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Hinjo: Ok. But if I get killed before Xykon's army attacks, the city will have no leader and thousands will likely die in the confusion. So, you know, it's your call Roy.
Roy: *sigh* Fine, I'll do it. But that was low for a paladin.
Hinjo: You're obviously not familiar with one of our key class abilities: Summon Conscience.

Guilt-tripping is a form of emotional blackmail. It works by latching on the target's sense of guilt or responsibility in order to manipulate them or otherwise coerce them into doing something for the user. It's not foolproof though, and the gambit can fail depending on the circumstances of its usage. However, when applied properly, it tends to be so effective that even when done blatantly and the target knows what the user is doing, the target gives in anyway.

Can also be done for good reasons, such as when the target is being a jerk or otherwise acting immorally. It also doesn't have to be done for big things, guilt-tripping can be used for small favours.

Users of guilt-tripping may Resort to Pouting, employ Crocodile Tears, and/or Puppy-Dog Eyes to make it more likely to work.

Super-Trope to Shapeshifter Guilt Trip, which is specifically about shapeshifters transforming into their target's loved ones to manipulate them. Also a Super-Trope to Guilt-Based Gaming, which is when a game guilt-trips the player.

Compare Oblivious Guilt Slinging for unintentional cases of guilt-tripping. See Conscience Makes You Go Back for when someone guilt-trips themselves. Can overlap with Playing the Family Card if someone tries to guilt-trip someone else via family ties.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Assassination Classroom: Meg Kataoka is guilt-tripped by Kokona Tagawa into helping her study because the latter almost drowned in a swimming incident and blamed the former for it despite it happening because Kokona was the one being irresponsibly careless. It takes an intervention from Meg's friends and Koro-sensei to remove Kokona's emotional leverage over her.
  • Pok√©mon: The Series: In the episode A Ruin with a View, May tries to get Ash to walk slower since she's not used to long-distance walking. Ash tries to get her to hurry up, but May reminds him she used to have a bike. This guilts Ash and Pikachu, as the ones responsible for ruining her bike, into accommodating her slower walk.

    Fan Works 
  • Beach Trip: In order to get the 1-A boys to go through with a karaoke performance, the 1-A girls dramatically moan about their injuries in an attempt to emotionally blackmail them. It works and the boys resign themselves into giving the live performance the girls wanted.
  • Boys and Girls: When Lincoln is trying to teach his older sister Lori a lesson for flirting with a man named Hugh when she already has a boyfriend, he shows her a photo of Bobby (the boyfriend) and says to Lori that he is the love of her life and potential father of her children, so it was low what she did with Hugh.
  • In Conquest, when Jaina sees that Picard is reluctant to win the Empire's war against the Borg for them (believing that the current Let's You and Him Fight situation is preferable to a possible You Have Outlived Your Usefulness), she basically mind controls him into raping her. When he comes to later remorseful and willing to submit to whatever punishment she demands, Jaina states destroying the Borg will be sufficient.
  • Pound and Pumpkin Cake's Adventures (and Misadventures) in Potty Training: When Mrs. Cake is trying to toilet train her two-year-old son Pound, but he isn't keen, she combines this with Reverse Psychology by saying that he doesn't need to use his potty... but then, she follows it up with "I only..." followed by a Long List of everything she's ever done for him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Shrek 2: When Puss in Boots is begging Shrek not to kill him, he says, "My mother is sick and my father is living on garbage!" Shrek relents.
  • Tangled: During "Mother Knows Best", Gothel occasionally tries to guilt Rapunzel into not wanting to leave the castle (with lyrics like "Stop! No more! You'll just upset me!" and, in the extended version, "I only bathed and changed and nursed you").

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): LeFou tries to guilt-trip Gaston after the latter leaves Maurice for the wolves:
    "Some storm, huh? At least we're not tied to a tree in the middle of nowhere surrounded by bloodthirsty wolves. You know, it's not too late! We can always turn back..."

  • Chillin' in Another World with Level 2 Super Cheat Powers: In order to get Balirossa to agree to let Gholl and Uliminas stay with them after they left the Dark Army, Fenrys pretends to cry while asking if she has no heart and wants to turn her friends out into the cold. Flio lampshades this and says Fenrys might as well not even ask while Fenrys gives Balirossa a nonchalant look while the latter is going through a guilt-trip.
  • I Left the A-Rank Party: In a failed attempt at guilt-tripping, Simon tries to point out that Thunder Pike keeps failing at dungeon expeditions and quests because Yoke left them. Yoke however stands his ground and counters that Thunder Pike kept treating him like crap and their failures are their own responsibility despite their claims otherwise, and he is under no legal or moral obligation to return to a party that did nothing but belittle and abuse him and never paid him his fair share of the earnings for everything he did for them.
  • In The Great Divorce, Frank Smith spends his entire life since childhood getting his way in every argument by sulking and manipulating other people to feel guilty and pity him. In the afterlife, it results in him turning into a Literal Split Personality: the Dwarf, which is a Personality Remnant of his good qualities, and the Tragedian, who tries to manipulate Frank's wife Sarah, now a resident of Heaven, in his old way but ends up just looking ridiculous. As it becomes clear that Sarah can't be tricked anymore, Frank is firm in his Redemption Rejection, and the Tragedian eats the Dwarf. The narrator learns that while the action of pity (aka active charity) will live forever, the passion of pity (as his Spirit Advisor dubs the guilt-tripping) will be killed after the Second Coming of Christ.
  • Reborn as a Space Mercenary: I Woke Up Piloting the Strongest Starship!:
    • As Elma decides to walk away from Hiro and Mimi when Hiro decides to save Mimi against her advise, Hiro manages to make her come back by saying she's showing her true colours as a person who'd abandon her trainee and that he was wrong to think she was a generous and reliable mentor.
    • Serena Holz tries to guilt Hiro into staying close to her instead of taking his crew on vacation by pointing out that the colony they're in is still recovering from the terrorist attack that Hiro helped deal with. Hiro resists since Serena isn't actually seeking his help with the recovery efforts, she just wants to be close to Hiro.
    • Milo the AI has sale quotas to fulfill, and builds a Robot Maid to Hiro's specifications when he only wanted to see a preview, and to really land the sale, Milo has Mei mention that if Hiro doesn't buy her, she will be dismantled for parts. Hiro can only scream in frustration when he realizes the guilt-tripping is working.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Barney Miller:
    • Inverted in one episode, where Deitrich saves Harris' life. Instead of Deitrich guilt-tripping Harris into owing him a favor, he plays the Humble Hero, seriously annoying Harris, who offers up increasing amounts of money and goods just to even the score because he does NOT want to be indebted to the one man in the precinct who consistently gets under his skin.
    • Played straight in another episode, where a beggar keeps guilt-tripping the entire precinct to get preferential treatment, even making a show of how hungry he is just to get Wojo to give him his last stick of chewing gum. Turns out he's actually a former stockbroker who is making more money begging in New York — enough to afford an apartment and maid, and support a wife and family — then he was at his former career!
  • The Brittas Empire: In "Snap Happy", a children's party entertainer refuses to allow Carole's young son Ben to be a party guest at a pirate-themed party being held at the centre, citing a previous Noodle Incident where Ben apparently ruined his ability to do Punch and Judy shows with a Flymo. Carole is not having any of it though, opening up Ben's cupboard in the centre to allow the entertainer to hear him crying and telling him that by not inviting him, he's allowing Ben to get a headstart in paranoia and insecurity. It works like a charm as the entertainer relents, not that this does him any good.
  • Community: This is Shirley's go-to move for manipulation early in the series, such as in Comparative Religion, when she attempts to guilt Jeff out of fighting Mike the Bully by invoking the spirit of Christmas, even though it's only December 10th.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: When it comes to weaponizing guilt, Marie Barone is a grandmaster, often bringing it out as a way to distract her family from her various antics.
  • Friends: While Phoebe's mother committing suicide is treated seriously, she actually admits that she'll sometimes bring it up to make people feel bad for her and do what she asks. Being the person she is, though, she tries not to do this more than once a week.
  • House of Anubis: Late into season 1, Jerome gets jealous of Alfie becoming close to the Sibuna gang. He decides to exploit his best friend for information (and money from Rufus). In order to convince him to betray the others, he tricks Alfie into thinking that the Sibunas abandoned him in the cellar and left him locked in a sarcophagus at night — even going so far as to act hurt when Alfie correctly accuses him of stealing and using his walkie talkie. Alfie feels bad enough to start desperately trying to make amends, starting by giving up his food.
  • In Only Fools and Horses, Del often pulls this on Rodney by getting him to do things because that's what their late mother would have wanted. Rodney calls Del out on this, citing the time he claimed that one of her dying wishes was that Rodney should go out to get the fish and chips, to which Del responds by admitting that he was drunk at the time.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "In the Cards", Jake Sisko wants to buy his dad, Benjamin, a baseball card to cheer him up. He wants his friend Nog to loan him some money, but Nog doesn't want to, so Jake puts on a deliberately sad voice and mentions all the things Benjamin did for Nog.
  • Trailer Park Boys: In the first season, Ricky gets into trouble when Mr. Lahey catches him making a porn film with J-Roc, and confiscates the tape so he can Blackmail Ricky into leaving the trailer park by threatening to show the tape to his on-again-off-again Love Interest Lucy. In an example of this trope that overlaps with Advance Notice Crime, Ricky leaves a phone message for his friend Julian that emotionally blackmails him that goes like this:
    Ricky: Julian! It's Ricky here. Just letting you know that, uh, I've thought about this, I feel I have no other options. I'm gonna go down to Lahey's trailer, I'm gonna break in, and I'm basically probably gonna kill Mr. Lahey, and I'm thinking about killing Randy as well, and I'm gonna take the porno tape back. I've talked to Bubbles about it, he's probably gonna give me a hand, because we both can't have this tape floating around. So, anyway, you know, I was kind of counting on you to maybe help plan this, but if you don't want to, that's up to you. I just hope you won't feel guilty when me and Bubbles are both in jail and you know that you could have prevented a murder. Talk to you later.

  • Adventures in Odyssey: "To Do Or Diet" Connie, who has been desperately searching for a purpose, is inspired by a personal trainer, and asks Whit, Bernard, and Wooten if they will work with her to earn a scholarship. They turn her down, and Connie dejectedly walks off, saying how she thought she'd finally found a purpose, but if they're all too busy, she understands. Whit, who sees Connie as something of a surrogate daughter, feels guilty, and uses Connie's feelings of disappointment to guilt the others into helping, saying that while he's been praying for God to show Connie a purpose, he needs to back that up by acting on it, and the others reluctantly agree to aid her. She misses her goal of the scholarship, however, as Whit himself, though sticking to the diet and exercise program, misses his mark by one pound. Connie is understanding, though, as she was reading up on the personal trainer position and realizes that Whit hit a plateau, and it simply wasn't meant to be.

    Video Games 
  • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Mifuyu does this to Yachiyo in Chapter 6 of the game, albeit not to convince her to do something for her, but rather to dissuade her from interfering from the Wings of Magius's plans. Namely she guilt trips Yachiyo by pointing out that Yachiyo's made new friends even though Yachiyo blames herself for the deaths of her and Mifuyu's past friends and that Yachiyo allowing herself to grow close to others again is going to lead to their demises just like what happened before. It works like a charm, and Yachiyo reverts back to her sullen demeanor from Chapter 1 of the game and allows Iroha and the others to go to a Magius meeting even though it is clearly a trap.

  • El Goonish Shive: Grace manages to get Sarah to hang out with Ellen, whom she never hung out with without it being part of a larger gathering, by pointing out that due to the unique circumstances of Ellen's birth, she has memories of growing up with Sarah and suddenly lost all of that. This succeeds in making Sarah decide to go through with it despite the awkwardness involved.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Coyote manages to get Annie's father to let her visit his forest despite his reservations by making him look at how miserable he is making his own daughter feel by separating her from her forest friends.
  • The Order of the Stick: When Roy tries to refuse to become Hinjo's bodyguard, Hinjo pretends to accept before pointing out that if the latter dies, so do his people. Roy sighs, gives in, and agrees to become Hinjo's bodyguard but says that for a paladin, that was incredibly manipulative.
    Hinjo: You're obviously not familiar with one of our key class abilities: Summon Conscience.

    Western Animation 
  • The Loud House: In "The Green House", Lincoln Loud is assigned to do a school project on saving energy, but his sisters are being wasteful. He tries to get them to be more energy-efficient by showing them a photo of a baby polar bear sadly sitting on a melting ice cube.
  • There's an episode of Sonic Boom named for this trope. In it, Sonic and Tails save Gogoba Village from the Weasel Bandits, but the Gogobas guilt-trip them into staying as a reward for their heroism. Sonic eventually decides that in order to escape from the Gogobas, they have to use their own tactics against them, leading to a scene where he and the Gogoba Chief attempt to out-guilt each other. At the end of the episode, after beating Dr. Eggman's robots, Sonic and Tails use the Gogobas' guilt-tripping technique to get them to go with Eggman, knowing they will become his problem while also convincing Eggman that he is stealing their allies.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: In the episode Final Curtain, Harry does a subtle version by disguising it as Oblivious Guilt Slinging. He knows Gwen intends to break up with him, but he pretends otherwise and says it's a good thing she's with him after what happened with his father, or he'd lapse back into addiction. As intended, this guilts Gwen into not breaking up with him.

    Real Life 
  • A very common technique used by charities. Especially charities that can't survive on their own merit.


Video Example(s):


A Headstart in Paranoia

For not allowing her son Ben to be a party guest, Carole lets the entertainer hear his crying and tells him that he's giving the child a headstart in security and paranoia.

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Example of:

Main / GuiltTripping

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