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Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse

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"You are all the things that are wrong with you. It's not the alcohol, or the drugs, or any of the shitty things that happened to you in your career or when you were a kid. It's you. Alright? It's you."
Todd Chavez to BoJack Horseman, BoJack Horseman, "It's You"

This trope is a standard Deconstruction of the Freudian Excuse. Sometimes, characters that have gone through something horrible believe that they have the moral high ground or that they are in the right for their actions, no matter how evil they are or who the targets are. This trope comes into play when a character (possibly even the character with the excuse themselves, if they're going through Character Development) acknowledges that their actions are wrong; no matter what they have been put through, one bad action won't justify another. In essence, this is the sum of two Stock Aesops: "take responsibility for your actions" and "two wrongs don't make a right".

This trope only happens when there's an In-Universe acknowledgment of this. A character has to receive a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, a Kirk Summation, see that someone's Disappointed by the Motive, or some other kind of speech on why they're wrong. Whoever gives the rebuke, there needs to be a voiced acknowledgment that the character's past doesn't justify their current actions. At the very least, an explicit statement must be made by the omniscient Narrator. One way to accomplish this is a small round of Misery Poker, specifically by pointing out others who have suffered just the same, if not more, and still chose not to commit the same misdeeds as the accused. (Bonus points if that very suffering is caused, directly or otherwise, by the accused's wrongdoings.)

It's important here to differentiate "explanation" from "justification" in this trope: If a Freudian Excuse is used as an "explanation", then it's meant to give a reason why a character acts this way. If it's a "justification," it means that the narration is giving the character the right to act that way. This trope never accepts Freudian Excuses as justifications, at best, accepting them as logical explanations that don't justify the villain's present actions.

Note: This trope does not necessarily prevent Forgiveness and redemption; it just states that evil acts are not justified. In many cases both in Real Life and in fiction, what's actually needed is a Heel–Face Turn and atonement, and for the villain to stop hiding behind their Dark and Troubled Past.

Like all tropes, an author has to be careful when using this one. Handled poorly and it can seem like the hero is coldly dismissive of someone's perfectly understandable trauma, or even make it come off like the narrative believing a victim deserved what happened to them.

Related to Freudian Excuse and Dark and Troubled Past. Often present if a character is He Who Fights Monsters, a Troubled Abuser, or another link in The Chain of Harm. Can be utilized in the trope Calling the Old Man Out where the child calls out an Abusive Parent for using their harsh upbringing as an excuse to abuse them. Though said Abusive Parent can turn it around by Calling the Young Man Out if the child keeps blaming their actions on them, since while parents are responsible for how they raise their children, they have no obligation to be held accountable for their children's mistakes. Typically, on the "Firm Hand" side of Gentle Touch vs. Firm Hand. Pretty much required for writing any character that counts as a Complete Monster with a genuinely tragic backstory. Compare Kirk Summation, Playing the Victim Card, Shut Up, Hannibal!, and You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!. For similar fan reactions for characters whose freudian excuses are supposed to earn them sympathy, see Unintentionally Unsympathetic.

Compare Freudian Excuse Denial, when the character themselves disputes that their past is what motivates them in the present. Compare and contrast Revenge Is Not Justice, when someone wants revenge for an injustice but is told that they have no right to hurt others and it won't bring any justice. Also see You Keep Telling Yourself That. Vigilante Injustice also comes into play when a vigilante uses their abusive childhood as an excuse to go after the villain themselves. Also see Oppose What You Suffered for individuals who, instead of turning abuser from their own abuse, turn protector instead.

In-Universe Examples Only.:


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  • Christopher Titus injects this mindset into all of his work, especially his stand-up comedy routines. Despite having a Hilariously Abusive Childhood with a mentally ill mother and functionally-alcoholic father, plus an adult life that wasn't much better, Titus has chosen to "be an anti-depressant" instead of dwelling on his past or whining about it. As such, his personal Berserk Button is people who refuse to make their own lives better, regularly tearing into them and deconstructing their mindsets as pointlessly self-destructive.
    "Here, let me flip this around for you. There! See? Now your past is behind you. Why don't you climb down off the cross, use the wood to build a bridge, and get over it!?"

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes has this Played for Laughs sometimes when Calvin tries to make excuses for his actions or go Never My Fault, with his family telling him that blaming his upbringing is asking for trouble. Sure his parents can be unsympathetic at times, but by 1980s standards they aren't abusive. In one strip, Calvin tells his dad that he feels that his family isn't supporting him enough and should give him more; his dad sends him outside to shovel snow and "build character". During another, Calvin says that the reason why he is an asshole is that he's part of a dysfunctional family with parents who never empower him, quoting a stream of psychobabble, and nothing he ever does is his fault. Hobbes snarks, "One of us needs to dunk our heads in ice water."
  • In For Better or for Worse, store employee Kortney has owner Elly wrapped around her figure by crying that she doesn't have anywhere else to go, that she needs this job, and doesn't have any good role models. Elly as a result gives Kortney more leeway than she gives to her own daughter April, who calls her out for not believing her when she says Kortney threatened to knock her teeth out for reporting she was in an adult chatroom during work hours. Both Elly's dad and her husband say that she needs to do something and fire Kortney, as Elly says weakly that she wants to give Kortney the chance to achieve great things. As Elly prepares to rip off the bandaid, Kortney cries again that she has "personal problems" and promises to do better at the job. Elly buys it, but her assistant Moira doesn't, warning Kortney to shape up for she'll be out of time soon. It comes to a head when Moira finds proof that Kortney was stealing inventory and forging checks to nonexistent charities, and that she was responsible for helping her boyfriend steal expensive model trains a few years ago. Moira and April tell Elly I Told You So gently, that sometimes you can't let someone's "personal problems" blind you to the reality that they are liars and thieves. Elly cries Tears of Remorse, albeit without apologizing to April for not taking her complaints seriously.

  • The Frozen novel A Frozen Heart shows Hans' homeland as a terrible place of Might Makes Right with his family outright abusing him to the point that he is heavily implied to Self-Harm, thinking to himself that he can deal with "physical pain" as he catches splinters from a table. He comes to think it's perfectly normal and it seems that he suffers from depression and a massive inferiority complex as a result of it. Despite his initial unwillingness to hurt anyone, he starts to use violence against the Southern Isles population as a means to get respect from his father. And once he gets a taste of power from controlling Arendelle in Elsa's absence, it slowly poisons his mind and he eventually adopts his family's way of thinking. However, at the end of the novel, Anna outright rebukes it, stating that no matter how much his claims of his brothers' treatment of him might be true, he's still an adult who should take responsibility for his own actions.
  • This is an unspoken yet clear element of A Christmas Carol and its many retellings. While the Spirit of Christmas Past reveals that it took a lot of undue loneliness and pain to warp Ebeneezer into the greedy miser he is today, the Spirit of Christmas Present makes it clear that his selfish ways end up inflicting a similarly unnecessary sorrow on those even less fortunate, and the Spirit of Christmas Future shows him the legacy of misery he will leave behind unless he changes his ways.
  • In The Dresden Files, Knight in Sour Armor Sanya used to be a demon host to a Fallen Angel due to his past growing up as a minority in Russia and being treated like a freak (in his own words, "I was a minority the way Bigfoot is a minority"). This was what caused him to initially join with the Denarians, especially since Rosanna, his recruiter, didn't care he was black at all. He is also thoroughly of the mind that this does not justify anything he did while working for them, and that's why he's serving as one of the Knights of the Cross, despite knowing that the main way long-term Knights leave the Knights of the Cross is dying in the battle with the forces of evil.
  • Harry Potter:
    • While Lord Voldemort has a Freudian Excuse that grants him in-universe sympathy, the point is made that Harry Potter didn't fall to villainy despite his even worse background.
    • Voldemort's mother Merope Gaunt had a horrible childhood as well. She grew up in squalor, is one of three British kids in the series who's confirmed to not have gone to Hogwarts (one of the others being her brother), and was the target of an abusive father and brother. However, Harry and Dumbledore both agree that this doesn't excuse drugging Tom Riddle Sr. with a Love Potion, forcing him to marry her, and then raping him for over a year (ultimately leading to Voldemort's conception). The two of them agree that Riddle Sr. had absolutely every right to get the hell away from her as soon as the drugs wore off and not find out what happened to her.
    • Wormtail was constantly treated as the lesser of his friend group, often teased by his friends, and had a very good reason to feel overshadowed, underappreciated, and was in the midst of a dangerous war where it seemed like he could easily die. This does not make anyone treat his actions as sympathetic or warranted in or out of universe.
  • In Nackles, Susie tries to justify her husband's behavior by saying that it's the stress of having to be an insurance salesman when he'd really rather be back on the football field. The narrator observes to the reader that he sells cars and would like to be president, but he doesn't hit women because of it.
  • In the thriller One By One by Ruth Ware, the killer gets a posthumous one of these. Erin, the main viewpoint character, does feel sorry for the killer, as now that she has the full picture, she can see this character was put in an impossible situation, having been abused and manipulated in a truly horrible way by people this character should have been able to count on as friends — but that doesn't make the murders any less monstrous, particularly the last two (which were committed solely to cover the killer's ass, with only the thinnest of self-serving justifications). Erin acknowledges that it's possible for a person to be both genuinely a victim and just as genuinely a predator, as uncomfortable as that is.
  • In Anton Chekhov's story "A Problem", regardless of how often Ivan Markovitch mentions the poor circumstances of Sasha's childhood or the temptations of youth, the Colonel insists he needs to face the courts. Admittedly, he does advance the further argument that Sasha shows no signs of reformation.
  • Red Dragon: The titular character had an appalling childhood, being bullied by other children for his cleft palate and abused in pretty much every way by his grandmother. Doesn’t change the fact that he killed entire families.
    Will Graham: As a child, my heart goes out to him. As an adult, he's irredeemable.
  • Millennium Series: In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth dismisses Mikael's sympathy towards Martin Vanger, a Serial Rapist and Killer, saying that even though Martin was also raped by his father, he had every opportunity to choose a different path, and did what he did because he enjoyed it. She compares this to her own background: she was abused by her father as well and is raped by her court-appointed guardian in the book, but she fought back against her abusersnote  instead of lashing out at innocent bystanders.
    "Gottfried isn't the only kid who was ever mistreated. That doesn't give him the right to murder women. He made that choice himself. And the same is true of Martin."
  • In the second Wings of Fire series, Darkstalker essentially says that having an abusive father entitles him to become king of the continent and brainwash everyone who gets in his way. Qibli, whose mother regularly beat him and then eventually casually sold him, feels briefly tempted to join Darkstalker in his spiral of narcissism and self-justification, but quickly remembers that Darkstalker has murdered everyone who loved him, and is trying to murder Qibli too.
  • Deconstructed in Les Misérables. Javert himself defied a Dark and Troubled Past of being the child of tow prisoners who was born in a prison, becoming a successful police officer. However, this attitude means he has very little mercy or restraint toward criminals, even toward ex-con Jean Valjean, a man who did turn his life around, because he believes that since he was able to overcome these circumstances through his integrity and obedience to the law that means everyone else should be able to and anyone who doesn't must be evil by nature. And once Valjean has Javert at his mercy and gives it, Javert can't handle the cognitive dissonance and leaps off a bridge. Javert's the Trope Namer for unreasonable law enforcement officials chasing heroes for a reason.
  • A recurring theme in Discworld:
    • This is 71-Hour Ahmed's stance in Jingo, which he highlights when telling Sam Vimes about a murderer he tracked down. Ahmed states he couldn't give a damn if the murderer had an unhappy childhood or suffered from "compulsive well-poisoning disorder"; in the latter case, he merely snarks that "I have a compulsion to behead cowardly murderers."
    • In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Dangerous Beans is legitimately horrified by how Spider the Rat King came to be, but says this doesn't justify his plans and that ultimately, despite his claims of good intentions for his brethren, he's just lashing out at the world in a way that's pointlessly destructive.
    • This crops up twice in I Shall Wear Midnight. The first case, with Mr Petty, highlights Mr Petty's own abusive childhood and how it left him unable to confront any complex problem without trying to hit something; however Tiffany and her father both agree it doesn't excuse his beating his daughter, Amber, and causing her to miscarry her child, and Tiffany ultimately saves him only because she doesn't want someone tarnishing their soul by killing him. The second case involves the Cunning Man, the Big Bad; Eskarina Smith acknowledges he was badly injured when a witch tried to burn him, but still describes him as a hateful monster afterwards.
  • The Great Brain: One villain from The Great Brain Strikes Again is a bigoted farmer who frames multiple Native American men for theft. The Reveal that he's motivated by how Native Americans killed his wife and son is sad, but is rightfully treated as not being a remotely good excuse for his Misplaced Retribution.
  • In Mansfield Park, Edmund tries to excuse Mary and Henry Crawfords' ethical flaws by saying that they were raised in a bad household by a philandering uncle and his embittered wife, and that the shallow social scene in London hasn't helped. That's certainly true. However wholesome Edmund thinks the country is, though, the Crawford siblings have to want to change their attitude, and Fanny is the only one who recognizes that they're only willing to make it appear as though they have without actually doing so. Mary's mercenary cynicism leads her to openly wish for the death of Edmund's older brother, while Henry's loose morals cause him to create a huge public scandal with Edmund's married sister, which finally forces Edmund to acknowledge that it was a mistake to try and reform them.
  • Meg Langslow Mysteries: In Stork Raving Mad, the discovery that a professor who hates drama majors and makes them as miserable as possible is a failed actress who was mercilessly mocked by caustic critics makes Meg and Michael feel sorry for her for an extremely brief moment, before reflecting that her years of gleefully destroying the lives of aspiring actors is both extreme Misplaced Retribution and Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Moonraker: After being cornered by Hugo Drax, 007 gives a "Reason You Suck" Speech to recount Drax's life, specifically noting how being bullied because he sucked his thumb as a child, on top of growing up in Nazi Germany, drove him to develop delusions of jealousy and revenge. Bond concludes his speech with how it made Drax a paranoid nutcase.
    James Bond: It's a remarkable case history. Galloping paranoia. Delusions of jealousy and persecution. Megalomaniac hatred and desire for revenge. Curiously enough, it may have something to do with your teeth. Diastema, they call it. Comes from sucking your thumb when you're a child. Yes. I expect that's what the psychologists will say when they get you into the lunatic asylum. "Ogre's teeth." Being bullied at school and so on. Extraordinary the effect it has on a child. Then Nazism helped to fan the flames and then came the crack on your ugly head. The crack you engineered yourself. I expect that settled it. From then on you were really mad. Same sort of thing as people who think they're God. Extraordinary what tenacity they have. Absolute fanatics. You're almost a genius. Lombroso would have been delighted with you. As it is you're just a mad dog that'll have to be shot. Or else you'll commit suicide. Paranoiacs generally do. Too bad. Sad business. And now let's get on with this farce, you great hairy-faced lunatic.
  • In City of Stone and Silence, the second volume of the Wells of Sorcery trilogy, when Isoka finally confronts the book's Arc Villain Prime face-to-face and has him at her mercy, Prime starts to regale her with the tragic tale of how he became what he is. Isoka has no sympathy and cuts him off. "Everyone has sob stories. Most of us don't try to destroy the world."
  • In Market of Monsters, Fabricio repays Nita for risking her own life to save his by selling her to unnatural human traffickers. He later insists he only did it because he had no other way to the money he needed to escape an unbearable home life (refusing to say why) and he believed her mother would be able to protect her from whomever came after her anyway. He gets zero sympathy from Nita.
  • At the end of A Murder Is Announced, Miss Marple states that she does not consider the murderer's misfortunes to be an excuse for killing people, and points out that many others who had it worse managed to get back on their feet without harming anybody.
  • This sentiment forms part of the Title Drop of In Cold Blood. At the trial of the killers, one journalist expresses sympathy towards Smith for his terrible childhood (neglectful father, little education, a rash of familial suicides). Reporter Richard Parr, however, has none of it; Smith still killed a family, after all.
    Journalist: Perry Smith. My God. He's had such a rotten life-
    Parr: Many a man can match sob stories with that little bastard. Me included. Maybe I drink too much, but I sure as hell never killed four people in cold blood.
  • The main plot of To Kill a Mockingbird is about Atticus Finch defending Tom Robinson, a black man who is accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. In the course of the trial, it is revealed that Mayella's father was abusive toward her, and that she had tried to kiss Tom, who felt sorry for her but didn't reciprocate her feelings. Since relationships between white women and black men were taboo, Mayella lied about Tom raping her to save herself. When Atticus delivers his closing speech, he acknowledges Mayella's circumstances, but they don't justify her falsely accusing Tom of rape, an accusation that results in Tom being sentenced to death and killed during an attempted escape.
  • This trope is explored to hell and back in Worm, where virtually every villain has a Freudian Excuse since every power in this universe requires a Traumatic Superpower Awakening to manifest. Generally speaking, most villains are treated as having this trope in effect, since everyone had it rough to gain powers, but several interludes make it clear that some of these villains had it worse than the "heroes" of the setting, some of whom mostly seem to be hiding their own traumas.
  • Zara Hossain Is Here: Chloe, Zara's girlfriend, muses that her bully Travis might be a bigot as a result of his dad's influence. Zara will have none of it, though, saying it's no excuse and only white people get such lame excuses. Chloe realizes she's right and apologizes later.
  • Straight Outta Fangton: Everyone who learns Renaud's backstory unanimously agrees that it sucked. They also agree that literally everyone they know has a comparable or even worse backstory, whether that's a history of slavery, literally going to Hell and back, being forced to eat a child, or in one case being in a Serbian prison camp, and none of them have become anywhere near the monster that he is. They thus conclude that the only reason Renaud became the "fucking psychopath" he is now is because there was something wrong with him already.
  • In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the narrator Charlie gets this advice from his father, who has just spoken to the parents of Charlie's sister's abusive boyfriend:
    Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it's no excuse.

  • "Angels" by Within Temptation sums up this trope nicely, telling the subject of the song that he's responsible for his own choices.
    The world may have failed you, it doesn't give you reason why
    You could have chosen a different path in life
  • The Eagles want you to just "Get Over It":
    I turn on the tube, and what do I see? A whole lot of people crying "Don't blame me."
    They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else, spend all their time feeling sorry for themselves.
    A victim of this, a victim of that, your mama's too thin and your daddy's too fat?
    Get over it!
  • "My Brother Jake" by Free is about the titular character choosing to dwell on his own problems than addressing them and turning his life around. The singer is trying to help him before realising they have to be cruel to be kind in order to get Jake to fully understand the weight of his actions in "Pissing [his] life away" and how he has the ability to bring out the best in people.
    I said Jake, Jake, Jake, won't you wait
    What's got into you - oh
    Your candle is burning, the wheels of time are turning
    What you gonna do?
    Listen, I'm gonna break you Jake
    Because you got what it takes
    To give a whole lotta people some soul
  • In "Mean" by Taylor Swift, the narrator speculates that the person bullying them was once bullied themselves, but says that they won't turn out the same way.
    I bet you got pushed around
    Somebody made you cold
    But the cycle ends right now
    'Cause you can't lead me down that road
    And you don't know what you don't know
  • "Low Budget Horror" by RedHook is about comparing online bullying to a low-budget horror movie. It's also a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as vocalist Emmy Mack was told that someone had been "viciously blogging her attempts at home-wrecking [Emmy's] relationship" with her significant other. After being confronted with what she’d been doing, the bully backtracked and blamed her actions on her mental health. Mack wrote the song as a response, adding in an interview that she was "so sick of people using mental health to justify hurting and harming others" when there was no excuse for that kind of behavior.
    Poor mental health is an excuse I can't acquit
    People like, people like you repulse me
    Treating pain, treating pain like it's currency
    You inflict damage 'cause you're damaged to the core

  • Behind the Bastards: Robert and his co-hosts will sympathize with and acknowledge how a Bastard was impacted and turned into a monster by the trauma they suffered, but make it clear that this sympathy ends when they start hurting people and that their trauma doesn't justify what they've done.
  • Sick Sad World:
    • The hosts of this podcast have no sympathy for serial killer Ed Kemper when he claims his mom was awful towards him. They point out even if she was abusive, he didn't need to kill multiple women.
    • They have somewhat more sympathy for school shooter Adam Lanza, due to his pre-established mental illness, but they’re horrified that he decided to kill kids.

  • The Bible:
    • In Ezekiel chapter 18, God has the prophet Ezekiel tell Israel to not use the proverb "The parents ate sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" anymore as an excuse for blaming parents or previous generations for the sins they themselves are committing before God.
    • Jesus in the Gospels saying "if your right eye tempts you to sin, tear it out" during the Sermon of the Mountain essentially tells one to remove the Freudian Excuse from their lives, before they become one.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Christopher Durang's play Baby with the Bathwater is a Black Comedy to the extreme, centering on a young man named Daisy who had a Hilariously Abusive Childhood (for starters, he's called "Daisy" because his parents couldn't bother figuring out if he was a boy or a girl). This has naturally left him with a metric truckload of issues, which are symbolized by an inability to finish his freshman college essay on Gulliver's Travels, despite being a freshman for five years. Eventually, his therapist tells Daisy point-blank that, while what he went through is extremely traumatic, he can't let it define him forever — "Why don't you just do the stupid essay?" Daisy is initially hurt, but eventually realizes the therapist is right. He completes the assignment with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his parents and storms out of their lives; the ending of the play, which shows Daisy with his new wife and baby, suggests that they're going to break the cycle of abuse.
  • Fat Ham: Juicy's abusive father Pap claims he and his equally wicked brother Rev were abused by their own father. When this is related to Tio, he notes they still could have broken the cycle of abuse, and that it was their choice to behave like they did.
  • Heathers: J.D.'s life has sucked, no bones about it, with an abusive drunk for a father and a loving-but-dead mother. Veronica has deep empathy for him and acknowledges that it's not his fault he had such a cruddy childhood or that he's a bit messed up… but it still doesn't excuse him for becoming a Serial Killer.
  • This is a running theme in Mrs. Hawking regarding the titular character, Victoria Hawking. She was forced into an Arranged Marriage as a teenager with a man almost twice her age; she's an aromantic asexual (someone unable to experience romantic feelings or sexual attraction) in Victorian England, when no one understood what those words meant; she's explicitly stated to have been a victim of marital rape for years; one of those rapes led to a pregnancy that ended in a stillbirth; and the conventions of her time meant she couldn't divorce. As such, she's naturally become extremely bitter and angry, only experiencing joy and solace when she throws herself into her work as a "lady's champion of London." Over time, though, her friends and family gradually come to realize that while Victoria does have very real trauma, she refuses to work through or move on from that pain, despite having a loving support system and the means to do so. Mrs. Hawking's increasing stubbornness and refusal to change her incredibly polarized worldview eventually leads to her loved ones losing patience with her and calling her out for her behavior.
  • The Dave Malloy musical Preludes centers on Sergei Rachmaninoff going through hypnotherapy in an attempt to overcome his massive depression and subsequent Creative Sterility. We eventually learn why he's so distraught—the premiere of his first symphony was an absolute disaster, complete with underrehearsed musicians, a drunken conductor, and famed Caustic Critic and influential composer César Cui sitting in the audience, writing down every mistake in real time. Though Rachmaninoff's therapist, wife Natalya, and friends are all sympathetic to him, they become increasingly frustrated with his fixation on the premiere and refusal to the do the work necessary to heal from the trauma it caused. It's best exemplified when Natalya point-blank sings: "Why don't you just snap the fuck out of it?" Thankfully, their Tough Love eventually gets through to Rachmaninoff and the musical ends with him finally beginning to compose again.
  • Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier: When Aladdin is arrested, the Princess tries to stand up for him, saying he deserves leniency since he's lost his parents. The Captain of the Guard has none of it, however, and points out that he needs to be punished because he got people killed, including the twin brother of one of his subordinates. Then it turns out that Aladdin doesn't actually need to steal, he just does it because he's too lazy to work and thinks stealing is fun. Moreover, when he finds out that his parents were killed by an alternate personality of his, he's fine with it after very little persuasion, and admits that he actually wanted them to die deep down because they were going to kick him out of their house and make him get a job, even thanking his other personality for killing them.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: A recurring theme throughout the franchise is that a crime is a crime, no matter what the victim has done to the killer, how much of an Asshole Victim the victim was, or how much of a Sympathetic Murderer that the killer may be. Nothing justifies murdering someone else, and you'll be arrested for it.
    • The Big Bad of the AAI2 game is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, who had met nothing but misery in his life, trying to take revenge on the people whom they blamed it for (which they believe all to have deserved their fate). While Edgeworth acknowledges their woobieness from their inability to get psychological help, it's still no "Get Out of Jail Free" Card (especially after framing a child for his father's murder) and he gets arrested at the end of the game nonetheless, though one can argue this was good for him, as he gets to live with his Parental Substitute Doghen. During their confrontation, he mentions that his actions have made them no different from the people they were trying to get revenge on.
    • The culprit of the third case in Justice For All accidentally killed his benefactor and mentor while aiming to kill the man's daughter, who'd been responsible for pulling a Deadly Prank that resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and his brother going into a coma, while not understanding what she'd done. The judge asks if the killer is actually a victim, at which point the murderer tearfully says that they're just a murderer, and don't deserve any sympathy.
    • In the first game's third case, although some people sympathize with the killer over their years of blackmail by the victim, effectively ruining their career, the witnesses in the trial had to admit that the killer went too far in drugging an innocent person and trying to frame them for a murder they didn't commit.
    • Morgan Fey was supposed to inherit the position of Master of the Fey Clan as the eldest daughter of the previous Master but ended up being passed over in favor of her younger sister Misty, because Morgan's spiritual power was weak. After the DL-6 incident, in which Misty channeled a murder victim's spirit to identify the culprit, only for the accused to be acquitted and Misty to be denounced as a fraud, Morgan's husband left her, taking her daughters with her. As a result, Morgan becomes bitter enough to plot to have Maya, who's Misty's daughter and the rightful heiress to the Master position, killed or framed for murder so that Morgan's daughter Pearl can take the position. Sister Bikini says she sympathizes with Morgan for how much her life was negatively impacted by factors beyond her control but agrees with Phoenix that it doesn't excuse Morgan's actions.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney, at the end of "The Return of the Great Departed Soul," Ryunosuke Naruhodo(an ancestor of Ryuichi Naruhodo, aka Phoenix Wright), learns that the culprit masterminded a murder plot although the culprit's accomplice was the one who actually did the killing in revenge for the victim ruining his life by publishing an article exposing him as a grave robber, resulting in him getting kicked out of his university. Ryunosuke says that life treated the culprit unfairly, but the culprit had no right to try to frame the defendant for the murder he committed, thereby ruining another innocent person's life.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: The chapter 3 killer, Korekiyo Shinguji, tries to justify their murderous actions by saying that all they want is to send friends to his sister that has already died. It does not work, as even Monokuma finds him and his incestuous love for his sister to be disgusting.
    • In the original Dangan Ronpa Trigger Happy Havoc, this is also done twice by the same character. First, Leon's claim of self-defense in murdering Sayaka is shot down by Celeste, who points out that he disarmed her and got her to lock herself in a bathroom, only to then go back to his room, get a toolkit to unlock the bathroom door, go back and murder her. Later, Celeste invokes the trope again on herself, about to confess to a more sympathetic angle to her murder of two people after previously insisting on it having been done out of pure greed and selfishness, only to stop and say that it's not important, as revealing this factor wouldn't absolve or justify her crimes in any way.
    • In the spinoff, Ultra Despair Girls, it turns out that all the Warriors of Hope, a quintet of young children, suffered abuse or neglect of various kinds at the hands of their parents. With the help of their leader Monaca, they take control of an army of robot Monokumas and use them to slaughter the adults of Towa City and hunt down the survivors. Komaru, who'd been trapped in the city and forced to fight for her survival, refuses to accept their pasts as justification for their crimes.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, "Raiko's Diary," a post-game optional scene, involves Raiko and Nobara learning a little more about Hiro after his death. His arrogance and desire to be the center of attention is said to be the result of how, after years of "pretty average to almost abysmal grades," he once got the highest grade in the class, and the attention went to his head. As for his poor treatment of the women in his life, it's revealed that his mother left his father when Hiro was five, and his father kept bringing other women home — either Hiro thought it was okay to treat women as objects, or simply hated women. Raiko then comes to this conclusion:
    "Anyway, I'm no psychologist, so all I can do here is speculate. But paired with his self-centered personality, it certainly would explain a lot. Even if it does by no means excuse anything he's done."

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: The Director was basically destroyed mentally by the death of his beloved wife during the Great War, motivating him to start Project Freelancer to both develop a way to beat the Covenant and find a way to revive his wife, resulting in him committing numerous war crimes to achieve both of these goals, leaving a wake of death and ruined lives in his wake. It's pointed out multiple times that his actions are utterly inexcusable, dead wife or not, and that the majority of the people he screwed over (including his own daughter) trusted and depended on him.
  • RWBY:
    • All members of the White Fang, including Adam and Illia, justify their turn from civil rights activists to terrorists by citing the terrible treatment they've received at the hands of many humans. Illia lost her parents in a mining accident that her human friends then laughed about, and Adam was permanently scarred by an SDC overseer. None of this justifies the fact that they're hurting innocent people who never did anything wrong to them, and it's why Blake and eventually Illia becomes a Defector from Decadence.
    • Salem has truly suffered throughout her long life, being imprisoned by her abusive father for her entire childhood, losing the love of her life, being cursed with immortality, watching her people genocided and being left alone for countless years, and then losing her family again when her husband abandons her after learning her genocidal plans for humanity. All of her actions are driven by this overwhelming grief and pain. However, when Yang Xiao Long comes face to face with her, even knowing the truth of Salem's past, she still refuses to grant her any sympathy due to the magnitude of her crimes and her current quest to wipe out Remnant.
      Yang: All of this endless death, just because something bad happened to you once upon a time?
    • Volume 8 reveals that Cinder Fall was shaped into the person she is by a horrific Dark and Troubled Past. As a child, she was frequently abused by the other children as well as her Wicked Stepmother to the point where she eventually murdered her and her stepsisters; as a result, Cinder has become a cruel sociopath who arrogantly believes she's entitled to power and justified in taking whatever she wants. Watts eventually tells Cinder just because she's suffered in the past doesn't mean the world owes her anything, and if she wants to obtain the power she seeks, she needs to actually earn it.
  • While SMG4 doesn’t outright state it, it is implied that Zero’s universe was at one point destroyed in the past; however, both SMG1 and SMG2 call him out on how his excuse does absolutely nothing to justify his crimes, as he has wiped out countless others.
  • Wolf Song: The Movie: Cobalt’s backstory involves him being pinned down by Zar and the Death Alpha at a young age and manipulated into killing his own friend, yet the now reformed Zar still tries to tell Cobalt to turn around during the main story as he knows that what the Death Alpha and the Death Keep as a whole is doing is wrong, (despite the goal of it being so that it’s leader can bring his brother to the surface, yet the high body count he incurs in an attempt to do so is what’s wrong) having seen how a real pack will stick up even for outsiders and opponents (courtesy of paragon Alador, who was responsible for the Heel–Face Turn because of it) and trying to tell Cobalt to change. unfortunately for Zar, his friend is too far gone at this point and has now got the express intent to kill him, which he follows through with once Zar accepts his fate.

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive: Downplayed. Tedd's personal mission to make magic available to all stems — in part — from their belief that their mother left because they weren't able to use magic. note  While Diane understands their motivation after learning this, she still believes that their goal is shortsighted at best and would be disastrous at worst.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: When main character Annie's long-absent father returns as a teacher to the school, he seems like an Abusive Parent at first, engaging in all manner of emotional abuse to hernote . As the story progresses, it comes about that he actually loves his daughter dearly and his behavior is rooted in several factors: guilt and anger at himself for several choices he's made that impacted Annie's life note , the Court leveraging Annie to force him into working for them, and an ambiguous disorder that makes it borderline impossible for him to emote to people or open up to anyone save a very select few. The story makes it clear that despite having reasons for acting like this, he's not justified in his behavior in the least. Annie herself, after discovering why he acts as he does, eventually has enough and openly questions why, after seeming to have bonded with nearly everyone in their shared social circle, the man can't seem to open up in the least to his own daughter.
  • Lore Olympus: Kronus was an Evil Overlord and Abusive Parent, ruling with an iron fist and terrorizing everyone around him, all of which can be traced back to the trauma he experienced at the hands of his own father, Ouranos, who was apparently even worse. Yet Kronus' chief victims have no sympathy for the god of time, as he was just passing his own trauma down onto others, and that's never justified.
  • In The Warrior Returns, the fallen Warriors' plight is genuinely tragic, but their demands to be understood and desire for a place in a world that has forsaken them does not exonerate them for the destruction and murder that they caused. No one is ever going to be willing to forgive them for their actions as virtually everyone has someone they loved who was killed or displaced by them. As Marie, who underwent the same Unwilling Roboticization as Garam, puts it:
    Marie: [to Garam] Of course I'd be ostracized. Of course some people would feel repulsed by this body made of steel. I never expected to be understood and accepted by everyone. This pain and anguish over my identity is wholly my own. The sole fact that I was chosen to be a Warrior in a time of unrest does not make me a victim. Humans are not obligated to understand us. Understanding cannot be coerced. Respect is not earned through oppression. I cannot prove my humanity by merely raising my voice and insisting I be acknowledged as human.
  • In Khaos Komix, Jamie says in the introduction to his story that while he did have a Dark and Troubled Past, he's not going to use it as an excuse for having acted like a homophobic Jerkass to his friends and others.
    I don't really know what to say about my life. I suppose people are expecting a shit childhood with abusive parents and a daddy that never loved me. None of that would be wrong, but I don't think people should use their pasts as an excuse for their actions. I'm an asshole because I choose to be. And maybe if I do this I'll figure out how not to be an asshole. I'm getting there, but it's easy to fuck up. And I've got a lot riding on this whole repentance shit.
  • I'm the Grim Reaper: While Scarlet feels sorry for Ana, the woman who claimed to kill her terminally ill son as a mercy kill due to her sad backstory, Chase feels no such sympathy. His response is to claim that she made her own choices and there were still a vast amount of other options she could have taken to take care of him before resorting to murder.
  • Invoked in SHELTER when the leader of the Nest Jackers demands to know why all nogaku seem to think that having hard lives justifies killing innocent people. Ironically, the nogaku he was speaking to at the time not only had the most tragic backstory in the series, but also spends the rest of the series brutally murdering people who absolutely deserve it.
    • Jay is a more straightforward example; his only justification for trying to rape his childhood friend is that "I was under a lot of stress at the time." Needless to say, nobody takes it seriously.

    Web Original 
  • Heaven and Hell: Allison "Alice" Witzenberg had a terrible childhood filled with abuse and neglect, growing a desire to become stronger as a result. However, Mint points out that Alice's love of hurting people is completely unrelated to what they went through, as well as the fact that Mint went through some of the same problems Alice did and dealt with them in a far healthier way.
  • Nights In Lonesome Arkham: Nyarlathotep was denied attention and respect from his Almighty Idiot father Azathoth after all the things he's done for him. This caused him to despise the Outer Gods. After Aleviel defeated him the first time and gave him hope of a better life, he began stalking her for reasons he himself couldn't realize, growing to believe in her until her death made him despise her. No longer content with being the Outer Gods' pawn and utterly hateful of his mindless father, Nyarlathotep's true plan is to use Aleviel's power to break the lock on creation and devour the Outer Gods to reign supreme over all existence. He's flatly called out on his Freudian excuse, as it doesn't excuse his sadism, cruelty, and love for toying with humans' fears and emotions. However, when Hardestadt tries to call him out on this earlier, Nyarlathotep shuts him up by stating that "Gods do not justify themselves to their inferior".
  • In Mad Because Small video "4.3 - The Legend Returns", Baby, Lyse, Alphinaud and Arenvald confront Fordola after her actions during Stormblood. She starts out by saying "You don't understand, I had a tragic childhood." Baby stares at her and goes "Okay, first of all—", but cuts away before she reveals the crap she went through like in canon.


You're white, Nicole.

Jecka visits Nicole after she's arrested for selling crack to commit charity fraud.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / FreudianExcuseIsNoExcuse

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