Follow TV Tropes


Guilt-Ridden Accomplice

Go To

"Who I thought was my homie dropped the dime. So I gotta peel his cap with the nine. "
Mc Eiht, Compton's Most Wanted

It's easy to trust your childhood friends or loyal minions with your secrets, but even they have a limit to what they'll keep secret. Perhaps a group of drunken teens ran over a little kid and decides to close ranks, make a pact, cover everything up, and keep the crime to themselves. But one or more group members are uncomfortable with the secret and appear to be cracking under the pressure, and could possibly rat out the other party members that were involved. Whether or not they actually squeal, stay silent, or get killed by their supposed friends varies from movie to movie. Usually when this happens, everyone becomes paranoid of one another when it comes to being a potential snitch. This trope is very common in horror/thriller/crime dramas/murder situations.

Overlaps with A House Divided, Murder Is the Best Solution, and sometimes Defector from Decadence, and Rebellious Rebel. Usually leads to a Plethora of Mistakes. Compare Idiotic Partner Confession.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Tsukigasa, while Kuroe never approved of thievery, the robbers who saved him were surprised when he tried to make off with their maps and Tatsumi was surprised when he gave them to him to help arrest the criminals and Kuroe still wanted to turn himself in too. Ultimately, it comes down to Kuroe being a righteous sort of person and wanting to protect Azuma, the criminals' next target.

    Comic Books 
  • One well-known example could possibly be the Comedian from Watchmen. Of course, he pays for this with his life. He wound up being the victim of the Murder Is the Best Solution variety.

    Fan Works 
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: In the non-cannon story "Nightmares Yet to Come", it's shown that Cloud Kicker is a member of The Conspiracy... and it's driving a pony who's already a Nervous Wreck to worse heights. It's also ruining her chances of dating, though even she's not sure if that's a contributing factor or not (her boss disagrees).

    Films — Animated 
  • The Genie from DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp is very clearly traumatized by the many horrible things he's been forced to do when his lamp was in the possession of Merlock, even though the only two he explicitly names are sinking Atlantis and destroying Pompeii. As he points out, he's compelled to obey the bearer of the lamp, no matter how much he hates the wish, and Merlock is an Evil Sorcerer with a magic talisman that grants him unlimited wishes. Throughout the film, he's terrified of the possibility of his lamp falling back into Merlock's clutches, and when it finally happens, he becomes a meek, downcast and miserable shadow of himself. In the film's climax, a cruel Merlock orders the Genie to use his powers to throw Scrooge out of his castle, which is currently flying several thousand feet in the air. The Genie visibly fights against the wish, and in the end, all he can do is apologize to Scrooge.
  • The Huntsman from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is horrified by the Queen's order to kill Snow White and bring her the girl's heart. He tries to talk her out of it, and only agrees when she makes it clear it'll be his life if he says "no." Even so, he's overwhelmed by guilt, and upon seeing her kindness and innocence, can't go through with it, instead letting her go and faking her death.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The protagonist of Armored quickly goes from accomplice to Spanner in the Works when the thieves' hideout is found to be not as secluded as they thought and his friend tries to solve the problem by killing the witness, breaking the head organizer's deal with the protagonist that there would be no casualties.
  • Cleon from Dead Presidents is of the broke down and squealed variety.
  • The entirety of Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity is a flashback derived from the Dictaphone confession of guilt-ridden insurance agent Walter Neff, beguiled by femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson into murdering her husband.
  • Another example from the noir canon is Too Late for Tears, in which con man Danny Fuller (played by noir vet Dan Duryea) begins cracking up after killer housewife Jane Palmer pressures him to kill her sister-in-law to cover up the murder of her husband. Poor Danny is made to go away rather quickly.
  • Rachel from The Haunting Of Sorority Row starts to show signs of this trope.
  • David Reynolds from The Liars Club is starting to doubt his best friend's innocence regarding the rape and murder of a fellow friend. But he's of the "kept silent" variety who continued to destroy evidence with the rest of the group.
  • A key part of the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope. A key difference, however, lies in that it is not the anxious Philip that keeps making mistakes but rather the cool, suave and entirely unrepentant Brandon who enjoys letting hints drop to make himself feel more intelligent, all the greater for the glory of getting away with it (despite rubbing the clues in the victim's familiar ones faces numerous times), a fact which actually irks Philip even more.
  • Violet from Stranger Than Fiction was starting to get panicky and erratic. She either hanged herself or one of her friends (presumably Emma) rubbed her out and made it seem like a suicide.

  • John Grisham's The Associate has a rare case of a guilt-ridden mastermind. Baxter Tate, accused but never convicted of rape back in college, goes through rehab and decides to patch things up with the woman who accused him. Problem is, it's the evidence of this rape and the possibility of being labeled an accomplice that's being held over protagonist Kyle McAvoy's head by a mysterious conspiracy, and so the conspiracy has Tate killed to keep their leverage.
  • Discworld: Feet of Clay has the Golems who made the Golem King. After it goes completely insane and murders someone, the golems responsible are so horrified they start killing themselves, because they used their own clay to make the King.
  • Forever and a Death: The captain of Curtis's yacht is confused and conflicted about the whole coverup and murder plot. Soon he is Driven to Suicide.
  • Ghost Story reveals Molly Carpenter to be one of these. Harry — her teacher in magic and the Big Good who protected Chicago — has been murdered. The truth is that he was trying to escape A Fate Worse Than Death by committing suicide, and asked her to assist him with it. Harry hired a sniper, Molly erased his memories of the plan afterwards, and everything went as planned. Except for the fact that, with Harry gone, a lot of supernatural predators that would otherwise have stayed away are descending upon Chicago, and the city's living defenders are left severely weakened and comparatively ignorant about the supernatural world. Also, Harry's True Companions are traumatized by his death, and Molly has to live with the guilt of that and the pain of undergoing Training from Hell at the hands of a sadistic Fae to get strong enough to defeat said predators. She believes that all of that could have been prevented if she'd had the courage to tell someone else what Harry was planning, and she's not wrong. Morals of the story? Do not let the hero die or pledge Undying Loyalty towards someone with depression.
    • Notably, after Harry comes back to life, she welcomes him with open arms, letting him stay in her apartment even after signs of The Corruption begin to show. Admittedly, she probably would have done that anyway, but one gets the feeling she's trying to atone.
  • In The Mug and Spoon, Marie is extremely conflicted about the scam that involves her posing as a fairytale princess to attract a rich husband. After she ends up marrying a man she really loves, she can't bring herself to lie to him and soon tells him everything about the scam, asking him to keep it a secret.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Code of the Clans, there's a short story where Darkstripe encourages Longtail to break the warrior code by eating the prey they caught instead of bringing it to the Clan. Longtail feels guilty when they return to camp to find that one of the elders has died, and he blames himself, thinking that the prey might have given her the strength to fight off her illness if they'd brought it back earlier. Darkstripe, seeing how Longtail is feeling, threatens that if Longtail tells the Clan what they did, he'll tell them how it was all Longtail's idea and that Darkstripe couldn't stop him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A terrorist on 24 season 2 had second thoughts about their plan to trigger a nuke in LA. He and an accomplice end up killing each other.
  • One of the victims in the Cold Case episode "Blood On The Tracks", who wanted to turn himself and his friends in for a crime they were involved in a decade prior that left another friend dead (the other being the only one who supported him in this). Very tellingly, the killers ended up being the two who not only wanted to keep everything quiet, but were least affected by what they had done.
  • Parodied on the Friends Beach Episode when Joey had to come clean about peeing on Monica's leg after she is stung by a jellyfish.
    Joey: I gotta get it out! It's eating me alive!
  • The murder victim from the episode of Law & Order: SVU that dealt with female-on-male rape turned out to be one of these. She and a couple of friends raped a male stripper at knifepoint during her bachelorette party. Years later she was confronted by her victim and she felt guilty enough to confess her crime and turn over the names of her accomplices. When she told the other women her plans, they killed her to cover up their crime.
  • One Midsomer Murders episode had a young boy who'd apparently hanged himself decades earlier, causing his single mother to commit suicide shortly after. It was actually an accident: the boy wanted to join the village "cool" kids, who put up a noose and told him to stand tiptoe on a chair with his neck in the noose as an initiation. The boy slipped while they weren't looking, and they kept mum about the whole thing for years. Then one of them got news that he had a terminal illness, and went to confess to the priest who, it turns out, was the boy's father who goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • During One Life to Live's legendary gang rape storyline, one of the rapists, Powell Lord was this, having been bullied into committing the rape by the other two. The guilt drove him so mad that he tried to kill himself... and a year later, became a serial rapist himself.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • During Jaal's Loyalty Mission, one of the Roekaar taking part in a faked bombing of the Forge, a sacred site to angara, breaks and tells Jaal, his brother, what's going on. Then his sister shoots him in the back, and has her own My God, What Have I Done? moment (the brother lives, and thanks to angaran social norms, isn't that upset over the whole deal).
    • A mission on Voeld has Ryder encounter a pair of turians playing scavenger in the cities the kett have destroyed. One of them cracks and tells Ryder what they're doing out of guilt, prompting her angaran contact in a nearby town to remark she didn't have the heart for it anyway.
  • Bianca from Spyro: Year of the Dragon is The Dragon to the Sorceress and helps her snatch the eggs from the dragon world. However, as the game goes on, it's very clear she doesn't actually want to hurt Spyro and Hunter and tries to warn them away to the point of begging by the time you reach Evening Lake. When she discovers her boss only wanted the baby dragons for their wings and not to restore the Lost Worlds' magic, she immediately makes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Wild ARMs: Million Memories does this with Antenora. She genuinely feels bad about abducting Yulie because the girl had healed her beforehand so frequently stops by Yulie's cell to check on her and explain herself. Yulie's kindness and understanding, paired with what Odessa have in store for her, only makes Antenora feel worse, so she decides to let Yulie go and urges her to run when the battles around them start getting messy.
    • Later on, Rudy himself ends up siding with Siegfried, which leads to him reactivating the Yggdrasil System and causing Filgaia to go up in a ball of fire. Even though it was in exchange for an Enemy Mine against Mother, they feel so guilty about it in the final chapter that, when called on it, both of his dialogue options are silent pauses.

    Visual Novels 

    Western Animation 
  • In Alfred J. Kwak episode De watersnood Wannes, Big Bad Dolf's childhood friend, tries to dissuade Dolf from his plan, and starts having a terrified breakdown once it's done. Wannes becomes visibly afraid of dolf and when he shows up later, he's heavily implied to be drunk. It could be argued that it already started in the previous episode where Dolf proposed murdering Ollie, who they both went to school with.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters: The Headless Horseman. Basically, Prime Evil enlisted his help in bankrupting a gold mine owned by Jake's great-grandfather. (The ghosts scared all the miners away.) Jake made his distrust of the Horseman very clear, even as the ghost protested that he wanted to help and try to redeem himself. So very tragic, and that sad voice...
  • South Park:
    • Parodied when the boys toilet paper a teacher's house and Kyle starts to feel guilty and wants to confess. It even includes Cartman trying to kill Kyle with a wiffle ball bat to silence him.
    • In another episode, when world governments are trying to hide something bad they did from extraterrestrials, Finland's lets loose they can't take the guilt and want to squeal. Cue the other countries silencing them...with nukes. Then cue the aliens asking "Hey, what happened to Finland?" and the others making up lame excuses to explain why Finland is all of a sudden lifeless and glowing.
  • Spongebob Squarepants frequently to Mr. Krabs: standout cases include when they try to cover up (supposedly) killing a health inspector and when he is forced to make a fraudulent newspaper with articles that destroy people's reputations. Something to be expected when the accomplice has the childlike innocence of Spongebob and the perpetrator the Machiavellianism of Krabs.


Video Example(s):


The Huntsman

The Huntsman cannot bring himself to kill Snow White.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / GuiltRiddenAccomplice

Media sources: