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Heartfelt Apology

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Apologies come in many ways. Some are forced and fake, and others are genuine and heartfelt.

This is when a character sincerely apologizes for something they did and the person on the receiving end forgives them. Can sometimes be accompanied by Tears of Remorse. Such an apology might be given by The Atoner or a character that matured enough to realize their mistake and try to fix it.

This is essentially the opposite of Backhanded Apology, where a character gives a sarcastic apology that isn't an apology or remorseful at all.


Sometimes, however, this falls flat if the character Apologizes a Lot or they have gone too far that the apology gets rejected even if it's genuine.

Compare and contrast with The Grovel, which is sometimes embarrassing for the recipient, often not genuine, and usually has an ulterior motive. In comparison, a Heartfelt Apology is a genuine and honest apology with no hidden goals and is delivered in a serious manner.

Also contrast with The Unapologetic, for someone who never apologizes for his or her actions.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Sherlock Holmes never really apologizes, and when he does it's awkward and he never quite gets around to the word "sorry"—until The Final Problem after John gives him a hell of a What the Hell, Hero? lecture after murdering Milverton and trying to sacrifice himself. When they meet up again after John storms out, Sherlock bows and apologizes for the first time in the series. To show it's accepted, John fixes his tie.
  • My Hero Academia: Bakugo apologizes for all the years he bullied Midoriya, convincing the tired hero-in-training to come back to U.A.
  • My-HiME: Shizuru breaks down crying after she and Natsuki are resurrected, tearfully crying out, "I'm sorry, Natsuki!" Natsuki gently puts a hand on her shoulder and tells her it's alright, offering up a tender smile.
  • Pokémon the Series: Black & White: In "Iris and Excadrill Against the Dragon Buster!" Iris realizes that the reason Excadrill always ignores her is because he is ashamed of himself for losing to Drayden's Haxorus and that she put unnecessary pressure on Excadrill to defeat him. Iris tearfully apologizes for forcing him to battle when he knew he couldn't beat Haxorus and promises to consider the way he feels from now on. She says they should just frolic in the fields and pick berries together like they did in the old days. Excadrill is clearly moved and he finally comes out of his curled-up state.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Inter Nos: In Chapter 59, Shizuru and Natsuki have a fight over Shizuru attempting to leave Natsuki in the port city of Argus rather than taking her on her march. Natsuki, in her fury over believing that Shizuru is demeaning her because of her being crippled, delivers an Armor-Piercing Slap that surprises both women. Natsuki immediately regrets doing so, and Shizuru takes the hand that slapped her and kisses it, acknowledging that she had been unfair.
    Shizuru:I am not angry, I promise. And I apologised just now because I did deserve it.
  • Junior Officers:
    • In "Even The Best Fall Down Sometimes", Barnacles tells Shellington (who has recently suffered from an emotional breakdown due to Barnacles' unintentionally insensitive remarks) that he deeply regrets making Shellington feel like respect was something he had to earn from him. He then says that Shellington really does deserve respect because he's a great Octonaut and promises to treat Shellington differently.
    • In "The Undersea Twister," Barnacles goes to speak to Deborah, remorseful for having taken his frustration out on her. He asks Deborah what her father, Humphrey, has done to her (she angrily compared Barnacles to him before) and after she vents about Humphrey's Parental Favoritism and Fantastic Racism, Barnacles apologizes for what he said to her and says that he regrets having been anything like Humphrey. He then promises to always be there for her, and she hugs him, clearly forgiving him.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Book of Life: Towards the climax of the movie, Manolo must defeat the bones and souls of all the bulls the Sanchez family killed. Manolo realizes, however, that battle was not the answer, and he sings an apology from his heart, apologizing for the injustice that the thousands of bulls faced, and that if the bulls could forgive him, love can truly live.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Sunset Shimmer returns to Canterlot to apologize to Celestia and ask for her advice.
    Sunset Shimmer: Princess Celestia, the last time we saw each other, I was your snide little pupil who betrayed and abandoned you.
    Twilight Sparkle: I wouldn't have said it that way! Ahem, What Sunset means to say is...
    Sunset Shimmer: I mean that I come before you a changed pony, humbly begging for forgiveness, guidance, and knowledge. (Celestia lowers her wings and approaches, her expression unreadable) Or, I could just go and you never have to see me again...
    Celestia: (puts a hoof under Sunset's chin and smiles) I've missed you, Sunset Shimmer.
  • The Tale of Despereaux:
    • Roscuro apologizes to Princess Pea for his various acts with a simple "I'm sorry." The Princess responds with an equally sincere "What are you talking about? I'm the one who should apologize."
    • The King. looking over his kingdom after the Chef decides to Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! and simply mutters "I'm sorry..."
  • Turning Red:
    • Mei gives one to her friends for failing to defend them from her mother's accusations at Tyler's party.
    • Ming also gives one to Mei from across the spirit-separation portal in the spirit realm, apologizing for the way she's raised her over the years.
  • Zootopia: When Nick is disgusted with Judy for saying that predators may be regressing to their former wild ways, she tearfully acknowledges that she was wrong to say that, and calls herself "ignorant, irresponsible, and small-minded". He then reveals that he was recording what she said on the pen she gave him, and invites her for a hug.

    Film — Live Action 

  • One of the effects of Scrooge's Heel–Face Turn in A Christmas Carol is him apologizing to everyone he was a jerk to — Bob Cratchit, Fred and his wife, the charity collectors.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's science fiction novel A Civil Campaign the protagonist, Miles Vorkosigan, has accidentally deeply offended Ekaterin (his potential love interest) with a very badly done campaign of courtshipnote . He winds up sending her a handwritten letter of apology. Although Ekaterin notes the letter contains no "plea for forgiveness, absolution, penance, or any begging to call or see her again", it does begin with the words "I am sorry" (as did all of the previous drafts).

    Live Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon actually learns empathy and goes around trying to genuinely apologize for being a chore when he was sick. It takes a bit longer with Raj's current girlfriend, Emily, but Sheldon manages to demonstrate his sincerity by declining to go on a trip with the others to Vegas, which Leonard had said Sheldon could attend on the condition that everyone accepted his apology. Emily tells Sheldon he can come with in the end.
  • M*A*S*H: Played with. In "Carry on, Hawkeye," Hawk is the last doctor standing as the camp is down with the flu. And now he has it too. Margaret expresses genuine concern for his well-being, leading to this exchange:
    Hawkeye: You really are, aren't you? (Beat) You know all those rotten little tricks I played on you?
    Margaret: Yes.
    Hawkeye: I'd like to get well and do them all over again.
    (gives a "gotcha!" expression to Margaret, who can't help but smile.)
  • Scrubs: Dr. Cox gives a brief but sincere apology to Laverne after she snaps at his mockery of her Faith. She accepts his apology. Then, tragically, she's killed in a car accident the next day.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Agent Washington apologizes to Caboose for not being a good friend when Church and Agent Carolina left him and the Reds and Blues to fend for themselves. Wash later verifies that it was not a ploy to reclaim his spot as Blue Team Leader, he meant every word.
    Tucker: Pretty sneaky, Wash. A couple of mushy words, a present, and you're back on top.
    Wash: There's nothing sneaky about it. I meant every word.
    * Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: Towards the end of the Waluigi Arc, Wario apologizes to Waluigi, vowing to be a better brother and that he would never reject him.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "Sozin's Comet, Part 2 - The Old Masters", when Zuko, Katara, Toph, and Sokka manage to track down Zuko's Uncle Iroh, they unexpectedly come across the Order of the White Lotus, with some of their past mentors and allies counting among the highest ranking members, while Iroh himself serves as the Order's Grand Master. While Katara and Sokka quite happily reunite with Pakku and Piandao, Zuko, still feeling immense guilt for betraying Iroh and the Gaang months before, at first is hesitant in confronting his uncle, but patiently waits for the following morning when he finds his uncle asleep in his tent. When Iroh does finally wake, Zuko first acknowledges that he knows Iroh might not want to see him, but quickly breaks down while admitting how deeply ashamed he is and how much he regrets what he did, but before Zuko could declare that he would do whatever he could to redeem himself, Iroh tearfully embraces his nephew, much to Zuko's surprise, and reassures Zuko that he was never angry with him, and is actually proud that Zuko has already redeemed himself on his own.
  • Bojack Horseman: In "Hooray Todd Episode", as a sign of his Character Development, Bojack offers Todd a sincere apology for sleeping with Emily. Todd accepts it...but makes it clear he's not yet ready to be close to Bojack again, which Bojack is fine with.
  • Little Robots: At the end of one episode, the Sparky Twins sing a song about how sorry they are for stealing everyone's property.
  • The Loud House: In "Spell it Out", Lucy's siblings apologise for "walking all over" her by writing on a blackboard (since they'd lost their voices) and offer to watch TV with her.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Every Little Thing She Does", Starlight Glimmer delivers a heartfelt and earnest apology after casting a mind control spell on most of the Mane Six, sans Twilight. Even Rainbow Dash, who had been the most vocal in her criticism of the act, acknowledged that it was a good, sincere apology.


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