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Honor Thy Abuser

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Sometimes, abusers or bullies are depicted as the worst kind of scum. Usually, their victim is justified in their dislike for them. However, there are media in which the victim is portrayed by the creator as being wrong for their resentment and/or is called out for it for some reason by another character; eventually, the victim may learn to forgive and respect the victimizer.

Causes of this include:

Compare Delusions of Parental Love, Troubled Abuser, Informed Wrongness, The Complainer Is Always Wrong, and No Sympathy for Grudgeholders.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Assassination Classroom reveals that Nagisa's mother was horribly abusive towards him, she doesn't care what Nagisa thinks, wants, or needs, if he doesn't achieve what she didn't achieve in her whole life. However, their subplot ends with Nagisa forgiving her and her being a Karma Houdini.
  • Case Closed: Heizo Hattori's actions during the Tiger Scroll Murder Case are this. When Heiji gets a little too careless during the investigation, he punches and belittles him. It is then later revealed that it was all a Batman Gambit to enrage Heiji enough to act as bait for the culprit, which could have very well killed him if there were a Spanner in the Works. His actions are in no way considered reprehensible by the cast, and even his underlings in the Osaka Police Department considered it an act of Tough Love.
  • Durarara!! has a scene where Izumii's father breaks his nose for his room being set on fire, under the belief that he was smoking. However, Izumii entirely holds a grudge against Aoba, who set his room on fire just to get back at him for hitting him. The reason why Izumii hit Aoba in the first place was that he believes his parents favor and spoil him.
  • Food Wars!: Azami Nakiri submitted his daughter Erina to a Training from Hell to refine her God Tongue, which included verbally and physically abusing her, as well as isolating her from everyone else so she would have no friends or people to rely on. However, at the conclusion of the Central arc, upon seeing the reasons for his actions, Erina quietly thanks her father for everything he did for her sake and she apparently doesn't hold grudges against him.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Tohru forgives Akito for the various atrocities she committed against the Sohma clan, and most of the other Sohmas either forgive her or have moved on to the point where they stopped caring. The only one that doesn't forgive her is Rin, but even she feels rotten for not being able to.
    • Kyo attempts this with his father near the end. His father regularly blamed him for the suicide of his mother, but it's heavily implied that he was a Domestic Abuser that drove her to do it. When Kyo tried to make amends with him, he wouldn't stop hurling insults at him. Kyo finally realizes that his father is a lost cause and cuts him from his life.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood: George Joestar never gets reprimanded for constantly berating his son Jonathan and acting oblivious to his adoptive brother Dio's bullying towards him. Instead, he tells him in his dying words that he acted that way to make Jonathan a better person. Though, considering that they're 19th century English gentry, it could be Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • Love Hina: Despite all the years of Naru beating Keitaro to near-death for every minor infraction, he not only forgives her but marries her. To make matters worse, the series ends with Keitaro accidentally ripping Naru's wedding dress. Three guesses what that leads to.
  • My Hero Academia: Endeavor's redemption arc plays with this. On the one hand, Fuyumi accepts Endeavor's redemption and just wants the Todoroki family to be whole again, but Natsuo isn't as quick to forgive him and gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Shoto, who arguably suffered the most by his hands, takes the neutral ground. He doesn't quite forgive him for what he had done, but he acknowledges that he's trying to improve himself. In the end, Endeavor says that it's fine for his children to not forgive him, and arranges for them to live in a separate house, both for their safety and because he acknowledges that it would be best for him to remove himself from the picture.
  • Naruto:
    • In the manga itself, Shikamaru questions why his dad married his overbearing mother, and Shikaku's answer is that mothers are supposed to be hardasses. He takes this advice to heart and marries Temari, who subjects him and their son Shikadai to some abuse that's Played for Laughs.
    • The alternate universe in Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja flanderizes Kushina's Hair-Trigger Temper into physical and emotional abuse. However, Naruto learns to accept this reality over time.
  • Urusei Yatsura: In the final arc, Ataru and Lum meet Rupa and Carla, denizens of the Dark World and whose relationship is so dysfunctional it makes them look like a loving, stable couple by comparison. In Carla's mind, she and Rupa are a Childhood Friend Romance soured when Rupa's great-grandfather Uba declared that Rupa had an Arranged Marriage with Lum. An incredulous Rupa, upon her recitation of this claim, points out that the only time he said he loved her when they were kids was because Carla was holding him at gunpoint. After Rupa's engagement was declared, Carla went mad with jealousy and became a kind of tsundere/yandere fusion. For the next ten-plus years, she would chase Rupa around the planet, attacking him with guns, bombs and other weapons and demanding he either profess love to her or die. When she wasn't doing that, she would send him all manner of cutesy gifts; dolls in her likeness, handmade clothing, posters and accessories printed with her image, love letters and so forth. Not one character in the cast admits that maybe Rupa has a reason to dislike Carla for her antics, instead portraying him as the bad guy for "breaking Carla's heart" (especially the girls in the cast). At the story's climax, Rupa confesses to have really been in love with Carla all along and asks her to marry him, which does at least make her stop attacking him for rejecting her.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted in Batgirl (2000), where Cassandra Cain starts out genuinely loving her horrifically abusive father and not truly understanding how bad he was, but by the end of the book has come to despise him for how he treated her.
  • Discussed and defied in Batwoman: Detective Sawyer's father once locked her in a tool shed when she was a child because he was worried she was going to Hell for being so butch. After Sawyer broke her way out, her mother met her, crying, talking about how he did it out of love for her. Sawyer doesn't forgive him and later says that she isn't a particularly forgiving person.
  • In Deathstroke, Rose and Joey often leave their father and try to establish their own civilian lives, only to return to Slade's side (usually after Slade has whoever they were forming a life with murdered).
  • In the 2017 series of Runaways, Dr. Hayes performed genetic-engineering experiments on her children, encouraged them to have sex with each other in the hopes of producing a super-powered grandchild, performed medically-unnecessary tests on her granddaughter, and attempted to harvest genetic material from the Runaways without their knowledge or consent. In spite of this, the series treats her sympathetically because her children are dead (never mind that those children grew up to be supervillains who died during a failed attempt to bring about the end of the world), and the Runaways elect not to harm her despite her enthusiastic efforts to kill them.
  • Robin: Any time Tim so much as questions his parents' neglect and abuse of him he feels like he's overstepped and is ashamed of it, and right before Jack's death their relationship is suddenly much improved after Jack follows through for once on a few of his promises to Tim. Tim's memories of his parents after their respective murders tend to be rather rose-tinted, as he loved them and accepted that they were flawed people.
  • In Teen Titans: Earth One, Tara's mom is a verbally and physically abusive addict. Later, however, she is one of the few parents to care about and help her children and shares a load of helpful exposition and advice in a tearful goodbye to Tara.

    Fan Works 
  • In New Hope University: Major In Murder, Ashley openly recognizes that her father was abusive toward her, and even calls him a "fucker" and an "outright psychopath," but says he treated her that way because he saw her potential and believes it made her better than her classmates. Saya, who had a poor relationship with her own father, is flabbergasted by this attitude. Of course, this is complicated by the revelation in the final trial that Ashley killed her father.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Kid (2000): Russ is seen as the bad guy for trying to cut his abusive father from his life.
  • The Savages: While we never find out exactly how, dad Lenny was abusive to his children Jon and Wendy, which left them with clear emotional scars (and it's heavily implied that there was at least some form of physical abuse). However, the film is about the siblings learning that they should care for Lenny because it's the right thing to do, and they need to be better than him.
  • Whiplash: Andrew does this to his teacher Fletcher, but the effects of this trope are discussed multiple times. Fletcher mistreats every single one of his students, verbally berates and bullies them, picks on their insecurities, and hits them (including throwing things at them). He also drove one of his past students to suicide. However, Andrew actually agrees with Fletcher's perspective and ends up giving in to Fletcher's abuse, supporting Fletcher's belief that he needs to push his most dedicated students, and ends up producing an amazing performance. Depending on your perspective, this is a straight example of this trope (as Fletcher and Andrew are both finally happy), or an Esoteric Happy Ending (given the potentially horrific consequences of his treatment).

  • Harry Potter:
    • Subverted with Albus Dumbledore. He claims to Mc Gonagall at the very start of the story that one of the reasons that he will let Harry live with the Dursleys is that it will make him more humble and willing to sacrifice himself. The thing is that 1) how abusive this household turned out to be wasn't even something that he could have expected and 2) it turns out that this was just an excuse and the real reason lay behind the belief that Harry would never be safe in the magical world as there were agents of the Dark Lord everywhere.
    • An individual in-the-heat-of-the-moment violent episode happens with the most tense couple in the series. When Ron returns from his departure in Deathly Hallows, Hermione beats the crap out of him. Even though his actions were partially under the influence of a Horcrux, Hermione was so heartbroken and over this that she refuses to cut him any slack, and Ron on his part thinks he deserves it and tries to win her back. This was thankfully removed from the movie. Hermione instead verbally chastises him, and Ron has a Dude, Where's My Respect? response.
    • It turns out some of Snape's actions were all a "jerkass act" to help Harry kill Voldemort. While killing Dumbledore made sense since he was dying anyway and it was an assisted suicide, that doesn't justify his years of bullying Gryffindors because of a childhood grudge. Harry (after years of spitting at his name) forgives him and gives him some respect and even names one of his children after him all the while still seeing him as flawed and wrong about lots of things.
  • In Ordinary People (and only in the book; the film has no such moment), Conrad concludes that Beth tried her best and that he needs to forgive her, even though Beth is an unrepentant narcissist.
  • In Touching Spirit Bear, One of the things Cole learns on the island is to forgive. He forgives his dad for abusing him since he was abused himself and knew nothing but cruelty.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake's neglectful dad, who has obsessively slept around with almost everybody in Jake and his mom Karen's life, returns and Jake's parents get back together. He tries to blackmail him into breaking up with her, but this ultimately fails and concludes in an Aesop that Jake should trust his mom to make her own mistakes...and support his parents to have a happy relationship. This overlooks how traumatic the experience was for Jake himself.
  • CSI: NY: In season 9, it is revealed that Adam's father Charles had been verbally and physically abusive to Adam, his brother, and their mother; that Adam's brother had left their home (in Arizona) because of it; and, later, Adam had threatened to kill Charles if he ever hurt his mother again. Now grown & living in NYC, Adam has moved Charles, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, to a nearby facility so he can keep an eye on him. In the course of his visits, Adam learns thru Charles reverting to his own childhood that he and *his* brother had been abused by their father as well. When Mac asks Adam why he visits the man, Adam answers, "Because I'm his son," and explains that he feels no emotion towards his father and is concerned by that. Choked up and on the verge of tears, he says, "You're supposed to honor your parents. What does that say about me as a person?" Mac tenderly replies, "Looks like you're feeling something now."
  • Shameless (US) deconstructs this trope. Frank neglects Debbie, Carl, and Liam, emotionally abuses Fiona and Lip, and physically abuses Ian. Whenever the Gallagher children give him another chance, it always blows up in their faces.
  • Played with in Succession. Logan is a vitriolic, narcissistic bully whose only response when Kendall tells him he loves him is to insult him for being stupid, and who was immensely neglectful of his kids. However, Logan also raised them in the height of luxury, as a multi-billionaire, and the show zigzags between criticising his children for hurting their dad when he's in a vulnerable state, especially as it's made clear they'd be nowhere without him and have largely coasted by on their family name, and Logan himself had an awful upbringing, including brutal physical abuse. Nevertheless, he's still shown as a total jerk, and his kids are also presented as deeply hurt by his treatment.
  • Played surprisingly straight in Veep. Selina's mother, also named Catherine, is presented before her death as a passive-aggressive narcissistic bully who can't think of a single good thing to say about her daughter, while her father was a sleazy politician, who nevertheless adored Selina and made her feel loved. However, Season 7 has Selina discover that her mother actually bailed out her father multiple times, who left them on the brink of financial ruin multiple times and cheated constantly. This conveniently handwaves how Catherine Snr's behavior has been extremely abusive before her death.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy X: Tidus harbors resentment towards Jecht because he often verbally abused him (in particular, always calling him a "crybaby"). However, the game later reveals that it was all a lot of overcompensating on Jecht's part to keep Tidus at a distance for his own good; Jecht thought of himself as a pretty worthless person and figured there was no way he could be a good father, so he didn't want Tidus to grow up emulating him and thought it would be for the best that Tidus resent him and try to be better than his crap dad.
  • Persona 5 is a huge deconstruction of It Can't Be Helped and depicts most of the main characters abused by the authority figures in their lives and how both of these tropes are often little more than excuses to let those in power walk all over those around them.
  • NieR: Automata: There's a sidequest where 2B and 9S have to retrieve a machine that ran away from home after an argument with his mother. The machine is painted as a Bratty Half-Pint for running off even though the reason he did so was that his mother favored his older brother, blamed him for something that was his younger sibling's fault, and blamed him when his older brother hit him.

  • In volume 6 of Ennui GO!, it's revealed that Izzy and Adelie placed their abusive, drug-addicted mother into an expensive hospital when she got older and needed more care. This despite the fact that she tried to kill them at some point in their youth. Downplayed in that, once Izzy finally visits her, she admits that she doesn't forgive her for all the pain she caused her and her sister but feels no actual resentment toward her either; she just needs to let her mother go in order to move on with her life.
  • Invoked in Keychain of Creation when Marena forces herself to forgive her mother of the many abuses she inflicted in the name of preparing her for life in the royal court. By the end of the List of Transgressions, Marena admits that her mother's Manipulative Bastard tendencies come from having to go to incredible lengths to reach her current status.
    "And I forgive my mother for... for... For making me respect her anyway. ...She started off in a worse place than I did. I have to."

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