the cycle and goes all out to kill Shizuo. When his plan falls through, he engages Shizuo in a fight. His logic is if he kills Shizuo, he wins, but if Shizuo kills him, then Shizuo is a murderer and society will reject him as a monster. However, thanks to Simon and Vorona, neither outcome happens and everybody lives.
  • In Elfen Lied, you can understand both sides. But they are also both wrong. At the point of the manga, it has become "kill or be killed" for both sides. For instance, Lucy is driven to her acts through cruel and depraved treatment, but after killing the horrible people, she kills innocents as well, and infects others who survive their encounters with her. Infectees ended up with their children being born silpelits, and in turn, the silpelits kill their families as well, so they sign up to suppress the diclonius virus, causing many inhuman experiments. The experiments break out and kill the scientists and several innocents, so the military puts them down. Kurama was infected by a silpelit, and loses his wife in child-birth, he seemingly kills Lucy's only friend, and captures her, so she maims his adopted daughter and kills his biological one. He accidentally shoots Kouta, and she rips his arm off.
  • EX-ARM: Al Jarde wants to kill the head of Jinkoku-Sha yakuza Hayama Gaho and his family, after losing his family in a military bombing Gaho allegedly was invovled with, eventually making the cast deal with even more people who got dragging into it. Akira points this out and explains that the entire thing was orchestrated, but it falls on deaf ears.
  • Used in the otherwise nonsensical filler-filled third season of The Familiar of Zero. The audience expected that The Atoner Colbert had died due to injuries in season two, but some Ass Pull revived him. This gives Agnes a good reason to kill him. But then she gave a reason not to: if she killed him in revenge and cold blood, his students would avenge him, perpetuating the cycle of hatred and revenge. It is hinted that she will still kill him, but presumably in a fair, no-hard-feelings kind of duel to the death.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Lust sums up the trope rather poetically:
    Bloodshed begets bloodshed. Hatred begets hatred. The rage and emotion sinks into the land and stains it with the crest of blood. No matter how many times they repeat themselves, they never learn. These sad fools...
    • It is also averted with Winry deciding to spare Scar, who killed her parents. Since Scar is all about the vengeance — and expanding, not shrinking, its scope — he is mystified and possibly mellowed by Winry's kindness in the face of the wrongs he did to her.
  • Part of the conflict between the Praying Races and the goblins in Goblin Slayer is this — the title character is one of only two survivors of a goblin raid, and devoted his life to exterminating them in vengeance. He then goes on to describe how any survivors of his raids would escape, grow up, amass its own horde, then start raiding the settlements of the Praying Races. This is not portrayed as something that needs to be broken by diplomacy though. Why? The other major reason that goblins come into conflict with the Praying Races is that they are an Always Chaotic Evil race that commits Rape, Pillage, and Burn against literally everyone else and the only way for them to reproduce is by raping females of other races. The only way this can end is when one side is totally wiped out.
  • Revenge is often used in the Gundam franchise. Especially various Char Clones (tm) are often motivated by it. Char himself and Zechs Merquise try to avenge the murder of their families, therefore infiltrating the responsible military organization. Lockon Stratos goes to all possible extremes to avenge the murder of his family. Flit Asuno even goes to the point of becoming a Dark Messiah because of his desire to avenge his parents as well as Yurin L'Ciel.
    • This is given the most emphasis in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, after the Atlantic Federation (secretly ruled by Blue Cosmos) destroyed a colony of PLANT, ZAFT quickly invaded, wanting revenge, with the brunt of this by Patrick Zala, whose wife was killed during the attack. After Blue Cosmos gains control of the entire Earth Federation, and Patrick Zala gains control of PLANT, the war becomes one of genocide, as both forces seek to completely annihilate the other. Patrick Zala, having been driven insane by the death of his wife, is finally killed before he can kill the Naturals.
      • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny continues the Blood Feuds, with Radical Coordinators who were followers of Patrick Zala dropping the remnants of the colony on the Earth, as they believed that the Earth people (naturals) haven't suffered enough in the war, believing that they deserve to die for Junius Seven. The people who dropped that colony seem to have lost family and friends in that attack. The violence feeds into each other, and the Earth peoples reignite their hatred at the Coordinators and declare a second war against ZAFT.
    • Cagalli sums it up quite nicely.
      Cagalli Yula Athha: "One guy's killed for killing another and then he's killed for killing him. How is that kind of twisted thinking ever gonna bring us peace? Well?"
    • In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, this trope is manifested in Kamille and Jerid's series-long rivalry. Throughout the series, there's a back and forth of Kamille and Jerid killing the people that the other cares about, deepening their rivalry to pure hatred. It gets to the point where it seems like the only thing Jerid cares about is killing Kamille, who actually loses interest in him when it's clear that he's already outclassed him. Interestingly, the rivalry only started on the second killing — when Jerid killed Kamille's mother, Kamille conceded that he was Just Following Orders and that he honestly didn't know that the orders were to commit murder (he had been instructed to destroy an object rather than allow the enemy to claim it, not knowing that there was a person inside) until after the fact. The feud started a few episodes later when Kamille killed Jerid's former instructor in a fairly fought duel.
    • This trope dominates the latter half of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans' first season. Galieo Baudin fought the Tekkadan kids throughout the series, but when they mangle his subordinate Ein and kill his childhood friend Carta, It's Personal. Carta herself was a target of this, since she killed Biscuit, causing Mikazuki to lay down some Extreme Mêlée Revenge. Biscuit's death caused the members of Tekkadan to fight for revenge, much to the dismay of their level-headed supervisor Merribell.
      • Ein himself is the most extreme example: Mikazuki kills his commanding officer Lt. Crank in Episode 3, and he spends the rest of the season hunting Tekkadan for payback; he even gets pissed off when he realizes they've salvaged Crank's mecha for their own use, and resolves to take it back in his honor. After getting mangled while protecting Galieo, Ein gladly becomes the "core" of a Super Prototype (which involves amputating his limbs and hooking its computers directly into his nervous system) so he can keep chasing them. At that point he's clearly gone off the deep end, since he rants about how "sinful" Tekkadan and its allies are, and says the only way to "absolve" them is by killing them.
  • A continuing theme in Gunslinger Girl. Both Agency handlers and terrorists are obsessed with avenging family members killed by the other side. Those who aren't are invariably either corrupt leaders or disillusioned veterans.
  • Averted in HeartCatch Pretty Cure!. After Dune kills Yuri's father, Yuri's on the verge of tearing him apart. However, Tsubomi, who witnessed the action as well, stops her and begs her not to go through with it. It works, and the later-united team is able to put Dune down properly.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Jean-Pierre Polnareff joins the team in search of J. Geil, the Stand User who killed his sister. Not too long into the arc, he finds him and defeats him with help from Kakyoin. Later, the group stays at an inn being run by J. Geil's mother, Enya, who plays the elderly innkeeper while plotting to kill Polnareff and everyone else involved in her son's death. Even after all this, when a now-captive Enya is murdered, Jotaro gives a brief And This Is for... in her name among her killer Steely Dan's other offenses before laying down a solid 20-second beatdown.
  • A horribly convoluted one in Master of Martial Hearts. A generation ago, Aya's father organized a Street Fighter expy brawl for plucky Action Girls. Aya's mother won; the other contestants were mindraped to the breaking point, conditioned into sexual slavery, and sold. Two sisters in particular took the short stick: the younger got raped and killed by Aya's father, in front of her young daughter. Miko, the eldest, got her voice box removed and was sold overseas. She managed to escape, rebuilt her life as a somewhat functional Stepford Smiler Cute Mute, and had a daughter, Natsume. When the two cousins managed to know all the story, they decided to exact revenge. By masterminding and creating a new Platonic Hearts Tournament. And enrolling Aya. And making her fight, and defeat, countless otherwise innocent Action Girls. Who are then promptly mindraped and maimed as their mothers were. And trying, and failing, to get Aya to suffer the same fate. Casting aside the sheer idiocy of the whole plan, there's no warranty whatsoever that the cycle can't be restarted at any time, now, something Aya is willing to change at the end of the series even if it means having to murder Natsume and Miko's families so they don't start any more trouble.
    • The kicker is explained by Aya's mother at the end. Aya's mother was compelled to fight in her tournament the same way Miko and Natsume compelled Aya, and Aya's father was compelled to acquire and beat Miko's mother under orders from Miko's own grandfather, who was the true head of the company running the tournament at the time. Aya's mother regrets not telling Aya any of this, hoping her daughter could live a normal life, as it made her easy prey for Natsume and Miko's manipulations. Also, Natsume's mother is seen at the end stabbing a picture of Aya. She's blaming an innocent teenage girl instead of her own Abusive Dad who mind raped her and her sister and sold each of them into her own custom Sex Slave Hellhole Prison.
  • In Naruto, revenge is one of the main themes.
    • The one who is biggest on revenge is Uchiha Sasuke, who is trying to avenge his family, who were killed by his brother Itachi, going to all possible extents to reach this goal. Until he discovers that Itachi was forced to do this to save Konoha, because his family tried to get revenge on the others in the village for being treated as outsiders and for them casting out their leader. Who, by the way, also wants revenge for his clan not supporting him and assists in their murder. And then Sasuke wants to get revenge on Konoha... Just as Kakashi told him once: revenge just leads to new revenge.
    • The entire Uchiha versus Senju issue actually appears to have a consistent pattern to it with the big names. It began when the eldest son of the Sage refused to accept his younger brother being heir, splintering their family permanently. It repeated again when Madara refused to accept Hashirama as the First Hokage, cementing the rift between the Uchiha and Konoha, as a Senju was its first leader. And now it is repeating with Sasuke refusing to accept Naruto could grow so much stronger than him, driving him to Orochimaru and Madara. One of the reasons the conflict keeps reappearing is because the Sage's sons are being reincarnated, continuing their sibling rivalry right where they left it.
    • This is Pain's entire theme — trying to create a weapon so strong it'll stagnate the cycle due to fear. He uses it for many a "Not So Different" Remark speech as well. Naruto ultimately decides to break the cycle of revenge between Pain and Konoha by sparing him. This pays off tremendously.
    • Sasuke himself came close to potentially starting one between his team and some members of the Cloud village by apparently killing Killer Bee, with the fact that he actually failed to capture him making revenge extra-pointless. Naruto, seeing where this would end up, decides he needs to do whatever he can to stop this.
    • In an interesting twist, Shikamaru cites this as his reason for wanting Konoha to kill Sasuke. So that Sakura and Ino won't go out to avenge him if the Cloud ninja kill him, which would result in them being killed and avenged by their loved ones, creating a vicious cycle that would lead to war.
  • One of the assassination jobs in Noir was because of reasons like this. The girls were hired to kill a man who had run a concentration camp responsible for the slaughter of an ethnic group in Eastern Europe. The survivors and their descendants hired Noir to kill him in revenge. As the episode unfolded, they find out that the man had not only become the kind and benevolent benefactor of a poor community, his own people had been slaughtered by the aforementioned ethnic group as part of an ongoing blood feud when he was a child.
  • Averted in One Piece.
    • It began when Usopp was beaten up by the Franky Family as they stole the crew's money. Cue the Straw Hats retaliating by destroying the Franky Family's home with everyone in it. When Franky finds out his nakama were beaten up and their home in pieces, he says This Is Unforgivable! and hunts Luffy down to get even. However, a series of circumstances would have the Straw Hats and the Franky Family work together, and in the end, Franky pulled a Heel–Face Turn and ended up joining the Straw Hats.
    • The Fish-Man Island arc is all about this, bringing together several subplots that have been running since the beginning of the series. Queen Otohime is the most open-minded of the Fish-men/mermaids and advocating for peaceful reconciliation rather than continued retaliation against humans, which she would hold even to her death and pass on to her children.
    • Arlong, while initially not as willing to kill and subjugate humans as seen in his flashbacks, let his continued hatred and prejudice (as well as his captain Fisher Tiger's death by humans) convince him that all humans are nothing but trash. His actions encouraged Hody Jones, who had grown up in a culture dominated by hate and racism towards humans and sees anyone associating with humans as his enemy, attacking and killing Fish-men/mermaids. Hody Jones was the one who killed Queen Otohime and has even stated that humans have done nothing to him personally.
    • Fisher Tiger, on the other hand, strove to defy this. Despite being a Tragic Bigot because of his time as a slave, he understood the 'irrational' part of Irrational Hatred and forbade his crew from killing humans because he knew that it would just lead to more Fantastic Racism which would reinforce the previous racism and nothing would ever get done. Sadly, despite his best efforts to let it go, he was unable to forgive humans and died because of it (much to his shame). Too bad Arlong didn't get that particular message and lost himself in the hatred that his captain was trying to stop.
    • Hody Jones, on the other hand, takes this to extreme. He wants to destroy the world government and kills humans whenever he can, even going so far as to kill Fish-men who sympathize with them, in response to wrongs he never personally suffered or even witnessed. The culture of hatred he grew up in conditioned him to just hate humans.
  • A central premise in Studio Gonzo's Romeo X Juliet, where it's strongly implied that the love between the eponymous protagonists is the only thing that can prevent the cycle of violence from continuing (and that the fact that one started in the first place may very well cause The End of the World as We Know It).
  • This happens with Yoh and Ludsev in Shaman King. Yoh decides to spare Ludsev, who has just killed Joco, so that he can finally get over his hate. Also, Yoh knows his friend will be revived soon anyway.
    • As well as Ren, Iron Maiden Jeanne, Lyserg and the rest of the X-Laws, and a number of others. The Arc Words in the Tokyo Island arc are "When you hurt people, they hurt you back."
  • Sheila of Superior explains this trope to Exa while standing in the ruins of his hometown. So long as humans kill demons, demons will kill humans, so she wants to kill every human to end the fighting forever. (Exa, for his part, has vowed to never kill anyone other than Sheila so as to prevent further retaliation.)
  • Tokyo Ghoul explores this as one of its major themes, with the conflict between Ghouls and CCG ultimately fueled by both sides striking out in revenge. The story arc that introduces CCG and Hero Antagonist Amon focuses on this theme, with Amon and his veteran partner, Kureo Mado, killing a pacifist Ghoul in front of her young daughter, Hinami. Though advised against striking back, Touka decides to get revenge for Hinami and attacks Amon, killing one of his coworkers in the process. This chain of events leads both sides to a battle in an underground waterway, with Mado luring Hinami into a trap and seriously wounding Touka when she comes to rescue the girl. Hinami is able to turn the tables, but refuses to take revenge against the man that killed her parents because it won't accomplish anything. Mado, obsessed with revenge against all Ghouls, uses this opportunity to attack Hinami, forcing Touka to finish him off. Afterwards, she is horrified to realize the man she'd just killed had a family. In the end, losing his mentor to the mysterious "Rabbit" leads Amon to swear revenge, while Touka's reckless actions have caused CCG to focus more attention on hunting Ghouls in the 20th Ward.
  • Vampire Knight: Zero hates vampires because Hiou Shizuka, a pureblood, killed his vampire hunter parents AND turned him into a vampire. He hates them so much that he vows to kill her and every other pureblood vampire, even Yuuki once it's revealed that she herself is one. He also has no issue offing himself once the deed gets done. Later we find out Hiou Shizuka killed his parents because they killed someone very precious to her — only because this person's name was put on the "assassination list" for some malevolent reason, despite the fact he wasn't a Level E. It could have gotten worse had everyone continued to believe he killed Shizuka which, if not for Kaname, would have brought down the vengeance of the vampire senate on Zero.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • Nikolai Dante has to periodically deal with the Arbatov clan, who are constantly seeking vengeance for the deflowering, maiming, death, castration, and humiliation of their relatives who had previously tried to avenge their family's honour, all the way back to the first issue, which has Dante discovered in the bed of Captain Arbatov's mistress. Unfortunately for Arbatov, he was courting the Emperor's daughter at the time, and was flayed alive when he brought a complaint against Dante.
    • Judge Dredd: The conflict between Mega City One and their 'Sov Block' counterpart East Meg One resulted in a continuous cycle of revenge. The United States and the Soviet Union were old enemies until the dissolution of the countries into their respective Mega-Cities after the Atomic War of 2070. East Meg One then attempted an invasion of Mega City One during the Apocalyse War of 2104 after nuking half of their enemy's city. Judge Dredd retaliated by leading a strike team to turn the tide by nuking all of East Meg One. The remnants of their military swore revenge, the Fourth Faction of which engineered a synthetic plague to release inside Mega City One in the Day of Chaos 30 years later. The Judges eventually eliminated every key member of the Fourth Faction but were unable to stop the disease's spread, ending in 350 million deaths and the city reduced to a shadow of its former self.
  • Age of Reptiles: The feud between the group of Raptors and Tyrannosaurids in Tribal Warfare starts with a Kill Steal by a Tyrannosaurus, then the Raptors steal their eggs in revenge, then the Tyrannosauruses kill a bunch of raptors in revenge, rinse and repeat. It ends with all but one Tyrannosaurus dying, who is then confronted by a Chekhov's Gunman.
  • Aquaman: New 52/Rebirth added this dynamic to Aquaman and his Arch-Enemy Black Manta. Where as Pre-Flashpoint Manta had no reason to hate Aquaman other than just because, this Manta hates Aquaman for killing his father. Aquaman himself was aiming to kill Manta at the time to avenge his father, and accidentally killed Manta's instead. Ever since then, the two having been stuck in a perpetual cycle of hate, seeing the deaths of several of Aquaman's loved ones and repeated hits to his dreams of peace with the surface world, while Manta is constantly imprisoned because actually killing him will compromise Aquaman's morality. While initially a willing participant, Aquaman eventually came to tire of it due to having a life outside of their vicious enmity. Manta, meanwhile, has devoted so much of his life to ruining Aquaman's that without Aquaman he virtually has no purpose, and had a crisis of identity when he realized it.
  • In the The Authority: Kev miniseries, it's a Running Gag that Kev Hawkins keeps having to kill hit squads from either the Provisional Irish Republican Army or the Ulster Volunteer Force, who come after him because he killed a bunch of their mates in a previous miniseries... and of course, those guys were avenging another squad he killed in a previous miniseries... In the third miniseries, it's revealed that this all stems from a mission during his SAS days where he ended up killing folks from both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
  • This was Bruce Wayne's reasoning as to why he forbade Dick Grayson to take up the Mantle of the Bat and chose Jean-Paul Valley instead in Knightfall. However, this turned out to be an even worse decision thanks to Scarecrow's infamous fear gas triggering Jean-Paul's brainwashing by the Order of St. Dumas, causing an ever-increasing level of brutality that ultimately forces Bruce to take back the Mantle of the Bat.
  • Blue Monday: Never, EVER tape a girl bathing and show people. You'll lose your Porn Stash in a ball of fire. Of course, if you made copies, don't let the girl know or she and her friends will beat the shit out of you in front of the whole school during a rigged soccer match. Of course, by that point, you're justified in sending a copy to air on local cable access. And this isn't even taking into account the mass TP-ing of a house or the pube-burgers!
  • This was the case with Namor and Black Panther (T'Challa) for a long while. It started in Avengers vs. X-Men, when Namor, under the influence of the Phoenix Force, flooded the country T'Challa rules, Wakanda, in retaliation for something the Avengers did. When the story concludes, Atlantis, which Namor rules, and Wakanda are at war. In The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman), the two are forced to work together in the Illuminati to combat a multiverse-shattering crisis, but T'Challa makes it clear that when the crisis is over, he will kill Namor. Eventually, some of T'Challa's soldiers are wounded when one of his advisers intentionally gives bad intel on Atlantis. Namor tries to talk to T'Challa about a treaty, and T'Challa says he'll talk to his sister (Shuri, the actual ruler of Wakanda) about it if Namor makes an official request. Namor does so and Shuri officially claims to be considering it, but in actuality launches an attack that kills many Atlantean warriors and civilians. Thus, when Thanos' army invades Earth, Atlantis is unable to repel it while Wakanda can. Namor bows to Thanos, who is looking for an Infinity Gem, and tells him it's in Wakanda, which he knows it's not. Wakanda is nearly destroyed when Thanos focuses almost all of his resources on it. Afterwards, Namor claims responsibility for the attack, and tells Panther his only regret is that so many Wakandans lived. The two get into a brawl, and Namor is expelled from the Illuminati. Namor starts his own secret organisation, the Cabal, to combat the multiverse crisis, and they are given Wakanda as their home base by the world's various governments. The Cabal kill Shuri. Eventually, Namor admits that his Cabal is out of control, and T'Challa and Black Bolt (another Illuminati member and monarch) say they'll help Namor defeat them. Instead, Panther and Black Bolt attempt to murder Namor. Namor survives (unbeknownst to them), and ends up back with the Cabal. He and T'Challa eventually work together in Secret Wars (2015) to thwart Doctor Doom, and finally reconcile.
  • Scion was built on this trope. The Heron and Raven kingdoms fought each other for centuries without even remembering why before settling their differences by Combat by Champion. Ethan accidentally cutting Bron's face in a combat tournament leads to Bron taking Ethan under custody, which leads to Ethan escaping, which leads to the Ravens declaring war on the Herons, which leads to Bron murdering Ethan's brother Artor in battle, which leads to Ethan going after Bron, and so on and so on until the Ravens and Herons unite against the invading Tigris kingdom.
  • In a sort of one-sided variation, old DC Comics villain/antihero The Shade keeps being pursued by the descendants of the Ludlows a family of murderers who attempted to rob and kill him in the Victorian era. Unfortunately for the family, Shade had just experienced the event that would grant him his unexplained powers, and slayed the entire family with his shadow demons... except for the pair of twins living upstairs.
  • This is the concept of Jango Fett's backstory comic series. It progresses thusly: Vizsla murders 10-year-old Jango's family. Jango helps the Mandalorians kill all of Vizsla's men and horribly scars his face. Vizsla leads the Mandalorians into a death trap and personally kills Fett's Mandalorian mentor. Vizsla frames the Mandalorians for mass murder and the Jedi kill all of them. Fett destroys Vizsla's ship, killing most of his men and savagely beats him down (though he gets a nasty beating in return). The cycle is ended when Fett slashes open Vizsla's belly, causing him to be set upon by a pack of predatory cats while Fett plays dead.
  • In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic books, the turtles kill Oroku Saki/The Shredder on Splinter's behalf, as revenge for the death of Splinter's former owner, Hamato Yoshi, who had died at Saki's hand. Yoshi, for his part, had been killed (along with his lover Tang Shen because Saki was a dick) as revenge for slaying Oroku Nagi, Saki's older brother. Why was Nagi killed? Because when Tang Shen, the object of both Yoshi and Nagi's affections, chose Yoshi over Nagi, Nagi flew into a rage and savagely beat her; one berserker rage later, Yoshi had killed Nagi. Saki's death wasn't the end of things, however; after he was slain, the Foot Clan that he led became honor-bound to kill the turtles in order to avenge him, and the cycle continues until Karai, who had been sent from Japan in order to unify the then-warring Foot Clan, offers to end the vendetta if the turtles help her eliminate one of the rogue factions, a deal which they take.

    Fan Works 
  • The Game of Thrones fanfic A Push. Sansa goes through with shoving Joffrey off the ledge following her father's execution, killing him. In response, Cersei has Sansa executed by beheading. Then Robb Stark returns the favor by beheading Jamie Lannister.
  • In Friendship Is Magical Girls, one of these exists between the Soaring Lion Eagle and Emerald Flame Dragon clans. They were rivals for years, ultimately leading to a member of one killing the fiance of a member of the latter in a jealous rage. This caused the latter to fly into an Unstoppable Rage, wiping out most of the Soaring Lion Eagles and scattering the others around the world. Now, in the present day, Gilda — the last Soaring Lion Eagle — wants to wipe out the Emerald Flame Dragons in revenge.
  • Flaihhsam s'Spahkh's Opening Narration discussed this. Romulans, particularly Romulan nobles, are prone to this due to the societal code of mnhei’sahe: a loss of face has to be rectified by word, deed, or blood, and can lead to cycles of revenge lasting for centuries. On the flip side, they also remember past favors and help with equal clarity, and so Romulan survivors revere Spock for stopping the Hobus event before it got any worse.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The Metarex War is basically a hugely-escalated version of this trope between Tsali and the Metarex. Also deconstructed as both sides are getting increasingly exhausted of the endless fighting. They finally break the cycle at the end thanks to Cosmo's intervention.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Trixie and Galeb the zebrony's beef in "Title Match". She used to be friends with him, until she got his brother arrested for breaking the law. The rest of Galeb's family admitted his brother had it coming, but Galeb swore vengeance. He spends most of the story trying to get back at Trixie until she beats him, and tells him they could engage in one of these, but sooner or later someone will get seriously hurt. He agrees, and comes to a relative truce.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters:
    • Caleb wants revenge on Raythor for his father's death. Later, after Raythor has been framed and thrown into the Abyss of Shadows, Lothar seeks to avenge him.
    • One of Tharquin's men points out that most acts of violence against humans and Galhots by Shapeshifters were retaliation for acts of violence against Shapeshifters, like when Tharquin ocassionally lets one of his victims live to give people a reason to keep supporting him. Tharquin kills that man as a result.
  • A Thing of Vikings: After Hiccup and his friends effectively curbstomp King Donnchadh mac Brian, Hiccup pointedly refuses to kill the king, citing this trope as one of his reasons. He doesn't want King Donnchadh to become a martyr, or to have an army under his banner seeking revenge against Berk. In defending his decision, Hiccup points out that the Cycle of Revenge is at the heart of the story of Ragnarok; Odin banished or tortured Loki's children out of fear, which prompted Loki to kill Baldr, which drove Odin to punish Loki, which would lead to Loki joining the jotunn against Asgard.
  • In Chasing Dragons, Khal Pobo unites a massive Dothraki horde to wage war against the Kingdom of Myr in order to avenge the death of his own Khal, Zirquo, at the Battle of Narrow Run. In return, Robert swears revenge against the Dothraki for the depravities performed on his subjects during this conflict.
  • With This Ring: One of the alternate versions of the protagonist is in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, and has made a goal of actually settling the dwarfs' Book of Grudges. It's a big job, but his ability to massacre orcs and goblins has helped him to make great strides. The elves are surprised by the novel idea that their centuries of warfare with the dwarfs could actually be resolved fairly quickly with a proper accounting and payment of fines.

  • In American History X, this trope is played tragically straight, with a gang of black bullies shooting Danny dead in retaliation for him pulling a Bully Hunter on them the day before.
  • Blue Ruin: Dwight wants vengeance on the man who killed his parents. He eventually learns that his parents' murderer was himself inspired by revenge, and Dwight's own act of vengeance just kicks off yet another cycle in the man's family.
  • Captain America: Civil War has this for all the major events throughout the film and drives the plot forward. Black Panther wants revenge on the Winter Soldier for apparently murdering his father and spends a majority of the film chasing him. Zemo wants revenge on the Avengers because he blames them for the death of his family during the Sokovia incident, caused by Ultron. Ultron was itself a ramification of Scarlet Witch's Mind Rape of Tony in vengeance for her parents being killed by Stark weapons. Zemo's plans for revenge include murdering Black Panther's father and framing Winter Soldier for it and later showing Iron Man evidence that Winter Soldier killed his parents, all in an effort to have the Avengers kill themselves for him. Once Iron Man sees the footage of Bucky killing his parents, he goes into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against him and he and Cap engage in a brutal beatdown that essentially ends their friendship. Black Panther, who discovered that Zemo was his father's true killer, decides to break the cycle after he has seen what revenge has done. He proves he's learned his lesson in his solo movie where he strives to prevent the villain from taking revenge for his father and mistreated Africans all over the world by starting a world war, despite agreeing with his point about Wakanda needing to do more to help. He builds Wakandan outreach centers instead.
  • Casper Meets Wendy: Desmond Spellman wanted to kill Wendy to prevent her from becoming more powerful than him as predicted by a prophecy and, to make sure nobody would try to avenge her, he intended to kill her family.
  • This is the entire basis of the film Changing Lanes: When each man refuses to budge and try to see things from the other person's shoes, they get stuck in a cycle of increasingly undiplomatic responses and revenge. Throughout the film, it is shown where each gets opportunities to end it by doing the right thing... opportunities that are, for the most part, promptly ignored.
  • In City of God, the gang war is touched off by revenge against Lil Ze for raping Knockout Ned's girlfriend and killing his brother and uncle. However, in a year, no one knows how it started, as everyone joins sides for revenge on the other side.
    • With the notable exception of the kid who kills Ned. He had joined Ned's side, telling them he wants to get revenge for his father's death. Turns out he was the son of the security guard that Ned killed near the beginning of the war.
  • In Death Sentence, Nick (Kevin Bacon's character) having his son killed in a gang initiation, which leads to Nick killing the guy who killed his son, which leads to the killers coming after him, which leads to Nick killing one of the killers, which leads to the killers killing Nick's wife, which leads to Nick killing the rest of the killers.
  • The Emperor and the Assassin. Ying Zheng crushes the nation of Zhao that once held him hostage as a child. Aware of this trope from his own story, and seeing the hateful expressions on the Zhao children, he has them all buried alive so they won't grow up and rebel against his reign.
  • The second act of the kung-fu film, Fearless (2006), runs on this: the hero, Huo Yuanjia, intending to avenge his students' honour, challenged a rival martial artist, Qin, to a massive duel that culminates with Huo accidentally landing a fatal punch into Qin. The very next day, Qin's godson seeks revenge... by killing Huo's mother and daughter, before killing himself when Huo tries confronting him.
  • The object lesson of the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury.
  • Referenced in For Your Eyes Only when James Bond tries to convince Melina Havelock not to let her desire for revenge against her parents' killer destroy her. He quotes the sentiment attributed to Confucius (see Real Life below):
    "The Chinese have a saying: 'Before setting off on revenge, you first dig two graves.'"
  • The Danish film, In a Better World, is extensively about this. In his Establishing Character Moment, Christian, after being pushed down by the local schoolyard bully, assaults the bully the next day, and beats him viciously with a bicycle pump before threatening him with a knife to the throat. In this case, the bully, being rather understandably scared out his wits, promises to never ever to start anything with him again, and actually keeps true to his word.
    Claus: If you hit him, then he hits you, and then it never ends!
    Christian: (coldly) Not if you hit hard enough the first time.
    • Of course, Christian's worldview does come back to bite him hard, when he accidentally injures his best friend during another payback mission.
  • The Joshuu Sasori films develop a series of these across the first 4 entries. The protagonist's desire for revenge against the detective by whom she was seduced and betrayed fuels her repeated escape attempts. Thus, the guards hate her. This results in harsh punishments for all the prison inmates, which means they all hate her too, and they hate the guards almost as much. The warden hates her personally for causing all the trouble, and for the pain and embarrassment she's caused to happen to him personally. In the 2nd film, savage new inmate Oba sees her as a threat to her dominance among the prisoners, causing more betrayal down the line, and a new vendetta for Matsu. The 3rd film replaces the guards with detective Kondo, who takes her escape understandably personally. There's also the jealous woman downstairs from her, and old enemy Katsu to deal with. By the 4th film, every policeman and member of prison staff hates her passionately.
  • In Kill Bill, The Bride gets revenge on Vernita Green for having a hand in the massacre of her wedding party. But after killing her, The Bride realizes that Vernita's daughter, Nikki, had witnessed the whole thing and so The Bride says to Nikki, "When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting." Tarantino has said that he's interested in making a Kill Bill Vol. 3 in the future, where a grown-up Nikki Green hunts down The Bride, and a fourth film that elevates into this with B.B. (Bill & The Bride's daughter) hunting down Nikki for killing her mother.
  • Implied at the end of The Kingdom (2007). After killing the Big Bad, Adam asks Fleury what he whispered in Janet's ear before going to Saudi Arabia. At the same time, an aunt asks her grandson what his grandfather whispered in his ear as he died. The answer to both? "We'll kill them all."
  • Kung Fu Hustle combines this with Lensman Arms Race:
    1. The Crocodile Gang attacks a police station, beating the cops for making the mistake of arresting the mob boss’ girlfriend for spitting on the side walk.
    2. The Crocodile Gang leave the station, to be dispatched by the Axe Gang.
    3. Petty thugs Sing and Bone, initially presented as bad-asses and who seem to be from the Axe Gang, appear at a slum tenement, the Pig Sty, to conduct a shakedown, but are driven off by Landlady.
    4. The real Axe Gang shows up and beats the people of Pig Sty.
    5. Until three heroes reveal themselves as seemingly ordinary tenement residents, and defeat the Axe Gang.
    6. So the Axe Gang recruits two deadly harpists, who go to Pig Sty and kill the three heroes.
    7. So Landlord and Landlady reveal themselves as even greater masters, and defeat the harpists.
    8. So the Axe Gang recruits the most dangerous master of all, the dumpy-looking but powerfully frog-like Beast, who defeats Landlord and Landlady.
    9. But when Beast goes to Pig Sty, he discovers that Sing has transformed into a true master of the Buddhist Palm. Sing, now a redeemed man, defeats Beast, but in an enlightened manner that brings Beast to heel and ends the cycle of escalation.
  • This trope is blamed for the war that destroyed civilization in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and attempting to prevent it is the reason for the existence of the titular Thunderdome. As the master of ceremonies character explained it: "Fighting leads to killing, and killing leads to warring, and that was damned near the end of us all. Now look at us! All busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain. But we've learned! From the dust of 'em all, Bartertown's learned. Now when men get to fighting, it happens here, and it -finishes- here! Two men enter, one man leaves!"
  • In Steven Spielberg's Munich, the main protagonist, Avner, fears that he is treading down this path.
  • The Northman is all about the main character, Amleth, seeking to kill his uncle for killing his father. It turns out his uncle was himself acting out of a sense of vengeance for what he perceived as his brother's misdeeds. What's worse, once Amleth starts slaughtering his uncle's men, his uncle becomes hellbent on killing Amleth even after Amleth starts to consider giving up on his quest to live a peaceful life.
  • In Now You See Me, The Reveal involves a very basic motive of revenge. In the sequel, the son of one of the victims in the first film tries to take down the Four Horsemen for what was done to his father.
  • Similarly, in Oldboy (2003), Oh Dae-su wants to find the mysterious 'Evergreen' and make him pay for imprisoning him for fifteen years. It turns out that Evergreen is Lee Woo-jin, who was getting him back for carelessly outing an incestuous relationship he was having with his sister while they were back in high school, which drove his sister to suicide. What's more, Lee's revenge was just beginning.
  • Only God Forgives is based around a chain of revenge killings and beatings, with family members stepping up to avenge their debts against the ones who wronged the victims. One of the major themes is breaking the revenge cycle and finding peace against the pressures from others to continue the violence. Probably.
  • The Prestige is about two stagehands-turned-magicians becoming bitter rivals; After one accidentally causes the other's wife's death (performing a drowning trick), the other one threatens him with a gun and maims him, upon which the other sabotages his show, ruining his contract, upon which the other steals his act, upon which the other breaks his leg and corrupts his staff, upon which the other steals his plans and kidnaps his assistant... Eventually, it all culminates in one magician framing the other for his death.
  • In The Proposition, Mr. Fletcher explains how to avoid one of these:
    "There's a little something called the law of reciprocity. You kill one of theirs, and they kill one of ours. Here's a piece of general advice: if you're going to kill one, make sure you bloody well kill them all."
  • Shotgun Stories is about two feuding sets of half-brothers. The older set were born when their shared father was an abusive alcoholic. They crash his funeral and denounce him as an evil man, which enrages the newer family he made after reforming. The second set of brothers antagonize the first set in vengeance, triggering a cycle of revenge.
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. After Ryu is cheated by organ donors, he is forced into a disastrous kidnapping plot, triggering one long Cycle of Revenge.
  • In Taken, Bryan slaughters the members of a human trafficking ring, including one named Marko, to rescue his daughter. In Taken 2, the villains' families, led by Marko's father Murad, attempt to avenge them and attack Bryan and his family. Bryan eventually discusses this with Murad, particularly when he learns that Murad has two more sons who will surely attempt to avenge him as well. Or Murad could go home and be with his remaining family, ending the cycle; those who who have died so far is simply the price paid of their "business", echoing the lives and families destroyed by their actions. Murad tries to kill him and Bryan kills him. While there is a Taken 3, Murad's sons do not appear. Maybe they decided not to continue it?
  • In the final tale of Tales from the Hood, a gangster shoots another dude for killing a friend. In his later rehabilitation, he is confronted by shades of people he killed, many as parts of other cycles, including some guys who hadn't even done the killing he killed them for. In the end, he is gunned down by three other men in revenge for that last killing, who happened to be the three protagonists of the movie's framing device. In the end, it turns out that they too were slain for killing the guy in the last tale, and are currently in Hell.
  • Discussed in Troy. Hector kills Patroclus in battle, so Achilles kills Hector, so Paris plans to kill Achilles. Briseis asks Achilles where it all ends, and he replies "It never ends".

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons are engaged in a 30-year feud, the origins of which are long since forgotten.
  • Age of Fire: A recurring theme throughout the series, but especially highlighted in Dragon Avenger. Wistala eventually tries to end this in regards to the Dragonblade line by making peace with the current one and his family, rather than take revenge on him for killing her father.
  • The hat of the Arends in the Belgariad. Polgara nearly falls into it herself in the prequel novel, but is strongly encouraged not to by her mother.
  • Discussed or played straight several times in Beowulf: The "Finnsburgh fragment" is a Nested Story about a feud between Jutes and Frisians, Beowulf himself predicts that peace between Danes and Heathobards will not be lasting because of this, and a subplot revolves around the traditional enmity of Geats and Swedes.
  • Blowing Up The Movies: The Kung Fu Hustle essay focuses on this, particularly the "feuding martial arts schools" subtrope.
  • In Saberhagen's The Fourth Book of Lost Swords: Farslayer's Story The magical sword Farslayer, which can kill anyone from any distance, is hurled back and forth between two feuding families until only a few children are left alive.
  • Awareness of this trope, and a desire to avert it, is the reason beyond a particularly unsavory aspect of A Brother's Price. Families tend to be tightly-knit and very collective. It would be easy for a family caught committing treason to pin it on one sister, who would be executed and leave the others alive and wanting vengeance. So, unless it's believed that this was not a proper family and sisters were not united — as happened to the Whistlers well before the story's start — the whole family is killed. Right down to the babies. Men — and Princess Ren — hate this practice, and it's well-established that Children Are Innocent of their parents' crimes, but it's seen as ruthlessly pragmatic.
    "Face the truth, Ren. She's the incestuous fruit of the man who poisoned the Prince Consort and the woman who blew up half the royal princesses! Do you think any of even her most remote noble relations are going to take her? Do you think we're going to take her? You would ask our youngest to be raised with her? Her father murdered ours. Do you think our babies would be safe around her once she realized that we executed her mothers and grandmothers? [...] Kij and Keifer had no good reason to hate you and me, except for deeds of our grandmothers. Do you really want their child, with better reasons for hating us, anywhere near our children?"
    • The descendents of the surviving Whistlers bear no grudge against the crowns, and in fact some of them died fighting for the same people who executed their Mother Elder. They adopt a traitor's child out of the charitable belief that there is redemption for the innocent.
  • Even Dr. Seuss got in on this with The Butter Battle Book, a criticism of the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction.
  • Another short story by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Cask of Amontillado", has the narrator lampshade the trope and strive to avert it; he notes that "I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser." And indeed, he gets away with his horrific revenge on Fortunato.
  • The Corsican Brothers (The original, not the Cheech and Chong lampoon!).
  • Preventing this is a big part of the plot of The Spider's War, the last book of The Dagger and the Coin series. The tide of the war had actually begun to turn against Antea in the previous book, and the armies of Elassae and Sarakal are closing in during most of the fifth book, but even though the Anteans had committed horrible atrocities against the innocent people of those two countries, and even though the spider priests were not entirely to blame for everything the Anteans had done, Cithrin and the other heroes spend much of the book trying to figure out a way to get the Elassans and Sarakalese to forswear revenge, precisely to prevent it from leading to another war down the line.
  • A recurring footnote in any Discworld book discussing Dwarf/Troll relations explains that war cries such as "Remember Koom Valley!" all tend to translate to "Let us remember the atrocity committed against us in the past that will excuse the atrocity we are about to commit today!" Thud!! in particular focuses on this theme, and particularly on an attempt at breaking the cycle. At its very beginning.
  • Dune:
    • By the time of the first Dune novel, the Atreides and Harkonnen families had been feuding for millenia, and the feud only ended with the death of Feyd, Rabban and Vladimir (the last surviving members of the Harkonnen family, not counting Vladimir's unacknowledged daughter Jessica and her Atreides descendants) at the end of the book. Accoriding to the first book, the feud apparently started because at some point thousands of years earlier, an Atreides had a Harkonnen banished for cowardice.
    • The prequels of questionable canonicity expand upon the origins of the feud. Xavier Harkonnen and Vorian Atreides were friends. Xavier then dies, and his name is dragged through the mud as a traitor by politicians. Vorian knows the truth but conceals it for the good of the Butlerian Jihad. One of Xavier's grandkids, Abulurd Butler, starts looking up to Vorian. Later, Vorian reveals the truth to him, and Abulurd publicly changes his last name to Harkonnen. During the final Battle of Corrin, Abulurd sabotages the controls of the fleet in order to avoid causing the deaths of millions of human slaves, since Vorian was determined to destroy the machines once and for all at that point, no matter the cost. Instead of understanding his protege's actions, Vorian labeled him a coward and had him exiled to the icy Lankiveil. Embittered, Abulurd indoctrinated his children to hate the Atreides, starting the feud. Abulurd's grandson Griffin seeks out the Long-Lived Vorian and tries to kill him, but Vorian manages to befriend the boy. Unfortunately, just then, Vorian's android siblings catch up to him and offhandedly kill Griffin as a witness. Distraught, Vorian sends Griffin's body back to his family with words of sorrow. However, Griffin's sister Valya (already hateful of Vorian) interprets the words as mockery and assumes Vorian killed her brother. She joins the Sisterhood and, eventually, becomes its Mother Superior, using it to advance her goals of lifting up her House and getting revenge on the Atreides. She trains her younger sister Tula and sends her to Caladan, where Tula marries and then kills Vorian's descendant Orry. Orry's brother Willem joins Vorian on the hunt for Tula. They travel to Lankiveil, confronting Tula's family, but Vorian prevents Willem from exacting revenge on innocents. In the end, Valya and Tula confront Vorian and Willem on Corrin, where Vorian is seemingly killed in an explosion. In fact, Vorian survives but opts to stay in hiding in order to end the feud. Satisfied, Valya and Tula leave (Willem can't bring himself to kill Tula, who is pregnant with his brother's child). Willem travels to Salusa Secundus and becomes a member of Emperor Roderick's court... alongside Valya's other brother Danvis. Willem immediately starts plotting a way to kill Danvis in revenge for Vorian.
  • This is a key part of the first two arcs of the Elemental Assassin novels. Mab Monroe killed the family of Genevieve Snow, so she grew up to be the assassin Gin Blanco and killed Mab. Then Mab's daughter Madeline comes to town and seeks revenge for the death of her parents (the father was another casualty of the Snow/Monroe feud). When Gin finally defeats her, she learns that Madeline has a young daughter, but refuses to end the cycle by eradicating the Monroe line, instead arranging for the child to be returned to his father's custody. When asked if this was a good idea, Gin replies that they'll find out in twenty years or so.
  • In the Fear Street series, the root of Shadyside's problems is the centuries-long feud between the Fear/Fier family and the Goode family because of major Sins of Our Fathers. In the late 1600s, the Fier brothers pulled a Burn the Witch! on the innocent Susannah Goode. Susannah's father, the actual witch, then cursed the Fier family to forever suffer. One of the grandsons of the brothers grew up believing the Goodes were witches bent on his family's destruction for no reason, and thusly spent his own life chasing the remnants of them down to kill them in revenge. His son put a 100-year stop to the curse by burying the family's cursed relic...only for one of the Goodes' descendants to eventually chase down his great-great-great-granddaughter and slaughter her family, kicking up the cycle yet again. It continues into present day.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, when the Jantine Patricians raid the Ghosts, Gaunt sends Corbec off to raid them back. When discussing what to do, Corbec declares that they should kill as many Jantines as Ghosts who died — at least. (On the other hand, both raids had been part of a cover for deeper games, and part of the raid was to feed that cover, making it look like Revenge.)
    • Also in that book, the reason that the Jantine/Tanith feud had started in the first place was that years before Gaunt took command of the Ghosts, he had executed the Jantine Colonel's father for desertion in the heat of battle, which had led to the death of Gaunt's father.
  • In Greek Ninja, it turns out to be the reason of everything that happened.
  • Discussed in Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits regarding the acts of vengeance between the legitimate and illegitimate descendants of Esteban Trueba.
  • In all of The Icelandic Sagas. Brennu-Njálssaga, for example, follows Njáll and his sons as everyone pisses everyone else off and a lot of people get killed for some pretty petty reasons.
  • The In Death series: The book Vengeance in Death is all about this trope. Roarke murdered six men to avenge the death of Summerset's daughter. Then the wife of one of the six men raises her son to murder six people who helped Roarke hunt down the six men, as well as Summerset, Eve, and Roarke to make a novena. Just goes to show Revenge has a lot of nasty consequences!
  • The war between The Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds in The Lost Fleet series has degenerated into a Forever War at least partly thanks to this trope, with greater and greater atrocities being committed in the vain hope of breaking the enemy's morale and just making them even more determined to fight to the last. Notably, the protagonist's decision to break this cycle by declining to Sink the Lifeboats or indiscriminately bombard planetary targets without regard for the safety of noncombatants goes a long way towards helping the Alliance win.
  • Only Ashes Remain: Just about everyone tries telling Nita that revenge is a sucker's game and never accomplishes anything, but she refuses to listen. She's determined to kill the person who sold her to the black market, but her first attempt fails, so he tries to kill her to protect himself, so she keeps trying to kill him to protect herself, so he keeps trying to kill her...
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Metzengerstein", in which two noble families have a perpetual feud based on this (and on an ambiguous prophecy). Ends with the last scion of Metzengerstein killed by a horse inhabited by the spirit of the lord of the other house, who apparently died in a fire the Metzengerstein heir started. Naturally, these events also fulfill the prophecy.
  • This trope is the heart and soul of the Revanche Cycle (the title referring both to revenge and to revanchist policies of reclaiming lost territory). The plot is one revenge wrapped inside another, from nation against nation down to the deeply personal; if any character doesn't have a good reason for payback, wait five minutes.
  • Such a cycle between the settlers and the Eora is portrayed in The Secret River.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Baudelaires spend much of the series trying to bring down Count Olaf, who continuously tries to steal their fortune and is implied to have killed their parents. It is later strongly implied that the Baudelaires' parents had previously killed Count Olaf's parents.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has this as its backstory: After Rhaegar Targaryen absconded with Lyanna Stark, Lord Brandon Stark and his heir Rickon arrived at King's Landing and demanded Rhaegar "Come out and die", but Rhaegar's father Aerys II had them arrested and put to death after a farcical trial along with several other young nobles. The remaining Starks and Lyanna's betrothed Robert Baratheon declared war along with Jon Arryn, uncle of one of those Aerys killed, and this led to the deaths of Rhaegar (at Robert's hands), Aerys II, Rhaegar's children, and Rhaegar's wife Elia Martell (by the Lannisters, who had remained neutral until the Targaryens began losing). The surviving Targaryens as well as the Martells have vowed to get vengeance on Robert and his allies.
    • Later, Oberyn Martell tries to avenge his sister by fighting her murderer, Ser Gregor Clegane (a.k.a. "The Mountain that Rides") and is killed despite giving the Mountain a poisoned wound. His older bastard daughters want vengeance. However, his Paramour Ellaria Sand tells them to break the cycle, as she fears them trying to avenge their father may get them killed and draw her daughters into the cycle of revenge, along with the fact that the people who murdered their relatives are all dead by now. Oberyn's brother Prince Doran Martell seems to support the idea of breaking the cycle, betrothing one of his sons to Cersei Lannister's daughter Myrcella, however he is planning revenge on the Lannisters, but is very subtle about it and wants it done in a way that doesn't make the Dornish suffer.
    • Fire & Blood: Pretty much the relationship of Dorne and Westeros under the Targaryens. When Aegon the Conqueror showed up, he demanded Dorne let themselves become one of his kingdoms, rejecting Dorne's suggestion of equal partnership. Dorne told Aegon to piss off. Aegon and his sisters try taking Dorne by force. It doesn't work, and Aegon's sister-wife is shot down and possibly killed by Dorne soldiers (no-one's ever certain, and if anyone in Dorne knows, they ain't telling). Aegon starts burning large swathes of Dorne in revenge, Dorne wages a guerilla war, Aegon burns more Dorne. This goes on until Princess Meria Martell dies, and her kids take over, sending Aegon a letter saying something which prompts him to give up on trying to take Dorne at all. But bad blood between the two countries remains, on-and-off until the present day.
  • The Star Trek novel Chain Of Attack takes this Up to Eleven, where multiple races have been wiped out in a war spanning millennia. The original perpetrators have long since been wiped out, with the current belligerents continuing the conflict because they believe the other party is the one who originally started the war — after all, even if you think you wiped the other guys out, there's always the chance that you missed a colony somewhere, and the old enemy might still be lurking. One race (the "winners" of the last series of battles) mistook the other (up-and-coming race) for their old enemy, and attacked without warning, continuing the conflict. It's believed that this chain of attacks has claimed many civilizations in the devastated sector of space the Enterprise finds itself.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • The planet Melida/Daan in Jedi Apprentice has been split between the Melida and the Daan, who for many generations have been feuding over an original cause no one remembers — now each fights to punish the other for their most recent atrocity. All resources now go into fighting and memorials featuring recordings of the dead, urging the living to avenge them. The Young — the youngest generation — is sick of it.
    • Nim Drovis (appearing in Planet of Twilight) has been in a civil war between the Drovians and Gopso'o for nobody-even-knows-how-long. According to legend, the civil war started from an argument about whether "truth" was singular or plural, but the combatants don't really care anymore.
  • The Swampling King: The swamplings hate the highlanders for murdering them on sight, and the highlanders hate the swamplings for the exact same thing. Part of the problem is that the highlanders mistakenly believe that the swamplings control the deeplings, so everything the monsters do is blamed on the swamplings as well. That being said, the swamplings do genuinely kill any highlanders they find in the Swamp — but again, that's because the highlanders do the same to them.
  • Taras Bulba. Cossacks vs. Poland and more personal Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191, the Confederacy wins the Civil War and then, with help from Britain and France, defeats the USA in another war twenty years later. This leads to a culture of "Rememberance" and revanchism in the USA, who plan for victory in another war and make an alliance with Germany for that purpose. This comes during the Great War, when the USA soundly defeats the Confederates, who then embark on an even more brutal program of revanchism and preparing for the next war under Jake Featherston's Freedom Party. If this all sounds familiar, it's because the series is largely based off of European history (see the Real Life section below) moved to North America.
  • In Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Voyage of Maeldune", the hero is told to forbear his revenge because
    And his white hair sank to his heels, and his white beard fell to his feet,
    And he spake to me, 'O Maeldune, let be this purpose of thine!
    Remember the words of the Lord when he told us, "Vengeance is mine!"
    His fathers have slain thy fathers in war or in single strife.
    Thy fathers have slain his fathers, each taken a life for a life,
    Thy father had slain his father, how long shall the murder last?
    Go back to the Isle of Finn and suffer the Past to be Past.
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, in the Back Story, the 3rd Company had killed some renegades' captains; in the opening, they kill the 3rd Company's captain; shortly thereafter, the new captain goes in pursuit of them. They get sidetracked by another issue, but happen on the killers, and get both the commander and the actual killer. Whereupon their captain is murdered after the battle.
  • This is what led to one of the most central rules of Warriors'... well, Warrior Code. When a cat was killed in battle, it dragged two of the Clans into constant war to avenge their fallen, until StarClan finally steps in to encourage the creation of a rule against killing unless in self-defense.
  • This is a major theme of Wings of Fire, especially in the second and third arc. Its take on the cycle of revenge in war is that it's not the people that are your enemy, it's the corrupt leaders that force them to fight.
    • In the second arc, the IceWings and NightWings hate each other because the IceWings think Foeslayer, a NightWing, kidnapped their prince, and their child, Darkstalker, killed that prince. Meanwhile, Darkstalker hated the IceWings because the prince, his father, was abusive toward him and his sister. When he is reawakened after two thousand years, he creates a plague to infect almost every living IceWing in hopes of getting them all killed. This drives the IceWings to attack the NightWings , who know the plague is an attack on them. This leads the NightWings to hate them more due to the attack. In the end, the fight is only stopped when a spell is cast to allow the dragons on both sides to understand the other tribes' feelings and see them as equals, rather than a faceless enemy to be fought.
    • In the third arc, the history of Pantala has this theme as well. HiveWings tried conquering the LeafWings (who fought back and were almost completely wiped out, along with the trees they fought to protect) and the SilkWings (who surrendered and now live as a lower class society subservient to the HiveWings). The remaining LeafWings are pretty resentful, and revolutionary groups within them plan to burn down hives where the HiveWings and SilkWings live. Unfortunately, this would not only kill supporters of the war, but also innocent dragons who either couldn't, refused to, or were unable to participate in the war, as well as several blameless SilkWings, especially their dragonets, who can't fly away from fires since they aren't born with wings. The protagonists try to prevent this, but it happens anyway.

    Live Action TV 
  • On The Americans, the Soviet and American intelligence agencies end up in one after a rogue faction of the KGB hire an assassin to kill some American rocket scientists. Philip and Elizabet are able to stop the assassin, but not before three FBI agents are killed in a bombing. A group within the FBI decides to retaliate by kidnapping the Soviet KGB Rezident, but end up kidnapping a low-level flunky instead. It seems like the feud might end right there, but then Philip kills an FBI agent that is about to expose his cover. The FBI kills the kidnapped Russian and the CIA retaliates by killing a number of ranking KGB officials. The Soviet government declines to retaliate in the hope to end the pointless feud. However, Elizabeth and Claudia were very close to one of the killed KGB officers and disobey orders when they target a CIA deputy director who was involved in planning the assassinations.
  • Babylon 5 has this between the Narn and the Centauri. While some individuals manage to overcome it (e.g. Londo and G'Kar), it plays a major role from the first season to the last. Londo at one point compares it to Newton's Third Law of Motion:
    Londo: They hate us, we hate them, they hate us back. And so, here we are...victims of mathematics.
  • The cycle of revenge has emerged as the driving force in the overarching mythology of Battlestar Galactica (2003). "All this has happened before and all this will happen again."
  • Bones: A Victim of the Week was the head of a Feuding Family not unlike the Hatfields and the McCoys. It all started when a man from one of the families and a woman from the other one were romantically involved and the two of them were poisoned. Each family blamed the other one. When the Victim of the Week figured out neither half of the couple was at fault, he tried to put an end to the feud, but his attorney/daughter-in-law killed him to continue making money off the lawsuits. (In modern times, the families resorted to suing instead of murdering.)
  • The Brady Bunch: "My Sister, Benedict Arnold" saw Greg and Marcia exercise this trope by bringing home dates deliberately picked out to annoy the other sibling. Mike and Carol make sure that neither Greg nor Marcia come out the winner, very bluntly pointing out that such behavior is unacceptable and making them apologize not only to each other but to their "dates" as well.
  • The classic Doctor Who serial The Caves of Androzani. The psychotic Sharaz Jek plunges the Androzani system into a costly war for the sole purpose of getting revenge on the business partner who betrayed and permanently disfigured him. General Chellak, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice virtually his entire force in a suicidal frontal assault against Jek's killer androids in order to kill Jek.
  • Game of Thrones: A major factor in the series because whole families are often held accountable for the actions of any member. Lord Tywin is renowned for breaking one such cycle by massacring all the Reynes of Castamere. Tyrion and Cersei even discuss the trope briefly in "Mhysa", during which Tyrion declares that they create two enemies for every one they defeat.
  • Grimm: One episode's Villain of the Week, a Bauerschwein, kills two Blutbaden because their sister Angelina killed his two brothers. It turns out that the two species have had a feud lasting for ages. In another episode, a Bauerschwein chef is found to be putting a toxin into his meals that is fatal to Blutbaden but harmless to humans and other Wesen. He is completely indiscriminate in this and does not care that many Blutbaden have now forsaken the old ways and never killed anyone. In both cases, Nick is able to use his position as a Grimm and a police officer to arrest the killers and prevent further retaliation.
  • In one episode of Growing Pains the dad uses this trope as an example as to why it is best to forgive rather than seek revenge when you feel wronged.
  • Hatfields & McCoys dramatizes the famous American feud that perpetuated itself on reactionary acts of vengeance.
  • Discussed a few times in the Highlander TV series.
    • The episode "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" featured a generally decent immortal named Stephen Keane with legitimate grudges against Duncan. Duncan's friend Amanda pleads with Keane to reconsider and call off his grudge, in part because both Duncan and Keane are truly good men with lots of friends and allies, and so she says this trope is likely to be the outcome if either one kills the other in a duel. Whoever dies, their friends will try to avenge them, and then friends of those friends get involved, and the whole thing spirals completely out of control.
    • The episode "One Minute To Midnight" involved an immortal Crusading Widower who was targeting the Watcher organization after his wife was murdered by immortal-hating renegade Watchers. The Watchers, in turn, wanted to kill him to defend themselves and avenge those of their members whom he'd killed. The possibility that this would lead to further revenge attempts against the Watchers by other immortals was also discussed on both sides.
  • In one episode of Hustle, the gang were hired by a guy's ex-wife to ruin his life because she painted a very unsympathetic picture of him, but as the episode progresses, it is really blurred as to which of them is more at fault.
  • The Judge: An episode of this 1980s courtroom TV series had a cycle of revenge story, where three college-aged students –- two women and a man –- raped each other in retribution for a previous rape one of them had committed against the other. Judge Franklin was so angry by the series of events he scolded them instead and refused to use his cheery "Be good to each other!" CatchPhrase, instead telling them to get out of his courtroom and warning that if he ever saw them again in his courtroom, they would go to jail.
  • On Justified, the Givens and the Bennetts have been Feuding Families since Prohibition when a Bennett killed a Givens who supposedly turned him in for bootlegging. Half a century later, there is only a handful of people left in each family and the women of the families agree to a peace. However, there is still a lot of hostility between the families, and a teenage Dickie Bennett attacks Raylan Givens during a high school baseball game. Raylan fights back and cripples Dickie's leg. Dickie is too afraid of his mother Mags to further retaliate, but holds onto the grudge. In Season 2, Raylan is forced to kill Coover Bennett to save the life of a young girl and Dickie and Doyle Bennett swear out revenge. Mags once again orders them to keep peace, but then Arlo Givens robs Dickie during a drug buy. Dickie retaliates and Raylan's step-mother is killed when he cannot find Arlo. Raylan arrests Dickie, but Mags decides that she cannot abandon her son and takes his side. In the final bloody confrontation, Mags and Doyle die and Dickie ends up in prison.
  • An episode of Kung Fu, appropriately titled "An Eye for an Eye", focuses on this situation.
  • The closing episodes of the Filipino soap opera Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo (English: "If We Were To Be Apart") deal with this, which involves Robbie Castillo, as he is engaged in a Mexican Standoff with Ringo Quijano, who's also Robbie's brother-in-law through his marriage with Gwen.
  • Kamen Rider Drive: Roidmudes were the toy creation of a Mad Scientist, who abused them and corrupted their programming. All for funzies. It's no wonder that they killed him and went to wipe out humanity. That led to the protagonists' crusade against them and more violence on both sides. The appearance of a good, sane Roidmude didn't make the protagonists question the situation in the slightest. An all out extermination war ensued and persisted long after the Roidmudes abandoned their homicidal efforts and just wanted to survive somewhere away from humans.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: When Francis reveals to Dewey that, despite the Big Brother Worship Malcolm and Reese have for him, Francis was a Big Brother Bully when they were kids. Then they converse about this trope:
    Francis: You know, you have a real opportunity here. You can break the cycle. You can be a good brother to Jamie. You can be the one kid in this family who takes care of the younger one and looks out for him.
    Francis: (Beat.) You're right.
  • This is a central theme on Merlin (2008). King Uther is a Knight Templar who has genocided all the magic users he can find. In retribution, quite a few magicians go overboard in their attack on him, attacking innocent civilians. Thus, Prince Arthur grows up being told that magic is evil and having it constantly proven to him. The eponymous Merlin, Arthur's manservant, best friend, and secretly a warlock, spends most of the series trying to convince Arthur to accept magic and therefore break the cycle, but his success has been limited.
  • One of these becomes a plot point late in the seventh season of NCIS. A Mexican drug lord killed Gibbs' wife and daughter. Gibbs, being a scout sniper, killed the drug lord. Almost two decades later, the drug lord's son and daughter have taken over their dad's business and start taking revenge against Gibbs, threatening his team, his dad, and his mother-in-law, shooting off a finger from his mentor and killing another NCIS agent. Gibbs settles it (at least temporarily) by tricking the son into killing the daughter.
  • One case on New Tricks had the murder victim go to great lengths to break the cycle. A long-running blood feud caused him to kill the patriarch of the other family, so he fled to Britain, changed his name, and went so far as to have his sister (his only remaining relative) be adopted by a British couple so she knows nothing of her heritage. He is killed, but this finally ends the cycle.
  • One of the themes of Power Rangers Time Force. Ransik, the Big Bad, is a mutant driven to madness and violence by human hatred (supposedly; it's never shown and other characters claim that he was offered help), and he himself is responsible for causing both Time Force leader Jen and his own Dragon Frax to hate him with a passion. The cycle ends when Ransik's daughter realizes that it's happening, and puts herself in mortal danger by going into the crossfire to convince him to let go of the vendetta. Ransik turns himself in, Jen accepts it, and Frax... well, Ransik already did him in by then, but he at least had time to reflect that his thirst for vengeance ruined him.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force has it at one point when Master Org is revealed to be Dr. Adler, a human scientist who became bitter because Cole's father married his mother before he could. He became so consumed by hate, he ate the remains of the original Master Org and brutally murdered them. When Cole finally defeats Master Org, reducing him to a helpless mortal man, he refuses to finish him off because he can see how Adler's hatred consumed him.
  • Unsurprisingly, Revenge fits this trope to a T, and it constitutes the bulk of the 4-season narrative. Conrad frames David as revenge for his affair with Victoria, prompting the abandoned Amanda to initiate a decade-long revenge plot against the Graysons. Her revenge in turn provokes a revenge arc from Victoria in Season 4, which finally ends with David killing her himself.
  • A major theme of Temptation Of An Angel. Ah Ran seduces and marries Shin Hyun Woo in order to enter his family and avenge the death of her parents. When he discovers both her lover and her lies, she tries to kill him. Twice. He survives both attempts and, gets Magic Plastic Surgery, and decides to dish out his own drawn out plan of revenge. When the dust finally settles, no one comes out unscathed.
  • The German series Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter, set in World War II, contains an aversion. Charlotte sells out Lilija to protect herself. A couple of years later the tables are turned, but Lilija saves Charlotte. Charlotte asks "Why are you helping me?" and gets the reply "Because otherwise it will never stop."
  • A recurring theme in Xena: Warrior Princess, especially in any episode where Callisto is the principal villain. In Callisto's first episode, Gabrielle attempts to avert this trope, by extracting a promise from Xena not to seek vengeance if Callisto kills her. In a later episode, when Callisto kills Gabrielle's newlywed husband Perdicus, Gabrielle nearly loses herself to grief and wants vengeance against Callisto herself. Of course, the bitter irony is that Callisto thinks that Xena is the one, who started it all by killing her parents during Xena's pillaging days. In fact, it was Callisto's older self, who accidentally kills her father and then kills her mother in self-defense, turning her feud with Xena into a Stable Time Loop.

  • Played straight in "Murder Go Round" by Insane Clown Posse, which, contrary to popular belief, clearly isn't about a ride. It tells the story of a young hoodlum (played by Violent J) who is assaulted by a gang member, and decides to get him back, starting a gang of his own and killing his enemy and anybody who tries to avenge him. Eventually, he just starts killing people for the hell of it, including his best friend. It finally escalates to a gang war in which the hoodlum (running a street gang "fifty-five strong" and completely full of himself) is shot "twice in the forehead, twice in the back" and "twice in the eye", and only realizing in his dying moments how stupid and childish the whole endeavor was.
  • Irishman Tommy Sands' song "There Were Roses" is based on a true incident experienced by the author. A Protestant was murdered, and a Catholic was killed in retaliation. The two had been close friends.
  • The Performance Video for Week End by X Japan is this, combined with Bolivian Army Ending and Everybody's Dead, Dave — everyone dies in a chain of murders and suicides, all connected to the deaths preceding them. Yoshiki's wordplay about the "end of a life" being "the end of the world" in the lyrics matches this as well — the end of the life is the end of that person's world, and if the Cycle Of Revenge kicks in, a chain of murder and suicide only grows and expands...
  • The song S.D.I. by Loudness references this in the context of the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction. The Cycle Of Revenge is about to take the world into a final nuclear war.
  • The music video for "Cut The Cord" by The Living Tombstone details this between two designers. It starts when one designer kicked the other, the protagonist, out, the protagonist then becomes their own up-and-coming designer getting touted as "The Next Big Thing" in a newspaper. The original designer gets jealous and sends some mannequin robots to sabatoge them by cutting up all their clothes. The protagonist then takes those cut up clothes and manages to make that the next fashion trend, then the protagonist makes their own mannequin robot army to fight them directly. After that fight the original designer's building is practically in ruins with broken robots all about, and the protagonist then makes an even bigger robot army to finish them off.
  • Referenced in "Human Race" by Three Days Grace:
    If it's an eye for an eye then we all go blind
    Is it hard to see?

  • The Bible
    • God marked Cain after he killed Abel to prevent anyone from killing him. Years later his grandson killed someone in self-defense, possibly as Revenge by Proxy.
    • The story of Samson, from the Book of Judges, consists mainly of a Cycle of Revenge: at one point, within a few verses, a Philistine commander claims "We just want to do to him what he did to us" and Samson claims "I just want to do to them what they did to me."
    • Discussed in the The New Testament, when Jesus, in the Sermon of the Mount, rejects the practice of revenge in favor of "turning the other cheek":
    "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even gentiles do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:38-5:48)
    • The inverse idea is generally espoused by the New Testament writers: we should love and forgive others, because God loves and has forgiven us.
  • Both of the major civilizations (Nephites and Jaredites) in The Book of Mormon fell due to this, with the people becoming "drunk with anger" and continually chasing revenge until they were dead.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The House of Pelops in Greek Mythology. The Oresteia by Aeschylus was written in response to this legend. It concludes with Orestes and Athena breaking the cycle once and for all by inventing the trial by jury. The jury finds Orestes innocent of matricide because mothers aren't actually related to their kids, and in response Athena calls off the Furies and lets Orestes go.
    • King Agamemnon kills a deer in a sacred grove and boasts he is the best hunter. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, orders a sacrifice of him for such a disrespectful statement, making him kill his daughter Iphigenia. After doing so, the king gets killed by his wife, Iphigenia's mother. She in turn gets killed by her own son for killing his father.
    • As usual with Greek myths, there are actually several explanations why Artemis demanded Iphigenia's sacrifice, including one that was because Agamemnon's father had failed to sacrifice the first lamb of his flock to her, while according to Aischylos it was because two eagles (who symbolized Agamemnon and his brother Menelaos) had torn a pregnant hare to pieces, which enraged the goddess. And in the Iliad, Iphigenia wasn't sacrificed at all (Agamemnon offers the hands of all his three daughters, including an Iphianassa — widely believed to be a variant name of Iphigenia — in marriage to Achilles), while according to Euripides she was saved at the last moment and transported to Tauris (on the Crimea) to become a priestess at the local temple to Artemis...
    • The story is further complicated by Klytaimnestra (Agamemnon's queen) hooking up with Aigisthos, murderer of Agamemnon's father Atreus, who wanted to get revenge on Agamemnon for driving his father Thyestes (Atreus' brother) into exile from Mycenae. (Because of an oracle, Thyestes had fathered Aigisthos by raping his own daughter Pelopia, in order to avenge his other children whom Atreus had killed). Aigisthos and Klytaemnestra together killed Agamemnon and Klytaemnestra for good measure also killed Agamemnon's prisoner/concubine Cassandra of Troy.note 
    • And all that came about from a curse on the House of Atreus from a man named Myrtilus, who Pelops killed after Myrtilus helped him murder King Oenomaus and marry his daughter Hippodameia to seize his kingdom. Granted, Myrtilus tried to rape Hippodameia, but Pelops still reneged on his promise to give Myrtilus half the kingdom.
    • Going back even further, it's been suggested that part of the curse on Pelops and his descendants comes from the hubris of his father Tantalos, who originally murdered Pelops and tried to serve him in a stew to the gods (the Greek gods, for all their deubachery, generally despised Human Sacrifice). And then there was the fact that Tantalos had stolen the food of the gods and given it to his friends, along with telling them the gods' secrets. Disproportionate Retribution much?
  • The trope pops up in The Odyssey; Odysseus kills the suitors for revenge in abusing his house's hospitality, refusing any form of payment. Their families in turn blame Odysseus for wiping out another generation of the nobles of Ithaca (the first died during the Trojan War) and want revenge. It threatens to spiral into a civil war of revenge until Athena drops down to declare the feuding over and threatens divine retribution on any who violate her orders.
  • A quote commonly attributed to Confucius advises "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Doonesbury strip had an American soldier and an Iraqi soldier staking out a possible insurgent, with orders to capture him alive. However, the Iraqi soldier recognizes the insurgent and insists he must be killed, since a member of his family had killed a member of the soldier's family, and he is sworn to vengeance. When the American soldier asks when this happened, the Iraqi replies "1387".
    American soldier: What is the MATTER with you people?!

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer, the Dwarfs are in one of these as their natural state. In fact, they're capable of maintaining one without the other party trying to continue it. It works like this: someone does something to wrong them, so they write it down in the Book of Grudges and resolve to take bloody vengeance when they can. While doing so, the people they're attacking defend themselves, killing at least one dwarf. Well, that dwarf also has to be avenged. The dwarfish language has no word for 'forgiveness'.
  • The Ultramarines/Word Bearers enmity in Warhammer 40,000 is predicated on this. The Ultramarines, acting under the Emperor's direct orders, destroyed a city the Word Bearers had converted to a centre of Emperor-worship, which the Emperor was not a fan of. Years later, in the early stages of the Horus Heresy, the Word Bearers responded by attempting to wipe out the Ultramarines to the last man, mingling a greater objective (victory for Horus) with some good old-fashioned revenge. Since then, the two Legions have taken every available chance to murder each other, even after the Ultramarines were divided into largely independent Chapters.

  • Discussed in Hamilton in the song "My Shot":
    "And if we win our independence,
    Is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?
    Or will the blood we shed begin an endless cycle
    Of vengeance and death with no defendants?"
  • The Marriage of Figaro is a bloodless variation of this — characters in an endless cycle of messing with each other's heads in revenge for what they did earlier in the show.
  • One of the oldest surviving plays, The Oresteia, is about a set of interconnected cycles of revenge that stretch across three generations and involve multiple deities on different sides. In the end, Athena has to be brought in to sort it all out.
  • In the Shakespearean dramas:
    • There's some of this in Hamlet. In the course of avenging his father, Hamlet ends up with Laertes after him for killing his father (which was, ironically enough, an accident). Though Laertes going after Hamlet wasn't simply because Polonius was killed, but rather because Ophelia committed suicide not long after, having gone bat-shit crazy upon hearing of her father's death.
    • In Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets and the Montagues alternately avenge every death that the opposing family caused. It's been going on for so long that the two warring families have forgotten exactly who started it and over what. In fact, it's gotten so bad that the local prince has decreed that the next time one side starts something, the guilty party will be put to death — not that he's able to enforce it as stringently as he'd likenote . Only the deaths of the original Star-Crossed Lovers are enough to get both families to snap out of it.
    • Titus Andronicus is one long and extremely bloody Cycle of Revenge between the title character and Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. And no, it does not end well for either side.
  • The Jets and Sharks in West Side Story; unsurprisingly, since the musical is modelled on Romeo and Juliet.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has revenge as one of its main themes. Here, Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford sent Sweeney to Australia and ruined his life and family. As such, Sweeney spends the whole musical seeking to get back at them. While he finally succeeds, he kills Mrs. Lovett when he finds out she lied to him about his wife Lucy, the Beggar Woman he just killed. And finally, Sweeney gets killed by Tobias "Toby" Ragg for his own murder of Pirelli earlier in the show.

    Video Games 
  • The conflict between humans and Adepts in Azure Striker Gunvolt. Humans hate Adepts for their powers and the fact that Adepts have attempted to Take Over the World and have caused massive damage to it, and want to either kill them all or subject them to harsh experimentation to "control" them. Adepts hate humans for treating them like sub-humans, capturing and imprisoning them unjustly, experimenting on them to control them, or just trying to kill them for the crime of having powers, thus leading them to want to wipe humanity off the map and Take Over the World. Things are "relatively" peaceful now, but a few sparks on either side are all that's needed to start a full-out war again.
  • Bleeding Sun: Yori seeks to defeat Ichiro, and on the neutral route, he's doing it both to preserve his family honor and seek revenge for his father. In both endings of the neutral route, Ichiro's son Genji will seek revenge against whoever kills his father. In the ending where Yori deals the finishing blow, Genji kills Kenzou and goes into hiding to look for an opportunity to kill Yori. In the ending where Haruki kills Ichirou, Haruki allows Genji to kill him in order to end the cycle.
  • Played for (rather dark) laughs in Borderlands 2 with the feud between the Zaford and Hodunk families, who hire the Vault Hunter to carry out increasingly brutal attacks against each other, completely oblivious to the fact that their chosen agent is Playing Both Sides. It all ends with a final showdown between the clans, where the Vault Hunter throws their lot in with one side and aids them in completely wiping out their rivals. (Later games confirm that the BL2 Vault Hunters canonically sided with the Hodunks)
  • Bravely Second touches upon this through Janne, who is more than willing to kill Othar's house (but not Othar himself as he hadn't done anything to him) for having masssacred his own house. Yew eventually asks Janne the futility of continuing the cycle of revenge if it's just going to continue happening with his actions giving no happy ending to either side. This finally convinces Janne to stop his own need for revenge and defects from the Glanz Empire.
  • Invoked in the Burnout series, namely Revenge onward. It keeps track of everybody you've started a rivalry with, and rewards you for getting revenge or keeping your rival from doing so.
  • The Nature of the Beast Quest in Dragon Age: Origins revolves around a vicious Cycle of Revenge. Long ago, a group of humans attacked the Dalish Elves in the Brecilian Forest, killing the son and raping the daughter (who was later Driven to Suicide upon learning that she was pregnant) of the elven Keeper Zathrian. In his rage and grief, Zathrian summoned a forest spirit and bound it in the body of a wolf using his own blood, creating Witherfang. Witherfang then cursed the humans, and turned them into the first werewolves. Centuries later, those humans' descendants are still cursed. Under the guidance of Witherfang (who gained sentience and intelligence as the Lady of the Forest), this new generation of werewolves are attacking the Dalish and spreading the curse to them, partly for revenge against Zathrian (who is still alive because he is bound to Witherfang) and partly because they are trying to force Zathrien to undo his curse. The werewolves believe they are being unfairly punished for their ancestors' crimes. Zathrian believes that their current actions prove that they are just as savage as their ancestors and deserve the curse no less. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how this cycle is resolved.
    • Even if you cure the werewolves and end the curse, the cycle threatens to perpetuate itself with Dalish elves who now want revenge on the former werewolves for killing members of their clan. Hawke can encounter the daughter of a Dalish hunter-turned werewolf in Dragon Age II who is threatening to murder one of these former werewolves. Hawke can choose to peacefully resolve the situation, leave the former werewolf to his fate, or kill the elf and her companions.
      • This Trope also comes to play if you're a Human Noble. The Warden avenges his/her parents' murders by killing Arl Howe during the last 1/4 of the game. Later, in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, one of your first party member candidates is his son Nathaniel, who was about to assasinate the Warden as a revenge for his father's death, but got captured for trespassing before he had the chance to slip a dagger between his target's ribs. Part of Nathaniel's Character Development later on is cutting the cycle once he learns and understands what a bastard his father was and that he had it coming.
    • This is repeatedly noted to be a recurring problem between mages and Templars. The few mages who would abuse their powers regardless lash out at the Templars. The Templars judge all mages by that example and lash out in kind. This causes otherwise reasonable mages to resent the Templars, making them lash out. Things repeated this way until it got to the point where things exploded both literally and metaphorically.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, tantrum spirals can involve this. A berserk dwarf will in some way anger another dwarf, whether by killing a loved one or destroying a valued possession, causing them to take revenge or go berserk themselves and repeat the pattern.
  • Discussed by the peaceful Sahagin Clutchfather Novv in Final Fantasy XIV. Years past, he was a terrifying pirate with a known penchant for bloodshed. Returning from a raid, he found the vast majority of his children slaughtered, their bodies left in a pile by those seeking vengeance against him. Hitting the Despair Event Horizon, he realized his role in the cycle, and strove to end it. One of his surviving children, however, was all too happy to perpetuate it...
    • This concept is the foundation of the plot in Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, Heavensward. A thousand years ago, Ishgardians murdered Ratatoskr, one of the First Brood of dragons. This sent many of the dragons, particularly Ratatoskr's brood-brother Nidhogg, into a rage; they've spent the past thousand years extracting their revenge. This, in turn, has caused countless casualties for the Ishgardians, who have been lied to about the cause of the war, and now seek revenge on the dragons for their own fallen. This cycle is particularly seen with Estinien, a dragoon whose entire village was wiped out by Nidhogg. He's only able to come to peace and overcome Nidhogg's influence when, with the help of Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light, he realizes that his desire for revenge makes him no different than Nidhogg, and finally lets his anger go.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: This is a major theme in the game, particularly on the Azure Moon route. In the backstory, Sothis massacred the Agarthans for attacking her in their hubris. This caused "those who slither in the dark," the last vestiges of Agartha, to take their own revenge through Nemesis by having him kill Sothis in her sleep and using the remains of Sothis to forge the Sword of the Creator. They then massacred Seiros' brethren, which resulted in her going to war with them and killing Nemesis. "Those who slither in the dark" retreated but continued to plot their revenge against Seiros and her church. To this end, they forge weapons and Crests, and much later, they experiment on Edelgard with Crests and convince her to seek revenge on the Church for promoting the Crest system (though she also intends to take revenge on them afterwards for their experiments once she no longer needs them). Dimitri becomes obsessed with revenge against her for her involvement with the people who murdered his family as a part of that goal. Dimitri only breaks the cycle on the Azure Moon route when the sister of an imperial general who died fighting Dimitri's army ends up killing Rodrigue while trying to avenge her brother, prompting Dimitri's Heel Realization.
  • In Game of Thrones (Telltale), Maester Ortengryn lampshades this trope as the reason the Forresters and Whitehills hate each other.
  • A variation is the key story trope of Infinity Blade. The game starts off with the tyrannical God King killing one who opposes him. Then, some 20 years later, that man's son comes to avenge him — and after fighting through the God King's castle, also gets killed. And so on, and so on, until you either manage to kill the God King, or fight him to a standstill and agree to join him. In the former case, you've accomplished nothing except making some powerful new enemies who have no reason to hold the man who killed the God King in any higher regard than they held the God King. Then, you skip to the next in the bloodline avenging his father, because the game is built around this preconception. In the latter case, you find out the God King was one of the good guys — unlike the other Deathless, he doesn't think that being immortal gives him license to be a colossal jerk for no reason, and the whole exercise was The Plan to lure powerful warriors to his castle, where he'd either kill them to enhance his power or recruit them as his champion so he could take on the others. If that isn't pointless enough, the sequel reveals that your character wasn't actually avenging anyone in the first place. He's an amnesiac immortal, with each reincarnation believing his previous incarnation to be his dead father in need of avenging.
  • The Killzone series sets this up. The feud between Helghan and the ISA goes back for generations, with the actions of the series being the Second Intersolar War.
  • The Last of Us Part II: A big running theme in this game. The game starts with Ellie witnessing Joel’s death at the hands of Abby, the daughter of one of the fireflies that Joel killed in the first game. Ellie goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge him, killing many of Abby’s friends in the process, which drives the latter to strike first. Ellie attempts to move on, but is unable to cope and decides to try once more to settle the score. It’s only after she has a flashback of Joel and realizes that Vengeance Feels Empty that she decides to spare Abby’s life, effectively breaking the cycle.
  • While not always revenge-driven, a similar cycle occurs throughout the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero series. Humans treat reploids as servants until Sigma, believing that reploids can achieve their true potential if they're taken out from under humanity's thumb, wages war against humanity. The resulting Maverick Wars and the sheer destruction they cause eventually leads to Dr. Weil believing that humans would be better off if reploids were robbed of their free will, leading to him corrupting the Mother Elf into the Dark Elf for that purpose and sparking the even more destructive Elf Wars, which ends in Weil being trapped in an immortal body and sent out to wander the wastelands he created for all eternity, giving him an unending hatred of both reploids and humans and ensuring that he'd be oppressing both when he finally came back into power. Meanwhile, Neo Arcadia, under Copy-X, oppressed reploids even harder than before in order to protect humanity, eventually leading to Elpizo seizing control of the Dark Elf in order to destroy humanity all over again.
  • To some degree, the motivations of most of the principal players of the Metal Gear series are wrapped up in revenge upon revenge.
  • Modern Warfare, in spades, occasionally lampshaded.
  • Subverted in Kung Lao's ending of Mortal Kombat Gold; he attacks the Shokan Goro during a peace treaty signing as a ceremonial strike of revenge for Goro's brutal murder of his ancestor in an earlier MK tournament. Goro naturally believes that Lao is wanting to continue the fight for vengeance, but Lao tells him no, the attack was just to let the big lug know he hasn't forgotten what he did all those centuries ago, but is willing to put aside their differences for the sake of peace. Goro agrees, hinting that were his and Lao's ancestor's fates were reversed, Goro's own son would've likely been the one asking Lao (or his ancestor, since being Champion of MK gives you natural immortality) for peace.
  • One sidequest in NieR: Automata revolves around this. A Resistance member is missing, and the player eventually finds their body, alongside a blood-soaked, still alive Machine Lifeform. After killing it, the player finds out that they both wanted revenge against each other, and once the player reports the Resistance member's death to their friend, she vows to destroy all Machine Lifeforms, and leaves the camp, weapon in hand, and is never seen again.
  • No More Heroes: the final boss in the first game says as much without going into all the symbolism, but the second game does this even more. The first boss is Helter Skelter's younger brother who wants revenge. Matt Helms killed his parents as a ghost for leaving him in a burning house to die. Two assassins come back to fight you despite dying in the previous game. And the final boss, Jasper Batt Jr., has Bishop murdered at the start of the game out of revenge for Travis killing his father and two brothers in the side missions in the last game, something the player probably doesn't even remember. No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again continues the theme by introducing Bad Man, the father of Bad Girl who's out for revenge for her death at Travis' hands.
  • Red Dead Redemption II retroactively establishes that this has been going on in a small scale. Namely, first Dutch's gang kills Edgar Ross's partner-in-arms, Agent Milton. Years later, Ross forces John Marston, a former member of said gang, to kill or capture 3 other members of the gang that are still at large, before murdering John as well, avenging Milton and taking the credit for finally bringing the gang down. However, years later, John's son Jack hunts down and kills Ross for killing his father.
  • Saints Row 2, as mentioned in other Revenge tropes, particularly the Brotherhood arc which is almost entirely fueled by increasingly brutal acts of revenge between the titular Saints and the Brotherhood. An interesting aversion by Johnny Gat, the most psychotic killer in both games; even though his Love Interest Aisha was slain, killing all the Ronin was more or less the same business it was before, just a little more personal. He definitely had motivation to go after the Ronin leader Shogo who caused her murder by his order, but he didn't personally seek Shogo out... and him "dealing" with Shogo came after the Ronin crashed Aisha's private funeral to kill the Boss and Gat. The other acts of revenge through the remaining arc hardly seem connected to each other.
  • Happens in Shenmue with Ryo's father... boy howdy. As revealed in Shenmue II Iwao Hazuki allegedly murdered Sunming Zhao. Years later Sunming's son Longsun Zhao, now calling himself Lan Di, murders Iwao in front of his son Ryu Hazuki, setting off the events of the game as Ryu searches for his father's killer.
  • In a warped way, this is what the Bogeyman embodies in Silent Hill: Downpour. The game's plot mainly revolves around this, the protagonist having murdered (or attempted to murder) another convict who (might have) murdered his son. That plot resolves with the warden of the prison being brutally beaten by a corrupt guard (or killed by the protagonist), which sets his police officer daughter against the protagonist. She can also go for the actual culprit, but all of these revenge attempts are all dependent on the player's actions throughout the story.
  • Sometimes, the already twisted path of revenge is even more non-linear than normal, thanks to time-space anomalies and reincarnation, as is the case in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. One might invoke the wrath of another for avenging one's past self, while also unwittingly putting oneself on one's own hit list along the way somehow. That can't be good for the space-time continuum or anyone else involved!
  • The entire point of cactus's short "art game" Space Fuck!. Two neighboring planets in space; every thirty years, on one of the planets, a warrior comes out of the tunnels where he lived his entire life, and finds ruins of a thriving city on the surface. A survivor tells him that a man from the other planet massacred everyone. The warrior decides to get revenge, hops into a ship that happens to be nearby, and flies to the other planet to massacre the inhabitants there. Then he descends into that planet's tunnels, meets a woman, and has a son with her. Thirty years later, the son comes out of the tunnels and finds ruins of a thriving city on the surface, and learns that a warrior from the other planet is responsible. He decides to get revenge on the other planet, flies over there and kills everyone, then descends into the tunnels where he meets a woman... After a couple iterations, the game outright announces: "Vicious Cycle".
  • The conflict between the Inklings and Octarians in Splatoon resembles this. Rising tides caused the Octarians to wage war with the Inklings over the remaining territories. The Octarians nearly won, but due to a careless plug that deactivated their Great Octoweapons, they were unable to stop the Inkling retaliation. The Octarians were driven into underground domes, which slowly began to deteriorate over the next century. Embittered by their defeat as well as facing an energy crisis, the Octarians plot their revenge with Zapfish thefts and the eventual invasion of Inkopolis. Their actions only led to the formation of the New Squidbeak Splatoon, an Inkling militia dedicated to take back the Zapfish and tear the Octarian forces apart. The Central Theme of Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion is breaking this cycle, with Agent 8 and the other Octolings abandoning DJ Octavio's quest for revenge, and the Inklings dropping old prejudices to share their culture and home with their former rivals.
  • This happens twice in Star Trek Online.
    • The first involves the Iconians and the Romulans. The Iconians return after a 200,000 year disappearance and prepare to take over the galaxy. This ultimately forces the Player Character and a few others to go back in time to the day the Iconians disappeared to make sure they all die. However, you find out that the Iconians are actually pretty good and decide to help them survive… except for former Romulan emperor Sela, who is seeking revenge for the Hobus Supernova and the destruction of Romulus and Remus. She attacks and kills a few Iconians, leading to one Iconian, T'Ket, to vow revenge for their deaths… which Sela realizes too late that meant that she caused Hobus!
    • The second involved the Tholians and the Na'kuhl''. Time traveling Na'kuhl attack and massacre a Tholian colony 2270, though the Federation is able to prove innocence in this attack when two ships get caught up in it. 140 years later, they're able to spring a time travelling trap on Kal Dano to steal the Tox Uthot and use it to destroy the Na'kuhl's sun. This sets off the Na'kuhl's desire to tear through time in revenge… which sends them to 2270 to attack the Tholians.
  • The Star Wars extended universe, including Knights of the Old Republic, is chock-full of these kinds of vendettas.
    • Most of which get subverted to some degree or another, at least in the first Knights of the Old Republic game. Jagi wanted to take revenge on Canderous for allegedly abandoning his men during a battle to seize a tactical advantage. When facing down Jagi, one of the options is to point out that Canderous probably saved a lot more lives by breaking from the battle plan. Jagi commits suicide when he realizes that Canderous's actions were perfectly acceptable under the code of the Mandalorians.
    • Bastila and her estranged mother, Helena, have a chilly reunion on Tatooine. Helena then requests that you go out to the desert to retrieve her late father's holocron. When you do retrieve it, Bastila is tempted to keep it just to spite her mother. Turns out that Bastila's father was treasure-hunting to fund the dying Helena's medical treatment.
    • If you're inclined towards Darkness, you can encourage Mission to abandon her deadbeat brother to the Exchange (organized crime) in revenge for him abandoning her on Taris.
    • Juhani brings up this trope when talking about her past, how "Those who had been wronged saw their chance at revenge. The oppressed became the new generation of oppressors" after the Jedi left Taris to fight more battles against the Mandalorians, bitterly lamenting that "the non-humans were never treated well in either case." There's also some cut dialogue for Juhani where she admits that she still hates and fears Mandalorians for committing genocide against her people, and voices her disapproval of Canderous among the crew. In one of the options, you can propose she go and kill him. She is still enough of a Jedi to balk at the idea of cold-blooded murder. However, when you meet up with Xor, a mercenary who participated in the Cathar genocide, and who later murdered Juhani's father in a bar fight and tried to buy her as a slave, those with darker tendencies can cheerfully encourage her to skewer the jerk on her lightsaber.
    • And when it comes to subverting this trope, Carth's the master. His primary motive for 3/4 of the game is to get revenge on his former mentor (and to a lesser extent, all Sith) for destroying his homeworld, killing his wife, and training his teenage son as a Dark Jedi. When he finally kills Saul, Saul uses his last breath to take revenge on Carth by announcing his friend (if you play male) or lover (if you play female) is none other than Darth Revan! After the last Star Map is found, Carth admits that revenge didn't give him any peace, and that he can no longer hate you, despite what you have done as Revan. With a female Player Character, he elaborates further, saying that his promise to protect you has given him a new reason to live.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: This fuels a lot of the Bounty Hunter storyline. Tarro Blood kills the Hunter's mentor, Braden, and the first act is spent hunting his ass down while fulfilling Braden's dream to have the Great Hunt (a Mandalorian-sponsored bounty hunting tournament) won by his stable. (Blood killed Braden to try and eliminate the stable from competition). Unfortunately, Blood and the last target of the Great Hunt (a Jedi Master) are on a Republic warship. Either way, Blood and the Jedi are dead by the Hunter's actions...which causes the Jedi Master's best friend (the Jedi Order's battlemaster), to declare revenge on the Hunter, resorting to framing the Hunter for a laundry list of trumped-up charges (their own crimes would have been sufficient), sending out squads of soldiers and other Jedi after the Hunter, and killing off the Hunter's friends and contacts.
  • In the John Woo game Stranglehold, Tequila gets pissed at Wong for turning his partner against him, having Billie killed, and then kidnapping Teko, leading to the Cowboy Cop seeking vengeance upon him. Wong in turn hates Tequila's guts, which is why he didn't want him and Billie together to begin with, and he wants revenge himself on Tequila for killing his son Johnny Wong from Hard Boiled, who was behind the attack that killed his partner in the beginning of the movie and was very much an utter psycho deserving of death.
  • Subverted in Tales of Legendia. Near the end of Chloe's character quest in her confrontation with Stingle, the man who killed her parents to get money for his sick daughter, she is all but willing to kill him... until his daughter, whom she had grown close to at that point, picks up her father's sword, swearing to protect her father and take revenge upon Chloe if she kills him, helping to snap Chloe out of her growing Knight Templar attitude.
  • Throughout the early parts of Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd gets pissed off at the way Desians treat humans. Kratos implies (in typical Tales fashion) that there's an underlying reason. There is: once they get to Tethe'alla, they learn that the half-elves there are victims of particularly cruel discrimination.
  • Lara Croft and Werner Von Croy use the trope on each other throughout Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and the final chapter in Tomb Raider Chronicles. Teenage Lara goes on an expedition with Von Croy and is forced to leave him behind when his tampering with the Iris artifact causes the area to collapse and traps him. Von Croy is rescued some time later and keeps the artifact while being bitter towards Lara, who he thinks abandoned him. Lara then infiltrates Von Croy's research building and steals the Iris artifact from him. This in turn causes Von Croy (several years later) to seek revenge by hiring mercenaries to stop or kill Lara in Egypt so that he can claim the Amulet of Set (succeeding), and then he goes on to capture Lara's friend, holding him hostage in exchange for the Armor of Horus. After Lara's apparent demise when the pyramid she is in collapses as Von Croy watches in horror, Lara escapes some time later in The Angel of Darkness and is angry at Von Croy for leaving her back in Eygpt. The entire cycle of revenge is finally broken when a third party unrelated to the two characters kills Von Croy.
  • In the eighth Touhou Project game, Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night, we're introduced to Kaguya Houraisan and Fujiwara no Mokou. Both want to kill each other as revenge for the numerous previous successful attempts on each other's lives — they're completely immortal, and can regenerate even if their bodies are entirely destroyed. And it all started when Kaguya rejected Mokou's father's marriage proposal, 1300 years ago. The interesting thing about this rivalry is that neither participant particularly wants it to end. Mokou is explicitly mentioned to have lost the plot for a couple of centuries back there and it's heavily hinted that the bitter rivalry is presently the only thing keeping her sane. As for Kaguya? Well, she doesn't want the rivalry to end because Mokou is just too much fun. If she and Mokou didn't keep coming up with new ways to kill each other, she'd grow bored.
  • The single-player campaign of Tribes: Vengeance, true to its subtitle, is driven almost entirely by someone's desire for revenge and the protagonists are rotated all the time.
  • The reason behind the Alliance and the Horde being more or less openly at war in World of Warcraft after being allies at the end of Warcraft III. Some people just couldn't get over the fact that the enemy they had fought for so long wasn't an enemy anymore.
    • On PvP servers, you can easily experience a Cycle of Revenge first-hand.
    • A similar issue exists between two Outland factions, the Aldor and the Scryer. While they both are part of the same alliance, players are forced to choose between the two.
    • Camp Taurajo in the Southern Barrens becomes the start of one. The Alliance sacks Taurajo, the Horde responds by killing the General who carried out the attack, and the other Alliance leaders swear vengeance on the Horde for the assassination. Ironically, General Hawthorne was trying to avoid civilian casualties because he didn't want a Cycle of Revenge, but didn't factor in the quillboar who were mortal enemies of the Tauren.
      • It's also hinted he didn't count on the rabidly anti-Horde ambassador. The Ambassador's interest in the Horde's desire for revenge, the easily located spy with an itinerary for the General's journey, and the speed with which a replacement is found are too convenient. This Cycle was planned.
    • Taran Zhu, leader of the Shado-Pan, calls both sides out on this in the latest patch:
      Taran Zhu: ENOUGH!! There will be no more bloodshed today. I see now why your Alliance and Horde cannot stop fighting. Every reprisal is itself an act of aggression, and every act of aggression triggers immediate reprisal. [...] SILENCE! YOU must break the cycle. It ends TODAY. Here. The cycle ends when you, Regent Lord, and you, Lady Proudmoore, turn from one another. And walk. Away.
  • Deconstructed in Wolf's Gang. After learning that Ralph's reason for killing the Dark Lord was revenge, just like his reason for wanting to kill Ralph, Wolfgang realizes that monsters and humans have been killing each other senselessly in a cycle of revenge for centuries without even remembering who started it. The two of them then promise to finally have the two races put everything behind them and work together from then on.

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons: "Rioting: Only Ok When We Do It!" shows Democrats and Republicans repeatedly resorting to violence in response to the other side's rioting while utterly refusing to condemn their own side until they finally destroy the Earth.
  • Invoked in Red vs. Blue by Temple, in a desperate attempt save himself, after the Reds and Blues have defeated him and Tucker's about to Finish Him!, saying that if he does this, Temple's friends will just keep this going. Tucker simply asks "What friends?", as all his allies were either dead or captured at that point. Luckily for him, Carolina manages to talk Tucker out of killing him.

  • Played with by the Girl Genius cast and their Parental Substitutes: the cycle tries to roll on, and is promptly... not exactly broken, more like derailed.
  • This is a central theme of the "Hivebent" arc in Homestuck, especially when it comes to Vriska and her dealings with Terezi, Tavros, and Aradia. Make Her Pay.
    • In chronological order: Vriska cripples Tavros by knocking him off a cliff, Aradia sends ghosts to torment her, Vriska mind-controls Aradia's boyfriend into killing her, Terezi informs Doc Scratch about one of his items currently owned by Vriska — which he then explodes, blinding Vriska's special eye and severing an arm; Vriska then pulls a three-step mind-control reacharound to make Terezi stare into the sun and go blind. It all happens in immediate succession. Some time later, after Tavros, with whom everything started, has apparently forgiven her, Aradia (now a ghost inhabiting a robot) delivers a near-fatal beatdown to Vriska. After Vriska awakes as her dream-self, Terezi slaps her, ending the cycle.
    • Some time later, Tavros decides that Vriska must be stopped (after more Kick the Dog moments from her) and attacks her, getting irrevocably killed in retaliation. Terezi finds his body and immediately deduces who did it, starting the cycle anew.
    • The cycle is finally broken when Terezi kills Vriska to stop her from following a course of action that would doom all the other trolls.
    • It is then revealed that the cycle began earlier than that. As in, during their ancestors' time.
  • The plot of Juathuur is for the most part about this. Thomil is the only one concerned with actually breaking the cycle.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The conflict between the Sapphire Guard (an order of Lawful Good Paladins) and the allegedly Always Chaotic Evil goblin races is a perfect example of this. The story makes it abundantly clear that both sides are at fault, but that the destruction of Azure City at the hands of Redcloak's hobgoblin horde is a direct consequence of the Azurites' arrogance in engaging in a preemptive genocidal crusade. For his part, Redcloak is only too happy to continue the cycle of atrocities.
    • Vaarsuvius also gets some quality time with this trope in the arc with the vengeful black dragon and goes straight to the Final Solution to end it. Unfortunately, this comes at the price of owing his/her soul to some fiends who don't plan to wait for his/her death to collect, and s/he still gets hunted by agents of Tiamat, the goddess of vengeance and chromatic dragons, who is less than pleased about a full quarter of the black dragon population getting wiped out of existence thanks to V. Oh, and those "extreme steps"? They killed off a plot-relevant family of NPC guardians, leaving one of the Gates defenseless. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • xkcd: "Mobius Battle" features a short comic in which one figure kicks a ball at another's head and laughs. The idea is that, since it works in mirror image too, it can be drawn on a transparent strip that can be formed into a Möbius stripnote , and then you can keep scrolling it forward until you're on the other side of the original stripnote  and the role of the figures (based on which side they stand on) is reversed. This will go on for as long as you keep moving forward along the strip, with the figures forever kicking the ball at each other.

    Web Original 
  • Happens in The Blackrock Chronicles. First Sjin attempts to steal from Duncan, who attacks Sjin in retaliation, leading to a massive Tekkit Server war that destroyed pretty much everyone's game. The plot of Rythian's series then involves him heading out to get revenge against both Duncan and Sjin. Duncan, fearing Rythian's warmongering, traps him in a forcefield and builds a nuke under his castle, while Sjin kidnaps their Dinosaur, and it all just escalates from there...
  • This is a recurring occurrence on the Dream SMP, as characters resort to more and more violent methods to seek retribution to those that have wronged them, which tends to result in wars and disasters that drag the entire server into the messes created.
    • Early in the history of the server, Ponk pranked Sapnap and messed with his house for unknown reasons. This caused Sapnap to burn down Ponk's lemon tree in retaliation, where the fire spread to the point of almost destroying the entire tree. Enraged, Ponk allied himself with Alyssa and dragged Tommy and Tubbo, who had just joined the server, into the conflict. This ultimately cultivated into a series of skirmishes that led to Dream stealing Tommy's music discs Cat and Mellohi, kicking off the Disc Saga (which spanned over six months overall) and shaping Dream and Tommy's interactions and relationship with each other for the rest of the server's history.
    • After Sapnap accidentally kills Niki's fox Fungi, Fundy, who gifted her the fox, encourages her to kill Sapnap's pet fox Skechers in revenge, despite Niki initially accepting Sapnap's apology for the animal murder. Sapnap then retaliated by killing the Enderman that lived in Fundy's house, Leonard, and took and burned the diamond block on Fungi's grave. This eventually escalates into the First Pet War.
    • Technoblade setting off two Withers to destroy the ruins of L'Manburg during the Manburg-Pogtopia War encouraged the Butcher Army to go after and execute him (among many other factors). After Techno survives and escapes the execution (with help from Dream), he vows revenge and teams up with Dream to nuke L'Manburg to bedrock in the Doomsday War, causing multiple members of the server to lose their homes and pets, and Jack Manifold to lose his last canon life (though he brings himself Back from the Dead eventually).
    • Later in "Las Nevadas" Episode 4, when Quackity tries to teach Slimecicle "Seek successful revenge because if you fail, the consequences are going to be bitter", Slime rebounds on him, talking about the destructive nature of the Cycle of Revenge he has observed while being Really 700 Years Old and asking him if it was worth it. Having developed a Revenge Before Reason-esque mentality for a period of time, Quackity eventually admits that it's not, and is heavily implied to have taken this reflection to heart after their conversation for the most part.
  • The fake feud between The Nostalgia Critic and The Angry Video Game Nerd was like this at first as both countered perceived slights, before turning into a general hatred that culminated in a decisive final battle. Twice, actually. It's all a joke, so that much is deliberate.
    • The feud has been settled and started up again twice as well, finally being settled for good (for now at least) in To Boldly Flee.
  • In the second Jobe story of the Whateley Universe, Jobe and Counterpoint get into a cycle of revenge at Superhero School Whateley Academy. Jobe wins a sparring match in aikido class, but he does it with poisons (Jobe starts the story with human strength and speed, just talent as a bio-devisor, while Counterpoint has strength, speed, a telekinetic shield, and any other powers he wants to copy). Counterpoint can't let it go, since he's some sort of incarnation of Ares. He gets some muscle to help him pound Jobe. Jobe can't let it go, since he's the crown prince of Karedonia (his father is a supervillain) and has obligations to make sure people know he can't be pushed around. At the end of the story, they are both in the hospital, and at least one of them might be hospitalized for a long time. And they haven't given up their grudges.

    Western Animation 
  • Fans of Batman: The Animated Series know the tragic story of Victor Fries — everything he does is motivated by a mad lust for revenge against those who he holds responsible for what happened to his wife, Nora. Unfortunately, this creates a cycle that continues in Gotham Girls, where Nora's sister Dora Smithy became obsessed with vengeance against Freeze for what he did to Nora, and in the process became more or less his female equivalent, eventually cemented by her own Karmic Transformation into an icy mutant with no emotion left but her love for Nora, locked away in Arkham just like her hated brother-in-law.
  • The Dragon Prince has the death of Queen Sarai nine years before the series, causing the death of the King of the Dragons. Season 1 sees the elves kill King Harrow in revenge for the dragon king, and soon after the humans start planning revenge for that. King Harrow implies that this has been going on for generations, and the heroes' quest is to break it by having human princes return the dragon prince to his home.
  • Gargoyles grabs hold of this theme firmly from multiple angles. Goliath wants revenge against the Vikings for his clan's genocide, Macbeth wanted revenge against Demona for her treachery, Demona wanted revenge against all humans... the list continues on, right down to a nameless guy who is always being shafted by the Gargoyle exploits, who was able to break his own cycle by settling for shooting a Gargoyle in the face with a Pie Cannon.
    • By the end of second season, Macbeth and Goliath manage to drop their respective beefs, but Demona never lets go of her vendetta against humanity, and she in turn is pursued by a family of Hunters sworn to kill her.
    • Two of the three most recent Hunters drop the axe thanks to Elisa's influence and the realization of how much their blood feud has cost them (up to and including one of them ending up paraplegic), but the nicest of the three snaps, and the cycle is perpetuated. Interestingly, the leader of the three most recent hunters admits it has been long forgotten why they hunt Gargoyles. All they know is that it is their family legacy.
    • There was pretty much a Seesaw of Revenge going on in the backstory, starting in 997 and possibly ending in 1058: In 997, Gillecomgain's father, Mail Brigti, was killed in battle against Findlaech, and although Findlaech didn't strike the killing blow (and didn't even want to kill Mail Brigti anyway), Gillecomgain still blamed Findlaech for Mail Brigti's death. Then, in 1020, partly to avenge Mail Brigti and partly because Duncan commanded it, Gillecomgain murdered Findlaech. In 1032, Findlaech's son Macbeth learned that Gillecomgain had killed his father and killed Gillecomgain for revenge; then, in 1040, he learned that Duncan had demanded his father's death and killed Duncan as well. In 1057, Duncan's son Canmore "killed" Macbeth to avenge Duncan, and Macbeth's son Luach swore vengeance against Canmore. Whether the cycle was broken when Luach died in battle against Canmore in 1058 is debatable.
    • Gargoyles does contain one aversion to this trope. Xanatos refuses to pursue revenge on any of his enemies, calling it "a sucker's game". Judging by what happened to the other revenge seekers on this show, Xanatos may be right. Xanatos did pursue revenge, albeit reluctantly, in "Double Jeopardy," but he was also thoroughly defeated by Thailog in that episode.
    • This exchange highlights it beautifully.
      The Sisters: You must give them the code.
      Demona: (In a trance) I will have vengeance for the betrayal of my Clan... Vengeance for my pain.
      The Sisters: But who betrayed your Clan? And who caused this pain?
      Demona: (Getting agitated) The Vikings destroyed my Clan!
      The Sisters: Who betrayed the castle to the Vikings? (Note: It was Demona.)
      Demona: The Hunter hunted us down.
      The Sisters: Who created the Hunter? (Note: Demona did)
      Demona: Canmore destroyed the last of us...
      The Sisters: Who betrayed Macbeth to Canmore? (Note: Demona)
      (Pan to wide-eyed 'What have I done' look on Demona's face)
      Goliath: Your thirst for vengeance has only created more sorrow. End the cycle, Demona... give us the code...
      Demona: (Tears forming while saying slowly) The access code is... alone.
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, the Quest kids find themselves caught in a hidden war between the descendants of loyalists from The American Revolution and the Continental Army agents sent to kill them. The original point of the fighting (recovering the original Declaration of Independence, which the Loyalists stole) is all but forgotten (not to mention 200 years moot), and is primarily boiling down to killing the guy on the other side for killing your father, or him coming after you for killing his (usually both).
  • In The Legend of Korra has one in Yakone's family. Yakone was a vicious mob boss who was an extremely powerful bloodbender, forcing Aang to take away his bending. Yakone raised his children as Tykebombs to take revenge on Republic City and the Avatar for this. This abuse drove one of his sons, Noatak, to seek revenge on Benders in general, becoming Amon, while his brother Tarrlok ended up becoming a pseudo-fascist politician with ambitions of ruling Republic City. Ultimately, both brothers ended up becoming Yakone's instruments of revenge, in spite of their attempts to escape his plans. Tarrlok finally ends the cycle by killing himself along with Amon, ending Yakone's legacy along with them.
  • While only the chorus for "Murmaider" is heard in Metalocalypse, both the tie-in first album and the music video in the Season 2 DVD play the full song, which has this trope as the central theme. Set to mermaids committing genocide on each other. Brutal.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: The furbobs and the stonebacks have a rivalry of this sort. The stonebacks can't speak and only express themselves with grunts and snorts, making the furbobs to think they were trying to attack them, causing the latters to antagonize the stonebacks and to drive them to actually attack. This has led to the current situation at the show's start, where the two groups have been locked in a cycle of aggression where the stonebacks seek out the furbobs, are insulted, get mad and destroy the furbobs' current home, making the latters fear them more and starting the cycle again.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • Ultimately subverted before it can truly begin in "One Bad Apple". In it, Apple Bloom's visiting cousin, Babs Seed, joins local mean girls Diamond Tiara & Silver Spoon in bullying the Cutie Mark Crusaders, to the point that they employ a Batman Gambit prank to get her back. However, when told near episode's end that Babs herself had been a victim of bullying due to her lack of Cutie Mark, the Crusaders realize part of what drove her actions and try to stop what they've begun so as not to become bullies themselves.
      • "The Hooffields and McColts": The titular families are locked in a persistent feud whose origins neither side actually recalls. They're just been sabotaging, inconveniencing and attacking each other for so long that "get the other side" is the only motivation they care for anymore. It's eventually revealed that the patriarchs of their families were originally friends, but disagreed about how to properly preserve the natural beauty of the valley they had settled in and started to spitefully sabotage each other's projects, which eventually spiraled into the current feud and ironically devastated the valley they had started the argument over.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle ran afoul of the Floys and the Hatfuls during the "Missouri Mish Mash" arc. Boris Badenov disguised himself as members of both clans as part of a plot to retrieve the Kurwood Derby.
  • Thundercats 2011 has this as an undercurrent of the generations-long war between the Cats and the Lizards. Implicitly, this is Lizard General Slithe's motive over a long career of fighting the Cats.
  • Time Squad: Parodied when the team visited the actual Hatfield and McCoy's, only to find that the McCoy's have become total pushovers who turn the other cheek no matter how much the Hatfields abuses them. Larry teaches them to grow a spine and stand up for themselves with methods he got from a motivational speaker from the 1980's. Unfortunately, this leads to the two families settling their grievances like adults and deciding to live peacefully, and Otto and Tuddrussel end up having to gaslight the two groups with pranks and vandalism to start the actual cycle of revenge and preserve the timeline.

    Real Life 
  • This is one of the reasons why vigilantism is not permitted. If you come after someone because they harmed you or one of your loved ones, what’s to stop one of your target’s loved ones from coming after you (and so on and so forth). As imperfect as law enforcement and the courts are, at least they can have more neutrality and can put aside their emotional side to extent to carry out justice — and even then, they have to deal with Rage Against the Legal System. Not to mention, there are checks and balances to help correct when they do get things wrong.
  • A part of the reason the Arab–Israeli Conflict has lasted so long is largely because of this. Everybody knows somebody who was killed by someone on the other side, and hardliners on both sides feel that they need to take action to make everything even — Palestinian terrorists and/or freedom fighers launch an attack on Israel, which causes Israel to retaliate more forcefully, which increases support for violent retribution in Palestine, which prompts Israel to retaliate more forcefully... Both sides will also claim the other side started it.
  • To prevent cycles of revenge from going on forever, or turning into spirals of revenge, the Anglo-Saxons, as well as many other medieval societies had the institution of weregild ("man gold"), or blood money. Someone outside the feud would come in and decide who had suffered the most (i.e., which side had suffered the most murders). The side that had suffered less would then have to pay a fine to the others' side proportional to the overzealousness of their revenge killings.
  • There are several tribes particularly in South America and Africa that are plagued by this, having been stuck in perpetual warfare for generations because each death must be avenged with death.
  • The culture of Vendetta on the islands of Sicily, Corsica, and Crete caused this kind of thing to happen until very recently (and maybe it's not quite all over yet).
    • On Corsica, this combined with the separatist movement and the tendency of both feuding families and separatists to use bombs as weapons of choice has led to the stereotypical association of the island in French media (including comics) with the onomatopoeia boum.
    • This cycle of vendetta has led in many regions to severe depopulation, as all males have either been killed or forced to flee due to centuries of vendette. In Albania, it is commonplace in such situations for a woman to take the gender role of a male (to have "social sex change").
  • A lot of gang violence boils down to this. Most being retaliations for other gang hits. For many "OGs" ("original gangstas"; i.e. the older generation of members, possibly dating back to the creation of the gang itself) this endless lifestyle of getting wronged, getting revenge, and then having revenge inflicted on you for the revenge, which prompts another revenge is what wears them down and inspires them to give up the life. The fact that many gang rules outright demand that revenge be taken in response only worsens the problem as trying to break the cycle is unacceptable and can be met with violent response from within.
  • World War I. The Christmas Truce of 1914, as well as the general 'live and let live' attitude of 1914-15 (in which there were unofficial ceasefires wherein both sides tacitly agreed not to shoot each other), were unthinkable by the end of 1916. Too much blood had been spilt, everyone had lost too many friends, and the General Staffs on both sides had tried to encourage agression by frequent patrols/'trench raids'. The result was a sort of savage joy in the opportunity to kill the enemy in defensive engagements (in which they would be vulnerable to machine-gun fire) and to 'get at them' (in hand-to-hand fighting, preferably) when on on patrols/raids or on the attack. The Cycle Of Revenge is the main reason that the armies engaged on the Western Front (French, British, German, Italian, Austro-Hungarian) didn't simply fall apart from low morale, despite the mutiny of half of the entire French army in 1917 and the enormous underlying resentment for what was basically a pointless war. On the Eastern Front, the limitations of the Cycle Of Revenge were laid bare, as a steady decline in the relative number of trained officers and NCOs and the rations' quantity and quality and the relative value of the pay (due to inflation) eventually resulted in an French-style mutiny in 1917. It should be noted that the French and Russians were still eager to kill Germans and more than willing to defend their positions while mid-mutiny, it's just that at the time (1917) their concerns with food and pay meant they refused to go on the attack until all that was fixed.
  • The Hatfield-McCoy feud, which, according to popular lore, began with a dispute over a hog and eventually led to the murder of dozens of people. The real reason for the feud probably had more to do with jealousy and a dispute over property rights in the valley where both families lived.
  • Most wars between Maori tribes were "revenge wars", where they would try and get "utu" for their fallen chief, by killing the other tribe's chief.
  • In Northern Ireland during The Troubles, cycles of revenge killings known as "tit for tat killings" were very common. Essentially, random Protestants or Catholics were killed within hours of another killing — which would lead to another random killing...
  • Germany & France between 1870 and 1945. Germany's resounding victory in the Franco-Prussian war and subsequent annexation of territory led to 40+ years of "Revanchism" (from the French revanche, meaning "revenge") being a dominant political movement in France and to France seeking alliances and preparing for another war with Germany. And then the ethnically-German Habsburgs' Generals use the excuse of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination to annex Serbia, which indirectly (once Russia committed itself to supporting Serbian independence) gave France an excuse to participate in World War I once Germany had demanded they give up several strategic fortresses (upon threat of war). A decade-and-a-half after the French & Allied victory in World War I, the Nazis came to power and (eventually, once war broke out over Poland) pursued their own agenda of revenge against France. Luckily after World War II, in which both nations were devastated and left reliant on US support in the face of possible Soviet aggression, they decided to work together...
    • It went back further than that. From a German point of view, 1870/71 was payback for the humiliating defeats of The Napoleonic Wars (yes, they had beaten Napoleon in the end, but not without help from other great powers, most notably Russia and Great Britain). While in France, the victory of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806 was seen as revenge for the humiliating defeat at Rossbach against the Prussian army in 1757 during the Seven Years' War, which in turn was seen by Germans as revenge for Louis XIV's wars of aggression, and so on until the middle ages. People in all seriousness talked of the "hereditary enmity" (Erbfeindschaft) between Germany and France, but that term actually first was coined to describe the long-running enmity between the houses of Habsburg (Austrian Archdukes, Dukes of Burgundy, Kings of Naples and Sicily, Holy Roman Emperors, and sometime-Kings of Castile and Aragon [Spain]) and Valois/Bourbon (Kings of France) that went back to Francis I of France and the accession of Charles V Holy Roman Emperor in 1519.
  • Sadly, Truth in Television among the Roma and Sinti people. They are known to have the blood feud culture with Hair-Trigger Temper and vendettas existing for centuries. In Finland, the Roma make half of all murder sentences in Finland while they represent only 0.5% of the Finnish population.
  • The Norsemen during the Viking age were infamous for this. If a man felt wronged by another, meaning an insult or an act of violence, there were four ways to resolve the conflict.
    • They could reach a settlement, tallying damages for both parties and having one pay a restitution to the other. Any man was honour-bound against breaking such a settlement.
    • Next, there was the option of taking revenge. If a family member had been killed, his relatives as far related as cousins (including in-laws) were obligated to avenge the victim. With communities being small, it wasn't that uncommon for men to have to choose families as they had relatives in both, and usually, it ended up with entire communities fighting for generations. A man was honour-bound to avenge an unsettled vendetta, and the only alternative if he was unable or unwilling was fleeing the country.
    • If a Viking wanted revenge without starting a blood feud, they would sometimes make their case at a thing (a court of chiefs and nobles). And while revenge killings were considered good and just, legal action was seen as underhanded and hostile, and as such was reserved for only the most serious of circumstances. Sentences were fines, banishment, or being declared outlaw (effectively a dishonourable, unavengable death sentence for you or anyone who helps you).
    • Lastly, there was the option of demanding a Trial by Combat. This meant either death, or a verdict of banishment or outlaw, for the loser, with a risk of death from wounds for the victor too.
      • Blood revenge continued in the Norse-lands even as they became monarchies, with the chieftains as nobles and jarls, until the 1200s, when the practice was banned in Norway and Sweden and replaced with courts and laws.
  • The Montenegrins in particular are especially infamous for this. It even has its own name: Krvna Osveta, Blood Feud. Though it isn't as common nowadays, it still does happen in more remote areas.
  • The Balkans in general. The breakdown in Yugoslavia involved (at least per the excuses given): Serbians taking revenge on Croats for siding with the Germans in World War II in revenge for the Serbians doing something to the Croats even earlier, and everyone against the Muslims due to the Turkish invasions of the 1500s, and so on and so forth. And then there are the Greeks and the Turks...for everyone else in the area, the joke goes that they're starting to get over grudges dating back to the Roman Empire. The Greeks and the Turks involve a revenge cycle going back to Classical Greece and the Persian Empire.
  • Sadly, this is Truth in Television and a common Freudian Excuse for Real Life school bullying and cyberbullying cases. Some victims of school bullies eventually snap and go on a school shooting. Victims of cyberbullying who commit suicide will eventually lead to their friends or families hunting for the cyberbully's blood.
  • In intelligence circles, this was known as "blowback", and was one of the biggest reasons behind the decision to catch and deport enemy spies during the Cold War, rather than summarily executing them as had occurred during war-time. If they kill one of your agents, then you find and kill one of their agents in revenge, and everything quickly devolves to everyone trying to kill everyone else, impeding the actual gathering of intelligence that agents are supposed to do. Blowback now generally refers to an intelligence operation where the results and/or consequences of it have negative effects on the country that initiated it, whether foreseen or otherwise.
  • In the War of 1812, the British would commit war crimes on American settlements in response to "American savagery" inflicted on British-American settlements, which in turn would cause the Americans to burn more British settlements, in revenge for "British savagery". The most triumphant example of this was when the Americans burned the Canadian city of York (modern Toronto, the largest city, and the De facto capital of British Canada at the time) only for the British to respond by torching the public buildings of Washington DC. In the same war, soldiers from both sides would routinely collect the scalps from the corpses of enemy soldiers as trophies. Newspapers on both sides demonised the other side for this practice, calling their enemies "little more than Indian savages", but at the same time, newspapers would be willing to turn a blind eye to this exact same activity on their own side. Since the war ended with the exact same borders that existed before the war, neither side gained anything from this activity except a bunch of burned down ruins where wealthy and thriving cities used to be, a large number of dead or displaced civilians, and a massive reconstruction bill costing thousands of pounds for both sides. But hey, at least they got a nice scalp collection out of it!
  • A non-violent and somewhat humorous variant occurs sometimes in Japan. When one person gives another a gift, it is often considered polite to give a "thank you" gift in return. This can occasionally prompt the first person to give another gift, until neither party wants to "lose" by being the first to not give a gift.
  • One of the practical reasons why there are laws of war and treaties regarding the treatment of prisoners is specifically to reduce the risk of this happening. If you don't want your troops being tortured or murdered if captured, you don't torture members of the enemy force. This is one reason why the war on the Eastern Front during World War II was considerably more prone to atrocities than fighting in other areas of Europe: when you have two dictatorships not particularly concerned about human rights or the welfare of the civilians on the other side fighting one another, then, inevitably, atrocity is met by atrocity.
  • This is also the case with children retaliating against their Abusive Parents by becoming Abusive Offspring in response.
  • Make no mistake, the Massacre of Glencoe was a horrific crime on many, many levels. But the fact that there is still lingering resentment between some MacDonalds and Campbells, more than three centuries after the crime itself, gives you some idea how long people can hold a grudge.
  • The origin of the widespread civilian bombing in World War II. German bombers sent to oil storage got lost, and low on fuel, bombed the first urban target they saw, hoping they found their mark. They had instead bombed London, and Churchill ordered revenge bombing on Berlin, which in turn led to Adolf Hitler to rescind his prior order to the luftwaffe to focus military-industrial targets and to ignore civilians. This lasted throughout the war in Europe, with the British wasting nighttime bombing runs on petty terror bombing and leaving the US with the unenviable job of destroying German industrial production by themselves through high-risk daylight raids.
    • It's been theorized (though not confirmed) that the infamous firebombing of Dresden was retaliation for the German bombings during The Blitz.
  • The origins of Singhasari Kingdom in the history of Indonesia: Ken Arok killed Tunggul Ametung with a cursed Kris to claim his kingdom and his wife Ken Dedes, forming Singhasari and expanding the kingdom. Little did he know that Dedes already has a child from Ametung, Anusapati, who heard about his dad's murder and then took the same Kris and killed Arok. Unfortunately for him, Arok already had another child, Panji Tohjaya, from his first wife, and so he took the Kris and killed Anusapati. Anusapati's son, Ranggawuni, on the other hand, learned about the curse and so stepped out of the cycle by killing Tohjaya WITHOUT the Kris. Curse averted.
  • The situation in Iraq. When the Ba'athist regime took power, the Sunnis controlled the government and discriminated against the Shias, despite these being the majority of the country, out of fear that they would topple them like what happened in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. After Saddam Hussein was overthrow by the US in 2003, the Shias were placed into power and began persecuting the Sunnis in retaliation. It became much, much worse in The Arab Spring with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which was formed in the sectarianism that preceded it and they were assisted by disaffected local Sunnis that were sick and tired of Shia oppression and former Ba'athists wanting to regain lost power. ISIS began a genocidal campaign against not only the Shia Muslims, but also Assyrian Christians (forcing them to leave, pay a tax, convert or die) and Yazidis (enslaving their women and children). While Iraq had succeeded in beating ISIS, the Iraqi Sunnis are now even more ostracized, not just by the Shias, but by the Assyrians and Yazidis as well.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cycle Of Hatred, Cycle Of Vengeance


Nicole vs. her parents

Talk about parental issues.

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Main / CycleOfRevenge

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