Follow TV Tropes


Karma Houdini Warranty

Go To

"The innocent die while the guilty laugh. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?"
Tombstone, Freedom Force

A Karma Houdini is someone who seems to be unpunished after their bad actions. This trope posits that they have a "warranty" to that — and also describe when that warranty is void.

Certain circumstances and actions taken can result in the vicious delayed retribution of Karma, related phenomena, and even their own mistakes:


If one of these conditions is met, the Karma from their previous actions returns in full force and everyone turns on them.

This usually provides a Catharsis Factor by pulling the rug out from under the former Houdini. In this case, the Smug Snake, Villain with Good Publicity, Invincible Villain, Complete Monster, etc. realizes they're at someone's mercy and the villain that fans Love to Hate (or is just a Hate Sink) is finally punished. Both the characters and the audience turn the untouchable evil into a Butt-Monkey.


Of course, Karma may get vindictive and make even minor blemishes seriously punished while good deeds are belittled. The expiration of a Karma Houdini Warranty may occasionally turn the character into The Woobie or a Jerkass Woobie for the audience... but this isn't the case in-universe. The other characters (and the author) usually believe that the character is getting their just deserts, and show No Sympathy. They might try to use a Freudian Excuse to justify their actions but get shut down quickly. If it is the first condition that is met, then it may be a case of Redemption Equals Affliction.

Compare Adaptational Karma, where a character who got away with their actions in the original work is given their comeuppance in the adaptation. Contrast Offscreen Karma, in which the character's karmic retribution is explicitly mentioned to have happened but isn't shown, often because it would be too complicated to provide details for or because it's (supposedly) more satisfying that the retribution reduces the Karma Houdini to a mere In-Universe footnote.


Warning: because this trope requires someone initially be a Karma Houdini, which is a spoiler, all spoilers will be unmarked.

The Karma Houdini Warranty is now available in our Trope Co. catalogue!


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Angel Beats!, the protagonists swap Kanade "Angel" Tachibana's test sheets with their own faked sheets in order to cause her to fail her exams and get removed from her position as Student Council President, and not only succeed but get away with it. Several episodes later, Otonashi, having befriended Kanade, comes clean about the entire thing, resulting in her being reinstated as president and him and his accomplices being punished.
  • The Baron from Belladonna of Sadness has Jeanne gang-raped in a Droit du Seigneur when she and her husband, Jean, can't pay an absurdly high marriage tax, chops off Jean's hand when he can't pay more taxes, and finally has her burned at the stake, and is unpunished when the movie ends and the rest of the village is cowed into submission to the Baron. Of course, her actions are heavily implied to kickstart The French Revolution, and the Baron will most likely meet a bloody but fitting end.
  • Fumito Nanahara of Blood-C gets away after committing a lot of atrocities which is Gaslighting Saya by hiring actors to play as her friends and getting these people brutally killed just to for his experiment. The movie also revealed that he turns people into Elder Bairns which includes Mana's dad. However, it's revealed that he did this out of his love for her and that all of these were just for Saya's survival and to restore her ability to feed on humans. All of his experiments failed which led Fumito to turn himself into an Elder Bairn as a last resort so he could be with Saya. But he knows that she would kill him for ruining her life. So in the end, he lets himself get stabbed by Saya's sword knowing that he would never be with the woman that he loved and that he failed his mission to keep her alive.
  • Death Note: After having killed his rival L and getting away with the murder of innocent people, Light finally meets his fate in the final episode. He definitely shouldn't have gloated without double-checking that he'd accomplished his victory conditions and within earshot of an armed investigator.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Because Bardock: The Father of Goku and Dragon Ball Minus are prequels to Dragon Ball, Frieza gets away with killing almost all the Saiyans and laughs happily as Planet Vegeta explodes. Bardock's final vision in the TV Special, however, is one of Goku fighting Frieza on Namek. So despite everything, Bardock dies knowing that his son will avenge him. Even in Minus, we see a panel of Goku and Frieza facing each other as the final shot. Indeed, Frieza's downfall comes about as a result of his own actions; for starters, his attempt to prevent a Super Saiyan from coming into being end up bringing one forth when he pushes Goku too far.
    • Similarly, because of the nature of The History of Trunks, the Bad Future counterparts of Androids 17 and 18 are never made to pay for their crimes; when Trunks tries to avenge Gohan's death at their hands, he's nearly killed. They finally get their just desserts three years later when Trunks, having taken a level in badass thanks to his training in the past, returns and dishes out to them exactly what they did to Gohan: making them feel completely powerless and outmatched before killing them.
    • While he's friendlier and less evil than Frieza, Cell, or Buu, Beerus still gets away with some unpleasant actions: he cruelly used King Vegeta's head as a footstool in front of his own son Prince Vegeta while making him treat him to an eight-course banquet, knowing that he was much weaker than him and with no possibility of defense, and has been responsible for numerous genocides throughout the universe. He is also ready to destroy Earth over not getting pudding. His initial behavior in Dragon Ball Super, such as destroying entire planets after eating all their food, is also quite heinous, but he still gets away with it. In the Universe Survival Saga, his handling as God of Destruction comes back to bite him when it was revealed that Universe 7 is one of the universes about to be destroyed by Zeno because it has the second-lowest mortal rating of all 12 universes; the only reason his universe has a chance to be spared was thanks to Goku's proposal for the multiversal tournament. As a result, Shin calls him out for his sleeping habits and Goku called him out for his random destruction of planets. Not much of a punishment, but with an author-favored character and Smug Super Physical God like Beerus, being called out on his actions is the worst thing that can happen to him.
  • Fruits Basket: While she does undergo a Heel–Face Turn, Akito Sohma still spent years abusing the Sohma family physically, verbally, and emotionally, committing such acts as blinding Hatori in one eye, beating Kisa so brutally that she ends up in the hospital, and throwing Rin out a second floor window; in the end, she receives no punishment for any of it and even gets a happy ending with Shigure. That being said, Akito has to live with the guilt of her actions for the rest of life, and has shown that she's not going let herself forget anytime soon. The sequel, Another expands a bit more on how Akito's life isn't easy despite having her husband and son who love her. First of all, Ren is still around in the Sohma main house and more hateful than ever because she can't stand that Akito has a happy family, driving Ren to verbally abuse Akito's son Shiki and Akito got stabbed once while protecting Shiki from Ren. There's also the Sohma retainers who disapprove of the changes Akito made in the household after the curse broke and they're shown harassing Shiki by telling him what an awful person his mother was in the past. Shiki also mentions that Akito greatly regrets her past actions towards the cursed Sohmas and distances herself from the people in the family besides Shigure, Shiki and Tohru.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, invoking this trope is a core part of Roy Mustang's motivation. As a soldier in a past civil war, Mustang and his fellow soldiers committed many horrible atrocities, however, because they were on the winning side, they were all commended and treated as war heroes. Mustang's goal throughout the series is to become the Führer of the country, so that he can ensure that this is rectified. When his subordinate (and Love Interest) points out that this means Mustang will most likely be tried as a war criminal himself and sent off to prison, Mustang informs her that that's exactly what he wants. We never see it occur, but Word of God is that he does indeed see his day in court, and is found guilty and then pardoned, mostly for saving everyone.
  • Gundam:
    • At the end of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Haman Karn, Neo-Zeon's leader who wants to restore Zeon to its former glory, outlives Paptimus Scirocco and the Titans and personally defeats Char Aznable while the AEUG is in shambles which makes her the only threat standing against the Earth Sphere. In Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Judau Ashta enters the picture, and while she continues being a threat to the Earth Sphere, Neo-Zeon's threat crumbles after the mutiny of Glemy Toto and his supporters. The subsequent Enemy Civil War within Neo-Zeon gives Judau and his Gundam team a chance to defeat Haman once and for all. Despite Judau's idealism which slowly made her realize her conviction, Haman has a Heel Realization and decides to kill herself.
    • After committing copious war crimes in the original Mobile Suit Gundam and attempting an ultimately unsuccessful Heel–Face Turn over the course of Zeta Gundam, UC perennial antagonist Char Aznable finally sees his warranty expire over the course of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, which takes great pains to show viewers how low he can really sink before he gets the climactic duel with Amuro he's been yearning for and learns too late to Be Careful What You Wish For.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Ali Al Saanchez, after getting away with his crimes and escaping unscathed, is finally defeated for good in Season 2's penultimate episode after Tieria shuts down his mech. The brother of one of his victims pursues him and corners him at gunpoint but is willing to refrain so as not to dishonor his loved one's memory. Ali tries to take advantage but Lyle outdraws him and blows his brains out.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Nobliss Gordon spends the series' entire run pretending to be the heroes' friend while secretly plotting to have them killed for his own personal gain, getting many revolutionaries killed, and intentionally making the conflict between Tekkadan and Gjallarhorn as bloody as possible to profit. Even though the heroes suspect him of something, he's just good enough at hiding his tracks to make it impossible for them to pay him back. This culminates in his men pulling off a successful hit on Tekkadan's leader Orga Itsuka at a time when the group needed his leadership more than ever, ultimately playing a major factor in his and Rustal's ultimate victory over Tekkadan. Nobliss' warranty finally expires in the series epilogue, where he enters a public toilet and gets shot dead by Ride Mass, Tekkadan's "little brother" figure, in revenge for Orga.
    • In the same series, there's also Iok Kujan, a recurring antagonist throughout the second season who, time and again, gets away with general asinine behavior and out-and-out war crimes mainly because his subordinates sacrifice themselves to save him and because he happens to be part of a high-ranking family within the organization Gjallarhorn, all of this despite being known to virtually everyone as a total incompetent. These actions include the awakening of the relic mobile armor Hashmal, which then rampages around Mars for a while before being destroyed and getting tons of innocent people killed, then orchestrates the death of Naze Turbine and his wife Amida Arca—who are both mentor figures and close friends of the main protagonists in Tekkaden—for using an illegal weapon to destroy Hashmal by using those same illegal weapons, which also leads to the murder of another friend and ally of Tekkaden. He finally gets his comeuppance in the last episode when, seeking glory like he always does, he moves in to kill Mikazuki and Akihiro while declaring his name so that everyone knows who he is when he does it. Akihiro happens to have been particularly affected by Iok's actions and gets a second wind which allows him to kill Iok in a particularly brutal way.
  • Hayate's parents from Hayate the Combat Butler get away with every parental crime they inflict on their son from stealing his hard-earned money, abandoning him to a yakuza and generally messing with his life. The final arc is when they finally get their comeuppance. In their attempt to get money from Nagi and sabotage Hayate's job as her butler, they end up screwing over Hisui's plans for the King's Jewel's power. Their final scenes are the mother watching in horror as the girl rips off the hood of their car, while the father managed to escape into the forest... only to be caught by his other son, Ikusa, who promises not to kill him, but still beats him up which will hurt a lot since he is even stronger than his brother.
  • Inuyasha: Naraku became an Invincible Villain over time, and repeatedly managed to avoid death despite virtually every named character in the series being out for his blood. Then came the Grand Finale, where he's torn apart by Inu-Yasha's Meido Zangetsuha, and finally wished out of existence completely by Kagome and the Shikon Jewel.
  • In one backstory of Kaguya-sama: Love is War, Ishigami discovers a student named Ogino cheating on his girlfriend, who Ishigami had just become friends with. Ogino tried to buy Ishigami's silence by offering to let him "borrow" her, which only gets Ishigami enraged enough to beat the crap out of him. He pulled a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, making it look like Ishigami was a Stalker with a Crush which ended up ruining his friendship with the girlfriend and turning him into a social pariah, and threatened to hurt her (it's implied that he would have released revenge porn) if he revealed the truth. It appeared he got away scot-free, but it soon turns out that Ishigami's initial reaction has actually made Ogino terrified and paranoid of him. Even moreso, when Kaguya learned of what went down, she immediately ratted Ogino out to Shuchi'in's club presidents, who all agreed that Ogino was scum for what he did and had him expelled.
  • While it only lasted for a few episodes, Nui Harime from Kill la Kill quickly loses her smug attitude and goes into full Villainous Breakdown once Ryuko cuts off her arms with no way to recover them. After everything she's done and being an Invincible Villain until this point, this is considered by fans to be the most satisfying moment of the series.
  • While the Love Hina girls eventually started to warm up to Keitaro after all the time they abused and thought lowly of him, it doesn't really change the fact that they went unpunished. Enter his little sister Kanako, who punishes all the tenants for their abuse of Keitaro, and almost succeeds in driving the girls out of the house completely.
  • Caesar Clown in One Piece gets away with his actions during the Punk Hazard arc with no legal consequences (though his lab is devastated, several important allies dead, and he gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Luffy, so he doesn't get away entirely scot-free) because he has the backing of Donquixote Doflamingo. But when Doflamingo is taken down in the Dressrosa Arc, all of Caesar's protection goes with it... including from Big Mom, one of the Four Emperors, who he swindled research funds from.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors has Leon Orcot, who was characterized by his muleheadedness and cynicism over the supernatural. Count D welcomes him at the pet shop nonetheless...until Leon actually proves himself in a confrontation with D's father and recognizes the pet shop and the Count for what they truly are. That's when he gets abandoned.
  • The Underground Student Council from Prison School go out of their way and then some to make detention like a Hellhole Prison for the boys who were thrown there for the crime of... peeping. Each time the council's president catch's the school's headmaster doing something perverted, she takes out her wrath on the boys who have no idea what he's doing. They constantly increase their workload, abuse them, throw baseless punishments at them. It escalates to a point where the girls eventually decided to create a conspiracy to get the boys expelled from school. They almost succeeded if not for quick thinking and lucky breaks on the boys' part. After their crimes were discovered, they are sent to the same detention hall that the boys were sent to and are forced to suffer the same punishments.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion: The Big Bad of the series, Kyubey, has spent millennia scamming and ultimately destroying innocent Magical Girls from all over the universe, and getting millions of innocent humans killed by their Witch forms, and walked away every time smelling like a rose. Even Madoka's giant "F*** You!!" at the end of the original series didn't "punish" them, per se, even though it hadn't gotten precisely what it wanted. But in Rebellion, karma finally finds them; in trying to reinstate the Witch System, Kyubey pushes their luck too far. By the time the dust settles, not only are their plans annihilated, they have ended up making Homura even stronger than Madoka herself. Homura proceeds to get their entire race enslaved and horrifically Mind Raped for their troubles.
  • Zigzagged with Happosai, in Ranma ½. While the characters will usually try to punish him for his Dirty Old Man and Jerkass antics by beating him up or punting him into orbit, because he's actually one of the strongest fighters in the series, it's not easy to do that — worse still, it's shown that such punishments really don't bug him at all, because he can literally shrug them off in seconds. Several of his stories even have him coming back from his normal punishment to instead get the last "word" in, such as in the Happo-Fire Burst story, which ends with him blowing up Ranma with his newly re-discovered bomb technique for blowing him up earliernote . But, he has come off on the losing end a couple of times, such as when Pantyhose Taro dropped him in the middle of the China sea, or when his attempt to make a youth potion instead caused him to temporarily regress to the mental level of a baby.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena ends with Big Bad Akio Ohtori seeing his sister Anthy, who he had manipulated and abused for countless years along with everyone else at the school, walk out on him after telling him that he can continue to play prince in his own little world but she has to find Utena. The implications of the final shot featuring him are quite dark, since he's all alone and overshadowed by his massive office, and it's implied that without Anthy he has no real power and his actions will catch up to him soon.

    Comic Books 
  • An Archie comic from the early '70s starts with Reggie yanking away a pennant from Jughead and saying "Take your hands off!" Jughead replies "I can't, they're attached to my arms!" and proceeds to drive Reggie crazy with his incessant recital of "Dem Bones." Later Jughead realizes he may have gone too far and seeks to apologize. He finds Reggie half way around the bend and tells him "I didn't want to upset you." This drives Reggie even crazier as he didn't accept it as a valid apology.
    • Archie himself turns into a Karmic Trickster in a story about a fake rubber hand he borrowed from the art class. He uses it to play practical jokes on Reggie and Big Moose, getting them in trouble with Mr. Weatherbee. Jughead, who disapproves of Archie's behavior, thinks a hand clinging to the outside of a window sill is Archie's fake hand and nudges it off, only to find it was the janitor. Jughead, Reggie, and Big Moose wind up serving detention, with Archie delivering a final needle ("I sure wish I could give you a hand!") As Archie laughs outside, three arms from the detention room reach out towards him.
  • Avengers #200 infamously ended with the Avengers bidding Carol Danvers a fond farewell with Marcus Kang, a man who basically raped Carol. Avengers Annual #10 later brought Carol back, revealing that Marcus died a short while after she left with him and having her scream at her useless ex-teammates for none of them doing anything about the fact she'd been raped and brainwashed. And most distressingly of all, that all of them took everything Marcus said at face value. Carol doesn't return to the Avengers, choosing to stick with the X-Men, as the Avengers shamefully leave realizing they betrayed one of their friends.
  • The Doctor Who Magazine comic strip:
    • An alien Corrupt Corporate Executive named Josiah Dogbolter acted as a recurring villain in a lengthy arc in the early-to-mid eighties, but then disappeared from the strip unpunished for his many crimes due to a change of writer aborting the arc. "The Stockbridge Showdown", a Milestone Celebration strip in the magazine's 500th issue, centred around the Doctor finally defeating him.
    • Similarly, Count Jodafra was a major villain during the Eighth Doctor's era, and an Arch-Enemy to his niece, the Doctor's companion Destrii. The intended arc got aborted in this case due to the revival of the TV show and the BBC decision that the Ninth Doctor's strips should feature Rose and be unambiguously set in gaps in the TV continuity. Jodafra ended up making a brief return in the Twelfth Doctor's final arc, and getting killed off to help establish the threat of the main villain.
  • The original run of Doom Patrol ended with the members of the eponymous superhero team being murdered by their enemies Madame Rouge and Captain Zahl in 1968. Rouge and Zahl escaped justice for 14 years until their own deaths in The New Teen Titans in 1982 - and unlike the Doom Patrol, they stayed dead.
  • Dynamo5: Chrysalis was never caught by Captain Dynamo because of their affair before the series, though he did try to stop her crimes. In the series, after her plan with her daughter to take advantage of Captain Dynamo's death to impersonate him to increase their power base failed, she and her daughter were captured. She was finally sent to jail and separated from her daughter, who had the memory of her mother wiped from her mind.
  • The 109th issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) had a S.A.W. Viper gun down Doc, Crankcase, Heavy Metal, Thunder, and Breaker in spite of Cobra Commander's specific orders being that none of the Joes be killed. He has the gall to boast to Hawk that the Joes can't do anything about his actions and convinces Cobra Commander not to punish him solely by addressing that he's killed more Joes at once than any other Cobra member has in their past years fighting G.I. Joe, but eventually gets what's coming to him when Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow kill him in the 112th issue.
  • The Christine Spar arc of Grendel has the serial child murderer vampire Tujiro XIV, who started all the trouble, escape at the end. He unexpectedly turns up again as the main villain of the Eppy Thatcher arc, and this time dies.
  • Loki's Karma Houdini Warranty over what they did at the end of Journey into Mystery (killed their own child incarnation and took over his body) expired in the 10th issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard, the kicker is: They're type one. Their own guilt over this crime almost unmade reality in Young Avengers, they're trying to make amends ever since, and what actually triggers the karmic punishment is a confession to Thor.
  • Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: The story "Perils Before Swine" is a crossover with The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. In that series, Sylvester Sneekly a.k.a. the Hooded Claw kept trying to kill Penelope Pitstop so he could inherit her vast fortune and, no matter how many times he failed, he was never unmasked and was always free to torment her in the next episode. This time, thanks to the very same people he tried to manipulate so he could be rid of her protectors, he's finally exposed and arrested.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Geoffrey St. John got away with committing treason, which included a long list of actions such as letting Dr. Robotnik usurp the kingdom because he was pardoned by his then recently crowned master, Ixis Naugus. When Naugus' plan to use Mind Control on the Council of Acorn fails and Geoffrey finally sees Naugus for what he is, he tries to appeal to Naugus to change his ways and gets possessed by Naugus. Now that the book has gone through a Continuity Reboot, Geoffrey's ultimate fate is unclear, but he's no longer relevant to the book. Though it's very possible that he's been wiped from existence due to the lawsuit that resulted in said reboot.
    • Thrash the Devil threw the entire echidna race into an unknown dimension out of revenge for him and his race being experimented on, nevermind that many of the echidnas were completely innocent. Knuckles, Sonic, and Amy tried to force him into revealing their location, but he escaped. It can be assumed that, because of the lawsuit, Thrash ended facing the very same fate he inflicted on the echidnas, gone and never coming back.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), Krang is put on trial for crimes against both the normal universe and Dimension X, including a failed Hostile Terraforming attempt that would have wiped out humanity. While it's clear to everyone that Krang is a monster, he manages to avoid the death penalty by emotionally manipulating the judge (the king of the Neutrinos) while on the witness stand, guilt-tripping him over the fact that countless Triceratons have died protecting the Neutrino homeworld. When the King orders Krang to be exiled to a small island on Earth, Leatherhead (who was tortured for years by Krang) goes berserk and kills Krang himself by eating him.
  • In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, a flashback arc set in the Pre-War era has the corrupt Senator Proteus get away with all the terrible things he's done... but only because the comic's chronology states that Proteus gets brutally murdered for his crimes a couple months afterwards.
  • During the War of the Realms, Dario Agger is able to get himself and Roxxon away scot-free from being punished for effectively betraying humanity to Malekith's army by claiming that Wakanda manipulated footage of him and his company. The warranty finally ran out for both Dario and Roxxon as they found themselves in the crosshairs of the Immortal Hulk as Dario's attempt to use Xemnu the Living Hulk on the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant ended with all of them being reduced to blobs, Dario himself being snagged by the Leader, who taunts him for his failure.

    Fan Works 
  • An Alternate Keitaro Urashima:
    • This is the cause of the in-universe expiration of the Hinata Girls' Karma Houdini Warranty. If the girls had not just followed their base anti-male reflexes and refused to carry on Granny Hina's plan of bringing her grandson to become the Inn manager (a thing none of them wanted but still accept to do because of their love for their landlady), none of them (Hina included) would have received the reality bitch-slaps they're getting.
    • It's particularly notable with Motoko, who suffers a major Humiliation Conga after threatening Keitaro with her katana in public, getting, in this order, arrested, defeated in a duel by Keitaro, kicked out of the Kendo Club, and stripped of her position as heir to her family's school. According to the other Hinata Girls, Motoko has committed similar acts in the past, and Keitaro is the first one who ever pressed charges against her.
  • In the Death Note fic Constant Temptation, Light picks up the Distress Ball almost immediately after he decides he doesn't really want to be Kira anymore.
  • The Devil's in the details: In In God's Eyes, Peter has all of SHIELD's files regarding himself, Matt and their alter egos erased as revenge for all of the shit Fury put them through, outing Peter as Stark's heir to the public being The Last Straw for both of them.
  • Likewise in Fever Dreams, as soon as Light decides he wants to quit being Kira he has to deal with potentially deadly and/or incriminating disaster after disaster.
  • In For His Own Sake, all of the Hinata Girls suffer a massive Humiliation Conga after Keitaro, who finally Grew a Spine after years of "comedic" abuse, leaves the Inn and dumps Naru, and, in trying to undo those, find Reality Ensues hard on them. For most of the fic Hina, Naru, Motoko and Mutsumi are still trying to get an extension of their warranty, but the most they try to get so the harder their own bad choices end biting them. By the final chapter, only Naru is the one who still acts like the warranty is still valid on her and insist on Crossing the Burnt Bridge she herself torched.
    • On the side of non-main characters, the villainous Chisato and Kagura had apparently got away with bullying and outright murder and spent most of the fic exacting an apparently effective "revenge" scheme against people that got in their way. That's it, until the last chapter, where, after their revenge scheme falls spectacularly, Chisato gets arrested after being dumped by Kagura, and then Kagura gets trapped by the last living relative of her murder victim, who then exacts revenge on her spoiled ass.
  • Explored in King (MHA): Katsuki begins the story believing that his has just run out after he murdered a man, only for Fujimori to step in on behalf of U.A. to renew it. This catches the attention of his classmates, particularly Shouto, who has prior experience with Fujimori thanks to his father employing him in the past. By the end of the story, the charges have been dropped, but the rest of Class 1-A knows that he committed some terrible crime, even if they don't know the details. Even Ejirou has lost faith in him.
  • Leave for Mendeleiev: Zig-Zagged with Chloé. While Marinette transferring to another homeroom makes it harder for Chloé to torment her favorite target, Mme Bustier continues to give her a free pass for her behavior. That said, she also learns that her father's wealth and connections can't always save her from the consequences of her actions, such as when she is exposed as a design thief during the hat-making contest and is publically chewed out by her own mother banning her from all future competitions.
  • Love Hina Double Trouble has both Naru and Makoto framed for murder. The murder victim in question was a known pervert, the type of guy both girls would easily go off on, and it is revealed that while they never got into trouble for similar acts of violence the police still kept tabs on them due to their violent behaviors. Unlike the two previous examples above where their failure to admit they were wrong became their undoing, they both have a Jerkass Realization from the incident while the real killer is eventually arrested.
  • Miracle Queen Aftermath has Chloe facing consequences for her actions in the Season 3 finale of Miraculous Ladybug. The story also delves heavily into the fact that the absence of serious consequences up to this point has done her no favors, and Adrien's attempts to get her warranty extended lead his classmates to spell out just how much damage she's done, calling him out for putting her above everyone else.
  • In New Hope University: Major In Murder, Juliet is responsible for manipulating J.P. into killing Emily during the second Chapter but avoids being punished, since J.P. was the one who did the deed, even if the rest of the group stops trusting her. Three chapters later, however, Juliet ends up as the murder victim.
  • One Step Backwards And Three Forwards is set in a world where Hawkmoth won, and he and his supporters reshaped reality with their Wishes. However, none of them took into account that their Wishes were being granted by a pair of furious kwami, who twist their desires around to ensure their eventual downfalls. So while they start off believing that they're in the clear, karma closes in on them over the course of the story.

    Films — Animation 
  • Averted in Pinocchio, but nearly became a reality when a rumored deleted scene revealed the fate of Honest John and Gideon. Shortly before Pinocchio goes off to rescue Geppetto from Monstro the Whale, John and Gideon run into him for a 3rd time and attempt to swindle the boy once more. Realizing the men's true nature, Pinocchio avoids them and they are both apprehended and placed under arrest by the police.
    • Played straight in another adaptation where the duo steal Pinocchio's money by tricking him into burying it, claiming that it will grow into a money tree, and proceeding to dig it up themselves when the puppet leaves. At the end of the movie, Pinocchio runs into them again and sees that not only have they become destitute beggars but the one that had been pretending to be blind previously is now actually blind.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer's selfish antics have more repercussions than is usual in the original series - especially for his relationship with Marge (though they naturally end up back together in the end).
    • This applies to Mr. Burns as well. He's never been a very likable man, especially in the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-part episode, but he really shows his despicableness when he hogs all of his resources for himself when the town is cut off from the world. And when a few of the townsfolk swallowed their pride and begged him to spare some of his supplies, he coldly sics his hounds on them. At the end of the movie when everything is resolved, the townspeople invade his mansion and steal all of his property, leaving him without even a dime (though he somehow does manage to get his riches back).
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Sunset Shimmer is blasted with the Elements of Harmony, left crying and rotting in the crater, and is seemingly forgiven by the Mane Six for her actions. Come My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, and Sunset is still disliked by the entire student body, and even her friends don't particularly trust her.
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, Principal Cinch of Crystal Prep does many horrible acts, including blackmailing the Human Twilight to compete in the games and later pressuring her to cheat using the collected magic which put multiple lives in danger. She doesn't get much onscreen punishment though, besides the fact that with the games being a tie she has lost her "perfect reputation" of Crystal Prep always winning and being unable to prove that CHS has magic without looking insane, she just walks off before she can be embarrassed anymore. Come "Dance Magic", it is mentioned that Cadance has become the Principal of Crystal Prep, implying that Cinch's actions have gotten her fired and ruined the legacy she tried desperately to be remembered for.
  • Coco: Ernesto de la Cruz got away with murder, theft, and plagiarism while he was alive but was killed in 1942 by a falling church bell. But even in death, people still flocked to his concerts and he continued to throw many a party. It wasn't until 96 years after Héctor's death that both Lands of the Living and Dead learned the truth and Ernesto faced the consequences.
  • At the end of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the bigoted social worker Mrs. Grunion, who has spent the entirety of the movie trying to separate Mr. Peabody and Sherman, seems to get off scot-free when she is taken to the past by Agamemnon and marries him... But if you know your Greek tragedy, you know it won’t be long until Grunion isn’t just unhappy but quite dead.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part sees President Business, who was rather Easily Forgiven for his actions in the previous film, callously abandon everyone to the mercy of The Duplo Aliens. When he returns at the end, he's snagged by one of the celebratory fireworks and sent flying into a store full of them.
  • Starscream spends the first two seasons of The Transformers plotting to overthrow Megatron but never suffers any repercussions that last longer than an episode or two. Come The Transformers: The Movie, he waits until Megatron is heavily damaged and has him jettisoned into space while declaring himself Decepticon leader. He even holds a bombastic coronation only to see it crashed by a revived Megatron who shoots him dead on the spot.
  • While the Almighty Tallest occasionally suffer a setback or a misfortune in Invader Zim, their lie to get rid of Zim allows Operation Impending Doom II to progress unimpeded. In Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, Zim finally figures out what happened and forces the entire Irken Fleet to come to Earth which ultimately ends with the Tallest trapped and tormented in a hell dimension with no way to escape.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • American Psycho 2: All American Girl opens with Patrick Bateman from the first film being killed by this film's Villain Protagonist Rachel.
  • Avengers: Infinity War ends with Villain Protagonist Thanos succeeding at his goal in murdering half of all life in the universe, and retiring to live on a farm. Avengers: Endgame opens with the Avengers tracking him down a few days later, and an enraged Thor cutting off his arm and his head in short succession. And after the Avengers travel back to the past to collect all the Infinity Stones and Set Right What Once Went Wrong, Thanos' Truer to the Text past self travels after them to finish what his Alternate Self started. After an intense Final Battle, Thanos puts on the Infinity Gauntlet and tries to kill all life in the universe and recreate it with a Badass Fingersnap... and nothing happens, because Tony Stark's affixed the Stones to his own Gauntlet, and he uses them to snap out Thanos and his entire army instead, though at the cost of his own life. Good riddance, Mad Titan.
  • For Your Eyes Only begins with Blofeld (or, at least, a suspicious-looking bald man who has many of Blofeld’s characteristics) tormenting James Bond with a booby-trapped helicopter before Bond turns the tables by regaining control over the chopper and has him at his mercy when Bond uses the helicopter's skids to capture the villain's wheelchair, lifting him into the skies. He even begs Bond to spare him, but Bond won't have any and drops him down a tall industrial chimney stack to his death.
  • I Care a Lot: Marla appears to have gotten away with everything and become the multi millionaire she always wanted to be by exploiting the elderly on a mass scale. Then the guy from the opening who threatened her shows up and makes good on his promise, shooting and killing her.
  • RoboCop 3 features the downfall of OCP. The company is already in a downward spiral when the film opens with being bought out by Kanemitsu, it's implied the Old Man suffered Offscreen Karma as it's implied he was forced out, the CEO is a moron, Johnson's attempt to force the police to do their bidding results in Reed and the rest of Metro West defecting to the rebels, Dr. Lazarus outs the truth about the Rehabs' actions, OCP's stock tanks because of the combination of the last two items, OCP's headquarters is destroyed, and the CEO is fired. Kanemitsu is the only one who doesn't suffer any repercussions.
  • The entire plot of Promising Young Woman revolves around the protagonist Cassie enforcing this trope upon the men who got away with raping her friend Nina back in college (which led her to kill herself), as well as the people who helped them get away with it. And she gets one last good one at the very end when she finally confronts the rapist Al and he manages to kill her... except Cassie, who was strongly hinted by that point to have a death wish, prepared for that by first sending the video of Al raping Nina to his former lawyer Jordan, who bullied Nina into dropping the charges and has hated himself for it ever since, as well as information on where to find her if she went missing. The end of the film has the police showing up at Al's wedding to arrest him for Cassie's murder.
  • Ted: Despite kidnapping Ted, Donny mostly got away with his vile actions. Come Ted 2, however, and Donny goes after Ted again when he goes to Comic-Con. Subsequently, after he injures John, Ted exposes Donny to the security using the same trick he used to lure him out of hiding, and Donny is last seen being dragged away by the guards to presumably be arrested for stalking, kidnapping, and attempted murder.

    Light Novels 
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Accelerator didn't quite go unpunished, but he might as well have. What happened? Beaten up and kicked out of a program he actually didn't want to participate in in the first place. What had he done? Killed ten thousand teenage (kinda) girls and planned to kill another ten thousand after that. So that people would quit messing with him. Maybe. After this, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn... and takes a bullet in the forehead in the process of saving the remaining ten thousand from going insane from a virus and being killed off. Permanent brain damage that leaves him unable to speak properly, use higher brain functions or motor control without outside assistance (which, ironically, comes from the other ten thousand girls he didn't kill). And then he went and Took a Level in Badass to levels of power beyond what he originally had before the accident, all fueled by his desire to keep being The Atoner.
    • Othinus was hit with this big time too. Being one of the strongest characters in the series and a literal Physical God that only few figures had hopes of matching against, and she pretty much kicked the ass of everyone including Touma himself. Add the fact that she was the leader of a terrorist organization, is a Bad Boss to her subjects, tormented the lives of everyone that stood against her, succeeded in destroying the world, and finally tortured Touma to the point of successfully breaking him. The moment she pulls a Heel–Face Turn, her warranty immediately expires. The entire world wants her dead, she loses her power and is shrunk down to Fun Size, is forced to rely on people she once looked down on for protection, and catches a cold.
  • Bleach Cant Fear Your Own World: This is how Tokinada dies - stabbed In the Back by a random nobody out for revenge, all because he didn't remember to close the door of the mansion behind him. Because Tokinada is such an irredeemable monster that everyone in the entire Soul Society hates him and wants to kill him, and all he had to do was give them the slightest opportunity. Cue Villainous Breakdown on his part as he realizes he's dying the most pointless death possible at the hands of someone of no consequence.
  • Kirei, Zouken, and Gilgamesh do a lot of dirty deeds in Fate/Zero, and they not only get away unscathed but, in the case of Kirei and Gilgamesh, they get what they want. This warranty lasts for ten years, and they end up paying their debts in several gruesome ways.
  • In the Monogatari series, Deshuu Kaiki seems to get away with scamming kids with little more than Koyomi's stern warning for him to never return. When he does return, he is implied to have gained some remorse over his past actions (not that he's going to admit it), so he goes out of his way to save Koyomi from a Snake God-influenced Nadeko and convince her to move on from her obsession with him, even if he has little to gain, or without the direct involvement of Kanbaru, the only person in town he has ever shown kindness to. And all it got him was a potentially fatal wound from one of the boys he scammed in the past.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero, King AultClay Melromarc and his daughter Princess Malty spend the entire first story arc screwing over Naofumi, getting him accused of crimes he didn't commit, and hampering his progression through the use of their positions of power. They continue to get away with it until Queen Mirelia returns from aboard and immediately puts her foot down. The backlash of their actions is so great that it had to be contained in a mini-arc.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • During the Phantom Bullet arc, Endou and her Girl Posse take advantage of Shino to throw wild parties at her home. They're ultimately arrested for breaking and entering after a neighbor files a noise complaint on Shino's home because of her antics, and Shino refuses to cover for her. However, after the GGO fiasco, the three return and threaten Shino with a gun, in Japan while Shino is under surveillance because of Red Eyes Xaxa's "parting message"; she fails to disengage the safety, upon which Shino disarms her, shows her where she went wrong, and takes a perfect shot at a can before casually handing the gun back and walking away, leaving Endou stunned on her knees.
    • Progressive has an example of the "sorry for his actions" type in Nezha the blacksmith. He helps his guildmates scam people out of their weapons and sell them so that they can keep pace with the rest of the "clearers," since they'd fallen behind while trying to help Nezha (who's essentially legally blind in-game as a result of a Full-Dive Nonconformity). Eventually, Kirito and Asuna see through his trick, and he's nearly Driven to Suicide out of guilt, but they convince him to reallocate his skills to help others. By switching some skills around so that he no longer has smithing, Nezha is able to master the chakram, and helps save the clearers from the boss of the second floor. Afterward, someone notices that Nezha has a rare weapon and asks about it, leading to Nezha's crimes being exposed and him nearly being killed for (supposedly) indirectly causing someone's death, until his guildmates take responsibility. The guild is forced to sell their ill-gotten equipment, thus putting them back to square one.
    • The surviving members of the Laughing Coffin guild, all of whom gleefully killed other players despite full knowledge that doing so would kill them in real life, all get off scot-free for their actions in SAO because all the blame for any deaths was placed on Akihiko Kayaba. Several of their members return in later arcs to menace Kirito again, and karma finally catches up to them: XaXa and Johnny Black are arrested and incarcerated after perpetrating the Death Gun incident (although the latter escapes justice long enough to attack and nearly kill Kirito in real life), and PoH himself is subjected to a Fate Worse than Death by Kirito.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Though many of Count Olaf's schemes are thwarted, he always manages to escape punishment and go on to torment the Baudelaires again, making their lives Hell all for the sake of acquiring their fortune. His streak finally comes to an end in the final book, when Olaf is harpooned by Ishmael and exposed to the toxic Medusoid Mycelium he had planned to threaten his enemies with. Despite eating an apple that contained a cure to the Mycelium, Olaf was nonetheless mortally wounded and succumbs to the injury, realizing that all of his plans have been foiled, he has nothing left to live for, having lost everyone close to him, and he has no chance of obtaining the Baudelaire fortune.
  • In Bad Dreams by Kim Newman, one of the lesser antagonists is a corrupt policeman who murdered an Asian suspect while interrogating him for an invented crime; the novel ends before he's faced any definite consequences. Newman's next novel, Jago, reveals that he got away with it, but also has him sucked into the orbit of the far more dangerous Anthony Jago, resulting in his death.
  • Codex Alera:
    • Lady Invidia Aquitaine, the sociopathic bitch responsible in one way or another for almost every problem in the series, has a drawn-out one, beginning with Fidelias shooting and nearly killing her in Captain's Fury. From then on to her death at Amara's hands, her life just keeps getting worse- she's forced to collaborate with the Vord because the Vord Queen provides her life support, with her dream of ruling Alera in ruins. Then Attis sets her on fire, and she's so badly burned she looks melted.
    • Senator Armos, a Smug Snake General Ripper who believes A Million Is a Statistic, has a very satisfying case of this by the end of Captain's Fury. Turns out, Tavi is Gaius Octavian and thus has the right to challenge him to Juris Macto (a duel) over the horrific abuses he's perpetuated (including allowing mercenaries to terrorize civilians). And then his champion Navaris gets psychoanalyzed to death, removing his last chance at avoiding justice. Then he has a Villainous Breakdown and takes a camp follower hostage, but Fidelias has had a Heel–Face Turn in the meantime and snipes him with a poisoned balest bolt.
  • The Elenium: Kragar is an effective lieutenant to the villains in both the Elenium and Tamuli series, and avoids dying with the villains both times. However, his alcoholism worsens to the point that his mind is going and his liver is on the verge of failure. One of the main characters Lampshades that they don't need to worry about him because he's got at most a month to live.
  • Gone Girl has an example that's both a Karma Houdini getting punished and the perpetrators going away scot-free. Amy has already faked her death to screw her husband's life and is hiding in a redneck community. Including a couple who suspect Amy is loaded with cash, assault her, and go away with all of her money. Then again, this forces the victims to a change of plans that lead to literally getting away with murder.
  • In the Harry Potter books, Dolores Umbridge doesn't get much comeuppance for being a Sadist Teacher, a war criminal and an all-around Jerkass, but according to Word of God, she receives a life sentence in Azkaban for crimes against Muggle-borns after the events of the 7th book.
  • Artemis Entreri from The Legend of Drizzt. He initially seems like a Karma Houdini, but karma catches up big-time in the sequel. He gets beaten up by his nemesis and shot with a sleeping dart, leaving him hanging by a tattered cloak from a rock spur. The person he treated so badly from the trilogy finds him and cuts the cloak. He survives, but winds up in a city full of people just like him and finds out how bad his lifestyle choice is, eventually triggering a Heel–Face Turn.
  • In The Lovely Bones, the killer George Harvey gets away with his murder of the protagonist Susie at the beginning of the story and manages to successfully dispose of her body at the climax. It's also revealed that he's killed at least six other young girls prior to this. Towards the end, he once again attempts to hit on a much younger woman like he did with his previous victims only to be rejected. Immediately afterwards, an icicle from an overhead tree branch hits him on the shoulder causing him to slip and lose his balance and fall to his death from the top of the cliff he was on.
  • Gwendolyn in the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton spent the entirety of the series as the spoilt, lazy, unpopular Butt-Monkey of her form. In the 5th book, however, Gwen meets the new girl Maureen, a similarly spoilt and unpopular schoolgirl. Gwen takes a disliking to her, recognizing her own personality flaws in Maureen, and so makes amends to behave better. Unfortunately for her, the rest of the form is now fed up of dealing with Gwen's antics and takes no notice of her Character Development.
    • The character development, however, goes to hell in the 6th book, and Gwen does eventually get her comeuppance. Her father falls very ill, and so she has to drop out of the prestigious Malory Towers to acquire an office job as she cares for her father.
  • At some point between One Fat Summer and its sequel, Willie Rumson gets hit with this. Caught trying to burn down Dr. Kahn's house, his first appearance in the second book has him so pumped full of anti-psychotic medicine he can barely remember his own name. This makes him the perfect patsy when another character dabbles in arson.
  • Pact gives us... the Thorburns. For seven generations of practitioners, this family of diabolists fairly successfully avoided the accumulated bad karma playing with demons will hand you using every trick in their library to sidestep it. The problem is, the debt is now so large that it's not possible to avoid it any longer. As a result, the last and current generations are really feeling the hit — as the debt is a blood one. Even the ones who aren't actually practitioners and, therefore, know nothing about their history are being affected by it; for all that "Innocents" shouldn't be this badly involved. Which, is quite an achievement. Trying to get the family karma account back into the black without getting killed off too fast is the main aim of the protagonist, Blake, for most of the story. He doesn't wish to pass the whole, messy can of worms along to the unsuspecting... any more than he wanted it handed to him in the first place. Other families in Jacob's Bell would do well to take note: they're not immune to their various warranties (personal or communal), expiring, either.
  • In Supreme Commander (loosely based on the original XCOM), the alien who has been largely responsible for much of the grief in the novel manages to escape the base into the ocean, while also killing one of the POV characters. Then the alien runs afoul of a shark. Whoops.
  • In Worm, Emma Barnes initially gets away with torturing Taylor... then she returns after Taylor has gone through character development that left her far more badass. As such, Emma not only sees her attempts to humiliate Taylor fail to faze her, but she also ends up getting so angry that she lashes out, which hurts her position with the new principal. And it only gets worse once Alec gets involved.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 13 Reasons Why:
    • Bryce Walker. After years of being a Karma Houdini, karma was really hard with him in season three. He loses his friends, nobody wants him close, is bullied in his new school because everybody there knows what he's done, is brutally beaten by Zach, and is finally murdered by Alex. Truth in Television at its finest: many rapists or sex offenders who escape justice in the courts generally suffer the consequences from society, exposing themselves to being completely hated, losing their friends, and/or being killed by some vigilante.
    • Monty as well, who was framed for Bryce's murder and then beaten to death by other inmates in jail while awaiting trial.
  • Throughout Arrow, Amanda Waller gets away with some pretty dubious things as the head of A.R.G.U.S, despite being The Sociopath, prone to Stupid Evil behavior and being an In-Universe Hate Sink absolutely nobody likes, even those ostensibly under her command... until roughly halfway through season 4 when she gets taken hostage. After it's confirmed that the sociopathic Waller will let her entire staff be killed without even blinking, the leader of the terrorists immediately shoots her in the head in disgust and starts bargaining with the next best candidate instead.
  • Prohibition Agent Nelson van Alden of Boardwalk Empire does some pretty heinous things in his pursuit of Nucky Thompson, eventually being caught out for a past murder and going on the run. Once he flees Atlantic City and starts a new life in Chicago, living under an assumed name with his baby and the nanny he later married, everyone pretty much gives up hunting him and he settles into an honest civilian life, the hardships and humiliations of which he sees as his penance. What drags him back into the dark is that his wife, who he's given vague warnings about his shady past, murders an innocent visitor who she mistakes for one of the "bad men", and covering up the crime puts him in debt to the Chicago mob.
    • And seven years later when a member of said mob turns out to be an undercover government agent who figures out who he really is and arrests him, he's told he'll have to betray Al Capone in order to avoid serious jail time. Good luck with that one, Nelson
    • Nucky Thompson himself is a straight example. Just when it seems like every rival during each season is about to get the best of him, he finds a way to outsmart them and come out on top. Until the final season where he is completely outsmarted by Lucky Luciano, which Thompson himself admits, and shortly afterwards, is gunned down by the teenage son of Jimmy Darmody out of revenge for his dad's murder at the hands of Thompson.
  • Breaking Bad has this trope as one of its principal themes. As Vince Gilligan himself stated, he believes that at some point everyone will have to face the terrible consequences of their evil deeds, no matter how long it takes. This is why at the end of the series several of the drug dealers are either dead (including Walter White himself) or, if left alive, either had nothing to look forward to (such as Saul) or bore the stigma of guilt (such as Jesse).
  • The prequel series Better Call Saul looks like it's carrying this idea over too. For the first half of the first season, it seemed like the Kettlemans would invert this trope, but thinking about it, they were never gonna get away with it to begin with. They just wanted the dignity of not caving in and confessing their involvement. Plus, they thought that no matter what happened, as long as they kept the money, they'd win. Ultimately, thanks to Mike, that plan soon became moot.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: D'Hoffryn is last seen in Season 7 victorious, being allowed to kill Anya's friend Halfrek to punish her before disappearing, and continuing this streak throughout the Season 9 comics. His streak finally comes to an end at the end of the Season 10 comics, where he's been elevated to Big Bad; after killing the members of the Magic Council to steal their powers and killing the Anya replica for defying him, he's abandoned by his fellow Vengeance demons for betraying one of his own, stripped of his stolen powers, and rendered helpless before Buffy, who slices his head off.
  • Dinosaurs: For the entire run Earl's Bad Boss Richfield got away with all of the corrupt schemes he had done. Even at the very end he's never seen getting his comeuppance, but it's certainly implied he soon will receive his Offscreen Karma. After all, even the richest man in the world can't survive the Ice Age (that he indirectly caused, no less) for very long.
  • Drake & Josh: Megan regularly torments the titular duo and is never actually punished outright. However, she does get some degree of karmic retribution when Drake and Josh start working at the movie theater. She blackmails Drake into letting her and her friends see a PG-13 horror film called Monsters from the Drain and winds up traumatized and scared of drains. It's not much, but it does leave her brothers with some satisfaction.
  • ER's Kerry Weaver pulled numerous unethical stunts in order to advance her career, never incurring punishment for any of them, eventually becoming Chief of Staff after the worst one of all—hiding an alderman's STD diagnosis instead of reporting it to the department of health as she's legally obligated to do and treating his similarly infected boyfriend off the record, essentially killing the man when he suffers a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics she gives him. She's finally demoted and eventually fired when she finally has the guts and decency to admit to her fault in hiring a mentally unstable physician and ignoring repeated complaints about the man's erratic and violent behavior.
  • This is a major theme in Fargo, as characters who engage in crimes ranging from murder to petty blackmail often end up dead by the series' end. Seasons one and two dish out some pretty standard black and white examples, but season three shows that even the morally ambiguous are not exempt when they dabble in crime.
    • From season one: Lester Nygaard and Lorne Malvo spend the whole season diverting the authorities. A year after the case on their crimes closes, they run into each other again in Vegas and kick off a series of events that eventually leads to both of their downfalls.
    • From season two: Basically every main character that's not in the police force is committing some sort of crime, including the Blumquists, Kansas City Mafia, and Gerhatdt family. All of the Gerhardts are dead by the end of the season, Ed Blumquist is also dead, and Peggy is arrested. Mike Milligan survives and undergoes a promotion under Kansas City, but it's far from what he'd had in mind, and the entire organization undergoes Laser-Guided Karma offscreen before the events of season one. Hanzee Dent also subverts this trope when he adopts a new name and cleans himself from any involvement in the Sioux Falls massacre, only for his new identity to be revealed as one of a mobster who was taken out by Lorne Malvo in the first season.
    • From season three: Nikki Swango escapes authorities and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Narwhal. She succeeds in bringing them down with the help of Mr. Wrench but dies at the hands of a state trooper when she tries making a move against Emmit. Emmit also manages to avoid paying for his crimes for a majority of the season. After rebuilding his life over the course of five years, he's taken out by Mr. Wrench.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • After spending all of Season 2 running circles around Team Flash and getting away with it, Zoom gets taken by the Time Wraths and forcibly turned into an enforcer of the Speed Force in the season finale.
    • Savitar, after spending the second half of Season 3 curb-stomping Barry and other speedsters and nearly killed Iris to ensure that his existence remained intact meets his downfall the moment he unknowingly kills H.R. Wells instead of her. His plan soon unravels as his existence starts to fall apart before finally he is fatally shot in the back by the very woman he planned to kill.
    • Barry's arch-nemesis Eobard Thawne killed his mother and has escaped being erased from the timeline not once but twice. Then in Season 5, it seems that someone has finally caught him in the future, and he's shown in an Iron Heights cell watching the clock that's ticking away the hour left until his execution. Ultimately subverted, as it turns out that he's been running a massive Batman Gambit all season via his manipulation of Nora, which he sees him escape and go free at the end of the season.
  • Frasier: In episode "Bad Dog", Bulldog is lauded as a hero for stopping an armed robber at the local coffee shop. However, he actually saved the day by using a pregnant Roz as a shield. Only Frasier saw what he did, however. Bulldog shows an absolute Lack of Empathy, saying he has no sense of guilt at all. Frasier attempts to guilt him by bringing his mother, former counselor, and other people to his medal ceremony, but none of it works. Rather than have Frasier whine about the injustice afterward, Martin yells at Bulldog, "Hey, Bulldog, there's a guy right there with a gun!" Bulldog immediately pushes his own mother in the direction of the phantom gunman, exposing him as a coward and not a hero, with his mother, Roz, and others verbally lambasting him.
    Frasier: (almost laughing) Thanks, Dad.
    Martin: (grinning) Hey, I'm no hero, I just wanted you to shut up.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • This happens to Jaime Lannister early on in Season 3. After two full seasons of getting away with stuff like trying to kill a child who discovered him committing incest with his twin sister and actually killing his own cousin for momentary advantage, he got off pretty lightly as a relatively well-treated prisoner of war who was to be returned home as part of a hostage exchange. In fact, one of the first genuinely kind and (almost) selfless things he's ever shown doing is intervening to prevent Brienne from being raped when it becomes apparent she's too outnumbered by attackers to defend herself for long. And it works... but their captors take umbrage at Jaime's superior attitude in doing so, and cut off his sword hand in what basically amounts to an act of senseless spite.
    • Janos Slynt, the penultimate Smug Snake of the series, gets merely banished to the Wall in Season 2 after betraying Ned Stark and carrying out the murder of deceased King Robert's bastard children, even going so far as to tear a baby from his mother's arms and murder it right in front of her. Fast forward a few seasons and he makes a comeback at the Wall, becoming an Obstructive Bureaucrat enemy to Jon Snow. His warranty expires after Jon's promotion to Lord Commander in Season 5 when he makes the fatal mistake of assuming he can get away with defying the new Lord Commander's authority without reprisal. He gets a death sentence for his insubordination, causing him to degenerate in his last moments to a pathetic blubbering mess that Jon kills as much out of disgust as out of duty.
    • Roose Bolton manages to get away with the Red Wedding in Season 3 and the conquest of Moat Cailin in Season 4. He also manages to repel the army of Stannis Baratheon in Season 5 without suffering any particular losses. He finally meets his end thanks to his only decent act shown onscreen: wanting to protect Walda and their newborn son.
    • Ramsey Snow/Bolton always gets away with the horrible things that he did since Season 3 such as hunting down and flaying his victims, torturing and castrating Theon, and raping Sansa during their wedding night. Despite that his dad, Roose Bolton, called him out on his needless violence which would affect their relations to the rest of the Northern houses, Ramsey had none of it and killed his own father, taking control of their house. Then, he continues being a murdering asshole much to the viewers’ annoyance. Unfortunately for Ramsey, his time is up in the penultimate episode of Season 6, when his forces are overrun by the combined forces of Stark loyalists, the Wildings and Knights of the Vale, and Jon Snow cornered him at Winterfell and beat him up into a bloody pulp. To add the cherry on top, Sansa finally got back at him for his horrible actions by having him fed to his own dogs.
    • Petyr Baelish, AKA "Littlefinger", is a morally bankrupt Smug Snake whose motto is "Chaos is a ladder". His first act of treachery happened before the show even began; the murder of Jon Arryn, Hand of the King. He then betrays the next Hand, Ned Stark, to the Lannisters usurping the throne. He then has a hand in the assassination of King Joffrey, and then personally murders Jon Arryn's widow Lysa, whom he was plotting and consorting with. Then he sells his own Bastard Understudy, Sansa Stark, to a previously mentioned Karma Houdini family (whose warranty also ran out): the Boltons. Combined with Sansa finally (and covertly) coming on to the fact that he's the real enemy and Bran Stark (at that point the Three-Eyed Raven who sees all) seeing through all his lies with his farsight powers, Littlefinger dies like a Dirty Coward when called out in court and is quickly murdered by Arya as punishment for his treachery.
    • Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes get away with poisoning Myrcella Baratheon in the Season 5 finale despite that they had been told several times that she's just an innocent girl who has nothing to do with Oberyn's death. Then in the Season 6 premiere, they proceed to murder Oberyn's brother and nephew and take over Dorne before disappearing in the story until the Season 6 finale where they form an alliance with Olenna Tyrell and Daenerys Targaryen. Their warranty expires in Season 7 when Euron Greyjoy kills two of the Sand Snakes and captures Ellaria and Tyene Sand so they can be delivered to the vengeful Cersei Lannister, who wants them to pay for Myrcella's death. Cersei gives them a crueler punishment which is to force Ellaria to watch her own daughter die of the same poison that killed Myrcella while in chains and to spend the rest of her life seeing her daughter's corpse rot.
    • Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane is the strongest knight of the Seven Kingdoms who committed a lot of atrocities during the Sack of King's Landing such as raping and killing Elia Martell and her children and is responsible for burning half of Sandor's face. He also brutally kills Elia's younger brother, Oberyn, while smugly admitting his past crimes. Though Oberyn's poison renders him comatose, he comes backs as a Humanoid Abomination who becomes Cersei's loyal and powerful bodyguard. He eventually meets his end in the last season where his younger brother, Sandor, confronts him for one last fight, culminating in a Taking You with Me dive from the collapsing Red Keep tower to the burning ground of King's Landing.
    • Cersei Lannister causes a lot of torment since the beginning of the show particularly with her treatment of Sansa and Tyrion. She even gets both Maergery and Loras Tyrell locked up by the Faith Militant; though she too gets arrested by the Faith Militant and forced to do the walk of shame. However, she manages to get away with it and is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms after burning the Sept of Baelor which killed the Tyrells and the Faith Militant. In Season 7, she dismantles Daenerys' Dornish and Reach allies and refuses to aid her and Jon Snow in their fight against the White Walkers. Despite sitting out in the first half of the final season, her warranty expires after she had Euron Greyjoy kill one of Daenerys' dragons and has Missandei executed in front of Daenerys. This culminates Daenerys to unleash her fury by destroying the Golden Company and Lannister army, slaughtering the civilians, and burning down much of King's Landing and the Red Keep. Eventually, Cersei breaks down after Daenerys won, forcing her to flee with Jaime and they both meet their end when the escape tunnel collapses above them, killing them both.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In "Design", April Troost is guilty of multiple counts of rape, frames one of her victims to make it look like ''he's'' the rapist, fakes her own death (and tried to frame the same victim for that), and finally kidnaps a baby. She, and her mother, manage to successfully Out Gambit everyone, and force the detectives and DA's office to let them walk. They then both get their comeuppance in the Law & Order episode "Flaws".
    • "Community Policing" starts with the detectives desperately searching for "The Push-In Rapist", guilty of multiple counts of rape (including a twelve-year-old). Some of the (non-main cast members) detectives wind up shooting an innocent (African-American) man mistaking him for the rapist. The rest of the episode focuses on that, and the rapist gets away clean. "Townhouse Incident" features The Push-In Rapist being caught by the police in the first quarter...still not the main focus of the episode. Poor guy never managed to be the primary villain of an episode.
  • Married... with Children: Peg Bundy takes advantage of her family in some pretty awful ways, and constantly manages to avoid punishment for her actions... which makes it all the more sweeter during the rare moments when she does get a comeuppance. After being tricked by Peg into having sex with her for nine months in order to conceive another child and get a $500,000 inheritance, Al learns that she's been taking birth control pills to keep from getting pregnant. In full Tranquil Fury mode, he fakes Peg's home pregnancy test to make it look like she's really got a bun in the oven. Peg is completely horrified, and when she tries to console herself with the $500,000 Al points out to her that another relative beat them to it (the lawyer who read the will married a Bundy relative who was in prison, and is planning on having him killed so she can keep the money for herself). This makes Peg suffer a complete Villainous Breakdown, as Al tortures her with the thought of the coming morning sickness, weight gain, and diaper changes. The episode ends with Peg running upstairs screaming and puking from morning sickness, as Al contentedly plans to continue the torture and realizes that he can't buy that kind of satisfaction for half a million dollars.
  • Midsomer Murders has one as the motive of a case. By chance a woman meets the son of a man who, 40 years ago while working as a mercenary in Africa, committed a war crime in the village where she was volunteering as a teacher. To get some revenge for his atrocity which left several of her students dead, she blackmails him to donate a million pounds to a charity dedicated to repairing the damage men like him caused. He knew she was a nun and attempted to murder her but killed one of her convent sisters instead because they both wore glasses. This led to the police getting involved and his being arrested.
  • My Name Is Earl begins with an uneducated lowlife (the eponymous Earl) winning a modest amount of money off a scratch ticket, only to have an unfortunate encounter with the front end of an old woman's Cadillac. To add insult to injury, his wife comes by to see him in the hospital...and serves him divorce papers while he's all doped up on morphine so that she can get married to a mutual friend she'd been cheating on him with for years. He turns on the TV in the hospital and sees Carson Daly interviewing someone, who attributes their good fortune to (the Theme Park Version of) karma. It occurs to Earl that possibly, the reason he's in this mess, and the reason things hadn't ever really gone his way in general, is that he's spent the past 35 years of his life doing bad things: stealing, bullying, mistreating women, getting drunk and acting like an idiot, and not making any effort to better himself in any way. He starts to worry that if he continues on the path he's been on, he'll probably end up dead (and even says as much to Kenny). So he makes a list of everything wrong he can remember doing in his life (and adds to it when something comes up that he didn't remember, or that was an indirect consequence of something on the list). And he tries to make up for each one.
    • In one episode, Earl makes up for stealing a fast-food worker's honeymoon fund, by sitting in for him at work while he's on his delayed honeymoon. The fast-food worker has a terrible boss; he pays his workers abysmally, embezzles money from the restaurant, is cheating on his wife, writes a rude note, and doesn't leave any relevant information when he accidentally dents someone else's car in the parking lot, and treats his employees like crap. Earl can't figure out why a guy like that has such a great life; he has a hot wife, a Big Fancy House, a nice car, lots of friends, and even a Biggus Dickus. Earl resists the temptation to punch him like he had done with all his previous bosses, but eventually his insults just get to be too much. The punch is hard enough to land Mr. Patrick in the emergency room, which kicks off a chain reaction of events: his wife and his mistress both rush to the ER and find out about each other, his wife destroys all his "world's best whatever" mugs in a Defenestrate and Berate, she finds the money he was stealing and turns him in to law enforcement, and she files for divorce and gets the restaurant in the divorce settlement, while Mr. Patrick is sent to prison (and apparently becomes his cellmate's prison bitch, complete with a dented tin mug with "World's Best Bottom" scrawled on it). His ex-wife promotes the worker that Earl subbed for to manager, and he gives everyone raises and benefits (like health and dental insurance).
  • The Series New Tricks is essentially built around a gang of retired detectives trying to track down Karma Houdinis and invalidate their warranties. The best example of the series is probably Ricky Hanson; the closest thing the series has to a Big Bad. After killing the wife of one of the main characters, his own brother, and countless victims in between, he is brought to trial in the first episode of season 5. Tragically, following a furious mudslinging match against the thoroughly discredited witnesses, some glaringly obvious jury tampering, and possibly a bit of muckraking from an insider (thus explaining how his lawyer knew so much about the UCOS team), he walks away Scott free and takes immense delight in cruelly rubbing Jack's face in it. Fortunately, he comes back into the picture in the season 6 episode "The Last Laugh" and is finally nailed, not just for the murder the team were investigating at the time, but also for several other crimes he had committed (including incest). The episode ends with the team breaking out the champagne and Jack sitting by his wife's grave assuring her "we got 'im!".
  • At the end of The Pinkertons episode "Old Pap", it seems that General Sterling Price, a Politically Incorrect Villain and ruthless sadist who attempts to take over Missouri and revive slavery just after The American Civil War, is going to walk free since Will and Kate can't prove anything against him. But then, we learn that Price has gotten cholera from drinking contaminated water, although he had his own supply. It's implied he was poisoned by ex-slave John Bell, whom he'd maimed earlier in the episode. While the end of "Old Pap" leaves his fate ambiguous, in the Clip Show "Review" we learn that Price did indeed die of cholera, just as his Real Life equivalent did.
  • Power Rangers: Beast Morphers: After escaping deletion through the Morphin Grid at the end of Power Rangers RPM, Venjix finally meets his end at the hands of the new generation of Power Rangers in the final episode when they corrupt his virus, making him unable to survive.
  • Rake: Right after being acquitted of all charges against him, Edgar's shot to death by his girlfriend, who walks in on him having sex with another woman.
  • Resurrection Ertugrul: Chances are, even if a villainous character is not seen dying on-screen or is not hinted to have died by the end of the season they last appeared in, their death will be mentioned in passing sometime during the next season. Examples include [Afsin Bey during season 2, Colpan Hatun/Ekaterina]] in the 4th, and Baiju Noyan prior to the events of season 5.
  • Scream Queens (2015): At the end of Season 1, Hester frames the Chanels for the Red Devil killings and walks away scot-free. By the time Season 2 picks up, however, it's revealed that she's since been tricked into confessing, and subsequently locked up.
  • Spartacus: Gods of the Arena has the utterly depraved Roman nobleman Cossutius, whose prime act in the series is raping the virgin slave girl Dionna, deliberately ensuring that her first sexual experience is as painful and degrading as would be possible without killing or physically injuring her. After she runs away from slavery and is recaptured, he is seen in the final episode taking sadistic pleasure in watching her execution. As would happen in Roman society, he gets away scot-free. In the (in broadcast order) next series Vengeance, he appears at a party taking an enthusiastic part in torturing a captured rebel, but later gets killed with satisfying gruesomeness when he is hit by a spear that Spartacus threw at Glaber but that Glaber dodged.
  • Scrubs: The Janitor constantly pulls all sorts of nasty pranks on people, particularly JD, to the extent that in "His Story III," he gets off totally scot-free for trapping JD in a water tower for an entire day. However, he does get his comeuppance in "My Own Personal Hell" and "My Perspective", probably the only episodes where the Janitor's pranks on J.D. backfire and J.D. finally gets the last laugh on him. A final-season episode also has him playing one of his pranks on someone as retaliation for something petty... and being caught by the Chief Doctor, who fires him on the spot (and has security kick him out when he comes the next day, thinking that Status Quo Is God).
  • Seinfeld: According to Word of God, this is why the core cast got convicted in the Grand Finale, though the fans are divided on whether or not they deserved it, let alone the convoluted way that it came to pass.
  • Supernatural: The American branch of the Styne Family, an Ancient Conspiracy behind events such as 9/11 and the Holocaust, are all brutally taken out by Dean Winchester in a Curb-Stomp Battle during the penultimate episode of Season 10. Only problem is that Dean is being powered by Mark of Cain.
  • The Wire: Stringer Bell runs into this during season 3. He managed to avoid capture from the police in the first season then spend the next two seasons backstabbing and manipulating people including his best friend Avon. However, just when it seems he is going to get away again, Omar and Brother Mouzone gun him down.
  • Luke Cage (2016): After essentially being the one bad guy that wins on Season One by virtue of killing the witness that could have put her in jail (thanks to a brief screw-up by Misty Knight), Mariah Stokes loses her Karma Houdini throughout Season Two. Knight's investigation is able to obtain more viable evidence, she loses a significant amount of her inner circle and soldiers to the power plays of Arc Villain John "Bushmaster" McIver, her own personal dragon (and possible lover) "Shades" Alvarez finally had enough of her increasing brutality when she massacres an entire restaurant full of innocents to get back at McIver (by killing one of the few people he loves — everybody else was in the way) and provides the heroes with information that will help put Stokes in jail, and when it seems she will try to forge herself a crime network behind bars like The Kingpin did... it turns out that minor character Tilda Johnson (a.k.a. "Nightshade"), pissed off at Stokes (because Mariah is her mother, but she hates her) and looking to forge her own criminal rep, gave her a time-delayed Kiss of Death that tears her apart from the inside shortly after being placed in custody.
  • The Punisher (2017): Big Bad William Rawlins, the piece of shit who made Frank Castle's life miserable for no other reason than to prove he had no power over him, finally bites off more than he can chew when he goes on a rant to his Dragon, Billy Russo, calling him a powerless pawn who is no different from Frank in that regard, and basically humiliates his closest ally for a power trip. Cue the 'pawn' knocking the king off the chessboard.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode "Death's Head Revisited," an SS Captain who escaped the Nuremberg Trials returns to the death camp he was in charge of to reminisce about the good old days. Too bad the ghosts of his victims are still haunting the place...
  • Twin Peaks: 25 years after the series's infamous Downer Ending, BOB is finally destroyed in the penultimate episode of the 2017 series.
  • In season two of Lucifer (2016), the man who murdered Chloe's father is finally caught and facing trial, but because he arranged the murder of the key witness and had a very good lawyer, he walked. Unfortunately, the key witness was a high-ranking member of the Russian mafia, so Maze and Dan inform them who killed him. The last we see, the perp is getting dragged into a black van...
  • Veronica Mars: Aaron Echolls manages to worm his way out of being convicted for Lilly Kane's murder and is cleared of all charges. He spends the next several days celebrating in a high-class hotel and even taunts Veronica (who he previously tried to kill as well to cover it up when she found out he did it) about it before he is assassinated by Clarence Wiedman on orders of Lilly's brother Duncan.
  • Victorious: After tormenting Tori with impunity, Jade finally gets a comeuppance when she tries to spoil the Hollywood Arts prom. While Jade's attempts are initially successful, Tori is able to humiliate her in front of everyone by naming her prom queen along with Doug the Diaper Guy (someone she'd hired to help her ruin the prom) as her prom king.
  • Watchmen (2019) sees Ozymandias evade punishment for his crimes in the original Watchmen, though he ended up spending several years in a Gilded Cage on Eurpora after Tempting Fate by asking Dr. Manhattan to send him there. After he gets back to Earth and foils Lady Trieu's plan, he gets hit with Adaptational Karma and is arrested by Laurie and Looking Glass for his crimes.
  • Perry Mason (2020): It looks like Ennis will escape any punishment for his many crimes but he is then murdered on Holcomb's orders.
  • Yes, Minister: Although Sir Humphrey usually wins in the end, Hacker sometimes triumphs over him, including in the final episode, The Tangled Web. Of course it's debatable how far Humphrey can be considered a villain, especially as this triumph is Hacker blackmailing the civil servant into lying in his favour before a Committee. In fact, the episodes where Hacker gets a win over Humphrey are usually the ones in which Humphrey holds the moral high ground (e.g. "The Greasy Pole")
    • The novelisation goes even further, having Humphrey eventually going mad and dying in a mental hospital.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Orthodox Christianity, while it doesn't believe in Karma (as sins can be repented and destroyed), states that that's why God allow unrepentant sinners to thrive. He uses their conditions and attitude in mysterious ways, and still waits for them to repent, but if they are not... The result after death is well-known.
    • Satan gets away with being the source of all evil for centuries until Judgement Day when he finally gets defeated and cast into the lake of fire.
  • Zoroastrianism contains an even better example, since Angra Mainyu is equally as powerful as Ahura Mazda, but will inevitably be defeated and destroyed entirely because evil is self-defeating, rather than due to the source of goodness being stronger.

    Standup Comedy 
  • Louis C.K. has a standup bit where he extols how wonderful it is being a white male in a world that's basically run by (and for) white men. He admits that he's going to enjoy this while it lasts because he figures karma is going to bite white men in the ass soon (and that they're going to deserve it when it does).
    Louis: We're gonna pay hard for this shit, you gotta know that. We're not gonna just fall from #1 to 2, they're gonna hold us down and fuck us in the ass forever, and we totally deserve it. But, for now, WHEEEEEEE!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Heliod, the Top God of Theros, suffers little to no repercussions by the end of Godsend. Not only is he a massive Jerkass God, fond of smiting people for the smallest slights against him, but he also murders his champion Elspeth immediately after she goes through hell to kill Xenagos to stop him from destroying the whole plane. All for the extremely petty reason of her being a Planeswalker. The closest thing he gets to any recompense is his fellow Gods hating him, why doesn't matter to him anyways, and Ajani starting a movement to stop worshiping the Gods, which could be trouble down the line due to Theros' Gods being powered by belief. [Karma finally catches up with him during Theros: Beyond Death. First, Elspeth manages to literally escape the underworld. She follows this up by convincing the people of Theros that her spear is actually his own divine one, causing his weapon to shatter when they clash. He surrenders, which leads to Erebos dragging him to the underworld and damning him to be weighed down by a boulder, either for all eternity or until all worship of him dies out.

  • Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana wasn't punished for deserting Santuzza and smooching with a married woman because the Sicilian villagers allowed him to. However, when Alfio finds out, he kills Turiddu in a knife fight offstage, with a Screaming Woman revealing his final fate.
  • Abigail Williams of The Crucible is responsible for everything that goes wrong through her accusations and manipulations, and didn't give a damn about all the lives she ruined and destroyed as long as she could have John Proctor all to herself. After John was hanged, Abigail fled Salem and escaped scot-free. The epilogue revealed that Abigail was forced to turn to prostitution to survive and didn't live to see her 18th birthday.

    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate, the player is forced to accept help from Neb, a Serial Killer who targets children in order to escape from prison, at which point Neb is never seen again for the rest of the game. In the sequel, Neb can be killed in an optional sidequest.
  • After being the main antagonists in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift and causing a whole bunch of trouble for the cast and never suffering any sort of setback in their plans, karma comes and bites Hazama and Relius right in the ass in Blaz Blue Chrono Phantasma. Hazama is weakened significantly after being caught in a trap laid by Kokonoe and is ultimately killed by Hakumen in the True Ending. Relius gets his ass royally handed to him by Valkenhayn and while he comes out of it alive unlike Hazama, he's at Carl's and Litchi's mercy as the then former Imperator abandons him when he no longer proves useful.
    • Although by Central Fiction, while it's unknown how, we might be seeing Hazama/Terumi gluing his warranty again because he's back. We'll just see how successful the gluing is once it's revealed HOW he survived. As it turns out, both Relius and Terumi managed to glue back their warranties, since Terumi turns out to be Susano'o, a Physical God and the original soul possessing the SUSANOO unit inhabited by Hakumen and goes to wreak more havoc... until Ragna himself tore it anew and burnt it to ash by obliterating him out of existence. Unfortunately, Relius managed to keep his warranty intact this time around.
  • Bubsy: The Woolies from Bubsy 3D will always succeed in ruling the galaxy no matter what you do. In The Woolies Strike Back Bubsy destroys their fleet, ruining their plans.
  • Darkest Dungeon has an interesting example in the prequel comics where the warranty was revoked before it was granted. The Houndmaster's comic has him tracking down a cult sacrificing people to dark gods... only to discover it's comprised of his higher-ups in the city guard. Before this comic came out, however, the Bounty Hunter's comic was released, showing him kicking in the door of a tavern and utterly slaughtering a group of criminals. Those criminals are the cult from the Houndmaster's comic. The Houndmaster may not have brought them to justice, but they didn't escape for long.
  • At the end of the third act of Diablo III, Adria is revealed to be a traitor to the heroes, using her daughter as a vessel for bringing back Diablo himself, but leaves through a portal as all Hell is breaking loose and does not appear again for the rest of the game, leaving you to fight the Prime Evil and his horrors in the fourth act without any kind of comeuppance being brought upon her for her actions. But come the Reaper of Souls expansion (released two years after the base game), Act V comes along, which has you fighting a Fallen Angel and his horde of Reapers who want to exterminate humanity. Adria resurfaces in the middle of the act, resulting in you hunting her down in order to get some important information from her and to make her pay.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, Chaos is the main villain of the large-scale divine conflict that the heroes are participating in, but Shinryu is largely responsible for the conflict existing in the first place, and is feeding on the power born from it. Chaos gets a boss fight, but Shinryu is his summon, and gets away scot-free. Come Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, a new pair of gods are concocting a separate conflict with no input from Shinryu, and the dragon returns to the world with intentions to feed on the power again; when the gods and their champions realize this, everyone bands together to kick his ass for it.
  • At the end of Doom 3's main campaign, Dr. Betruger's plans to help Hell invade Earth are foiled, but the man himself survives and is transformed into a powerful demon. In the expansion Resurrection of Evil, another marine finally kills him.
  • In Far Cry 5 Joseph Seed won no matter what ending you got, with the game's canonical ending having him outright win completely, as his prediction about the end of the world became true and the player character is now his to brainwash. But karma hits him big time in Far Cry: New Dawn where his son went insane and had to be put down, he finally sees what he's been doing is wrong, and he either gets killed by his chosen one or has to live with the guilt.
    • There’s also an example in Far Cry 5 itself. Agent Willis Huntley had been a polite character in Far Cry 3, but took several levels in jerkass in Far Cry 4, culminating in him abandoning Ajay to be captured by Yuma's men once he had done what he asked. In Far Cry 5, Willis appears again, but this time players can shoot him after they complete his mission and leave him for dead.
  • Freedom Force: The page quote relates to Tombstone's backstory. His wife was murdered by his jealous neighbor who pinned the crime on him. On the day of his execution, the neighbor was there among the view audience, likely for a final laugh. Before the execution could be put through, Energy X strikes Nathan Graves, turning him into the aforementioned Anti-Hero, and takes the opportunity to confront the neighbor who is quick to spill the beans. There is no mention of what happened to the neighbor afterward, but it's likely that was given the same punishment.
  • inFAMOUS: Sasha is the leader of The Reapers and responsible for infecting Empire City with a mind controlling black tar so that she could make new Reapers out of ordinary civilians. When Cole finally tracks her down and defeats her, she is saved by the First Son before Cole can do anything to her. She doesn't appear in the game again, meaning we don't see her suffer any actual punishment, but she most likely died offscreen along with all the other conduits in the canon ending of inFAMOUS 2.
  • In LEGO City Undercover, the game’s true villain, billionaire Forrest Blackwell, had his scheme thwarted and his right-hand man Rex Fury arrested but remained on the loose with no presumable way to stop him. Come the license’s reappearance in LEGO Dimensions, and Blackwell reappears as a boss, now fully beatable. In fact, once you beat him, police arrive and make certain he will be sent to jail.
  • There is an odd case with Luminous Avenger iX, in which the game takes place 100 years after the bad ending of Azure Striker Gunvolt where Asimov succeeded in killing Gunvolt and Joule and bending Sumeragi to his will with the power gap left by Nova's death. Copen gives him his just deserts and breaks his power over Sumeragi. In the canon timeline, Gunvolt and Joule barely survive and chase him down before he can implement his plans.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Despite spending the entire game doing many despicable acts, including selling MSF out to Skull Face and XOF, leaving Strangelove in the Mammal Pod to suffocate to death, trying to use the then-infant Otacon as a test subject for Sahelanthropus, and triggering a vocal cord parasite outbreak onboard Mother Base that forces Venom Snake to Mercy Kill several Diamond Dogs, Huey Emmerich is allowed to escape with his life, with Snake opting to simply exile him from Mother Base despite all of his men cheering for Huey's death; the worst punishment Huey receives is being forced to dump his precious robotic legs overboard or sink. Of course, as revealed in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, years later, Huey was Driven to Suicide after discovering his second wife cheating on him with his own son.
  • Mortal Kombat X, hoo boy was there a lot of warranty tearing. Mileena is reduced to a rebel with no truly loyal allies and gets killed by D'Vorah. Kano gets beat up by Sonya and then arrested by Special Forces, and Quan Chi is reduced to a Butt-Monkey from the moment Sonya stomped on his crotch and is offed by Scorpion near the end. Mortal Kombat 11 goes even further in one instance: After strikes one and two in the last two games, Sonya takes Present Kano threatening Johnny's life as strike three and shoots Past Kano in the head, mulching anything that resembles a warranty and killing him off for good... hopefully.
  • In No More Heroes, Sylvia Christel plays Travis like a fool and manipulates him into becoming the #1 ranked assassin under the false promise of sex. She gets away completely unpunished when the game ends. In the sequel, we learn that her husband divorced her and she is shown miserable working in a strip club.
  • In Persona 5, it's implied the palace bosses have flaunted their warranties for years via connections, prestige, or just buying people's silence before being targeted by the Phantom Thieves. Before the end, every last one gets thoroughly shredded, and the targets themselves publicly beg for arrest.
  • The ending of the first Police Quest has Donald Colby, one of the pushers that supplied Lytton High School with drugs (including those that killed Jack Cobb's daughter via overdose), get off nearly scot-free with only a suspended sentence in exchange for information that led to Jesse Bains's conviction. In the second game, Colby was found dead in Steelton, murdered by Bains in revenge.
  • Red Dead Redemption uses this as a deconstruction with former outlaw John Marston who wanted to live a quiet life with his family. However, Edgar Ross refuses to see him as anything but a criminal, and has his wife and son kidnapped to force John to hunt down the old members of his gang. Once the deed is done, Edgar has him shot down by a firing squad and sees too it that history only remembers John as an outlaw who tried to escape from justice. Years later, John's grown-up son hunts down Edgar and kills him in revenge. The message of the story is clear: no matter how you see yourself doing the right thing, your past sins will find a way to come back to you.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 2: Brian Irons had raped a fellow student during his university days and completely got away with it due to his "outstanding excellence in academics". After becoming Chief of Police, he took bribes from Umbrella on a routine basis and blocked all investigations and claims performed by S.T.A.R.S. after the Mansion Incident in the first game, which basically meant that no one could do anything against him. Once the T-Virus broke out in Raccoon City, Irons then took down the remaining survivors in the police precinct and killed the mayor's daughter just to drag everyone down with him. It isn't until the mutated William Birkin kills him that Irons finally reaps what he sows.
    • Zigzagged in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis: Sociopathic Soldier Nikolai, who has been murdering his fellow Umbrella Supervisors to steal their findings for greater profit, canonically gets away with it. But, if the player makes a specific choice by pushing the Nemesis off of the bridge to the Dead Factory, Nikolai attempts to assassinate Jill for the bounty Umbrella has on her head — which provokes the Nemesis to attack him and brutally rip him apart for getting in its way. The remake also makes his fate more ambiguous when Jill and Carlos defeat him at the very end, leaving him injured while they take off in a helicopter.
    • Albert Wesker in Resident Evil is revealed to be The Mole in the S.T.A.R.S. unit by working with Umbrella and killing off his teammates as test subjects against Umbrella's monsters. Wesker gets gored to death by the Tyrant, but Resident Evil – Code: Veronica reveals that Wesker is alive due to a virus in his body that revived him while also granting him Super Strength and Super Speed. Wesker orchestrates most of the events in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 where many people get kidnapped, murdered, and experimented on. This also includes Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield's partner. By the end of the fifth game, Wesker finally gets his karma warranty revoked when Chris and Sheva destroy him with rocket launchers.
    • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has Lucas Baker; after Ethan escapes from his death traps and acquires the serum ingredients, he doesn't bother pursuing Lucas and instead focuses on escaping, letting him get away. This doesn't last long; the Not a Hero DLC, set shortly after the main game, has Chris Redfield sent in after Lucas. Lucas doesn't get out of the DLC alive.
  • In Shadowrun Returns, a repeating motif of the series is that the true masterminds behind its Crapsack World, the megas, the CEOs and the Great Dragons will usually always come out smelling of roses even if you can defeat the monsters they were usually guilty of releasing in the first place. This trope comes into play in Hong Kong, where Josephine Tsang gets away with subverting the Fortune Engine, having drained over a decade of good luck from Kowloon Walled City, caused untold misery, and almost caused a Yama king manifestation. The warranty comes into play in the postgame, where bereft of the Fortune Engine and her heir her company collapses, she gets investigated for financial fraud and ends up hanging herself in a Wuxing debtor's prison less than a year later.
  • Dr. Eggman has gotten away for the crimes he did in Sonic Adventures 1 and 2, but in Sonic Heroes he gets imprisoned by Metal Sonic and gets a one-sided beating from Team Chaotix for trying to bail out of paying them. Things haven't gone right for him ever since.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Stephen Stotch (Butter's dad) is featured as one of the bosses. Do you know what that means? It means that now you get to lay the smackdown on him for all the times he unjustly punished and abused Butters. It'll be even better if Professor Chaos is the one to finish him off, especially if it's with his Ultimate Power Move, the "Hammer of Chaos"! It goes without saying that fans felt very good about this.
  • In the Street Fighter universe, M. Bison steadily built his empire after every entry in the series, with him getting setbacks at most, but never truly defeated. Nash, Guile's best friend and mentor failed and paid with his life, Chun Li's attempts to avenge her father's death have failed, and Cammy overcoming her brainwashing and rebelling against Bison didn't stop him from making a group of cloned assassins based on her DNA called "Dolls". Even villain rivals, like Seth from Street Fighter IV have failed to defeat him. And by the time of Street Fighter V, Bison, now middle-aged, is at the height of his power. His Shadowloo empire has spanned worldwide, and he seems unstoppable. Until the ancient power, the Illuminati, decides to step in and stop Bison once and for all. They bring Nash back to life, and this combined with other circumstances, including an unlikely hero in Rashid who was just looking for his friend, defeats Bison for good, with the Illuminati replacing him as the main villain threat in Street Fighter III, which takes place directly after V lore-wise.
  • If there is a mecha anime villain that got away with their crimes in their home series and then said anime gets included in Super Robot Wars... it's time for the group of heroes that believe in justice and hope to come down to these villains and burn away their warranties to a crisp with a great dose of hot blood.
  • Byakuren Hijiri from Touhou Project. She once posed as a Youkai exterminator for the humans while secretly colluding with the Youkai; this was solely done just so to assure her power from Youkai wouldn't "disappear." She eventually came to genuinely care for Youkai and realized this wasn't the way to go about things, thus changed her ways, relocating youkai to places where they couldn't harm humans while trying to make peace between the two species from behind the scenes. This got found out, and the humans who trusted her to be an exterminator before called her a traitor, and sealed her down in the demon world, Makai.
  • Wolfenstein:
    • Near the end of Wolfenstein: The New Order, Deathshead's warranty finally expires. After seventeen years in-universe and thirteen years in real life, B.J. finally gets to kill Deathshead, though not without Deathshead nearly killing B.J. by blowing himself up with a grenade.
    • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus sees the warranty of Frau Engel expire: In The New Order, she is last seen reeling in horror at B.J. killing her beloved Bubi, and even then, only over teleconference. She becomes the Dragon Ascendant in The New Colossus and hounds B.J. over the game, making his life hell until he finally buries a hatchet in her skull on international television.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • After getting away with his crimes in the main games, Arthas finally faces justice in Wrath of the Lich King when Tirion Fording shatters Frostmourne and hacks him to pieces with the rest of the heroes.
    • The Burning Legion is an army of demons who are able to invade worlds without fear of retribution because they are very hard to kill. When they die, they are reborn in the Twisting Nether; however, if a demon is confronted and slain there it is Deader Than Dead. In addition, there are some weapons that can do it, such as the sword ''Ashbringer''. As of the Legionfall update, confronting them there is exactly what the armies of Azeroth plan to do, and it happens to the de facto leader, Kil'jaeden. The following patch even hints the Burning Legion's method of regenerating in the Twisting Nether is about to be discovered and done away with, meaning the Burning Legion across all dimensions would lose their ability to come back. Ultimately Sargeras himself is sealed away, causing the army to fall apart.
    • After her many atrocities that include making two Deals with the Devil, Queen Azshara is finally fought as a boss in Battle for Azeroth, but instead of dying then and there is taken by N'Zoth upon her defeat and is later shown being tortured in Ny'alotha. It doesn't stick, but it's a start.
    • Trade Prince Gallywix gets away with being a Jerkass for several years, but goblin players get a chance to finally enact some revenge in the storyline for their heritage armor.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, throughout the first half of the game, Metal Face gets away with killing countless residents of Bionis, including some of the protagonists' closest friends and family. As a Faced Mechon, he's impervious to most weapons, including the Monado (and even when the Monado can damage him, he retreats before taking any serious punishment). Once Zanza upgrades the Monado to the Monado II, which can damage Faced Mechon, Metal Face is just as vulnerable as any other Mechon, and he finally gets defeated with the Monado II at Sword Valley.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens many times in the Ace Attorney series. Many of the Big Bads and some minor culprits have committed heinous crimes in the past, often including one crime that no one has solved, and gotten away with it for years. Naturally, you are the one who finally uncovers their misdeeds and sends them to their long-deserved comeuppance. Examples include:
    • Miles Edgeworth, Phoenix Wright's main opponent in the first game, is an Amoral Attorney prosecutor who does whatever it takes to win, including coaching witnesses and concealing (but not forging) evidence. After losing two cases to Phoenix, he starts to realize that the defendant isn't automatically guilty and reconsiders his ways. Immediately afterward, he is framed for murder (and has to relive his guilt over the death of his father in the ensuing trial), the police chief tries something similar, rumors fly about all his dirty dealings, and he learns — to his horror — that he won the case that made his name using forged evidence. All of the above is probably justified since the Ace Attorney courts are a crooked system. They liked Edgeworth as a man who would go for a conviction and ask no questions; when he started honestly pursuing the truth he became a threat. Fortunately, with Phoenix's help, he rises above it all and becomes an Internal Reformist.
    • Redd White uses his company, Bluecorp, to get blackmail material on people so he can control them. For years, he built himself up with this business model, even driving some people to suicide. When Mia Fey comes close to exposing him, he murders her and tries to pin it on Maya and Phoenix — by the end of the case, his luck has run out thanks in no small part to Mia herself.
    • Manfred von Karma, Miles Edgeworth's mentor and the most feared prosecutor in the world, has a near-perfect record which he got by manipulating trials so he always won, regardless of how many innocent people were put away. When Gregory Edgeworth gave him his one black mark, he killed him and adopted his son to psychologically abuse him in revenge. But Phoenix exposes his role in the plot to frame Miles and the murder of Gregory, putting an end to Manfred's career of evil.
    • Damon Gant, the corrupt police chief, killed Neil Marshall and forged evidence so that Spree Killer Joe Darke would take the fall. He also manipulated the scene to make Chief Prosecutor Lana Skye think her sister Ema did it, giving him control over the entire Prosector's Office. And he got away with it for years... until he panicked and killed Bruce Goodman to prevent him from reopening the case. At that point, Phoenix ended up defending Lana and helped expose Gant as Goodman and Marshall's killer.
    • In Justice For All, Matt Engarde deliberately drove his ex-girlfriend Celeste to suicide just to spite his rival Juan Corrida. When Juan finally found out and set out to expose his secret, Matt paid an assassin to silence him, then used that same assassin to force Phoenix to acquit him. Needless to say, Phoenix ultimately turns the situation around on him, exposes all his crimes, and leaves him begging for prison so that the assassin won't come after him.
    • In Trials And Tribulations, Dahlia Hawthorne murdered her step-sister Valerie and blamed it on her boyfriend Terry, who killed himself at her request. In the flashback fourth case, she gets away, but in the first case, which takes place sometime after, she commits another murder and blames it on Phoenix, only for Mia (who was also the defense attorney for Terry) to finally prove her guilt and make sure she did not get away this time, resulting in Dahlia being executed for the crime. She tries to get revenge as a spirit later, but that plan gets foiled as well.
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, just about all the members of the smuggling ring have been getting away with it for years, especially the boss, Ambassador Quercus Alba (who has Diplomatic Impunity), and his spy, Calisto Yew (who was confronted by Edgeworth in the flashbacks fourth case but escaped). But Edgeworth is able to put them away, finally nabbing Alba and Yew in the final chapter.
    • In the second Investigations game, this is invoked by Vigilante Man Simon Keyes, who sets in motion the events of the game to punish the people who made his life miserable and got away with it, each of whom is a culprit in the game; from his father Dane Gustavia having murdered his partner, the case that became the DL-6 incident where Gregory was murdered, to Blaise Debeste and Patricia Roland, two prominent conspirators in the plot to unseat/kill President Di-Jun Huang and replace him with his body double. The imposter himself, however, is simply murdered by Simon.
    • In the backstory of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Kristoph Gavin was the one responsible for disbarring Phoenix Wright and ushering in the Dark Age of the Law, where legal corruption runs rampant. But Phoenix himself implements a plan that ultimately gets Kristoph's corruption exposed and arrested for two murders he was responsible for.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, the phantom, the sociopathic spy, killed Detective Bobby Fulbright to impersonate him, killed Metis Cykes and got the innocent Simon Blackwill framed for it, and helped create the Dark Age fo the Law. But in the final case, thanks party to the efforts of Metis's daughter Athena, and Simon himself, the phantom is revealed in front of everyone as being a fake Fulbright, and he is finally arrested.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Queen Ga'ran used trickery to usurp the throne from her sister and blame Dhurke for the crimes Ga'ran herself committed, slowly transforming Khurain into a dictatorship where defense attorneys are punished alongside their clients and any threat to her power is destroyed in a Kangaroo Court. But Apollo and the Defiant Dragons manage to slowly whittle away at her co-conspirators, until Apollo finally proves she has no legitimate claim to the throne, rendering all her draconic laws null and void.
  • The anime Fate/Zero is a prequel to the visual novel Fate/stay night, so anyone who appears in the latter is guaranteed to at least live to the end of the former. Zouken Matou, the sadistic head of the Matou family, and the chief architect of Sakura’s suffering, sadly gets away with all of his cruelty towards her and his son Kariya in this war...but anyone who’s read Fate/stay night will know he’ll get his comeuppance in ten years.

    Web Animation 
  • Gaming All Stars 2: Specter, Quan Chi, and Sweet Tooth, (All of whom escaped the events of the first series unscathed) are permanently defeated upon returning in the sequel series.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: In Episode 58, Jenna Darabond, who reveals that she burned down the Atchison mall way back in Episode 31, finally gets arrested for her actions thanks to Mackenzie.

  • Akumas Comics: Evil Sonic and Evil Amy have gotten away with all sorts of havoc in their home universe, and when they're about to suffer karma from a vengeful Shadow the Hedgehog members of The Ministry rescue them and offer them an opportunity in another universe. Almost immediately they suffer mishaps in the main universe, eventually leading to them to figure out what karma exactly is so they can return to their old Karma Houdini status.
  • The titular Dominic from Dominic Deegan allegedly getting away with far too many morally questionable acts despite supposedly being an unquestionable hero, is a big reason for the comic's large snark and HateDoms. Then comes the end of the Snowsong arc and he finally gets some punishment for his more questionable actions when Nurse Pam forces him to do community service as the town's resident seer. A job Dominic loathes beyond measure.
  • Textbook case: Fox Maharassa from Friendly Hostility. A flirt and a danger magnet with little empathy, Fox got away with quite a lot. But the "transgressions" that actually landed his relationship with Collin in serious trouble and, if you follow the sequel comic, ultimately led to their breakup, weren't really his fault. It involved Arath dripping poison in Collin's ear (incorrectly accusing Fox of cruelty and cheating when not only did Arath have no proof, he didn't know Fox to any extent at all), being stuck in a catch-22 with Collin (Collin flatly refusing to explain why Fox was in the doghouse and playing the "guess what you did wrong" game), and even having the goalposts moved on him when he took drastic measures to rescue their relationship. In short, Fox went from a lovable rogue to The Woobie.
    • Collin himself suffered the Always a Bigger Fish version of this trope when he encountered Lovable Rogue/Magnificent Bastard/Karma Houdini Leslie Rudd. Collin was always obnoxious, but in the one case he had every right to be annoyed - Rudd having sent Collin's boyfriend into serious danger - he got smacked down by the one character with no right to criticise. Oddly, while Fox suffered a backlash from the fandom (and perhaps, the creator) when his Karma Houdini Warranty expired, Rudd was universally adored...and as he adhered strictly to the terms of his warranty, got a happy ending.
    • While the Warranty certainly expired as a result of a Cerebus Syndrome, blaming the breakup on Arath is hardly fair. Collin ignored his gossip for years before finally agreeing with him, and when he did, it was because of an accumulated bitterness over Fox' past antics and the fact that he was failing at the guessing game, combined with breaking the isolation he'd had from the rest of the world.
  • Magick Chicks: When we're first introduced to Faith, we're told she's the student council president, multi talented, and a powerful esper. As such she's initially shallow, petty, and manipulative. About midway through the comic, she makes the mistake of using her psychic ability to bloodlust Layla, then tries to take her on without her powers. After Tiffany saves her by allowing Layla to feed on her, to calm her down, Faith not only has a change of heart, she falls in love with Tiffany; which marked the beginning of her turn around. From that point onward, it's gradually revealed that Faith is actually a pretty nice girl. Which is right around the time that all the bad karma, from before, decided to pay her a visit: in the form of an unexpected psychic attack.
    • Things start going downhill for Cerise once she actually starts caring for her girlfriend Callie.
  • Discussed in The Order of the Stick, Tarquin talks about how he'll be OK when he gets his comeuppance once he becomes an Evil Overlord because he'll have been in power for some time before, and will have been in a position to remain in power indefinitely unless a hero comes to defeat him. When that time comes he won't think, "that good triumphed over evil." he'll think,"that he got to live like a god for three decades! Sure the last ten minutes sucked but you can't have everything." He then goes on to say that the story told about his defeat will inspire more villains because,"Audiences always think the villain is cooler than the hero is, anyway." Karma, when confronted by this, apparently decided to jump the tracks completely and pitted him against a son that refused to follow any tale he was familiar with, at which point it all starts to catch up. And rather than dying in a climactic battle like he wanted, he winds up getting abandoned in the desert by the heroes so he can live with the knowledge that he wasn't an important enough villain for them to deal with.
  • Yorick from The Word Weary makes constant fun of his friend, John, who never retaliates or threatens to end the friendship over the constant berating... as long as he's sober.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Seth MacFarlane shows had some examples:
    • Family Guy: Peter gets away with abuse, attempted murder, genuine murder, and once accidentally burned down a hospital. In some episodes, he's hit with Poor Communication Kills and ends up the "sympathetic" character, and his interactions with Carter generally end with Carter screwing him over.
      • Speaking of Carter, he tends to get away with things far worse than Peter has, is completely unpleasant every time he appears, and never really gets punished for the things he's done. He gets his comeuppance in "Christmas Guy", where he gets completely humiliated.
    • Similarly, Roger of American Dad! is the resident Comedic Sociopath, ceaselessly getting away with abusing, conning, or murdering for self-gain or just for fun. Every now and then, however, he suffers a violent comeuppance, usually courtesy of Stan.
    • Rallo from The Cleveland Show. He does get away with a lot of things that he really should be punished for, but there are times where he gets punished (or some kind of karmic retribution happens).
  • Adventure Time: The original Earl of Lemongrab gets away with some rather despicable actions in the episode "You Made Me." He used his mental condition as an excuse to A) torture four children and a dog, B) repeatedly harass the Candy Citizens by sneaking into their rooms to watch them sleep, C) punched/slapped/shoved/screamed at a baby, D) terrorized his pet camel, E) tried to KO and torture Princess Bubblegum, who was actually being kind to him for the whole episode, and F) have the gall at the end to "pardon" the prisoners rather than admit he was wrong and simply release them. Then in "Another Five Short Graybles," Lemongrab goes completely Ax-Crazy and eats his clone alive when his clone accidentally breaks their toy; and in "Too Old" he gets away crossing the Moral Event Horizon with abusing his children for the smallest things, eating his clone (again), and trying to force his sons to kill Finn and Princess Bubblegum. He finally gets his comeuppance in "Lemonhope Story", when Lemonhope blows him up with his harp, and Princess Bubblegum sews him and his clone back up as one entity and decides that he's only mentally stable when he's lonely. The new Lemongrab then has to go through a mentally taxing spiritual ordeal in order to ultimately redeem the sins of his past self.
  • D.W. from Arthur often gets away with her brattiness and Lack of Empathy. That being said, there are occasions where her parents would properly discipline her when she does something wrong. Case in point, in "D.W. the Picky Eater", she throws a tantrum at a restaurant over being served spinach, and her parents are absolutely appalled at this and send her to her room. There's also the time where she threatened to pinch baby Kate for touching her toys, and she gets properly grounded for it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Yon Rha was the commander of the Southern Raiders who served during the final stages of the Southern Water Tribe raids. He killed Katara's mother and presumably committed multiple other crimes, before honorably retiring to his home village... where his abusive mother proceeded to make his life miserable. By the time Katara and Zuko track him down, he's been reduced to a pathetic shell of his former self. Seeing him like this, Katara decides that he's Not Worth Killing, and leaves him to keep living his life as he was, which is clearly a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Fire Lord Ozai continued his predecessor Sozin's conquest for world domination with an iron-fisted rule. He is as such indirectly responsible for various tragedies that happen throughout the series and also attempted to burn down down the Earth Kingdom, as well as being an abusive and neglectful parent to Zuko. In the Grand Finale, he is defeated, humbled, and stripped of his powers. For delicious irony, Zuko, the son he considered to be a failure, gets appointed as the new Fire Lord and vows to undo the damage Ozai has done.
    • Ozai's father Azulon spent his reign continuing the Fire Nation's war against the other Nations, committing numerous atrocities. He ends up getting murdered by his son Ozai after ordering them to kill their son as punishment for trying to be made heir after their older brother Iroh loses his son (even if Ozai did this so he could become Fire Lord and was going to kill Zuko before his wife came up with the plan to kill her father-in-law).
    • As for Azulon's father Sozin who started the whole mess? While leaving behind a legacy as a feared and successful conqueror, Sozin would spend his last years as a somber and downcast old man, plagued by regrets from betraying his best friend and the atrocities he committed, unable to enjoy his success or attempt to undo the damage he's done. The world let Sozin off, but his conscience didn't.
  • Will Harangue from Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, notorious for his irrational hatred of Ben 10 and being a Hate Sink and Expy of J. Jonah Jameson, somehow managed to get away with creating a Killer Robot and sending it to kill Ben, even avoiding getting arrested. As a result, most of his appearances in Ben 10: Omniverse essentially consist of him getting everything in the face: him supporting the Incurseans' invasion of Earth in "Frogs of War", just because they sent Ben away, causes him to lose ratings when the occupation is over, and when working with the Forever Knights in their goal to exterminate all aliens, again just because they both hate Ben, he eventually gets turned against his will into an alien, it helps that Ben himself did this to him in the form of Jury Rigg. He eventually subverts this in the Grand Finale to the series, where his future self had a Heel–Face Turn and is now the cameraman to a grown-up Jimmy Jones.
  • Evil Overlord Zordrak spent most episodes of The Dreamstone safe in his lair while his Urpney minions did the dirty work of each scheme and suffered Disproportionate Retribution. Every season finale, however, he suffers an elaborate comeuppance (in the final season he is the Butt-Monkey for the last three episodes, due to the Urpneys playing Idiot Houdini).
    • While not as conventional a case, the Noops also commonly inflicted enormous Disproportionate Retribution onto Frizz and Nug, sometimes even for stuff they had no control over or just for fun's sake. In "The Dream Beam Invasion" however, when they once again start an excessive beatdown on Frizz and Nug, they grow to enormous size and terrify them into retreating. Noticeably, the Noops tend to use more pragmatic retaliations after this episode.
  • Danny Phantom: In the pilot episode, Danny, Sam, and Tucker are punished for a food fight with Dash, with Mr. Lancer stating outright that Dash's status as the school's star quarterback makes him "exempt from scorn". That being said, he did receive his comeuppance when he was buried in all sorts of meat when Danny made the garbage dumpster full of said meat intangible. He is also painfully aware that his Karma Houdini status will go away once he graduates high school, and how he's going to be miserable for the rest of his life.
  • In Duck Amuck the role of the sadistic animator turned out to be Bugs Bunny, one of the few roles he is the antagonist who picks on his foe for no reason. While Daffy was powerless to stop Bugs in the previous cartoon, Rabbit Rampage has Bugs paid back in his own coin when Elmer Fudd gets hold of the animator's brush. May apply not just for Duck Amuck, but also for The Wacky Wabbit and Wabbit Twouble, where Bugs similarly heckled Elmer unprovoked.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, after years and years of having the Eds punished all the time, finally gives everyone else their karmic retribution in The Movie. And thankfully, it actually brings a genuine Heel–Face Turn from the other cul-de-sac kids, who realized that Eddy's brother, to whom they looked up to, is far worse than they imagined, (not to mention that he's likely the direct cause of Eddy's jerkassery in the first place) even conspiring with the Eds to give him a much-deserved comeuppance.
  • While Iron Klaw avoided punishment for his misdeeds throughout most of the run of G.I. Joe Extreme, the series ends with him finally getting captured.
  • Gargoyles: In "Deadly Force," Tony Dracon is implied to have been a Karma Houdini throughout his life at the time of his first appearance. He came up with ways to hide his involvement with various crimes and thus never had to stand trial. This trope bites him hard in the end when Goliath and Broadway have him and his cohorts captured and with evidence of their arms dealing in plain view in order to incriminate them.
    • Unfortunately, that evidence still wasn't enough to convict him, and it isn't until his third appearance in "Protection" that he's finally captured with enough evidence to put him away for good. Even then, the rest of his gang got off scot-free and continued to run their crime ring under his orders from prison as seen in "Turf."
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Just as it looks like Pacifica is going to get away with teasing the Pines Twins due to Mabel deciding not to let what she says get to her, Dipper still isn't satisfied and reveals to her that her whole family legacy is bull, simply to spite her. It takes until midway through season 2 for the impact to really be felt when Pacifica becomes the White Sheep of her family.
    • Nathaniel Northwest. While he got away with cheating the townspeople out of a celebration they promised him, he seemed to become insane after this and died eating the bark of a tree to prove he was a wizard.
    • Karma finally and horrifically hits Preston Northwest in "Weirdmageddon", courtesy of Bill Cipher. If that wasn't enough, in the final episode Preston was forced to sell the family mansion after going bankrupt investing all his fortune in "weirdness bonds" during Weirdmageddon. While he still has enough money from liquid assets to live comfortably, for him it's utterly humiliating.
    • Filbrick, Stan and Ford's father, does not suffer any comeuppance for the abuse of both his sons, the former by kicking him out for an accident while the latter it's implied that he emotionally abused him into a Meal Ticket for his family to become rich. That said, it's implied that while Stan and Ford end the series going on more adventures and reconnecting after Weirdmageddon, Filbrick is left stuck in the rotten dump where he raised Stan and Ford.
    • Bill Cipher himself. He finally gets his comeuppance at the end of "Weirdmageddon".
  • Kaeloo:
    • In Episode 56, the Alpha Bitch Pretty gets away with forcefully taking a horse away from Kaeloo, and shooting a horse with a gun just because she doesn't like it. In Episode 82, Kaeloo and Mr. Cat succeed in getting her humiliated on the news.
    • Whenever Mr. Cat is driving his car, his jerkassery levels increase. Examples of this include deliberately driving at a ridiculously slow speed in order to slow Kaeloo down when she's in a hurry since her car is behind his, or in another episode, ramming his car into Kaeloo's because she's going too slow and he's behind her. In Episode 134, Stumpy, who is angry at Mr. Cat, gets a bunch of clones of himself, who destroy the car... by holding an impromptu demolition derby while Mr. Cat is driving.
    • In Episode 118, Pretty gets away with posting embarrassing pictures of the main four online. She does this again a few episodes later to Kaeloo, but this time, she enters a competition and finds out that the judge is Kaeloo, who promptly fails her.
  • King of the Hill: Nancy Gribble had a 14-year-long affair with John Redcorn without Dale ever finding out about it. She and Redcorn mutually (though reluctantly) agree to part ways in season 4. However, there were some who felt that both Nancy and Redcorn got off too easily. At least until later episodes had them face consequences for their adultery:
    • "Night and Deity" has a gorgeous female exterminator fall in love with Dale, and Nancy is powerless to stop it without sounding like a hypocrite or possibly revealing her own unfaithful behavior. Dale, (un)fortunately, never even considers cheating on Nancy, which shows that he's a far better person than she is.
    • "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow" has Nancy starting to undergo female pattern baldness, and the stress that Dale's antic put on her is making her hair fall out even faster. Redcorn also tries to get back together with Nancy in this episode, which stresses her out even more. In the end, she rejects Redcorn and she and Dale are last seen purchasing a wig for her. Especially ironic since Dale is bald himself.
    • "The Untitled Blake McCormick project": Shows that Redcorn saw other women while he was with Nancy and sired a daughter the same age as Joseph.
    • As for John Redcorn himself: "Sug Night" has him break down in tears after Hank admits to having erotic dreams about her, showing how much he still loves a woman he can't have and "Vision Quest" shows how painful it is for Redcorn to have to watch another man raise his son.
      • Furthermore, also in "Vision Quest" Redcorn attempts to send his son on a "spirit journey" without telling him what it is or why it's so important, only for it to backfire completely, as Joseph simply becomes angry and Dale is the only one who has a vision telling him that John Redcorn slept with his wife and fathered his child. Though Dale totally misses the point, the fact that it's implied the spirits of Redcorn's own ancestors are on Dale's side is pretty hilarious.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • A lot of fans felt that Trixie received seriously Disproportionate Retribution for what happened in "Boast Busters" and that Snips and Snails were to blame for the Ursa Minor showing up yet got off without any punishment. Apparently the writers agreed: cue "Magic Duel" where Trixie shows up Drunk on the Dark Side with a power amplifying Artifact of Doom and, while taking some decent shots at everyone, hits Snips and Snails with more than what she hits the rest of the town combined with.
    • Some fans were upset about Featherweight being a Karma Houdini in "Ponyville Confidential". In "Slice of Life", he gets sprayed with ink, just like Diamond Tiara's punishment in the former episode, with the possibility of this being a recurring event very real.
  • Rugrats: A meta-example. Angelica was initially intended by the creators to be a permanent Karma Houdini to teach children that sometimes life isn't fair. However, the creators themselves eventually got sick of Angelica's brattiness, so they decided to start having her face punishment.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack kept avoiding getting killed by Jack and never got any punishment for conquering the world and annihilating all who oppose him. Then came the Grand Finale of the 2017 revival, where Jack finally makes it back to the past and kills the evil being for good.
  • Screwy Squirrel received very little punishment for abusing the victims of his shorts and generally being a jerk. Then came his final short, "Lonesome Lennie", where he was crushed to death by the titular dog. It’s treated as a Downer Ending, but it can also be viewed as this since Screwy was somewhat unlikeable anyway.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Fat Tony generally doesn't receive any punishment for his actions, except in a select few episodes. Come "Donnie Fatso" and Fat Tony suffers a fatal heart attack after discovering that Homer is a police informant, and is replaced by his cousin for the rest of the series.
    • Mr. Burns almost always gets away with his many, many crimes, but their are some episodes where he gets some kind of karmic justice, most famously when he got shot while trying to steal candy from Maggie. He also got his comeuppance in the movie (see the "Film - Animated" folder).
    • "Papa Don't Leech" has Lurleen's father get his comeuppance for deserting her as a child when the Dixie Chicks beat him up and apparently turn him into guitar picks for his unethical actions as their agent.
    • At the end of "Marge vs. the Monorail", Lyle Lanley escapes from Springfield on a plane and it looks like he's about to become a Karma Houdini for conning various towns into buying faulty and dangerous monorails. Then he realizes the plane he's on is going to another town he previously conned, where he is attacked and beaten by an angry mob upon landing.
  • South Park:
    • During Season 19, PC Principal intimidates a lot of people for the pursuit of social justice and has gone as far as assaulting people who say something he considers insensitive (like savagely attacking Cartman because he used the words "capiche" and "spokesman"), and he's never gotten any retribution for it. Come Season 20, he is forced to live with the fact that his actions partially caused one of the most politically incorrect characters to become president, who proceeds to rub it in his face and force him to suck his dick.
    • At the end of Season 20, Eric Cartman has reverted back to his Jerkass self, but was able to keep his girlfriend Heidi Turner with no repercussions. Come Season 21, he starts emotionally abusing her, turning her into his Distaff Counterpart. This backfires on him hard as she starts to abuse him and eventually breaks up with him in "Splatty Tomato".
      • Cartman was actually hit with karma much earlier in season 12. Wendy has had it with Cartman's antics and challenges him to a fight. Cartman at first plays it as a joke, but Butters points out that everyone would think he's a faggot if Wendy beat him, Cartman fears that she might actually beat him and tries his damndest to get out of the fight, to no avail. She does beat the hell out of him in front of everyone and while crying about how he's no longer cool, the others inform him that they've never thought he was cool and that their opinions of him couldn't possibly go any lower, which Cartman interprets as them trying to cheer him up because they really do like him.
    • Upon becoming President, Mr. Garrison uses his newfound power to commit any atrocity he likes without facing consequences. This includes sending offensive tweets to North Korea, terrorizing Tweek, raping his own staff and immigrants to death, and nuking Canada; The last act causes Mr. Garrison to become a wanted man, but he manages to escape capture in the Season 21 finale. It isn't until the Season 22 finale where he's finally arrested for his crimes.
    • In "Turd Burglers", Linda Stotch truly deserved to vomit and defecate uncontrollably as punishment for her abuse, mistreatment, and attempted murder of her son Butters. For those wondering about her husband, he got hit with this earlier. See the Video Game folder.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the post-movie seasons, Mr. Krabs almost constantly gets away with all manner of horrible deeds, not the least of which nearly driving Plankton to suicide in "One Coarse Meal" for his own sadistic amusement. That being said, episodes such as "The Cent of Money" and "Patty Caper" end with him getting a suitable comeuppance.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series Darkseid has nearly caused an apocalypse on Earth (twice) and temporarily brainwashed Superman into being his lieutenant, destroying Earth's trust in the Man of Steel. He never gets punished for these crimes because he's the ruler of a planet that outright worships him even at his weakest. In the sequel series Justice League, he screws over the JL after they begrudgingly agree to help free Apokolips from Brainiac, and while he's busy hacking into Brainiac, Superman sees to it that Darkseid is blown up by the self-destruct. In Justice League Unlimited, Lex Luthor accidentally resurrects him instead of Brainiac due to Tala's sabotage, but Darkseid faces karma again afterwards when Luthor uses the Anti-Life Equation to trap both himself and Darkseid in the Source Wall.
  • The Red Sky seasons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) had a tendency to have villains who long avoided punishment for their actions eventually getting their comeuppance.
    • The Rat King is finally captured by the Turtles and brought to justice in "Wrath of the Rat King".
    • The season eight finale "Turtle Trek" ended with Shredder and Krang stranded in Dimension X with their battle fortress, the Technodrome, irreparably damaged.
    • The tenth and final season eventually had Lord Dregg's facade of a benevolent alien exposed and had him apparently killed off in the Grand Finale "Divide and Conquer".
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Shredder has never had to pay for any of his actions, excluding his burn-scarred face and the death of Tang Shen, to the extent that in the season 3 finale, he chooses to kill Splinter rather than save the world from the Triceratons, and goes to his death happy that he finally beat Splinter. Season 4 sees his warranty start to come to an end; when Splinter's death is undone in "Earth's Last Stand", Splinter is so outraged at Shredder for breaking the Enemy Mine that he beats him senseless; the next time we see Shredder, he's bedridden and in intensive care. He finally gets what's coming to him in "Owari," as his killing of Splinter and injuring Karai is what gets the Turtles to come after him full-force, and he's beheaded by Leonardo.
  • Tom and Jerry: Jerry often comes out the victor in his conflicts with Tom, even in situations where he's the aggressor and Tom is the victim. However, shorts such as "The Million Dollar Cat" and "The Year of the Mouse" end with Tom winning for once, and Jerry getting a suitable comeuppance.
  • Total Drama
    • Duncan often gets away with his dirty deeds. In fact, he's arguably the single luckiest character in the series - not only is he successful romantically in both Island and World Tour, but he is also the only one of three winners to hang onto his money. In All-Stars, however, karma finally catches up with him: first, throughout the season, Gwen was more interested in making up with Courtney than him. Then, feelings ignored, he tries to get Courtney's attention away from Scott even though he cheated on her with Gwen, who he's with now. Gwen breaks up with him and he loses Courtney to Scott. The others make fun of him for becoming soft this season, so he blows up Chris' "cottage" in "You Regatta Be Kidding Me!", which gets him sent to jail instead of juvenile hall.
    • Chris McLean ends up getting away with nearly everything he does, aside from the occasional mishap here and there Played for Laughs, except for in "Brains vs. Brawn: The Ultimate Showdown", where karma finally catches up to him after he unwittingly blows himself up and is subsequently arrested by the Canadian government for his environmental crimes. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last, as the network posts bail and releases him so he can keep producing the show.
  • Sentinel Prime from Transformers Animated is an odd example. In the backstory, he's a Karma Houdini (he was responsible for the incident that got Optimus Prime kicked to space bridge repair and Elita-1 turned into Blackarachnia, but got off scot-free and is now part of the Elite Guard because Optimus took the blame), but as soon as he lands on Earth, karma decides to make an example out of him, starting with disrespecting human traffic laws and falling off an unfinished overpass. As acting Magnus, he's reprimanded for his attempt to destroy the Decepticon-controlled Omega Supreme, ignoring the risk of destroying Cybertron. And in the final moments of the series, his rival, Optimus Prime, who he has mocked over the series, is hailed as a hero for capturing Megatron, while Sentinel is shown scowling in the crowd cheering for him.
    • Also in the same show, minor villain Henry Masterson is seen getting off scot-free for his crimes twice. For context, one of his crimes included ATTEMPTING TO BLOW UP ALL OF DETROIT. In the Season 3 opener "TransWarped", however, he is finally arrested for his crimes.
  • In the second season of Transformers: Rescue Bots, Corrupt Corporate Executive Madeline Pynch gets away with illegal digging, including brainwashing the town of Griffin Rock into doing it, activates a doomsday weapon by accident and ultimately almost sinking the town—and unlike Mad Scientist Dr. Morocco, gets away scot-free for that last stunt. The Season 4 episode "Cody's 11" sees Karma deliver a swift kick to her ass as the Burns and Bots decide to take back what she stole after she swiped some unstable Energon and tried to market it as an alternate energy source, and had the foresight to switch the mind-wiping Verne Device out with a fake and record her confession. Even her attempt to blackmail them fails as the town has learned the true nature of the Bots at the start of the season and accepted them.


Video Example(s):


Nobliss Gordon

After having ordered for the death of Orga Itsuka, Nobliss Gordon; a big-name arms dealer who has connections with Gjallarhorn is later shot to death in the bathroom by Ride Mass.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / KarmaHoudiniWarranty

Media sources:

Main / KarmaHoudiniWarranty