Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest thing anyone can do, because the things that truly need forgiving are usually those that hurt the deepest. Then again, has the offender really earned forgiveness? Do they have to? Or is forgiveness for such a sin even possible? Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin? And just to complicate things further, who's to say forgiveness is a good thing in this situation, or at all?
So it is that this cornerstone Aesop causes a lot of problems to all involved, storyteller included.
The necessity of Forgiveness and its effects are all over the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. While it commonly appears as the best choice, it's not anywhere near universal. It should probably be noted that every major real world religion insists forgiveness is necessary from its practitioners.
Again, this is a very difficult trope to pull off, depending on who the players are, what the offense was, and what the ramifications were.
The typical aesop is as follows:
- Characters with a legitimate grievance who want Revenge shouldn't exact it. It just perpetuates the Cycle of Revenge and makes them into monsters as bad as their targets. To get true emotional closure, they should forgive the offender.
- They shouldn't take revenge... but if they do, it doesn't make them monsters, and is in fact perfectly fine and justified method of gaining Justice. Usually, this story has Anti Heroes or a Complete Monster of a bad guy because of Pay Evil unto Evil.
- They not only can, but should take revenge. It will not only give them emotional closure, but will be a long overdue public service since the offender is seriously messed up. Yet they don't and are often taken advantage of because of their inaction. This is used to illustrate the limits of forgiveness or a cultural status-quo ripe with Values Dissonance.
The effects of (not) taking revenge:
- Not taking revenge will spiritually cleanse the characters, allowing such things as Redemption Earns Life and a HeelFace Turn on the one spared and (if they weren't heroes) the protagonists.
- Not taking revenge will emotionally destroy the characters ... at least in the short run. In the long run they might be better off, unless the overarching aesop is The Farmer and the Viper.
- Taking revenge does no lasting mental or emotional damage, perhaps even healing emotional scars, but it does morally bankrupt the characters.
- Taking revenge makes one feel better, but only in the short term. In the long term, one will feel just as bad as before they took revenge, if not worse, because they have not properly tackled their traumas.
- Taking revenge does lasting emotional damage and morally bankrupts the characters.
- Alternatively, taking revenge will ultimately feel hollow and not bring the characters any kind of emotional closure, and they will have morally bankrupted themselves in vain.
- Not taking revenge prevents mental recovery, as revenge is necessary for proper closure.
- Not taking revenge empowers the offending party (the proposed targets of said revenge), and the offender will come back again and again, knowing they won't suffer any repercussions for their actions.
A story pushing the most idealist of these by having the heroes forgive and pardon the trespassers commonly has said trespassers indignantly refuse the forgiveness and outstretched hand with treachery. This being fiction, the Laser-Guided Karma from spurning their generosity results in them getting eaten by a bigger fish, shot/stabbed by the heroes or any less forgiving companions who were on their guard, or simply choosing to die rather than live with the wounded pride of having accepted their help.
It's not uncommon for sadistic heroes to "forgive" the bad guy with a Cruel Mercy that makes it impossible to harm anyone ever again.
Contrast with a hard example of a Moral Event Horizon. See also: Easily Forgiven, Go and Sin No More, Forgiveness Requires Death, Cuteness Equals Forgiveness, This Is Unforgivable!, Forgiven, but Not Forgotten, Spared, but Not Forgiven.
- Code Geass:
- Shirley, having regained her memories that Lelouch is Zero, the man responsible for the death of her father, is once again conflicted about her feelings, until she realizes Lelouch has been fighting by himself "in a world of lies", and forgives him. She tries to get Suzaku to do the same for Lelouch. Tragically, she is fatally wounded by Rolo a short while later, and after declaring her love and forgiveness in a Dying Declaration of Love, she dies. Tragically ironic in that it has the effect of making Suzaku even more suspicious of Lelouch, who he suspects of doing the deed.
- Lelouch to everyone in the end. He and Suzaku sacrifice themselves so that everyone can have a happy, peaceful life, regardless of what they've done during the wars. While it has a lot of fans crying Karma Houdini, it isn't that at all - the characters in question aren't going to go on to hurt others again, and the alternative would be much worse, and would undermine the concept of the peaceful world Lelouch wants to create. Besides, no one in the series is pure, and it would be hypocritical of him to forgive his allies but not his enemies when their actions are more or less equal.
- The Faraway Paladin has Mary who, in order to seal the Demon King, betrayed her goddess in order to accept a deal from Stagnate. Every day she prays to her goddess and is burned with holy flames as punishment. However when Mary is in danger of being fully claimed by Stagnate, her goddess personally intervenes to save her soul. Will realizes at that moment that the goddess had forgiven Mary long ago; the only reason she was burned was that Mary could not forgive herself and so prayed for punishment.
- Fullmetal Alchemist had these as recurring lesson. Again and again. Then again, some lessons needs to be always reminded.
- Ginga Densetsu Weed: Weed says in the Grand Finale that friendship and forgiveness should be what would build Ohu up from the devastation Hougen had caused. In fact, his willingness to forgive prompts Gin from pressuring his son to kill Hougen and announces him as the new leader of the pack. So this would mean Weed took option number 1. Subverted in the case with Kamakiri. Weed says that he would never forgive any dog who would risk others' lives to save their own hides. Kamakiri, however, doesn't give a crap.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED:
- After Athrun joins the good guys, Miriallia overhears a conversation between him and Kira and learns that he wes the one who killed her boyfriend, Tolle. When questioned about how she feels about this, Miriallia just walks away, saying that revenge won't change anything, thus becoming the first character in the show to actually forgive a misguided enemy.
- Earlier and in the biggest display of Kira's new attitude he's confronted by Yzak at Alaska and Kira in his new Freedom is able to easily overpower his older Duel Gundam and line up a kill shot, and despite Kira having the fresh memory of Yzak blowing away that shuttle of civilians earlier he changes his attack to only damage Duel slightly and tosses Yzak clear of the battlefield, telling him to save himself. Yzak is stunned and it begins his character development of second guessing his views that all Naturals are evil scum that deserve to die, leading his side switching in the finale.
- At the end of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, Kira offers friendship and an alliance to Shinn Asuka, who has spent a good part of the series trying very hard to kill him. Shinn actually breaks down crying when he realizes that Kira honestly doesn't hold a grudge against him for this, or for anything else he's done.
- In another instance Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Saji Crossroad follows Aesop 1 and tried his damnedest to get Louise Halevy to follow his footsteps. Unfortunately, Louise ignores him and goes on to exact righteous vengeance on her parents' murderer Nena Trinity. She ends up in effects 4, for a short while until her mentality and moral gets restored by Setsuna's GN Particles, and Saji's persistence
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
- Lady Une (having since resolved her Split Personality) offers Relena a gun n the final episode, saying that she's like a body without a soul and letting the girl take revenge for Une murdering her father. Relena pushes the gun aside, saying they need to break the Vicious Cycle.
- Earlier in the series, after Heero is duped into killing Alliance leaders who wanted to pursue peace with the space colonies (the very reason he was fighting in the first place), he goes around to their families confessing his guilt and offering them a gun. After this has happened, Field Marshall Noventa's widow asks Relena to deliver a letter to Heero, asking him to stop beating himself up over an honest mistake and encouraging him to think about the future rather than fixating on the past.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED:
- In HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!, When Hime Shirayuki/Cure Princess accidentally opened Axia, which led to the Phantom Empire, and also Maria Hikawa/Cure Tender's capture, Tender's own sister, Iona/Cure Fortune declares she would never forgive Hime for it. It took her second fight against Phantom, who then whoops her ass and destroys her PreCards (originally Cure Tender's), coupled with revealing that Cure Tender's capture was Iona's fault, not Hime's, to get her forgive Hime when she saves her from Phantom and gives away the PreCards she collected so she can use them to restore her powers.
- Kill la Kill:
- In the finale, Ryuuko, having defeated her tyrannical and maniacal mother Ragyo and stopped her plot of converting the entire Earth into an incubator for Life Fibers, urges Ragyo to come down with her back to Earth just like the mother and daughter that they are. That's right, after she learned that Ragyo threw her on a garbage dump when she's just an infant, killed her father and when revealed that she possesses the same abilities as her mother's, her mother wasted no time to brainwash her. Unfortunately, Ragyo chooses death instead, destroying herself and spreading her Life Fibers into space. Ryuko offers the same as Nui, the one who killed her father, to give up rather than face death. Like Ragyo, Nui chooses death as well.
- And even before that, after spending twenty-two episodes aiming at each other's throats, Ryuko forgave Satsuki, her elder sister. From Hot-Blooded who is hellbent for revenge and to know her estranged father, that's quite the development for someone who always loses her way.
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Fate was willing to give her Evil Matriarch of a mother a second chance despite the sheer amount of emotional and physical abuse she recieved (although Precia didn't take her up on the offer). Exactly how much of this was due to her being a Love Martyr at the time isn't made clear. It's more definite ten years later in StrikerS, since she not only keeps a picture of Precia by her bed, but tells Vivio that both Lindy and Precia are her mothers.
- While never directly addressed, a small amount of Fridge Logic make it clear that Genya forgave Cinque, Nove, and Wendi for brutally assaulting and kidnapping his eldest daughter (and Cinque being a part of the team responsible for his wife's death) because he adopted them.
- The franchise in general is big on forgiveness and second chances, owing to how far down the idealistic side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism it lies. It's a good thing too, otherwise the fact that Nanoha lets her daughter spend all her free time with an ex-member of a terrorist organization responsible for the kidnapping and torture of said daughter would be seen as irresponsible.
- Monster: One of the most important lessons is that even the most evil people deserve forgiveness. This pops up in the Light Novel Another Monster - Karl reveals that despite everything Johan put him through, Karl could never bring himself to hate Johan as he believed Johan's tears for him were real. Lotte, similarly, says that she doesn't hate him and that she believes Johan couldn't bring himself to kill Karl because Karl wanted things family and a home that Johan could never have nor understand. Nina, for her part, believes that had she not shot Johan, had she been able to forgive him, he would not have continued killing.
- My Hero Academia: #2 hero Enji Todoroki/Endeavor went to insane lengths to surpass his "rival" All Might, including marrying a woman specifically so they would have powerful children, neglecting the kids who weren't strong enough for his tastes, and physically and emotionally abusing the one who was, his fourth child Shoto. After an important event (All Might's retiring from heroics), Endeavor is forced to confront all the reprehensible things he did in pursuit of his goal and resolves to become a better hero and a better man and starts trying to make amends to his family. They've still got decades of abuse to work through (his wife is still in a mental hospital after his abuse lead to her pouring scalding water on Shoto's face), but the family acknowledges that he legitimately seems to be trying, and Endeavor knows that if they ever forgive him it won't be for a very long time. When The Hero Midoriya learns about it, he believes that Shoto is too kind of a person to not forgive his father eventually, but that he is still preparing himself to do so, meanwhile, Endeavor acknowledged the fact that his second youngest son, Natsuo, will probably never forgive him, and makes peace with it.
- My-HiME gives us the example of Natsuki Kuga, who learns in a matter of days that her late-mother had been planning to sell her to the Searrs Foundation, leading to a Heroic BSoD, and then overhearing a confrontation between Yukino and Shizuru, learns that her closest friend, Shizuru, had possibly raped her in her sleep. But Natsuki decides to "trust the mother in her heart", and then to acknowledge that Shizuru was her most important person, and forgive her for her transgressions. It doesn't hurt that after both of them die and are resurrected, it's strongly hinted that Shizuru was Not Herself and shows genuine remorse for what she did.
- Taking revenge makes Team Ten, especially Shikamaru, grow up and get over their grief (although it's largely motivated by finishing the mission that Asuma died trying to complete). It's Aesop three.
- Sasuke on the other hand leans very heavily on Aesop three to the point of wanting to kill his entire home town for the actions of few elders. Tough to say how he'll end up.
- Compare with Naruto, who completely forgives Pain, unlike the two above.
- Pokémon: The Series:
- Misty followed Ash until he payed her back for her accidental destroyed bike, after he borrowed it to save his Pikachu's life. However, over time, Misty forgave Ash as she understood that his intentions of borrowing her bike were good and it getting destroyed was all an accident.
- Iris' Excadrill had shunned his Trainer out ever since they lost to Drayden because she kept telling him to keep battling despite him knowing his opponent was unbeatable. However, in Iris and Excadrill against the Dragon Buster!, after losing to Georgia and through Cilan's advice, Iris realized her selfish actions and tearfully apologized to Excadrill. Hearing Iris' heartfelt apology and remembering that she didn't give up on him, Excadrill forgives his Trainer and renewed their bond.
- Clemont's Luxray, as a Luxio, thought Clemont abandoned him, while he was a Shinx, when he broke his word to meet up with him during his Trainer younger days. However, in A Campus Reunion!, Luxray forgives Clemont, after he saved him during a battle with Team Rocket, and even decided to travel with him.
- Lillie had a strain relationship with her mother, Lusamine, as she was always busy with her work and didn't have time to be with her or Gladion. Also, Lillie didn't like that her mother does things without considering her feelings. However, in Mission: Total Recall!, through Gladion's help, Lusamine realized how bad she let work get in the way of her family and that she failed to notice the trauma Lillie went through when she was little that caused her fear of touching Pokémon. After finding her daughter, Lusamine embraced Lillie then tearfully apologized to her for her neglectful behavior and her daughter happily forgives her.
- Mallow lost her temper at her mother before she passed away when she was younger but quickly regretted her outburst because those were the last words she said to her. In Memories Made in the Mist!, Mallow didn't want to see her mother as she didn't want to face her. However, Mallow deep down did want to see her mother as she wanted to make things right and ended up getting that chance as she forgives her. Mallow was also able to forgive herself for her past actions.
- Goh's Cinderace, as Scorbunny, and its Trainer had a fallout when it wanted to learn a move on the type it is but he didn't want it to. Although its Trainer teach the move and evolved into Raboot, Cinderace was still upset with Goh for the way he didn't consider its feeling and believed he didn't cared about it. However, in Goodbye, Friend, Cinderace not only realized how wrong it was into thinking that Goh didn't care about it but was also convinced to forgive him.
- Goh met a friend named Horace when he was younger, but believed he was betrayed when Horace didn't meet up with him like he promised he would. As a result, Goh ended up holding a grudge towards Horace for two years and didn't make any other friends outside of Chloe until he meets Ash. However, in Time After Time!, Goh finds out that Horace was ill on the day that they were supposed to meet up, and ends up forgiving him.
- In one arc of the Rurouni Kenshin manga and anime, a little boy's big brother dies protecting him from some bad guys. The little boy gets the chance to take revenge by killing one of the bad guys (who is unconscious), but is convinced not to: it wouldn't give him his brother back, and it would destroy him emotionally (basically bullet point 4 above). Instead, he should live a life that would make his brother proud of him, protecting those weaker than himself and not giving in to evil.
- A certain Roman soldier in Sound of the Sky, talking to the Unwitting Pawn who created a Synthetic Plague that was unleashed on her home:
Du hast genug gelitten, deshalb vergebe ich dir, auch wenn dir sonst niemand vergeben sollte. You have suffered enough, so I forgive you, even when nobody else will.
- One of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V central theme. The series shows that violence and aggression will only create more of the same and create a mess either in war or social reform. The only true way to end aggression is through forgiveness.
- Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars: Union, had his wedding to Mara Jade interrupted by a rogue Imperial who didn't like the Empire-New Republic peace set up in the Hand of Thrawn duology. Luke coaxed the Imperial into explaining his fears, gently debunked them - and then, once the Imperial was just sad and unhappy rather than violently driven, invited him to the celebration. Luke's like that.
- One of the core themes of Supergirl (Rebirth). The titular heroine was welcomed into National City in spite of her not-quite-stellar past. She wants to repay them all by making "Hope, compassion and help for all" her motto and never giving up on anybody, no matter what they have done. In that spirit, she forgave her broken, madman of a parent, which didn't sit well with the people she protected from him.
- In Bizarrogirl, the titular character, a backwards loony who doesn't know moral humanity, kills a man. Once she fights alongside Supergirl and learns the difference between saving lives and ending them, she decides to punish herself and wonders if she'll ever be earn her redemption.
Bizarrogirl: Does self-punishment end, Supergirl?
Supergirl: It might never end, Bizarrogirl. We can be sorry for what we've done, be sorry for hurting others, but it's what we do afterwards that really matters. But if it does end, it will be because you look into a mirror... and realize you've already punished yourself enough.
- The Man of Steel is all about this, from cheerily recommending Metropolis's reform program to various petty criminals he catches to trying to convince supervillains that if they stop being evil, he'll be more than happy to help them out.
- His long time science assistant Emil Hamilton started out as a villain and attacked Superman. It helps though that he was basically a nutty scientist pushed over the edge by corporate double-dealing ala Luthor. He was clearly from the beginning the sort of criminal that could be rehabilitated. Sadly, Hamilton fell into villainy again due to a combination of feeling sidelined as Superman sought aid from other science-minded heroes like Steel and forming a crazy theory that Superman was draining the Sun of energy and bring about the end of life on Earth... 4.5 billion years later.
- Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four still doesn't really hate Doom (who has tried to kill him a hundred or so times and is constantly making his life hell), mostly feeling miserable and guilty about being the reason for Doom's turn to villainy, even though it wasn't his fault at all. On more than one occasion, a fight between the two has degenerated into Reed begging Doom to reform, and Sue once baldly told Doom that Reed is incapable of holding a grudge, in contrast to Doom, whose entire existence is based around his seething jealous grudge against Reed.
- Batwoman: A peripheral theme. Various Hispanic parents lose their children to The Weeping Woman (a woman whose children were killed and her soul bound to her corpse and the water). After various accusations of racism and implicitly homophobic insults against the police and Maggie, they form a posse to get their kids back when the city goes into anarchy. One father is almost killed by gangsters in the Mob, but the Weeping Woman saves him by killing them. The father sees her as the broken soul she is and forgives her, while Maggie, implicitly, does not care about the parent's harassment as they were under duress, but thinks that if she was in the father's position, she wouldn't be able to forgive. In the end, The Weeping Woman saves the children by killing Maro, the man who killed her children to turn her, who was going to kill the other children in turn.
- A major moment in the graphic novel Heckessentially the emotional climaxhinges on a character who forgives a major moment of betrayal. Elliot, who was seemingly abandoned by his best friend Heck at the very bottom of Hell, tells Satan that he forgives Heck. But Heck finds new resolve, returns and rescues Elliot, only to be beaten within an inch of his life and ready to die. Satan decides to spare Heck, but before returning him to Earth, tells him that Elliot forgave him. And that moment, more than any other, is what breaks Heck.
- The Great Power of Chninkel: The great power that O'ne has bestowed on J'on turns out to not be some sort of magic or great warrior skill, but the power of forgiveness. J'on uses it on all three of the immortals during his public execution, by proxy forgiving the tyrant king N'om—whose soul was split into the three warlords—for declaring himself god.
- This is a repeated theme in Red Sonja: The Forgiving of Monsters.
- Sonja is cursed to be unable to forgive those who slight her.
- One subject of her rage forgives her, defusing a conflict and saving her life.
- Sonja finally forgives a brigand who had wronged her decades before, on the reasoning that he was no longer the same person he had been. This illustrates the peace that forgiveness can offer to the wronged party.
- A regular theme in The Transformers (IDW), particularly once the War ends. It's particularly prominent in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, which has multiple villains driven by an obsession with past wrongs; in particular, both Getaway and the Decepticon Justice Division are driven by a refusal to let go of the vengeful wartime mindset. The climax of Rodimus's personal story involves him letting go of his hatred for Getaway and saving him from a fire, burning off the paint job he adopted to mark his murderous desire for vengeance and reverting to his true colours in the process.
- A Fandom-Specific Plot of Frozen fanfiction regarding Prince Hans has him go through a Heel Realization for his crimes and set out to make things right with Anna and Elsa, usually the latter due to being shipped with her in some of these stories. They tend to have the characters learn about his Freudian Excuse or put in a scenario where they have to get to know him, and only after he goes through Hell do they decide to forgive him. Thankfully, most of these are done without making his actions excusable.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Happens in "The Blood Brother." When Bolt realizes how callously he has treated Mittens, he tearfully apologizes to the cat and is forgiven.
- Child of the Storm: When he first goes to Hogwarts, Loki is confronted by several of the students, who had relatives that died in The Battle of New York. The Reformed, but Not Tamed Loki, who is actively a part of the Avengers here and trying to make up for his actions in said battle, to the point of looking up and memorizing the people killed in it, flat-out gives them permission to kill him if they want. While none of the students are truly willing or able to kill him, at least one says that he isn't willing to forgive or forget what he's done. Loki says he expects nothing less.
- Codex Equus: One of its Central Themes is forgiveness, which is essential to breaking many Vicious Cycles.
- Moon Ray Vaughoof would realize the the importance of forgiveness when, after nearly attacking an abusive mare for killing her own foal, he was sent to learn about fairness and mercy towards the dead under Malus Manes. Taking the advice to heart, he proceeds to forgive everyone who wronged him in life, including his first ex-wife and his alcoholic father. This not only leads to Moon Ray Ascending as a god of Forgiveness, but also preaching the lesson of forgiveness to others, setting off a chain of events that would reward him greatly every time he lets go of something that was either troubling him or holding him back. While he does acknowledge that some people can't be forgiven, he believes that forgiveness must be unconditional, and clinging to hatred will make people just as bad as the one(s) who wronged them. He hates those who either demean others for showing forgiveness, or force people to atone by withholding forgiveness from them until they 'earn' it by their standards.
- Following the defeat of Dr. Toxikon and the end of the 'Crucible Crisis', Thorax and Ember get so fed up with the Dragon-Changeling blood feuds that instead of perpetuating the violence, they choose to forgive both the Changeling Progeniters and the Dragon Elders for their role in the crisis and other horrible things caused by their grudge. This leads to a positive karmic backlash that creates an infant Changeling-Dragon hybrid goddess, Princess Lampyridae/Firewing, who not only embodies Forgiveness, Spiritual Healing, Making Amends, but also sees Thorax and Ember as her 'parents' (which they technically are, since she's the direct result of their actions).
- A Crown of Stars: Where to begin?
- Yui wants to forgive her husband for being so single-mindedly obsessed about saving her that he treated their children -and other people- like crap... but she cannot forgive him unless he earns Shinji and Rei's forgiveness. However Shinji will not forgive his father unless Asuka forgives him. And Asuka is not feeling very forgiving to say the least.
- Gendo wants to earn the pilots' forgiveness. It sounds like a goal nearly impossible to achieve until you remember Gendo will stop at nothing to get his wife back.
- Shinji blames himself for everything what Asuka endured through the Angel War and after Third Impact and letting her die. He wishes she is able to forgive him, but he does not know if he deserves it.
- On the other hand, Asuka wondered if she would ever forgive him for leaving her alone when she needed him the most... until they remembered her own actions during Instrumentality and she realized he had tried to reach her out despite everything:
Asuka:"I forgive you."
Shinji: (blinking) "What?"
Asuka:"A betrayal for a betrayal. You betrayed me when you left me to fight alone and die... and I betrayed you when you needed me to help you the most, and you were still trying to help me. After all that youd lost, watching Misato and me die, me yelling at you on that train-place... after all that you still asked to help me and stay with me. And I just told you 'No'. I hurt you and you hurt me, both at the worst possible times... we're even, Shinji. So I forgive you, for not being there at that battle... and Im sorry for telling you 'No' when you were so low, but still reached out to me. You really are... for me."
- In Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità, Italy forgives the homophobe even as he was about to be raped by said homophobe. Germany and Japan do not agree.
- Loved and Lost: A recurring theme in the story.
- Twilight's exiled/disgraced loved ones (especially Shining Armor and Celestia) are wracked with guilt over how they abandoned Twilight and inadvertently allowed the Changeling invasion to occur. They return to Canterlot a week later in order to clear their names and earn Twilight's forgiveness.
- When asked by Shining Armor, Princess Cadance says that she can forgive him for his mistakes, but suggests that before they try to get married again, he should first make amends with Twilight.
- In the 12th chapter, a sentenced to be hanged Celestia delivers a heartfelt apology speech to Twilight and Canterlot's population wherein she takes full ownership of her failures. This successfully triggers forgiveness in her former subjects and student who then demand for her to be spared.
- After the fugitives escape, Twilight wants to pardon her dishonored loved ones so that she can forgive them for abandoning her and so that she can apologize for her outburst, believing that they have learned their lesson and don't deserve to suffer anymore than they already have.
- When Twilight discovers that her friends' Cassandra Truth about Jewelius was right, she flees to Ponyville to reconcile with them. Much to her surprise, they welcome her back with open arms and harbor no grudge against her for the way she betrayed them for Jewelius.
- In the epilogue, the heroes are quick to forgive the public for how they spurned them under Jewelius' direction, while the public in turn forgives the heroes for their mistakes.
- The Many Dates of Danny Fenton:
- In the alternate ending where Danny chooses Kitty Pryde, he eventually comes to forgive Katie for all the trouble she caused him.
- In the ending with Felicia, Danny is upset to learn she's the Black Cat and ends their relationship. Her stalking and following him around only made things worse. However, Taking the Bullet for him in a fight with Vlad Plasmius convinces him she loves him and forgives her.
- After Sam and Kara are rescued and defeat Vlad, Sam genuinely apologizes to Danny and admits it was her fault. To Sam's shock, Danny hugs her and quickly forgives her. When she asks how he can forgive her so easily, Danny tells her that he never hated her, he was just afraid that he lost one of his best friends forever. Kara also forgives Sam when she apologizes to her, much to her surprise and gratitude.
- After spending a good part of TMDDF: After Many Dates: Danny and Kim both afraid and angry at Katie, it comes to an end in chapter 50. After she saves Kim and Danielle from Thanatos, this causes Danny to admit that while he can never love her like Kim, he can finally forgive her.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Shinji and Rei argue the subject of forgiveness after Shinji hurts Asuka.
Shinji: I shouldn't have But she... she can be so mean. She had no right to say those things to you but I had no right to say them to her. I had no right ... please, forgive me.
Rei: Forgiveness is not mine to give
Rei: You can ask me for forgiveness, but I have no reason to forgive you. You have done nothing to me that would require it. If you feel it is the Second who should forgive you, then you should go to her and ask her to do so instead.
Shinji: I can't. I can't go to her. She hates me. She
Rei: She is who she is. And she does not have to forgive you. It is not an obligation.
Shinji: But ... what's the point in apologizing to someone if they will just hate you for it?
Rei: Will it make you feel better? People make themselves what they want to be, not what others wish them to be. I can only be me, and no one else. You accept me for being me, so you should accept her for being her.
- Once More with Feeling: Even if no one else knows what he did in the original timeline, Shinji wants to earn everybody's forgiveness for his actions, so he is fighting hard to save the world this time.
- A major theme in Retribution: Spock forgives Kirk for his earlier accusations of treachery because he knows the captain was Not Himself and forces Kirk to forgive himself by reminding him that Kirk forgave him for much worse.
- Power Chord: High School Musical: One of the story's major themes is forgiveness for what people do. Mazzy has to choose early on if she is willing to forgive Sully for cheating on her. Luna, later on, is only able to break Luan's truth serum by forgiving herself.
- At the end of A Prize for Three Empires, Carol Danvers apologizes to her friends for using her personal issues as an excuse for becoming a jerkass. They accept her apology.
Carol: At one time or another, I was on the outs with a bunch of you. Sometimes the Avengers, sometimes the X-Men. Sometimes I had reason to be, sometimes... it was just my own stupid fault. Sometimes I was right, sometimes I was really, really wrong. But the thing... the thing I was most wrong about... was thinking that you, and you, and you, and all the rest of you, were anything but friends. You were there for me. I wasn't always there for you. I messed up. Big-time. With the drinking. I hope I've... put all that behind me now. Can you... forgive me? And can we all... still be friends?
- Scar Tissue: Forgiveness is a very important theme in this story. Many characters feel that they have done unforgivable, terrible things, and hope atone for them:
- Asuka wishes that Shinji can forgive her someday for abusing him, although she thinks she does not deserve it and she does not dare to hope that he does.
- Shinji wishes that Asuka forgives him for everything that he did to her (never helping her when she needed him, masturbating over her catatonic body, abandoning her when she was fighting for her life and leaving her dying), although he thinks that he does not deserve it.
- Former Nerv higher-ups like Ritsuko, and later Gendo and possibly Yui are working to make sure that the pilots can lead happy lives in the future as a way of expiation.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Why Am I Crying? has this as the focus of Scootaloo's arc. After Diamond Tiara dies in an accident, Scootaloo initially doesn't want to forgive her on account of all the nasty things she did to her and her friends, saying that bullies like her are unable to change, and ends up having an internal crisis when she finds out some hidden, surprising stuff about her and other ponies. At the funeral, she decides that she's not ready to forgive Tiara, but admits that she doesn't hate her anymore. She finally does when she visits her grave as a teenager years later.
- What is a Person Worth?: A big theme in this story. Lincoln is rightfully angry with his family because of their treatment and actions towards him. He runs away and wants nothing to do with them. He can barely remember the good moments they had and focuses a lot more on the bad memories. And any member of the family who has the balls to come within spitting distance of him after what happened would be on the receiving end of his cold hostility. But he also cannot bring himself to call the cops and destroy his family forever. So he gives his family a chance to earn back his love and trust, but at the same time warns them that if any of them try to force him to come back home before he's ready, then he will make good on his threat and call the cops on them. So far, Albert manages to convince Lincoln to consider why he should forgive them. Then Lincoln forgives Lana, Lily, and Lola (Though not as much as the former two since Lily is only a baby and Lana personally tried to help him when Chandler attacked him, getting beaten up for her trouble), and starts losing some of his anger to his sisters. And while he has not forgiven Lynn by the run-in mentioned under Everyone Has Standards, he could not bring himself to hurt her when he met her again. Chapter 16 has him forgiving Leni, Luna and Luan, even going out of his way to make Luan feel better when his (admittedly justified) "The Reason You Suck" Speech about her pranking antics drives her to tears and self-loathing. Chapter 19 sees Lori and Lincoln talking things out, not only making progress towards him forgiving her but also towards him and Lynn talking out their issues. Chapter 21 has Lucy earn her brother's forgiveness with a special poem and Lynn's breakdown marks the first steps in their reconciliation, a process continued in Chapter 22 when Lynn calls Ronnie out for believing that Lincoln would cheat on her. And Chapter 25 features both Lynn and Lori making full amends by saving Lincoln from Chandler's hired thugs. For the Loud family not only do they have to earn Lincoln's forgiveness, but also have to forgive themselves for their actions to him. Out of the family, Lynn has the hardest time forgiving herself and feels even if Lincoln forgives the family, he will never forgive her. Ultimately, by Chapter 25, Lincoln has fully forgiven his family and their bond is stronger than ever.
- In the 2008 animated adaption of Horton Hears a Who!, Horton easily forgives the Sour Kangaroo for her endless attempts to destroy the speck with the Whos' world on it, even offering her a cookie.
- A major theme in ParaNorman
- Meet the Robinsons deserves a mention from the Arc Words of "Keep moving forward." Considered an inversion because after Goob woke up late thanks to Lewis and causes him to lose the game, his teammates (after beating him up for losing) eventually forgot and forgave him for it. But not Goob, his grudge prevented him from being adopted, and grew up to become The Bowler Hat Guy.
- Coco: Hector doesn't hold any resentment for Imelda for thinking he abandoned his family for almost a century. In spite of leaving his photo off their ofrenda and never sharing his name, he still loved her. Imelda can't bring herself to immediately forgive him after even after learning he was trying to come home but was murdered by his former friend for refusing to work with him any longer. She does start to lose her resentment when she comes across his killer, and by the time the end of the movie happens, she has forgiven him and renews her romance with him.
- Courage Under Fire: A major theme of the film, mainly involving soldiers coming to grips with what they have done in the face of war. In particular, the main character's guilt over a friendly fire incident tortures him until he seeks out the parents of the victim to beg forgiveness.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Tia Dalma and Davy Jones continually tear each other up not so much for their past sins as because they can't forgive each other. Will is deeply moved watching them, and quite possibly inspired to avoid that, despite the wrongs he and Elizabeth had done each in the third film, by asking Elizabeth to marry him during the battle; since They Do, they know they can forgive each other.
- Evidently, Jack also forgave Elizabeth for abandoning him to be eaten by the Kraken in the second film. He could easily have treated her the same when the Flying Dutchman started to flounder; instead he unhesitatingly rescued her.
- The last love scene between Syrena and Philip in the fourth film has him asking her forgiveness for him getting her captured.
- In X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler tells Storm that he didn't hate people who were scared by him when he was working at the circus; he pitied (and this probably implies that he also forgave) them instead.
- One of the major themes on the movie, Super 8 such as From the captured alien stopping his Roaring Rampage of Revenge to Alice's father forgiven for the (indirect) death of Joe's mother.
- Spider-Man 3:
- Spider-man goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Sandman when he discovered he was the one who shot Ben Parker. By the end of the film, Sandman explained that Ben talked him out of taking his car at gunpoint, but his partner caused him to shoot Ben by accident, and deeply regrets it every night. After hearing how regretful and remorseful he is, Spidey forgives him.
- After Peter has freed himself of the black suit, Aunt May comes on by and Peter tells his Aunt that he has royally messed things up with his Love Interest and is now lost on what to do. Aunt May tells her nephew that he must to do the hardest thing: forgive himself, and she believes that Peter can do it and that he is a good person still.
- Wonder Woman has several implied examples as part of Diana's Coming-of-Age Story:
- Chief shows Diana that he can be friends with Steve, despite Steve's people having taking everything from Chief's people
- Steve shows by his actions that he has forgiven Diana for her failure to help him destroy the chemical gas factory, just before he boards the plane.
- Diana chooses to forgive Isabel Maru, when the alternative is to kill her.
- In Jasminum we learn Natasza's actual motive for coming to town was to find the man who's wronged her in the past - when she does, and hears him out, she finally forgives and decides to go on with her life.
- God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness: This is a theme in the film. Dave forgives Adam, and also his antagonists in general, making peace by the finale.
- In Avengers: Endgame, after the five year Time Skip, Tony Stark is finally able to forgive Steve Rogers for the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, going so far as to return Steve's shield.
"I just want peace. Turns out resentment is corrosive and I hate it."
- Return of the Jedi centers Luke's forgiveness to his father, Darth Vader. In spite of Vader committing countless atrocities in the galaxy for over 20 years and maiming his son's hand, Luke believes that there is still good in him and offers him to turn back to the light. Everyone else, including Vader himself, is shocked by Luke's forgiveness because they all believed that Vader is Beyond Redemption. Luke's forgiveness is put to the test when Emperor Palpatine pits Luke and Vader in a Duel to the Death, and goads the young Skywalker to give in to his negative emotions and kill his father. In the end, Luke's forgiveness is rewarded when Vader decides to save his son from the Emperor's wrath, killing his former master at the cost of his own life.
- In Ice Gift Aimek forgives the man that tried to murder him.
- From Temple of the Winds, you get the fourth Wizard's Rule: "There is magic in sincere forgiveness; in the forgiveness you give, but more so in the forgiveness you receive."
- This valuable lesson is promptly forgotten in subsequent books; or more precisely, the protagonists never attempt to apply it to anyone besides one another.
- In The Bible, a woman who had committed adultery, which Jewish law of the time demanded being stoned to death, was brought before Jesus, who was asked what should be done to the woman. Jesus replied, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." Slowly the mob left. Finally, Jesus, who canonically was without sin, didn't throw a stone, and instead sent the woman on her way with the advice, "Go now, and sin no more."
- It's present in the Old Testament, as well, most famously with Joseph forgiving his brothers for their past bad treatment of him and selling him into slavery (he points out to them that despite their wicked intentions in doing that, it ended up being a good thing as he became the prime minister of Egypt and was able to save hundreds, including them, from starvation).
- According to the 10 commandments, the divine forgiveness is at least 500 times greater than the divine wrath (it said in the commandment about idolatry, that God will punish until the fourth generation, if they continue sinning, but will reward thousands (minimum 2000) of generations, if they don't). It also said somewhere in the Talmud (a collection of 63 big books), that the measure of the divine forgiveness towards a person is according to the person's readiness to forgive others.
- Jesus stated that forgiving others was necessary, otherwise God could not and would not forgive you. This warning was accompanied by a parable where a rich man found that one of his servants owed him a staggering amount - around 3 billion dollars in today's money. He was about to have the man and his family sold into slavery to pay the debt but when the man begged for time, the rich man forgave the entire debt. Then the servant promptly went out and found a man who owed him a hundred denarii (around $5000) and demanded immediate payment. When the third man begged for time to pay, the servant refused and had the third man put in prison. The rich man found out about this and was furious. He summoned the servant, "unforgave" his debt and had the servant put in prison to be tortured until the entire debt was repaid. Fairly clearly an example of the first type.
- Máel Dúin of the medieval Irish romance The Voyage of Máel Dúin sets out to sea to kill the pirates who killed his father. He is lost at sea, and after many adventures, a wise hermit directs him back to Ireland with the advice to refrain from revenge, as it is not pleasing to God and the reason for his odyssey. When Máel Dúin has the chance to take revenge, he forgives the pirates.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson's narrative poem "The Voyage of Maeldune" is an adaptation of The Voyage of Máel Dúin. The hermit cites the Cycle of Revenge for why Maeldune should give up his purpose.
- In Rick Cook's Limbo System, when humans are held prisoner by aliens, the priest among them discusses philosophy with prisoner aliens. At one point, he says that people must especially love those who have wronged them, and an alien is delighted with the concept: by loving them, you have freed yourself from bondage to them.
- In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, forgiveness is literally the Spanner in the Works that unravels the Storm King's plan to unmake the world of Osten Ard. Specifically, his power is drawn in large part from the endless reservoir of hate and fear that he's inspired among mortals. When two of those mortals who are the most critical to his plan suddenly choose to give up their hatred and resentment, it critically weakens him just long enough for his mortal host to be slain.
- In John C. Wright's Titans of Chaos, Amelia is told to speak the word and the universe will be destroyed in Revenge for her killing. It is, it turns out, a Secret Test of Character; when she does not speak, they proclaim she forgives her killers and shows that a human can make correct moral judgments. Later, Quentin manages to nullify a Curse against him for killing Lamia by forgiving her for the injuries she did him.
- Harry Potter: this is Dumbledore's specialty. Other characters even accuse him of being too willing to forgive. Justified by his backstory revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- The Harry Potter series in general has a strong Power of Love and forgiveness Aesop. There's Snape spying for Dumbledore because he was in love with Lily Evans, Narcissa Malfoy lying to Voldemort to protect Draco, Regulus Black trying to destroy a horcrux, Kreacher changing his allegiance when he found out what Regulus did, Percy Weasley realizing the Ministry was corrupt and reuniting with his family ... every antagonist that was more than just a Mook did some form of HeelFace Turn, aside from the really bad ones.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirus and Remus ask for, and receive, forgiveness for their suspecting each other of being a traitor in the past.
- Someone Else's War: A Muslim boy living in a landlocked country where Christian extremists reign supreme. He loses his entire family and most of his friends to the war. And still he learns how to forgive the people who took them away.
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull: Jonathan's first transcendence comes when he masters the purity of flight, but in his new existence, he still harbors deep anger towards the Flock who ostracized him. He returns to that world in search of disciples, but also in search of the ability to forgive. Mastering this grants him his second ascension.
- Forgiveness is something of a theme in The Inheritance Cycle. In Eldest, after Saphira apologizes to Eragon for giving him the cold-shoulder throughout most of the book because she was infatuated with Glaedr, Eragon tells her that "Family members forgive one another, even if they don't always understand why someone acts in a certain way. You are as much my family as Roran— more."
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Nico's sister Bianca dies on one of Artemis's hunts. He spends a lot of time being angry at Percy, who promised to keep her safe. Eventually her ghost tells Nico not to hold him accountable, and that a This Is Unforgivable! mindset is the fatal flaw of the Hades bloodline.
- The Dresden Files:
- Knights of the Cross each carry a holy blade with a Nail from the Crucifixion of Jesus in the hilt. They help defend humanity from the many dark things in the world. Their primary adversary are the thirty Fallen Angels within simple silver coins and the human hosts they possess. It is expected of them to grant forgiveness to any of these hosts who might relinquish their Coin and free themselves of their evil angelic partner. Even if they suspect it to be a ruse, they cannot strike the person. This is because their goal isn't to kill the hosts but help them find redemption. Now, if the host and Fallen do not stop fighting, they have the right to defend themselves or others.
- This extends to the Fallen themselves. Churches don't keep out the Fallen because Holy Burns Evil. Any Fallen who enters may depart without God striking the Fallen down. The reason they stay away is Churches remind the Fallen of Him, of the joy they had in serving Him, and it makes them question their paths and if it has been worth it. If any Fallen could swallow his or her Pride and seek forgiveness for their crimes, God would likely grant it to them.
- From what can be seen, Broken Gate implies this is a theme, as, though she cursed him, Nezumi did offer it to her brother Ryuuji, who mistreated her. Unfortunately, he didn't accept it and antagonized her again, which lead her to open the titular gate about 100 or so years before the main story.
- The Heartstrikers: The series comes at it from society's perspective rather than the individual's. Sometimes you need to forgive absolutely terrible people for their crimes—even if they don't deserve or even want forgiveness—because it's the only way to stop the Cycle of Revenge.
- In Babylon 5:
- "A Late Delivery From Avalon", shown between David McIntyre "King Arthur" and Delenn. That is the soldier who had fired the shot that killed Dukhat and the Satai who had ordered the Minbari declaration of war. For much of the episode, he believed himself to be Arthur and he needed to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake.
- "Ship of Tears": G'Kar is told that the Minbari knew about the Shadow influence on the Centauri, and could have spoken out about them then, but this would have resulted in catastrophe as the Shadows would have started moving openly before they were ready. G'Kar mentions that if he had known this as the Centauri were bombing his world, he would have killed her. Now, he agrees that her actions, though painful, were correct. And that someday—but not today—he might be able to forgive her for it.
- A later example involving G'Kar had him declare that, while he could never forgive the Centauri in general for what they had done to the Narn, he could forgive Londo for his (very large) part in it.
- "Passing Through Gethsemane": One of Brother Theo's monks (Brother Edward) turns out to have a dark past that he does not remember, and that he only just learned about. One member of families of the victims Brother Edward killed, unable to forgive the person he was before (a serial murderer), and the person who actually did the deed is sentenced to "death of personality"—the same punishment inflicted on the person who became Brother Edward. Brother Theo grants forgiveness to Brother Edward as he's dying, and then asks the same of Sheridan of the person who killed Brother Edward, stating that "forgiveness is a hard thing, but something ever to strive for" (emphasis his).
- The recurring theme in Battlestar Galactica is that the cycle of revenge between man and machine is perpetuated because neither is capable of forgiveness, season 4 seems to be building up to an alliance between humans and rebel Cylons that may be capable of breaking the cycle. As of the end of the series Roslin forgives Baltar and lets him live (and keeps his terrible secret, no less). Not only does it help her heal emotionally, it also helped cement the rebel Cylon/Colonial alliance and ensure their mutual survival. So all in all, aesop 1 and bullet point 1. Which is surprising considering the tone of the series.
- An episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called "I Only Have Eyes For You" featured a ghost endlessly repeating his murder/suicide in an effort to find forgiveness. Buffy (connecting the ghost's story to the self-loathing she was feeling at the time) declares that he doesn't deserve forgiveness. Giles responds "To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's-it's ... it's not done because people deserve it. It's done because they need it."
- Doctor Who:
- This is shown fully in "Last of the Time Lords". After being imprisoned, humiliated and tormented for a year, not to mention seeing the Earth devestated (literally), the Doctor disarms the Master, corners him and says that the Master knows what happens now. He says "I forgive you."
- "Dark Water": The Doctor promises Clara that he will help her save her boyfriend, right after she betrays his trust. When she questions him about this, he asks if she thinks that he cares so little for her that one betrayal would be unforgivable.
- "The Zygon Inversion": The Doctor criticizes Bonnie's belief that she's too far in to her attempted revolution to be forgiven, before looking her right in the eye and forgiving her.
- "Resolution": Ryan forgives his estranged father Aaron to save him from the Dalek that's controlling him, and almost certain death.
- Emma of Every Witch Way practices this towards her enemies as a general rule (excluding the Big Bad of Season 1). She forgives Maddie for tormenting her in Season 1, Jax for trying to use her to destroy the magical realm in Season 2, and Mia for trying to kill her over an old family grudge in Season 3.
- In the "Identity" episodes of The Orville, it's revealed that the artificial lifeform Isaac has betrayed the crew to his people. Ultimately, however, he does right by them, and at the end of the episode, Claire, who has formed a romantic relationship with him, talks with him about an "old human custom" called forgiveness. She notes that it's something that takes time, but it must have a beginning.
Claire: Good night, Isaac.
- In the Season 8 Game of Thrones episode "The Rightful Queen", Jaime goes to see Bran Stark, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since he pushed Bran off a tower to keep his incestuous affair with his sister secret seven seasons earlier, and whom he hasn't seen since. He apologizes, and Bran, now the Three-Eyed Raven, tells him that neither of them would be the person they have become since then without that having happened.
- In the Season 2 finale of Schitt's Creek Alexis begins to comprehend just how badly she hurt her former fiance, Ted. She apologizes and he forgives her, but it's a long road before he can trust her again.
- On Tales from the Loop, the parallel universe Gaddis forgives Alex again and again for cheating on him with other men because he knows that he can't help it, that he really does love him, and that nobody is perfect, including himself.
- In Shake it Up, Rocky would get drag by "CeCe" into a lot of situation. However, out of all the times that "CeCe" got her into trouble, Rocky holds the events of Shake It Up, Up & Away as the biggest one she ever did. Although she forgave her to some extend, Rocky couldn't let go as she brings it up twice and mention it in a flashback. However, in Remember Me, after "CeCe" got amnesia and failed to remember their friendship, Rocky not only realized that she has to let go of her actions as she sees how badly it clouded her judgment and that she did more good for her as a friend then she could ever do for her but also fully forgives her for the events of Shake It Up, Up & Away. Through Rocky's willingness to forgive and let go along with her saying how much she needs her, "CeCe"'s memory started to return as she not only remembers who she is but also everyone in her life and her friendship with Rocky.
- In Good Luck Charlie, Teddy was heartbroken when she found out that Spencer was cheating on her with another girl. Although she got over her heartbreak, Teddy was visited by Spencer as he tried to fix things by apologizing for cheating and hurting her. However, Teddy could't take Spencer's apology as she can't trust him for what he did. Although, Teddy tried to be friends with Spencer but holds a grudge against him. However, when they started working together at a theme park, Teddy feelings for Spencer return but became conflicted. When Spencer visited her and told her that he felt awful for what he did to her, Teddy was not only convinced to forgive him but also gave him a second chance.
- "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley.
- One of the major themes of the album Lateralus by tool, especially prominent on "The Grudge" and "The Patient."
- Referenced in "I'm Not for Everyone" by Brothers Osborne:
Some people, they drink too much
Some people don't drink enough
Some people are just like me
I hope y'all forgive 'em
- In Rudyard Kipling's "Cold Iron", the poem turns on the king's willingness to forgive the baron — and to persuade him to accept it.
- The theme of The Shield's reformation storyline was forgiveness. It wasn't just Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose learning to forgive Seth Rollins; it was also Rollins learning to forgive himself, which Rollins could only do after breaking away from Triple H and The Authority completely (which he did when defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 33), and earning both Reigns' and Ambrose's forgiveness.
- Reigns, with his Big Brother Instinct, could never find it in himself to completely hate Rollins. He was deeply disappointed, certainly, and they had a fierce and competitive rivalry over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but deep down he still saw Rollins as his little brother. So, when circumstances forced them into an extended Enemy Mine situation, it was only a matter of time before he finally let bygones be bygones and forgave Rollins.
- Ambrose was another matter entirely. Aside from some heat-of-the-moment spontaneous team ups, things remained tense between them for months even after Rollins turned face; it was mitigated by them being on separate shows, only to flare up when Ambrose was traded back to RAW in mid-2017 and circumstances forced them into an extended Enemy Mine situation. Unlike Reigns, Ambrose genuinely did hate Rollins — mainly because Rollins was his closest friend and arguably the person he trusted most. More than once, their closeness was commented on, which is why, when Rollins betrayed the Shield, Ambrose took it far harder than Reigns did.
What followed was a blood feud that lasted the better part of the next three years and caused Rollins to hate Ambrose almost as much as Ambrose hated him, which made things that much harder when Rollins decided he wanted to bury the hatchet. Ambrose, being a naturally suspicious person, initially rejected his attempts at reconciliation, which made Rollins even more desperate and frustrated as he continued to all but beg for it. Eventually, it became clear that, if they were ever going reforge their relationship, it wasn't just Ambrose that had to forgive; Rollins also had to forgive Ambrose for everything that Ambrose did to him (no matter how justified it was). It wasn't long before people realized that words weren't going to cut it, and it was only after Ambrose and Rollins fought out all the anger between them did they finally make up.
- In one installment of Bear in the Big Blue House, Ojo and Tutter have a great big fight. In the end, they forgive each other because, in Ojo's words, "It's okay, 'cause in the end, I really can't stay angry at a friend, and you're my friend!"
- Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: There's a few powerful moments of forgiveness throughout the show, notably mostly concerning members of Team Tiger learning to let go and work together.
- Yeh Hsiao-chai forgives Su Huan-chen.
- Ouyang Lin forgives Su Huan-chen of killing her father, under the argument that as an evil man, he had to be brought down.
- Chin Shao-yeh forgives his father for "abandoning" him, realizing by the end of the first season that circumstances didn't allow his father to care for him. This quite literally helps save his father's life.
- Mo-chi Yen eventually accepts that Su Huan-chen and Lady Vermillion were not, in fact, evil and threatening his baby dragon's life after both save it. Considering he's got a literally explosive temper, this was quite the step for him.
- The importance of genuine regret followed by genuine forgiveness is a pervasive theme of the British children's series Rainbow.
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, Constantine discusses with his mother how he had pardoned but not forgiven his enemies before. He realizes that he may not pardon his wife's treachery, but he must forgive her.
- It is the forgiveness of the Bishop of Digne that sets Jean Valjean onto his better path near the start of Les Misérables; even though Valjean had just robbed him, the bishop spoke on his behalf to the city guards and got him released, even giving him more silver in order to 'become an honest man'. This becomes a running theme for Valjean throughout the play, and some of his last lines are asking, begging really, his adopted daughter to tell him he's forgiven for his trespasses.
- One of the most powerful moments in Hamilton comes toward the end of the song "It's Quiet Uptown". As they mourn the death of their son Philip, Eliza takes Alexander's hand in her own, quietly showing that she has forgiven him for his infidelity with Maria Reynolds, while the chorus sings, "Forgiveness, can you imagine?"
- Castlevania has this pop up occasionally, starting with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Dracula: Tell me... what... what were Lisa's last words?
Alucard: ...She said, "Do not hate humans. If you cannot live with them, at least do them no harm, for theirs is already a hard lot." She also said to tell you... that she would love you for all eternity.
Dracula: Lisa... forgive me... Farewell... my son...
- BioShock 2 lets the player practice this with a few characters, notably Grace Holloway (who Sinclair tells you is merely a misguided old lady who loves Eleanor as much as you do) and Stanley Poole (who Eleanor tells you is responsible for you two becoming what you are). Your actions will ultimately influence whether or not Eleanor chooses to save her mother or kill her.
- Aribeth can be looking for it by the end of Neverwinter Nights. Of course, events revealed in Hordes of the Underdark indicate that she didn't get it on the material plane, and her quest through the Hells has been a continuation.
- Another one from BioWare: This is the end of Carth's arc in Knights of the Old Republic. He gets to have the violent kind of revenge and realizes it brought him no peace at all. Even though he's got a laundry list of reasons to want revenge against the Player Character for their actions as Revan, he decides the path of forgiveness is the only way either of them will have peace.
- Forgiveness tends to be the Paragon option in Mass Effect 2. A specific example is pushing Garrus towards forgiving Sidonis in his loyalty mission.
- Mass Effect 3 rewards a forgiving attitude with increases in War Assets. Forgiving Batak and the Batarians is necessary to get their fleet as allies, Kelly Chamberss betrayal of you to the Illusive Man needs to be forgiven in order to help her survive and gain the Cerberus engineers war asset, David Archer must be forgiven for the atrocities he committed in Project Overlord in order to get him as a war asset, and the Geth-Quarians arc requires a forgiving attitude from both of them to prevent a Genocide Dilemma. An increased number of War Assets unlocks the Synthesis ending in which you forgive the Catalyst and the Reapers for millions of genocides in order to create a whole new framework of life.
- Chrono Trigger presents this option with Magus. By this point, Magus is responsible for killing Frog's mentor, permanently shapeshifting Frog into a monster (though Frog doesn't seem to mind), leading a war against humanity to further his own (noble but misguided) ends, and trying to kill the party. The player can decide whether to fight Magus or not. If you fight Magus and win, Magus will die, and he'll be Permanently Missable. If you don't, the current party leader will say that killing Magus is pointless, since it won't bring back Crono or Cyrus, the former of whom just sacrificed himself to allow the party to escape, Magus included. Choosing to spare Magus gets him to join your party.
- In Mortal Kombat, of all places, Sub-Zero took Frost as his personal protégé after becoming Grand Master of the Lin Kuei clan, breaking clan tradition to do so. It turned out to be a very bad idea. Frost proved to be violent and undisciplined, and eventually betrayed her mentor and tried to kill him. Still, he held no grudge, and refused to kill her, instead freezing her out of mercy and then laying her to rest in a temple, all the while blaming himself for what had happened.
- Mortal Kombat X: The series-spanning feud between Sub-Zero and Scorpion ended with this, to likely everyone's astonishment. Sub-Zero finally realizes just how corrupt the Lin Kuei had been under the old Grandmaster, and reveals the true mastermind behind the extermination of the Shirai Ryu: Quan Chi. Scorpion finds it in himself to forgive Sub-Zero, shakes his hand, and promptly storms off to deal with Quan Chi, who conversely he has no intention of forgiving.
- Forgiveness is a theme that is relevant for Presea in Tales of Symphonia. She finds out that Regal was the one who killed her sister Alicia around the same time that she learns that Alicia turned into a monster and begged Regal to kill her. She decides to continue to fight alongside him in spite of that fact, and her personal trial in Welgaia involves her finally letting go of her resentment toward Regal and Altessa, the latter of whom had experimented on her. Fittingly, the villain refuses to let go of the past: even at the end, Mithos clings to his hatred of humans, declaring that given the chance, he would do the same thing all over again.
- Also, there's this spoilertastic moment:
Lloyd: I defeated Kratos, the angel, the one who betrayed us. And I forgive Kratos, the hero of the Ancient War, who helped us. That's all.
- Also, there's this spoilertastic moment:
- In Dishonored you can choose whether or not to forgive Daud, the man who assassinated the Empress Jessamine while you were helpless to watch and the crime for which you were framed. On a Low Chaos playthrough he will show remorse and signs of starting to crack under the emotional strain, even commenting that he wants to die so the pain stops. If you choose to engage him, he'll call away his guards, say it's his fight, and actually ask for forgiveness upon defeat (even though he knows it's selfish and he doesn't deserve it). If you do give it to him, both he and the Outsider will be thoroughly astonished. This is unique in the game. Despite bloodless options always being available (and implicitly encouraged by more deaths leading to bleaker endings), the fate of the targets when they aren't outright assassinated is always horrible - perhaps worse than simple death. This is the one point when Corvo's choice is between bloody revenge and compassionate forgiveness.
- In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, in Lucius and Renault's A support, Renault admits to Lucius that he is the one who killed Lucius's father before his very eyes when he was a child, and he falls to his knees in tears and begs Lucius to forgive him. Lucius forgives him.
- This is crucial to the plot in Suikoden IV, since the True Rune of Punishment that attaches itself to the main character Lazlo's hand governs atonement and forgiveness. Lazlo's life goes downhill after his best friend Snowe betrays him early in the game. After gathering 107 of Stars of Destiny, the last Star will appear: Snowe himself, assuming Lazlo hadn't already killed him. By this point, Snowe has been thoroughly humbled by his self-inflicted hardships and is willing to accept whatever punishment Lazlo has in store for him. If Lazlo forgives him, Snowe joins the crew as the final Star. This has several gameplay and storyline benefits: Lazlo and Snowe's "True Friends Attack" one of the best combo attacks in the game is unlocked, the Rune of Punishment gains a powerful damage spell that actually heals Lazlo instead of draining his health like the previous spells, and most significantly the act of forgiveness shifts the Rune into its Forgiveness phase, meaning it won't kill Lazlo when he uses its full power at the very end of the game.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Vanille reveals to Sazh that his son's death was indirectly her fault (as she's the foreign threat Dajh was conscripted to fight). Sazh considers killing her (and Vanille says he would be justified in doing so), but ultimately concludes that doing so wouldn't solve anything: it wouldn't make the world any safer or bring Dajh back.
Sazh: You think you die and everything'll be sugar and rainbows?!
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Link exemplifies this. In his quest to save Zelda, this time his childhood friend and schoolmate, he endures a bully named Groose who has been jealous of their closeness and kidnaps Link's bird companion/steed. He also deals with the belittling of Impa (who has to save Zelda from a trap because Link is too slow to save her), a jerkass dragon named Faron who treats him as her errand boy three times, and lastly Hylia herself, having set Link and Zelda's meeting up centuries ago knowing her champion would be extremely motivated to save a friend and possible love interest. She is also now incarnated as Zelda, who regains her memories of being Hylia and this entire plan. Link forgives them all and takes their abuses in stride, and with Impa taking her cutting words to heart and becoming stronger for this failing.
- Dream Daddy: The focus of Robert's good ending is this. After years of being a rather non present father in his daughter's life, she wants to reconnect with him. She will mention that she is now in a relationship and has decided to let go and forgive her father for his mistakes, since holding to the grudge is not healthy for her either.
- In Gifts of Wandering Ice Elie uses forgiveness to break Glitchy, the AI program.
- In American Barbarian, Yoosamon's last request is that Rick forgive his brothers, and Rick says he has.
- In Charby the Vampirate, after weeks of thinking about it Charby forgives Zeno for blowing up his head.
- In Fans!, after Feddyg tortures Aly in front of the children in the cancer ward where she works as a nurse, and even flash-fries one of the kids, Aly manages to say the one thing he cannot stand; "I forgive you." Hilda, his previous victim? Not so forgiving.
- In El Goonish Shive, Justin's forgiveness (or rather the lack thereof) of Melissa for outing him is the main driver of the dynamic between the two characters and took about two years In-Universe and 5-8 years (depending on how you count it) real-time to resolve.
- Susan's lack of forgiveness toward her father's infidelity was the source of her initial Straw Feminist worldview (largely due to the influence of her mother). The events of the Grace's Birthday Party arc decoupled Susan's feelings toward men in general from the feelings toward her father but also left her unsure of her feelings toward him.
- Similar to Susan's grudge against her father, Diane never forgave her biological father for abandoning her birth mother. This is less justified after learning of the details surrounding her conception however. Given that said biological father is now known to be one of the teachers at her school, her reaching emotional closure is far more likely than Susan with her own father.
- Susan's lack of forgiveness toward her father's infidelity was the source of her initial Straw Feminist worldview (largely due to the influence of her mother). The events of the Grace's Birthday Party arc decoupled Susan's feelings toward men in general from the feelings toward her father but also left her unsure of her feelings toward him.
- Lovely People, as a pro-Christianity story, has this as part of its plot. Two of the three leads each temporarily turn their backs to one of the other values promoted by the story, but ultimately return to them by the end of the story and forgiven for their brief changes of heart.
- In the story "Forgive Me Not" of PB&J Otter, Pinch accidentally rips Jelly's favorite cape. She keeps doing Jelly's chores, but Jelly won't forgive her. When Jelly accidentally breaks Aunt Nanner's sunglasses, Aunt Nanner forgives her and she realizes that she needs to do the same for Pinch.
- In "The Grudge Won't Budge" story of Dragon Tales, Zak is mad at Wheezie for breaking his snoot flute. His anger and unwillingness to forgive is represented by a furry Grudge that actually clings on to him and won't go away until he can bring himself to forgive Wheezie. The Grudge talks to him in a wheedling voice, encouraging him to hold on to his anger and feelings of having been wronged.
- In "Playtime at Tolee's" on Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Rintoo accidentally rips Tolee's painting. Even though he fixes it so that it's as good as new, Tolee won't forgive him. Then, Tolee learns that "When someone says they're sorry / Tell them that's okay so that they won't feel bad."
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues has an episode called "Responsibility", in which Zach accidentally challenges Annie to race with him while bicycling. This causes Annie's new bike to crash into a rock in the ground during their race, so she falls off, along with two cakes that Annie's mom has baked for her at a bakery to deliver, and slides down a cliff. But then Socrates the bobcat swoops in and saves Annie from getting killed, although Annie's new bike gets wrecked, and the cakes fall on both her and Sock. Realizing that her bike and cakes were destroyed, Annie gets mad at Zach for prompting her to race with him, but Zach keeps telling her that he didn't ask her to race, which leads to an argument between both of them. Later on, at the end, Annie forgives Zach, and goes back to the bakery with him to bake a new cake, while her bike is being repaired.
- In the Franklin episode "Franklin Forgives," Franklin's sister Harriet accidentally knocks the bowl of Franklin's goldfish, Goldie, into the local lake, causing Goldie to be lost. Franklin is devastated and angry with Harriet. She tries various ways to make it up to him, but he eventually realizes how he would feel if he lost her when she tries to go search for the fish on her own.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: "The Parents" focus on Nicole reconnecting with her estranged parents. They had been for years involved in a Cycle of Revenge since she ran away from home after not being able to handle their impossible expectations, in which her parents would try to break her and Richard up while Nicole would play petty pranks on them. As they realize they can no longer remember what led to such a thing in their first place, they end up forgiving each other and moving on.
Nicole: I don't want your excuses! I just want you back.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Katara was the last of the Gaang to forgive Zuko because he had personally hurt her with his betrayal in Ba Sing Se, but after he helped her find her mother's killer, she forgave him. In regards to Katara finding her mother's killer: when she does, she's a heartbeat away from skewering him with rain-bent-into-icicles; when she sees the cowardly shell of a man he (still) is she spares him, but does not forgive him. This was a case of Not Worth Killing, since Katara decided revenge wasn't worth what it was making her, and leaving him in his current, miserable state was the worst thing she was willing to do.
- And then, later on, Zuko finds forgiveness at the hands of Iroh, who also reveals that he had always loved Zuko despite all the bad things that he had done.
- The sequel series, The Legend of Korra features decades long sibling rivalries, first between Tenzin and his older brother Bumi and older sister Kya, and Lin Bei Fong and her younger half-sister Suyin, that provoke much angst for all involved but ultimately end with the siblings managing some degree of forgiveness and coexistence. Lin also finds herself apologizing to her niece Opal for not being particularly nice to her at first, and fortunately for her Opal doesn't hold grudges and forgives her.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). After the turtles accidentally mutate April's father, she snaps at them and declares she doesn't want to see them again. It takes several episodes later when Donnie approached April as he tried to apologizes for what happen but she coldly refuses to listen or accept it and makes it clear to him that she doesnt want to see him or his brothers ever again. However, before Donnie left, April took a second to listen to him say that some things are just beyond anyones control. Although, hearing Casey, who was unaware of the Turtles at the time, tell her of an event where he accidentally ruined a friendship and saying the same thing Donnie said, April dwelled on those words and feels remorses for snapping at the Turtles, especially Donnie. Realizing that both Donnie and Casey were right, April was convince to forgive the Turtles and they also earned it when they saved her from one of Karai's attacks as she even gave them an apology for being so hard on them.
- Disney's The Legend of Tarzan has Lady Waltham wanting revenge towards Tarzan and his loved ones over the death of her brother Clayton. Even after she poisons him and had his friends kidnapped, Tarzan still saved her being killed by a pack of leopards. Realizing that someone that good like Tarzan could never kill her brother and saving her life even after what she did to him, Lady Waltham gave Tarzan the antidote and ended her vendetta.
- While it rarely (if ever) is a focus of an episode, forgiveness pops up many times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. To name a few, most outstanding instances:
- In "Friendship Is Magic, Part 2", Princess Celestia forgives her younger sister, Luna, for becoming Nightmare Moon and trying (twice) to bring The Night That Never Ends. The flashback in "Princess Twilight Sparkle" puts this in greater context, given that right after her FaceHeel Turn, Luna tried to kill her older sister. And there's also the fact that Luna is now completely loyal to Celestia, showing that she does not take her sister's forgiveness for granted.
- In "The Return of Harmony", Discord succeeds in making Twilight's friends act like their polar opposites. The one that we later see apologizing on-screen, Applejack, gets instantly forgiven.
- In "A Canterlot Wedding", Twilight is skeptical about the bride, but can't back it up with solid evidence, which makes everypony else (including her brother and Celestia) unwilling to believe her. Later, Applejack apologizes on the behalf of everypony concerned, to which Twilight replies that she doesn't have a grudge against them.
- "Amending Fences" brings the concept more center stage, as Moon Dancer is resistant to forgiving Twilight for the latter just up and running off to Ponyville and thus standing her up at the party she was supposed to attend.
- In "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", the Big Bad of the episode turns out to be a manifestation of Luna's guilt over her actions as Nightmare Moon, the Tantabus being a being that Luna created to inflict nightmares on herself. Luna had to forgive herself in order to defeat the Tantabus once and for all.
- This is a frequent theme in the Tinker Bell films.
- If the reader is surprised to see The Simpsons on the list, the episode "Bart Vs Thanksgiving" actually did a touching theme by showing Bart what remorse is, and knowing what it's liked to be forgiven.
- Steven Universe: Forgiveness is the focal point of a huge portion of the series; for instance, the Week of Sardonyx.
- In "Keystone Motel", after Garnet finds out in the episode before that Pearl tricked her into fusing, Garnet is absolutely and understandably furious with Pearl to the point of barely even acknowledging her when she's in the same room. This results in a secondary conflict between Ruby and Sapphire; Ruby doesn't want to forgive Pearl, but Sapphire, despite being just as mad as Ruby is, knows the situation will eventually be resolved and believes that Ruby should forgive Pearl sooner rather than later. This leads to a massive argument between the two that splits up Garnet for over 12 hours. Ruby and Sapphire only talk it out rationally after seeing how their arguing was negatively impacting Steven, and re-fuse after reconciling. Garnet ends up forgiving Pearl in the last episode of the arc after Pearl finally admits that she feels useless and worthless without someone telling her what to do, and that she wanted to fuse with Garnet so badly because she loved experiencing what it was like to be in a stable, "perfect" relationship. Realizing that she hasn't been addressing the emotional needs of her teammates, Garnet tells Pearl that she needs her to be strong and self-determinant so that, in her own times of weakness, she can have someone to look to for guidance.
- In "Too Far", Peridot and Amethyst have started bonding due to Amethyst thinking Peridot is funny. Peridot revels in the attention because she sees Amethyst as the only "real Gem" in the group and the one who should be the team leader, since she's a Quartz. She entertains Amethyst by roasting the other Gems, but ends up hurting Amethyst's feelings when, due to her size, she states that Amethyst incubated in the Kindergarten too long and is, by Homeworld standards, "defective" as a result. Peridot legitimately doesn't understand why Amethyst reacted so negatively to the comment, and feels sad and guilty when Amethyst ignores her. After an incident with a runaway drill head that Peridot saves Amethyst from, Peridot tapes a full apology on her tape recorder and plays it for Amethyst, acknowledging her own wrong-doing and stating that she wants to learn how to interact with her properly. Amethyst gracefully accepts the apology and forgives her, and Peridot states that she feels "big".
- "Mindful Education" presents Steven and Connie with the revelation that they need to also forgive themselves in addition to forgiving others. The pair stew over the bad things that they've done to others (and any of their problems in general) and lock those feelings away deep within. Without anyone to talk them through it or by not letting themselves forgive themselves for those incidents, they end up with bad cases of self-loathing.
- The Powerpuff Girls (2016): "Little Octi Lost" has Bubbles refusing to forgive Buttercup over losing Octi, and the lesson of the episode is to forgive others. Only during Buttercup's Disney Death does Bubbles actually learn to forgive Buttercup.
- Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: She's angry when Wolf confesses to hiding the map that Lio left. But after Wolf breaks down and admits that she doesn't want their journey to end because she'd go back to being alone, Kipo simply hugs her. Benson brings this up later when Wolf rejects Kipo for being part-Mute.
- DuckTales (2017):
- "The Shadow War!":
- While Webby is hurt on learning that Lena used her and betrayed the Ducks to bring back Magica, she understands that Lena wasn't completely doing it of her own volition and blames Magica for taking Lena away. She also mourns Lena when Magica destroys the latter's shadow.
- Dewey rescues the Dime and talks to a trapped Scrooge in it, apologizing for blaming him for Della's disappearance. He says he understands now that the triplets didn't just lose their mother; Donald lost his sister and Scrooge lost his niece. Scrooge, with a sorrowful expression in agreement, in turn has long forgiven the kids and Donald for his anger, since they came to his rescue and he wanted them back.
- In "Last Christmas!", Scrooge forgives the Ghost of Christmas Past for his attempt to trap him in a time loop to keep him to himself, upon seeing that he turned into a wendigo from despair after leaving him all alone in the past in retaliation for said attempt. In return, the spirit forgives Scrooge for abandoning him when he wishes to keep spending Christmas with him.
- In "Timephoon!", Della lashed out at Louie for both his quick rich idea and endangering everyone they love. Despite grounding him and made him go to his room for his actions, Della got a hold of herself and hoped she wasn't too tough on Louie. However, in the next episode, Della not only saw Louie helped Scrooge beat Flintheart Glomgold but also forgives him.
- "The Shadow War!":
- In Ed, Edd n Eddy: the Eds have done many scams and tried to be friends with the other children in the Cul De Sac but their plans backfire, which led them to hold a grudge towards them, especially Eddy. However, in Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, after hunting them down just to get revenge for a backfired scam, the kids of the Cul De Sac, minus Johnny, not only realized Eddy's behavior was because of how his brother treated him but also his heartfelt apology convinced them to forgive him and the rest of the Eds for everything they've done.
- This is a major theme in the final season of Elena of Avalor as Elena struggles to forgive her cousin Esteban for his traitorous ways. With some guidance from her late parents beforehand, who had already forgiven the man who indirectly led to their deaths, Elena is finally able to forgive him in the Grand Finale when he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save her from being Taken for Granite.
- Azmuth wasn't pleased when Ben tried to hack the Omnitrix in Ben 10: Alien Force and he declared that he won't help him anymore because his actions caused him to lose faith in him. However, despite not willing to forgive Ben for his actions, Azmuth not only went back on his word and helped him in his time of need but also somewhat appreciated his help when he needed it the most, which got him to regain some of his trust in him. In the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode The Ultimate Sacrifice, upon witnessing Ben willing to risk his life to help the Ultimate aliens leave the Ultimatrix, Azmuth was convinced to forgive him for his actions and fully trusts him again.
- In Little Bill, the episode "When Friends Get Mad" had Kiku accidentally spill paint over Little Bill's painting. She apologizes but Little Bill gets mad and crumples up Kiku's painting in reliatation. Everyone wants him to apologize to Kiku but he refuses because of what she did. At home, his parents help him understand that Kiku ruined his painting on accident while he ruined her painting on purpose so the next day, Little Bill apologizes to Kiku and forgives her for accidentally ruining his painting. The two then paint a new painting together.