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For Your Own Good

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"We only buy into what we can sell
We only want to protect you from yourself"
— "Control" by MDFMK

All too often, when someone is forced to do something they don't want to do, they will be told, "It's for your own good!" This will usually be said by a parent. Other variations may include "We're doing this because we love you," "We're doing this because we care" or "You'll thank me for this later."

It can also be used by someone (usually an adult) justifying why they did something to someone (usually a child), especially when the child thinks it was wrong. In real life, it's generally assumed the adult is right, but fiction usually only highlights the situation when the child is.

In some works this might be Played for Laughs during an intervention. Compare Tough Love and Cruel to Be Kind, which happens with something undesirable that really is for the person's own good. If the helpers are overbearing, a nuisance, or downright harmful in their attempts to render assistance, expect to hear complaints about Unwanted Assistance. It may also be Played for Drama, as in cases of Honor-Related Abuse, or Financial Abuse.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is Kami's reason for permanently removing Goku's tail in Dragon Ball, saying his martial arts training was being hindered by it. It's more likely he just wanted to bring back the moon.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) anime, this is basically Hohenheim's excuse for leaving his family: because of his immortality, his body is slowly rotting away and he didn't want his family finding out. There's also the matter of Dante and the Homunculi keeping tabs on him.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury: At the end of Episode 17, Miorine shuts down Aerial and causes Suletta to lose both Aerial and her title as Holder, internally justifying her actions this way even though she has to break Suletta's heart. Then, Episode 18 has Eri also cast Suletta away, claiming that she no longer needs a pilot with Aerial having reached Permet Score 8. After telling Suletta to go back to school and departing with Aerial, Prospera suggests they could have taken her with them, but agrees with Eri that Suletta deserves to live freely, revealing Eri to have shared in Miorine's motivation. Suletta ultimately comes to understand why Eri did this in Episode 19, and acknowledges that she was completely ignorant.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool had a case of this with his daughter, Ellie in recent chapters when he takes her away from her adopted family. He pulls her arm while she questions what's happening. He tells her to put on the helmet, and she throws it. He pick her up, under his arm, and carries her to his motorcycle, while she yells at him to let her go. He tells her they have to leave but she continues to tell him she doesn't want to go. He explains that because she's different & the world is now different, he has to go to extra lengths to protect her. Because of that, she's never allowed to go back to her adoptive family -which makes her cry.
  • Firefly: The Sting: When the head nun reveals that anyone locked in a room past dawn becomes one of them, she adds, "Often, it's for the best. Some creatures don't know what to do with themselves, and they just get in trouble." She then shoves Zoe into a room, adding, "Like you."
  • This was a common explanation in the Silver Age for why the good guys had spent the whole issue behaving like jerks to their Love Interests / Sidekicks / Mentors. The person in question would always accept this without complaint and things would go right back to normal. It is one of the main excuses for Superman being a dick.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: When Harry reveals that the Green Goblin is his father and was trying to kill him, the police take him into custody. Still shocked by everything, he accepts it.
    • Spider-Men II: Peter is talking with Miles, and suddenly he webs him in the face. That's because Taskmaster has entered the building and released a gas attack, but webs can filter it.

    Fan Works 
  • In An Alternate Keitaro Urashima, Granny Hina claims that she has everyone's best interests at heart when she's playing The Chessmaster.
  • In many Conversion Bureau spin-off fics the Equestrians see their Assimilation Plot as noble and good because Humans Are the Real Monsters. The PER take it further by forcibly ponifying people under the pretense of "saving" them, whether they want it or not. It's pretty easy to see why detractors of the TCB Universe compare the ponies in these fics to conquistadors or Nazis.
  • Danny Phantom: Stranded: During Empowered, Tucker becomes obsessed with Nasty Burger after a doctor criticizes its food for being unhealthy. To protest and prove that there is nothing wrong with the food, he starts to eat excessive amounts of fast food from there, much to the concern of his friends. He also ignores how detrimental his actions are, even when they begin to take a toll on his health, still insisting that he isn't doing anything wrong and continuing his "protest." Eventually, it gets to the point where Sam bribes the Nasty Burger into banning him from the establishment, much to his shock. Tucker quickly figures out that Sam is behind this and calls to confront her about it. She doesn't deny it and says this trope almost word for word to justify her actions. Tucker remains stubborn and accuses Sam of trying to push her views onto people like she tried to do in "Mystery Meat". However, Sam argues it's not the same and she is doing this to protect Tucker's health. She later tells his parents what he's been doing, and they punish their son by cutting off his allowance, mandating vegetables in his diet for a month, and forcing him to get a physical checkup to make sure there's no lasting damage, with Tucker's father also citing this very trope.
    Sam: I was gonna let you learn your lesson the hard way, but then I figured that you being in a hospital bed is just gonna make things harder for the team and your parents too. That and I don't actually want you to end up losing any arteries!
  • In The Ghost of Ochs, some soldiers from an Empire-controlled town claimed this when turning Hapi over to the Knights of Seiros in the wake of a deadly monster attack out of fear of her curse drawing more monsters (mainly to her, but especially to them).
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Draco can't bring himself to kill Harry for tricking him into sacrificing his false belief in blood purity, but he can settle for thwarting all of Harry's plots and gloating that it was for his own good. The fact that it really is for Harry's own good (at least, in Draco's estimation) is only a bonus that occurs to him afterward.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Corona's justification for her actions is that mortal ponies are too short-lived and fragile and she needs to protect them from themselves. Their consent isn't required, since as an alicorn, she obviously knows better.

    Films — Animated 
  • Despicable Me: This is Dr. Nefario's excuse for having the kids taken back to the orphanage so they stop distracting Gru from his evil plan.
  • In Shrek 2, Fiona seems to think this is why her parents locked her in the tower.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: After the fight at Aunt May's house and Miles loses his Uncle Aaron, Peter B. decides to restrain him for his own good before taking the rest of the Spider-Gang to the Collider.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph says this right before he wrecks the kart he and Vanellope made together.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Airplane II: The Sequel. At the "Ronald Reagan Hospital for the Mentally Insane", the sign reads "We Cure People the Old Fashioned Way". Cut to a bunch of orderlies beating a patient with slapjacks, while telling him "It's for your own good!"
  • This is why Megan's parents send her to a "straight camp" in But I'm a Cheerleader.
  • In Cool Hand Luke, when the title character is captured after his first escape attempt and fit into chains before the other inmates, the Captain loudly informs Luke, and the prison at large, how the chains will remind him not to try and escape, ending with "For yer own good." Luke dryly replies "I wish you'd stop being so good to me, Captain."
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Exaggerated on a global scale by Emma Russell. Unlike Jonah, Emma genuinely doesn't want all of humanity to go extinct. She rationalizes her plan to let the Titans devastate civilization as a necessary evil to prevent mankind from causing our own extinction via global warming, as she's overly confident that the government (whom she points out Monarch can't stop this late into the game, a pointer for which no-one has a real retort) will succeed in exterminating the Titans if they try. Mark directly calls Emma out for thinking that she alone has the right to dictate the fate of the entire human race all on her own.
  • In Heavenly Creatures, Juliet has been repeatedly abandoned by her parents or taken from places and people she loves "for the good of her health." At one point she snaps "They sent me to the Bahamas for the good of my health. They sent me to the Bay of bloody Islands for the good of my health!" Finally, when she is told she's to be separated from her heart's companion Pauline and sent to South Africa with relatives "for the good of your health", she lets out a bloodcurdling scream. Many can argue that the parents have made a serious mistake in doing this, though they certainly did not deserve to be murdered.
  • V for Vendetta (film version): Norsefire's Secret Police, the Fingermen, regularly arrest non-Caucasians, dissenters and homosexuals, and send them to internment camps or execution...and all of their vans have "For Your Protection" written on the back.

  • In Psalms 51 of The Bible, King David compares his remorse at having Uriah killed to having God crush every bone in his body. David thanks Him for it.
  • In the book The D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom: A Collection of Poems About School, Homework, and Life (Sort Of), one of the titular poems is about this trope and why anything that's "for your own good" is generally horrible and depressing.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Two different versions of this are brought up in in regards to Harry's return to his ridiculously unfit guardians every summer:
      • The Protection given to Harry by his Mother's sacrifice was extended to her blood family (in this case, her sister, Harry's aunt), and thus Dumbledore insisted Harry continue to live there, in the most basic-survival sort of "for his own good".
      • Dumbledore also points out a couple times that it was rather useful in stopping Harry from becoming full of himself due to being exposed to his ridiculous level of fame at a too-early age. Of course instead of an inflated ego he got outright abuse, so this feels more like a minor positive than an actual reasonable justification.
    • Hermione also uttered some variant of this when Harry and Ron demanded to know why she turned the Firebolt over to Professor McGonagall for stripping.
    • According to Word of God, the reason for Dumbledore denying Snape the Defense Against The Dark Arts position for years was out of concern that he might be seduced by the lure of the Dark Side.
  • In Heralds Of Rhimn, this is the cause of a lot of bad blood between Meparik and his Courtfather. Instead of properly talking things out with Meparik to get him to move back in and stop isolating himself, Snow forced Meparik to pay rent in order to keep him visiting and make sure he was alive, and rationalizes it this way.
  • In Twilight, a rather large portion of Edward's actions are for what he considers Bella's own good, whether or not she agrees—though she usually does. These actions include following her without her consent, breaking into her room every night to watch her, forcing her to flee Forks when James hunts her, leaving her in New Moon because she might be killed if she stays with him, stealing her car engine so she can't visit Jacob, etc. The list goes on, right to the end of the series.
  • Victoria has a particularly dark example, with the Christian dominionist ideologues ruling the Northern Confederation using this reasoning to justify their annihilation of Azania, a Lady Land, since women must be guided by men for their own good. The surrendered Azanians are reeducated into "real women" and freed of their "unnatural" feminist ideology, and can then look forward to marriage to a gentlemanly Confederation soldier and a quiet home life. Those who resist and cling to their old beliefs are made slave-concubines instead—And this, too, is said in so many words to be for their own good, since, unpleasant though this fate may be, it will surely strip away their delusion that women can be the equals of men and show them their proper place in the world.
  • Warrior Cats: In Sky, Tigerstar sees that RiverClan is struggling after the death of their leader and deputy, and insists that they need his help until they find their feet under a new leader. RiverClan wants no part of this. Ultimately Tigerstar invades RiverClan's camp and forces them to surrender, nearly killing one of the defiant older warriors. After he starts to give the defeated Clan orders, the last line of dialogue in the book is him telling them that it's for their own good.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ashita, Mama ga Inai: Donki's mother tells her she is leaving her at the orphanage because she thinks Donki would be happier there. Of course, the reality is that she can't be bothered to look after her.
  • The Barrier: Begoña, the neighborhood The Stool Pigeon for the Police State, justifies reporting people as it being for everyone's own good, including that of the people being reported themselves. Another state informer is shown to think people are better off dead than part of La Résistance.
  • Better Call Saul: Used by Chuck when he figures out how Jimmy gaslit him by forging documents and lays it out to Kim, trying to turn her against him.
    Chuck McGill: Yesterday morning was the worst professional humiliation of my life. A single transpositional error cost my client time and money, and permanently damaged my reputation. Then I realized, it wasn't an error. Not at all. A week ago last night, I was right there on that couch, barely conscious. And Jimmy showed up... [stands up from his chair] ...and he sent Ernesto away. My brother was going to take care of me. And in the dead of night, he went through my Mesa Verde files.
    Jimmy McGill: All right, you know what? We don't have to listen to this-
    Chuck McGill: She [Kim] does! [to Kim] You do, for your own good.
  • Euphoria: Fezco cuts off Rue's access to drugs after her fentanyl misadventure, being justifiably afraid that if she keeps doing drugs, she'll overdose again. Rue is not exactly grateful for this at the time. She does later thank him however.
  • Frasier: When she was growing up, Daphne's extremely abusive mother would justify whatever she did to Daphne on the grounds "you'll thank me for this later." When Frasier, in extreme Control Freak mode starts dictating what Daphne's wedding will be like, he drops this phrase, and Daphne explodes at him.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Spare That Rod!", Principal Osgood Conklin's rationale for his strict discipline policy (read dictatorial) at Madison High School. Well, it's either that, or he just likes making everybody miserable!
  • Sex Education: What Headmaster Groff says when he sends his son, Adam, to military school against his wishes.

  • An indirect version in the song Sooner or Later: "We only want what's best for you, that's why we tell you what to do."
  • Imogen Heap's song "Hide and Seek" in its bridge:
    . . .Mm what'd'ya say? Hmm, that it's all for the best? Of course, it is.
  • MDFMK song "Control" mentions this among the rest of dystopian features.
  • Will Smith's theme from Men in Black uses this:
    'Cause if we ever show up in your section/Believe me, it's for your own protection.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin's father in Calvin and Hobbes often tells his precocious son that various unpleasant activities "build character".
    "Pretty convenient how every time I build character, he saves a couple hundred bucks."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 2007, Hornswoggle won a battle royal to become WWE Cruiserweight Champion. A week later, GM Vickie Guerrero told him that as a champion AND as Vince McMahon's illegitimate son, he'd be a target of the other wrestlers and she'd hate for anything bad to happen to him, so for his own safety, she stripped him of the title.
  • Alex Shelley's reason for cancelling Lio Rush's cancellation of a flight to Germany and kicking him out of the tournament to be a third of Ring Of Honor's first World Six Man Tag Team champions in favor of KUSHIDA. It turned out to be part of a complex gambit to give Rush a better chance at winning the whole thing, a better chance at assuring a team like The Kingdom lost, though the Kingdom won anyway.
  • Madison Rayne advised Brittany to stop trying to help in her feud against The Beautiful People insisting that only years of dealing with them could make someone ready and that kind of prolonged exposure to them would not be worth it. Rayne took an even harder stance on the issue after Angelina Love and Velvet Sky gave Brittany a concussion.
  • Roderick Strong's reasoning for antagonizing Cedric Alexander, and Decade attacking the C&C Wrestle Factory, saying he was only doing for him what they established Ring of Honor veterans did for Strong and the rest of Generation Next.
  • This was the explanation Silas Young gave for attacking ACH at the 2016 War Of The Worlds. He was trying to be helpful, to teach ACH the lessons his father had failed to.
  • Triple H used this as a reason to refuse to face Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX, saying he was protecting him from himself. Needless to say, Bryan knew it was bull given all the times he'd been screwed over by Triple H in the past.
  • Valentina was left alone in SCW before and TNA after but discouraged from joining Women's Extreme Wrestling by her sister, Alexis Laree, on the grounds it was a racy garbage wrestling fed (yes, even more so than early TNA)
  • The whole in-character idea behind WWE's Right To Censor stable, even invoked by name by the leader, Steven Richards. Out of character, it was a pretty blatant Take That! against the Parents Television Council.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Mystara when the Alphatian point of view is voiced, they are resentful over the lack of appreciation Thyatian "barbarians" show for conquering and enslaving, er, patronizing and "educating" them in general, and over "perverting our teachings" (not becoming The Magocracy too after they kicked Alphatians out) in particular.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • A near-catchphrase of the Tau Empire, along with For The Greater Good, to justify all sorts of things. The thing to bear in mind is that they mean it — their belief in acting on The Needs of the Many is absolute and they would much rather be your friends, but if you're going to force the situation to be hostile... what else can they do?
    • The Imperial Guard actually have a rule called "For Your Own Good", where a Psyker that comes under psychic assault while using their powers is summarily killed as a precaution if a Commissar is in the squad. Given what happens to psykers who lose control of their powers, it's not just for their own good but the good of everyone near him.

  • In Cross Road, violinist Niccolo Paganini makes a Deal with the Devil of Music, Amduscias. The contract has two rules — that he can't play for anyone else besides Amduscias, and that he must play when Amduscias orders him to. A breach of contract would result in some kind of "calamity". If he plays for the church, that's a breach of his contract (playing for God). As the church was his only patron, he's out of luck for a while. Amduscias thinks that he should leave his hometown of Genoa and go out into the world to find a new patron. Niccolo doesn't want to, so Amduscias pushes him into playing in the church, breaking the contract. The calamity is that he gets banished, and has to do what Amduscias suggested.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: At the end, after defeating C, Ann agrees to listen to The Consortium's request to have her connection to Hinterland severed. After her treatment is finished, Dr. G informs her that Ryan's memories of his encounter with The Consortium were erased for his safety and to prevent him from making a reckless move against them. Despite Ann's reluctance, she's content since Ryan is back safely.
  • An unusual example in Daughter for Dessert. Mortelli beats up the protagonist while shouting, “This is for your own good!” It actually is for his own good, as it‘s part of a plan to get the protagonist acquitted of breaking and entering.
  • David Sarif from Deus Ex: Human Revolution gave Adam all of his augments without his consent, at the cost of removing stuff that didn't even need to be removed. But given Sarif's views on Augmentation and how much he sees it as a benefit to anybody, he genuinely sees what he did as a favor more than anything else.
  • Mass Effect 2: If, during Tali's Loyalty Mission, Shepard decides to ignore her incredibly strident pleas and get her father struck down as a traitor, once back on the Normandy, Shepard will justify themselves on these lines. Tali... disagrees.
  • Persona 4: After Dojima discovers a warning letter sent to Yu by the Killer, he realizes Yu has been secretly investigating the case and decides to take him in for questioning, citing its for his own good and protection.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: When Spyro reaches the second homeworld, Midday Gardens, Bianca shows up and tells him to return home, before adding that she's telling him this for his own good.
  • Kreia in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords has an unfortunate habit of setting large and unpleasant threats on your party in order to toughen you up.
  • Toriel in Undertale wants to keep the player character from leaving the ruins for this exact reason, even going far enough to attack you if you insist on leaving anyways. Her concern is 100% sincere, since she wants to protect the player from the same fate as the other humans who left. She makes the player fight to prove they can survive out there, and makes her attacks avoid the player if their health drops too low.

    Web Animation 
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions: Red discusses this in her Trope Talk on Post-Apocalypses, specifically the Robot Apocalypse scenario, commenting, "If anyone or anything is ever motivated by 'save you from yourself', you get the heck out of there as fast as you can because no good has ever come from that sentence."

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Safety", Darwin uses this to justify his extreme safety measures.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph Beifong's parents quote the trope name word for word as justification for their decision to lock her up, ostensibly to protect their "helpless" blind little girl. When she proves herself to be a Handicapped Badass by beating up an entire arena full of large, earthbending men in front of her dad, instead of getting the message that she is more than capable of defending herself, he takes this as evidence that she needs even stricter supervision than before, which prompts her to finally run away.
  • BoJack Horseman: Beatrice says this verbatim as she takes baby Hollyhock away from Henrietta. Joseph also used this as justification for burning Beatrice's contaminated things.
  • Bugs Bunny does this sarcastically when he spanks Ant Hill Harry, a.k.a. Baby Face Finster ("Baby Buggy Bunny").
    Bugs: And believe me, Finster this hurts you more than it does me!
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Dough Ray Me", this is Scrooge's rationale for not advancing Huey, Dewey or Louie their allowance - or giving Fenton Crackshell a raise. Scrooge claims that, if he gives them more money, they'll take money for granted, spend it foolishly, and end up homeless and begging on the street corner.
  • In Garfield and Friends episode "Arrivederci, Odie!" Jon takes Odie to the vet, Odie refuses by trying to stay in the car, Jon tells him that he is going and that is that, and it is for his own good.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Stan uses this rationale when sending Dipper and Mabel back home, after the Mystery Shack is seized by Gideon. His rationale is that he’s unable to take care of the two without a home or source of income.
    • Mabel tells Dipper this in the episode “Into the Bunker”, when she traps Dipper in a closet with Wendy in an attempt to force him to admit his crush on the latter. Said “closet” ends up being a passageway further into the bunker.
  • At the end of one episode, Robotboy says to the boy that takes care of him something like "Tommy does not love Robotboy. He does not shout at him." Tommy laughs.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Frankendoodle", SpongeBob says this verbatim when erasing DoodleBob to stop him from rampaging across Bikini Bottom.
  • Steven Universe: The Gems and Greg use the "because we love you" version when grounding Steven and forbidding him from watching TV (for a thousand years) when he and Connie try running away. The watching Maheswarans approve, especially Dr Maheswaran.
    Dr. Maheswaran: That was a masterful use of the "because we love you" shutdown. Personally, I'm fond of the "it's for your own good!" myself.
  • In the original The Transformers cartoon, Omega Supreme tries to undo the brainwashing done to his enemy, Devastator, using this phrase in the process. Devastator throws the phrase back into his face during a later fight.

    Real Life 
  • Dr. Alice Miller's book on cruelty in the name of discipline is called At the Beginning of Education in the original German, but is known as For Your Own Good in its English translation.
  • For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, talks about American medical, psychological, and childbearing "help" and advice that did great harm to women although the experts insisted it was meant for their own good. (Such as clitoridectomy, to name just one unfortunate idea. Don't let anyone tell you this doesn't happen in the U.S. or is limited to a certain culture, religion or race.)
  • "Chief, don't you be my benefactor" was an old adage in Soviet prisons. Lev Gumilev — who was there in Stalin's era — used more than one opportunity to quote it in the context of politics in his history books.


Wreck-it Ralph

Ralph says this just before he destroys Vanellope's kart.

How well does it match the trope?

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