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

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

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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.

Compare Freudian Excuse Denial, when the character themselves disputes that their past is what motivates them in the present.

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In-Universe Examples Only:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Accel World
    • Near the end of the battle with Chrome Disaster, which infected Scarlet Rain's friend and "parent," Cherry Rook, the infected Cherry says that he only wanted to get stronger; it later turns out that he's afraid of being left behind by his protégé, especially since he may no longer be able to see her in real life, either. Haru/Silver Crow, however, says that all Burst Linkers want the same thing, so that doesn't excuse him turning into a monster that would even eat his own "child.".
    • 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.
  • 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 were 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cells at Work!: White Blood Cell tells Cancer Cell that while he feels for him wanting to be treated like a regular cell instead of an extermination target, he also points out that Cancer deliberately defied the rules of the body by proliferating, stealing nutrients and destroying normal tissue so letting him live is out of the question. Truth in Television applies since cancer is a deadly decease that is hard to treat once it appears, so you wouldn't want to feel any sympathy for it anyway.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. Said good side winds up being the key to the heroes' victory against Kid 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".
  • 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 that they kept committing crimes (such as assassinations) even after said crimes were declared as such by the Council.
    • In a bonus chapter, Erza first meets Bisca when the latter was an outlaw pretending to be part of Fairy Tail. Bisca tried to convince Erza that she had no other choice than to commit crimes to support herself and Sunny, since as an immigrant, she was having trouble finding work, but Erza refused to accept this as an excuse for Bisca's actions. That being said, Erza could forgive Bisca, and invited her to join Fairy Tail, resulting in the two becoming close friends.
  • 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 whereas 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.
  • If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord: During Latina's second day of school, her teacher spots Latina’s horn under her ribbon, physically attacks her and begins spewing anti-demon hatred, trying to turn the other students against Latina. While the students defend Latina from the teacher, she is traumatized so badly from it that she breaks off her remaining horn and nearly bleeds to death. When Dale learns what happened, he goes to the temple priestess of the school who explains that the teacher's behavior was due to her family being killed by demons. Dale points out that it doesn't excuse calling a small child an abomination, and threatens to use legal power on the temple if they attempt to cover it up (as the same thing had happened with other schools because the nun isn't just anti-demon, she's anti-anything-that-isn't-human as well and often just got transferred to another school). The priestess is forced to comply, and has the teacher fired and defrocked.
  • Isekai Quartet: Played for Laughs. After Tanya's explosive loss of temper, most of her troops are left reeling, with Warren having passed out again. She chastises them for lacking mental discipline, before Subaru points out that they simply know how scary she is. She concedes to this, then yells that it's no excuse and kicks Warren awake anyway.
  • 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. This actually proves to be a crucial piece of character development for Dio: prior to then he had inwardly tried to excuse his actions as stemming from his troubled childhood, reasoning that the Joestars were just rich snobs who deserved his hatred, his grand plan was merely to kill them and steal their fortune, and never really thinking of himself as a bad person and that he was only doing what anyone else in his situation would do. It's only after it's spelled out for him that Dio realizes Speedwagon's assessment was completely right, at which point he becomes willing to discard his own humanity and fully embraces being evil, no longer even pretending to justify his crimes.
  • Kill la Kill: Despite the fact that Satsuki's actions were noble from the start, and risking her life to save Ryuko after the latter was brainwashed, Ryuko herself notes that doesn't excuse her iron-fisted rule over Honnouji Academy. It takes a heartfelt apology from her for Ryuko to forgive, and accept her as an ally and sister.
  • In Kinnikuman: Scramble For The Throne, Robin Mask learns that Kinnikuman Mariposa became a thief because he grew up poor, and develops Sympathy for the Devil. Terryman interjects that Kin, who they are fighting for, also grew up poor due to being stranded on Earth as a baby, but managed to overcome it without falling to the dark side. This motivates Robin to keep going and win.
  • 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.
  • In Lily C.A.T., Hiro murdered the three men who’d forced his sister into drugs and prostitution, which led to her unfortunate death. Barry states that he did feel sorry for Hiro, but Hiro murdering the men torpedoed Barry’s entire investigation into their prostitution ring and two and a half years of work amounted to nothing.
  • In Monster, Dr. Tenma suggests that Johan Liebert's Ax-Crazy nature is the fault of the people who indoctrinated him in Kinderheim 511. Ex-agent Mr. Hartmann gleefully denies this, saying that while he and his fellows did try to turn children into vicious soldiers, Johan is just a uniquely destructive human.
    Hartmann: He was more than human, a monster, from the beginning!
  • My Hero Academia
    • Midoriya feels sympathy for Todoroki's crappy childhood under Endeavor. However, Midoriya still calls out Todoroki for only using half his Quirk — Todoroki uses only the ice of his Fire and Ice Quirk both to honor his mother and to spite his father — since it insults every other hero by not giving it his all, purely out of spite. Midoriya even once said "It's your Quirk, not his." Later chapters reveal that not only was Todoroki being spiteful, but also impractical. Besides the fact that overusing his ice would lead to him succumbing to cold, Endeavor worked Todoroki 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, Todoroki, in theory, can because of the balancing capabilities of his Quirk. Tetsutetsu (who is unaware of Todoroki's problems) also chides Todoroki for not going full-out, as his steel is able to handle Todoroki's ice and fire and has pushed himself to his limits like the others. Realizing that the two of them have a point, Todoroki starts learning to control his flames more as the story goes on.
    • 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.
    • A lot of the villains have absolutely terrible backstories as a result of falling through the cracks of the hero system. Himiko's blood-based Quirk was seen as disgusting and she was forced to suppress it, Twice's self-duplication Quirk combined with being a petty criminal resulted in him being a paranoid wreck, Dabi's fire Quirk is so powerful that he can't control it and hurts everyone including himself, and Tomura accidentally killed his entire family when his Quirk first activated because of his abusive father. The heroes always react with a speech along the lines of "That's terrible, and hopefully we can fix the system to prevent things like that from happening again... after we stop you from killing people."
  • 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.
    • Rather than kill him when he has the chance, Naruto chooses to listen to Pain's story. Once he's done, he remarks that while he understands his hatred for Konoha and his Humans Are Bastards mindset, he still cannot forgive him for his actions and admits he still wants to kill him, but he won't because he wants to believe in Jiraiya's teachings instead of falling prey to the Cycle of Revenge.
    • 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 Neon Genesis Evangelion Gendo Ikari of all people is finally hit with this in End of Evangelion when Instrumentality occurs and he is confronted by a vision of his wife. Gendo confesses that his inability to be a parent to Shinji was because he felt that he deserved love from no one and thought he would only cause pain to Shinji if he didn't abandon him to live with an apathetic guardian. Yui, while not spiteful, gently questions this reasoning. Rei and Kaworu join in and add their own two cents: Gendo simply ran away from his son and closed his heart off from others like a coward. He could have forged strong relationships with the people around him and moved on from Yui's death. Gendo weakly agrees that he was nothing but a coward and deserved to die for his sins.
  • In Light Novel Sword Art Online, Grimlock, the culprit behind the murder of Griselda in "A Murder Case in the Area" hired Laughing Coffin to kill his wife because he was disturbed by how much more confident and assertive she'd become in the game, and was afraid of her divorcing them if they got back to the real world. Kirito and Asuna do not sympathize, with Kirito expressing disbelief that Grimlock would do something so terrible for those reasons, and Asuna goes as far as to say that Grimlock never truly loved Griselda.
  • The Testament of Sister New Devil: The Hero Clan has it out for Basara 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 has 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.

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

    Comic Books 
  • In a Silver Age Captain America story, Cap is a prisoner of the Red Skull who regales him of his difficult life before becoming Adolf Hitler's hatchetman. Cap dismisses that history considering that lots of people have had tough times in their pasts, including his own, and is in no mood for sob stories, especially from a monstrous Nazi like the Skull.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Killing Joke does this to The Joker, whose "one bad day" proves to be just an excuse as he neither knows nor cares 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!
  • Maus: Vladek alienates everyone with his obnoxiously stingy and controlling behavior. He claims his behavior came from being in the Nazi death camps, which is something that his son, Art, who was born after World War II, believed during his childhood. However, Mala, who also survived the camps, points out how she didn't end up like that and neither did any of their friends who are also Holocaust survivors.
  • 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.
  • New X-Men: Academy X: Kimura was born to an abusive alcoholic father and a negligent mother. Her school life was similar, as she was abused and tormented by her peers. Through unspecified means at some point in time, Kimura's grandmother became her caregiver. At once, her grandmother tried to heal the emotional damage inflicted upon Kimura through nurturing, love, and understanding. However, by that point the emotional scars were permanent and her grandmother's attempts to reach her were futile. After her grandmother's fatal heart attack, Kimura took off, eventually coming into contact with the Facility. She then underwent some unspecified procedure that granted her physical invulnerability, density control, and reconstruction. She then exacted revenge against those in her past who had wronged her. During her time at the Facility, Kimura eventually assumed the same abusive role as the people who victimized her in the past, particularly to Laura. When Emma Frost learns of this by reading her mind, she admits that her past was horrible and no child deserves the life she was born into. However, Emma is not sympathetic with her, and is in fact deeply disgusted with her, pointing out she is a bully plain and simple. She became the very person she hated and feared growing up. She made Laura into her victim and gave her the same horrible life she lived through and didn't care because even though she knew all too well the pain Laura suffered, and she enjoyed inflicting it. Emma doesn't hesitate to mind-wipe her, making her forget about her grandmother — the only influential positive person in her life — creating "a deep void that will cause [her] pain for a lifetime."
    Emma Frost: You are a bully plain and simple. A product from your past... Being kicked around your whole life an alcoholic father and uncaring mother at home, only to find the same waiting for you from your peers in the schoolyard, day in and day out. You were born into a life you did not deserve... A life no child deserves. Someone needs to fill the role of the victim and you played that part for so many until your grandmother came to your rescue. She called you her "sweet child." She did everything she could to undo the damage everyone else had done. But sadly she came too late, all that hope and good you held onto was beaten out long ago. After your grandmother's heart attack, you found your way to the Facility to the men that could give what you wanted badly... Revenge. A hollow prize, but one you begged for. And once you'd gotten the best of those who wronged you, you became the very person you hated and feared growing up. And X-23 played the role of your victim. Like you, Laura didn't deserve that horrible life, no child does remember? But you didn't care. Even though you knew all too well the pain she suffered, you enjoyed inflicting it. You still enjoy it. That's why you're a bully.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
    • Kaine Parker, one of Spider-Man's clones, is noted to have suffered in the past. When the Kravinoffs embark on a warpath against Peter's "spider family" in the "Grim Hunt" storyline, Kaine is fully prepared to bail out, insisting to Peter that they can't win and they should just "run and screw the rest." In response, Spidey actually punches Kaine in the face, telling him that the difference between them is the fact that he doesn't use his life's misery as an excuse to give up the good fight.
      Spider-Man: I know you've had a crappy life, and done bad things, I get it... but I never realized what a piece of garbage you were until this moment. How can you share my DNA and be so damn selfish? We've all been hurt! We've all suffered! But the real difference between us is that I never used it as a crutch. You call it "guilt"... I call it responsibility. And by God, even if it means walking into the lion's den and not coming out... I'm not going to stand by and let people die to save myself.
    • In an Anti-Bullying P S A Comic, Spider-Man faces a new antagonist called the Brace. Peter soon recognizes the Brace as some from his school days, who he remembers getting bullied. He later admits this to a Police Officer, and feels responsible for the Brace’s downfall, by being too scared to stand up to the bullies back then. The Police Officer responds by pointing out that she too was bullied in her youth, but that only encouraged her to become a Cop, so she could be there for other victims and give them the help which she never got. She also recognizes that Peter himself was bullied, but he still made the good and right choice in becoming a Hero, too.
  • Supergirl: Lucy Lane, the young sister of Lois Lane, is revealed to be Superwoman, who at first appears to be a hero, but is eventually revealed to be a villain when she not only attacks Supergirl, but saves Reactron from her, killing the supervillain's ex-girlfriend in order to cover up his survival. She is working for her father General Lane, implanted in New Krypton as a spy. Her Backstory reveals that since the moment she was born, she has felt overshadowed by her big sister Lois. Lucy always felt that Lois outperformed her, overshadowed her and was more loved by their father. Lucy never blames Lois, but she blames her parents Sam and Ella. Feeling that by maybe being closer to Lois her father would pay more attention to her, Lucy moved to the same city, but this came at the same time that Lois and her father grew apart over Superman. After her father's death, Lucy joined the U.S. Army. Lucy rose quickly in the ranks. During the Amazon attack on the United States, Lucy was nearly killed by two Amazons but was saved by Codename: Assassin. Awakening in Project 7734, her father is able to convince Lucy to put on the Superwoman suit, which possesses mystical qualities. Her sole motivation is to make her father proud of her and excuse her crimes by saying she was just following her orders. When she is captured and imprisoned for her crimes, her sister visits her. Lois tells Lucy she disgusts her, that she was once luminescent, a wonderful girl who always smiled even when things were at their worst. But since their father died she changed. Lois thought Lucy joined the military to honor their father, but Lois wonders when she stopped being her sister and started being this monster. When Lucy tries to justify her crimes by saying she was following their father's orders, Lois calls that a pitiful excuse, and calls Lucy out on allowing herself to be become a killing machine to impress a man that did not even care for them when they were kids. She tells Lucy she cannot forgive their father for his crimes or Lucy for being so stupid.
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four: When Reed Richards of Earth 1610 was a child, he was abused by his father, who had no interest or tolerance for Reed's love of science. He was not respected by his peers, bullied in high school, and wanted to change the world, but could not change it the way he wanted to because he felt no one would let him. He felt guilty over his role in the Ultimatum Event which killed millions in New York, Sue rejected his marriage proposal, his teammates all quit the Fantastic Four team, and finally he was prodded to be a worldwide savior by Kang the Conqueror. However, this does not justify his actions. He had a loving mother and two supporting sisters. He had a best friend in Ben, who protected him from bullies as a child and in high school. He was accepted into the Baxter Building, where his genius could be nurtured, a new father in Franklin Storm, and a new family in Sue, Johnny, and Ben. Yet when things fall apart he turns against his former love and friends and murders his whole family. This was best summed up by an alternate animal world version of Miles Morales.
    Miles Morhames: He committed genocide and tried to rewrite the rules of physics, economics, and society to make himself feel better and impress a girl.
  • X-Men and Professor X 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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 Ranma not developing emotionally is revealed, Akane initially blames her father for it before correcting herself, admitting that while her father and Genma did in fact use a spell that had the side-effect of stunting her and Ranma's emotional growth, she is ultimately the one responsible for her immature behavior, especially around Ranma.
  • In Conversations with a Cryptid, the narrative and Midoriya points out that Bakugou grew up with a 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 Midoriya. The narrative and All for One counters that in no way excuses Bakugou's decade of abusing Midoriya. All for One points out that Bakugou had attacked, burned and belittled Midoriya on a daily basis of his own free will. Even going so far as Bakugou attempt to bait Midoriya into committing suicide which still emotionally scars Midoriya 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 a 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.
  • Danny Phantom Stranded: Valerie hated Danny Phantom for ruining her life, as he accidentally caused her father to lose his job, leading to them becoming poor and her losing her popularity. Star calls Valerie out for holding a grudge on Phantom despite all he has done to protect the town, pointing out that it was an accident and that he genuinely feels bad about it. Valerie says that she does not care, and that she still sees him as dangerous and a loose cannon. Star points out Valerie is also dangerous, saying that she's justifying a reason to be cruel and that he actually improved her life by getting her out of the A-Listers, and also that she still has her father and real friends. Star tells Valerie that she's sorry what happen to her father, but she cannot blame everything bad that happen to her on Phantom. When Valerie refuses to listen and still tries to say Phantom is evil, Star loses her patience. Star tells Valerie that she had not changed at all from her time as an A-Lister and is still finding an excuse to be mean to someone, and she is done listening to her whining and pinning the blame on someone who just had bad luck.
  • In The Demon's Contract, Nabiki and Kasumi try to use their dead mother to excuse Akane's bratty behavior but Ranma points out that: 1) She's had ten years to get over it, which her sisters have done just fine, 2) The real world doesn't care about her problems and she has to learn she won't always get her way, 3) Ranma's mother is dead too and unlike Akane, he neither knows what she looks like or where she's buried, leaving him unable to properly mourn.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Imaginary Seas, Percy is a little sympathetic to Caenis after learning who she is because his father Poseidon had raped her, but he says that is no excuse for her threatening innocent people.
  • In Karma in Retrograde, Touya's self-loathing is only amplified by the fact he's disappointed with his own motive, since all his siblings went through the same thing he did, but hadn't become villains like he had.
    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 as he had.
  • Last Call: Lapis is an alcoholic Troubled Abuser who has a Dark and Troubled Past with an abusive father, neglectful mother, and abusive boyfriend. However, as her ex-girlfriend Jasper tells her, none of that excuses all the mental and physical abuse she put her through.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Mercury: 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.
  • In MLDC Firestorm Crisis, the Humane Five are making assumptions of why Sunset Shimmer is an Alpha Bitch. Then Rainbow Dash speaks up:
    Rainbow Dash: "Poor Sunset"? Really? [the others look 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!
  • Played for Laughs in Motivational Speaker For Hire. Grogar hires Matt Foley, hoping he can get his minions to work together as a team. When Cozy Glow admits she never had any parents, Foley gives her his usual routine.
    Matt Foley: Well boo-FRICKITY-HOO! Is this why you were stealing everyone's magic? Was it so you could fill in that big empty void where the love of your mommy and daddy is suppose to be? Well GET OVER IT! My parents never even dropped me off at an orphanage, the only place they dropped me off was in a van down by the river!"
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Todoroki is called out on holding back his fire powers much earlier than in canon, albeit for different reasons, since the rest of Class 1-A sees this attitude as arrogant and petty. In the aftermath of the USJ incident, Aizawa outright tells him that whatever issues he's got with his father are no excuse to hold back his fire powers when there are lives at stake.
  • In the Victorious story 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 Jerkass 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).
  • The Frozen fanfic The Phoenix and the Snowbird has a rare one where Prince Hans himself acknowledges to Queen Elsa that he must stop using his claim of his 12 older brothers abusing and ignoring him as a way to justify his crimes. He even states that the time he spent without them slowly made him realize just how miserable he is.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Loki, while Lane who was also in the house hid instead of trying to protect her because he had to protect the then-infant Lars. 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 ...That's It?, Twilight Sparkle is Disappointed by the Motive when Starlight Glimmer reveals that the reason she did things that could've caused the end of all space-time or doomed 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.
  • Throne of Atlantis Abridged: Aquaman chews out Orm after the latter tries Playing the Victim Card.
  • 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.
  • 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...
      [pause]
      Harry: And to think I was actually starting to feel sorry for you.
  • In When Sorry Doesn't Cut It, Pearl tries to apologize to Garnet over tricking the latter into fusing with her to help herself feel better. This gets Ruby and Sapphire to unfuse over arguing about it, and leads to Ruby giving Pearl a massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech over how, yes, all of Pearl's actions are a result of her past trauma. Ruby also yells that it has been five thousand years since they were freed from the society that caused said trauma and that Pearl is still taking out her issues on other people.
    Pearl: I’m sorry.
    Ruby: Sorry?! You’re sorry?! You tricked us into fusing and you think sorry is going to fix all of it?! [...] You always do stuff like this! You mess up, you cause problems, you act like your feelings are the only ones that matter, and we’re all just supposed to deal with it! [...] Rose always told us to just be nice to you, no matter how horrible you were, and why? Because you’re still messed up from the war? We all are! Or no, wait, is it because you're a Pearl and you just don’t know any better? How long is that excuse going to last? You’ve been free for five thousand years - get over it! Rose let you get away with everything, like, like… like some spoiled kid! There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just selfish! [...] What?! Am I wrong? How long have we been putting up with her tantrums and her mood swings and 'I’m special Rose is the only one who will ever get me'? I know you never understood why Rose put up with her either!
    Sapphire: That doesn’t mean you can–
    Ruby: What, tell her the truth?
    Sapphire: This isn’t about Rose, it’s about Sardonyx and–
    Ruby: It’s about everything, Sapphire! She always does this! She gets mad at Amethyst for no reason, she yells at Steven for not knowing his own mother, she abuses fusion, and we all just deal with it. I’m sick of it! It’s not our fault she’s broken!
  • 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.
  • Heimdall in One Hell of a Ride tries to usurp Hela because his sister was one of the valkyries she killed before being imprisoned thousands of years ago. Tony and Hela countert that 1) his sister knew what she was getting into when she became a valkyrie and when she fought against Hela, 2) Hela has been recognized by both the people and Asgard itself as the rightful queen. Regardless of his feelings on the matter, his actions are sedition at best and treason at worst.
  • In Danganronpa: Last Hurrah, the second killer commits murder out of a desire for their parents' approval, and feeling overshadowed by their older brother. Nao Hisoka, the protagonist, asks whether the killer's parents abused them, and when the killer says no, Nao launches into a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, ending with him asking the killer if their parents will be proud of them for committing murder. It later turns out that Jirou, the second killer is actually the mastermind, and that he survived his execution. Jirou then says that while he wasn't lying about his life story, he actually didn't care about that.
  • Heir of the Nightmare: Nightmare Moon tells her daughter Twilight that her brutality and bringing of eternal night is mean to protect anypony from trying to hurt Twilight again. Twilight, however, throws back that Nightmare is hurting ponies who did nothing to her.
  • Phylactery: In chapter 12, Edward pulls this on a recently resurrected Envy when the latter finally succeeds in angering him by threatening his wife and children.
    Edward: I get it; I do. In a way, you couldn't help being the way you were any more than Gluttony could help being hungry or Greed could help being greedy. But to say that you were forced to act out of jealousy is just an excuse. The fact is that you were cruel and sadistic and enjoyed every bit of pain you caused, and even if you can change, I'm not convinced you deserve the chance.
    Envy: (completely furious) Shut up! Shut up! You don't- You don't have the right to talk about us like that! Like you know-
    Edward: But you're here and alive again, and I really do hope that you can change. I don't want to have to kill you. But if you try to hurt my family, try to threaten them, even try to meet or talk to them...If you try to kill anyone, I won't hesitate to stop you. In whatever way is necessary.
  • In Deku? I think he's some pro..., All Might never passed on One For All to Midoriya, instead telling him that he could never become a hero and should give up on his dream. When Izuku proceeds to make it into U.A. anyway, he continues to disparage and dismiss his efforts, insisting that his Quirklessness means he's simply too weak and vulnerable. Sir Nighteye confronts him with the knowledge that he used to be Quirkless himself, suggesting that he's discouraging Izuku because he doesn't want to see him succeed where he failed — something he calls out as incredibly petty and disappointing. Particularly from somebody who otherwise insists that anybody can become a hero.
  • In Hermit, Jamba wants to kill Shin in order to kill Beerus for destroying his home planet. Zuno knows exactly what Jamba desires to do and why, and tells him that his suffering is no excuse for his actions, which include helping Freeza's family rule 70% of the galaxy and planning to kill a child because the latter might try to stop him.
  • Naruto Rend: Naruto ends up talking with his parents while they're both in the hospital about the very rough state of their relationship, admitting that while he doesn't agree with how they handled things, he's done hating them and using his anger as an excuse to be hostile towards them and his siblings.
  • Fate/Parallel Fantasia: Kirei Kotomine learned long ago that he has a condition that means he is only happy when he makes people suffer, causing him to be a jerk and embrace a plan to wipe out most of humanity. His daughter Caren condemns him and says that is not an excuse because she has the same condition, but she still chose to be good, even if she can't enjoy it.
  • Resurrected Memories: Vlad tries to cajole Ember into joining his side, citing her own miserable past as proof that she'll always be alone. Ember throws back that as horrible as her life was, she had no right to make others miserable as well.

    Films — Animation 
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: It's revealed in the Christmas Special that when Carface was a puppy, he was thrown out of his owner's house on Christmas because his owner didn't watch him and blamed everything on him. The scene is surprisingly heartbreaking because he still dreams his owner stood up for him instead of what really happened. Even Itchy (who was playing Ghost of Christmas Past) is left feeling bad for him afterwards. Charlie admits that what happened to him was horrible, but point out that a lot of dogs had a bad childhood, but they didn't all turn out nasty.
  • Maui, in Moana, reveals that his own parents rejected him as a baby, and he became desperate for approval and acceptance, so he performed mighty feats for humanity, hoping to earn their love. He ultimately stole he Heart of Te Fiti, trying to impress humanity with Power of Creation. When he's finally brought before Te Fiti, he admits that 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.
  • 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!
  • The Prophet: As the Baker and other adults comments on how troublesome Almitra's stealing is, her mother Kamila states she's acting out because of her father's death. They retort that he's been dead for over a year and the excuse is getting old.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Andersonville: Josiah firmly rejects the notion that the Raiders' actions are excused by the conditions of the camp, pointing out how many others have maintained honor and discipline while helping each other. and because he does so during their trial, he turns this into a Rousing Speech which helps ensure their conviction.
  • 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?
  • Hot Fuzz: While most of the culprits of the murders did it for the petty reason of making sure their village wins the 'Village of the Year' award by killing off anyone who might undermine its reputation, the only one who at least has a Freudian Excuse is Frank Butterman. His wife killed herself after Sandford lost the 'Village of the Year' award she worked so hard to win because of travellers setting up. This doesn't justify his actions and his own son actually calls him out on it.
    Danny: (in tears) Mum is dead, Dad! For the first time in my life, you know, I'm glad! If she could see what you've become, I think she'd probably... kill herself all over again!
  • James Bond:
    • Dr. No: The titular villain states that he joined SPECTRE in revenge as both NATO and the Warsaw Pact rebuffed his offers to lend his skills and expertise in atomic energy. Bond quickly deduces that it's just a lame cover for his crimes, stating that his plan is still insane.
    • GoldenEye: Janus/Alec Trevelyan/006 wants 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. 006, needless to say, is pissed about this and seeks to make England pay, as these events caused his parents to kill themselves out of survivor's guilt. But 007 rebukes him, stating that his "mad little" Evil Plan of causing economic chaos in revenge is petty, and believes he's Only in It for the Money by using his excuse as a lame cover for his crimes. Which does make sense: 006 appears to have faithfully served MI6 for years before faking his death. Also, while Bond lost his own parents in a climbing accident, he did not make a big deal of it unlike Trevelyan.
      Bond: A worldwide financial meltdown. And all so mad little Alec can settle a score with the world, 50 years on.
    • Skyfall: Rogue Agent Raoul Silva/Tiago Rodriguez was sold out to China, which triggers his wish to kill M and destroy MI6 in revenge. However, M calls him out, pointing out if he himself hadn't gone rogue, she wouldn't have to sell him out, especially because he knowingly committed criminal acts, namely his unauthorized hacking of the Chinese government.
    • Spectre: Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld made his life's mission to screw Bond at every turn because his dad paid more attention to Bond than him when they were in their teens, causing him to commit patricide out of envy and jealousy, even mockingly calling Bond a "cuckoo bird." However, it's negated by the fact that he did it out of pure malice, and it doesn't change or is even unconnected to the fact that he has committed many atrocities all on his own as an adult. His repeated attempts to mock and torment Bond for his past failures just because he felt neglected really shows he hasn't grown out of this mindset. Bond calls him out on it and even asks if he knows any other bird calls besides those of "cuckoos."
  • Joker (2019): Arthur Fleck gets called out by Murray on the latter’s show about how he tries to throw a pity party about how people treat him to justify his inhumane crimes. The cast and crew have repeatedly stated that none of Arthur's actions are remotely justified. (Then again, emphasizing this allows some degree of moral clarity to one of the film's clear messages: when there is no hope for improvement in people's situation, one should not be surprised when the abused becomes the abuser in turn; but at the same time, this does not justify the new "abuser".)
  • 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.
    • Discusses this at different times throughout the film, namely with the protagonist Josh's old friend Candy, a drug-addicted prostitute. Josh feels guilt for her current situation. His fiancee, Linda, and her best friend, on the other hand, don't have any sympathy for Candy. They both point out how they, Josh, and Candy all came from the same rough type of neighborhood and how it's Candy's own fault that she wasn't able to change her life for the better. While they were professionals who worked for the district attorney's office, Candy, in addition to her problems, made the decision on her own to become a prostitute. She was also unwilling to be helped by Josh (and anyone else) and blamed everyone else for her situation.
  • 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 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, and their fear of going into conflict and having their resources misappropriated does not justify being completely apathetic to peoples' suffering. 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.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger is established as having had a horrifically awful childhood in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. His mother (who was a nun) gave birth to him only after being raped repeatedly by one hundred patients at a mental asylum she worked at. His adopted father was a sleazy pimp who beat him up daily (and who Freddy later murdered with a razor blade). He was bullied by kids at school, and gave signs of being a textbook sociopath by killing the classroom hamster, for which he never was punished for or got help with. Then he shuffled through life as an adult from one low paying job to another, until he decided to express his rage at life by killing the kids of his former bullies. That being said, it's made clear that it does not justify the fact that he's a sadistic psychopath who gleefully kills people For the Evulz. When he attempts to use his Freudian Excuse as an attempt to explain that he wasn't evil and circumstances made him a monster, Maggie doesn't go for it.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019): The Big Bad, Sarah Bellows, was locked in the basement of her home by her own family and treated like she didn't exist for her entire life, all because she was born albino. When she discovered pollution from her family's paper mill was poisoning the water supply and killing people, she tried to escape and warn everybody but was caught. Her family had her institutionalized where the attending doctor, her own brother Ephraim Bellows, subjected her to electroshock therapy and isolation therapy in an attempt to get her to assume blame for the deaths of the town's children. She killed herself and died alone and miserable. To top it off, history remembers her as the one who killed the children, as her family told the town. Sarah later became a vengeful ghost who slaughtered her family and haunted the town for a hundred years for hurting her. However, while Sarah's life was undoubtedly tragic - Stella even promises to reveal the truth about her case - Stella points out to her that what she did is inexcusable and that she's no better than her family for hurting innocent people with her stories and letting her rage consume her. Surprisingly, Sarah listens and stops her rampage.
  • 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.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Billy's mother, Marilyn, turns out to not be the loving parent that he remembered. As it turns out, she willingly abandoned him when she lost him and saw the police with him looking for her. Instead of coming for him, she chose to let him be with the police and take him to the foster system, claiming it was better for him. Her reasoning for giving up being a mother was because her own parents abandoned her for getting pregnant as a teenager, then her boyfriend, Billy's father, left them and was arrested. While Billy doesn't outright call her out, the look on his face when he leaves shows how disappointed with her for thinking that being abandoned by her parents for being irresponsible as a teenager justifies abandoning a toddler for being a minor inconvenience.
  • 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 the movie, Kylo reaches out to Rey telepathically once again, but she cuts the connection, metaphorically slamming the door in his face. By the final episode, he has to find redemption more or less by himself, and even then Redemption Equals Death.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 28 Days protagonist Gwen is a barely-functional alcoholic who ends up in rehab after she crashed the limo of her sister's wedding into a house. Upon finally visiting her on family day after initially refusing, her sister Lily confronts her on how she ruined her wedding day and that their awful childhood—where they were abandoned by their father, their alcoholic mother died of her disease and they were left to be raised by a generally unloving Aunt—gave her no excuse for her troubling actions since she was able to make something of herself and was living a good life with a loving husband.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • In The Dresden Files, Knight In Sour Armor Sanya used to be a demon host to a Fallen Angel due to his past growing up as a minority in Russia and being treated like a freak (in his own words, "I was a minority the way Bigfoot is a minority"). This was what caused him to initially join with the Denarians, especially since Rosanna, his recruiter, didn't care he was black at all. He is also throughly of the mind that this does not justify anything he did while working for them, and that's why he's serving as one of the Knights of the Cross, despite knowing that the main way long-term Knights leave the Knights of the Cross is dying in the battle with the forces of evil.
  • Harry Potter: While Lord Voldemort has a Freudian Excuse that grants him in-universe sympathy, the point is made that Harry Potter didn't fall to villainy despite 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.
  • Deconstructed in Les Misérables. Javert himself defied a Dark and Troubled Past, becoming a successful police officer. However, this attitude means he has very little mercy or restraint toward criminals, even toward ex-con Jean Valjean, a man who did turn his life around.
  • Christopher Durang's play Baby with the Bathwater is a Black Comedy to the extreme, centering on a young man named Daisy who had a Hilariously Abusive Childhood (for starters, he's called "Daisy" because his parents couldn't bother figuring out if he was a boy or a girl). This has naturally left him with a metric truckload of issues, which are symbolized by an inability to finish his freshman college essay on Gulliver’s Travels, despite being a freshman for five years. Eventually, his therapist tells Daisy point blank that, while what he went through is extremely traumatic, he can't let it define him forever—"Why don't you just do the stupid essay?" Daisy is initially hurt, but eventually realizes the therapist is right. He completes the assignment with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his parents and storms out of their lives; the ending of the play, which shows Daisy with his new wife and baby, suggests that they're going to break the cycle of abuse.
  • A recurring theme in Discworld:
    • This is 71-Hour Ahmed's stance in Jingo, which he highlights when telling Sam Vimes about a murderer he tracked down. Ahmed states he couldn't give a damn if the murderer had an unhappy childhood or suffered from "compulsive well-poisoning disorder"; in the latter case, he merely snarks that "I have a compulsion to behead cowardly murderers."
    • In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Dangerous Beans is legitimately horrified by how Spider the Rat King came to be, but says this doesn't justify his plans and that ultimately, despite claims of good intentions for his brethren, he's just lashing out at the world in a way that's pointlessly destructive.
    • This crops up twice in I Shall Wear Midnight. The first case, with Mr Petty, highlights Mr Petty's own abusive childhood and how it left him unable to confront any complex problem without trying to hit something; however Tiffany and her father both agree it doesn't excuse his beating his daughter, Amber, and causing her to miscarry her child, and Tiffany ultimately saves him only because she doesn't want someone tarnishing their soul by killing him. The second case involves the Cunning Man, the Big Bad; Eskarina Smith acknowledges he was badly injured when a witch tried to burn him, but still describes him as a hateful monster afterwards.
  • Moonraker: After being cornered by Hugo Drax, 007 gives a "Reason You Suck" Speech to recount Drax's life, specifically noting how being bullied because he sucked his thumb as a child, on top of growing up in Nazi Germany, drove him to develop delusions of jealousy and revenge. Bond concludes his speech with how it made Drax a paranoid nutcase.
    James Bond: It's a remarkable case-history. Galloping paranoia. Delusions of jealousy and persecution. Megalomaniac hatred and desire for revenge. Curiously enough, it may have something to do with your teeth. Diastema, they call it. Comes from sucking your thumb when you're a child. Yes. I expect that's what the psychologists will say when they get you into the lunatic asylum. "Ogre's teeth." Being bullied at school and so on. Extraordinary the effect it has on a child. Then Nazism helped to fan the flames and then came the crack on your ugly head. The crack you engineered yourself. I expect that settled it. From then on you were really mad. Same sort of thing as people who think they're God. Extraordinary what tenacity they have. Absolute fanatics. You're almost a genius. Lombroso would have been delighted with you. As it is you're just a mad dog that'll have to be shot. Or else you'll commit suicide. Paranoiacs generally do. Too bad. Sad business. And now let's get on with this farce, you great hairy-faced lunatic.
  • In City of Stone and Silence, the second volume of the Wells of Sorcery trilogy, when Isoka finally confronts the book's Arc Villain Prime face-to-face and has him at her mercy, Prime starts to regale her with the tragic tale of how he became what he is. Isoka has no sympathy and cuts him off. "Everyone has sob-stories. Most of us don't try to destroy the world."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 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 them.
  • 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. This is often played for laughs (particularly the asking for a half a million from Holt).
      Holt: Peralta, I will not give you a cool half mil because you had a slightly 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!
    • Buffy herself gets a moment of this in "When She Was Bad." Throughout the episode, she's sullen, moody, bitchy, and lashing out at people because she's traumatized over her temporary death at the Master's hands. By the time Giles and Willow get captured by vampires due to her refusal to cooperate with them, Xander's beyond caring why she's acting that way and tells Buffy point-blank he'll kill her if anything happens to Willow.
      Xander: I don't know what your problem is, what your issues are... and as of right now, I officially don't care.
    • 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 gets to this conclusion by the Season 3 finale "Nathaniel is Irrelevant". She realizes she's been using her upbringing as an excuse for all of her bad actions (parodying the idea with a song called "Nothing is Ever Anyone's Fault"), and finally decides she has to take responsibility.
  • 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."
  • 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 this retort, made all the more dramatic by the fact that he barely raises his voice:
    You killed 12 people in two states over the last 72 hours and you want me to feel sorry for you because your daddy didn't kiss you when you were a baby? You asked for my help? I did help you; you're where you belong...You rot in hell, you son of a bitch.
  • Dead to Me: In season 2, Judy meets with her recovered addict, neglectful mother. She keeps trying to get Judy to do things for her, but Judy eventually realizes she's just being used, and when she calls her out, her mom's response is to say that Judy was a needy baby and she was a young mom, which is why she became an addict. Judy's response is just disbelief on her.
    Judy: A baby doesn't make you an addict.
  • In The Expanse, Anna Volovodov starts to become friends with a woman named Melba, only to later learn that she's really Clarissa Mao, and has hurt and killed many people (including another of Anna's friends) in a quest to avenge her father. After Anna tasers Melba to keep her from killing someone else, she visits her in the brig to try to understand her actions, and gives her a gently-spoken but harsh "Reason You Suck" Speech that pretty much boils down to this. It actually does have an effect on Clarissa, being one of the biggest drives for her subsequent Heel–Face Turn.
    Anna: I keep looking for a way to care about you. I think, "Her father was a terrible person." But a lot of people have terrible parents, and...I think "Well, she's clearly a damaged person", but then...who isn't? So, I'm down to "Maybe she has a brain tumor?" Do you have a brain tumor?
    Clarissa: (As a tear runs down her cheek)...No.
  • Subverted in Farscape. Scorpius tries to convince a neural clone of Crichton to help him create wormhole technology to stop the Scarrans by showing Crichton how, for his entire childhood, he was horrifically abused by the Scarrans until he escaped and joined the Peacekeepers to take revenge by stopping them. Crichton is sympathetic, but points out that there is no difference between the xenophobic, genocidal Peacekeepers and the xenophobic, genocidal Scarrans. Scorpius promptly tells Crichton that there is a difference between them by showing Crichton how he was conceived.
  • 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.
    • Season 2 has Eobard Thawne finally admitting why he became evil; he admired the Flash and wanted to be his successor, but found out through time travel that he was destined to be the Reverse-Flash. This, he decided to embrace this destiny because of his ruined dream. Barry doesn’t have an ounce of pity for Thawne.
    • 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.
    • In Season 5, it’s revealed that Nora accepted Eobard Thawne as her mentor and assisted him for a chance to meet the dad she never knew. Both said father, Barry, and Sheroque Wells say that her past doesn’t justify working with such a dangerous supervillain, let alone one that killed her grandmother.
    • Season 5 also has Barry banishing Nora to the future after it's revealed she was working with Thawne, without consulting anyone, not even Iris. Although the team understands that Barry is still in pain over his childhood, and acknowledges that Nora was still working with Thawne despite knowing full well who he was, they refuse to defend this act. By the end of Snow Pack, even Barry himself admits he went too far.
    • Season 6 has, of all things, the Speed Force falling under this. The Speed Force has been aloof and obtuse towards Barry and not caring about his personal wants and needs in the face of The Needs of the Many, despite the effect it has on Barry's mental state, and punishing him ruthlessly for any misuse of his powers. When it makes the mistake of telling him that Ramsey Rosso can help him prevent the coming Crisis and survive, he lashes out against the Speed Force over everything it has ever done to him, including becoming the Flash and forced to endure many tragedies in his life just to be molded into the Speed Force's champion.
  • The Good Place: Throughout the first season, Eleanor often mentioned how her terrible upbringing messed her up. This falls flat when she hears "Real Eleanor" tell her tragic, albeit fictional, life story, which ends with her becoming a selfless humanitarian. One of the demons mocks how pedestrian having irresponsible and divorced parents is, by comparison. As her character develops, Eleanor realizes that her parents were pretty lousy, but she still has to take responsibility for her own life.
  • 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.
  • The Inbetweeners: Will is roped into dating a girl called Kerry because Simon wants to date her friend, Tara. Will isn't really interested in Kerry but Kerry takes it very seriously. At a birthday party, however, Will decides to end the relationship before it turns serious and turns down her offer of oral sex, which causes Kerry to cry. Will discovers from an angry Tara that Kerry's dad died a month prior (something Simon forgot to mention) and he internally realises the hook-up was intented to help her through her grief. Will does offer his sympathies while also doubling down on his decision; he says that her dad's death is irrevelent to their perceived break-up, he calls himself a gentleman for turning down her offer of sex, and he still believes he shouldn't be forced to date someone out of pity. Even though Will had a point, he's treated as if he's in the wrong and forced to leave since he still upset a grieving woman, whether he intended to or not.
  • Jessica Jones (2015):
    • 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 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 Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The culprit of "Please Note We Are No Longer Accepting Letters of Recommendation from Henry Kissinger" gunned down people to get her own son into a prestigious daycare after snapping because of the pressure and verbal abuse of her mother-in-law. During the final confrontation, Goren sympathizes with the culprit to prevent them from harming their hostages. When the culprit gives him the gun, he immediately roughly restrains them and has them arrested. When the culprit, sounding hurt, reproaches him, he retorts that the people they murdered also had children and didn't deserve to die.
  • Most Once Upon a Time villains have terrible backstories, but do get told off for the evil things they're doing in the present as a result. The Evil Queen was horribly abused by her mother her entire life, and when her mother killed her first love, she blamed Snow White for telling her mother about him in the first place. People consistently comment on her Misplaced Retribution, including Snow White herself yelling "I WAS TEN!" back at her when a Hate Plague hits and Regina brings up the incident again.
  • Red Dwarf: Arnold Rimmer likes to blame the lack of love from his parents as the reason he's a neurotic screw-up of a chicken soup machine repairman, unlike his far more successful brothers, but as early as the first season, Lister points out Rimmer's always found someone else to blame for his own shortcomings.
    Lister: In the end, you can't turn around and say "I'm sorry I buggered up me life, it's all Lister's fault".
  • 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."
  • In The Sopranos, whenever Meadow's boyfriend Finn voices his reservations regarding Tony and his associates' work, Meadow justifies on the basis that the poverty and dire conditions of Southern Italy bred their mindset and it can't be helped. Finn finally calls bullshit on this after he's forced to tell the mobsters he saw Vito giving a man a blowjob, telling her that they are generations separated from that environment and nothing their ancestors went through justifies executing a person just because they're gay.
  • Supernatural:
    • Subverted in "Jus in Bello". After catching (what he thinks) are 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 Jerkass, 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 (i.e. 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 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 responds 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 she and her 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 intact. So it didn't matter what Vanya did, she 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.
  • Comes up in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys" when Data is being held by Kivas Fajo as part of his "collection" of rare things.
    Fajo: Perhaps you would not judge me so harshly if you knew of my desperate youth, wasted, wasted on the streets of Zimballia.
    Data: Your past does not excuse unethical or immoral behavior, sir.
    Fajo: Well, it doesn't matter. It isn't true anyway. My father was quite wealthy, actually. He was a thief.
    • In Chain of Command, Gul Madred tries to gain Picard's sympathy by recounting his unhappy childhood as a Street Urchin on the streets of Lakat, where he had to steal and beg to survive. Picard shoots him down by pointing out how much enjoyment he gets from making other people suffer.
  • 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.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: A recurring enemy, Callisto, was once an ordinary girl until Xena's army invaded her village and murdered her family. As a result, Xena feels responsible for the psychopathic warrior Callisto is today, but several other characters reject this, telling her that she made her own choices. Gabrielle takes this even further in the Episode "Fallen Angel"
    Gabrielle: "Callisto, when Xena burned your family did you see them on fire? Did you... did you smell their flesh sizzling? Do you know what I think? I think you wanted them to die so you'd have a reason to be a bitch."

    Music 
  • "Angels" by Within Temptation sums up this trope nicely, telling the subject of the song that he's responsible for his own choices.
    The world may have failed you, it doesn't give you reason why
    You could have chosen a different path in life
  • The Eagles want you to just "Get Over It":
    I turn on the tube, and what do I see? A whole lot of people crying "Don't blame me."
    They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else, spend all their time feeling sorry for themselves.
    A victim of this, a victim of that, your mama's too thin and your daddy's too fat?
    Get over it!

    Religion 
  • The Bible: In Ezekiel chapter 18, God has the prophet Ezekiel tell Israel to not use the proverb "The parents ate sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" anymore as an excuse for blaming parents or previous generations for the sins they themselves are committing before God.

    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 murdering someone else, and you'll be arrested for it. The Big Bad of the AAI2 game is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, who had met nothing but misery in his life, trying to take revenge on the people whom they blamed it for (which they believe all to have deserved their fate). While Edgeworth acknowledges their woobieness from their inability to get psychological help, it's still no "Get out of Jail Free" Card (especially after framing a child for his father's murder) and he gets arrested at the end of the game nonetheless, though one can argue this was good for him, as he gets to live with his Parental Substitute Doghen. During their confrontation, he mentions that his actions have made them no different from the people they were trying to get revenge on.
    • The culprit of the third case in Justice For All accidentally killed his benefactor and mentor while aiming to kill the man's daughter, who'd been responsible for pulling a Deadly Prank that resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and his brother going into a coma, while not understanding what she'd done. The judge asks if the killer is actually a victim, at which point Acro tearfully says that he's just a murderer.
  • 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, Big Bad Pagan Min explains his Freudian Excuse, and then he himself admits that he was just using his infant daughter's murder and Ajay's mother fleeing to the United States to get as far away from him as she could 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.
  • In the Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers, the Ascians are revealed to be the last survivors of an ancient civilization that was wiped out by Hydaelyn during Her war with Zodiark. Everything the Ascians have done— every manipulation, every murder, every Calamity— has all been carried out so that they can reclaim their home, and during the final confrontation with Emet-Selch, he rants at length about all the pain and suffering he and his people have endured and how all they want is to restore their world and expose Hydaelyn's alleged "hypocrisy". But as the Scions of the Seventh Dawn point out, while Emet-Selch has every right to be angry about his own losses, that doesn't give him or the other Ascians the right to mass murder countless scores of people just to get their own back, and that even if those living within the Source and the Shards are "lesser races", they still have the right to live.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Morinth blames her succubus-esque Serial Killer nature on having been born an Ardat-Yakshi (an asari genetic defect where melding is both addictive to the Ardat-Yakshi and fatal to their partner), and having to flee Asari authorities, who would have executed her. Her mother Samara does admit that this gives her Tragic Villain elements, but also points out that she squandered any sympathy points she might have by embracing her condition and becoming a Serial Killer, while her sisters Falare and Rila (also Ardat-Yakshi) chose the option of being Locked Away in a Monastery, and both grew up normal and well-adjusted.
  • Night in the Woods: At the end of the game, once The Heavy has been defeated, almost all main characters show a hint of sadness for them. Mentioning that they were driven by a desperate desire of saving the town they lived in and that they said to not enjoy the things they did. Angus is the one to call out that they shouldn't pity them. The Cult of the Black Goat had, unnecessarily and in an act of desperation, sacrificed homeless and the ones that people "wouldn't miss" in order to ask an Eldritch Abomination to save their town, and Angus feels no sympathy for, among them, having sacrificed their friend Casey.
  • 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 a 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 Thieves 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 inadvertently 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 one they willing 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 the responsibility entailing with it.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us:
    • Many on Batman's side call out Regime Superman, stating that while what The Joker did to him 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 (Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Robin, and Black Adam) get the same treatment from the Insurgency in the sequel. Regime Superman and his allies react negatively to such criticism.
    • As stated, the reason Captain Cold teamed up with Gorilla Grodd in Injustice 2 and is so willing to let civilians die is because the Regime executed his fellow Rogues, especially his sister. However, while his beef with the Regime for killing his sister is legitimate, Wonder Woman points out that Cold was the one who got his sister into supervillainy in the first place and that Superman wouldn't have killed her if he hadn't.
    • The events that led to Cheetah becoming what she is were of her own making, but she constantly blames Wonder Woman for her new form. She gets called out on this by Wonder Woman and Atrocitus in Injustice 2.
    • Black Lightning chides Black Manta for using his father's death to justify his villainy and his actions against the Regime in Injustice 2.
  • 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.
  • In a Light Side Climax for Knights of the Old Republic, when Malak is defeated, he questions what would have happened to him, had Revan not led him to the Dark Side in the first place. In one of the response options, While apologizing for starting Marak down said path, the Player Character points out that it was Marak himself who chose to continue down the Dark path. Malak admits there is truth in what the Player Character says and that he alone must accept responsibility for his fate.
  • 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, but the bad guy has also 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.
  • Dead Rising 3: Harry "Zhi" Wong is a psychopath that embodies the deadly sin of Wrath. He is found meditating in the garden by Nick and after a brief, friendly conversation Zhi laments how the universe has wronged him and he's now trying to find peace. Nick soon realises that Zhi has killed people who unknowingly upset him by entering his garden and calls him out on his actions. After this, Zhi attacks him once a zombie angers him by walking into a gong. After the fight, he throws another pity party by lamenting to Nick about how life has dealt him more than few bad cards; he was fired, his wife left him, his kids disrespect him and he's now suffering from a zombie outbreak. This enrages him enough to commit suicide to spite the universe.
    Zhi: Spirit of universe has slaughtered my happiness and so I must slaughter too. All who disrupt my garden of peace shall die! (spits at corpses)
    Nick: Oh God. You did this! These people were just looking for safety, you had no right to kill them!
  • God of War (PS4) explains the villainy and cruelty of Magni and Modi as stemming from the abuse they suffered at the hands of their father, Thor. When Atreus sympathizes with them, though, Kratos dismisses it, saying that the two are adults now and no longer have that excuse. Considering in the previous series Kratos blamed a large amount of his troubles on his father Zeus even as he murdered anything and everything in his way for revenge, he's had plenty of experience with that kind of thinking.
  • Super Robot Wars: In any games crossing over with 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 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!"
  • 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.
  • Mortal Kombat 11: Several examples here.
    • At this point, the Revenants are those that died at the end of Mortal Kombat 9 who were brainwashed to serve Quan Chi and Shinnok. By the end of Mortal Kombat X, only Jax, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion were freed, with the others just spouting out hateful comments to their opponents when they had to fight, but were otherwise empty husks. Then when they take over the Netherrealm, they go to war with Earthrealm (where most of them were born), kill Sonya, and act like Evil Is Petty childish psychos. At this point, everyone has lost sympathy for them since they're not brainwashed anymore, and even their past selves call their revenant selves out on this.
    • Past Jax admits that his future self has suffered, but he tells him it's no excuse to betray his unit and his family to side with Kronika.
    • Frost's rationale for roboticizing herself, re-creating the Cyber Lin Kuei, and allying with Kronika is that she hates her former mentor Sub-Zero for "abandoning" her and refusing to make her the grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, but the entire cast sees it otherwise. Sub-Zero even deduces that she's only using this as a way to piggyback off of Kronika, something which is validated in her arcade ending. Not that they're saints to begin with, but even some of the villains such as Shao Kahn, Noob Saibot and Kano chide her for using this as an excuse and ignore her demands to be made leader of their respective organizations.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, "Raiko's Diary," a post-game optional scene, involves Raiko and Nobara learning a little more about Hiro after his death. His arrogance and desire to be the center of attention is said to be the result of how, after years of "pretty average to almost abysmal grades," he once got the highest grade in the class, and the attention went to his head. As for his poor treatment of the women in his life, it's revealed that his mother left his father when Hiro was five, and his father kept bringing other women home- either Hiro thought it was okay to treat women as objects, or simply hated women. Raiko then comes to this conclusion:
    "Anyway, I'm no psychologist, so all I can do here is speculate. But paired with his self-centered personality, it certainly would explain a lot. Even if it does by no means excuse anything he's done."
  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker: Your Player Character can get Chaotic Good points by telling the Stag Lord that his abusive father doesn't excuse the crimes he's committed.

    Webcomics 
  • In Khaos Komix, Jamie says in the introduction to his story that while he did have a Dark and Troubled Past, he's not going to use it as an excuse for having acted like a homophobic Jerkass to his friends and others.
    I don't really know what to say about my life. I suppose people are expecting a shit childhood with abusive parents and a daddy that never loved me. None of that would be wrong, but I don't think people should use their pasts as an excuse for their actions. I'm an asshole because I choose to be. And maybe if I do this I'll figure out how not to be an asshole. I'm getting there, but it's easy to fuck up. And I've got a lot riding on this whole repentance shit.

    Web Original 
  • Heaven and Hell: Allison "Alice" Witzenberg had a terrible childhood filled with abuse and neglect, growing a desire to become stronger as a result. However, Mint points out that Alice's love of hurting people is completely unrelated to what she went through, as well as the fact that Mint went through some of the same problems Alice did and dealt with them in a far healthier way.
  • Nights In Lonesome Arkham : Nyarlathotep was denied attention and respect from his Almighty Idiot father Azathoth after all the things he's done for him. This caused him to despise the Outer Gods. After Aleviel defeated him the first time and gave him hope of a better life, he began stalking her for reasons he himself couldn't realize, growing to believe in her until her death made him despise her. No longer content with being the Outer Gods' pawn and utterly hateful of his mindless father, Nyarlathotep's true plan to use Aleviel's power to break the lock on creation and devour the Outer Gods to reign supreme over all existence. He's flatly called out on his freudian excuse, as it doesn't excuse his sadism, cruelty and love for toying with humans' fears and emotions. However, when Hardestadt tries to call him out on this earlier, Nyarlathotep shuts him up by stating that "Gods do not justify themselves to their inferior".

    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 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 the usually laid-back comic relief character 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.
      Todd: You can't keep doing this! You can't keep doing shitty things and then feel bad about yourself like that makes it okay. You need to be better! ...No. BoJack, just... stop. You are all the things that are wrong with you. It's not the alcohol, or the drugs, or any of the shitty things that happened to you in your career, or when you were a kid. It's you, alright? It's you. ...Fuck, man. What else is there to say?
    • 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 Standard '50s Father was completely lost as to how to help, so he went with the quick fix of getting Honey a lobotomy. 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 lose 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.
  • The Boondocks:
    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!!!
  • Code Lyoko: It's implied that the Lyoko-warriors and more accurately Odd, Ulrich and Yumi were traumatized and grew to be used to fight XANA-William. This, combined with William's short time as a good guy against XANA, could explain why they give him the cold shoulder in "Fight to the Finish", with Odd going as far as to say that William is their enemy even though he's been freed from XANA's control and regretting William's clone's "demise", and Yumi brutally rejecting William when he tries to help them and trying to justify it by saying that William isn't "strong enough", an excuse even William doesn't seems to buy. However, Aelita calls them out on their thinking, stating that William was unwilling to be their enemy in the first place, and that she was xanafied as well (and much more times than William to boot), but they never treated her like they treated William. Sadly, her arguments are barely acknowledged, and leaving William on Earth led to him being xanafied once again and almost killing Jeremy, Ulrich and Yumi. Only Odd regretted rejecting William's help, and in the sequel series Code Lyoko: Evolution, it ends up being an Ignored Epiphany.
  • Darkwing Duck: Ordinary Guy from planet Mertz is the only guy on Mertz with no powers. Because of this, the other superheroes on the planet have to constantly rescue him from dangerous situations. He grows sick of this, so he disappears, takes on a supervillain persona, Not-So-Ordinary Guy, and invents a large ray gun which steals the superpowers of all of Mertz's heroes. He justifies this by saying he is fed up with no privacy, no social life, and the beatings he takes. He asks Darkwing Duck "Surely you know what I'm talking about, I watch them do to you what they did to me". While Darkwing Duck is sympathetic and admits the other superheroes are pesky, he points out "You don't see me going bad." Ordinary Guy fires back "Maybe I like being a villain, Mr. High and Mighty".
  • Elena of Avalor: Esteban has spent his life at the beck and call of others, from his grandparents to Shuriki to Elena, and has never been able to accomplish his own dreams. On top of that, he desires more power because he was not listened to when it truly mattered; before his parents departed on a ship ride, he had felt something was wrong and his concerns were dismissed, only to be proven right when a storm at sea took them down. Feeling he wasn't loved or listened to after his parents' deaths, and desperate to be seen and heard, this led him to assist Shuriki in her takeover of Avalor in exchange for political power, only helping as long as she promised not to hurt his family. Unsurprisingly, Shuriki lied and killed Elena's parents. Esteban got the power he wanted, and regretted it deeply. When the truth comes out in "The Magic Within" and Esteban tries to justify his actions this way, only his grandfather is willing to forgive him; everyone else, especially his grandmother and Elena, tells him point-blank that there's no excuse for selling his family out to Shuriki, getting his aunt and uncle killed, and bringing a dark age to Avalor.
  • Family Guy: After Quagmire is arrested for statutory rape after sleeping with a teenage girl, 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.
  • Final Space: Sheryl Goodspeed's husband John Goodspeed died saving the Earth, which broke her heart. She had a breakdown, and become neglectful to her son Gary before abandoning him and becoming a notorious criminal, saying that with John's death her heart shattered to the point she became incapable of loving anyone else. Episode "The Lost Spy" tears apart that excuse and shows that she was always more evil and selfish than she lets on, as it's revealed that she was always a criminal, and that her relationship with John started because she was ordered by her superior to seduce him in order to get information out of him but she ended up marrying him and having his child. She was also shown to already be a bad mother to Gary, implying that while she always loved John, she was resentful of being a mother. Finally, in "Descent Into Darkness", after Gary defeats her in battle, he calls her out on being a bad mother to him. Sheryl says he caught her on an off day, and Gary says that there was never an on day, he is done being the excuse for all her mistakes, and that things went the way they did because of her and no one else.
  • Gargoyles: In the past, Demona was mistreated by the humans she protected in Castle Wyvern. She watched her clan be destroyed by the Vikings, and set out to rebuild a new clan of gargoyles of the last of her kind, only for them to be destroyed, leaving her miserably alone for centuries. But as Goliath pointed out, she was the one that caused the destruction of her first clan because she was the one to betray the castle to the Vikings, because of her and the Captain of the Guard's short sighted plan for the Vikings to take the humans and leave the gargoyles. Her second clan was destroyed because she betrayed Macbeth to Canmore because she suspected Macbeth's plan to betray her, only for Canmore to betray her and destroy her clan. The Weird Sisters force Demona to face the truth of her actions, only for her to ignore the truth later.
    The Weird Sisters : You must give them the code.
    Demona: I will have vengeance for the betrayal of my clan. Vengeance for my pain.
    The Weird Sisters : But who betrayed your clan? And who cause this pain?
    Demona: The viking destroyed my clan.
    The Weird Sisters : Who betrayed the castle to the vikings?
    Demona: The Hunter hunted us down.
    The Weird Sisters : Who created The Hunter?
    Demona: Canmore destroyed the last of us.
    The Weird Sisters : Who betrayed Macbeth to Canmore?
  • 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.
    "And you're right to be mad at him. But it's not your job to forgive him. It's mine."
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Eva's distant father Don Wei was once a successful and happy man who managed one of the biggest racing companies on earth and was Happily Married to the pilot Maya. Then his world came crashing down when Maya was killed in a racing accident. Sinking into despair, Don began to doubt his ability to raise a child, which led to him abandoning his daughter at a miserable boarding school. After some time as a drifter with no purpose, he soon grew into a cold,hard man who distanced himself emotionally from everyone. When Eva confronts him about this, she furiously tells her father of all the years she waited for him to come back, that she was just as hurt by Maya's death as him, and that he never made an attempt to even contact her. What's more, Don eventually did find a successful team, and he still could never find the time for his daughter, to the point where he didn't even recognize her when she showed up again. Don himself admits he can't blame Eva for hating him after his utter carelessness.
  • Rick and Morty: Jerry is a very insecure man who will take any opportunity to assert dominance over someone but the second someone retaliates he'll cry in the corner and try to make them pity him. After surviving an assassination attempt in "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy", Rick thoroughly and bluntly calls him out on this by telling him his clingy behavior makes him a parasitic predator who uses his pitiful nature and insecurities to justify his actions and forces people to be with him out of pity.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra was raised as a ward of Shadow Weaver alongside Adora. Shadow Weaver openly favored Adora and made it clear to Catra that she considered her no more then Adora's pet and outright threatened to kill Catra more than once and attacked her multiple times. And she was unpopular with her peers sans Adora. This left her with a desperate need for affection, as well as power and control. On numerous occasions, she's given the opportunity to change her ways, and fails to do so because of any perceived slight towards her or because she values being powerful over anything else. In the episode "Promise", despite having a flashback of all their good times as childhood friends, Catra still turns her back on Adora, leaving her to die, mainly because she was tired of being in Adora's shadow and thought she was holding her back.
    • This comes to a head in season 3, where Catra becomes obsessed with beating Adora no matter the cost, outright rejecting both the opportunity to remain happy as a gang leader in the Crimson Wastes and yet another offer to join the Rebellion from Shadow Weaver. She's so desperate that's she willing to open a portal that could destroy the universe, herself included, just for the sake of beating Adora at something. She goes so far as to knock Entrapta out to prevent her from talking Hordak out from opening the portal, sending her to Beast Island, and then threatening to do the same to Scorpia (the one other person she truly considered a friend) when she calls her out on her erratic behavior. The portal is opened and Carta blames Adora for not stopping her. Realizing Catra is going to destroy the universe and blame her, makes Adora realize that Catra's actions are not her fault.
      Catra: You broke the world and it is all your fault.
      Adora: No, it's not. I didn't make you pull the switch. I didn't make you do anything. I didn't break the world! But I am going to fix it! And you? You made your choice.
      (Catra snarls, then leaps to attack)
      Adora: NOW LIVE WITH IT!
      (Adora punches Catra in the face, knocking her out cold.)
    • Seasons 3 and 4 provide details about the abuse Hordak endured as a clone soldier in Horde Prime's army, including violence, mental violation via telepathy, and suppression of individuality. When Hordak exhibited health problems due to a cloning flaw, Horde Prime sent him to the front lines of battle to die. Hordak seeks to conquer Etheria in Horde Prime's name in order to prove his worth to his "brother". However, the series repeatedly shows how life in the Etherian Horde has stunted and damaged its soldiers, and how Hordak's conquest has caused untold suffering.
  • South Park seems to like this trope.
    • "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. In 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!
    • "The Jeffersons" has Michael Jefferson (obviously Michael Jackson) act like a manchild and being overly friendly to the kids in the cast, neglecting his own child, Blanket. Cartman defends Jeffersion by saying that he should be able to act like a child because he had to work all the time when he was young and never had a chance at a proper childhood. Kyle rebukes this by saying that even if all of the charges he has were all made up and he didn't have a good childhood, that doesn't give him the right to be a manchild because he has a kid of his own. He needs to grow up and take responsibility to raise his own son.
    • 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 response to her newfound attitude 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.
  • Totally Spies!: Almost every single villain the spies face has some level of Freudian Excuse that they use to justify their villainous plans. It even gets to the point where Clover (easily the one most apt to break the fourth wall) drops this gem: "Finally, an evil villain who isn't bitter about being dissed or something..." when it seems like that trend will be broken. However, the spies themselves have zero sympathy for the tragic backstories of the villains they face. A classic example (of course, from Clover).[1]
    Sunny Day: If I'm mean, then what do you call the owners of Bronze-Me-Baby, who fired me at first wrinkle?!
    Clover: Ugh, that's beyond harsh, Sunny! But maybe you should get over it?
  • 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:
    • 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, Quilby 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. Oporo 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 as he does.
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo?: The culprit of the week dressed as a Headless Snowman and terrorizes a small town during the Christmas season because he was looking for gold bricks that were stolen from his ancestor. In a rare case for this trope, the culprit himself admits that he had no excuse for ruining everyone's Christmas and was fully prepared to pay for his crimes. Fortunately for him, it's a Christmas Episode, so he is Easily Forgiven. He was so touched, he decides to give the gold to the town people.

 
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"It's you".

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