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Disappointed by the Motive

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"After all your posturing, all your little speeches, you're nothing but a common thief."
Holly Gennero McClane, Die Hard

In fiction, most bad guys have a Freudian Excuse. Some may even go as far as having a Start of Darkness. Some, however, have neither. Or, at least, not a "good" one, as far as the heroes are concerned.

This trope occurs when the bad guy hits the good guys with a Motive Rant for their actions, and a dumbfounded observer proclaims, "THAT'S your reason?" with unabashed disgust or disappointment. To the bad guy, committing murder, Cold-Blooded Torture, or any other heinous deeds or crimes based on that motive made sense. Or at least, they saw it as a legitimate excuse. The heroes and others who find out the truth, however, are utterly disappointed not only that so much evil happened for such nonsensical reasons, but that this loser has had them running around expecting an epic battle of wills.


This isn't the same as For the Evulz or It Amused Me. The character in question had a reason to do what they did beyond their personal enjoyment, but as far as the good guys are concerned (or even other bad guys), it wasn't a very good reason, at least relative to their actions.

Compare and contrast with Motive Decay, where the initial motive was actually a good one (or at least made more sense) than what it ended up devolving into. Also compare Tragic Dream, where the motivation can be very valid, but is in no way reachable, as well as Disproportionate Retribution and Comically Small Demand.

May overlap with Evil Is Petty and Revenge Before Reason. Often overlaps with Wrong Genre Savvy and Motive Misidentification on the part of either the heroes or the villain in question. See also Anti-Climactic Unmasking, where the identity of the perpetrator is also disappointing, Humble Goal (which can affect hero or villain alike—people's reaction to hearing said goal and expecting something bigger could be this Trope).


NOTE: In-Universe Examples Only. The important part of this trope is other characters' reaction to the motive; the motive itself is secondary. Audiences being disappointed by the motive may fall under Fan-Disliked Explanation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • After War Gundam X: This is Garrod Ran's response to the Frost Brothers' Motive Rant: they do have Psychic Powers, just not ones particularly useful to the military, so they were discarded as "Category F" Newtypes; worthless to the military's cause. Because of this they... attempted to exterminate all Newtypes and engineered a world war great enough that it could very well end what's left of civilization. All because their egos were bruised and they were jealous.
    Garrod: All of this!? For such a reason as that!?
  • Attack on Titan: Junior High: Eren Yeager reveals that the reason why he has a murderous hatred of the Titans is because a Titan stole his lunch. Everyone finds this really weak.
  • Subverted in the first episode of Burn Up W. Terrorist group Falcon Claw seize control of a skyscraper and take the workers hostage, then make an absurd list of demands: the manager of their favourite baseball team should publicly prostrate himself to apologize for his team's poor performance, the next installment of video game series Draqemon IX should have the word "FINAL" added to its title, every surfboard at the local beach must be smashed to pieces, and the town's Idol Singer must perform a nude bungee jump. This tips the police off that Falcon Claw are just clueless amateur patsies invited to indulge in their petty whims by the true masterminds of the terrorist strike. In short, the subversion is that the heroes are disappointed at first, but realize soon after that they're being set up.
  • A weird case appears in The Demon Girl Next Door. Momo spontaneously fell to darkness again due to a buildup of negative emotions. She finds the trigger so embarrassing, she genuinely considered staying fallen rather than admitting it. Her trigger was that she missed her chance to eat Yuko's cooking. However, even when Lilith ends up disappointed, Momo lampshades that this is a pretty lame reason to fall to darkness.
    Lilith: And you fell to darkness just because of that?
    Momo: Here's to my petty and boring life...
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the first arc, Oolong is outraged when he learns that Bulma's intended wish for the Dragon Balls is for a boyfriend, especially since he never asked to be dragged along on the adventure; he's only there because Bulma tricked him.
    • Puar is shocked to learn that Yamcha wants to use the Dragon Balls to wish away his fear of women, instead of wishing for wealth or world domination. Yamcha counters that he doesn't want to rule the world and can steal all the money he needs. But his phobia of women is consistently holding him back.
    • Commander Red, leader of the Red Ribbon Army (which has been an entire army made of Knights of Cerebus) initially says he needs the Dragon Balls in order to take over the world. However, he eventually reveals he wants them to wish to be a few inches taller. When his second-in-command, Adjutant Black, finds out, Black kills him and takes over the army.
    • This gets a Call-Back in Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Freeza heads to Earth to find its Dragon Balls in order to wish that he was a whole five centimeters taller — any more would be too obvious a change, and any less than that wouldn't be worth the trouble. His subordinates are rather incredulous that Freeza would wish for that, but are too scared of him to voice their disappointment. It helps that Freeza's strong enough to take over the universe without help from the Dragon Balls.
    • At the end of the Champa Saga in Dragon Ball Super, Beerus says he used his wish to Super Shenron for a more comfortable bed. Bulma's incensed that a God of Destruction wasted the dragon's power on a wish that she could have granted. However, Beerus is lying. He actually used it to wish that Universe 6's Earth would be brought back after it was destroyed, and with the level of culture that Universe 7's Earth had on top of that, all so Beerus's brother Champa could enjoy Earth's cuisine. Beerus just doesn't want to come across as soft, which is why he lied about it.
    • Tien's reaction to Yurin's reason for wanting revenge on him; Tien left the Crane School without sparring with her thirty years ago. For this, Yurin wrecks an entire village. Tien is blown away by the pettiness.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (Manga, Brotherhood, and live-action): Edward Elric attacked Shou Tucker upon realizing that the talking chimera from two years ago was Tucker's wife, and that the new chimera was fused from Tucker's dog and child. To further Ed's disappointment, Shou experimented on his family in an attempt to remain a state alchemist. Tucker not only thought that what he did to his family was acceptable, but also expected it to be rewarding. Tucker tries to give Ed a "Not So Different" Remark speech, but Ed counters that Ed and Al attempted human transfiguration out of a misguided attempt to save their mother. Tucker put his family through inhuman experiments because he didn't want to lose a steady paycheck, which Ed calls out in his speech as pure greed.
  • In Gundam Breaker Battlogue, the Masked Man reveals the reason why he developed the runner system to capture and permanently destroy the gumpla of other competitors is for revenge on Takuma Nagitsuji for defeating him in a previous tournament. Sana's response sums it up best:
    Sana: What a stupid grudge.
  • Monster Musume: One episode involves an Orc radical group causing a Hostage Situation at a bookstore. The Orcs' demand for releasing the hostages is that erotic manga and light novels must start to have more Orc protagonists. The police commissioner asks his aide what the Orcs' other demands are, and develops a Twitchy Eye when it's clear that this is all they want.
  • Due to the nature of the work, this trope ends up happening quite a lot in Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!.
    • When Mahiro found out that the first villain in the series is trying to sell him so that the villain can be a star in a TV drama, Mahiro gets frustrated enough to ask Nyarko to kick the villain's ass.
    • Mahiro's mom is kidnapped by the Cthulhu Corporation. Mahiro, getting used to the new absurdity of his life, tries to predict what's about to happen, and comes to the conclusion that "sononium" (the flimsy excuse that his mom has making to hug him) was what the villains were after. The real reason is that she reviews games, and she's rather famous in space. Mahiro, who had braced himself for the absurdity, still finds this so outlandish that he has a brief Heroic BSoD at the very idea.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Fishman Island arc's climax, Hody Jones is a Fantastic Racist who utterly hates humans. However, it's revealed in an exchange that occurs between himself and Prince Fukaboshi that Hody Jones was just reared to be a bigot. He's never had a bad experience with humans personally. Fukaboshi immediately sends out a mass-communication admitting that Hody's grudge is "one without substance".
      Fukaboshi: What happened to you? Did humans enslave you? Did they hurt your loved ones? Answer me, Hody! What the hell did those humans do to you?
      Hody Jones: Nothing.
    • One year before the story's beginning, the "Pirate Noble" Cavendish took the world by storm. One year later, Cavendish's fame was eclipsed by Luffy and several other rookie pirates now known as the "Worst Generation". Being the Attention Whore that he is, Cavendish has sworn vengeance on those pirates. Even Luffy, an Idiot Hero of the first order, is smart enough to call this out as a rather petty grudge. Cavendish eventually gets over it (kind of) and even becomes the first commander of the Straw Hat Fleet. Though he still wants to be the most famous of them.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • A rare villain-on-hero version of this. The villains may, from time to time, ask Saitama why he's a hero in the first place, fighting against the likes of Eldritch Abominations and the Monster Association who want to Take Over the World and/or Kill All Humans. Saitama reveals that it's not for a sense of justice, for revenge on some villain who wronged him, for glory that comes with being a hero, or even for money that would inevitably come with being part of the Hero Association's upper ranks. Saitama is, in his own words, "just a guy who's a hero for fun". Many of the villains Saitama fights are utterly baffled that this Nigh-Invulnerable Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass would want to be a hero just for the sake of his own amusement.
    • Saitama himself says this to Boros, upon hearing that Boros is motivated primarily by boredom like himself.
      "Are you an idiot? You can't go around attacking planets just to liven up your boring little life! Even telemarketers wouldn't think of that!"
    • Saitama also finds himself disappointed with Garou, the Hero Hunter who is going on a rampage attacking heroes and otherwise breaking down their philosophies. Garou attempts an Armor-Piercing Question on Saitama by asking "Why are you a hero?!" after meeting him, but Saitama throws this back in Garou's face with an Armor-Piercing Question of his own: "Why are you holding back?" Saitama, thanks to his own incredible level of strength, notes that Garou is intentionally not going all-out in their fight, leading to Saitama ending up disappointed when he deduces Garou's actual motive: Garou decided that if he couldn't be the world's greatest hero, he would instead be the world's greatest villain. Saitama follows this up with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how Garou will never beat him with a petty mindset like that, which significantly weakens Garou's resolve to be a bad guy.
  • One Villain of the Week in Outlaw Star posed as the anonymous leader of a terrorist group, announced he would inflict a Colony Drop on a major population center, and did just that. Gene and his crew soon discover who they are, however — to their surprise and slight disgust, these bad guys weren't a terrorist group at all (in the motivational sense), but a large group of thieves. They used the Colony Drop to evacuate the city so they could steal as many valuable items as they could before the area is annihilated. Gene calls them out on being nothing more than petty thieves willing to ruin people's lives and kill who-knows-how-many people for the sake of a little money.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito and Asuna, trapped in a game where losing all your HP means death in the real world, investigate a series of murders (two staged and one actual) that supposedly happened because of Loot Drama. While Kirito has enough experience with MMOs to be disgusted by that, the culprit's real motive is even worse. The guild leader's husband was disturbed by how much more confident and assertive his previously meek and submissive wife was becoming, and wanted to kill her while she was still his wife so that she didn't divorce him in the real world. Kirito and Asuna are appalled, and tell Grimlock that if he feels this way, he never truly loved his wife.
    Kirito: Your wife wouldn't listen to you... and that's why you killed her?
  • Ushio and Tora: During the "Great Youkai War" arc, the Kamaitachi duo Raishin and Kagari are confronted by the three western Kamaitachi, who have proven to be violence-loving nutjobs. Before their climatic duel in the mansion, they ask them why they're always in human form, explaining that, in their case, it was a sign of their newfound respect for Ushio and a sign that they overcome the Fantastic Racism which cost them their little brother Juuro, who succumbed for his hatred (helped by the fact that one of the trio reminds them of said brother). The first brother says it's because he's addicted to cigarettes and he wouldn't be able to smoke in a weasel's body, the sister claims that she just loves wearing human dresses which make her look sexy, and the last brother simply likes the idea of having a body with limbs and neck fully distinct from the body. Upon hearing these reasons, the two are angered by these petty motives and find the resolve to fight them without holding back.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! (first anime series), Yami Yugi is more than a little peeved to find out that the Phony Psychic Kokurano has caused dangerous accidents after predicting them beforehand, all so he could pretend that he could predict the future and have people pay attention to him.
    Yami Yugi: All your predictions are fake. The fire and the light in the gym. You did it all, that's all there is to it. And all just so you could pretend to have superpowers.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Rex Raptor joined the Orichalcos, which is stealing peoples' souls and aims to wipe out humanity, and is trying to kill Joey Wheeler. When the two confront each other, Rex says his motive is revenge for Joey beating him in a Duel Monsters game once, which made Rex lose his popularity. Joey is annoyed and tells Rex to get a life.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Flash (Rebirth), Barry is aghast to learn Eobard Thawne's motive for becoming Reverse Flash — he thought he and Barry had bonded over some advice Barry gave him, but when he came back in time to be Barry's partner he overheard him giving Wally the same advice. And if he wasn't the most important person in Barry's life, then clearly Barry's friendship was a lie.
  • Captain America is disappointed to learn Loki tried to murder them all out of petty jealousy in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers Issue #8.
  • In an issue of Monica's Gang set in the real-life theme park based on the franchise, the villain starts paralyzing everyone in the theme park with a weapon he invented. When Monica and Jimmy ask his motivations, the villain reveals he just wants to play with all the rides in the theme park, he couldn't bear all the kids on the rides, and he hated waiting in line. Bonus points for the fact that the villain was an adult, and that the now-closed park was more like a deluxe playground with slides and ball pools, instead of things like rollercoasters and a midway. Of course, Monica and Jimmy don't take this very well.
  • Towards the end of the post-Infinite Crisis Secret Six miniseries, Mad Hatter tried to kill Scandal Savage, because she once swatted his hat. The other members of the Secret Six just get more pissed off when they hear his reason.
  • Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom: When Superman finds out that Maelstrom raided Metropolis, brought one hospital down, injured hundreds and hurt his cousin...just because she is trying to pique Darkseid's interest, he calls her a very sad and disturbed person before throwing her back to Apokolips. Later, Supergirl has a similar "You MUST be joking" reaction.
    Superman: Do you mind telling me why it is you want to kill me?
    Maelstrom: I intend to become the Queen of Apokolips! Darkseid will see the extent of my devotion to him.
    Superman: How demented and sad, but I suppose that's par for the course on Apokolips. I'm not sorry to say that I'm sending you home empty-handed, Maelstrom. You seem like a very disturbed woman.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In Issue #41, Raven is disappointed that Kitten's evil alter egos were just a way to get her father's attention.
  • Issue #4 of Thunderbolts has the titular characters tracking down someone who has been kidnapping orphan children. That someone turns out to be Mad Scientist Arnim Zola, who has been using the children as test subjects for his experiments, resulting in all of them but one being turned into monsters. When they ask who he was working for, he reveals he had no client — he was just doing it to "keep himself busy". Jolt, the girl who wasn't turned into a monster, is understandably infuriated.
  • X-Men: One story features a mysterious new supervillain named Kaga who turns out to be just a bitter old Japanese man in a wheelchair who, as a Hiroshima survivor with deforming, debilitating mutations, was jealous of Mutants for having relatively benign and paranormal mutations (plus many of them looking drop-dead gorgeous, even the allegedly "freakish" Nightcrawler and Beast). He lampshades and defies this trope. Immediately upon learning this, Cyclops lets Kaga have it, more than disgusted with his motivation.
    Kaga: What were you expecting? A master plan? A scheme to turn off the sun? This is the real world. Hatred and disgust are good enough reasons to want to kill people.
    Cyclops: Seriously? There are people who hate us because we're not outcast enough?
  • Fantastic Four: There was a storyline in 2014 where someone goes out of their way to get the team to end, including framing the Thing for murder, using Reed and Sue's son Franklin's powers to create models of old superheroes to attack the real world, and so on. The villain behind all of this is the Quiet Man, who also took the team to court for the collateral damage that they have caused. The Quiet Man reveals that he only did this because he was interested in Sue in college, and was jealous that Reed "stole" her from him. Reed quickly calls this out as both pathetic and insane, pointing out that the Quiet Man wasted his whole life on petty vengeance when all signs show that he's a genius who could have changed the world if he wasn't being so petty and spiteful.

    Fan Works 
  • And That Made all the Difference has the two Twilight Sparkles trying to learn why an alternate world version of Princess Celestia abducted them from their home dimensions and let their universes become Crapsack Worlds. All their kidnapper can say as to why they did it is "I don't know." The kidnapper is following their visions for the future, despite having no idea what would happen. As a result, the two Twilights are outraged.
  • Becoming a True Invader: Everyone is dumbfounded to learn that, ultimately, the only reason Zim wants to conquer Irk is so that he can then officially make himself an Invader again.
  • In Bitter Tears: An Anon-A-Miss Fic, the CMC get this reaction twice, first by Rainbow Dash, then by Sunset.
    • The first time is when Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo confess to being Anon-A-Miss. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle acted out of jealousy that Sunset Shimmer was getting so much attention from Applejack and Rarity, causing the Crusaders to feel left out when Sunset was invited to a sleepover and they weren't. The Rainbooms aren't too happy about how petty of a reason that is to basically ruin Sunset's life. Rainbow in particular calls the Crusaders "secret-spreading, backstabbing, lying little brats" after they confess. Sunset later points out that the upcoming Apple family holiday party was right around the corner, and that Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle would have had plenty of time to hang out with their sisters there. Had they just waited a few more days, they would have gotten everything that they wanted.
      Rainbow Dash: Let me see if I got this right. You posted our most private and embarrassing secrets, made us laughingstocks of the entire school, framed Sunset, and turned the school completely on its head... because you didn't get invited to a freaking slumber party. That's what you're telling me.
    • The second time is when Rainbow asks Scootaloo why she was part of Anon-A-Miss, because Scootaloo doesn't have a sister in the Rainbooms like the other Crusaders. The only explanation Scootaloo can come up with is "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time". Rainbow is disgusted with this answer, punching Scootaloo in the face for it. Later, Sunset says that while Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle at least had a motive for being Anon-A-Miss — a short-sighted, selfish, petty motive, but a motive all the same — Scootaloo doesn't even have that.
  • During their confrontation in Chapter 70 of BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant, Ruby is left incredulous when Terumi explains that his reason for engineering Ragna's Black Beast transformation and causing so much death and destruction throughout Vale is "Well, why not?"
  • In Bonne Foi, when Edward learns that he was turned and abandoned by Victoria in a moment of idle boredom, Bella voices her disgust at how unbelievably petty that is to justify what Edward’s been through.
  • In Clash Of Marvels A Coreline Short Story, the reactions of Asuka and Misato reflect their incredulity at the villain's motive. An alternate of Georgia Sivanna was desperate at wanting to have a fellow "super-criminal" friend. To this end, Alternate Georgia forced an apparently lethal example of Let's You and Him Fight on Asuka (who has the powers of the Marvel Family) in the hopes that she would get Drunk on the Dark Side from the "kill" so that Georgia could arrive later and offer her friendship.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Denial: While Nagito sees the mutual killing game as an excellent way of strengthening Hope, he is absolutely disgusted when he figures out the second murderer's motives, accusing them of being driven by Despair. When the full truth comes out, there's some implication that he also feels personally insulted by their methods: they set up a trap to blacken somebody else's hands, leaving it up to luck who would wind up murdering their target.
  • The Days of Reckoning Are Upon Us: In one snippet, upon hearing the Maximoff twins' reason for hating Tony Stark (that he made the missile that killed their parents), Ultron is so disgusted that he not only kills them both for their obvious insanity, but decides to contact Tony Stark and give him (and humanity) the benefit of the doubt. Ultron even takes time to ask if it occurred to the twins to want revenge on the people who fired the missile at their home or the ones who ordered the attack and it's made clear that they didn't.
  • Deku? I think he's some pro...: When Sir Nighteye confronts Toshinori over his continued insistence that Izuku cannot become a hero, he eventually admits that part of the reason he's so against it is because he wasn't able to become a Quirkless Hero himself. He was only able to achieve his own dreams because Nana gave him One For All. Nighteye is disgusted by the realization that Toshinori arrogantly assumes that because he couldn't do it, nobody could, and makes clear just how much that hurts his opinion of his long-time friend.
  • The Dragon Ball Z Abridged adaptation of Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan has Vegeta (who had up to that point practically been squeeing over how awesome Broly is) fall into this trope when he learns that Broly's entire motivation is that when they were babies, he and Goku had neighboring cribs and Goku's crying kept him awake. Then he's utterly stunned that the Legendary Super Saiyan is literally nothing more than a giant baby throwing a galaxy-destroying temper tantrum.
    Paragus: Broly hates Kakarot. Because he cried. A lot. For like, three hours!
    Vegeta: But... that's really dumb. But he's so cool! But that's SO DUMB!
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: Upon finding out about her reasons for leaving for Meridian, Alchemy is outright pissed that Elyon is willingly staying with Phobos out of nothing more than a desire to be a princess.
  • In the Infinity Crisis spin-off Sins, Sirens & Strife, Jane Foster reflects that Amora's goal of making people love her is fundamentally pathetic.
  • Unlike canon, in Jaden's Harem: Return of the Supreme King Jaden isn't remotely sympathetic to Bier and Beauregard who became the Duel Giant and stole cards from Obelisk students due to being made fun of. He gives them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how in the real world, people aren't required to be nice to you and they need to grow up already.
  • In Karma in Retrograde, Touya's self-loathing is amplified by him being disappointed in his own motive. Sure, he did suffer from an abusive father, but so did his other siblings, and they didn't become murderous supervillains.
  • Kidnapping the Waynes has a Wayne Enterprises employee feeling insulted that Bruce Wayne reduced the board's importance and named his sixteen-year-old Child Prodigy son CEO. The way he decided to vent his frustration was NOT to Bruce's tastes.
    Batman: You stole money from a man, and then used it to send Rogues to prey upon his children. You traumatized multiple people — multiple children. Onomatopoeia nearly killed one of Damian Wayne's friends. Jason Todd-Wayne was poisoned and thrown in the trunk of a car. The man you sent to watch Richard Grayson-Wayne would have raped and mutilated him if given half the chance. Both the men you chose to set upon Tim Wayne would have done worse. You arranged for a child to be tortured before being killed. All because you felt slighted?
  • Leave for Mendeleiev:
  • In the Maleficent/Descendants crossover A mother's love, when Maleficent confronts her Auradon counterpart, she is disgusted that her Auradon self's actions were motivated purely because she felt insulted that she wasn't invited to the Christening. Fae-Maleficent may recognize that her initial curse on Aurora was Misplaced Retribution, but she counters that at least she was motivated by a legitimately personal issue with the king rather than a relatively minor personal slight.
  • In My Little Pony: Totally Legit Recap, Twilight is less than impressed when Cozy Glow details what made her so evil: nothing. Cozy intended to give herself a Dark and Troubled Past to justify how evil she was by creating a tragic backstory claiming she was manipulated by Tirek into causing a Sugar Apocalypse. After silently glaring at Cozy for a few seconds, the cast throws Cozy into a cell in Tartarus.
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!: Izuku is dumbfounded when he hears the Ultra-Humanite's motive for destroying the Tokyo National Museum and potentially killing everyone inside.
    Izuku: Y-You're going to destroy the TNM? Just because they're getting rid of some good-looking art? That-That's so stupid!
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
    • Several times in Season 1, Norlock expresses disappointment and disbelief towards Zim's actions and plans. He also doesn't think much of why the Tallest sent Zim to Earth in the first place, seeing it as squandering his potential.
    • Dib and Viera are both disgusted by Zim's plan in Season 2 Episode 9 boiling down to just causing property damage and random chaos out of boredom, noting that it seems lazy and small-scale compared to his usual stuff.
  • Princess of the Blacks:
  • Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead: Celestia is dumbfounded by the reason that the Big Bad of the story helped start a zombie plague. Principal Cinch, who is now a vampire, is out for revenge on Canterlot High because Crystal Prep lost the Friendship Games. Cinch had previously spent months trying to appeal the decision to the school board, and failed each time. Cinch eventually decided to take actions that resulted in people at CHS dying or having their lives destroyed, all for the sake of having Canterlot High's win reversed and restoring Crystal Prep's perfect undefeated record. Celestia can't believe Cinch's pettiness, calling the Friendship Games "a stupid set of random contests", one that certainly isn't worth all the trouble that Cinch brought to their town. Celestia says that the Big Bad's reason for causing so much misery in Canterlot is the dumbest thing she's ever heard. Iron Will later voices similar sentiments at the Big Bad's motive.
  • Naruto accidentally figures out in Reaching for a Dream that the biggest reason Madara wants to ensnare the world in the Infinite Tsukiyomi is because he had an unrequited crush on Mito. Naruto is amazed by how pathetic Madara's motive is, telling him to get over it.
  • Syngenesophobia: While her husband was talking with Dr. Lopez, Rita Loud asks her daughters how they had handled the Sister Fight Protocol. Turns out the Loud sisters beat their brother so badly that he went to the hospital because Lori and Leni were fighting over owning the same dress. After learning the full story, Rita angrily yells at Lori and Leni for doing something so terrible over something so trivial. Ronnie-Anne also calls Lori and Leni stupid for for not realizing that the Sister Fight Protocol wasn't working.
  • ...That's It? is all about Twilight Sparkle having this response regarding Starlight Glimmer's Freudian Excuse (in contrast to her canon reaction). When Starlight says that the reason she almost caused The End of the World as We Know It is because her friend Sunburst moved away when they were kids after he got his cutie mark, Twilight is utterly dumbfounded, reacting with the fic's title. Twilight proceeds to explain how childish, petty, and selfish this all is to Starlight, who listens.
    • We Can Do This Forever also does this with Twilight and Starlight. Twilight's not only incredulous at how petty she finds Starlight's motive, but Twilight also says that Starlight could have just sent Sunburst letters if he was that important to her.
    • In Sunset Shimmer Is Mad About Everything Twilight maintains her canon attitude regarding Starlight Glimmer's motives, whereas Sunset, who's already on a somewhat passive-aggressive jag of picking at inconsistencies in everything going on around her, is all over this. She's actually more sympathetic than Twilight to Starlight's feelings (especially once given the impression they're both orphans), but also comes out of it with the first hint that there's something fundamentally missing in Starlight's head that isn't just going to fix itself with friendship.
  • to lose someone: Alya and Lila convince the rest of their class to tear up one of Marinette's sketchbooks as 'revenge' for her supposedly bullying Lila. Marinette (who anticipated this and ensured the only sketchbook they could ruin was one filled with designs meant for them) is less than impressed by their reasoning, laying on the sarcasm very thick about how their plan was supposed to work.
    Alya: We just... we just wanted you to know what it felt like for Lila, being bullied by you all the time.
    Marinette: Wow. [slow clapping] Wow. A-plus execution there, guys, congrats. I am a fully reformed person and I will never say another bad word against Madame Lila Agnes Rossi ever again. Wow. Who knew that in order to make a bad person good, all you have to do is try and make them feel like shit? Truly, you have unlocked the answer to life, death, and the universe. Please, tell me your secrets, oh great ones.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • In the episode "Rocks Fall, Everyone Duels", the Pharaoh is stumped as to why Dartz would want everyone in the entire world dead after Atlantis was destroyed and everyone was turned into monsters, since it doesn't make any sense to him. As the Pharaoh puts it, Dartz "lived in a nice place, some rocks fell from the sky, the place wasn't so nice anymore, so now [he's] using these rocks to kill everybody." It's lampshaded throughout the episode with various characters saying "well, that checks out" when some Insane Troll Logic pops up. Kaiba subverts this, since he doesn't care about Dartz's explanation or the fate of the world at all; Kaiba just wants to play a card game because Dartz took over his company.
      Yami: Remember in Infinity War, when you realize that maybe what Thanos was doing kind of made sense? Yeah, this is the exact opposite of that.
    • Dartz's entire organization runs on this. Raphael's family drowned and he was stranded on an island for several years when their ship sank in a storm, and he was later saved by some fishermen; he just decided afterwards that Humans Are Bastards. Alister lost his little brother in the war that destroyed his home country, which he decided to blame on the first person he saw (Gozaburo Kaiba, and by extension Seto) since he had no idea which country was attacking them. Valon actually gets commended by Joey for being the only member with anything resembling a coherent motive; he's a Misanthrope Supreme who "just fucking hates people."

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 8mm, the motive of the killer is that he simply wanted to because he likes to hurt and kill people. This enrages Tom enough to kill him.
  • Die Hard
    • The first movie has an exchange after The Reveal about the Evil Plan of the terrorists. Hans and his gang kidnapped an office full of workers at their Christmas party, wanted an international criminal let loose in the name of a "revolution" worldwide, killed several people, and caused a massive police response because of everything they'd done. However, the climax of the film shows that all of their terrorism was just cover to buy them enough time to get the building's safe open. The terrorists never really cared about "revolution," the hostages, or the world; they just wanted money. Holly is rather incredulous that Hans went through so much trouble just for money. During the climactic showdown, John has a similar reaction as Holly to the point that he lays into Hans with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech (although John's just stalling for time).
      Holly Gennero McClane: After all your posturing, all your little speeches, you're nothing but a common thief.
      Hans Gruber: I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.
    • All but one of the following films (Die Hard with a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard), upon the reveal that the villains have done so much wanton terrorism in order to get richer (incredibly richer, but still), McClane is experienced enough to not care anymore, while his sidekick of the movie has one big "what?" moment. With a Vengeance even has the villain's henchman react this way to learning the real motive. Die Hard 2 is the odd one out: while all of the bad guys are mercenaries getting paid a hefty amount of money to get The Generalissimo to a country with no extradition, the Big Bad General Stewart has an actual political motive for his actions (he's essentially an Ollie North Captain Ersatz helping a former Cold War ally).
    • Live Free or Die Hard has Matt openly let down when he realizes that Gabriel's entire "revolution" and "bringing down the system" talk and actions were all a cover for him stealing top-secret information to blackmail the government for money.
  • In the movie Falling Down, William Foster has been through a lot: losing his job, his family, and otherwise having things go wrong. But finally, he goes on a rampage around Los Angeles because... he wants to go to his daughter's birthday party (granted it's implied that he was going to do much worse but still); along the way he gets pissed at people for the pettiest reasons. Somewhat justified in that his ex-wife implies he needed professional help. At the climax in the movie, this exchange happens:
    Bill: I'm the bad guy? How did that happen? I did everything they told me to. Did you know I build missiles? I help to protect America. You should be rewarded for that. Instead, they give it to the plastic surgeon. They lied to me.
    Sergeant Prendergast: Is that what this is about? You're angry because you got lied to? Is that why my chicken dinner is drying out in the oven? Listen, pal, they lie to everyone. They lie to the fish. But that doesn't give you any special right to do what you did today.
  • Subverted in Goldfinger. Bond openly states "I'm disappointed in you, Goldfinger" as the man's entire plan to rob Fort Knox will never work as it's impossible to remove all the gold in less than two weeks. At which point, Goldfinger smugly replies "whoever mentioned anything about removing it?" Bond realizes Goldfinger's real plan is to detonate a dirty bomb within Fort Knox, rendering the U.S. gold supply worthless for decades which means Goldfinger's own private gold holdings become ten times more valuable.
    Bond: I apologize, Goldfinger. It's an inspired deal.
  • GoldenEye: Bond mocks Trevelyan over his plan to electronically rob the Bank of England and then detonate a Golden Eye satellite above London to erase the electronic records, saying it boils down to petty theft. Trevelyan retorts that his plan is less about the money and more about getting revenge on the British government for sending his Lienz Cossack parents to their deaths following World War II. Bond is even less impressed at this motive, saying that Trevelyan is prepared to create a global financial Stone Age and potentially kill millions for the sake of an old grudge.
    Bond: In the end, you're just a bank robber. Nothing more than a common thief.
    Trevelyan: You always did have a small mind, James. It's not just erasing bank records, it's everything on every computer in Greater London. Tax records, stock market, credit ratings, land registries, criminal records. In 16 minutes and 43, oh, 42 seconds, the United Kingdom will re-enter the Stone Age!
    Bond: A worldwide financial meltdown. And all so mad little Alec can settle a score with the world, fifty years on.
  • In Happy Death Day, Tree Gelbman is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where she keeps getting killed by a masked stranger. Eventually, she finds out the killer is her roommate Lori, who hated her for attracting a married man she liked. Tree cannot believe she was being killed over something so petty. Mind you, that's only one reason. The other is "You're a dumb bitch too!"
  • Hot Fuzz. After constructing an elaborate scenario involving a local supermarket-owner murdering various townsfolk to secure land that will soon have an expressway built through it, thus escalating in value, Nicholas Angel learns that Mr. Skinner and his associates actually killed those people for extremely petty reasons, such as having an annoying laugh, being a bad actor, owning a McMansion or repeatedly making grammatical errors in the newspaper. Their ringleader, police chief Frank Butterman, allows this and targets anyone who dissents or stands out, which included the slaughter of a large number of street performers and homeless people (not unsubtle about implying that this latter act involved taking out whole families), in order to win the annual Village of the Year competition. Angel's reaction to the Motive Rant is equal parts dumbfounded and horrified at such pettiness.
  • Played for Laughs in Hot Shots! Part Deux. There's a mole who has provided information to Saddam Hussein, and compromised several prisoner rescue missions already. At the end, it's discovered that the mole is the Girl of the Week Michelle, and that she has a vendetta against the previous Girl of the Week Ramada, which drove Michelle to treason. She gives a very Psycho Lesbian-sadomasochist-Girl-on-Girl Is Hot-laden Motive Rant to the heroes... which climaxes with Michelle explaining that her grudge is because Ramada stopped going bungee-jumping with her in college because Ramada didn't like how dangerous it was. Everybody else — mostly men getting hot and bothered from the increasing explicitness of the rant — snaps out of it from the sheer pettiness of Michelle selling out her country for such a reason. Ramada further calls Michelle out on her bullshit during the subsequent Designated Girl Fight.
    Ramada: You turned your back on America...for the sake of your own petty jealousy.
  • In Joker (2019), everyone, including Murray Franklin, believes that Arthur Fleck killed three Wayne Enterprises employees as a political statement and out of a desire to start a movement. Murray is disappointed when Arthur admits on live TV that he actually did it because he saw them as awful and that the riots that started in his wake were just circumstance. Of course, the complete truth is even murkier; Fleck killed two of the employees in self-defense and the last For the Evulz.
  • Kill Bill: When the Bride finally gets to Bill, the two talk it out before their final battle. Bill ordered a massacre at her wedding and nearly put a bullet in the Bride's head was upon learning she faked her death to get out of the assassination business. On top of that, even though the Bride survived, she was also pregnant at the time; when she woke up, her then-unborn daughter was long gone. The only explanation Bill gives to why he orchestrated all of her misery is "I overreacted". To say the least, the Bride isn't amused by Bill's answer.
  • A Black-and-Gray Morality version of this Trope occurs on Payback: Porter only wants back his seventy thousand dollars, his share of the heist that Val Resnick stole from him (leaving him for dead). Every single person who hears this (especially the bad guys) can't believe that Porter is willing and able to take on the entire criminal underworld of the city for such a low amount of money (they assume that, at the very least, it would be for the whole $140,000 that the heist paid off. Porter keeps correcting them that it's for just the seventy--a few times violently). And no, it's not that It's the Principle of the Thing or anything similar — he just really wants those damned seventy grand.
  • Red Sonja: When Sonja and Gedren finally face off, Sonja asks Gedren why she had to kill all of her family (she thought that it was only because of the Talisman that they were guarding and that Gedren has used to take over most of the region). Gedren pulls off the mask that she's been wearing all along (a half-face device similar to the one of The Phantom of the Opera) and shows her the tiny scar on her cheek and goes on about how it's a just revenge for such a besmirch. Sonja gets pretty angry at the fact that the people she loved were massacred over such a petty slight.
  • True Lies: While he's about to be tortured, Harry asks Juno why she's helping the terrorists. When she flippantly admits it's just for the pay-off she's going to get and that she doesn't care about the goals of either the Crimson Jihad or those of Harry, he calls her "damaged goods" and a "psychopathic bitch".
  • From Who Framed Roger Rabbit: The villain, Judge Doom, wants to pave over Toon Town to create a long freeway. Eddie is stunned that Doom would go through all the trouble he did, including murder and attempted murder, just for that. When Judge Doom turns out to be a Toon, Eddie isn't surprised, saying "That lamebrain freeway idea could only be cooked up by a toon."
    Judge Doom: Eight lanes of shimmering cement, from here to Pasadena. Smooth, safe, fast. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past.
    Eddie Valiant: So that's why you killed Acme and Maroon? For this freeway? I don't get it.
    Judge Doom: Of course not. You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on, all day, all night. Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food, tire salons, automobile dealerships, and wonderful, wonderful billboards as far as the eye can see! My God, it'll be beautiful!

  • Artemis Fowl: Holly is not quite disappointed but very surprised when she finds out that the guy who kidnapped a fairy is only doing it to ransom her for a very large quantity of gold. Prior to that, she'd assumed his goal was to spark an interspecies war.
  • Barry Trotter and the Unnecessary Sequel: Barry confronts the Big Bad (who works in Wizard/Muddle Relations) and learns that he was prepared to exterminate the entire wizard community just to cut down the amount of paperwork in his job:
    Barry: That's it? No World Domination?
    Big Bad: Nope. That'd be an even bigger hassle. Who needs it? I just want to retire. Do you want an evil cackle or something?
    Barry: It might be nice! This is only the denouement to the entire sodding book! Genocide as a paperwork-reduction method is kind of a letdown, yes!
  • Ciaphas Cain: In "Traitor's Gambit", Tau sympathizers hijack and blow up a ship to take out the Lord General. After Cain discovers that the mastermind was just there to loot the ship, he calls her a common thief, to which she reacts pridefully.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: In Forward the Foundation, the investigators of the murder of Emperor Cleon I are more than a little aghast at discovering that the man who murdered the Emperor and sent the Foundation's plans to hell was his gardener Gruber, who got more than a little impulsive at discovering that the Emperor appointed him, against Gruber's most fervent wishes, to the position of Head Gardener. As Gruber explains, this would mean becoming a Desk Jockey and not being able to tend the gardens anymore, as well as micromanaging his replacements. Though Gruber also admits that this was an incredibly stupid decision.
  • In the Period Piece mystery novel Eater of Souls from the Lord Meren series, an ancient Egyptian serial killer targets people for such "unforgivable crimes" as accidentally spilling his drink or beating him to the punch in hiring a prostitute he'd had his eye on. The sleuths who solve the case are, themselves, taken aback by just how petty the killer's motives had been for several of the murders. It's why they conclude that he hadn't been possessed by the demonic Anut, but was merely acting out his own self-centered vendetta: no self-respecting divine being, even a scary one, would've gone to the trouble of seeking payback for such trivial offenses.
  • Mary Russell: In A Letter of Mary, an archaeologist is murdered shortly after returning from the Holy Land with an ancient letter that has significant historical and theological implications. Sherlock Holmes is pleased to have a case for once that seems to be motivated by ideology instead of boring old greed, and is subsequently very annoyed when it turns out to be a straight-up case of Inheritance Murder unrelated to the contents of the letter.
  • In the story "Totally Trashed" by Roz Kaveney in the second Temps collection, after Lord Orpington is revealed as the evil mastermind behind the robotic attacks on the Marcias, Loric is disappointed to learn that his motive is not the crazed remnants of his love for the mother of the woman they were cloned from, but simply that he's been embezzling their DPR stipend and is worried this might come out.
  • Malia Ngo in Unsong is so disgusted with Dylan Alvarez's Freudian Excuse of being angry at the world for not giving him a Freudian Excuse that she tries to kill him on the spot.
  • In Wings of Fire, the main cast is quite disappointed when they find out why someone tried to kill Tsunami: it was Tsunami's fiancé Whirlpool, who tried to kill Tsunami because he didn't want to marry her. Instead of just calling things off, Whirlpool decided that Murder Is the Best Solution.
  • In the revised version of Nightworld, in which Repairman Jack is upgraded from a supporting character to the co-hero with Glaeken, the pair of them confront arch-villain Rasalom after the Otherness has rewarded its agent with a One-Winged Angel form. Although Rasalom's multi-limbed and taloned form is formidable enough, it strikes Jack as so damn stupid-looking that he ponders aloud how the villain could possibly have thought that becoming that could be worth untold millennia of scheming to destroy the world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this, along with a dose of But for Me, It Was Tuesday thrown in for good measure, is how Agent Coulson reacts to hearing Anton Ivanov's motive for doing everything the man's done, and that the only thing he cares about is stopping maniacs like Ivanov from destroying the world for their own petty and selfish little reasons.
    All of these things you've done, all of the energy spent, the hatred. And you know what the funny thing about it is? I have no idea who the hell you are. I've been on hundreds of missions in my time. This one you're so upset about, I was sent to retrieve an object. If I'm being honest, I don't even remember what it was. As far as I'm concerned, you're just another Red Shirt like so many others who tried unsuccessfully to stop me from saving the world. 'Cause that's what I do. So, cool origin story bro, but this means nothing to me.
  • In Arrow, Malcolm Merlyn gets a double dose of this when he confronts his wife's murderer, first thinking that Brickwell killed her to get into a gang, only to find out that he used it for his initiation after the fact; Brickwell didn't intend to kill her, just rob her. When she fell to pieces begging for her life, he was so disgusted by her weakness that he shot her just for spite.
  • Parodied in Brooklyn Nine-Nine: When someone steals Captain Holt's pie, he acts as if it's a serious crime, and is disgusted when he finds the pie uneaten and thrown in the garbage.
    Holt: My pie. It wasn't even eaten. Just thrown away like common street trash.
    Hitchcock: Makes me sick. You spend your life on the force, and it never gets easier.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Late in Season 5, this is Buffy's initial reaction to The Reveal that the extent of Glory's Evil Plan amounts to nothing more than just using Dawn/the Key to open a portal so she can return to her home dimension. However, she immediately learns that this will kill Dawn and the portal will cause all dimensions to bleed into each other and destroy the world, so it is still very dangerous, not to mention Glory is a sadistic former God of Evil trying to regain her lost power, so she needs to be stopped either way.
    Buffy: That's it? That's Glory's master plan? To go home?
    • Played for Laughs, sort of, in "Earshot." The gang knows that someone is going to try and kill lots of people at school, and try to figure out who it could be and what their motives are. At first it seems to be Jonathannote , and Buffy manages to talk him down with a powerful speech that acknowledges how much pain he must be in to have been pushed so far. Then she finds out that the real would-be killer is the school lunch lady, who is apparently just crazy.
      Lunch Lady: Vermin! You're all vermin. You come in here and you eat, and you eat. Filth!
      Buffy: [Beat] I don't see this being settled with logic.
  • Criminal Minds: In "Hopeless", the team initially assume that the perpetrators of several brutal home invasions were a group of disenfranchised, unemployed individuals with nothing left to live for taking out their rage on society at large. Morgan is disgusted to find out that the killers were actually fairly comfortable blue-collar men with decent jobs who killed purely for the fun of it. This disgust is what likely fueled the team's decision to let the unsubs get killed via Suicide by Cop.
  • CSI Verse:
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Evil of the Daleks": Jamie is incredulous that Theodore Maxtible has collaborated with the Daleks and caused all this anguish just to learn how to turn metal into gold. The Doctor says that people have done worse for less.
    • "The End of the World": Lady Cassandra attempts to sabotage the planet Earth's "funeral party"... so she can manufacture a hostage situation with herself as one of the hostages and then sue for compensation. The Doctor is deeply unimpressed that, five billion years in the future, it still comes down to money.
    • "Voyage of the Damned": The Doctor finds out that the only reason the villain is trying to crash the spaceship into Earth is to get back at the board that kicked him out of his own company. The Doctor calls him out on how pathetic he is.
      The Doctor: So that's the plan? A retirement plan? Two thousand people on board this ship, six billion underneath us, all of them slaughtered, and why? Because Max Capricorn is a loser!
    • "Rosa": The discovery in the final act is that the Villain of the Week is a time traveller out to Make Wrong What Once Went Right in the Civil Rights Movement by preventing Rosa Parks's famous bus protest. He's not doing it out of some grand scheme to conquer the world or anything similar; it's because he's just some random racist mass murderer from the 52nd century with a Restraining Bolt who got his hands on a time machine and didn't want black people to be equal to white people. This motive is enough for the person that heard his Motive Rant to look at him, utterly stupefied, for a couple of seconds. Then, they Pay Evil unto Evil by shooting him with his own temporal transfer gun, sending him even further into the past and most likely to the dinosaur era, this time with no way back.
    • "The Timeless Children": Ashad the Lone Cyberman's grand plan is to upgrade the Cybermen completely into robots and wipe out all organic life. The Greater-Scope Villain dismisses the plan as lacking originality since robots are everywhere, and proposes an alternative approach.
      The Master: [deadpan] Oh, you mean robots. You'll be robots. ... Throw a stick in this universe, you'll hit a robot. I used to do that (for fun).
  • The Flash (2014): Season 1 Big Bad Eobard Thawne, a.k.a. the Reverse Flash, went through the trouble of going back in time so he could kill the Flash's mother and essentially ruin his entire life, all out of hatred toward him. In season 2, Barry, holding a time-traveling version of Eobard captive, finally confronts him and asks why he hates him so much. Turns out Eobard is an Ascended Fanboy Gone Horribly Wrong: he used to admire the Flash, to the point he found a way to replicate his powers so he could be him... only to find out through his ability to time travel that he was destined to be his worst enemy, and embrace it out of spite. Barry is understandably disgusted he caused so many people to die for such a petty reason. Thawne doesn't like Barry calling out how weak his reasoning is. Then in Season 8, he reveals an even pettier reason. A specific event that made Thawne snap was when he was about to save a group of people and reveal himself to the world as a superhero, only for a time-traveling Barry to arrive and save the crowd that Thawne was going to save. In other words, the whole reason for making Barry's life hell is because Barry unknowingly outshone him and robbed him of fame. To say Barry isn't amused is an understatement, telling Thawne to his face that only The Sociopath would react with such rage to so small an incident.
  • One episode of Homicide: Life on the Street had Bayliss investigate the murder of a Buddhist monk who he deeply respected. He eventually discovers that the murderer was a homeless man who had killed the monk for offering him a spoon while feeding him at a soup kitchen because it made him feel disrespected. Bayliss is disgusted to learn this and calls him out for the petty motive; this drives the man to try to kill Bayliss, who is forced to draw his gun and kill him in self-defense.
  • Kamen Rider Drive: In the final arc, the Big Bad Professor Banno/Gold Drive reveals his ultimate plan is to convert all of humanity to data and rule over them as a god, with those who refuse to bow to him being denied physical form. Banno's son Gou (Kamen Rider Mach) snarks that he expected "the great and mighty Tenjurou Banno" to have a more grandiose Mad Scientist-type ultimate plan and not just some generic Take Over the World garbage. This actually pisses Banno off so much that he declares he's going to kill Gou first.
  • In the final episode of Monk, Monk confronts his wife Trudy's killer at gunpoint, temporarily overcoming his fear of germs to do it. Once Monk finally learns who killed his wife and why, he's equal parts dumbfounded and furious. Trudy's killer didn't really have a grand scheme or a massive criminal plot; he just wanted to cover up an affair he had with her, and killed Trudy to cover it up.
  • Motive: In "The Dead Hand", Angie is rather underwhelmed to learn that what set off a series of Disaster Dominoes resulting in a double homicide, a Miscarriage of Justice and a hostage situation (where she was the hostage) was a guy wanting to be with his new girlfriend without the hassle of a divorce.
  • In the NCIS episode "Detour", Ducky and Jimmy are abducted by people seeking something from the murder victim (he was a spy providing them with information). When the team finds the killer, Gibbs chews him out, threatening to have him in thrown in jail for murder and treason, until the thoroughly confused man insists that he's knows nothing about the victim's espionage and that he killed him in self-defense after finding out that the guy was sleeping with his wife. Gibbs' utterly annoyed "Geez" sums it up.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "Starship Mine", Picard battles a group of terrorists on the Enterprise after he's stranded on there when the ship is going through the middle of a decontamination sweep. When their leader Kelsey captures him near the end, he reveals his identity and offers himself as a hostage if she'll forget about the weapons-grade material she took. She admits that she doesn't have a political agenda, she's just a thief. This disgusts Picard even more.
    Picard: Profit. This is all about profit.
    Kelsey: I prefer to think of it as commerce.


    Video Games 
  • In Castlevania 64 and its Legacy of Darkness remaster, Actrise tells Carrie Fernandez, right before their fight, about the time she slew her own child in attempt to gain immortality, Carrie quickly responds by calling it pathetic in contrast to her (Carrie's) stepmother making a sacrifice to save her stepchild's life.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, the party is disappointed to learn that the reason Vulcanus tried to start a war between Celestia and the Netherworld was so that he could become God... somehow. Etna, Genre Savvy as ever, called this out much earlier.
    Etna: See? I told you it would be something selfish and stupid.
    • In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Almaz is incredulous that Mao's motive for trying to defeat and usurp is father is to get back at his Dad for stepping on his PS Vita that he left sitting on the floor. Over the course of the story we learn that there's quite a bit more to the story than that.
  • Cole's reaction to Bertrand's motives for attempting to start a Conduit arms race in inFAMOUS 2 falls into this category. Though he doesn't explicitly state his disappointment, his tone of voice does it for him.
    Cole: I finally get it. You thought the Ray Sphere was gonna turn you into some shiny superhuman, but instead it turned you into a fifty-foot maggot.
  • Final Fantasy XIV
    • In the main story quest of the base game, Thancred and the Warrior of Light manage to catch Ungust trying to rob them when they were dressed like beggars. Thancred demands to know why Ungust is selling out people to the Amal'jaa, who are using the people Ungust drags away as offerings to Ifrit, the flame primal. Ungust responds that it was because "the coin was good" and he was making more money from selling people off to be sacrifices to Ifrit than he was at farming. Thancred is thoroughly unimpressed, calling Ungust pathetic for leaving people to die because he wanted money.
      Thancred: You sacrificed innocents so that you could line your own pockets? Words fail to express the contempt I feel for you.
    • Emperor Varis is attacked and mortally wounded by his son Zenos at the end of the Shadowbringers expansion. Varis assumes that Zenos is assassinating him in a bid for the throne and scornfully tells Zenos that he is unfit to rule the empire. Zenos retorts that he doesn't give a damn about the empire, and reveals his motive: his father's plan to unleash a Deadly Gas against the Eorzean Alliance would rob Zenos of his planned rematch with the Warrior of Light. Zenos has become so obsessed with beating the Warrior of Light that Varis has to die all to make absolutely sure that this rematch can still happen. Varis is left utterly dumbfounded in his final moments that Zenos would kill him for that.
    • In Endwalker, the actions of Zenos have effectively destroyed the Garlean empire, its capital left in ruin, and its citizens dead, tempered, or freezing in the harsh climate. When his motive is brought up to Jullus, he's livid that Zenos ruined the lives of millions of people just to goad one person into a fight. Zenos responds by asking Jullus if he'd be happy with the outcome if he had a "better" motive.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Luso's appalled to hear that the Lang brothers' crimes were the result of a vicious spiral of vengeance... as the result of someone spilling a drink on one of them.
    Luso: You knifed nearly thirty guys over a spilled drink?! You're a threat to society!
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Master Eraqus is upset that Master Xehanort is trying to cause a massive imbalance in light and darkness, obtain the X-Blade, and corrupt Kingdom Hearts, which is the heart of all worlds. Any one of those three things happening would be catastrophically bad, but all three at once could potentially jeopardize the existence of every world across The Multiverse, and kill who-knows how many people in the process. However, Eraqus is even more upset when he finds out that Xehanort is planning to do all of this because he just wants to know what would happen. Eraqus sums up his disappointment by saying "You fool! You would risk an apocalypse out of sheer curiosity?!"
  • In Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy, Katrielle gives this to the Big Bad, Lord Adamas or actually her assistant, Ernest Greeves, when she realizes that Adamas was plotting to financially ruin the Seven Dragons in revenge for them supposedly doing the same thing to his grandfather. She's saddened that he would put all his talents toward a goal like that, especially since he'd helped her all game. There's a bit more to the story than that, but by the end of the night, Adamas agrees with Katrielle.
  • By the end of Lunarosse, Naamari's reason for throwing the story of Corlia's world into chaos wasn't a more understandable goal like getting home, but because he thought her story sucked and he didn't like the role he was assigned. Channing gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech over how lame it was.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • In Jack's loyalty mission, they find out that someone is trying to rebuild the experiment that tortured and exploited Jack and other kids like her. At the end, she discovers that the person doing it is another victim like she was, who is trying to make sense of it and justify what happened to them by saying it must have had a purpose. His plan is to restart the whole thing with other children until he finds what the original scientists were after. Jack is extremely pissed when she hears this, and the Player Character, Commander Shepard, is likewise angry that he'd let other kids go through that kind of nightmarish hell for such a ridiculous reason.
      • In Jacob's loyalty mission, it's discovered that Jacob's father, Ronald Taylor, had spent the past ten years marooned on a planet where the edible plant life degenerates intelligence. At first, the plan was to ration out safe food to the essential staff that could fix the rescue beacon while the non-essentials survived on the toxic stuff until help arrived. However, Taylor and several of the other officers started to enjoy the position of power this put them in — ruling over what amounted to a rape camp of docile, mentally-inhibited women — and as unrest among the crew increased, Taylor kept order by withholding food until his enemies went dumb, and rewarding those loyal to him by "giving away" women to them. In the end, Taylor — by this point the only "smart" one left — only activates the (long since fixed) rescue beacon because his reserves of safe food are about to run out, and the male crew members have grown violent and threaten to overrun his camp. Jacob flat-out calls it a "juvenile fantasy" when he finds out.
    • Mass Effect 3: During the mission to stop the hanar diplomat from betraying his entire planet to the Reapers, the diplomat goes on a Motive Rant. His race has always worshiped the Protheans as gods, but the Broken Masquerade has revealed that most accomplishments credited to the Protheans were actually accomplished by the Reapers, and that the surviving Protheans are now a Slave Race brainwashed to serve them. Thus, as worshipers of the Protheans, the hanar must also serve whom the Protheans serve. It's also revealed that the diplomat is Brainwashed and Crazy, but that doesn't stop Shepard from having an epic reaction.
      Shepard: You big, stupid jellyfish!
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Venom Snake and his buddies find out that Huey Emmerich murdered Dr. Strangelove. The reason: she was against their son, Hal, being a test subject in his mad experiments. Needless to say, many people who knew what Huey has done were outraged.
  • No More Heroes: Most of the assassins have something behind them, some reason for what they do or at least some sort of emotional core. Bad Girl just kills people because she wants to. Travis is not prepared for this, and his reaction is stripped of all his usual snark.
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • At the end of Olberic's storyline, he confronts the man responsible for the fall of his homeland Hornburg whom Erhardt was working for as The Mole, who orchestrated the death of Olberic's king, and who has caused countless amounts of misery throughout the various towns that Olberic has visited. The villain reveals his motivation for it all was because Hornburg was home to the Gate of Finis, and he wanted to open it to see what was behind it. Olberic is incredulous that his life was ruined, his king was murdered, and his kingdom was destroyed all because of Werner's curiosity. Especially once a player goes behind the Gate of Finis to face the True Final Boss, and sees for themselves that it houses the Eldritch Abomination of a dark god known as Galdera. Essentially, opening the gate would have caused The End of the World as We Know It had Werner gotten what he wanted.
      Olberic: You destroyed a proud and prosperous realm... Led countless multitudes to their deaths... All for some... some gate!? You thought that a price worth paying!?
    • In Primrose's third chapter, she infiltrates the hideout of the Right Hand of the Crow in Noblecourt, accompanied by her father's friend Forsythe. There, they find out that the Right-hand Man is Albus, the former captain of the city watch, believed to be a honorable man who died resisting her father's murderers. Forsythe is horrified when Albus gives a Motive Rant that reveals he joined a criminal organization for the sake of more money and power; the horrors inflicted on Primrose and her family never really entered into his mind. To say that Primrose and Forsythe aren't impressed with this would be a major understatement.
      Forsythe: You traitorous bastard! Lord Geoffrey was a thousand times the man you are! You'll sully his name no longer!
      Primrose: The time for talk has ended. This man — if one can even call him a man — should not live a moment longer.
  • Clank spends most of the first Ratchet & Clank believing Chairman Drek is the Well-Intentioned Extremist-type, out to create a new homeworld for the Blarg from the pieces of other planets after their old homeworld became too polluted for them. When he learns that Drek is actually a Corrupt Corporate Executive who deliberately polluted the Blarg homeworld in order to force the Blarg to pay him a fortune for the new one and is planning to do the same thing all over again to make even more money, he reacts with dumb-founded disgust.
  • Mario and his allies in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door are less than impressed when they learn that Doppliss turned the villagers in Twilight Town into pigs because he thought they were boring.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4:
      • Towards the end of the game, the culprit behind the murders and attempted murders in Inaba is revealed as Adachi, the detective on the police force who was bored with the small town life and was Obfuscating Stupidity while he was on the force. The killer tells the Investigation Team that the reason he committed the first murder was because he found out a celebrity he was crushing on had a sexual affair with a married man, and he threw a temper tantrum that she was "spoiled". And the second murder had a similar reason: when the killer spotted a high school girl talking to an older man, he accused her of being unchaste and murdered her for being "a whore". From then on, he fell headfirst into "some men just want to watch the world burn" territory, and committed the rest of the attempted murders strictly because he could. The Investigation Team is aghast that their entire adventure started because of one man's childish, perverted insecurities. The killer hints that there might be more to it than that and this was just the final straw, but by this point, the heroes are just sick of hearing him whine. During the boss battle that follows, the Investigation Team even gives the killer a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how his logic is completely insane.
      • Earlier on, someone else claims to be the culprit. However, it soon comes out that this suspect is not the serial killer; they're an Attention Whore who claimed to be the killer because it would make people pay attention to them after they felt neglected. The rest of the Investigation Team, particularly Chie and Yosuke, are fairly disgusted and a bit depressed to hear that their suspect only did it to get attention. Mitsuo is an otaku, but is a Deconstructed Character Archetype of one, showing how his indulgences make him an Ineffectual Loner with a Lack of Empathy. Mitsuo's otaku behavior and lack of any real friends led to him slowly losing his mind. This eventually morphs into Mitsuo becoming so desperate for attention that he'd commit murder just to have people notice him. He may not have killed the first two victims or kidnapped the others, but he did commit a copycat crime by killing the teacher at the party's high school. He also rejects his Shadow, thus giving into the darker part of himself that wants to be focused on. In fact, Mitsuo's claims of being the killer only causes the real killer to attempt to murder Mitsuo, and once it's clear that he's not the killer, people go right back to ignoring him. Mitsuo does not take this well.
    • Persona 5:
      • Once Black Mask reveals their identity to the Phantom Thieves, Black Mask's Motive Rant consists of telling the Thieves that all of the mental shutdowns across Tokyo were because Goro Akechi has big-time Bastard Angst. Akechi intended to get the attention of his father, Masayoshi Shido, just so that Akechi could reveal himself as Shido's bastard son after Shido was elected Prime Minister of Japan, thus destroying Shido's political career. The Phantom Thieves point out that all of this could have been avoided by stealing the Treasure of Black Mask's target, and that Black Mask is just throwing a temper tantrum because they feel less special than the rest of the Thieves, especially Player Character Joker. As Black Mask starts having a Villainous Breakdown, they cop to being jealous, but also refuse to join the rest of the Thieves. Black Mask even says that "all I care about now is killing you... to prove I'm better than you!" right before the Climax Boss battle starts.
      • Akechi does this with the boss of the Casino Palace after the latter says they hate criminals with a passion due to anger over the death of Sae's father in the line of duty as a police officer. This contrasts with Sae's younger sister Makoto, who is not only one of the Phantom Thieves, but handling their father's death better without giving into cynicism about the nature of justice. Akechi is disappointed, remarking that he'd hoped that the Palace Ruler had a better motive for trying to pervert justice than that.
      • In Makoto's Confidant route, Makoto tries repeatedly to get it into her Childhood Friend Eiko's head that her boyfriend Tsukasa is a scammer who ropes in girls to sell their bodies to pay nonexistent debts. Even other hosts in the Red Light District hate Tsukasa's guts for giving them a bad name. Eiko adamantly refuses to believe Makoto; even after learning that Tsukasa has been texting multiple other girls behind her back, Eiko jumps to the conclusion that Makoto is a "bitch" who's trying to steal her boyfriend away. After Makoto catches Tsukasa in a lie, Eiko admits she knew it was all an act but she went along with it because Tsukasa was the only person who paid attention to her. Makoto is so disgusted with Eiko's explanation that she slaps Eiko in the face, one of the few times that the submissive Student Council President is physical with anybody. At Rank 10 of her Confidant, Makoto says that while she felt like she went too far with the slap, Eiko needed a reality check.
  • In both Resident Evil and the 2002 remake, Chris and Jill are not impressed by Wesker's motive for betraying STARS. Depending on the character and the version, their reactions range from a cold dismissal to laughing in his face at how pathetic he is.
  • Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse has shades of this in the final episode "The City That Dares Not Sleep", when Sam learns that the Narrator (aka Max's Super-Ego) plans to use his powers to destroy the city and half the US, just because he's "upset Max isn't more highbrow".
  • Sly Cooper:
  • Sword of Paladin: The one behind the Arc Guard coup, Kingsguard Commander Lancelot, reveals that he failed to protect Asgard from Berienstahl and failed the Paladin trials, resulting in him losing his confidence. Now he believes that obtaining the insanity-inducing Extra Gems and Royal Gems, tricking people into deadly test runs of these gems, and taking over the world are all necessary actions for him to become a true hero. After hearing Lancelot's self-justification, Nade loses his respect for his former superior and accuses him of being weak-hearted for resorting to such villainous means to compensate for his wounded ego.
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE has the party less than impressed when they learn Gharnef's motives for causing everyone so much trouble, boils down to bitterness and jealousy at being passed-over for someone else, comparing it to the motives of a villain in a B-movie.
  • In the After-Story of Tokyo Xanadu, the X.R.C. fights against the strongest Greed and the cause of the Tokyo Twilight Disaster, the Twilight Apostle. Even though it's able to speak to the party and talk about its plans for destroying all existence, Kou just laughs in its face that for all of its power, it's just another basic Greed and that they'll destroy it the same as those they've fought throughout the game.
  • In Trails of Cold Steel 2, everyone in the party is disappointed when Duke Cayenne reveals his real motives. His ancestor was the "False Emperor" dethroned by Dreichels in the War of the Lions, whose family now rules. Cayenne started a civil war just to settle a petty family feud that no-one but him cares about anymore.
  • In the We Happy Few Lightbearer DLC, it's eventually revealed that the entire reason Foggy Jack dragged Nick into his killing spree and nearly convinced him the murders were his fault...was so he could get a song written about him. Nick, understandably, is absolutely livid to find out he's been put through the ringer all for "some fucking notoriety".
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, one of the antagonists explains why he did all he's done throughout the game thus far: Mumhkar had been going on a bloody purge throughout the world because he wanted the Monado so he could be a hero. Dunban is less than impressed.
    Dunban: Is that it!? That's the puerile reason you've killed all those innocent people? Ravaged our home?!

    Visual Novels 
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the final killer gets this from both Apollo on the defense and Klavier Gavin on the prosecution. Klavier's brother Kristoph killed two people, traumatized a young girl, made said traumatized girl think she killed her own father, and got Phoenix Wright disbarred from being a lawyer. And all of this was because Kristoph lost a poker game to Shadi Smith, resulting in a bruised ego. But when Kristoph reveals he was actually angry that Shadi Smith chose Phoenix Wright to represent him in court instead of Kristoph, Apollo and Klavier are incredulous. Even the judge starts letting Kristoph have it for how petty and selfish his motive is for murder. (Turns out the poker game was a Secret Test of Character, one that Kristoph failed; and since Kristoph axed him later, Shadi Smith was right to be worried.) The reason the killer gives such a gloating confession in the first place is because they believe that they're untouchable, thanks to Loophole Abuse with the law. Because the killer doesn't outright say that they committed the crime and uses some Exact Words to skate by, the killer responds to Apollo and Klavier's anger with sneering contempt. But thanks to the advent of a trial by jury, it doesn't matter.
  • While most of the murder motives in Danganronpa are treated with a mixture of sympathy and disgust, the third chapter of each game has the killer's motives treated with genuine contempt.
    • Trigger Happy Havoc: Celestia Ludenberg manipulated Hifumi Yamada into murdering Kiyotaka Ishimaru, then murdered Hifumi herself. Celestia did this in order to get the money Monokuma offered so she could purchase a castle with handsome male servants to wait on her hand and foot. Everyone was quite disheartened that Celestia would get two people killed for the sake of money and a selfish desire to be treated like royalty.
    • Goodbye Despair: After Mikan Tsumiki was revealed to be the one who murdered Hiyoko Saionji and Ibuki Mioda, she said she did this out of love. Love for Junko Enoshima. Not that the others knew, but everyone present is quite disturbed that someone would go that far for the Ultimate Despair.
    • Killing Harmony: Korekiyo Shinguji murdered Angie Yonaga and Tenko Chabashira, all to give his deceased sister one hundred friends in the afterlife. Putting aside his rather perverse admiration for his sister, what really makes this vile to the other students is that Korekiyo admitted that he was close to achieving his goal, tacitly admitting that he's killed close to a hundred people. Everyone is disgusted, including Monokuma, if Korekiyo's execution is anything to go by.

    Web Animation 
  • Perfect Kirby: In episode 3, Roy reveals that he started his convoluted plan for world domination to kill Doctor Oblivion for making bad coffee. To say Kirby isn't impressed is an understatement.
    Kirby: That has got to be, by far, the stupidest reason for world domination I have ever heard!
  • Red vs. Blue: At the end of the Freelancer Saga, Church and Carolina find the Director of Project Freelancer, who committed numerous crimes, treated his soldiers as disposable pawns, and tortured the Alpha AI into Fragments. But instead of an evil mastermind, they find a broken man trying to revive his dead wife. Church then rails at the Director for what he's done and why;
    Church: Not all of us got off scot-free, Carolina. He was brilliant, and we trusted. him But he lied to us. He twisted, and tortured us! And used us! Manipulated us for his own purposes! And for what?! For this?! This...shadow!?
  • RWBY: In the Volume 6 episode "Lost", Emerald and Mercury have an example of mutual disappointment. Emerald asks Mercury what made him want to join Cinder, and he reveals that was really a matter of conveinent timing: he was trained from birth to be an assassin by his abusive father, and Cinder had shown up looking for one just after he killed him. Emerald is stunned by his lack of emotional investment in the situation which prompts Mercury to flip the question back at her. She responds that she thinks of Cinder as a Parental Substitute, which Mercury in turn disparages because it's blatantly obvious that Cinder just sees them as tools and Emerald is in denial about it.

  • Played for Drama in this El Goonish Shive strip. As Jerry points out, angst-induced awakenings are supposed to be triggered by things like a loved one betraying you or your family being murdered. That Susan went into one over something as trivial as finding out that the stun hammers were intended to encourage inappropriate comments by giving a harmless outlet to female rage indicates that she's hiding some major psychological trauma.
  • Cebus, a main villain in Kiwi Blitz, has betrayed at least two separate organizations, usurped one of them, has been shown willing and able to kill whoever they need to, and has even gone so far as to manipulate their own young cousin into being a thief on their behalf. When Steffi is confronting Cebus and demands to know just what it's all for, just what the Evil Plan is, Cebus scoffs at the idea that Steffi thinks everyone is playing the same Good vs Evil game as she is. Steffi is shocked to find that Cebus is Only in It for the Money that the Alter gang's access to genetic manipulation can provide.
    Cebus: ...Let me tell you a secret. See, there's these things adults care about. Like money, and the ability to make more of it.
    Steffi: That's it!? Money!?
    Cebus: Yes, that's it! Do you have any idea what this kind of genetic engineering is worth to the right people!? And what these idiots waste it on!?
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The initial reason that Roy is trying to defeat Xykon is because his late father vowed to avenge his master, whom Xykon killed after stealing something from his house. They don't know what was stolen, but presume that it's an artifact of great power. Instead it turns out to be...the little crown that he wears.
      Xykon: Magic? The crown's not magic.
      Roy: What? Then... why steal it? Why kill Master Fyron and his son for it?
      Xykon: Well, because it looks cool, obviously. Here, check it out: [indicates his crownless head] Badass; [puts the crown on] REALLY badass. Am I right or am I right?
      Roy: Oh, My Gods!, I hate you so much!
    • Later on, Bandana is not pleased when she learns that the reason why Andi has so little respect for Bandana's leadership as acting captain that Andi would knock her out and take command, is that Andi's still bitter about taking orders from someone she baby-sat years ago.
      Bandana: Oh for the love of— that's what gets you so teed off, ain't it? You got no respect for me or my command because you used to be my babysitter like a million years ago. This whole thing is 'cause you're salty you gotta take orders from a "kid."
      Andi: Wrong! It's not that at all! It just so happens that all your decisions are wrong, and the other options are right, by default.
      Bandana: If you're gonna tie my hands up, at least have the manners to stop saying stuff that's begging for a facepalm.
  • Spinnerette: One Christmas story arc has Heather discovering that her mother has been possessed by a Wendigo and is responsible for a recent wave of disappearances throughout her hometown. Heather even finds several missing children inside of a freezer in the Brown family's storage unit. When Heather finally confronts the monster, Heather shows a mixture of annoyance and rage when she figures out that the only reason for all of the chaos is "Wendy G" (the aforementioned Wendigo) possessed Betty and turned her into an instrument of supernatural terror because the wendigo is that driven to get ahead at her sales job.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Critical Role Honey Heist spin-off, this is the reaction of the players and their characters when they find out the motivation of the Big Bad of the third installment. This is entirely Played for Laughs as he stalls and the entire dramatic moment being worked up to was completely destroyed.
  • The Scott The Woz episode "The Great Mysteries of Gaming" is a Ten Little Murder Victims Halloween Episode in which Scott and a few others attend a dinner party, only for the host to be killed, and the other guests one-by-one soon after. In the end, Scott confronted the killer, which explains to him that he killed the host because the latter did money laundering, and then he killed the guests because he was too shy to admit that he murdered the host. Scott was understandably not impressed.
    Scott: ...Really? Five homicides and that's your reason?
  • Sword Art Online Abridged
    • The Grimlock encounter from the first season is played about the same as in canon, but Grimlock's motive is changed to something even more petty — he was upset that his wife missed making him dinner, once, while planning a raid with their guildmates. Kirito is unexpectedly disgusted with how petty this is; Asuna is more preoccupied that Grimlock's hat makes him look like a hipster. Grimlock's guild decides to serve him some justice behind a nearby tree. The sounds of Grimlock being beaten to death can be heard in the background while Kirito and Asuna have a serious conversation.
    • At the end of the first season, when Kirito asks Kayaba why he imprisoned ten thousand people in a deadly video game, Kayaba gives his canonical response of "I don't even remember anymore", which gets an incredulous "are you fucking serious?!" out of Kirito. Then Kayaba admits he's just messing with them and gives his real motive: the reason that players die when their avatars die is because of a glitch that came up when Kayaba spent three weeks working without sleep to finish the game by its deadline. In a mixture of sleep-deprived delusion and panic, Kayaba locked everyone in SAO and doubled down by presenting himself as an evil mastermind because he thought the game would review better on Metacritic if its lethality was a feature and not a bug. Kirito and Asuna are just as incredulous to this motive.
      Kirito: So, Let Me Get This Straight...: you thought that critics would be harsher on a game that killed a few people by accident, than one that killed thousands on purpose?
      Kayaba: That was my thought process, yes.
      Asuna: What the fuck is wrong with you?!
  • In Heavy Is Dead, when Engineer is finally outed as the perpetrator (by accident), he confesses that his entire motive for killing Heavy is because he thinks he's fat and ugly. Heavy is not happy about this reveal and shortly after gets revenge by killing Engineer.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: In "Q and A", Arthur Brown reveals that he had kidnapped and held for hostage several people because they had beaten him in a trivia game show thirty years ago, when they were children. Batman doesn't hide how utterly weak he finds Arthur's descent to villainy was, wasting a potentially good future for a game he refused to believe he lost fairly.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Night of the Ninja", reporter Summer Gleason, not believing someone can be as honest as Bruce Wayne presents himself as, expects the episode's villain to be someone hurt by Bruce's businesses. She's upset Kyodai Ken turns out to be "just a thief" whose past disgrace at Bruce's hands was his fault instead of Bruce's. It's notable that Kyodai doesn't really protest being called a common thief, he just takes offense since he considers himself the best thief.
  • In Futurama, Professor Farnsworth reveals the reason he had campaigned against robosexual marriage is because his girlfriend left him for a robot. When Amy gets angry over such petty reasoning, he attempts to counter by pointing out his girlfriend was a robot herself, only to have a Heel Realization that this makes him look even worse.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "The Crass Unicorn", the gang meets a Jerkass unicorn named Mary Frances who didn't join the rest of her kind when they migrated to the sea. When she says that the only reason she stayed behind was that she doesn't know how to swim, Billy complains that he wanted a story involving ninjas.
  • Justice League: Gorilla Grodd spends the final season being very secretive about his Evil Plan, which is later revealed to be transforming all people in the world into gorillas. Lex Luthor is quick to point out the ridiculousness of such a plan, and no one in the Secret Society bats an eyelash when Lex shoots Grodd and usurps his leadership. While Lex does say that he was always planning on pulling The Starscream on Grodd, he nonetheless can barely contain his laughter at the bizarreness of the plot and it's this that prompts him to do so immediately.
  • In Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Evil-Lyn becomes enraged with Skeletor because, even with the power of a god, even with the power to reshape reality, in the end all he wants to do with it is kill He-Man. He's not even bothered to think beyond that and outright lacks the creativity to do anything with all that power beyond swinging it around like a club to kill his Arch-Enemy.
  • Played with by Miraculous Ladybug. Most Akumatized villains are angry about extraordinarily petty things, but they're not doing it of their own free will; the main villain Hawk Moth simply has the power to send out entities known as "Akuma" that are attracted to negative emotions. Once an Akuma attaches to a person, it enhances and enforces these negative feelings, along with making said person a walking WMD. Upset at a parking ticket, pissed you lost a competition, or someone was just a jerk to you and now you're mad? Congrats, you're possessed by a magic butterfly and that minor problem is now your only concern in life, and you're willing to make all of Paris burn if that's what it takes to get payback. As a result, some people (like Miss Bustier) try to avoid any level of conflict knowing that anyone they upset is potential prey, while others (namely Chloe) become one-person villain factories due to constantly angering those around them.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz often has a Freudian Excuse from his Hilariously Abusive Childhood to explain his latest ridiculous plan. In Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension he meets Doof-2, his eviler and more competent counterpart from another dimension, whose only tragic backstory is...he once had a toy train and then lost it.
    Dr. Doofenshmirtz: What, that's it? That-that's your emotionally scarring backstory? Dude, I was raised by ocelots! I mean, literally, disowned by my parents and raised by Central American wild cats, and you're telling me that you've lost a toy train? I had to work as a lawn gnome, I was forced to wear hand-me-up dresses! Neither of my parents showed up for my birth!
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, the Smith family provides this in both of their appearances.
    • The first episode with the Smiths, "Supper Villain", has Harold Smith reveal to his family and the Powerpuff Girls that the reason he kidnapped Professor Utonium was boredom. Harold was tired of his mundane blue-collar life and wanted something to break out of it, so he turned to super-villainy. The girls are incredulous that Harold would go that far for such a petty reason, but between Harold's wife Marianne trying to salvage the dinner party and having to make sure of the Professor's safety, the girls don't have time to give him the tongue-lashing that they want to. Eventually, once the Professor's safety is assured, he and the girls promptly have Harold sent to jail.
    • During the second Smith family episode, "Just Desserts", Marianne and her children join Harold in helping him eliminate the Powerpuff Girls following his release from prison. After backing the girls and Utonium to a corner, she explains that her motive for wanting to destroy them was not really because they drove her husband insane or sent him to prison, but because they ruined her dinner party. The girls remark that it isn't a good reason at all for trying to kill them, and Marianne's bluster instantly deflates. It doesn't stop the girls from beating up the Smiths and sending them all to jail, though.
  • In Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Space Ghost reacts this way when his former mentor, Warren, reveals that he cloned Space Ghost and tried to take over the show because "I just felt like it."
  • In an episode of Stripperella the bad guy creates a working papier-mâché volcano he plans to use to destroy the town because it's something he's "just always wanted to do." When she tries to see if he has a Freudian Excuse, he again admits he's only doing it because he felt like it.
  • A peculiar Running Gag on Totally Spies! is the Villain of the Week using Disproportionate Retribution for some absurdly simple and petty reasons (like one of them trying to destroy all of Beverly Hills with a Freeze Ray because people don't buy his ice cream, for example). Understandably, our heroines' reactions to the villain's Motive Rant is usually "...that's why you're doing this?!" They tend to be particularly harsh on villains who use technology that could directly solve their issue or outright be far more lucrative but instead choose to go on an absurd vengeance scheme instead.
  • In Transformers: Cyberverse, Hot Rod expresses disappointment when he learns that the primary reason the Quintessons wipe out universes is that they think the multiverse has too many different universes.
    • Autobots and Decepticons alike express annoyance when they learn that Starscream's reason for allying with Quintessons to wipe out their universe is to get back at them for being mean to him.


Video Example(s):


Grimlock and Griselda

After having tracked down Griselda's actual killer, they learn that the reason behind why Grimlock would kill his wife wasn't because he wanted to take the item to sell himself and keep the profits, but because she didn't make him dinner one night.

How well does it match the trope?

4.73 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisappointedByTheMotive

Media sources: