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Freudian Excuse Denial

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"Frasier may be a Freudian, but I am a Jungian. So there will be no blaming Mommy today!"
Niles, Frasier

You have a character who acts poorly. A parent who's harsh to their child, or a jerk/villain who does bad things. They do so presumably because of a harsh upbringing. But when brought up or called out on it? They'll think it didn't hurt them, that Misery Builds Character and not realize the harshness they went through.

This trope usually applies to a harsh or abusive parent in terms of how they treat their kid. Maybe they grew up in a time where their harshness was acceptable. Perhaps their own parents were just plain harsh/abusive and they don't know better because of that, or they had a Hilariously Abusive Childhood.

With jerks and villains, they may not have a Freudian Excuse and people just assume or hope they did, so they get annoyed when people claim they did. Or while they had a troubled childhood, they believe that Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse and don't want to use their past to justify their actions. Maybe they care for their parents, harsh or not, and feel offended by being told they have a Freudian Excuse.

This trope frequently shows up as a display of intergenerational gaps and the Values Dissonance involved therein. More often than not the character arguing this was clearly influenced for the worse by whatever experience is discussed, and the topic is often Corporal Punishment or Free-Range Children. On rare occasions, it turns out that the person objecting to the analysis is correct — there's a different cause involved.

Contrast Freudian Excuse, where the person on whom the method is used thinks that the experience certainly did influence them. Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse is when another character says that the first character had a harsh upbringing, but it doesn't justify or make up for their actions. Can possibly overlap with this trope if the person doesn't believe in the influence or justification themselves.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: The celebrated Paladin, Batutta, reveals he was Evil All Along and kidnaps Lumachina and Rem. When he reveals his truly sickening plan, Lumachina asks what could have happened to him to make him be this way. Batutta says that he lost his family and his soldiers… then immediately says he was making that up and he has no excuse for his actions other than he enjoys them.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando was abused by his alcoholic father as a child. For the first couple of chapters, Dio used this as an excuse for his heinous behavior. However, once Speedwagon calls him out on this, saying that Dio's been evil since the day he was born, Dio stops making excuses and fully embraces being a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • My Hero Academia: Deconstructed. All For One is revealed to have a Dark and Troubled Past where he and his frail brother Yoichi were literally born as orphans struggling to survive in poverty and a world that was hostile to them. Their only comfort was a series of comic books staring Captain Hero and his archenemy, Demon Lord. However, All For One doesn't use his backstory to justify his evil actions because he considers it a hindrance to his ambitions. Idolizing the Demon Lord in the comics, All For One vows to become the greatest evil in the world with no semblance of humanity in his heart. He deliberately twists his love for his brother into a form of possession, and later claims that his tears over his brother's death (by his hand) are just Crocodile Tears to confuse his enemies. In the final story arc, Izuku Midoriya unnerves All For One by spelling out his Freudian Excuse in front of his face, calling him a "very lonely man" as opposed to the "monster beyond understanding" that All For One aspires to be.
  • Deconstructed in One Piece: Hody Jones is a fanatically racist fishman who wants nothing more than to wipe out humanity as punishment for their own racism towards fishmen, preaching that the heavens have granted him and his officers the power to do so. By the time we meet him, however, he's crossed one too many lines, which leads prince Fukaboshi to flat out ask him what the hell humans did to him to make Hody hate them so damn much. Hody's answer? "Nothing". He was simply raised to hate humans without ever actually experiencing their racism himself. This puts him in contrast with his idol, Arlong, who did experience the racism yet is vastly more subdued in how he deals with humans (and would certainly never attack his own people or use them as a Human Shield), and with Fisher Tiger, who was outright enslaved by the World Nobles but tried to take his hatred to the grave. Fukaboshi acknowledges that Hody's New Fishman Pirates are possessed of hatred without substance and that Fishman Island itself is to blame for allowing them to fester unchecked in the Fishman District outside the island proper.
  • Soul Eater: Franken Stein emphasizes and lampshades the trope when he recounts his own sociopathy from childhood as being a result of his own choice to be a Mad Scientist who likes to cut things and people open to see how they tick instead of some traumatic event or horrible incident that made him a monstrous person like many doctors tried to find when they examined him.
    Franken Stein: A long time ago, I was analyzed by a group of foolish doctors who feared my violent tendencies and what they considered my selfish attitude. They seemed elated while they were studying me. As if they were solving a crime in a mystery novel, they theorized for hours. Wondering if something had traumatized me in my past or if some terrible influence had come into my life. That was all nonsense though. I've loved tearing things apart from the very beginning!

  • In one episode of Paul Merton: The Series, Paul describes increasingly horrific punishments supposedly inflicted on him by his parents, ending each one with "but it never did me any harm!" Finally he acknowledges that he's become a hate-filled maniac, but still concludes it never did him any harm.

    Comic Books 
  • Anderson: Psi-Division: Judge Anderson once visited the memories of Judge Death during her Adventures in Comaland. She felt pity to see him being beaten up by a bunch of school bullies, but he simply told her that it helped "build character" and made him more convinced of his "mission". He later rigged a bunch of electrical equipment during a pop concert to murder them.
  • In Clive Barker's Next Testament, Wick, the in-universe inspiration for the Abrahamic God, scoffs at the Book of Genesis' claim that he caused the great flood to purge humanity after being forced to watch their corruption and brutality. According to himself, he just did it For the Evulz.
  • In Hack/Slash, Cassie Hack thinks this by the time of Closer, in regards to the reason she became a Serial-Killer Killer in the first place.
    Cassie: All for the wrong reasons. I was pissed at my mom. Pissed at myself. I turned myself into a weapon. A bullet aimed at my mom, which would eventually come around and get me, too. But I watched my mom die again. Finally met my dad, and watched him die, too. There's nothing else for me to do this for. No one but me. I don't even know who I am. All that's left is the weapon.
  • In The Immortal Thor, Dario Agger, when asked about his motivation, muses that he could spin a story about any manner of other things to explain his rampant Corrupt Corporate Executive ways, before admitting, with pride, that his sole motivation is a whole lot shallower than that.
    "Oh... I could make a speech, I suppose. Some Roxxtube-ready blather—pop-fascism for the rubes and the tech bros. I could blame my tragic childhood or the lust for blood and cruelty that never abates...or revenge, of course... You'd believe revenge... But the truth, Thor? Absolute and unvarnished? I like it when the number goes up. That's all. Because that means I win. That means I'm better. And that's all there is."
  • The Killing Joke: Despite the Joker claiming he had "one bad day" that drove him crazy, he admits that he's not sure what exactly happened, and is fine with constantly remembering it in more ways than one.
  • Nemesis: Nemesis states that he's the son of criminals that Blake Morrow busted, supposedly the reason why he becomes a super-villain. When Blake confronts him about it, Nemesis admits he was lying just to screw with him. He has no reason for what he does, he's just rich and bored.
  • Preacher: Invoked by the Reaver-Cleaver AKA Simon Coltrane while explaining his origin to Tulip. He didn't have a bad childhood or any traumatic incident, he just hit and killed a man driving home one night, hid the body, and got away with it. He then realized that not only could he get away with murder, but that he also enjoyed it.
  • In one issue from the nineties, Venom kills two men who, thinking he was just some hobo, tried to set him on fire. Venom says that such behavior often is blamed on violent movies and video games, but that he doesn't believe it, since he turned out just fine... while in the process of murdering them brutally.
  • Wolverine: On himself, Contagion clearly states he doesn't have any abusive childhood or skeletons in his past to explain his actions, nor any "ends justifies the means" reasoning or even sociopathy for what he does. He simply chooses evil over good, and sees himself as the villain of his own story.
  • X-Men Noir: Jean Grey's Motive Rant includes lamenting that Professor Xavier never truly accepted that she was always extremely immoral and manipulative. "Nobody touched me, nobody corrupted me. This is me."

    Fan Works 
  • All For Luz, All For One tells Luz he'd most likely still be a tyrannical monster on purpose with his Power Parasite Quirk, even if he didn't suffer from the Fantastic Racism in his youth, much to the girl's annoyance.
  • A Clear Pattern of Behavior: One of the most common defenses mounted of Bakugou's behavior in My Hero Academia is that he simply doesn't realize that his Barbaric Bullying is wrong, since he was constantly coddled, enabled, and had his ego stroked by the adults around him. His POV in this work makes it abundantly clear that Katsuki is fully aware that he shouldn't be allowed to treat Izuku or anyone else like his personal punching bag, and that he sees it as a privilege he's been granted due to his powerful Quirk. One that he thoroughly enjoys, and expects to continue at U.A., shrugging off the teachers' initial attempts to disciple him as nothing more than a slap on the wrist while nudging him towards abusing Izuku in ways they can turn a blind eye towards.
  • The Codot Verse: Oh, Edward by no means denies that he was horrifically abused his father, but during his Calling the Old Man Out speech he claims that he became The Riddler because he wants to rather than because of his father, refusing to give him credit for who he is today.
  • In Danganronpa: Last Hurrah, Jirou Katashi claims to have been driven by a desire to become the Ultimate Scholar due to his parents ignoring him in favor of his brother after being outed as the second murderer. Much later, after Jirou turns out to have survived his execution and is revealed as the mastermind, he admits that he didn't actually care about his parents ignoring him.
    Nao: Was your story about your family real?
    Jirou: Of course, it was real. But, I am not affected by it. I am not that shallow. I don't care if my parents don't give me as much attention as my brother. I don't need them to take care of myself.
  • Dodged a Beetle: After learning more about Lila's past, Tikki suggests that her desire to constantly make herself the center of attention through various lies and manipulations stem from how her father betrayed and abandoned her family, leaving her with a single mother who's rarely around. Lila angrily rejects the notion.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Goku suggests that Vegeta became evil because of the Dark and Troubled Past he suffered thanks to Freeza. Vegeta quickly sets the record straight.
    Vegeta: I've lived my entire life under Freeza's rule... My entire kingdom, my race, was enslaved to his bidding...
    Goku: I understand now. If it weren't for Freezer you wouldn't be—
    Vegeta: Dying? No.
    Goku: I was gonna say "evil"...
    Vegeta: Oh, no! I'd definitely still be evil! If this situation were reversed, this conversation would never have happened. You'd be dead, and I'd be laughing.
  • Eden: When Hermione asks Lucius just what happened to make him the way that he is, he laughs off the notion that it was due to trauma or some other unfortunate circumstance, declaring he was simply raised as a Malfoy.
  • A rare (anti-) heroic example in This Bites!, after Cross came down from a rage against two bigoted fishmen, Koala asks him "Who was it?", assuming someone close to him was victimized by racism. Cross angrily tells her that he was never personally affected by bigotry and sure as hell doesn't need a personal reason to hate it fundamentally.
  • Valen from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series was unjustly sent to a harsh juvenile prison for years on end, and had to repeatedly fight with his life on the line. However, he denies that this caused him to become a villain, and even admits that his organization’s “all of humanity is evil” thing is pretty ridiculous. So why is he helping Dartz wipe out humanity anyway?note 
    Valen: Simple, mate. I just f**king hate people!

    Films — Animation 
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: The Ethical Bug, serving as "Big"/"Little" Jack Horner's conscience, believes that there is good in all people and thus asks Jack about his childhood, hoping to find a Freudian Excuse for his evil behavior. At first, Jack talks about how he didn't have much as a kid but then subverts the cricket's expectations by revealing he had loving parents, a big mansion, and a giant family-owned pie industry. All of which he considers to be useless crap, which is why he wants to use the Wishing Star to claim all magic in the world for himself alone. Considering that he doesn't mention to the Ethical Bug that his desire to control magic came from his jealousy of being upstaged by Pinocchio (as seen in his flashback), it's clear that Jack is simply trolling the Ethical Bug for not accepting that he's an irredeemable monster who's emotionally dead inside.
  • Trolls Band Together: When her brother and fellow member of the Big Bad Duumvirate Veneer displays remorse, Velvet tries to dissuade him by bringing up their Dark and Troubled Past as poor orphans.
    Velvet: Do you want to lose all this and go back to that dark place where we had nothing?!
    (Cuts to Velvet and Veneer as Oliver Twist-esque orphans)
    Young Veneer: Please, sir, I want some more.
    (Cuts back to present)
    Veneer: Girl, we grew up in the suburbs. Our parents were dentists.
    (Cuts to a flashback of their actual childhood)
    Velvet and Veneer's father: (offscreen) So, how was school today?
    Young Velvet: STOP ATTACKING ME!
    (Velvet flips the table over)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 8mm, "Machine" (The Brute of the tale, a violent rapist who killed a woman in a Snuff Film, starting the whole plot) is finally unmasked by the protagonist, who's struck by how very normal and non-threatening the guy looks in person. Noticing this reaction, he ups the ante by making clear that he wasn't abused, or molested, or traumatized in any way. He does what he does because he likes it. This ends up enraging Tom Welles so much that he pistol whips Machine to death.
  • In Austin Powers, Dr. Evil describes his childhood thus:
    Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential. [...] Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen-year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds. Pretty standard, really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Wilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum. It's breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
  • A version appears in Sheriff Ed Tom Bell's opening monologue in No Country for Old Men. Ed Tom tells of arresting a young man for murdering a teenage girl. Though the newspapers call it a crime of passion, the boy tells Ed Tom he'd wanted to kill someone his whole life, and if released he'd simply do it again.
  • Return to Cabin by the Lake: Alison wonders if there was some reason that drove Stanley Caldwell to become a Serial Killer, such as a bad childhood or his writing talent never having been recognized. He rejects the idea, admitting that he's just a sick asshole.
    There's a little Stanley in all of us.
  • Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) grew up orphaned, with no friends and a burdensome power (namely, his intelligence), much like Sonic. Unlike Sonic, he decided to embrace the loneliness by retreating into his ego, deciding he was superior to the rest of humanity and that friends would only drag him down, and used his power for his own irresponsible self-benefit rather than to help anyone. In the present day, he gladly boasts about his troubled childhood as having helped him become the "superior" person that he is now.

  • Beastly: On the night Kendra curses Kyle, he finds a list she made of all his previous transgressions and wonders why he wasn't kinder when he had the chance. While he briefly considers that this might have had roots in his mother leaving or his father's neglect, he ultimately decides that he's cruel to others simply because he can be.
  • While the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of Catch Me If You Can suggests that the divorce of Frank's parents drove him to a life of crime, the memoir on which it was based avoids it. In the book, Abagnale says he had a hard time when his parents divorced, but he also says more than once that it's no excuse for his crimes, and most other children from "broken homes" don't become con artists (including Frank's own siblings, who were Adapted Out in the film).
  • The Cuckoo's Calling: Cormoran's sister Lucy believes that he became a private detective because he's obsessed with proving that their mother was murdered by her then-boyfriend rather than passing away from a drug overdose. In reality, Cormoran already possessed a deep passion for and fascination with detective work long before their mother's death.
  • In Maeve Fly, Maeve repeatedly states that she has no tragic backstory that "made" her a serial killer, she just likes it. Although Maeve's life crumbles over the course of the book, that's doesn't cause her to be violent—she's already killed several people before anything bad happens to her, and she commits a sadistic sexual assault (penetrating a woman with a curling iron and coming extremely close to turning it on) while she's having a great night. Losing the things that matter to her just gives her specific targets and removes any reason for restraint. As she tells one of her victims, she might just have done all this anyway.
  • In Overlord (2012), one of Clementine's hapless victims asks her how she became such a twisted killer. Clementine rattles off a series of generic Freudian Excuses... then admits that she made them all up and that she just loves making people suffer.
  • Redwall: Romsca in Pearls of Lutra tells Abbot Durral that she became a corsair because she likes it, and while she had a hard life, she will not use it to excuse her choices in life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, the emotional climax of each protagonist's character arc is basically this.
    • In the Grand Finale, Walter White, after spending the whole series justifying his increasingly crueler and immoral actions as being all for the greater good of ensuring his family will have a stable financial safety net after he dies from his cancer, finally admits in an honest conversation with his wife that even though he might've started with a noble goal, he still committed all kinds of criminal actions (made all the more egregious by the fact that he did have a legitimate option to accomplish his goals presented to him early on, which he rejected solely because he didn't want to accept any "charity" from the people he blamed for his own failures) and willingly threw himself into the drug trade because of the power, notoriety, and massive ego boost it gave him.
      Skyler: (growling) If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family-
      Walt: I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive.
    • In El Camino, Jesse Pinkman admits that, despite the trauma he went through and his contentious relationship with his parents, his crimes are ultimately no one else's fault but his own and tells them as much in a phone call, which are the last words he ever says to them.
      Jesse: I don't know if it'll mean much to you... But you did your best. And whatever happens with me, it's on me, okay? Nobody else.
    • Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill, in his own series finale, seems set to avoid the vast majority of legal repercussions he'd normally take for his crimes by blaming them on coercion and painting himself as a traumatized victim. But at the last minute, he throws that all away and admits that yes, he was traumatized by his contentious relationship with his brother and the way he died, and yes, he was terrified by criminals repeatedly kidnapping and threatening him to use his services, but none of that was any excuse for what he chose to do next.
      Jimmy: I was terrified... but not for long. That night I saw an opportunity — a shot at big money — and I grabbed it, and I held it tight. And for the next sixteen months... my every waking moment was spent building Walter White's drug empire... I wasn't there when the meth was cooked. I wasn't there when it was sold. I didn't witness any of the murders. But I damn well knew it was happening. I was more than a willing participant, I was indispensable. I kept Walter White out of jail. I laundered his money, I lied for him, I conspired with him, and I made millions! If he hadn't walked into my office that day, Walter White would've been dead or behind bars within a month. And Agent Schrader, and Agent Gomez, and a whole lot of other people would still be alive.
  • Doctor Martin Ellingham of Doc Martin is an aloof Dr. Jerk who has trouble relating to people. His parents were emotionally abusive and didn't even want to have a child. Describing the situation, Martin comments, "I was locked in the cupboard under the stairs as a child, and it never did me any harm."
  • In an episode of Frasier the good doctor's briefcase (and thus, identity) is stolen. When Frasier catches the thief, Phil, he mockingly asks what his sob story is (as a shrink, he's heard a few). The crook has none: "Dad loved me, Mom spoiled me, and I was the bully next door." Phil steals 'cuz it's easier than a real job. Dr. Crane finds this even more ridiculous.
    Frasier: You expect me to believe that your entire life of crime can be attributed to your laziness?
  • In the Made-for-TV film Intensity (based on the Dean Koontz novel), the sadistic, sociopathic Spree Killer Edgler Vess, after being accused of abuse causing his current state of mind, proudly proclaims that his parents were extremely loving and that he was truly a sadistic person from the start (in fact he murdered his loving parents).
  • Kaamelott: Léodagan claims his father's brutal upbringing worked wonders on him. He's a borderline Sociopathic Soldier for whom Violence Really Is the Answer, and fails to see why his own son is a Dumbass Teenage Son (it's not entirely his fault, since the show is a major Dysfunction Junction).
  • Subverted in Mad Men, when Don, after Betty asks him to spank their kids, explains that his dad used to beat the hell out of him and all it ever did was make him want to kill his old man.
  • Played for laughs in Malcolm in the Middle, when Hal is asked by Lois why he is so bad at decision-making, he gets a flashback to his childhood birthday party. He chose to have both a clown and a petting zoo for the party, resulting in the clown being suffocated by a snake, possibly to death. Cut back to the present and Hal denies it and says there was probably no reason, and that she might as well try to explain his fear of clowns and snakes.
  • In NewsRadio, Bill McNeal occasionally reminisces about his terribly dysfunctional family, but talks about his parents' abusive behavior as if it's the sort of thing most people would find humorous.
    "You wouldn't know 'tough love' if it stripped you to your shorts and made you stand in the rain all night!"
  • On the Israeli version of The Office (UK), Lavi, the localised version of Lee, acts like an ignorant arsehole throughout the whole series, cheating on Dana (localised Dawn) and even raping a company employee, and telling his friend he intends to get her pregnant as soon as they're married to kick all those career dreams of hers out of her head. In season 2 he mentions off-handedly being physically abused by his father and claims he came out alright. Cue brief awkward silence.
  • In Shameless (US), early seasons had Ian in a relationship with his boss Kash: at the time, Kash was 30, while Ian was 15. When this is noted later, Ian denies that this was a problem because he was mature for his age and capable of making his own decisions, not seeming to realize that he was essentially groomed by a predator.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Afterimage" Ezri, the station's counselor, tries tapping into Garak's childhood to treat his claustrophobia; his father used to lock him in the closet as punishment. He dismisses it. (In this case, he's actually right because his attacks are caused by an ongoing case of My God, What Have I Done?.)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Kivas Fajo from "The Most Toys" acts like he's playing this card when he tells Data of his poor youth, growing up on the streets... and when Data tells him that his past misfortunes don't excuse his criminal actions, he admits that it's all bullshit, as his father was a wealthy Gentleman Thief.

    Video Games 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Cletus Kasady is a nihilistic Serial Killer who is noted to have an abusive childhood. When talking to his therapist in an unlockable file, however, Kasady rebukes that his childhood made him what he is, pointing out a lot of other people had it even worse than him and turned out just fine.
  • In Fate/Grand Order during Mordred's second Interlude, Mash jokes that Jekyll cares so much for Mordred that it's like he's her mom. Mordred retorts that mothers don't care about their child, causing everyone to turn silent. She probably never knew about the experience of having a mother beyond Morgan le Fay, who regarded her child as more of a tool, and it probably contributed in part to her "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl tendencies towards her father.
  • Far Cry 4: Pagan Min claims that the murder of his baby daughter, Ajay's half-sister, drove him over the edge… Only to immediately admit that while his grief was real, he used it as a pretext to commit atrocities he wanted to do anyway.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Chaotic Evil party member Bishop has a tragic backstorynote , but he flat-out says when queried on it that he just hates people in general. His Face–Heel Turn is something of an inversion: he's having trouble dealing with the fact that he's actually come to care for the Player Character.
  • In Persona 5, Yusuke Kitagawa initially denies that his adopted father Madarame was abusive to the point of starving the artists working under him and passing their work off as his own. But when the Phantom Thieves expose Madarame for who he is, both in the real world and in Madarame's cognitive world, Yusuke finally realizes what they said is true, calls out Madarame for all the crap he put him and others through, and joins the Thieves as an official member of their group.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, "Tourette" was repeatedly raped by her father as a child, developing a Split Personality as a coping mechanism. Both of them assert that it was consensual, with Therese claiming Jeanette is just jealous of their "love" and Jeanette claiming that Therese killed him out of jealousy after catching him in bed with her "sister". No matter what she says, Therese insists their father was a saint and even keeps a massive portrait of him in her office.


    Web Videos 
  • Joueur du Grenier: After playing a Barney & Friends game where you can't die, nothing hurts you and it automatically plays itself it it detects no input, Fred says that playing Nintendo Hard games while growing up made him the mentally healthy, well-balanced man he is today thanks to finishing the games being more rewarding. Cue Critical Annoyance sound from offscreen, which Fred shoots with a Hand Cannon without looking, staring fixedly into the camera.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: King Andrias implicitly inflicts this on himself when he learns his millennium-long hatred of Leif, and his belief that his father and the Core were right about his friendships' worthlessness, were all for nothing. He flat-out admits that regardless of the rather tragic reasons he had for becoming the evil tyrant, he's caused far too much suffering (to all of Amphibia and to a girl who genuinely cared about him) and has crossed too many moral boundaries to just be forgiven.
  • Blue Eye Samurai: The Arc Villain of Season 1, Abijah Fowler, tells his Dark and Troubled Past to Heiji Shindo where as a child during the Nine Years' War and the subsequent Ulster famine in Ireland, both his parents died and he had to cannibalize his sister's corpse to survive. In that same breath however, he makes it perfectly clear he doesn't see it as an excuse or reason for why he became such a monster. In fact, he thinks it simply empowers him to go farther than most reasonably would in an attempt to take what he believes belongs to him, and given his ambitions, is effectively all of Japan regardless of the pain he's going to inflict.
    Abijah Fowler: It was the last thing I ever did because I had to, I control my life now. Every bite.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Gray seems to think Carmen must have had some reason to defect and betray all of V.I.L.E, and seems genuinely concerned while planning to hand her over to Brunt and the other V.I.L.E. agents she betrayed. Carmen tells Gray that she had a lovely childhood, and her reasons for defecting were not because of any abuse — no one was allowed to hurt her — or because of Shadow-san failing her on purpose. She couldn't abide that her family was willing to kill people to steal, and treating it like a game.
  • In a Dan Vs. episode, Dan laments that parents these days aren't rearing their children correctly, then mentions off-handedly that his parents just left him to watch TV and play video games all day, every day. Chris and Elise think that might be why Dan wound up as an unemployed, violent, nearly-friendless misanthrope, but Dan insists he turned out awesome!
  • Final Space: In Season 3, when it's revealed that Avocato betrayed and assassinated the King and Queen of Ventrexia when he first allied with the Lord Commander in his past, Ash points out that the Lord Commander gaslit him into it — Avocato calmly retorts that that still doesn't make what he did with his own hands any better, and declares that he's never forgiven himself for it and he feels they shouldn't either.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): At first, it's made look like Harleen was a perfectly sane and respectable person until the Joker's manipulation and abuse transformed her into a psychotic and murderous villainess. However, Being Harley Quinn has her go on a Journey to the Center of the Mind, which reveals that Harley has had Ax-Crazy tendencies ever since she was a child, long before Joker ever got to her; her attempts at playing with dolls involved a wife murdering a husband for cheating, she stalked her Celeb Crush to the point legal actions needed to be taken, and she may have killed a girl at her camp for spreading humiliating rumors about her. The final memory reveals that Harley in fact jumped into the chemical vat of her own volition, but repressed that part since it had always been easier to give agency to the Joker and blame him for her turn to villainy. In the end, the Joker didn't corrupt her so much as reawaken what was already there and Harley acknowledges that she is responsible for her own life and had a choice every step of the way. Neither the Joker nor her "fucked up parents" made Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn; she made herself.
  • Infinity Train: Tulip isn't the villain of book 1, but she is a jerk sometimes. "The Cat Car" reveals that it's because her parents divorced, and she believed it was the moment they announced it that ruined her life. When Tulip actually rewatches what happens, along with other memories that had Nostalgia Filter over them, she has a Jerkass Realization: her parents' marriage had been gradually falling apart for a long time, and they were as broken-up about the decision as she was. Yeah, they didn't handle it well, but they weren't intentionally trying to hurt their only daughter. She exits the tape sullen but wiser and determined to get home.
  • Metalocalypse: Subverted in "Rehabklok". Pickles initially claims he drinks because "it's cool" and "it tastes good" but when pressed, he reveals his Freudian Excuse: he started drinking after his brother Seth burned the garage and blamed it on him.
  • In the Mike, Lu & Og episode "Fathers and Pies", Maregery urges Alfred to spend more time with Og. He protests, saying "I barely spent time with my father, and look at me now". Margery just sternly stares at him.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Lord Tirek does not take it well when Discord calls him out for being a "Well Done, Son" Guy and immediately responds by hurling attacks:
    Discord: You're right. "Cretin" is too polite. How about "pathetic centaur who uses magic to compensate for the fact that deep down he's afraid he'll never be enough to please dear old dad, King Vorak?"
  • My Little Pony: Make Your Mark: In "Roots of All Evil Pt. 2", Misty and Sunny accuse Opaline of being evil due to never having friends and the real reason she wanted power was to force others to be hers, but she rebuffs those attempts to reach out to her. Notably when she gives a Flashback claiming her Freudian Excuse was Celestia and Luna being favored over her, what's shown makes it look like it was jealousy of the their friendship and them ignoring her.
  • The Owl House:
    • Played With in the episode "Reaching Out". While Luz's actions during the episode stem from it being the anniversary of her late father's death and the first year since he died that she isn't able to be with her mother, she admits that she can't use that as an excuse and sincerely apologizes to Amity.
    • Emperor Belos is shown to have Dark and Troubled Past where he was raised in a Puritan community of witch hunters, got separated from his big brother, Caleb, when he was a young teenager, attempted to find his brother in the Demon Realm only to kill him in a fit of rage when he discovered that his brother had fallen in love with a witch and abandoned witch hunting altogether, and then spent 400 years trying to recreate his brother through clones and exterminate all the witches to cope with his trauma. But this backstory is only shown in the background of his mindscape and never brought to the forefront because Belos adamantly refuses to believe that he could be motivated by personal trauma or selfish reasons, insisting that all his horrible actions were For the Greater Good.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Implied in "The Price Of Power", when Bow and Glimmer appeal to Adora that she isn't like Shadow Weaver or the rest of the Horde, she suggests it's only considered such due to her nature as She-Ra. She was just like the Horde until she realized it was wrong and left.
  • From The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in "Behind The Laughter", as Homer has this to say on the issue:
      Homer: Then we figured out we could park them in front of the TV. That's how I was raised, and I turned out TV.
    • In "Lisa's First Word", Homer claims that his cousin Frank turned out OK in spite of sharing his parents' bed until he was 21. He then adds that Frank had a sex change and became Francine in 1976, joined a cult and now answers to the name Mother Shabubu.
    • In "Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy", Lisa is upset that the Malibu Stacy doll is saying sexist things when it was supposed to be a role model for girls. Marge tries to comfort her by saying, "I had a Malibu Stacy when I was little, and I turned out all right." However, what she says next is repeated by Lisa's Stacy doll: "Now let's forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream!"


Video Example(s):


Hal's Birthday Party

There was definitely no traumatic event in Hal's childhood that spurred Hal's indecisiveness, nor his fear of clowns and snakes, for that matter.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / FreudianExcuseDenial

Media sources: