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Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse

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Jason: Wow... Your parents sucked.
Eleanor: Yeah. And I've been using their crappy parenting as an excuse for my selfish behavior. No more.

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 are the targets are. This trope comes into play when a character or even the narrative itself (possibly even the characters 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. 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, of 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.


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. Typically on the "Firm Hand" side of Gentle Touch vs. Firm Hand. Compare Kirk Summation, Playing the Victim Card, and Shut Up, Hannibal!. For similar fan reactions, see Unintentionally Unsympathetic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Testament of Sister New Devil: The Hero Clan has it out for Basera Tojo and repeatedly call him out over the Brynhildr incident which resulted in the deaths of many friends and family. Takashi is the biggest offender, constantly angsting over how much he's lost and Basara's so-called betrayal. Mio, getting fed up of hearing the same thing for the umpteenth time, angrily lays everything straight to Takashi and points out that Basera went through the same tragedy he did but instead of wallowing in his anger and self-pity he tries to make himself a better man from it and so Takashi has absolutely no room to complain — and that came from someone who watched her foster parents get murdered.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Touma Kamijou has this attitude towards his foes' Dark and Troubled Past and excuses in general, acknowledging that what happened to them sucks and even sympathizing to an extent, but also calling them out on using that as an excuse to hurt others instead of trying to make the world a better place to ensure it doesn't happen to other people.
    • Sherry Cromwell is a girl from the Magic Side who befriended Ellis Warrior, a boy from the Science Side. Ellis participated in an experiment to try to make him both an esper and a magician, but it failed and his body was ravaged, then several Magic Side enforcers who were against the experiment burst in and executed him after he sacrificed himself so she could escape. Sherry then attempts to trigger a war between the two sides by assassinating key figures, so that the two sides will be separated forever and the tragedy she went through will never happen again. Touma Kamijou angrily points out her tragedy doesn't excuse the fact that her plan will cause a lot more people than just Ellis to die, and the people she's trying to assassinate have nothing to do with Ellis' death. Touma then points out that two of the people she's trying to assassinate, Hyouka Kazakiri and Index, are friends from the Science and Magic Sides respectively, and she'll put them through her same tragedy if she kills them.
    • Vento of the Front despises the Science Side of the world because she and her brother were critically injured in a ride that claimed to be scientifically proven safe and her brother gave up his life so that she could live (they had a very rare blood type, and with no donors on hand, her brother told the doctors to give her his blood), so she seeks to destroy Academy City as a form of payback. Touma calls her out on her way of thinking, stating that the doctors did try to save both of them regardless of the limits of what they were able to do and her brother made his choice so that she could continue living, and now she's only taking out her anger on anyone associated with the Science Side for something they had no control over, let alone something they had no knowledge of.
  • Black Clover: When the Big Bad Licht starts bemoaning his tragedies and the people he has lost, Yami quickly parodies his own Dark and Troubled Past, by mentioning that he's suffered a lot to get to where he is, but he never made a big deal out of it, held someone else accountable or became evil because of it.
    • Asta plays this straight in Chapter 200 once he understood what Patri went through after seeing his memories as just a young elf who turns out to be tricked by the real Big Bad, The Devil, into hating humans that was the opposite of what the real Licht believes. Asta still won't forgive him because he killed Julius while holding the Clover kingdom hostage, and endangered the people with the Reincarnation spell which is why he'll let Patri be around to stop the Devil from completing his plans.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Deconstructed. During the Buu Saga, Majin Buu kills because he has the mind of a child and doesn't know any better, and it's all he knows, which is why he continues his rampage even without Babidi to order him around. While Goku is somewhat sympathetic, Piccolo rebukes it, declaring outright that one's background does not excuse acts of evil. He is soon proven wrong when Hercule, of all people, ultimately manages to end up befriending Buu because of Buu's child-like nature and very nearly manages to convince him to stop his killing ways. This means that if the Z-Fighters had taken the time to try and explain things to Buu instead of trying to deal with him the same way they did with every other enemy they fought beforehand, they very likely could have avoided a lot of the bloodshed of this arc. Unfortunately, Buu's temper is fully triggered when Hercule ends up being shot by some thugs and tried to purge himself of his evil side to better control it, only to be beaten by said evil side since it took the bulk of the power during the split, resulting in a more dangerous Super Buu.
    • Piccolo's own disregard is more notable when one recalls that he was similar to Buu, only to be changed by Gohan. In fact, he (or more accurately, his father, the original King Piccolo), was the evil half to the original Namekian (with Kami being the good half). The split was done when the Namekian was told that his exposure to the cruelty of the world had tainted his heart too much to be given the title of "God".
  • Scar in Fullmetal Alchemist becomes a Vigilante Man who targets State Alchemists because many of them had to do with the genocide of his people. When Roy Mustang (a State Alchemist himself) tells Ed that his quest for vengeance is justified, the latter rebukes it, claiming that he's still involving innocent people for the sake of his revenge and that he's just candy-coating it by acting self-righteous and calling himself "an instrument of God".
  • The Godzilla anime trilogy has a downplayed example with the main protagonist, Haruo Sakaki. He may have lost both of his parents and adoptive grandparent to Godzilla, which drives him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. There are other people who suffered losses just as he has, so it really doesn't give him any justification to drag anyone down with him, let alone getting everyone else killed or put in danger, as well as getting injured in a process, just so he can avenge the loss of his parents and adoptive grandparent. While some may view his actions understandable, endangering the ones under his command is just plain hypocritically selfish and inexcusable to the point that some random soldier calls him out on it, while taking those words at heart wheras Galu-Gu defends his actions.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Taken Up to Eleven. Urumi Kanzaki's vendetta against teachers and "classroom terrorism" is all because in the past, a favorite teacher of hers revealed a secret she asked him to keep: that she was a test tube baby and doesn't know who her birth father is. When Onizuka finds out, he tells her how ridiculous she's acting and introduces her to some of his old friends — people who've grown up with prostitutes for mothers, had to sell drugs to buy food, were raped and beaten up as children or spent years in prison before ever finishing high school — putting her own problems in perspective; with this, Urumi finally realizes how insane her actions have been and stops her revenge games.
  • The Villain Protagonist of Happy Sugar Life is Satou Matsuzaka, a high schooler who is obsessively in love with a young girl named Shio. The manga lightly touches on her backstory where it is revealed that after losing her parents at a young age, she was raised by her sadomasochistic aunt who carelessly exposed her hedonistic lifestyle to her, thus making her responsible for Satou's sociopathic tendencies. Despite this, Satou tries to use this excuse to force her aunt to help her in her plan of disposing of incriminating evidence by burning the apartment room and Shouko's corpse, claiming that she owed her for tainting her view on love. Additionally, Satou's aunt calls her out for always aimlessly going into situations in spite of the consequences.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood: When Dio Brando is exposed for poisoning his adoptive father, George Joestar, he tries to bring up his past with his abusive biological father to gain sympathy from his adoptive brother, Jonathan. Speedwagon immediately shoots him down, stating that he can smell Dio's malice and that the latter was evil since birth. It doesn't help that Dio was looking for an opportunity to stab Jonathan while shedding Crocodile Tears. Afterwards Dio comes to the conclusion that Speedwagon's assessment was completely right and doesn't even bother trying to justify his actions to anyone, and fully embraces being evil.
  • Kiznaiver: At the ending's climax, Nico attempts to rile everyone up to gather together and save Sonozaki. When she is called out on trying to save the one that caused them so much hardship, Nico explains she feels no sympathy for her and doesn't care for her sad backstory seeing how she basically tortured them psychologically and physically for the entire summer. But since Agata, their friend is asking to help the girl he loves, they should help him.
  • My Hero Academia has a rather bizarre example in that the other party is not a villain (he's a hero-in-training), but his excuse is still called out. Izuku feels sympathy for Shoto's crappy childhood under his father, the number 2 hero, Endeavor. However, Izuku still calls out Shoto for only using half his Quirk (Shoto uses only the ice of his Fire and Ice Quirk both to honor his mother and to spite his father by refusing his fire) since it insults every other hero, aspiring and professional, by not giving it his all, purely out of spite. Mixed in with Jerkass Has a Point as Endeavor has been pushing his son to fully use his Quirk.
    • Later chapters reveal that not only was Shoto being spiteful, but also impractical. Besides the fact that overusing his ice would lead to him succumbing to cold (which is meant to be countered by his flames and vice versa), Endeavor worked Shoto to be his Superior Successor because Endeavor's own Hellfire Quirk was prone to burning him through overuse. So while Endeavor could not go all out, Shoto in theory can because of the balancing capabilities of his Quirk.
    • Even while working to use his Fire, Shoto still tends to hold back. It's implied that this is partially due to the fate of Touya, Shoto's oldest brother. Endeavor originally chose him to be his Superior Successor due to his hotter flames, but lacked the constitution to handle going full-out and it's implied he was gravely injured when he was trained by his dad. It's also implied this is what led to Endeavor choosing Shoto and what really started the family's problems. Despite this, Tetsutetsu (who is unaware of Shoto's problems), chides Shoto for not going full-out as his steel is able to handle Shoto's ice and fire and having pushed himself to his limits like the others. The match ends in a draw.
    • This also happens with "Hero Killer" Stain, who despises the current generation of heroes who are more concerned with fame and status instead of saving lives and makes it his mission to weed them out. Tenya is forced to admit that he isn't exactly wrong, but also states that his murderous rampage is still a crime and, in the end, Stain is still a criminal that must face justice.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • During the manga version of the Battle City semi-finals, Kaiba talks about how his past was nothing but hatred and anger due to his Knight Templar Parent driving him to be the best, and how that made him determined to only rely on himself and crush everyone in his path. Yami Yugi/Atem calls him out on how he'll never be truly happy this way as he'll just keep seeking someone to hate. Zig-zagged in the anime when the gang have far less knowledge of Kaiba's backstory. This trope also applies to Jonouchi, who is the only member of the gang not to have forgiven Kaiba for the deadly theme park Death-T, and frequently takes the stance they shouldn't team up with Kaiba, though no-one else listens.
    • During the anime's Virtual World arc, Noah rants about how much he suffered and that he is taking what he deserves, but Yami Yugi points out that's no excuse for how he treated them.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Vassago Cassals / PoH has nothing but hatred for East Asians because his biological father, a Korean, had abandoned his mother after impregnating her. Furthermore, both he and his mother were bought by the CEO of a Japanese trade company and were subsequently shipped to Japan. He starts the Laughing Coffin guild just so he could see East Asians kill each other. That said, this isn't treated as sympathetic or redeeming, and he is never shown to have loved his mother.
    • Eiji, one of the villains of Ordinal Scale, was Driven to Villainy over the loss of his love, Yuna. However, this does not justify most of his actions, which are unnecessarily cruel and verge on sadism in the enjoyment he derives from beating down his fellow players. It's no wonder that despite their similar pasts, Kirito has absolutely No Sympathy for Eiji.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
    • Hayes Vi Arcadia is the third princess of the ancient Holy Arcadia Empire, but being born last means she has the least importance among her siblings, causing their maid to prioritize saving her older sisters during a coup against their empire. The shock of nearly being killed along with her inferiority complex drove her to become a psychotic and sadistic villain, but this isn't presented as a sympathetic excuse for her misplaced and disproportionate vengeance against modern day civilization. At one point, Rosa Granhide states that Hayes is just venting her anger and trying to delude herself into feeling superior to others.
    • The Dragon Marauder leaders were all victims of persecution, with Drakkhen being a former ace soldier who was betrayed by her superiors and subjected to torture, Vines being a fallen prince who barely survived an assassination, and Gatouhan being a member of an indigenous tribe that experienced racism. They believe that society is so cruel that their only option to survive is to become Drag-ride bandits and that Virtue Is Weakness. Lisha, who experienced torture and slavery at the hands of the Old Arcadia Empire, rejects their reasoning and points out that with their combat and leadership skills, they could have found a more respectable path rather than seek power and revenge. Unlike Hayes, Gatouhan admits the error of his ways and dies regretting his actions.
  • Accel World Seiji Nomi had a fairly difficult childhood growing up under the thumb of his Big Brother Bully, Yuichi, who exploited Seiji and forced him to turn over his points on a regular basis. Seiji ultimately became strong enough to kill his brother's Duel Avatar repeatedly until Yuichi was driven off Brain Burst, then later became a similar bully himself when he began extorting Haru the same way. The most sympathy Haru has for him after learning of his backstory is expressing his belief that they could have been friends if they'd met as normal Burst Linkers (and he isn't too put out when Seiji laughs it off), and considering that all other Burst Linkers derive their special abilities from various trauma, Seiji isn't the only Burst Linker with a tragic past.
  • Naruto:
    • During the Land of Vegetables filler arc, Naruto hears about the princess' backstory — that she was sent away as a hostage, and only brought back once her life was in danger. He sympathizes with her, but says it doesn't excuse her callous personality, including not caring about one of her loyal bodyguards' deaths, and putting a group of merchants in danger by hiding among them, and gives her a brief "The Reason You Suck" Speech saying that he wouldn't want to live in a country ruled by someone like her.
    • During his match with Neji, Naruto points out that while Neji's had a hard life, he's not the only one to have suffered. He also points out that Neji's brutally beating and nearly killing his cousin Hinata, the heiress to the main family, is proof that Neji hasn't simply accepted his "fate" to be a slave to the main branch of the Hyuga clan.
    • Upon hearing Obito's life story, Naruto, despite realizing that they're Not So Different, argues that it doesn't justify what he's done, and insists that Obito be punished for his crimes. Obito ultimately achieves Redemption Equals Death as the closest thing. Granted, he also attempts to pull a Nagato by using the Rinnegan's ultimate technique (at the cost of his life) to bring everyone who was recently killed back to life. Unfortunately, he ends up circumvented by Madara and unable to do so.
  • In Bleach while Ichigo admits that he wasn't completely paying attention to Uryu's story — that his grandfather wanted the Quincies and Soul Reapers to cooperate, but the Soul Reapers let him die — he says that doesn't explain why Uryu would be so obsessed with Quincies outdoing the Soul Reapers that he'd intentionally draw in Hollows for a competition, thereby putting the town in danger. Despite Ichigo being angry about what Uryu did, he suggests that they fight together against the Hollows, and Uryu ultimately saves Ichigo's life.
  • In Fairy Tail, the dark guild Eisenwald was formerly a legal guild before they were made unaccredited by order of the Magic Council, and now they're basically viewed as outcasts by society and find it much harder to make a decent living. For this reason, they're willing to take the lives of people who have it so much better than they do and ultimately plan to murder the ones they view as most responsible with forbidden death magic. Lucy not only calls them out on this, but also points out the reason they were unaccredited in the first place was because they kept committing crimes (such as assassinations) even after said crimes were declared as such by the Council.
  • Black Lagoon: Revy, the Lagoon crew's nihilistic gunslinger with a Hair-Trigger Temper, once blames the way she is now on her rough childhood (she was raped by a police officer and then killed her abusive father when he didn't care). Rock, a Japanese salaryman who joined the crew after being hung out to dry by his superiors, finally gets fed up with this attitude and accuses her of wallowing in self-pity, which puts a serious crack in her shell.

    Comic Books 
  • In Seven Soldiers of Victory, Sally Sonic became magically trapped in the form of a teenager for decades, causing her to suffer abuse and degradation at the hands of a failed superhero who had a grudge against her late father. She uses this as an excuse for seducing married men, culminating in her encouraging mentally-unbalanced scientist Lance Harrower to perform dangerous experiments on himself to try and gain superpowers, thinking that if he became a superhero, he and Sally could be together. These experiments ultimately killed Lance and turned his wife Alix into the Bulleteer. When Bulleteer finally confronts Sally about the carnage her selfishness has caused, Sally tries to kill her, all the while insisting that Lance's obsessions were Bulleteer's fault because she failed to please him. Bulleteer finally has enough of Sally's excuses and beats her with an engine block, saying that she doesn't care what kind of shit Sally went through, she had no right to mess with Lance's life or hers.
  • Professor X and the X-Men have given Magneto this speech many times (Magneto is a Holocaust survivor, and takes his hatred of the Nazis who killed his family and ruined his life out on others). Occasionally, he listens.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Flash Thompson wasn't truly a villain, but this was the reason he was such a jerkass in high school. His dad was an angry alcoholic who abused both him and his mom. A story arc in the 90's involved Flash — directionless, lonely and increasingly bitter — developing a drinking problem like his father before him, leading to a car crash that got Flash arrested again and cost him his job as a school gym teacher. By this time, Flash had begun blaming much of his troubles on his family in general and his father in particular, but a violent confrontation with his father finally forced Flash to realize that he had become the same sort of self-deluded wreck his father was, and that only he could take responsibility for fixing his life. Flash sobered up and started trying to turn his life around.
    • The second Venom, Angelo Fortunato, was bullied and ridiculed his whole life, as well as abused by his father, who bought the Venom symbiote from Eddie Brock and gave it to his son in the hopes of getting him to man up. During his fight with Spider-Man, he ends up killing a cosplayer dressed like the web-slinger, to which Spidey decides to stop holding back and give him a verbal beatdown, rebuking Angelo's crappy past and pointing out he himself was a bully magnet but didn't become a killer.
    Spider-Man: You weren't bullied any more than I was, Angelo. You weren't punched or kicked or spat upon any more than me. You were given great powers and you used them to kill people, you little freak.
  • In Green Lantern, Amon Sur was the son of the legendary Green Lantern Abin Sur, who grew up to be a leader of the Black Circle Crime Syndicate. It was implied he was trying to live up to his father's accomplishments and was angry that his father was not around to raise him. He tries to get revenge on Hal Jordan (whom he blames for his father's death) and he goes on to say how he should have been different and how his father was never there for him and he blames the Green Lantern Corps for his messed up life. Hal, who went through similar stuff with his own father, has No Sympathy and points out to Amon that not having a father does not excuse his crimes.
    Amon Sur: Things should have been different. I should have been different. My father was never there for me. He was never there because of the damn Green Lantern Corps. What I become for so long was their fault.
    Hal Jordan: You got to be kidding me. You don't get a free pass because your father wasn't there. No one else did.
  • Irredeemable: This is delivered to the Plutonian. On the one hand, he did have a very raw deal, being tossed from one foster home to another after his families discovered his powers and had no idea how to handle them, as well as a Friendless Background due to being unable to play with the other kids because he would accidentally hurt them with his powers. And then there are the circumstances of his birth — he was originally an alien probe that took on a human baby's form after reacting to the powerful emotions of an insane woman who had killed her child, which might have corrupted him from the start. He also lived in the woods as a feral child, known as the Wolf Boy for a brief period. But he also got a few good lucky breaks, such as a caring foster father who genuinely wanted to teach him right from wrong (although admittedly he didn't always go about it in the best ways), a girlfriend, and the love of at least 90% of the human race, but it wasn't enough, as he was already severely psychologically damaged by the time things began looking up for him and having good things in life does not negate nor heal any of the damage he went through prior, and it's very likely he did not get any therapy either (which probably would've done him a lot of good). Regardless though, he still killed millions of innocents (some for the pettiest and self-centered of reasons at that) and numerous characters, including his biological parents, tell him to his face that the treatment he endured doesn't justify any of his atrocities.
  • The family of Jake Gallows, the Punisher in 2099, was killed in a completely random, senseless act of violence. He finds their killer and is treated to the tale of his tragic upbringing: Kron Stone claims his parents, though rich, never loved him. They were never home and left a robot to care for him but never bothered to program it, causing it to default to veterinarian mode. Jake is not sympathetic.
    Kron: Do you know what it's like to be fitted with a collar, live in a kennel, and be fed on dog meat?!
    The Punisher: No, but I know what it's like to have your family butchered by a crazy with a sob story.
  • In My Friend Dahmer, an autobiographical comic by a guy who went to school with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the author believes Dahmer to be a tragic figure... but makes it very clear that he loses all sympathy for him as soon as he actually commits murder.
  • In Catwoman from Batman Selina Kyle's childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair betrays her by allying with Black Mask and telling him her identity. Because of this, Black Mask kidnaps Selina's sister Maggie and her husband Simon Burton. Simon is tortured to death, while Maggie is tortured to insanity. When Selina confronts Sylvia, she thinks that Sylvia betrayed her because, during a heist gone bad, Selina was forced to leave Sylvia to be arrested. However, the true reason she betrayed Selina was that when they were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident, which led to Sylvia's hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Selina points out that she was a kid and was afraid. She also says that she was not the only one who had a hard time on the streets and asks Sylvia if she really thinks that justifies what she has done.
  • In Hack/Slash Cassie Hack thinks this of herself 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.
  • The Killing Joke does this to The Joker, whose "one bad day" proves to be just an excuse as he neither know nor care if it actually happened and Batman confronts him on how his attempt to similarly break Commissioner Gordon failed.
    Batman: Despite all your sick, vicious little games, he's as sane as he ever was! So maybe ordinary people don't always crack. Maybe there isn't any need to crawl under a rock with all the other slimey things when trouble hits. Maybe it was just you, all the time!
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye:
    • Whirl has a harsh past that goes some way towards explaining why he's a Heroic Comedic Sociopath...but the comic also shows that he deliberately refuses to deal with it healthily, because he knows he's done a lot of messed-up stuff and spending his time angry stops him from feeling the guilt. He's the second biggest Death Seeker in the main cast, exceeded only by Chromedome.
    • Cybertron when Megatron was just getting started was a really shitty place. The Senate was corrupt and self-serving; the Functionist Council a group of twelve religious fanatics with fascist inclinations. Megatron himself was a member of one of the lowest castes, and speaking out against the system led to his attempted Mind Rape in an event that also saw his mentor disappear. At no point is any of this treated like it justifies everything he's done. Even he ends up sincerely trying to make amends for his sins, jumps at the chance to do it right in another universe, and the one that ends up back on Cybertron at the end of the series peacefully accepts his execution.

    Fan Works 
  • In Karma In Retrograde, Touya's self-loathing is only amplified by the fact that all of his siblings did something with their lives while he became a villain.
    How weak could he be? Oh, boo hoo, he’d wanted his dad to love him. That wasn’t an excuse for all the shit he’d pulled over the years. Natsuo and Fuyumi hadn’t broken like he had.
  • In Conversations with a Cryptid, the narrative and Izuku points out that Bakugou grew up with an physically and verbally abusive mother, a spineless father and a school system that fostered his sense of entitlement through the strength of his quirk and encouraged him to look down on Quirkless people like Izuku. The narrative and All for One counters that in no way excuses Bakugou's decade of abusing Izuku. All for One points out that Bakugou had attacked, burned and belittled Izuku on a daily basis of his own free will. Even going so far as Bakugou attempt to bait Izuku into committing suicide which still emotionally scars Izuku and throwing tantrums in front of his peers and live television when he doesn't get his way.
  • In Crimson And Emerald Endeavor is revealed to have been horrifically abused as child by his father, Ryu and saw his mother be abused. Considering this is revealed to show how Endeavor doesn't understand why his treatment of his wife and children is wrong when All Might, Hawks and Inko intervene to rescue his family from him, he doesn't get any sympathy points.
  • In ...That's It?, Twilight Sparkle is Disappointed by the Motive when Starlight Glimmer reveals that the reason she nearly caused the end of all space-time or dooming Equestria to rule by an evil entity was because Starlight's friend Sunburst got his cutie mark before she did when they were kids, causing him to move away. Twilight is disgusted with the self-righteous behavior, but with just the right Armor-Piercing Question, Twilight manages to convince Starlight to stop her plans.
  • In Ghosts of Evangelion, Ryuko calls her mother out, pointing out that childhood trauma doesn't justify a crappy disposition when you're in your forties. Asuka's reaction is, in fact... hugging her and expressing how proud she is of Ryuko.
    Ryuko: Bullshit! 'The best you can,' you say? Whatever. Today you were fine. I felt like you were an actual parent for a change, and that was nice. But last night? Fuck that noise. Back in the day, I guess you could get away with it since things were really rough for you back then. But now, not so much. We deserve better, father and I, and so do you!
  • In X-Men: The Early Years, Scott Summers' parole officer asks him to go soft on a bully whom she's trying to reform, explaining Bruno's a bully because of his abusive father. Scott replies it doesn't make his behavior okay.
    Carol: Good, now that we're alone. I'm asking you to try to be a little nicer to Bruno, okay? I know it's not an easy task and he's not the most pleasant person you'll ever meet. Bruno's not a bad kid Scott. Yes, I know he's a bully, but he's only acting out what he knows. What his father taught him.
    Scott: So? That makes it okay for him to threaten to hurt Bobby? That makes it okay for him to threaten to hurt someone younger than he is?
    Carol: No, of course not. But Bruno has only threatened, and he actually hasn't made a move to hurt Bobby. That leaves a lot of room for you to let it slide off your back and compromise until he actually tries something. If Bruno tries to hurt Bobby, you won't be the first one to trounce him. Trust me.
  • The Makings of Team CRME: Cinder Fall from RWBY is given a Freudian Excuse in the form of her abusive mother from My Name Is Cinder. However, it only explains why she is such a sociopath. The fact that she becomes exponentially worse than her mother in the show and in CRME nullifies any potential sympathy that she could have. Mercury even calls her out on this when he catches her abusing Emerald.
    “You know, it just amuses me that you talk about how terrible your mom was, but you seem to be a lot more like her than you think.”
  • Pokémon: A Marvelous Journey: Amara's Jerkass behavior all began when her best friend was killed by a rampaging Gyarados, and her actions are because she's lashing out in grief at that. However, in the process, she's stolen Pokemon and Gym Badges, abused several of said Pokemon, and attacked innocent bystanders either by herself or by using her Pokemon. It's made clear in-universe that Amara's grief and pain do not excuse her behavior; Julia herself openly states as such and tells their mother she wants Amara to be arrested.
  • In Stories and Tales from Dimension 63, Linka is revealed to have been physically beaten when three boys invaded the home in search of her older brother Lane. However, when Linka tries to use that excuse at times, other characters point out that she could've asked her family to stop being overly protective of her, and instead of being painted in a sympathetic light, Linka willingly tries to take over Lincoln's life simply because she felt that her own family didn't pamper her enough.
  • In MLDC Firestorm Crisis, the Humane 5 are making assumptions of why Sunset Shimmer is an Alpha Bitch. Then Rainbow Dash speaks up:
    Rainbow Dash: ‘Poor Sunset’? Really? (The others looked to Rainbow Dash) So what if she did come from a crappy home, is an orphan, or was abused. There are other people who have gone through that and aren’t total assholes. Taking out your problems on other people is a coward’s way of dealing with them, instead of facing them!
    Rarity: Rainbow Dash!
    Rainbow Dash: I’m just making a point! If she really wants my pity or sympathy, then she has to earn it!
  • In Pony POV Series, this trope is practically a major theme: a Freudian Excuse can explain a villain's actions, but it doesn't come close to justifying them at all.
    • Discord loves to excuse his behavior as being the fault of literally anyone except himself, especially Fate herself, but it's made clear ultimately his evil is no one's fault but his own with Celestia describing it as him discovering his Sadism. Something Discord eventually realizes himself.
    • Queen Chrysalis has a pretty tragic backstory, including being Made a Slave and accidentally draining her parents into an Empty Shell state, but she is under no delusion she's anything but a monster and is proud of it. She knows she's going to Hell and has every intention of trying to take it over when she gets there. One major bit of development for Sweetie Belle (after Chrysalis comes to care for her but not enough to stop) is realizing that no matter what Chrysalis told her, she was a bad person.
    • Nightmare Eclipse and her Gallery have all suffered horrific tragedies having gone through the Dark World and all the suffering Twilight and her friends have, in some cases more, but the only one under the delusion this justifies their behavior is Eclipse herself. Even Nightmare Mirror openly admits the six of them are monsters and intended to drag all of them to Hell herself in the end. Rota Fortuna even gives Eclipse a "The Reason You Suck" Speech pointing out that it's gotten to the point Eclipse herself is the one doing everything Discord did to her onto others and thus she has zero moral high-ground left.
    • Nightmares in general are, more often than not, spawned from a tragedy, in fact, their Catchphrase that often accompanies the transformation is some variation on the phrase 'the world isn't fair. I'll make it fair.' Despite this, Celestia and especially Luna make it clear to any purified Nightmares that tragedy doesn't excuse anything they did, something Luna holds herself to as well. Most of the now sane Nightmares agree.
  • The Very Secret Diary: Ginny acknowledges that Tom had a rough upbringing, but, after some thinking, she concludes that that isn't the reason he's so horrible. After all, plenty of people, such as Harry, have had it way, way worse than Tom did and not turned out evil. She then tells him that she's thought it over from every angle, but she simply can't figure what's wrong with him.
  • Childhood's End:
    • Kasumi invokes this on her sister, Akane, over her love-hate relationship with Ranma.
      Kasumi: At first I thought that your behavior was due to the way you were treated by the boys at your school. Emotional scars that were taking time to heal properly, if you understand what I mean. I can't really believe that anymore — too much time has passed. It sometimes seems as if your emotional development has been frozen, as if you stopped growing emotionally when you reached puberty. I'm sorry if that sounds rather harsh, but that is how it looks to me.
    • When the cause for why Akane and Ramna not developing emotionally is revealed, Akane initially blames her father for it before correcting herself, admitting that while her father and Gemna did in fact use a spell that had the side-effect of stunting her and Ramna's emotional growth, she is ultimately the one responsible for her immature behavior, especially around Ramna.
  • In No Where Else, Tori gets fed up with Jade's behavior and calls her out. She points out that many people have neglectful parents, but don't act as bad as her. Tori even notes that her parents have been just as neglectful and she's nothing like Jade. Jade seems to take this to heart but then proceeds to insult Tori.
  • This is delivered to Asuka when she goes through a Break the Haughty routine courtesy of Leilel during Going Another Way. While it is acknowledged that her childhood was indeed tragic and painful, it doesn't justify her Jerk Ass behavior towards other people, and moreover, she can't keep invoking those experiences and has to rise above that, lest she end up pushing anyone who could help her become a happier and more fulfilled person away and stay a miserable wreck. She takes the experience to heart and slowly develops into a nicer and more thoughtful person (though still retaining her Hot-Blooded nature).
  • Cornelia believes that Lelouch snapped from watching his mother die and his sister crippled in My Mirror, Sword and Shield. Lelouch grew up knowing the aristocracy was responsible but was left in Japan to rot. At first, Cornelia pitied him. Now, she wants him dead.
  • In Fighting for the Future. Lex Luthor explains his desire to kill all Metahumans comes from the fact that one Metahuman, implied to be Black Siren, caused a train accident that killed his fiancee. No one is very impressed with this, having seen it before in both Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson; and Oliver explicitly states that that would justify killing that one Metahuman, not all of them. He even points out that the love of his life was murdered, but he still only killed those responsible.
  • Weasley Girl has an example where Hagrid, of all people, loses his temper with Snape and calls him out on his attitude and his unfair treatment of Harry.
    Hagrid: All right, that's enough! This is my house! I let yeh stay here ter rest, I made yeh supper an' breakfast, an' I don't even mind that I never heard a word o' thanks, but yeh don't talk ter Harry like that while yer under my roof! An' I've bin makin' excuses fer yeh all year, too —!
    Snape: I don't recall asking you to do that.
    Hagrid: Cuttin' yeh some slack here, cause yer still sick, an' yeh've bin with You-Know-Who, an workin' against 'im, mighty brave o' yeh an' all that, yer a true hero, but GROW UP! Yeh had a rotten life? Well, guess what, other people had rotten lives too, an' they don't go around sneerin' at everyone! NOW SHUT UP AN' EAT YER RUDDY EGGS!
  • The sequel, Weasley Girl: Secrets of the Past: has a scene where Peter Pettigrew tries to defend his actions by pointing out what a horrible situation he was in, how bigger and badder people forced his hand, how he was too weak to resist. He paints a pretty bleak picture of his own life, only to have it come crashing down on him with one question from Harry:
    Harry: What about the twelve Muggles?
    Peter: Wh-what?
    Harry: The twelve Muggles you killed when faking your own death.
    Peter: They were just Muggles...
    Harry: And to think I was actually starting to feel sorry for you.
  • Throne of Atlantis Abridged: Aquaman chews out Orm after the latter tries Playing the Victim Card.
  • In A Prize For Three Empires, Carol Danvers' mother calls her daughter out on using her past trauma as an excuse to be an obnoxious, blame-shifting ass to her teammates.
  • Several villains in The Last Son end up on the receiving end of this. Notable examples:
    • Magneto became a monster due to his past as a Holocaust survivor, and fell into a Cycle of Revenge because he wasn't satisfied after he was done with the Nazis who killed his family. When Superman reveals this fact to Wanda, she remarks that's no excuse for his actions and Superman agrees.
    • Graydon Creed hates mutants with a passion because of his abusive father Sabretooth. His Friends of Humanity operatives quickly turned their backs on him when Superman made this fact public.
    • General Zod went mad after the death of his fiancée Ursa in the Shi'ar War, which he uses to justify his hatred for non-Kryptonians. Naturally when the heroes find this out, they lose any shred of sympathy they could have had for him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Toy Story 3: Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear was accidentally lost and replaced by his original owner with an identical Lotso, causing him to believe toys are just "trash meant to be thrown away." But as Woody points out, it doesn't excuse him of his crimes, especially as he kept lying to Big Baby about this. His owner didn't abandon him so much as he abandoned her, and the fact that she replaced him actually shows how much she cared for him.
  • ParaNorman: Norman calls the witch out on her behavior when they confront each other. She excuses her own actions by remembering that the zombies wrongfully sentenced her to death for the crime of witchcraft in life, but Norman says that her behavior has turned her from a victim to a bully.
    The Witch: They hurt me!
    Norman: So you hurt them back?!
    The Witch: I wanted everyone to see how rotten they were!
    Norman You're just like them, Agatha!
    The Witch: No, I'm not!
    Norman: You're a bully!
    The Witch: No I'm NOT!
  • Moana has a rare subtle one where the character himself acknowledges he has no excuse. While he has a very tragic past explaining his theft of the Heart of Te Fiti, and did so because he wanted to give it to humanity and grant them The Power of Creation, when he's brought before her after Moana returns it, Maui freely admits there's no excuse for what he did to her and humbly apologizes. This may be why Te Fiti returns his magic fishhook to him as a token of forgiveness.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Scream 3: The Ghostface Killer gives his past rejection by the world as the reason for his murderous rampage during his Motive Rant to Sidney. However, Sidney has heard this story too many times from previous killers to care, and calls Ghostface out by pointing out that it's just an excuse for their own sadism.
  • Towards the beginning of A Wrinkle in Time (2018), Meg loses her temper and throws a ball at her arch-nemesis' face. When called out on her behavior, she tries to invoke the fact that her father is still missing as an excuse for her acting out. Her principal tells her that having a missing dad only buys her so much sympathy, especially when he's been gone for four years.
  • GoldenEye: Janus/Alec Trevelyan/006 is seeking revenge for the betrayal of the Lienz Cossacks, a group that supported the Nazis against the Soviets during World War II. The Cossacks, believing they were under British protection near the end of the war, were instead sent back to Stalin, who promptly had them executed. Trevelyan, needless to say, is pissed about this and seeks to make the British government pay, as these events caused his parents to kill themselves of survivor's guilt. But James Bond rebukes him, stating that "mad little" Alec's Evil Plan of causing economic chaos in revenge boils down to "nothing more than petty theft," and believes he is simply in it for the money, with his excuse being a lame cover for his crimes. Which does make sense: 006 appears to have faithfully served MI-6 for years before faking his death. Also, although Bond lost his own parents in a climbing accident, he did not make a big deal of it unlike Trevelyan. This provokes a Shut Up, Kirk! response from Janus, who points out Bond's Fatal Flaw for women, whether he has qualms killing people, and his "so-called" loyalty to queen and country.
    Bond: A worldwide financial meltdown. And all so mad little Alec can settle a score with the world, 50 years on.
  • Falling Down: William Foster has been fired from his job, is divorced from his wife due to his Hair-Trigger Temper, and is stuck in traffic with no AC on the hottest day of the year in Los Angeles. Foster's ensuing destructive journey to attend his daughter's birthday party initially portrays him as a type of Anti-Hero, especially since most of his victims are asking for it. In the end, however, Detective Prendergast makes it clear to Foster that none of the bad things that have happened in his life justify his going on a rampage.
    Foster: I'm... the bad guy? [Beat] How did that happen?
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers: When Loki is talking about living in his brother's shadow, Thor points out that sorting out family issues and seeking recompense for imagined slights is a slim excuse for conquering a planet.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax admits to Rocket that his thoughtless actions on Knowhere in which he sends Ronan to the planet, getting the Infinity Stone and getting everyone else killed and hurt along the process, was just to cover the loss of his family to the hands of Ronan. However, Rocket calls him out on the fact that, even though he understands what he is going through, his endangerment of everyone else's lives was still inexcusable:
      Rocket: EVERYBODY'S got dead people! It's no excuse to get everybody else dead along the way!
    • Captain America: Civil War: Helmut Zemo lost his family and his home due to the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Feeling that the Avengers got off too easy for the incident, he orchestrates a long plan to destroy them from the inside, resulting in a lot of deaths, destruction, and broken friendships. While T'Challa sympathizes with what he went through, he points out that he still must answer to a lot of people whose lives he destroyed. After all, Zemo's actions led to the death of his father — but to prove further that Zemo had no right, he takes Zemo into custody rather than let him die.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: When Spider-man confronts the Vulture after the two of them discover each other's Secret Identity, Vulture defends his actions by telling Spidey he had to start his illegal weapons business to support his family. Spidey responds that, regardless of his reasons, selling illegal weapons to criminals is still wrong.
    • Black Panther: This is used on both sides. Killmonger argues that Wakanda has advanced technology that can easily help oppressed black people all over the globe but their apathy for the rest of the world to avoid going into any conflict causes incidents like the Police Brutality on unarmed (and sometimes innocent) suspects and the following riots to happen. T'Challa counters by saying Killmonger has only become as angry and bitter as the people he hates most and his actions will bring both Wakanda and the rest of the world into ruin. T'Challa ultimately does break the masquerade, but by opening Wakanda to world trade and using Wakandan resources to establish community centers in poor neighborhoods, rather than conquering the world as Killmonger wanted.
  • Star Wars: The sequel trilogy bounces around on this a little bit with Kylo Ren. While his Start of Darkness was sympathetic (Luke sensed the darkness growing in his nephew and almost tried to kill him; Luke changed his mind in a second, but it was too late and it drove Kylo to the Dark Side), he spends the rest of the trilogy aggressively denying any attempt at reconciliation. This culminates in the moment in The Last Jedi when he and Rey join forces to defeat Snoke and his guards. After the battle is won, Rey asks him to call off the First Order fleet that is fighting the Resistance. Kylo instead takes command and has them continue doing exactly what they were doing before. At the very end of them movie, Kylo reaches out to Rey telepathically once again, but she cuts the connection, metaphorically slamming the door in his face.
  • From SHAZAM! (2019), we have Marilyn Batson, Billy's biological mother who claimed she had Billy at 17-years-old and was kicked out of the house for it. Then her boyfriend got sent to prison and she was left to raise him alone. After getting separated by Billy at a local fair, she purposely leaves him behind since she felt she couldn't raise him anymore. That being said, Marilyn clearly had no right to abandon a helpless toddler in the open, especially since she didn't even bother to make sure he was sent to a stable environment. Even worse is that when Billy finds her after all those lost years, she doesn't return the affection and shows no concern for Billy possibly having a hard life because of the abandonment. Overall, it shows that she didn't care about Billy's safety so much as she is free from the responsibility of raising him. Billy is understandably upset by this and rightfully leaves her to embrace his new life with his foster family.
  • Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil: When Dale meets Chad, he is told his tragic backstory: Chad's parents were at the same campsite 20 years ago when killer hillbillies attacked and killed everyone but his mother, who they tortured to insanity, and then he grew up hearing the story from his grandmother. Dale sheepishly admits that while what he went through was awful, Dale and everybody else had nothing to do with his horrendous actions. And it gets worse from there.
    Dale: Okay, first of all. I just wanna say, that I am sorry that your family got massacred. That is awful. Secondly, I didn't have anything to do with that. Okay? I was like six years old at the time.
  • Madea Goes to Jail: It's one of the major themes of the film. Because of her past, Candace became emotionally damaged, dropping out of school and eventually becoming a prostitute and drug addict. It takes going to jail, help from a minister named Ellen, and ultimately meeting Madea for her to change. Specifically, one scene depicts several inmates in a class about forgiveness. Several of the inmates tried to play the victim and blame their troubles on individuals who lead them down their path. In an inspirational moment, Madea reprimands them and telling them they are just avoiding responsibility and that a tragic past does not excuse whatever they did to get arrested.

  • 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 from 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 a grown man who needs to 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.
  • 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 their similar backgrounds.
  • 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 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.
  • 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, who was sold into slavery as a child, 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents Of Shield has the team's arch-foe, Grant Ward. Even before being revealed to be evil, Ward's tragic past as a victim of abuse (from both his parents and elder brother) was referenced more than once. He is eventually outed as a bad guy towards the end of season one and remains Team Coulson's most persistent and reoccurring enemy through the next season-and-a-half. Despite this, he likes to constantly tell others (and himself) that his actions are either not his fault or are completely justified due to his terrible childhood, but the other main characters constantly make it a point to call him out on his actions and even say that in his anger towards his family, he's become something worse than they.
  • In Arrow, Oliver rejects Emiko's excuse that their father's neglect is the cause of all of her actions, pointing out that everyone is responsible for their own actions.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): The Cylon "John" (Number One, though he prefers "Cavil") is hateful towards his creators for giving him a human body and dismissive towards their care for humanity, hatching an Evil Plan to wipe their memories and annihilate mankind as some sort of lesson to them. However, one of his creators points out that he never truly attempted to become more machine-like, instead debasing himself by pursuing revenge and wallowing in hatred, a very human reaction.
  • Black Mirror: USS Callister: Said almost word-for-word by Walton. During the escape attempt, Walton starts to give a heartfelt apology to Daly for his disrespectful and dismissive attitude towards him in real life that led to their entire situation, which seems to get through to Daly somewhat, but then Walton angrily takes it back by saying it still doesn't excuse throwing Walton's son out of an airlock, and then telling Daly "Fuck you to death!" before he commits a Heroic Sacrifice to save the rest of the crew.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Jake is a big fan of using his past without his father to justify a lot of his more childish behavior or even to try to gather sympathy. He uses this as an excuse for being a jerk to Santiago when she tries to host a Thanksgiving dinner to the detectives since his memories of Thanksgiving weren't pleasant and again to try to convince Captain Holt to give him half a million dollars to pay for his apartment. It doesn't work on his captain, and he eventually drops it, as a sign of Character Development.
      Holt: I won't give you half a million dollars because of your mildly sad childhood.
    • Ironically, in one episode Jake himself gives us this gem, often used in fandom as a rebuttal towards Draco in Leather Pants:
      Jake: Cool motive! Still murder.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Out of Mind, Out of Sight," Marcie Ross had a Friendless Background and was ignored by everyone, including the teachers, to the extent that the Hellmouth's influence literally turned her invisible. Marcie subsequently becomes a psychotic Invisible Jerkass who takes violent revenge against everyone who scorned and ignored her. Buffy is initially sympathetic to Marcie but drops it when she realizes just how twisted she's become and how far she's willing to go for payback.
      Buffy: Y'know, I really felt sorry for you. You've suffered. But there's one thing I really didn't factor into all this. You're a thundering loony!
    • In "Lie to Me," Ford is Secretly Dying from brain tumors and wants to become a vampire to escape that fate. To that end, he's willing to sacrifice Buffy and several innocents to Spike in exchange for being turned. While Buffy is sympathetic to Ford's plight when he reveals his brain cancer, she still points out that he's essentially committing mass murder, and nothing will make that okay.
      Buffy: Isn't this exactly how you imagined it? You tell me how you've suffered and I feel sorry for you. Well, I do feel sorry for you, and if those vampires come in here and start feeding, I'll kill you myself!
    • Similarly with Faith in the third season. Buffy explicitly mentions Faith's bad childhood as a reason to give her a second chance when she has a Face–Heel Turn in the third season, but later on when Faith expects Willow to offer her a chance at redeeming herself, Willow denies her that and said she had Buffy and the others supporting her but now she has nothing.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Billy is a bully that constantly pesters Sabrina's friend Susie, who is struggling with her gender identity. At one point, he tries to bully her in a bookshop, but is stopped by Sabrina's aunt, Hilda, who is able to read his mind and tells him that what he has been through was awful, hinting at a terrible thing that was done to him when he was 11 and at summer camp and nobody would believe him, she shows sympathy for his pain, but tells him that the fact something awful happened to him gives him no right to bully someone else, especially someone so much smaller than he is.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Rebecca herself gets to this conclusion by the Season 3 finale "Nathaniel is Irrelevant", when she realizes that she has been being too much of a Karma Houdini and wants to be held accountable for her actions, mentioning that she had previously looked for ways to blame her parents' lousy parenting or any other reason, but this time she wants to deal with the consequences of what she has done.
  • CSI: A Serial Killer tries to use the MAOA gene as part of what amounts to an Insanity Defense. Dr. Langston blows it out of the water by testifying that he himself has the same variant of that gene, but he became, well, a CSI.
  • CSI: NY: Mac shuts down a Serial Killer's Motive Rant about being disinherited and mistreated by his adoptive family with a retort that boils down to "lots of people have rough childhoods, most of them don't become serial killers".
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Hunter Zolomon/Zoom falls into this. He had Abusive Parents, including watching his father kill his mother, leading to him being put into an orphanage at a young age. Zoom is convinced that Barry, who had a similar past of having his mother killed when he was a kid, could easily turn out like him. He tries to prove it by murdering Barry's father in front of him. However, despite this traumatic event, Barry still remains righteous and never succumbs to becoming the sociopath that Zoom is. Ultimately Barry shows that Zoom is rotten to the core, Freudian Excuse or not.
    • In an earlier episode, Barry and Iris find Captain Cold in their house, who warns Barry that the Weather Wizard and the Trickster are after him. When Iris asks what he's doing there, this exchange happens:
      Captain Cold: Didn't you hear? I had a rough childhood.
      Iris: Everyone in this room had a rough childhood, get over it!
    • Barry himself falls into this at the end of Season 2 and beginning of Season 3 when he is so distraught over his father's death that he goes back in time and saves his mother, something he almost did in the Season 1 finale, and creates a very different timeline. When things start to go wrong, he lets his mother get killed in the past again, only to find that the seemingly restored timeline isn't quite the same. He tries to change it again, only to be stopped by Jay Garrick, who tells him that attempting to do so will only make things worse, and he shouldn't abuse his powers just because of his traumatic past.
  • The Good Place: Throughout the first season, Eleanor often mentioned how her terrible upbringing messed her up. She is then quickly called out when the so-called "Real" Eleanor (the good Eleanor that was supposed to go to the Good Place) mentions that she was orphaned twice in her life but still managed to be a high-achieving lawyer and humanitarian and the demon Trevor points out the fact that a lot of people have messed up childhoods but don't become massive jerkasses like Eleanor herself. Then, in the later episodes "Mindy St. Clair" and "Existential Crisis", it's shown that her parents really were every bit as terrible as Eleanor described, but even still, this is never used as a justification for her actions, just as an explanation for it, and she accepts that she can't keep invoking that excuse and has to rise above that.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In season 9, Marshall has an imagine spot where he talks with Lily, 7-years-ago Lily, his father and briefly, Robin, about a fight he just had with Lily where he accused her of considering him and their family to be a consolation prize for her failed career and brings up when she left him for a summer seven years prior. When he attempts to make a point out of her biggest mistake, Marvin calls him out on it.
    Marvin: What's your point? That just because she hurt you, you now get to hurt her? That's not how it works in a marriage, son.
  • Jessica Jones:
    • The titular character delivers a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech in season one to a woman who plots to kill her as a way to avenge her mother that died due to the other gifted Destructive Saviors of the Marvel Universe.
    • Kilgrave is an even stronger example. As a sociopathic prick who uses his mind-controlling powers to kill people, rape women and generally abuse others for his own selfish desires, he repeatedly tries to justify his behavior and blame everyone else. It is later revealed that when he was ten years old, his parents subjected him to frequent, painful experimentation causing Jessica to feel sympathy for him. However, it is later revealed that his parents were actually trying to cure his disease, leading to Jessica realizing he's just a monster who enjoys hurting others and tells him "You're not ten anymore."
    • Jessica herself is on the receiving end of this in the second season when her mother debunks her claims that her abrasive and cynical demeanor is a response to the tragedy she went through in her life by pointing out that she was just as anti-social and needlessly hostile to others as a child before anything happened to her.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017), Charles tries to justify Sir's "prickly" behavior as the result of him having "a very terrible childhood." Klaus sarcastically responds "I understand. I'm having a very terrible childhood right now."
  • Supernatural:
    • Subverted in "Jus in Bello". After catching a pair of violent Satanic murderers, FBI Agent Henriksen addresses the upbringing they must've had before saying it still doesn't justify their actions... of course, he's saying this to the two heroes of the show, who aren't guilty of (most of) the crimes they're accused of. While their childhood really was bad, he has also figured it to be even worse to rationalize how the brothers came to be as seemingly deranged and delusional as they are. Unlike most examples on this page, all this combined with his borderline Smug Snake behavior in the scene makes him come off as a Jerk Ass, though he still comes out of the episode looking pretty damn heroic thanks to more screentime.
    Henriksen: Oh yeah, I forgot. You fight monsters. Sorry, Dean. Truth is, your daddy brainwashed you with all that Devil talk and no doubt touched you in a bad place. That’s all. That’s reality.
    Dean: Why don’t you shut your mouth?
    Henriksen: Well, guess what. Life sucks, get a helmet. ‘Cause everybody’s got a sob story. But not everybody becomes a killer.
    • Also inverted in the case of Bela from Season 3. Dean is irritated by her behavior and flat-out asks her what happened to make her the way she is, mockingly suggesting her father didn't hug her enough. He later finds out that she killed her parents and when he confronts her on it, she has a flashback indicating that her father sexually abused her — before smiling and telling him that they were "wonderful people" who she only killed for money. It makes her look more despicable than ever to the other characters, but had the strange inverse effect on much of the audience of making them feel incredibly sorry for her when before they'd hated her guts, despite Henriksen having voiced the above take on Freudian Excuses only a few episodes before, because it drove home how deeply damaged and closed-off she is that she refused to make herself vulnerable even to save her own life. Thus playing straight the often intended side effect of Freudian Excuses to make the antagonist sympathetic, which this trope usually subverts.
    • Played straight with Lucifer in Season 5, who strongly believes he was wronged by God when he was ordered to be imprisoned for thousands of years in Hell by his most beloved brother, the Archangel Michael. Lucifer's take on it makes it sound like God did all this just because Lucifer criticized God's beloved humans as flawed and murderous. Word of God (ie Eric Kripke) even agreed that he was a sympathetic, tragic villain. This ignores canon established less than five episodes previous that Lucifer was actually imprisoned after he forcibly transformed a human soul into the first demon (Lilith), which involves massive amounts of spiritual mutilation and torture to the point that the person loses all humanity and memories of their human life, and becomes pure evil. Lucifer tries to convince many other characters of his righteousness, but it works a grand total of once. Every other single character he tries to persuade reject his attempts to get sympathy, treat him with disdain, and even his own brothers call him a Psychopathic Manchild who caused his own problems and drove God away.
      • Funnily enough, his argument suddenly gets stronger in Season 11 as the Mark of Cain is RetConed into the show as an ancient, powerful force of darkness that corrupts everyone who bears it — with God having entrusted it to Lucifer to bear, and influencing him to turn him as evil as he is, taking away Lucifer's responsibility for his own Fallen Hero status. By the time this comes out however, Lucifer's character is written much differently from his Season 5 incarnation, into an overly comedic, thoroughly evil villain who no longer cares about getting the heroes to agree with him and is exactly the kind of Psychopathic Manchild he was described as back in Season 5. However, when this possibility is suggested to God, he rejects it and says that Lucifer was always like this, and that while the Mark may have made him worse it didn't make him the way he was, and Lucifer further actively tries to blame the Mark for his misdeeds while also saying that they are no excuse for being cast out. While God is presented as something of an insensitive jerk, Lucifer is still handwaving his own atrocities and even resents God for still controlling him when he stops Lucifer from murdering Dean on a whim. God does later concede that he thought Lucifer would have been strong enough to contain the Mark and was aghast when he too failed, but since Lucifer ends up going right back to trying to kill, conquer and enslave everyone once God is out of the picture later on, it's fair to say that the Mark (which he hasn't had for millennia) is only part of the problem at best, the bigger part being Lucifer himself.
  • The BAU in Criminal Minds have to figure out why the serial killers they hunt down are killing people the way they are, often going into their tragic and traumatic backstories. However, they only really 'sympathize' so that they can track down the killer's next move and talk them down from hurting their latest target, and are under no illusions about how they are still psychopaths and murderers who need to be brought down. This is spectacularly highlighted by JJ in "The Longest Night":
    "Look, I'm supposed to emphasize with you. Sympathize. Understand. But I can't. That would be a lie. The truth is, I don't understand what you've done. I don't sympathize with you killing people all these years, and I especially don't understand you taking Ellie. What I can do is tell you what a mother should tell you — that you can't take away your pain by hurting someone else. That it doesn't make all the nights you spent alone any better if you scare someone else the way you're scaring Ellie. What happened to you, it isn't fair, but what you're doing to her isn't fair either. And if anyone understands what that feels like, it's YOU."
  • The Umbrella Academy: At one point, Vanya and Allison discuss after the former accidentally says that the latter is probably better off away from her family (including her daughter). Allison rebukes that she wouldn't ask Vanya relationship advice, since she would never connect to anyone or let herself love anyone, and is likely to not have had any relationships. Vanya rebukes that this was due to how her father raised her but Allison says that she is not a kid anymore and she can make her own decisions, such as how she decided to write a book to expose all of their family dirty laundry to the world.
    • Allison also recognized this in herself, since her and thier brothers went along with their father's treatment of Vanya well into adulthood. She attempts to rectify this by apologizing and talking with Vanya. Then it turns out that Reginald was still controlling and isolating Vanya by drugging her and kept the brainwashing in tact. So it didn't matter what Vanya did, she would would never leave his abuse.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Lilian uses the death of her husband to justify her animosity towards Artie and why she opposes gentrification so much. He is sympathetic to it... up until he learns that said husband actually died 40 years ago, and Lilian has been resisting moving on and living in the past ever since and he calls her out on it. They start arguing and he calls her out on the fact that when they were young, they were fighting for change, and that change can be something good.
  • In Friends, Phoebe often plays the victim card (by bringing up her adoptive mom's suicide or having to live on the streets as a teenager) in order to avoid punishment by making the others feel bad for her. However, as the series goes on, her friends wise up to this and start refusing to accept it as an excuse for her behavior.
  • In the Power Rangers Time Force episode "Ransik Lives", Wes brings up that he feels sorry for Ransik after hearing of the villain's origins of being an outcast because of his mutation. Jen explains to Wes that there were people who tried to help Ransik, but he kept pushing them away. She also points out that Ransik's past suffering does not warrant the evil he's done.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Warlord", Kes is Body Surfed by Villain of the Week Tieran, who rose from the gutter to become a great military leader and then an immortal planetary dictator. At one point Tieran rants over how he was abandoned on the streets by his mother because he was assumed to be too sickly to survive. During a Battle in the Center of the Mind, the normally kind and gentle Kes says just what she thinks of him.
    Kes: I know all about your life. I know about your suffering. It doesn't justify what you've become. You're a monster, Tieran, and I have no compassion for you.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • 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 drunk 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!?

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: A recurring thing is that a crime is a crime, no matter what the victim has done to the killer or how much of an Asshole Victim they are, nothing justifies killing 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, it's still no "Get out of Jail Free" Card 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 Acro tearfully says that he's just a murderer.
  • The Amazing Spider Man 2: Cletus Kasady is a nihilistic Serial Killer who is noted to have an abusive childhood. Notably, Kasady himself 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.
  • Dying Light: Rais had a younger brother, who always advocated for peace when Rais himself would speak of war. He is described as the only person Rais ever loved, and whose death was one of the reasons why Rais went off the deep end. That being said, the survivor who tells Crane of this openly says that his brother's demise does not excuse the atrocities Rais commits.
  • At the end of Far Cry 4, an interesting example happens where Big Bad Pagan Min explains his Freudian Excuse, and then he himself admits that he was just using his infant daughter's murder as an excuse to do whatever the hell he wanted to do.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Laslow is shocked to hear about Peri killing her servants, and asks if she has any idea what the people close to her victims feel like when losing a loved one. After hearing her backstory- that her mother was murdered by a servant, and she ended up killing other servants who reminded her of the murderer- Laslow regrets saying that Peri doesn't understand the feeling of losing someone she loves, but insists that she think about that before she kills someone.
  • New Danganronpa V3: 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 Octopath Traveler, the first boss of H'aanit's story is the Ghisarma, a ferocious beast that was acting so violent because it was driven out of its old home by another beast. However, H'aanit doesn't believe it justifies its actions and points out that it could have learned to live in its new home without taking out its anger and pain on creatures that weren't responsible for its plight.
  • Oxenfree: The Sunken are the ghosts of people who were teleported to another dimension when the submarine they were in was destroyed and eventually lost sense of self and sanity. Alex acknowledges this is terrible and even tries to help them get over it, but very firmly states that it won't justify what they have done to her friends, or their attempt to take over their bodies. It's implied that The Sunken agree with what Alex is saying, but are so desperate for their plans to succeed that they don't care about the morality of their actions anymore.
    Alex: That is no excuse!
    The Sunken: It's the only excuse you're going to get.
  • Persona 5 investigates this trope. Several of the targets claim in their Motive Rants that whatever they did wasn't really their fault; society made them gain distorted desires and create Palaces. Ranging from unrealistic expectations due to previous accomplishments (Kamoshida won a gold medal in the Olympics), to their horrible past (Kaneshiro and Okumura used to be desperately poor but are now fabulously wealthy), and believing themselves to be better than others. Even the Traitor of the party blames how society treated them for being an illegitimate child and having big-time Bastard Angst for his father (Japanese culture has this be a much more serious issue than in the West and the Traitor's mother committed suicide, leading for him to be bounced around foster homes. The Phantom Thieves always hold the belief that this never excuses the actions of their targets, especially if one recalls how badly society has treated the Thieves themselves, and none of them chose to shrug their shoulders and just blame someone else.
    • Kaneshiro especially stands out, considering how flabbergasted the party is that his desire for "a place to belong" led him to become a Yakuza boss who blackmails high schoolers with drug money. Makoto, who was in danger of being sold into sex slavery, venomously tells Kaneshiro that he'll have a place to "belong" for the rest of his life: prison.
    • However, the Thieves still acknowledge society's role in screwing up people, and even acknowledge how they could've ended up like the Traitor had they not met The Protagonist and become Phantom Theives in the first place. In fact, the entire exploration serves as the basis for the Final Boss. Mementos is the collective Palace of the population of Tokyo. Representing the Sin of Sloth, it examines how people are willing to ignore atrocities and inadvertably screw themselves over trying to get by. They're willing to give up freedom for someone else to handle the big problems they may have created. A literal prison of their own creation, but willing to do defend out of the promise of safety and order. This is a very particular problem give how societal order and knowing your place are massive cultural pillars in Japanese society. The Big Bad himself was formed from the peoples' warped desire for a stabilizing force and was the reason why the protagonist was chosen to stop them. The protagonist was such a threat that it took out Big Good Igor and played the protagonist like a fiddle to try and break them in a twisted game, with the other player being the Traitor Goro Akechi (who was granted his power two years sooner to ensure he would not meet up with anyone who could help him.) Ultimately, the game could end in different ways. The protagonist could choose to forsake the people and join up with the villain, remaining as Phantom Thieves and becoming shadow rulers of Tokyo, heavily implying that they turn Knight Templar since they see as society and people of incapable of taking care of themselves without them. The true ending has the protagonist reinforce their faith in humanity and give the people of Tokyo back their freedom and responsability entailing with it.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Many on Batman's side call out Regime Superman, stating that while what The Joker did to Superman was horrible, namely tricking him into killing his wife Lois Lane and nuking Metropolis, it still doesn't absolve him of the evil deeds he committed as the High Councilor. They state that the bad events that affected him doesn't mean that he should vent it out on others. Likewise, Regime Superman's allies get the same treatment from the Insurgency in the sequel.
  • Pyre: If the Reader talks with Volfred about the previous Nightwings, he'll mention that what caused the group's fallout was that one of their members, motivated by her past traumas and anger, betrayed them. Volfred says that years later reflecting about her actions, he has come to pity her, though he clearly states that her past, while sad, does not make what she did right or acceptable.
  • Tales Series
    • In Tales of Symphonia, just before the Final Boss fight against him, Lord Yggdrasill details about how he was a victim of Fantastic Racism, and how his plan to make everyone into lifeless beings will make everyone equal. The player's party tears into this line of thinking, saying that not only will this plan not work, the bad guy has done things far worse in the name of his goal, including rounding up humans for lethal experiments in ranches, and dooming two worlds to destruction. Zelos in particular - who himself has a list of Freudian Excuses a mile long - gives the villain the harshest rebuke of the party.
      Zelos: You don't get to act like you're the victim here. It doesn't even come close to justifying all the things you've done.
    • In Tales of Berseria, this gets discussed quite a bit to serve the contrasting mindsets of Anti-Hero Velvet and Anti-Villain Artorias. Whereas Velvet openly acknowledges that she's a "monster" who has no excuse for killing people in the name of revenge, Artorius believes that he is righteous and knows what's best for the world. Artorius goes forward with his plan of Emotion Suppression after his wife and unborn child both died on the same Scarlet Night, filling him with hatred and deciding that all emotion needed to be suppressed for the sake of stopping the daemonblight. Once Velvet and her party learn this, they admit they can see why Artorius is acting the way he is. However, they also say that his plan is still insane, it doesn't justify all he's done in the name of his goal, and that he needs to be stopped at all costs.
  • World of Warcraft: During Garrosh's duel with Thrall, Thrall tells Garrosh that he failed the Horde during his destructive reign as Warchief. Garrosh responds by telling him that Thrall had made him, a man with no experience in leadership, the Horde's Warchief during a severe crisis that he wasn't equipped to deal with, and that it was Thrall who failed him. When Thrall has Garrosh in his death grip, Garrosh states that Thrall was responsible for making him into who he was. Thrall responds by telling him he had chosen his own destiny and then kills him. Interestingly enough, Garrosh had previously mocked Thrall as a poor excuse of a Warchief and was glad to have replaced him.
  • Dead Rising: Carlito Keyes instigated the Willamette zombie outbreak, killing and zombifying thousands of innocents and paving the course for thousands more to die as the series continues thanks to planting dozens of infected children elsewhere, because he hates Americans for what the US government did to his hometown of Santa Cabeza in accidentally causing the original zombie outbreak during their experiments to produce more beef and ended up wiping the village off the map in the resulting cover-up. Frank West, while sympathetic to an extent to the point he tells him he'll reveal the government cover-up, also rightfully points out that doesn't give Carlito the right to intentionally start an outbreak amongst people who didn't even know about this.
  • Super Robot Wars: In any games featured Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, this trope is usually how the good guys prevent Kira Yamato from falling into Heroic BSoD due to Rau Le Creuset's Breaking Speech about how Humans Are the Real Monsters. They stated that while Rau might have a bad past, it doesn't excuse the multitude of his psychotic, genocidal actions as the result, so if there's someone who needs to pay for their sins, it's not humans, it's just Rau and his extremely close-minded way of thinking. Every time this happens, Kira ends up agreeing with the good guys and they proceeded to shoot down Rau without being affected with his speech, meaning that it's considered like an utter bullshit while shooting him in the face.
  • Section 8: Prejudice: General Salvador, the primary villain of the game, is a man who just followed orders to exterminate any alien species the US Empire encountered on inhabitable worlds, and is now trying to take revenge on the Empire for it. During the final cutscene protagonist Alex Corde acknowledges that what the Empire did was reprehensible, but "killing millions more isn't the answer!"
  • 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 The Evil Within, Ruvik attempts to invoke Freudian Excuse by showing Sebastian memories from his past. Such memories include a group of villagers burning down Ruvik's barn, unaware that he and his sister were still inside. This resulted in Ruvik's physical deformities and the Heroic Sacrifice of his sister. Ruvik's father also locked him away and lied to his mother that he was killed alongside his sister. However, Sebastian doesn't buy any of it. Considering everything Ruvik did following such incidents, including killing his innocent mother, Sebastian makes it clear that Ruvik brought all his subsequent problems on himself.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Adam Taurus, leader of the White Fang, uses the oppression he and his people endured by the human race as an excuse to commit horrible act throughout the show. However, during the fight between him and Blake in Season 6, Adam's mask is removed and his face is revealed. He explains to Blake that despite the horrors he faced from the humans, nothing hurt more than her leaving him. However, Blake points out that Adam brought most of his problems on himself, not to mention his determination to dominate and control her. Yang joins the fight who Adam is jealous of, and together they defeat him.

    Web Original 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Android 16 calls out Gohan for his Suicidal Pacifist actions by telling him that just because Goku isn't Father of the Year material doesn't mean that the entire world has to suffer because he wants to be the bigger man.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: While hiding out in Zuko's summer home in the episode "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King", Team Avatar finds the picture of a smiling and sweet boy and tease Zuko about it. But much to their dismay, Zuko reveals that it's not him - it's a picture of his abusive and sociopathic father Fire Lord Ozai. The gang is confused at this, wondering how this innocent-looking baby in the picture would one day become the Ax-Crazy tyrant they're now up against. They even briefly wonder if it played a role in his decisions, but ultimately conclude Ozai is a horrible man who should be stopped.
    • Earlier in that exact same location was the episode "The Beach", where Zuko at one point defaults to his Dark and Troubled Past in an argument with Mai, who is not swayed by it. Even the creators' commentary makes a note of this: that Mai already knows about Zuko's past trauma but that said trauma can't be used as an excuse for his bad behavior.
    • Also in "The Beach", Azula seems to embrace this trope.
    Azula: My own mother...thought I was a monster. (beat) She was right, of course, but it still hurt.
  • BoJack Horseman:
    • BoJack gets repeatedly called out on the fact that he keeps blaming his very Dark and Troubled Past for his faulty behavior and expects everyone to just forgive any bad actions he does based on it. One of the deepest examples occurs in the episode "It's You", where Todd points out that while BoJack's childhood is bleak and he himself is suffering from depression, those things don't absolve him of the damage he causes to others, no matter how self-destructive he has become because of it.
    • Season 4 reveals that Beatrice Horseman, BoJack's abusive mom, didn't have such a great childhood herself. Her older brother was Killed In Action during World War Two, which led to her mother becoming depressed and emotionally unstable, and her father was an insensitive sexist jerk who refused to deal with his wife’s emotions and eventually had her lobotomized. Thanks to the lobotomy, her mother didn't notice that Beatrice contracted scarlet fever, which led to her father, after showcasing he still treats his wife like crap despite her mental state, traumatically burning all of Beatrice's possessions while offhandedly mentioning that she might need to get lobotomized as well if she kept crying. He then proceeded to take a much greater role in her life, trying to steer her down the path of dutiful housewife to an heir to a company that would make a good business partner, including criticizing her weight (along with the popular girls at school), as he takes gratitude in the fact that her swollen throat from scarlet fever can help her loose weight, which leads Beatrice to become severely weight conscious as an adult that she takes weight loss pills in order to keep her slim figure (and to complain about how pregnancy “ruined” her beauty and figure after she has BoJack). Then when she met Butterscotch, she had a rebellious one night stand resulting in the pregnancy that would become BoJack. Beatrice refused to abort the baby, and the two of them eloped and moved to California, and their marriage soon fell apart in part because of his inability to make money through his writing. However, it's made perfectly clear that nothing that she went through excuses her atrocious treatment of her son and the long-lasting effects it has on him.
  • In the The Boondocks episode "The Color Ruckus", we learn that much of Uncle Ruckus' personality (particularly his hatred of other black people) resulted from extremely traumatizing childhood abuse by his hateful father, Mister Ruckus. It later turns out that Mister became the way he is because he was also treated like shit by his own mother, Nelly Ruckus, along with several racist white men during his work. After Nelly passes away, Mister takes his family to her funeral just to celebrate her demise. However, Uncle finally gains the courage to stand up to his father and call him out for taking out his frustrations on his own family.
    Uncle Ruckus: No no, that's okay. Keep talking. Keep talking, Daddy. That's the eulogy this woman deserved. She did this to you, and now you're doing it to me. You've been doing it our whole lives, and it's getting old! It's gettin' real old, old man! So get it out yo' system, then sit down AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!
  • South Park:
    • "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" deals with the boys unwittingly joining the North American Man Boy Love Association and narrowly escaping being sexually abused by the pedophiles. At the end, the men are all arrested and the leader tries Playing the Victim Card by explaining that his attraction to little boys isn't something he can control, and that it's wrong for him to be persecuted for just being himself. Kyle's response?
    Kyle: Dude. You have sex. With Children!
    • Kyle Broflowski in "Splatty Tomato" who tries to justify his actions to Ike by telling him he's been through a lot in the past few episodes, only for Ike to angrily retort by saying that his actions resulted in the president nuking Canada, Ike's birth country, and causing millions of deaths.
    • Heidi Turner, after hearing Kyle's "The Reason You Suck" Speech from the same episode, realizes that even though she suffered a mentally abusive relationship with Cartman, it doesn't mean she can become a horrible person because of it, which leads to her decision to break up with Cartman.
  • Wakfu has this as a Recurring Element. All of the Big Bad faced each season have varying degrees of sympathetic reasons and are all Anti Villains, however, every season they're called out for their actions and their justifications at the end of the season:
    • Upon realizing his plan has failed, Nox bemoans the death of his family and states that he was told that he could make time go back, to meet his family again and undo the calamities he caused. When Yugo sees this, he automatically reacts with anger. Though when he sees Nox is legitimately sad, he lets him give up after he leaves, Yugo only being left with a vague impression as to what his motives were.
    Yugo: So you did all of this because you are crazy?
    • At the end of season 2, Quigly is cornered, and Yugo expands that the fact that he remembers all his past lives is not a reason for him to have done the atrocities he has, including ending several planets and starting a war against his own race.
    • In season 3, it's Amalia who gets to call out Oporo for his actions. Yes, he is a different version of Yugo and has seen everybody else of his race die, but he keeps looking for justifications for his own actions and try to show he is in the right because he is Yugo and aggressively tries to assume his place in the Brotherhood of the Tofu, ignoring those he hurt, blaming Yugo for creating him and causing every tragedy of the series to keep the Stable Time Loop, Amalie tells him in clear terms he and Yugo are nothing alike and that the latter would never dodge guilt and manipulate others like he does.
  • Weirdly both played straight and subverted in God, the Devil and Bob. When Bob's emotionally abusive father dies, he's openly upset that he wound up going to heaven despite the things he did to Bob during their lives. When God points out that his Dad was abused himself, Bob scoffs at it, pointing out that it didn't excuse the way he treated his own kids. Unusually, God fully agrees with this, acknowledging that Bob has every right to hate his father and never forgive him, but He has to take a person's past and full actions into account, and commends his father's attempts to "pass on a softer punch". Bob does come around and forgive his father after hearing God's speech, if only because the experience got him to reflect on his own shortcomings as a father.
    "It's not your job to forgive him. It's mine."
  • Family Guy: After Quagmire is arrested for statutory rape after sleeping with a teenage girl (who he met at a party he was holding for his 1000th sexual encounter; a large-mouth bass), he tries to convince the judge that his sexual deviancy is the fault of his mother, who was an even bigger deviant than him, and being raised by her warped him. The judge disagrees, pointing out that while his childhood wasn't perfect, it doesn't excuse his crime, and sentences him to prison. Brian later tells him that he's a grown man and should take responsibility for his own actions and not blame his mother for them.


Example of: