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Flippant Forgiveness

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Catholic Schoolboy: Holy Father, I bring dreadful news. A monk at my school has repeatedly attempted to molest me.
The Pope: I forgive you.

Alice does something nice for Bob out of the goodness of her heart. Bob's response to that is to go "Oh, you did it wrong. But that's okay, I forgive you." Alice bristles at his audacity.

In a variant, instead of using the Stock Phrase, Bob may just let Alice know he doesn't blame her for something because it's not her fault she's useless at whatever she was trying to do in the first place.

Sometimes there is genuine misunderstanding somewhere in there. Sometimes Bob is just taking Alice too literally. Sometimes he's really that clueless. Sometimes he just thinks he's being funny. Sometimes he's genuinely being a Jerkass. This doesn't need to be intentional— it's only necessary that Alice interpret it this way: he has no authority to "lift blame" off her when whatever happened was not her fault in the first place, or it's something that's not even a real offense. That's why it's funny.

Other times, if the person being "forgiven" actually did apologize to the "forgiver", this could be used as a passive-aggressive way to accuse someone of Backhanded Apology. Done the right way, this form of forgiveness is one to which the recipient can't take offense without ipso facto admitting that their apology was insincere.

Compare with Backhanded Apology and Stealth Insult. It's Forgiven, but Not Forgotten if the forgiveness is more grudging than sarcastic. See also Forgiveness.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Luo Hao in Campione! frequently forgives her opponents and allies for what she deems to be insults, weakness, or challenges to her dominance. She is so overwhelmingly arrogant that she views her forgiveness as a true gift. As an example, she has graciously allowed Godou's harem the privilege of looking at her without needing to then gouge out their own eyes for their impertinence.

    Films — Animation 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: After dumping her earlier, Derek returns to Susan to forgive her, because "it wasn't your fault you got hit by a meteor and ruined everything."
  • Shrek has Donkey calling out Shrek for his behavior towards him, so Shrek (who, due to Out-of-Context Eavesdropping, thought that Fiona was confiding to Donkey that she finds Shrek repulsivenote ) cuts him off by saying, "You're right, Donkey, I forgive you...FOR STABBING ME IN THE BACK!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Taken to a global scale in Amadeus. Salieri attempts to establish himself as a Messianic Archetype, claiming the events of the movie as his sacrifice:
    Salieri: Mediocrities of the world, I absolve you!
  • In Cool as Ice, Kathy's fiance watches her dance with Vanilla Ice at a party, and afterward takes her aside and forgives her for it. This is meant to be seen by the audience as evidence that he's a pompous asshole and she'd be better off dumping him for Ice.
  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Dr. Malcolm lets Peter Ludlow know that "when you try to sound like Hammond, it comes off as a hustle. I mean, it's not your fault. They say talent skips a generation. So, I'm sure your kids will be sharp as tacks."
  • In Mean Girls, when Ms. Norbury makes all the girls in school confront the fact that they've been mean to someone else, one girl apologizes to another girl for calling her a gap-toothed bitch, because "it's not your fault you're so gap-toothed."
    • So not only is she "forgiving" the girl for being gap-toothed, she's only apologizing for half of the insult.
  • Pulp Fiction, Jules gives a fake apology to Brett after shooting his friend, Flock of Seagulls, despite speaking sincerely and asking if he interrupted Brett.
    Jules: Oh I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?
  • From You've Got Mail:
    Frank: Since when do you get manicures?
    Kathleen: Oh, I suppose you could never be with a woman who got manicures...
    Frank: Never mind. It's okay. I forgive you.
    Kathleen: You forgive me?

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hazel to Anne in Anne Of Windy Poplars in her parting letter.
  • In Discworld, Granny Weatherwax has a way of graciously not blaming Magrat for things that were clearly not Magrat's fault (and may have been Granny's).
  • In Book Two (Fool Moon) of The Dresden Files, Lt. Karrin Murphy shoots in Harry's direction to save him from some crazy who was about to kill him. Harry, who was facing the opposite way at the time, hadn't seen his attacker and thought she shot at him instead, because she doubted his loyalties. However, he had previously betrayed her trust, so he decides he can't blame her for thinking him a bad guy and he forgives her for shooting him. Murphy thinks he's a big idiot for thinking that way, and lets him know it. That moment was enough to restore their friendship. They're Vitriolic Best Buds to the finest.
  • Jade City: When Shae returns to her home city, her brother Hilo is quick to visit and tell her that he forgives her for having left the family. Since their estrangement happened when he reacted to her new relationship by calling her a whore and a race traitor and threatening to kill her boyfriend, she finds the gesture more than a little bit backhanded.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Game Shakers, Kenzie accused Babe of getting the editor to do an article about her instead of them as a team and felt unwanted. Although she refused to apologizes as she believed she didn't do anything wrong, Kenzie does take Trip advice about going to talk with Bade and work out their disagreement. However, seeing that Bade temporally replaced her, Kenzie felt she wasn't welcomed anymore. Through Double G, Babe decided to make things right with Kenzie. After being fired at her temporally job, Kenzie took Babe standing up to her as an apology, instead of apologizing to her for wrongfully accusing her for something she didn't do.
  • In one episode of Girl Meets World, Cory has his class write forgiveness letters. Cory probably expected they'd start out as this trope, but once the grudges are out in the open, they do start to find closure on them.
    • Riley "forgives" Auggie for biting the face off her cherished childhood bear, then admits her hypocrisy when he doesn't respond with a sincere apology and acknowledgement that she was being the bigger person for forgiving him. Eventually, she admits she's being silly for holding the grudge, and Auggie admits that he isn't sorry because he was jealous of the attention she gave the bear. Riley then genuinely apologizes to him over the whole thing.
    • The other boys "forgive" Farkle for spoiling movies. He takes offense, but he does promise to stop doing it. It takes him less than five minutes into the next movie to start doing it again. When they call him out on it in class, he admits that he feels his smarts are the only thing he has to contribute to a relationship, and quickly figuring out how a movie is going to end is one way to demonstrate that. The boys accept it, but refuse to go to movies with him anymore. The girls accept it with open arms and agree to continue going to the movies with him.
  • From It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    Dee: Okay, I did try, it just didn't happen to work out.
    Frank: It's not your fault, sweetie. You're just not pretty enough.
    Dee: Wow, thank you! That's my dad, everybody.
  • From Sherlock:
    John: (after Sherlock explains clues) Why didn't I think of that?
    Sherlock: Because you're an idiot. *John opens mouth to retaliate* No no no, don't be like that, practically everybody is.
  • In Life on Mars, after a prisoner dies in his cell, Sam sees Annie crying and reassures her that it wasn't her fault. She can't believe he thinks she needs to be told that.
  • In The West Wing, after Josh and Amy have spent the episode in one of their usual semi-political-semi-personal power struggles, he comes up to tell her he forgives her for her side of it. She starts to take offense, but then Abbey prompts her to accept it for the sake of keeping the peace. She says in a monotone, "Thank you for forgiving me, Josh, I appreciate that," and then mutters, "Jackass."

  • From The Goon Show:
    Major Bloodnok: How dare you call me Major Bloodnok!
    Seagoon: That's your name.
    Major Bloodnok: In that case, I forgive you.

  • A darker version is used in Ibsen's A Doll's House. Nora Helmer has borrowed money to send her seriously ill husband Torvald on a trip that saves his life. Unfortunately, the man who lent her the money (who is Torvald's employee) blackmails her that he'll tell her husband unless she gets him a promotion. After some complications, Torvald finds out what she did and snaps at her because the blackmail and her actions reflect badly on him (especially since she had committed forgery at some point). Then he finds out that the other man changed his mind about blackmailing him. He generously "forgives" her and gives her a good deal of the "you didn't know better" part of the trope. Nora coldly thanks him, but then she proceeds to give him "The Reason You Suck" Speech and leaves the house. The exit scene is described as the most dramatic doorslam in the history of theatre.

    Video Games 
  • Portal 2 has this in spades, mostly on the part of GLaDOS, who's spent an undefined but very long time reliving the last few minutes of her defeat at Chell's hands on endless repeat and is (perhaps understandably) very bitter.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Funny, We Shrunk the Adults", Simon accuses Alvin of shrinking his lab coat. When it turns out that the coat belongs to one of Theodore's dolls, Simon snobbishly "accepts" Alvin's "apology", instead of apologizing for falsely accusing his brother.
  • In the Simpsons episode, "The Nedliest Catch", Homer convinces Ned that Edna's previous sexual encounters should not break Ned and Edna up when they were such a perfect couple. Ned invites Edna over to his place to apologize for freaking out, and then announces his forgiveness. They come down to a Make Up or Break Up and...that's the end of the season. The viewers vote for which happens. The viewers voted that they should stay together.

Alternative Title(s): Impudent Forgiveness, Absurd Absolution, Backhanded Forgiveness, I Forgive You