They manipulated you, they betrayed you, they tried to kill you, really did kill you, tortured all your friends and loved ones, burned down your village, and even went and kicked your dog. Despite all this, you find it in your heart to forgive them. After all, "To err is human, to forgive is divine."
This trope describes a situation where forgiveness comes quickly after a character has committed some foul act. Within a season or maybe even an episode, foes become friends and whatever evil the forgiven character did is swept under the rug and forgotten. Whether or not this appears too easy from the perspective of the audience is not the point. Like all tropes it can be used well or poorly and played with in a number of ways. The character who committed the deed/s may be sufficiently apologetic to warrant forgiveness, or the latter character learning An Aesop may be considered punishment enough, or maybe The Punishment Is the Crime. Sometimes, showing a bit of trust to a former villain who doesn't seem to deserve it can lead to them becoming a reliable ally. Forgiving someone for their crime without their having earned it may inspire them to become The Atoner so that they can earn forgiveness. Conversely, forgiving too easily can be a character flaw that bites them in the ass.
If the unmasked traitor was an active party member or contributing part of the team, and remains an active party member or contributing part of the team, it's Welcome Back, Traitor. If some sort of Hand Wave is given for this, then it's a case of "Get out of Jail Free" Card. Such easy forgiveness may be given after an insincere The Grovel. The kinds of people most likely to easily forgive are the All-Loving Hero, the Friend to All Living Things, and those who prefer to Turn the Other Cheek, although more cynical characters may take a Restrained Revenge. Compare Plug 'n' Play Friends.
See also Karma Houdini (when the offending character is forgiven without as much as "a sorry" or any sort of punishment), Forgiven, but Not Forgotten (where the hero is willing to forgive, but not if it happens a second time), Go and Sin No More (when granting forgiveness is the punishment, with the assumption that the offender will make amends) and This Is Not My Life to Take (when a victim does not take revenge because they think someone else is more entitled to it). Contrast Reformed, but Rejected, where a villain does want to be forgiven and works for it, but doesn't get accepted. Easily Condemned, Rejected Apology, This Is Unforgivable!, and Minor Flaw, Major Breakup are the opposite tropes. Not to be confused with Flippant Forgiveness, which is more insulting than gracious.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- Subverted when Susie decides to forgive Calvin for some nasty things he said that made her cry. He's so overjoyed (in a "glad that's out of the way" manner) that she immediately rethinks this decision:
"On second thought, let's see you grovel a little!"
- Calvin causes the family car to roll out the driveway and fall down a ditch across the street. He and Hobbes hide in a tree, but is confused to find his parents are more concerned about whether he was safe than about the car (which, incidentally, wasn't damaged).
- In one story arc Hobbes sends Calvin insulting messages through the mail. When Calvin finds out, he's furious, but as soon as he declares he and Hobbes are through, Hobbes suggests sending insulting messages to Susie. Calvin immediately forgives him.
- Subverted when Susie decides to forgive Calvin for some nasty things he said that made her cry. He's so overjoyed (in a "glad that's out of the way" manner) that she immediately rethinks this decision:
- Subverted and played straight in FoxTrot when Quincy eats Paige's signed boy band picture. Andy bends over backwards to appease Paige, and when Paige calls herself on this, Andy forgives her without a second thought.
- Sherman's Lagoon: One series of strips has Hawthorne making a deal with Captain Quigley to help him capture Sherman for a thousand dollars. After his efforts fail, he comes clean to Sherman, who's understandably pretty angry at him. Then Hawthorne offers him a Twinkie and Sherman forgives him immediately.
- "A Quick One While He's Away" by The Who; the girl who is the subject of the song is forgiven by her long-absent boyfriend immediately after admitting her infidelity with Ivor the engine driver. Although, said boyfriend mentions he wasn't entirely faithful himself.
- Hot Box's "All I Want For Christmas Is Jews" has a little fun with this in absolving Jews for killing Jesus Christ. After all, he didn't stay dead... which is kind of a good point, actually.
They may have killed our Savior;
That's not the best behavior...
That's OK, he rose again three days later!
- "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)". There are apparently no repercussions between the couple who were both planning on cheating, but he just happened to answer her anonymous personal ad.
- "Crasher-Vania" by Starbomb; Dracula is rather quick to forgive Simon for killing all of his friends.
- Subverting this is the point of A Perfect Circle's "The Noose". It's about how people, more specifically recovering addicts, shouldn't expect instant forgiveness for any problems they've caused because they've cleaned up their lives. The person being discussed thinks they're easily forgiven, but the singer has a more critical viewpoint.
- This was a large part of Jesus's message. Even for those who crucified Him: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." And after resurrecting, He forgave Peter's repeated denials.
- Bishop Barron comments on this, reading biblical forgiveness not as dismissing that evil was done, but loving someone in spite of all the horrible things they did, no matter if they deserve that love or not. The problem is that this is not done "easily," it is the most difficult thing imaginable.
- Deconstructed in a Hawaiian folk story about a young woman who was murdered by her betrothed when he erroneously believed she was cheating on him. The Gods keep reviving her, she keeps forgiving him and going back to him, trying to show that she is a good wife and faithful and true and loves only him and he just keeps killing her.
- Merle of The Adventure Zone: Balance seems almost incapable of holding a grudge. He very quickly forgave Lucretia for erasing their memories, forgave Kravitz for crystallizing his arm, and even made amends with John, despite him personally killing him 50+ times and chasing his friends across all reality. The only grudge he seems to have is with Magnus, who chopped off his arm to save his life, though he probably only does that to mess with him.
- Christopher Daniels, Chris Hero and Kevin Steen all got off pretty light in Ring of Honor, considering each one of them led a movement to destroy it. For reference, Low Ki was banned for life when he allegedly broke the commissioner's tooth despite at least nominally being against the CZW invasion. For that matter, Bryan Danielson for betraying ROH to CZW just to screw over Samoa Joe also got off pretty easily. Roderick Strong called out the audience for cheering Steen while he was still in the process of burying the company. Despite the prevalence of this in the promotion, there was a major aversion in the cases of Jimmy Jacobs, Steve Corino and Matt Hardy's S.C.U.M. involvement at least.
- In WWE, this seems characteristic of Paul Heyman's regime. Never mind what an asshole he was, how many times he betrayed, lied, extorted and so forth, The Dudley Boys, Big Show and Brock Lesnar all ended up going back to Heyman.
- According to Dave Milan, Mercedes Martinez agreed to be the tag team partner of her cousin Shelly even after Shelly planted false evidence that Mercedes was an illegal immigrant, not even one from a particularly familiar country to her, and then tried to steal her husband while she was dealing with the resulting mess. Still couldn't bring herself to beat Shelly's face in even after she by then predictably betrayed Mercedes again (though the latter was more an Author's Saving Throw for a match that underwhelmed)
- The reconciliation between Matt and Jeff Hardy. Essentially Matt said that he had made a mistake and Jeff forgave him. The "mistake" apparently involved Matt repeatedly trying to murder Jeff and/or end his career several times, burning Jeff's house to the ground, and killing his dog. The forgiveness came only a couple months after the end of their fighting over it, though, and to be fair Matt had to prove himself several times before Jeff finally trusted him again. Though it was subverted with Matt's initial apology during their "I Quit" match, where, even after Matt said "I quit", Jeff still double leg dropped him through a table, breaking Matt's arm in the process.
- A severe case when it comes to Undertaker with Kane. The latter has started all but one of their 5 feuds, all of which he's attacked Taker without provocation or warning. Yet everything is always fine after a while and he's back working with Kane again. Their last feud was 2010 when Taker recovered from Kane's recent attack. Eventually Taker apparently forgave him because he shows up to save him on the 2012 Anniversary of RAW. Even Kane was confused by his appearance and the two shared uneasy stares but cleared the ring together. Kane has not betrayed Taker since then. Maybe he finally sees just how much his brother cares for him.
- The reconciliation between the Bella Twins was so absurd it even surprised them. After Brie lost the 2014 Hell in a Cell match, she had to be Nikki's assistant (as in jobber) for thirty days. One would think Brie wouldn't be ready to forgive such humiliation, seeing as she shouted publicly that she wished her own sister had "died in the womb"; thing is, after those thirty days, it seemed everyone forgot about it completely, and they were inexplicably friends again. (Even the twins themselves - as in the real ones, out of character - had no idea why the storyline was dropped, and the fans certainly didn't either.)
- Pretty common following the standard HeelFace Turn: often the reformed heel doesn't even have to earn redemption, as it's enough that he's agreed not to be mean anymore. In extreme cases, he can even continue to be mean, as long as he's only mean to heels or if he's "funny" mean as opposed to being a jerk about it. Lampshaded histrionically by Christian who was outraged that Randy Orton is allowed to do whatever the hell he wants in WWE. He screamed at Triple H to do something about the situation in his capacity as Chief Operating Officer, demanding to know if the COO even cared that Orton once attacked his father-in-law and brother-in-law and terrorized his wife. Apparently Triple H didn't care.
- This can be particularly egregious in cases of tag-team matches. Seeing a total monster, one who's undergone a HeelFace Turn, teaming up with the same person whose life they destroyed a few months earlier is not that unusual in pro wrestling. Triple H even got to lampshade this trope at the 2007 Survivor Series when his partners (Kane, Jeff Hardy, and Rey Mysterio) all called him out on his actions against them over the years, even bringing up the Katie Vick angle. They still teamed up and won their match.
- Apparently if you concuss Cody Rhodes, his father, and his best friend then he'll be perfectly happy to hang out with you after an argument or two, as he did with Randy Orton.
- Played straight in TNA with The Beautiful People, at least when it comes to the two founding members, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. Though "Velvet Love Entertainment" keep reuniting against all sense, third member Madison Rayne did end up washing her hands of the group after one slight too many.
- Zig-Zagged when it came to the members of The Shield. While Roman Reigns was willing to forgive Seth Rollins after the latter's HeelFace Turn, Dean Ambrose was not. This is justified, as Dean took Seth's betrayal even harder than Roman did (and Roman took it pretty hard — he was Tag Team Champions with Seth at one point during the Shield's initial run), starting a blood feud that lasted over two years. It took weeks of bickering and brawling before the two finally met halfway and forgave each other.
- Notably subverted between Shawn Michaels and D-Generation X. As a member of The Corporation, he cost X-Pac his match with WWE Champion The Rock and The New Age Outlaws to lose the Tag Team Titles to Ken Shamrock and the Big Boss Man. When Michaels was later fired by Vince McMahon, he would rejoin DX. However, he would find himself set up by them to be assaulted by the Corporation. X-Pac even mentions, "What goes around, comes around."
- William Shakespeare:
- The title character of Richard III manages to seduce and marry Lady Anne after killing both her husband and her father-and-law. Earlier, she explicitly cursed any woman stupid enough to marry him.
- In Two Gentlemen of Verona, Proteus tries to rape his best friend's girlfriend. His best friend and his own girlfriend both forgive him, after seeing him do it. By the end of the scene, his best friend is talking about how much fun it'll be for the four of them to live in a house together.
- Claudio from Much Ado About Nothing reveals Hero's (untrue) unfaithfulness at their wedding. When Hero reappears after faking her death, the two are together in literally seconds. Though it should be noted that only Hero easily forgives him here; before this, the other characters make him go through a big repentance ceremony in order for him to earn their forgiveness.
- In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet very quickly forgives Romeo for killing her cousin Tybalt, although she does have a horrified, angry speech first. It helps that it happened in a kill-or-be-killed fight that Tybalt started, and (although Juliet isn't told this) that Tybalt had killed Romeo's friend Mercutio.
- West Side Story: Like Juliet, her inspiration, Maria almost instantly forgives Tony for killing her brother Bernardo. For just a moment she attacks him in rage, pounding his chest with her fists, but then crumples sobbing into his arms.
- In Aphra Behn's The Rover, at one point or another just about all of Belvile's friends try to rape his love interest Florinda, in some cases after mistaking her for a prostitute. But then they find out Florinda is Belvile's love interest and not a prostitute, and all is A-OK. Florinda's sister even marries one of them.
- In The Golden Apple, Helen is immediately forgiven by her husband Menelaus when he wins her back from the Traveling Salesman she ran away with. The Boys are understandably upset about this, considering how much effort they went to.
- Ace Attorney:
- Phoenix Wright is surprisingly determined to reach out to and "save" Miles Edgeworth, especially when Edgeworth is on trial as a murder suspect. What is amazing is that Phoenix is doing this even though Edgeworth ruthlessly and relentlessly used every tactic he could, including some very underhanded ones, to get Maya and then Phoenix himself convicted for the murder of Phoenix's beloved mentor, even though he surely knew they didn't do it.
- Regina Berry in Justice For All is Easily Forgiven due to being incredibly cute and possessing child-like innocence. Unfortunately, this leads to her pulling little "pranks" like letting a growling tiger stalk after Phoenix and Maya in their first introduction and then telling them how lucky they are to get the rare chance to play with a tiger. Naturally, this trope is subverted because she was the murderer's intended target thanks to how she's too naive to realize that she's responsible for his brother's coma and his paralysis from a previous prank.
- At the start of Highway Blossoms, Marina's car runs out of gas, resulting in Amber picking her up and giving her a ride to a convenience store to get gas. While they're away, a group of down-on-their-luck drifters known as "The Trio" happen upon the abandoned car and dismantle it to sell for parts, resulting in it not being there when Marina and Amber return, and forcing the two to travel together. Amber only realizes the truth later after noticing that Tess, one third of The Trio, has a New Mexico license plate(Marina's home state) that she got recently. Amber calls The Trio out on their actions, but Marina is willing to forgive them for scrapping her brother's car.
- In Magical Diary, you can choose to continue Damien's path even after he tries to kill you by taking your soul and flees the school after failing. While he does appear to have genuinely reformed afterwards, you're still forgiving him for it mere weeks after the incident. You can even try to plead with Potsdam to let him back onto the school grounds for the May Ball...which she roundly refuses, and which causes your friends to find out that you're back with him and results in them kicking you out of the room and calling you out as a Love Martyr for taking him back.
- Umineko: When They Cry has Beatrice, the main antagonist of the series. A supposedly all-powerful witch who the protagonist has seen kill his family repeatedly in grotesque and horrific ways, she plays up a HeelFace Turn to specifically lead Battler into forgiving her, and even coming to like her... and then proceeds to troll the Hell out of him and reveal it was all an act just for the sake of toying with his emotions.
- Star Whistle in Dusk's Dawn, after she wreaks havoc in Ponyville with her windstorm. This is lampshaded in a commentary:
Mister Brave: "We'll help you pay damages for all the ponies you killed!"
- Red vs. Blue:
- In the season 8 finale, Blue Team helps Agent Washington escape imprisonment and offers him a place in their ranks, in spite of everything he put them through beforehand. This touches him so much, he solidifies his HeelFace Turn and becomes a True Companion with the rest of the gang from then on.
- On a more general basis, the various members of both teams constantly get under each other's skin, but at the end of the day, they'll stick by each other to whatever end.
- Subverted in the season 13 finale, after Locus makes a HeelFace Turn and tells them of his plans to become The Atoner for his past actions. But they make it clear that they are not going forgive Locus for his involvement in the villain's schemes, just like that, and try to apprehend him, forcing him to go into hiding.
- Zigzagged in season 15, after Sarge has a brief FaceHeel Turn, the rest of the gang tell him off for thinking they were just going to let this go and even consider throwing him in one of the cells he just freed them from. But as Locus points out, they have much bigger problems and are forced the suck it up before accepting him back and by the next episode, they are working together again like normal.
- This is discussed in season 15, when Temple criticizes Tucker and the others for allowing Agents Washington and Carolina to join their ranks with no strings attached, despite them being former members of the organization responsible for almost all of their problems. This is what ultimately sets the two groups apart, as while the Reds and Blues manage to give forgiveness and move on without much issue, Temple and the Blues and Reds allowed anger and revenge to consume them and set them on a path to villainy.
Simmons: Water under the bridge.
- In RWBY, when Ilia offers to stand with Blake at Haven to protect the humans from the White Fang, Blake immediately forgives her and accepts her offer despite Ilia being complicit in the plan to kidnap Blake and assassinate her parents. This is continued in Volume 6's first episode: Ilia is shocked at the fact that she's been essentially forgiven despite the things she did while with White Fang. Inverted with Blake, however. While she's easily forgiven by Team RWBY for leaving them at the end of Volume 3, she does not feel the same way and seeks to try and make up to Yang, who she hurt the most with her abandonment.
- Absolutely utterly averted throughout the first season of Cobra Kai. Between the graffiti on the dealership billboard and Sam's attempt to talk to Aisha following her loss at the All-Valley tournament, all types of bad memories resurface for its players. Psychological scars remain long after physical scars.
- In Twig, when Mary joins the Lambsbridge Gang after her Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal, none of the Lambs care about her multiple prior attempts to murder them, or the multiple successful Murder Suicides that her fellow Bad Seeds carried out.
- Upon learning that the Human Torch's dialogue in Fantastic Four (2005) was ad-libbed by Chris Evans, The Smeghead yells at a picture of Evans as Johnny Storm. Then the picture shifts to Evans as Captain America and the Smeghead says he can't stay mad at Evans.
- The tendency of anime characters to befriend their enemies is parodied by ProZD in his YouTube short when everyone forgives the bad guy even though he did horrible shit.
- At the end of Shipwrecked Comedy's The Case of the Gilded Lily, Roger is revealed to be blackmailing his wife, using the money to pay off a gambling debt, because he was too proud just to ask her for it and risk her divorcing him. She immediately forgives him, but her best friend Fig doesn't, and as they're having their dramatic make-up, she slides by in the background, giving Roger a Death Glare.
- Nappa in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, post-revival, seems to get on rather well with the people he killed. At the least, no one seems particularly concerned that he's alive again, Krillin's played video games with him without incident, and Bulma even trusts him enough to ask him to help Vegeta watch Baby Trunks. The most anyone's referred to their past together is Chiaotzu calling him 'Vegeta's dumbass friend'. (That said, Tien is likely the only aversion, given how he refused to work with Nappa in a music video.) Nappa, for his part, has also forgiven Vegeta for killing him, although he's not above needling him for fun.
- At the end of the The American Civil War, a 4-year conflict that resulted in over 600,000 deaths, the defeated Southern states were brought back into the Union without any sanctions or harsh measures. While some parts of the South would be occupied by federal troops for years, no members of the confederate military or government were ever put on trial for treasonnote — a handful were tried for other crimes committed in the process, with seven men ultimately being executed (three for espionage, two for being guerrillas, and two for war crimes), but no one was punished for the actual act of turning against the country, only for particularly egregious acts. Likewise, the vast majority of Confederate veterans returned home to become peaceful productive citizens of the United States, despite spending the last four years viewing the US as a mortal enemy. This was in keeping with the wishes of President Abraham Lincoln, who in his 1865 inauguration speech stated "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
- Reputedly, Alexander the Great's relentless pursuit of ex-emperor Darius III of Persia was not because he wanted to kill him, but because Alexander recognized Darius' genius and wanted to recruit Darius to govern Persia in Alexander's name. This was pretty much Alexander's Modus Operandi, Curb Stomp the enemy on the battlefield and then make him his vassal. It is one of the reasons as to why his empire disintegrated once he wasn't around to keep them in line.
- Very shortly after Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt, he paid a friendly visit to his would-be killer in jail to let him know he wasn't mad at him for shooting him in the chest. (Despite that the attempt on his life had led to a cardiac arrest, and later required a colostomy, which had to be undone later so he could still function.) It was the first thing he did after he got out of the hospital.
- Julius Caesar made a point of forgiving pretty much everyone on the opposing side in the civil war between him and Pompey, whether they surrendered or had been taken captive. A rather smart strategy, as he came off in a much more positive light than Pompey in the eyes of the Roman people. Unfortunately for him, several of the people that he forgave conspired to assassinate him. His successor, Augustus, decided not to follow that same path and refused to grant clemency to Caesar's killers.
- As depicted in Invictus: After spending 28 years as a political prisoner on Robbins Island, Nelson Mandela is released and within a few years becomes President of South Africa. Incredibly, one of the first things he does is hire for his cabinet some of the same men who had worked for the previous government that had imprisoned him. Those years on Robbins Island made him change and he came out Older and Wiser, so his strategy became less "Black Power!" and more "I'll show you that we can live in peace as equals.". He didn't forget, but he didn't want black people to become Not So Different when he changed the country. There's a reason he said this:
"I have fought against white domination. And I have fought against black domination."
- When John Hinkley Jr. pleaded insanity for attempting to assassinate Ronald Reagan, a nationwide debate over the insanity plea started; Reagan himself recommended such a plea of clemency.
- Richard I the Lionheart was betrayed by his brother John Lackland countless times and forgave him again and again. The whole family was like that; the two of them and their other brothers, as well as their mother, launched several civil wars against their father Henry II and each other only to forgive each other and do it all again.
- Burt Pugagh hired thugs to throw lye in the face of his ex-girlfriend after she got engaged to another man. After he got out of prison, she married him.
- At the end of World War II, Charles de Gaulle made a point of arranging reconciliation between France and Germany as fast as possible, and not blame Germany for the atrocities committed by the Nazis in France. Hitler had been able to seize power partially thanks to Germany's hatred of France after the humiliation from World War I, and he wanted to break the cycle of hatred between the two countries. Thanks in part to his efforts, the two now get along pretty well. He also granted an amnesty to Marshal Pétain, leader of the French Government of Vichy (who had collaborated with Nazi Germany), arguing Pétain's actions could be explained by his old age.
- Colonel Thomas Blood — adventurer, soldier of fortune, con man and criminal — was brought before King Charles II after being caught red-handed stealing the Crown Jewels of England. Reportedly, the King asked: "What would you do if I were to give you your life?" to which Blood replied: "I would endeavour to deserve it, sire." Somehow, this worked — and despite his having also fought for Parliament in the Civil War, and attempted to murder the Duke of Ormonde, Blood was given a full pardon and lands with an income of £500 a year. The reasons for this are much speculated upon by historians.
- In his last day in office, former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pardoned numerous hardened criminals, including one who filmed his gang rape of a teenage boy to share with the Internet, a murderer whose family donated $25000 to Bevin's campaign and a mom who left her newborn to die. Outrage promptly ensued across Kentucky and the nation as a whole.
- In 1978, notorious Australian criminal Mark "Chopper" Read tried to kidnap judge Bill Martin in order to force him to release his friend from prison, but Martin and his friend Ernie Trotter were able to hold him off until the police arrived. Read served 12 years of a 16-year sentence. He wrote to Martin while inside to apologize, and Martin wrote back saying he "knew it wasn't personal". In 2013, when Read had stage 4 liver cancer, Trotter said, "I bear him no ill will, and regret his state of health."
- Australian actor and former pop singer Jason Donovan sued British magazine Face in 1992 for claiming he was gay. He was awarded £292,000note , but Donovan, being a fan of the magazine and knowing this would bankrupt it, waived the money.