This trope covers incidents where:
- The word karma is used more or less "correctly" per its original meaning.
- A concept is introduced into a story or a story element that is essentially identical to karma, even though it's not called that.
This page originally read "Describe Karma here." Yikes! Of course that's also the whole point. Karma is a complex spiritual concept whose disambiguation is perhaps best left not to TV Tropes or Wikipedia, but to actual religious study.
Originally, the term Karma was a Sanskrit word for a rather specific spiritual concept, but over the centuries the word has been borrowed by countless languages, cultures, subcultures, religions, works of fiction, and even video games. Over time the word has evolved to such an extent that many who consider it to be part of their everyday vocabulary are unfamiliar with its original definition.
While explaining the original meaning of Karma in a single paragraph is almost certainly oversimplifying it, the principle goes something like this:
- Actions have consequences.
- Divisibility is an illusion. All things are one. It is more true that we are a piece of the universe than we are individuals.
- Acting out of love makes the universe a better place, while malign motives degrade it.
- When you hurt someone else, you're actually hurting the universe at large, of which you are a part.
Therefore, when you commit an evil act, you are in a sense harming yourself and not just others.
Its most common and simplest definition (perhaps too simple) is "If you do something bad, it'll come back to bite you in the ass."
Karma has also been equated to Equivalent Exchange and Newton's Third Law of Motion: "For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction."
Note that Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism have different views on karma. In Hinduism, there is "good" and "bad" karma; in Jainism there are also two types of karma, with the goal to remove all the "bad" karma then the "good" karma to achieve perfection (becoming a "siddha"); while in Buddhism all karma is bad and the goal is to achieve enlightenment (becoming a "buddha") and thus escape from its bonds.
- Adaptational Karma - for when a Karma Houdini is punished in an adaptation of the original story
- Call It Karma - for when it's not but the term fits
- Cartesian Karma - for when penance must be paid for your evil deeds whilst brainwashed
- Karma Houdini - for the character who doesn't face punishment for any of their wrongdoings
- Karma Houdini Warranty - for when a Karma Houdini eventually does receive punishment for their actions
- Karma Meter - for an easy to read guide to your Karma levels
- Karmic Butt-Monkey - for a person whose suffering is used as punishment for their own jerkish actions
- Karmic Death - for when a death was deserved and a fitting punishment for the misdeeds of the person who died
- Karmic Injury - when a character is injured in a manner identical or similar to injuries they have inflicted on someone else.
- Karmic Jackpot - for when the character does something good, and gets a suitably great reward in return.
- Karmic Misfire - for when an innocent character is wrongly punished instead of a guilty character
- Karmic Nod - for when a character accepts that his/her karmic punishment was deserved
- Karmic Overkill - for when a person's karma goes beyond what is truly deserved
- Karmic Protection - for a fair punishment, don't be too evil
- Karmic Rape - when Laser-Guided Karma hits in a very sensitive spot
- Karmic STD - a character gets a sexually transmitted disease for their misdeeds
- Karmic Thief - for when a thief only targets those who deserve it
- Karmic Transformation - for when you become the thing you hate
- Karmic Trickster - for balancing the world's karma (or at least that's the excuse)
- Karmic Twist Ending - for making sure that Aesop sticks
- Laser-Guided Karma - for Karma with ridiculously good timing
- Offscreen Karma - for when punishment is unseen or will happen
- Sexual Karma - for giving good sex, you get good sex
- Unintentionally Karmic - a character whos well-meaning actions and attempts end in karmic misfortune for the bad guy instead.