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Karmic Overkill

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Belkar: Ha! The kobold tried to kill Mr. Scruffy, and in the end, he died shielding him from acid! Payback's a bitch!
Elan: But... what about all the awful stuff you already did to him as payback before that?
Belkar: You gotta pay down the interest before you can touch the principle, kid.

A character gets what is treated as Laser-Guided Karma or an otherwise appropriate consequence for their wrongdoing, but they suffer so horribly that even those who agree that they deserved punishment think they got more than they really deserved. While this typically applies to villains as most feel that The Villain Must Be Punished, this can easily apply to other characters if they get over-punished for a minor misdeed.

The heroic version of this is Can't Get Away with Nuthin'. If done too often in a series, this can make a character a Designated Monkey. Can cause the one giving the punishment to become a Designated Hero or Unintentionally Unsympathetic.

For in-universe cases of this, see Disproportionate Retribution, Evil Is Petty, and Dog-Kicking Excuse.

Compare Fate Worse than Death, Death Is Dramatic, Alas, Poor Villain, Alas, Poor Scrappy, Antagonist in Mourning, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, Unintentionally Sympathetic, Easy Road to Hell, Felony Misdemeanor, and Jerkass Woobie. Contrast Karma Houdini, Death is Cheap, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, and Joker Immunity.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Chuuya is forced to kill Fukuzawa within two days or his own boss along with Fukuzawa will die, causing him to declare war on the ADA. While the executive makes it clear it's not personal and he hates the situation they're stuck in, Ranpo taunts him about Dazai to trap him in one of Poe's more brutal books containing one thousand characters, five hundred of whom are bloodthirsty murderers that must be identified to escape. On top of that, without access to his powers in the book world and not being especially good at puzzles, Chuuya is fully expected to die. Luckily, he eventually gets out, but one has to admit the trap was over the top.
  • Durarara!!: Izumii Ran had one in his backstory. When he was younger, he used to beat up his younger brother, Aoba, because he believed his parents favored him. How does Aoba get back at him? By starting a fire in Ran's room with a lit cigarette, which not only made their parents think Ran was smoking, but his father breaks his nose. To add insult to injury, Aoba grins at his expense and pretends he was glad Ran didn't get hurt by the fire. If anything, that justifies Ran's delusions of being The Unfavorite. Ran is no doubt a jerkass to the extreme, but he didn't deserve to get violently beaten by his father for something he didn't even do, which isn't helped that the incident took place before Ran committed some of his more vile acts.
  • Fist of the North Star: Often even Mooks in the series engage in terrible acts of Kick the Dog to justify Kenshiro's Pay Evil unto Evil, but this still occasionally happens.
    • In a filler episode in the first season, Kenshiro faces the Snake and Scorpion Biker Gangs led by their respective leaders, Junk and Baron. The two gangs are underlings of the Arc Villain, Shin and extort the villagers of their supplies. When asked by a villager to stop their feuding and break their control over the village, Kenshiro tricks the two gangs into killing eachother in all out war, then proceeds to kill every last survivor. Kenshiro usually gives his opponents a chance to run or surrender, but in this case, he gave no opportunity to anyone in the gang. Add to the fact that members of the Snakes actually got a small Pet the Dog by letting a child into a restricted area in exchange for an apple and that Junk offered to do anything in exchange for mercy (with Kenshiro retorting that he'd only take Junk's life), Kenshiro's insistence on leaving no survivors among both gangs and giving Junk a Cruel and Unusual Death seems a little needless.
    • In the Fudoh Arc, a man selling eggs is killed by a gang of apocalyptic punks with his chickens roasted and eaten. Upon confronting the robbers, Kenshiro immediately gruesomely kills them all, even when a Mook offers Kenshiro the fried chicken to save himself. Whilst the punks definitely did deserve to punishment for their murder and robbery, the fact that Kenshiro has a technique to permanently reduce an opponent's strength, means he could've punished the gang without gruesomely killing them all.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Diamond Is Unbreakable has Terunosuke Miyamoto, a one-off villain who ends up turned into a living book by Josuke for harming the latter's mother. Many fans find his fate to be too harsh since he's not as heinous as villains who suffered similar fates (like Kars and the Serial Rapist Anjuro), and is arguably less heinous than some of Josuke's reformed friends.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind has Illuso, who while seen as one of the more ruthless and unpleasant members of La Squadra, has many fans believing that his gruesome and horrifying death at the hands of Purple Haze, which infected him with a flesh-eating virus that basically liquefied him as he felt the most excruciating pain possible, was worse than he deserved since despite planning to capture Trish and nearly killing Fugo and Abbachio, he's nowhere as nasty as other villains like Cioccolata or Diavolo. That said, readers of the spin-off Purple Haze Feedback may disagree, as that story characterizes Illuso as a Serial Killer responsible for the death of Sheila E's sister, though that plot point may have been written to mitigate this reaction.
  • In the Midnight Horror School episode "Noisy Noisy", the bullies YumYum, Tubee and Usop throw books off the library shelf and try to frame Docky for it with Noisy being their accomplice. However, after Noisy reveals the truth about Docky's accusation...the rest of the students gang up on the trio and start bad mouthing them for what they did to both Docky and Noisy, which in turn made the former use his whirlwind abilities on the trio to send them running and the latter sends the elevator down, which got the trio stuck in it with the whirlwind. Despite the trio's deed being bad, it wasn't the Worst Thing that they did and many felt bad for the trio when Docky sent his whirlwind after them, with it being more or less being an act of raging out than a form of revenge.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, Zansetsu Hirata, the spirit of an artist who impersonated artists staying at the hot spring where he'd died in order to complete his final work, ends up being Dragged Off to Hell, rather than being sent to purgatory. This punishment comes off as too harsh for several reasons, since Zansetsu hasn't directly harmed anyone, makes no excuses for his actions and willingly leaves the task of finishing his work in the hands of Yontani, a washed-up author he'd come to sympathize with.
  • Naruto: The title character himself gets this in the third movie, Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom. Naruto spends the first third of the movie dealing with Hikaru's bratty behavior, even after he at least tried to make an effort to be friendly with him. The straw that breaks the camel's back for him was when Hikaru wanted to buy Naruto as a slave, but he hits him with a toy arrow after he rightfully refuses, prompting Naruto to bop him on the head and make him cry. Sakura punishes him by beating him up, is Denied Food as Punishment until he apologizes, and then taunts Naruto by waving food in his face when he sticks to his guns. Naruto was supposed to be seen as in the wrong, but it's hard to feel sorry for Hikaru when he constantly abused Naruto, only for Naruto to get punished for fighting back.
  • From Yu-Gi-Oh! is Villain of the Week Goro Inogashira, a bully who steals the booth location from Yugi's class during the school festival because it's right by the entrance and sees the most foot traffic. The worst thing that happens to Yugi and his classmates is that he and Jounouchi end up in the infirmary with some injuries. In response, Yami Yugi challenges him to a Shadow Game which ends with him dying in an explosion. Normally, most of the one-shot villains from the manga's early days are treated as Asshole Victims who deserved their punishments, but very rarely did anyone ever die, even people who committed more heinous crimes than Goro. One such example is Kokurano, a Phony Psychic from the chapter before Goro's. He was guilty of arson, attempted murder, and attempted rape, yet all that happens to him is that he gets knocked out with chloroform and exposed as a fraud, which makes Goro's death look like Disproportionate Retribution by comparison.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In a golden age story, the robbing Super Villain, the Penny Plunderer, is given the electric chair as a jury's punishment for trying to steal rare pennies and trying to murder Batman and Robin. That other villains, even back then, such as the The Joker, have done much worse than the Penny Plunderer, yet didn't receive capital punishment, has not gone unnoticed.
    • Initially, Jason Todd's death was treated as a tragedy. However, later writers portrayed Jason as the "bad Robin" for disobeying orders (something every Robin has done, including Dick Grayson, the original), which ended up giving off the implication that Jason deserved to be beaten senseless with a crowbar and caught in an explosion.
  • While Chick Tracts are already notorious for frequently having characters end up in Hell for not following the author's Christian beliefs, the most infamous instance is "Flight 144", where a missionary couple who have spent fifty years helping countless Africans by building schools and hospitals get sentenced to eternal damnation for believing that their good works were worth more than Jesus' sacrifice. That same tract has a man who killed somebody in a drunken brawl (which he seems to have genuine remorse for, to be fair) end up in heaven because he helped his cellmate find Jesus.
  • Green Arrow: In Justice League: Cry for Justice Prometheus had maimed Oliver's son, killed his son's daughter, and bombed Star City. At the end of this storyline, Oliver kills Prometheus and hunts down and kills his villain allies. While the story treating this as him having fallen from grace is somewhat understandable given DC's unofficial "superheroes don't kill" rule, him being rebuked by his JLA teammates, banished from his hometown, and his wife Dinah leaving him was considered by many to be overkill for his "misdeeds".
  • Several Horror comics where the Asshole Victim gets an ironic death can elicit this depending on how extreme it is compared to the severity of the crime. An infamous example is Haunt of Fear #19's "Foul Play", where a Baseball player murders a rival player with poisoned spikes. Rather than informing the police when they figure it out, the rival's team takes vengeance by luring the killer to the stadium at night and brutally dismembering him (implicitly while he was still alive) and playing a macabre game with his body parts as equipment. It's supposed to be vigilante justice but given how needlessly gruesome and sadistic the method is, the players just look like even worse psychopaths than their victim.
  • Judge Dredd: During the Apocalypse War, Chief Judge Griffin is captured by Sov Forces and brainwashed to become The Quisling. Dredd infiltrates the base where he's kept and manages to snap Griffin out of it; Griffin then concludes that he has committed treason and deserves to be executed, an order that Dredd swiftly carries out. While Griffin had indeed become a propaganda tool for the Sovs, it was clearly not through his own choice. His only crime was being captured alive.
  • This is a major reason for the fame and infamy of Stardust the Super Wizard. All the villains in the series are written as completely unsympathetic, with many of them either killing people by the truckload or planning to do so. However, Stardust invariably follows up their defeat by punishing them in incredibly over-the-top ways that go beyond Pay Evil unto Evil and frequently come off as full-on Body Horror torment (for instance, shrinking a man down into just a head, then throwing the head into space where it is absorbed and apparently devoured by an alien giant). The narrative also never treats this as anything less than heroic, which causes it to feel even more disconcerting.
  • Similar to the above is DC's own The Spectre, whose specialty is inflicting horrifying divine punishment on evildoers. Problem is, his targets tend to be small-time crooks who've only committed one murder, or even were just an accomplice to one, yet he executes them in ways that are far more sadistic than their own crimes. One example is him melting a bank robber alive as the man begs for mercy, even though all the man did was stand by while his boss murdered some guards. Especially jarring in a universe where people like the Joker, Deathstroke, and Black Manta have somehow escaped this guy's noticenote . Later stories do acknowledge that the Spectre is a monster with an extremely narrow worldview, but he's nonetheless treated as a force for good.
  • Teen Titans: This is the reason why the original version of The Judas Contract is so divisive amongst fans. The story depicts Terra, a teenage girl, as The Sociopath who revels in her deeds and gets killed when she loses control of her powers, while Deathstroke is treated as a sympathetic Anti-Villain. However, Deathstroke was the one who wanted to kill the Titans in the first place as revenge for his son's death (which wasn't even their fault) and was in a sexual relationship with Terra (who, mind you, is young enough to be his daughter). Modern adaptations of this story tend to excise the sexual relationship between the two and make Deathstroke the more evil of the pair.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): In the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord to stop him using a mind-controlled Superman to massacre thousands of people in order to start a war between humans and metahumans. For this, Diana had her reputation dragged through the mud and she was forced to take on a secret identity as part of a new job to learn humility. Many felt that this was incredibly unfair given the circumstances under which Diana killed Max. It didn't help that even though the entire Trinity were all supposed to have been seen as losing their way, only Diana had to deal with the consequences of her actions while Superman and Batman's respective mistakes (covering up the Justice League's history of using mindwipes and creating Brother Eye) were swept under the rug.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Brothers Grimm's version of Cinderella, the stepsisters have their ankles and toes cut by their mother in order to fit the shoe. At Cinderella's wedding with the prince, birds peck out their eyes, rendering them blind and crippled for the rest of their life. While the stepsisters routinely bullied Cinderella, many found this punishment overly harsh since their behavior is very likely the result of bad parenting from the Wicked Stepmother. It's made more jarring by the fact there's no mention of the stepmother being punished, even though she abused Cinderella just as much as they did.
  • Charles Perrault's "Diamonds and Toads"/"The Fairy" (link), a "Mother Holle" variant, involves two sisters' respective encounter with a fairy. She blesses the good sister with having diamonds fall from her mouth whenever she speaks. The bad sister however rudely rebukes the same fairy causing her to be cursed with having to spit toads and snakes whenever she speaks. The mother later drives her two daughters out of her house. The good sister meets and marries a prince while the bad sister, after wandering for a while, dies alone and miserable in the woods... which is a frankly harsh punishment for rudeness, especially considering that the mother gets no punishment for her bad parenting.

    Fan Works 
  • This is sometimes considered to be one of the biggest flaws of specific types of fanfiction such as Salt Fics, Revenge Fics, Fix Fics and Accusation Fics. While the exact details tend to differ depending on which style is used, there is a consistent element of the writers creating these in order to deal with an element, character, or story point that they have grievances with, justifiably or not. That in itself isn't much of an issue, but where things tend to go awry is that the fiction has the possibility of going straight past justifiable grievances into outright vicious overreaction. It also doesn't help that this can also depend very heavily on the fic writer's self-awareness, since Karmic Overkill can be the result of them making the exact same mistakes as the original story, just punishing the "right people" too excessively because they don't recognize what the actual issue was in the first place, or simply not being skilled enough to actually put their "better than the original" ideas into practice.
  • In The Bridge, the Human Twilight is technically working for the Windigos, even badly wounding Sonata by stealing her gem. However, she does all this unwittingly, thinking Zephyrus is a kindly mentor guiding her toward a great destiny. Despite this, she suffers brutally for being an accomplice: Aria, furious at what happened to Sonata, beats Sci-Twi so badly, she is left with broken ribs and a broken arm. In fear, she becomes a horrifying fusion of Midnight Sparkle and Windigo. After she is defeated with a blast of the Elements of Harmony, Aria knocks her out, unsympathetically thinking she worked with the Windigos for power. Then Wallflower, strung along by one of the Windigos, erases Sci-Twi's memories after the Elements reveal to her just how evil the Windigo really is, allowing Zephyrus to possess her body. This is a lot of punishment for a young girl who acted naively to go through.
  • Chunin Exam Day spends several chapters punishing Sakura and Sasuke for their "crimes", to the point where even readers who hate the characters felt bad for them.
    • Sasuke undergoes massive amounts of Adaptational Villainy, being The Sociopath rather than an Ineffectual Loner whose worse crime up to that point was calling Naruto a chicken once. Almost every loop sees him murdered or at least mutilated for Naruto's entertainment and/or convenience, such as the harem repeatedly stealing his eyes to further their training. One particular loops sees him mind raped by Ino who forces him to very publicly soil himself and tell everyone that the Sharingan evolves by making its wielder play with their feces. Afterwards, Ibiki threatens to kill him if he tells anyone what happened.
    • The worst Sakura ever does is not want to date Naruto, and for all the story claims otherwise, she does show him moments of friendship and genuine concern when he's acting out of character. While she never dies for Naruto's amusement, she's nonetheless humiliated repeatedly in basically every loop she appears in. Even women who barely know her gleefully join in on her mistreatment just because she refused to date Naruto any of the several thousand times he asked her. Once she's brought into the loops, Sakura is then ostracized for an unknown length of time that's implied to be years or decades, until she's so lonely that she offers to be Naruto's Sex Slave if he'll show her some affection. Eventually, she begs him to stop bringing her into the timeloop, functionally killing that version of her for good, just to end her loneliness.
  • In The Loud House fanfiction The Diary of a Loud, Lincoln punches Lola in the eye hard enough to send her to the hospital just because she read his diary to her classmates. This was meant to be portrayed as Lincoln punishing Lola for her prior behavior, but it became immensely unpopular due to Lola just being six (or seven) years old, along with it seeming disproportionate since she was sent to the hospital.
  • In the Teen Titans fanfic The End of Ends, the villain, Count Logan, who is Beast Boy after getting a Superpowered Evil Side, sucks people who were mean to him or otherwise were just living happy lives into his book and kills them. He also has his minions blow up Tamaran because Starfire got together with Robin when Terra didn't get together with him. In fact, the entire reason why he blew up the universe was because of his getting "dumped" by Terra and slights, real, exaggerated or otherwise, from everybody else. All the horrific things he's done are presented as justified by the story.
  • One of the reasons that How I Became Yours, a Avatar: The Last Airbender fancomic featuring Zuko and Katara as a couple, gained infamy is because of this trope. The offending incident has Mai, who caused Katara to miscarry Zuko's child, gets gruesomely and painfully bloodbended to death by Katara (for those who don't know, "bloodbending" is when a waterbender takes control of the blood inside someone else's body, which means that the waterbender can control everything inside the person - and yes, it's considered to be a horrifying concept in the show). Even people who wanted Zuko and Katara to be together ended up being disgusted by her actions.
  • This might as well be a running theme in the Infinity Train: Blossomverse series. The authoress admits that she actively tried to invoke this reaction at times to help serve as a deconstruction of the usual Accusation Fic tropes, as some characters in-universe even question whether some of these characters actually deserve the punishments they get. But perhaps she did this a bit too well:
    • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: One of the biggest complaints about the story is the sheer lengths the universe goes to punish Goh Fujihachi. He becomes Vermillion City's personal scapegoat, with everybody pointing fingers at him and blaming him for Chloe running away, never even bothering to see past the cookie-cutter reality. Then he reaches a breaking point in Act 2, when Parker subjects him to the mother of all nightmares just to make himself feel better because of it, leaving Goh a shell of his former self with nary a hint of sanity left. Then, just as he's recovering from the previous event, he gets kidnapped by a lunatic who wants to use his Mew Tracker to get a Shiny Mew, with them even giving him an injured Mew as leverage, all while holding him at gunpoint. What did he do to deserve all of this? He searched for his best friend for days on end, growing sick with worry, only to be told to his face she wants nothing to do with him when they eventually do talk. Yes, Goh did need to be told off for taking Chloe for granted, but by the time the poor kid finally manages to see her again, it's hard not to feel bad for a kid who was so desperate to fix a friendship that they willingly enter a Death World with no promise of their own escape.
    • Infinity Train: Voyage of Wisteria: The Apex, especially Grace Monroe, did a lot of bad things (such as murder, injury, inflicting mental and psychological traumas, robbery, pillaging and generally being all-around assholes). But did it really have to end with them lost, separated, chased by understandably angry denizens, being dragged off to the Hazbin Car and Grace being killed and reincarnated as a mute music note? The author has stated that she actually welcomes debates from people over this, particularly where it started going from "ignorance" to "blind arrogance".
  • The author of the Pokémon: The Series fanfic The Longest Road was one of many viewers understandably irked by how Erika denied Ash the right to face her in a gym battle simply because he didn't like the perfume her shop sold. However, the story's original attempt at punishing her involved Ash outing her as a lesbian, exploiting a law that made it illegal for LGBT people to train Pokémon at all, let alone act as gym leaders. Many readers found this too harsh, especially since all of her employees (being members of the LGBT community themselves) would lose their jobs as well. This led to the offending chapter being revamped so that Erika got in trouble on more reasonable grounds.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Apotheosis might as well be the definition for this trope, thanks to multiple characters that often get more punishment than they really deserve. The most prominent is All Might, who tells a Quirkless child that he shouldn't try to be a hero because it's dangerous (and showing the boy his own secret crippling injuries to show that he's being serious and why the job is too dangerous for someone without powers), and in return gets his reputation destroyed and quirk stolen by a Villain Protagonist. Most readers who aren't super into the story tend to find this to be overkill to the extreme, as it treats someone telling a kid a hard but honest truth as the ultimate act of evil that they must be destroyed over.
    • One for All and Eight for the Ninth displays this in regards to Bakugo, where his canonical bad attitude, violent reactions, and issues with Izuku at the start of the series are used to set up a plot point where he's not only expelled, but labeled as not just a villain but an A-ranked Villain. For context, this is the same rank that, at various points in side materials, has been applied to Serial Killer villains like Dabi, Stain, Muscular, and Moonfish, and surpasses the ranking of villains like Overhaulnote , all for being aggressive, jerkish, and inflating his mockery of Izuku's quirkless status (which is even stated in fic to have elevated his villain rank by an entire letter) to an extreme, and fairly literal version of Jerks Are Worse Than Villains. The author eventually acknowledged this after the ranking discrepancy was pointed out, later retconning it so that his actual actions deserve a D ranking (increased to C because his victim was quirkless) and the A rank was an attempt by the government to strongarm him into working for them to avoid punishment.
  • Partially Kissed Hero:
  • In Pound and Pumpkin Cake's Adventures (and Misadventures) in Potty Training, the chapter "The 'Joy' of Flushing" is so-named because the Cake twins flushed a joyboy (a type of gaming device) down the toilet. As a punishment for this, Mrs. Cake spanks them, to which some readers objected, especially since they're only toddlers. The author himself admitted that the spanking was a bit controversial and told readers that he would delete any arguments in the comment section.
  • In the Pokémon Adventures fanfic Two Sides of a Genetic Hybrid Human: Retribution, Cyrus ends up getting discovered, and subsequently mauled, by the titular Author Avatar. Not only does it imply that it won't end well for Cyrus either way (either he dies at the hands of the alien lady or he ends up in a vegetative state for the rest of his life, much to the apparent glee of the alien either way), the subsequent text in the image outright proclaims Cyrus had committed a 'sin too great' (by attacking the gym leaders who were attempting to stop his plans, and apparently not summoning two reality warping deities to destroy and recreate the world in the first place or literally attacking a small child), therefore drawing the attention of his would-be executor and 'suffering the severe consequences of his actions'. But not only does the sheer brutality of the mauling in the first place end up invoking more pity than catharsis, there are way worse villains within the same series that make Cyrus look like a saint in comparison, including Ghetsis, the Kanto Elite Four, the Masked Man and the like, so the alien's reasoning for attacking Cyrus and his former lackeys the way she does ends up holding even less water.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Ant Bully: While Beals takes a disturbing amount of pride and joy out of his exterminator job and tricks Lucas into signing his contract instead of asking his parents, some viewers found his fate of being turned into a deformed freak for the rest of his life to be far worse than he deserved, with certain critics suggesting that a more harmless or humiliating defeat would be a more appropriate punishment for his smugness. It doesn't help that, unlike Lucas, he has no way of knowing that the insects he's trying to kill are sapient.
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero has Gregory Belson meet his end by falling debris from an exploding oil rig. Granted, he did cause the explosion in question and was an Opportunistic Bastard who helped Mr. Freeze in kidnapping Barbara Gordon just to pay off his debt, but some thought this was too far, especially compared to Freeze's own massacre of a submarine crew.
  • In Chicken Little, Foxy Loxy is shown to be The Bully and a Jerk Jock, enjoying tormenting Chicken Little, and to a lesser extent, other unpopular kids. However, many found her fate in the end, where she's been hypnotized by alien technology to act like a stereotypical Girly Girl, was a bit much, as going through Mind Rape is a bit mean-spirited for a character who was a jerkass at worst. It doesn't help that the aliens offer to restore her to normal, but Runt of the Litter refuses, saying "She's perfect" in her brainwashed state.
  • Akiko Glitter, the Just Dance dancer from The Emoji Movie, falls into the void while screaming in horror and glitching out once her app is deleted. Later, Gene travels to the phone's recycle bin to rescue Hi-5, and while he sees her crying in terror while awaiting her death, he ignores her, showing that we are meant to see her death as justified. While she does force the heroes to dance with her and threaten to drop them into a bottomless pit if they fail, on top of slowing them down enough for Smiler's bots to catch up with them, this is just her following her game's programming, rather than actively trying to kill the heroes, not to mention it's Hi-5's fault the app was launched in the first place. Because of these factors, Akiko's death is a frequent complaint that is brought up in discussions of the movie.
  • Ratatoing: When the managers of a rival restaurant discover that Marcel Toing uses food he steals from a human eatery, they cut off his supply by running around the human restaurant's floor and making sure they're seen, causing the humans to set up mousetraps and get a cat. Once Marcel finds out they're responsible for sabotaging his business, he has them captured and sent to a laboratory to be experimented on. Many viewers thought this was an incredibly harsh punishment well in excess of anything they did, especially since they were actually stopping Marcel from committing crimes.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost: Despite him being a Manipulative Bastard who wanted to Take Over the World, some felt Ben Ravencroft's punishment of being dragged to a dimension of torment with his ancestor was too excessive a punishment for what he did. Especially since he realized his mistake and turned against Sarah when she revealed how destructive she was.
  • Toy Story 2: Although Al McWhiggin stole Woody in order to complete his collection to sell to a museum in Tokyo, one might sympathize with him when he cries on TV over the loss of not just Woody but also Jessie, Bullseye, and Stinky Pete, which, as far as we can tell, he acquired legally.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Carrie (2013):
    • Carrie's mother Margaret, just like in the first film adaptation, ends up dead when her daughter uses her psychic powers to impale her with sharp objects. However, in this version, Margaret is shown to be a lot less abusive, actually caring about the bullying her daughter goes through at school. In addition, she's clearly suffering from her own issues, hurting herself with scissors at one point. This can make this death seem a bit too gruesome, even by Stephen King's standards — and in comparison to the book, where Carrie just telekinetically stopped her heart.
    • For some, the mean twins Nicki and Lizzy Watson, don't get nearly enough screen time to develop them as Carrie's bullies. Unlike Chris and Tina, who have active parts in tormenting Carrie and setting her up to be humiliated, the twins are just part of the Girl Posse and are only mean by association. They get a particularly gruesome death, where Carrie pins them to the floor so they can be trampled by the crowd. While certain moments in the film point to them being aware of the prank and possibly in on it (and they were in the original script), it can seem a bit much for two minor characters to die in such a cruel way.
  • Dante's Peak: The only major sin Paul Dreyfuss committed was not immediately believing Harry 100% that the volcano was going to erupt at the very start. Not only did Paul have very legitimate reasons for waiting to push the panic button, he even has the team stay long after they normally would at any other investigation, waiting for something to happen, even beyond the time frame he initially allotted. When the seemingly inactive volcano finally does show legitimate proof that it is preparing to erupt, he immediately presses the panic button, does everything he needs to do to get the town prepped, apologizes to Harry, and orders the rest of the team to safety while offering to stay behind himself in the danger zone to try and help Harry off the mountain (the rest of the team stay too). Despite all of that, he dies from drowning after the military orders their evacuation and the bridge he's on collapses from under him (and as the very last man in the very last convoy to evacuate Dante's Peak, nobody else gets hurt). Definitely a heavy-handed death for someone that was nowhere near an outright villain, or a Mayor Vaughn.
  • Expend4bles: How some viewed Jumbo Shrimp's death. Yes, he was certainly a Jerkass towards Barney and Christmas for refusing to give the former his ring back, but there are those who thought Barney using him as a body double when Rahmat shot his plane down came off as rather disproportionate for an Asshole Victim like him.
  • Hocus Pocus: While no one can deny that Ice and Jay were two bullies who deserved to be taken down a peg, many viewers felt being left stuck in cages with no indication that anyone would free them was a step too far.
  • Hot Tub Time Machine 2: At the end, Lou gets rather unceremoniously shot by a Lou variantnote , who says he did the group a favor by doing so as Lou was "bad", and the men immediately move on from Lou to befriend the variant. While Lou was indeed quite an unpleasant person, this was still seen as uncalled for, given that Lou himself has already owned up to his misdeeds and even considered making changes in his life.
  • Jurassic World: The kids' babysitter, Zara, is portrayed as being more concerned with talking on the phone and planning her wedding than actually watching the boys. Later, when a flock of pterosaurs escapes, she's grabbed by one and carried screaming into the sky, is dropped and then grabbed by another pterosaur, dropped into a lagoon and grabbed again by a third pterosaur, is nearly bitten in half by said pterosaur, and then is devoured by a Mosasaur. Many viewers, including Sam Neill, thought this was an overly cruel death for a character who was annoying at worst, especially since the Jurassic Park series usually saves its most gruesome deaths for truly evil characters. However, originally, Zara's death was meant for a random security guard, but Katie McGrath personally requested that her character die in such a spectacular manner.
  • The Final Boss of Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not Poppy Adams, but instead Agent Whiskey who makes a Face–Heel Turn at the last minute. His reasoning behind this however, turned out to be more sympathetic than the writers intended. His pregnant wife (who he had described as "the love of his life") was killed when two drug addicts started a shootout at a convenience store. Not only that, but his death via meat grinder was much more brutal than Poppy Adams' (who is much more evil and would be much better suited to such a fate).
  • Little Shop of Horrors: There's no denying that Seymour is complicit in the murders. But the film made him too passive and sympathetic of a character, being pushed around to do evil acts by Audrey II rather than taking initiative by himself.note  Additionally, the original climax has Audrey II humiliating Seymour in a long musical number (after he witnessed his love die in his arms, no less) before slowly dragging him into the maw to be eaten with zero dignity, a fate usually reserved for an unsympathetic villain. The result is a Gut Punch so severe that test audiences universally hated the ending to the point it had to be changed to a happier one.
  • On Deadly Ground:
    • In one early scene, some racist hicks are shown bullying a Native American man, prompting Forrest to get in a Bar Brawl with them. What pushes his treatment of them into this territory is the fact that Forrest is far more violent than their harassment ever was, to the point where he keeps brutalizing them after they've already been beaten. They undoubtedly deserved some form of punishment for what they did, but most viewers felt Forrest took things way too far.
    • Liles is a rather egotistical and condescending woman who works as a Corrupt Corporate Executive's secretary. For this, the audience is expected to believe that she deserves one of the harshest and most drawn-out fates in the movie: getting horribly maimed in a car crash, set alight by gasoline pouring out of the fuel tanker she crashed into, and then blown to shreds when said tanker explodes. Granted, she's possibly involved with the crimes committed by her boss, Jennings (she advises him on several issues related to the mercenaries and tells him that the EPA's been getting tips about him), but the worst thing she's actually shown doing onscreen is likening Alaska to a third-world country; even if she was complicit in Jennings breaking the law, her end still comes off as unnecessarily extreme and excessive.
  • The Parent Trap (1998): Meredith embodies almost all the tropes of children's movie villains: she is a Gold Digger, a Child Hater, and a (potential) Wicked Stepmother. However, some viewers feel that Hallie and Annie crossed a line when they pushed her mattress to float in the lake while she was asleep, which could have caused her to have drowned. Nick does say they're "punished until the end of the century", but once they're gone, he jokes that he should thank them.
  • Pinocchio (2022, Disney): One major criticism of the movie is that toning down what the naughty kids do at Pleasure Island has the unintended side effect of making their fate of being turned into donkeys seem utterly unwarranted. Gone are the brawling, vandalism, and underage drinking and smoking, replaced with kids enjoying themselves on amusement park rides, helping themselves to candy and root beer, and playing a bit rambunctiously in areas specifically intended for that kind of activity, all of which the movie still presents as wrong. Not helping matters is the fact that Pinocchio only went there because he was kidnapped, implying that some other kids might have been there against their will as well. The resulting moral comes off less as "don't act like a jackass" and more like something along the lines of "kids shouldn't have fun, no matter what".
  • Problem Child:
    • While many people needlessly antagonize Junior, his violent reactions to the abuse go well beyond anything sane or rational. The stunt with the car in particular could've easily gotten someone killed.
    • In turn, while Junior might deserve the punishments he gets, almost every adult figure in his life straight up abandons him without even trying to talk him down, discipline him, or try and explain to him why his actions are bad. One potential guardian ditched him as a baby for urinating on him, despite him being way too young to know better.
  • Revenge of the Nerds: There's no denying that Betty Childs was a rude snob in need of an attitude adjustment, but most viewers today think her being subjected to rape by deception was a completely unacceptable form of "retribution".
  • Se7en: Theodore "Victor" Allen was a drug dealer and a pederast who also committed armed robbery and assault, but his fate at the hands of John Doe (being slowly pumped with drugs, starved, dehydrated, and riddled with bedsores for an entire year) is so horrific that many viewers felt sorry for him. By contrast, while the movie treats his fate as horrific, both the police and the hospital doctor express No Sympathy for him, with one officer even stating "You got what you deserved".
  • General Zod in Superman II had Earth in the palm of his hand and Superman at his mercy, but then Superman used Kryptonian technology to neutralize Zod and his allies' powers, rendering him as weak as any Earthling. Instead of just dumping the three of them in the clink like he previously did with Lex Luthor, Superman crushes Zod's hand and throws him into an icy chasm, where his henchman soon follow.note 
  • In Twilight Zone: The Movie, one segment is about a bigot (played by Vic Morrow) forced to experience racism himself in the bodies of several oppressed peoples throughout history. He almost gets lynched as a black man in the 1950s US South, flees from trigger-happy US soldiers as a Vietnamese civilian in the Vietnam War, gets hunted by Nazis as a Jew in WWII France, and ends up on a train to a Nazi concentration camp. So what did he do that was so bad that he deserved all of this? He said some racial slurs. Even many anti-racists thought what he suffered was severe overkill.note 
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: The fates of the bratty kids can already be considered this in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel (see Literature below). However, the fate of Augustus Gloop comes across as this even more so in this adaptation as, outside of his Big Eater tendencies, he's not shown to be a bad kid as he's polite to the others and his poor table manners and contamination of Wonka's chocolate with his cold are Adapted Out.

  • Near the end of The Belgariad, Zedar, a traitorous sorcerer who'd betrayed his brothers to the Big Bad Torak, is attacked by Durnik and kills him in self-defense, resulting in Belgarath sealing Zedar in stone for all eternity. Many readers consider this punishment harsher than what he deserves, even those who don't believe in the Alternative Character Interpretation that Torak was controlling him all this time.
  • Three of the bad kids' fates in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can be considered this. Violet chews gum constantly? She gets turned into a giant blueberry. Mike watches too much TV? He gets shrunk and then stretched out in a taffy puller. Augustus eats too much? He gets turned into a lump of fudge. In contrast, Veruca, probably the most spoiled and obnoxious of the lot, has nothing worse happen to her than getting thrown into a pile of trash (nothing a change of clothes and a bath can't fix).
  • Empress Theresa: When investors in gold bullion file a class-action lawsuit against Theresa for her alteration of the economy, Theresa responds by putting what's effectively a curse on the lawyer who took the case, making it so that any motor vehicle with her inside will inexplicably stall and fail. This is treated as said lawyer getting what she deserves for "bullying" Theresa, even though it was the investors who were responsible for that (and even then, they had stronger justification than the story claims), while the lawyer was just doing her job and has children to support. And since there's no indication that Theresa ever reverses what she did, the poor woman presumably has to deal with this problem for the rest of her life.
  • Fun Jungle: During the Time Skip between the second and third books, park manager Tracey Boyd has a nervous breakdown over the PR disaster of the koala abduction and loses her job. This feels like it is being written to punish Tracey for threatening to fire Teddy's parents after he was accused of the abduction, but she only did so under orders from J.J., and gave Teddy plenty of chances and resources to prove his innocence and change her mind.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Marietta Edgecombe is often viewed more sympathetically than intended. She betrays Dumbledore's Army to Umbridge and gets SNEAK written on her face in boils forever, thanks to Hermione's spell that she put on all the Army's members beforehand. However, many readers found that she didn't deserve this punishment for several reasons. First, Marietta never wanted to join them in the first place and was actually peer-pressured to do so by her friend Cho Chang. Second, her mother works at the Ministry of Magic, so Marietta could've been afraid that her participation in La Résistance would bring harm to her mother (though she could have cut ties with them without betraying them, implying that she actually wanted to curry favor with the authorities and not just protect her mother's job). Third, Marietta (along with the rest of Dumbledore's Army) was never warned about the consequences of her betrayal: if she had known she'd be revealed at once and scarred permanently, she likely wouldn't have betrayed them. Fourth, she later had her memories of ratting out Dumbledore's Army and her involvement with them erased, so she's permanently disfigured for a crime she doesn't even remember committing.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians does this to Gabe, Percy's abusive stepfather. While he was no doubt an awful person who verbally and possibly physically abused Percy, definitely physically abused Sally, and told the authorities that Percy murdered Sally after her disappearance to get back at him for wrecking his car, some people felt that Sally murdering him by petrifying him with Medusa's head and then selling his stone form to an art collector after passing him off as a sculpture she made was too harsh of a fate for him. The movie adaptation softens it to the head being left in his fridge, with a note warning him not to open it, and him doing so anyway, meaning he brings it on himself. This is also the only change to the story that Rick Riordan, the writer, actually liked, suggesting in retrospect he agreed with the thought that Gabe's fate was too extreme.
  • The Railway Series (and its Animated Adaptation Thomas & Friends) frequently utilized these sorts of punishments onto the locomotives for their bad behavior.
    • One of the most infamous cases was "The Sad Story of Henry/Come Out Henry", where after the vain Henry refuses to make his runs in the rain and stays in a tunnel, the workmen lose patience and brick him up in there "for always and always". The narrative puts emphasis on the miserable state this has left Henry in, though it assures the reader that he deserved his punishment.
    • In "Granpuff", to scare Falcon and Stuart into behaving, Duke tells a tale of a rowdy American engine who often derailed and toppled his goods trains. He ignored warnings over and over ("Who cares about a few spills?"), until eventually the manager got sick of his carelessness and had him rebuilt into a pumping engine. While he definitely deserved to be disciplined, many readers thought what the manager did to him was far harsher than warranted, especially since the books imply that vehicles can remain alive and conscious after being subjected to something like that.
  • In most of the stories in Struwwelpeter, the fate of the children is either deserved (Frederick abuses a dog and gets bitten, necessitating an unpleasant doctor's visit; the three boys who mock a man for being black get dipped in ink as punishment), or a logical consequence of their actions (Harriet/Pauline burns to death after playing with matches, Kaspar starves to death after refusing to eat). Then there's Little Suck-a-Thumb, who gets his hands gruesomely mutilated just because he sucked his thumbs. His thumb-sucking didn't even necessarily bother anyone, as the tailor barged in with his shears while he was alone in his home.
  • The World's Finest Assassin: When Lugh poses as a merchant to investigate the Torran Orphanage, the villains of the arc send an assassin to kill him in his sleep. When the assassin gets foiled, the girls torture him to get information about his bosses before killing him. What makes this particularly over-the-top is that the assassin is not anywhere near as heinous as his bosses, who are guilty of Human Trafficking and child rape— the man is only a Punch-Clock Villain, exactly the same as Lugh was in his previous life. What makes it worse is that Lugh ends up only getting the assassin's bosses arrested because despite their crimes being far worse than some of his other targets, he feels that he can't kill them as he's not on an official mission—evidently, he doesn't see the need to hold his friends to his own moral code.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die is a show largely about people who deserve death getting it. However, the series sometimes fails to deliver on the "deserve death" part. For example:
    • #96: Poi Vey: A rabbi who got rejected by a hula girl he had a crush on and died when he drunkenly stumbled into a Hawaiian torch ceremony ended up evoking more pity than catharsis from the viewers, despite the narrator treating him like virtually all of the other jackasses on the show. While his attempts to hit on her were admittedly somewhat invasive, getting burned alive for it was still a bit harsh.
    • #169: Chess Pain: When a Soviet chess grandmaster competing against a supercomputer died from electrocution, the narrator mocks him and implies he deserved it. But he was never actually shown doing anything bad; at worst, he was a bit arrogant.
    • #203: Trailer Trashed: A newlywed husband dies while fixing up an old RV for him and his wife to live in after he tries to unclog the plugged septic tank with bleach, which mixes with the acidified waste in the tank to create chlorine gas, essentially turning the RV into a gas chamber. This is treated as him being Too Dumb to Live, but since bleach is commonly used to clean toilet bowls, thinking that it might work on the tank itself is an understandable mistake. Not to mention that the husband himself seems like a decent human being, undeserving of getting gassed to death.
    • #236: Screwged: The subject of this segment is treated as deserving to die in a freak hailstorm for hating Christmas, even though the worst thing he actually does is throw rotten fruit at some carolers; not nice, but hardly bad enough to warrant death. It doesn't help that he's a lonely widower shown sadly looking over photo albums in the dark, making him come off as a Jerkass Woobie rather than a Hate Sink; most shows probably would've given him a shot at redemption and happiness rather than killing him off.
    • #239: Crib Your Enthusiasm: A man who happens to be an infantilist (someone who enjoys dressing up and acting like a baby) ends up dying in an accident when the drop gate of his adult-sized crib severs his spinal cord. The narrator talks about him like he's a degenerate freak, but the man's interests (while certainly unusual) were harmless and the worst thing he did was throw a fake temper tantrum.
    • #389: Jelly-Belly-ed: While the girl who died was undoubtedly obnoxious and her fake shark scare certainly deserved some kind of punishment, dying a painful death from Irukandji syndrome after swallowing a jellyfish with nobody helping her because they thought she was faking it went way too far for many viewers' tastes. Quite a few also felt that her motive was more sympathetic than intended, even if it didn't justify her antics.
    • #701: Sterward-Death: A grouchy and apathetic flight attendant starts her last day before retirement after eight years on the job. She's rather unpleasant towards the passengers, especially when serving snacks and drinks. Eventually, the captain reports severe turbulence up ahead and warns everyone to buckle in. The stewardess ignores the warning, causing her to get violently sucked out of the plane and fall to her death when the fuselage rips open. Of course, she should've listened to the warning, but no one could've predicted that the plane would suffer such a catastrophic failure. And though she was rude and sour, anyone would be that way after working so long at a job they clearly hated (especially when one considers that flight attendants are known to have very stressful careers).
    • #913: Dead Meat-Eorite: A young man goes to a party to try and convince people to join his Christian prayer group, only for a small meteorite to pass through his chest. The narrator's commentary mocks his fate and treats what happened to him as Laser-Guided Karma, but while he did lack the common sense to realize that a party was probably the last place he should have gone for his recruitment drive, he wasn't being particularly rude or obnoxious about his beliefs, nor did he intentionally try to ruin the party for anyone else. Essentially, he's treated as deserving of death for being a harmless buzzkill with poor social skills.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: In The Tale of the Dark Music, after neighborhood bully Koda destroys his bicycle, Andy lures him into and locks him in the basement to "teach him a lesson", then turns on heavy metal music to summon the resident Eldritch Abomination, which consumes Koda.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • Dr Williamson of Season 2 gets accidentally infected with samples of the sisters' blood he'd taken when Piper was down with a rare fever, and then made a miraculous recovery. As he's a mortal, the magic drives him mad to the point where he's hunting down criminals to get organ donors for patients in need of transplants, making him a Well-Intentioned Extremist at worst. After one attempt at a potion to remove the powers from him, Prue and Phoebe decide he has to die, even though he was a human who could have been saved with a bit more effort from them. Prue even contrives a self-defence death and acts very blasé about it all until Piper calls her and Phoebe on the fact that a human lost his life because of them.
    • Cole Turner gets possessed by the Source of All Evil while trying to help the sisters vanquish him, and was in fact tricked by the Seer, who said he'd return to normal afterwards. He ends up killed to get rid of the Source, but hovers in an Afterlife Antechamber for demons, where he says he'll miss out on an afterlife. Phoebe refuses to help and decides that Cole is responsible for everything that's gone wrong in her life, conveniently ignoring that he nearly got rid of the Source's essence until she intervened at the Seer's manipulation. She spends Season 5 gaslighting him into thinking all he'll ever be is evil, and he eventually ends up killed off in an alternate reality that hammers home how Phoebe would never love him. He is then shown in Season 7 still trapped between realms, given a Villain's Dying Grace that ignores how he was a complete victim of manipulation from multiple parties.
    • Rick Gittridge is a human criminal who gets broken out of jail thanks to Phoebe under the influence of a spell, and he uses her magic to commit more crimes. Phoebe's ultimate solution is to use magic to glamour him to look like Chris, who's been on the run from demons, and Paige to then attract the demons to their house so they can kill Rick instead of Chris. For a human who could have easily been subdued by two witches and put back in prison with no effort, it's quite shocking how cruelly he was dealt with.
    • Phoebe herself is the only Charmed One to get punished for misusing her magic, being stripped of her active powers, and only ever earning her premonitions back. The out of universe reasons were that her levitation was getting too expensive and had to be written out, but both Piper and Paige were almost as guilty as Phoebe in their misuse of magic, and suffered no personal gain consequences. Paige likewise was the one who participated in the aforementioned killing of Rick above.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (2023): The show's take on The Masque of the Red Death involves 78 people being horrifically burned to death when the sprinklers are revealed to be hooked to tanks of acidic chemicals. Although Verna does tell Morella and the wait staff to get out of the building in advance, and we can infer that the guests being selected by Prospero aren't good people, the lack of on-screen Jerkass behaviour beyond hedonism can make their fate seem somewhat unwarranted. Especially since Prospero was filming them without their consent and with the intention to blackmail them later.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Amazingly enough, the death of Joffrey got this reaction from some fans, due to just how gruesomely he died (he's poisoned and chokes on his own vomit while the guards and his parents are unable to help him).
    • The fate of Septa Unella. While many fans agree she deserved some comeuppance for forcing Cersei to walk the streets of King's landing naked, leaving Unella at the mercy of Gregor Clegane was overkill, considering that it's implied that she'll be raped and tortured by Gregor until she dies.
  • The Haunting Hour has Norman from "Swarmin' Norman" being eaten alive by millions of insects. While Norman did let his power to control insects corrupt him, many viewers found it to be too excessive a punishment, not only because he was a middle school-aged boy who had been mercilessly bullied his entire life, but the reason Manny, his loyal pet decided this was necessary without even trying to work things out with him was that he squashed two of his insect minions.

  • iCarly: Some of the punishments on this show have been seen by viewers as needlessly cruel:
    • "iMeet Fred". Freddie mentions he doesn't think Fred is that funny on video. Fred responds by claiming he won't make videos anymore, which results in social isolation and emotional and physical abuse to Freddie until he took it back. Sam beat him with a tennis racket until it broke. And it turned out it was a publicity stunt by Fred.
    • "iHate Sam's Boyfriend": The trio's revenge on Jonah for trying to kiss Carly while he's with Sam? They wedgie-bounce him on iCarly. And he's still left in the device even after the show's over. To be fair though, he was an annoying jerk throughout the episode and the punishment itself could be for everything rather than just the one thing.
    • "iParty with Victorious" has probably the most glaring example in the show's history; if not that, then of all Nickelodeon's. Carly and Tori have discovered that their boyfriend Stephen was two-timing each of them with the other. Their response? Exposing him over iCarly so the whole world knows. While what he did was bad, their revenge is the equivalent of cyberbullying.

  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: While they started out as malicious bullies, Bulk and Skull became harmless Butt Monkeys over their tenure on the show. Despite this, they were often subjected to numerous painful and humiliating experiences, no matter how badly they behaved. In one episode, the Rangers erase the evidence Bulk and Skull have acquired about their identities, humiliating them in public.
  • One episode of Night Visions had a crewman aboard a cargo ship discover some stowaways inside a crate. He does his job and informs his superiors about it, who ignore him. When it becomes clear the stowaways are trapped and that there may be something inside killing them, he tries to break them out. Suddenly, his superiors reveal the stowaways are cannibals that they transport around so the mob can use them to assassinate people and they stick him inside the crate, where the stowaways mock him and then brutally kill him. This would ordinarily be a Cruel Twist Ending, but the episode treats him as though he deserved it, with everyone (even the narrator) mocking him for the "crime" of being a Nice Guy who did his job to the best of his ability and didn't act selfishly.
  • Sam & Cat: Ellie from "#MyPoober" was undeniably a total brat who insulted and manipulated Sam and Cat, but being abandoned by the group and left alone with a total stranger for who knows how long was certainly too extreme, especially considering the fact that it's outright child endangerment.
  • Seinfeld: This trope is part of why many fans hated the series finale, as it shows the protagonists getting convicted and sent to prison for being jerks after neglecting to help someone who was being carjacked, with various characters testifying about the protagonists' misdeeds throughout the series. While the finale suggested that this was long-overdue retribution, many pointed out that throughout the series, the protagonists, especially George, didn't always get away with their jerkassery, and therefore this was completely excessive.
  • In The Sopranos, Vito Spatafore is a Smug Snake who at one point murders a random civilian for trying to call the police after Vito crashed into his car while drunk driving, but it still doesn't really justify him being brutally beaten to death and sodomized with a pool cue in a homophobic hate crime by series Big Bad Phil Leotardo.
  • Stranger Things has these two:
    • Billy Hargrove gets this in season 2. While he was no doubt an abusive brother and a racist, the events that led to his defeat weren't entirely his fault. First, Max snuck out while he was supposed to be watching her, which gets him a beating from his abusive father and is forced to cancel his date to look for her. When he finds her, he sees her hanging out with Steve, a considerably older boy, and with him being Locked Out of the Loop, he makes the natural assumption that Steve is up to something creepy, which prompts him to beat Steve up. So, in response, he gets sedated by Max, has his car stolen, and it's very likely he got an even worse beating from his father for failing to bring her home.
    • Jason Carver from season 4. While forming a vigilante mob and threatening and assaulting civilians was no doubt a bad thing, some felt his fate of getting ripped in half by the Upside Down opening was too harsh of a punishment. Unlike most of the show's other antagonists, Jason was a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to avenge his girlfriend, and a combination of Eddie fleeing the scene and Vecna possessing people around him and Lucas only made the party look more guilty in Jason's eyes.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959)
    • In "Time Enough At Last", Walter Bemis is a kind man who absolutely adores reading. However, everyone in his life from his overbearing wife (who destroys everything in the house that could be considered reading material — even the labels on the food — and leaves one of the books Walter tried to hide in its hiding spot after scratching out every single word and then feigns interest so Walter will find out) to his boss seems to hate his habit. After a huge explosion destroys everything and everyone apart from him, he finds that there is time enough to read. Then his glasses break, leaving him completely unable to. Again, all of this was because he liked readingnote 
    • "Living Doll" deals with Eric, a stepfather who is having a bit of trouble adjusting to his role as such, in part due to his own inability to father children and the fact his wife already has a daughter from a previous marriage named Christie. The titular Doll, dubbed Talky Tina, is purchased one day and adored by Christie. However, when Christie isn't present, Tina constantly harasses Eric — even beginning their disastrous feud by stating outright that she doesn't think she likes him very much. It culminates with Eric trying to destroy the doll (thus further alienating his family) and eventually being murdered by it when he takes a nasty tumble down the stairs.
  • The Twilight Zone (2002) had a segment called "The Pool Guy", where the main character finds himself trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop experiencing his own murder over and over again. In the end, it's revealed that he's a murderer who was forced to undergo a memory wipe before being placed in a Mind Prison, and the man who kills him every time was his victim. According to his jailers and even the narrator, it's his just desserts, but many viewers felt that killing a confused, helpless man thousands of times until he goes insane is infinitely worse than killing someone once.
  • At the end of WandaVision, the villainous Agatha Harkness is brainwashed by Wanda into becoming the harmless sitcom neighbor, Agnes, that Harkness initially pretended to be. It's a convenient way to keep the character around for a possible return instead of the usual route of killing off supervillains the MCU takes, and Agatha had no qualms about killing children and puppies. However, to some viewers, it comes off as an unnecessarily harsh Death of Personality, especially since earlier it was revealed those Wanda brainwashed were still fully aware inside and every night had to psychically witness her nightmares. Perhaps not surprisingly, the next movie Wanda appears in, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, shows that she's truly become Brainwashed and Crazy and is the outright villain of the piece.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place does this to Stevie. Her desire to put an end to the Wizard Competition so that all magic siblings keep their powers was already considered an act of Designated Evil by viewers, since it's been shown that the Competition has driven a lot of families apart. This at worst makes her a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but the characters all treat her like she's pure evil because of it, including her brother. Naturally, some viewers think that her fate of getting Taken for Granite and then having her petrified body shattered was too harsh of a punishment for her. Word of God tried to mitigate this by revealing that she was put back together and de-petrified, but she never appears again in the show.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Mime's fate in The Ring of the Nibelung can seem overly harsh. Yes, he wants the Nibelung treasures and the Ring of Power for himself, but he decides to go after them after being cruelly taunted and beaten by his own brother who usurps power in Nibelheim (before that, as Mime recalls, life was wonderful). Then he takes in baby Siegfried in order to raise him to fight Fafner (who owns the treasures). He treats Siegfried decently (he clothes him, feeds him, teaches him, and makes toys for him), but Siegfried only taunts and humiliates him even more for years, even setting a bear on him For the Evulz. Then Wotan randomly drops in and bullies Mime a bit more, finally telling him he'll get killed. After that Mime snaps and starts planning to kill Siegfried, but with the Humiliation Conga he endures before that for no particular fault of his own, it's hardly a shock.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy XVI: There is a sidequest where Clive is instructed to rescue a nobleman's son from a wolf, only to find out that he and his son were sending Bearers to get mauled to death by the wolf, who was actually their pet, For the Evulz. At the end of the quest, they try to replace the wolf, only for it to maul both the nobleman and his son to death off screen. While the nobleman certainly deserved his fate, his son looked no older than ten and was likely molded by his father's upbringing. This is especially jarring since in the same area, there was another sidequest where Clive met a girl (who wasn't much younger than the nobleman's son) who treated her dead Bearer like a replaceable toy because her parents influenced her to think like that. However, unlike the nobleman's son, the girl is punished with a "Reason You Suck" Speech, and if you talk to her after the quest ends, she is clearly remorseful for how she treated her Bearer.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Havetti is a brutish pirate that was extorting a portside village out of food and supplies, also admitting to throwing Makalov, a compulsive gambler off of his shop for attempting to cheat his crew. Despite this, the fact that Havetti hasn't hurt anyone, unlike the prior bandit villains faced by the Greil mercenaries, has made more than one player regret that there is no option to take Havetti alive and that the Greil mercenaries have to kill Havetti to clear the map. Similar applies to Mini-Boss, Nedata, another pirate, whom seemed relatively pleasant for a criminal.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening: Victor and Vincent are a pair of bandit twins that try to raid a village for money, only for Victor to be killed by the heroes. Later the despondent Vincent tries to avenge his brother's death, only to be killed as well, with his death Played for Laughs. Given worse villains like Gangrel, a tyrant whom intentionally ran his country to the ground and caused the deaths of hundreds of people, were forgiven by the heroes, it can be easy to wish there was a way to thwart Victor and Vincent's actions without killing them.
  • Grand Theft Auto V:
    • Trevor Philips is an insane, cannibalistic, necrophilic drug dealer, among many other sins. But in Ending A, seeing him burn to death while screaming in pain and having his killers be his two best friends is deeply tragic. Thankfully, it isn't canon.
    • Franklin has this reaction after finding out Lester and Michael were the ones who organized the death of Mark Zuckerberg Expy Jay Norris and murdered him respectively.
      Lester: Did you hear about Lifeinvader?
      Franklin: Oh shit, ya'll two did that?
      Lester: Eyes forward. We're just two strangers having a friendly chat. And don't pretend that you liked Jay Norris.
      Franklin: Oh man, I don't know, homie. I mean, yeah, the dude outsourced work to child slaves, then stole and sold everybody's private information, and even ripped his own friends' ideas off and walked around like the messiah doin' it, but... man, I don't think the nigga deserved to have his fuckin' head blowed off on TV.
  • In Persona 5, one Mementos target is a middle-aged unemployed man who's cheating in order to get the high score at a video game. While he's a nuisance to others, and is denying players who play fairly the chance to have their achievements honored, his crimes pale in comparison to most of the Mementos targets, who generally consist of bullies, abusers, criminals and other scum yet receives the same punishment.
  • The games of Venus Blood tend to do this in Villain Protagonist routes of the games through Sexual Karma. Each Big Bad in said routes are by no means the nicest of people and undoubtedly is the worse of two evils, but considering what they undergo via Naughty Tentacles, it could be seen more disturbing than pleasing.
  • Wand of Gamelon: Despite the fact that Hektan is an Evil Sorcerer and was the one who locked up King Harkinian, his death comes off as a little brutal, which isn't helped by Zelda calling his death "good".
  • World of Warcraft: Zul'jin was always viewed more sympathetically, despite being a guerrilla fighter whose attacks have occasionally killed civilians. The reason for this being that his beef with the high elves and humans is perfectly legitimate as they are established as having taken the ancestral land of his race, the Forest Trolls, a race that humans and elves almost universally treat solely as vermin to be exterminated. By the point, the Expansion Pack, Shadow Lands, revealed Zul'jin was sent to Revendreth, the setting's equivalent to Hell, whilst far worse villains, like Lady Vashj whom invaded Zangermarsh, intentionally destroyed the eco-system of the area For the Evulz, robbed the natives and animals of their water supply, and organized horrific mass slavery of marginalized people, didn't get sent to Revendreth, even Zul'jin's biggest detractors admitted he didn't deserve to get sent to Hell.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, many fans were upset on seeing Yuri Cosmos demoted in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue as even though he manipulated some parts of Case 4's crime scene and lied in court about it, it was all to protect his astronauts from a terrorist bombing, and he only resorted to these measures after he tried to tell the authorities and they didn't take him seriously.

    Web Animation 
  • GoAnimate: Whenever a troublemaker is punished for whatever they've done (i.e. killing someone or destroying something), they will often receive a Punishment Day. Depending on who you ask, the punishments they get from their parents may end up being too excessive, especially if they're killed or mentally broken for their actions.
  • Happy Tree Friends:
    • Whenever Sniffles tries to catch the ant family, they get back at him by tormenting him in gruesome ways, such as killing him via Psychic-Assisted Suicide. Even though he does try to eat them, they go too far in their self-defense.
    • Lifty and Shifty often have some of the prolonged and brutal deaths, at times almost on scale as Sniffles, when their thievery is often due to them being too poor to support themselves. And other times they do nothing wrong, but still die anyway.
  • Helluva Boss:
    • The members of C.H.E.R.U.B. were a bit self-righteous and seemed to care more about fame and glory than actually protecting and redeeming their clients, but some feel that them getting kicked out of heaven for the death of one human (who was later revealed to have tested his inventions on children) that wasn't even directly their fault was worse than they deserved.
    • Blitzo was meant to learn that it was wrong for him to tell Loona that he will replace her as an empty threat knowing where her abandonment issues stem from, but some fans felt that the Groin Attack he received at the end was a step too far even while understanding where her hostility stems from. It doesn't help that the attack follows a touching scene of her telling Octavia that that their dads care about them despite their mistakes, causing a bad case of Mood Whiplash.
    • Chaz was a sleazy, narcissistic, perverted Con Man who was perfectly willing to break up a loving married couple for his own selfish ends. Even so, some fans felt that him being Killed Offscreen by Crimson at the end was a bit much, especially since A. his death was suggested to be pretty brutal, B. it was implied he still cared for Moxxie deep down and C. Crimson, who the episode showed to be infinitely worse, got what amounted to a slap on the wrist.
    • While Glitz and Glam are portrayed as rude, obnoxious and hypercompetitive, many fans called foul at the implication that they deserved to be beaten by Fizzarolli and then crushed by a pillar at the end of the episode they first appeared in. This was because the worst thing they do in said episode is act like Alpha Bitches to him and Blitzo (with many fans claiming that they weren't much worse than Verosika, who never gets such brutal mistreatment and is even shown some sympathy by the narrative), never once cheat or try to sabotage Fizz, and will most likely end up being victimized by Mammon's exploitation just as much as he was.
  • Manga Soprano: Nonoka's fate in "My sister plundered my fiancé! Now my arranged marriage partner is also plundered" can come off as this for some viewers. The man she triumphantly stole from Ram, Ikki-san, showed his true self after the marriage and subjected her to very harsh Domestic Abuse, bribing any lawyer she brought into leaving, as he was a male chauvinist. While Nonoka was a brat who loved to steal things from Ram, some viewers felt being trapped in an abusive marriage was too much since her awful behavior could be chalked up to bad parenting. What's more jarring apart from Ikki-san getting off scot-free, is that Ram and Nonoka's parents don't get any significant comeuppance other than Nonoka spending their money on the aforementioned lawyers.
  • Pokémon Rusty: Despite Rusty causing untold amounts of death and destruction throughout the series, some viewers felt his punishment in the Grand Finale of being forced to work at his parents' deli for the rest of his life was excessive on the grounds that A. Rusty is only ten years old, and B. everything he did was out of stupidity rather than cruelty.
  • RWBY: Jacques Schnee was a massive Hate Sink, a Dirty Coward, Smug Snake, and an abusive parent and Corrupt Corporate Executive with no real redeeming qualities, but his fate of being casually and unceremoniously murdered by General Ironwood via Due Process's BFG form in Volume 8 just because he was there was more than most fans felt he really deserved, and most were content with him merely losing his company and going to prison.
  • The Twins (2022): The "well-behaved" Lucas is a terrible person towards his "bad example" brother Lake, consistently setting up and tattling on the otherwise-decent Lake to get him in trouble and to make himself look good, then stealing Lake's toy car and threatening to break it. At the end, however, after being pushed onto the road by Lake, who refused to help him up, Lucas is outright killed by a hit-and-run car that neither brother saw coming, followed by Lake disposing of his body and taking over his life as "Lucas". As terrible as Lucas was, many viewers found that fate extreme to the point where several consider The Twins a horror animation.

  • Better Days: Harvey Longfellow, during and after his brief time dating Sheila Black, shows himself to be an unsavory character. He lies about his war record, claiming he served in Vietnam with Sheila's late husband Jim, and implies that Jim cheated on her. When Sheila finds out the truth and angrily confronts him about his dishonesty and manipulation, he subsequently refuses to leave her alone, eventually raping her. Virtually all of the comic's readers agreed that Longfellow was a despicable scumbag thoroughly deserving of a long stay in prison, but more than a few still felt his death from being deliberately infected with a fatal case of meningitis by some of Jim's old army friends was nevertheless excessive. This was because Harvey had been beaten to the point of hospitalization by Sheila's son Fisk, was already in police custody, and had enough evidence against him to put him behind bars for a very long time. He was no longer a threat to anyone and was going to face justice, so these readers saw his ultimate fate as unnecessary and even cruel, especially considering an even worse criminal who molested his own children suffered a comparatively humane death (being shot in the head) under far more justified circumstances (he was threatening FBI agents with a shotgun, and one of them killed him in self-defense).
  • Most pages of Natty Comics are about various men wronging the title character (not always intentionally) and being humiliated, injured, killed, or worse in retaliation. Even though the victims always insist they deserve it, most people disagree and either worry about the author's sanity or wonder if the comic is actually satire. Word of God initially defended this by comparing it to the slapstick of Looney Tunes, but he eventually disavowed the comic after realizing that many women critics disliked the brutality of his portrayed ideology.
  • In Vegan Artbook, Shawn gets his food stolen by vegans, gets scalding hot tea thrown into his face, is on the receiving end of a Groin Attack, and is constantly bullied verbally by his sisters and other vegans. All because he is an omnivore. Most readers tend to think that Shawn is treated way more harshly than he deserves, especially since he isn't even against veganism in general, he simply doesn't want to become a vegan.

    Web Original 
  • Cloud in Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged was meant to be a Karmic Butt-Monkey for his Small Name, Big Ego and his status as The Millstone. However, most of Cloud's "fuck ups" were the result of either Barret's incompetence as a leader, Tifa lying to him about what Avalanche does, or just simple bad luck on his part. It reaches its peak in episode two, where Tifa viciously verbally abuses him when the Sector 1 mission already frustrated him to the point of crying, and she uses a Prison Rape threat to get him to stay with Avalanche. Many viewers were put off by this, feeling that for all of Cloud's mistakes, he didn't deserve to get ganged up on. Season 2 sought to rectify this, by making Cloud blow up at Tifa after hitting his Rage Breaking Point, making Tifa have a Jerkass Realization and work to be better about it, making Cloud's mental issues come to the forefront so that the party has a lot less justification for picking on him, and making it so that when they do pick on him it's because he did something genuinely stupid and/or tactless that pissed multiple people off.
  • SF Debris talks about this this in his commentary on the Wonder Woman (2011 pilot), pointing out how the rule of law is supposed to protect the innocent and the guilty, the latter in particular being protected from getting more than they deserve. Otherwise, people would be saying that Willis' death from a drug overdose was well-deserved because he cheated to get his scholarship, or (by Wonder Woman's example), whoever Willis hedged out with his use of performance-enhancing drugs should break into the hospital and beat him up for cheating.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In the episode "Arthur's Big Hit", Arthur hits D.W., then later Binky hits him. While it's meant to be a case of "what goes around, comes around", with Arthur's dad telling him that now he knows how D.W. felt, many viewers objected to this because Arthur didn't do anything to Binky, he'd already been punished by his parents, and the moral was meant to be "don't hit people".
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Clayface is an amoral jerkass who didn't appreciate the people trying to help his mutant condition, and eventually "murdered" a part of himself with agency by reabsorbing her, but he's still one of the less evil Bat-rogues, and even the aforementioned murder happened after he spent god knows how long free-floating in the ocean before washing up with damaged memories. When he turns up in Justice League, he's also reluctant to join Grodd's Secret Society, only doing so out of gratitude and a chance to look human again. And when he faces the Justice League, he gets an unceremonious and brutal apparent death by being blown away with fireworks while his teammates were taken down non-lethally. What makes it worse is that Batman doesn't blink an eye at this, and how truly vile mass-murderers like Firefly and the Joker didn't get treatment this rough.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben 10: The episode "Truth" has Max's two-faced former partner Phil, who is using the Null Void to release dangerous alien beasts and then recapture them for money. He winds up trapped in the Null Void himself, a hellish unending space populated by vicious monsters, and the Tennysons make no attempt to save him. Phil may have been a slimy asshole who had no problem trying to murder his old friend to keep his secret, but his implied fate is far too horrifying for such a small-time crook. Then it gets even worse in Ben 10: Omniverse where he was subject to cruel experiments by the new villains and eventually transformed into a purely inhuman spider-creature with no sense of his original self.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse: In season 3, Albedo finally achieves his mission of regaining his original Galvan form after he accidentally turned himself into a genetic duplicate of Ben Tennyson back in Ben 10: Alien Force. However, out of bitterness from the whole ordeal, Albedo attempts to get revenge by killing Ben and absorbing the brain of Azmuth. Once Albedo is foiled Azmuth hacks Albedo's Omnitrix duplicate to turn Albedo into a clone of Ben again, and then into a Pre-Teen clone of Ben after Albedo asks if it could get any worse for him. This punishment looks even crueler when you consider Ben only won because he sucker-punched Albedo, who, thanks to his increased intellect after absorbing Azmuth's brain was in the middle of realizing how pointless his lust for revenge and recognition was. Had Ben held off on attacking, Albedo would've likely pulled a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Dreamstone: The Urpneys spent nearly every episode suffering violent retributions from the heroes for helping their evil overlord try to steal their dream-making trinket so he can give them nightmares. The kicker is that most of the Urpneys don't even want to do that, but their Bad Boss abuses or executes the ones that don't. Despite this, the heroes are explicitly clear that they get exactly what they deserve. The later episodes tried to downplay the Comedic Sociopathy, but since they're still unwilling pathetic villains, some suspension of disbelief was still required.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Occasionally, the cartoonish punishments the eponymous characters would experience as a result of their latest scheme blowing up in their faces would cause viewers to cry foul due to the punishment coming off as too harsh. One of the most infamous cases is the episode "If It Smells Like An Ed". Of course, there is no doubt that Eddy disrupting Jimmy's "Friendship Day" festivities by giving Jimmy an atomic wedgie was rude and uncalled for and warranted him getting taken down a peg, but the lengths Jimmy goes for payback (framing the Eds for ruining the Friendship Day festivities in different ways, turning the other kids against them and later leading the kids in Produce Pelting the Eds, and then turning the Eds over to the Kankers afterward for good measure) was seen by a number of viewers as going a bit overboard (especially since Ed and Edd didn't do anything worse than laugh at Jimmy alongside the other kids after the wedgie) and even ended up both overshadowing the episode's interesting detective concept and permanently tarnishing Jimmy as a character for much of the fanbase.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Despite Mrs. Turner being an abusive and neglectful parent, Timmy giving her an allergic reaction to cats in Fairly OddPet just so she and Mr. Turner would buy him a dog seems a bit too mean-spirited to be Laser-Guided Karma for her.
  • Family Guy: A Cutaway Gag in "Brian's Got a Brand New Bag" had Lucy Van Pelt receiving a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Peter for all the times she teased Charlie Brown with the football. While Lucy was far from the most likable character in her own series, this was still seen as way overboard.
  • Futurama: Few fans will deny that Zapp Brannigan deserved to be punished for forcing Leela to depend on him for her survival in a ploy to get in her pants in "In-a-Gadda-da-Leela". However, Zapp's punishment for all of this is to have Leela rape him.
  • Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids: The kids will often be killed or suffer a Fate Worse than Death for very minor "crimes" that kids will often do, such as talk when they are told to be quiet, eat nothing but sweets, or do nothing but watch TV... basically things that could be stopped by simply telling the kids about it and explaining why it's bad.
  • High Guardian Spice: While Aster does indeed act incredibly patronizing to Rosemary, a lot of his actions are caused more or less by his stupidity and ego rather than any actual malice on his part. It makes him getting his toes crushed by Parsley's hammer seem a little too excessive along with everyone (including the professor) laughing it off, on top of that.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Margot, Wolf's adopted sister from her days raised by Mute wolves, may have betrayed her human sibling in a deeply scarring way, but when she shows up again she is remorseful and tries to reconnect with Wolf. The heroes never forgive her, however, with even Kipo willing to trample her for hurting her friend, and Margot is blackmailed into luring the heroes into a trap. She's then "cured" alongside her brother by the villains, being transformed into mindless beasts and quickly forgotten about. Many fans felt this was way too harsh since Margot was just a child pressured into betraying Wolf by their parents and was far less heinous than characters like Scarlemagne and Dr. Emilia, who Kipo ironically wasn't as vengeful toward.
  • Elmer Fudd was an unpopular foe for Bugs Bunny with some Looney Tunes staff because of this trope (especially director Friz Freleng), since Elmer was such a meek and blatantly Harmless Villain, it became a delicate dance to have Bugs do his usual slapstick runaround without it turning into overkill and devolving Bugs from a Karmic Trickster into a petty bully. As a result, more menacing foes such as Yosemite Sam and Marvin the Martian were created so they could more properly provoke Bugs and rightfully earn his vengeance. One workaround they came up with was having Bugs more frequently paired up with Daffy Duck in Elmer Fudd's shorts, with Daffy being more blatantly antagonistic and Elmer more of a means to an end, with some jokes at his expense involving tricking him into hurting someone who isn't his target.
  • The Loud House: In the episode "No Such Luck", when Lincoln's sister Lynn thinks that he's bad luck, Lincoln goes along with it and lies to get some free time. While he did deserve some punishment for this, his parents and sisters making him sleep outside was seen by many fans as too far.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Chloé's final fate near the end of season 5 involves her getting all but disowned by her father and taken away from Paris by her mother. A number of fans felt that this was too harsh of a punishment for her actions, as her mother was previously shown to be heavily verbally abusive of Chloé (indeed, she's berating Chloé for tarnishing their family name on the plane ride out of Paris); as a result, it gives the implication that it's okay to punish someone by making them live with an abuser, which fans felt that not even Chloé deserved. It doesn't help that none of the people who'd enabled her selfish behavior up until now (including her father, who repeatedly spoiled her by abusing his power as mayor) get any form of punishment for doing so.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Trixie in "Boast Busters" elicited this response from a lot of fans. Sure, she was a lying egotist who humiliated people on stage, but getting her home and livelihood smashed in addition to getting run out of town and shown up by Twilight Sparkle was a bit too much, especially since the people she humiliated had accepted a challenge she gave. When Trixie returned in "Magic Duel", she was given an Author's Saving Throw by being more actively malicious due to a magical item's corrupting influence, then pulled a Heel–Face Turn later.
    • Among fans, it's highly contested whether or not Rainbow Dash's friends went too far with their actions in the episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", where they were supposed to be trying to humble her a little. People who dislike this point out that they didn't try just talking to Rainbow about her blatant attention-seeking. Instead, they jumped straight to a complex scheme to upstage Rainbow as the greatest hero in Ponyville, and kept it up even after she had been thoroughly demoralized.
    • In "Wonderbolts Academy", Lightning Dust getting expelled from the academy at the end was needlessly harsh in the eyes of some fans. While her reckless behavior did place numerous ponies in danger, there is the fact that:
      • At the time Rainbow Dash's friends were put in danger (their balloon having been wrecked by the tornado that Lightning Dust created), they had entered Wonderbolts airspace during a training exercise without permission — in essence placing themselves in danger.
      • Spitfire had freely condoned Lightning Dust's recklessness until after the tornado incident when Rainbow Dash explains to her what had been going on — which she would already have known if the cadets had been properly supervised during training.
      • After Spitfire finally realizes how bad things had gotten, she immediately kicks out Lightning Dust without giving her any chance to change her ways, where other episodes would see characters Easily Forgiven for much worse.
    • In "28 Pranks Later", the response of all of Ponyville to Rainbow Dash going on an unrelenting pranking campaign is to make Rainbow believe that one of her pranks has Gone Horribly Wrong and she had accidentally unleashed a Zombie Apocalypse. While they did try to tell her to stop and Rainbow refused, it was a bit much for some people.
    • Cozy Glow committed the same crimes as other villains and was wholly unrepentant despite being a child, thus she got the same punishments of being imprisoned in Tartarus and later permanently turned into stone. Many found this excessive, unable to buy a child being so irredeemable and evil without explanation in such an idealistic series, and believing the heroes have given more leniency and made more of an effort to reform adult villains. And without powers, she wasn't dangerous enough to justify such extreme actions instead of a less over-the-top punishment like sending her to regular prison. Jim Miller stated that "It seemed fun and subversive at the time" but acknowledged how some would take offense.
  • Nexo Knights: A good portion of fans did not take well to Jestro's fate in Season 4 finale, where he got sentenced to community service and presumably prison time as well. At first glance, it seems like a well-deserved fate for helping Monstrox in his evil schemes, but unlike most characters, the audience was aware that he was brainwashed by Monstrox and thus wasn't in control of his actions throughout the third and fourth seasons (which only makes the fact that he was Easily Forgiven in Season 2 finale, despite having turned evil willingly in the first episode, all the more bizarre). To add insult to the injury, Jorah Tightwad, who sold out the kingdom to Jestro and Monstrox only four episodes ago entirely on his own will, gets no punishment aside from losing some of his money, and is allowed to attend the victory celebration with the heroes.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Candace Gets Busted", Candace is asked by Linda and Lawrence to not throw a party while they're away on a trip. A party ends up happening anyway after Candace lets her circle of friends in when they come to visit, resulting in more and more people pouring in from off the street. The episode ends with Candace getting busted for the party due to Linda hearing the noise over the phone; Candace is subsequently grounded for a week. Many viewers found the ending rather unfair, as Candace never actually wanted to throw a party and wanted everyone to leave before they made a huge mess, only for the perfect storm of events to prevent everyone from leaving and result in her getting into trouble with Linda.
  • Pingu: In the episode "Pingu Runs Away", Pingu's mother spanks him as a punishment for acting up at the dinner table. Many viewers consider this her worst moment as a parent, and the episode ended up being pulled from reruns due to this.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • In "Moral Decay", Buttercup knocks out several villains' teeth unprovoked to give to the Tooth Fairy for money. At the end of the episode, Bubbles and Blossom have those same villains knock Buttercup's teeth out, and the money she collected is taken from her and used to pay for her dental treatment. Some fans consider this too harsh of a punishment, especially since Bubbles sticks her tongue out at her and Blossom is outright grinning at Buttercup during the ending.
    • The episode "Mime for a Change" involves a friendly clown named Rainbow the Clown being turned into the evil mime Mr. Mime after a bleach accident and trying to drain all of the color from Townsville. Eventually, Rainbow is returned to normal and he thanks the Powerpuffs for helping him...whereupon the girls beat him senseless and throw him in jail anyway, with the Narrator treating Rainbow like he deserved it afterward. The episode's ending rubbed many viewers the wrong way since Rainbow was explicitly not in control of his own actions and remorseful afterward. It's theorized that Rainbow being shown entertaining guests at the girls' birthday party in the later episode "Birthday Bash" was intended to amend for the unfairness of the former episode's ending by indicating that he had been forgiven for his actions and released from jail at some point between the two episodes.
  • The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder: The episode "Grandma's Hands" gained infamy for this. After Penny avoids doing school work and stays out past her curfew for weeks, her parents decide to lock her out of the house at night (which is both dangerous and illegal in real life, yet here it is Played for Laughs). Oscar does send her to Suga Mama's house... but it only gets worse from there. Penny is "disciplined" by being forced to sleep in a little dog bed, denied eating breakfast and doing various chores. Thankfully, Penny gets better by the end and reconciles with her parents, but it still isn't hard to see why fans were turned off by this episode.
  • Regular Show:
    • In "Muscle Mentor", Rigby chooses to ditch work once again while badmouthing Benson (who overheard it all); in turn, Benson has Muscle Man be Rigby's "mentor", putting the latter through a painful Humiliation Conga. While Rigby did start it by being lazy and disrespectful, many still saw this as overboard, with Benson's joy in Rigby's suffering not doing any favors in particular, espically when he stops Mordicai from saying a drawing Rigby and Muscle Man noting Rigby still has a few minutes left.
    • In "Lunch Break", Mordecai and Rigby prank Benson by ordering an $85 sandwich, prompting the latter to force them to eat the entire sandwich, or else they're fired. This was seen as too extreme a punishment for the both of them, especially considering the fact that Benson outright ignores that he wasn't obligated to buy the sandwich for them in the first place.
  • Rugrats: Angelica Pickles is usually The Bully to the younger babies and was initially a Karma Houdini. Later episodes addressed this by having her be punished for her actions, but some went a bit too far.
    • "Silent Angelica" — she wants a new toy, and Charlotte tells her she can have it if she remains quiet for a certain amount of time. Angelica does this obediently, even when Charlotte isn't around to hear her. The babies take advantage of this to make a mess, and Angelica gets blamed for it by both her parents. Her punishment is to get neither toy, even though she did nothing wrong for once.
    • "Chanukah" — her antagonism in this episode amounts to wanting to watch a Christmas Special that's happening at the same time as a play Grandpa Boris is in. She gets put into a daycare room during the play because of things the other babies did, meaning she was going to miss the special for nothing. She does trick the babies into helping her find a TV... that smashes just as she's about to watch the special, and she's even left crying at the hopelessness of it all.
    • "Word of the Day" — she overhears a Depraved Kids' Show Host saying a curse word, and assumes it's okay to say and that it's the show's new catchphrase. Drew and Charlotte tell her not to say the word again, not explaining which one is the bad one even when she asks sincerely, and they punish her when she says it to ask if it's the bad one. She does get forgiven and brought to the audition she was up for...and then panics and says the word live on the air. It's presented as Laser-Guided Karma that she doesn't get to be on the show, even though no one around her would properly explain why the word was bad and why she shouldn't say it. Drew and Charlotte also don't seem too interested in finding out where she heard the word either.
  • Steven Universe: In the episode "Fusion Cuisine", the Crystal Gems make it no secret that they are very mad at Steven and Connie for running away. While they do have every right to be mad at him, denying the latter television for 1000 years seems a bit harsh.
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper: In the episode "Game Over", two boys pay for skipping school to play video games by being erased from existence, the darkest ending the series ever got and an extremely cruel punishment for playing hooky.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • Tom ends up the undisputed Iron Butt Monkey, even for committing a minor slight or when Jerry had actually started the feud. Allegedly, it was because of this that more shorts had Jerry hindered or outright lose to Tom altogether whenever he stooped to crueler levels of slapstick assault, in order to avoid the Double Standard karma.
    • One of the most infamous instances of Tom's karma outweighing whether he deserved said karma was "The Two Mouseketeers", an instance of Jerry (alongside Tuffy) instigating the feud that ended with Tom being executed for failing to prevent the mice from stealing food from a royal palace. Many viewers found the short's ending disturbing rather than heroic for Jerry and Tuffy.
  • Total Drama:
    • Few people take issue with the first part of Alejandro's downfall in World Tour, in which Heather manipulates his feelings for her, knees him in the groin, and knocks him off the volcano, as it felt like a fitting retribution for his manipulative tendencies throughout the season. However, this is followed up by a freak volcano eruption horribly burning his flesh, as he wasn't able to escape with the others in time, causing him to be placed in a robot suit as a Shout-Out to Star Wars. Most fans agree this element is too cruel and the first part of his karma was enough, especially since All-Stars reveals he was crammed in the suit for a full year, with a broken voice box to boot.
    • While Scott was an underhanded competitor throughout Revenge of the Island, his ultimate fate is quite cruel: he gets mauled by the mutant shark Fang and is left unresponsive in a "trauma chair", a Shout-Out to Star Trek. Even worse, almost nobody has sympathy and just laughs at his situation as a single tear rolls down his cheek. It's considered one of the most disturbing scenes in the series and prompted more sympathy for Scott than laughs. Luckily Scott physically recovers by the time of All-Stars, though his fear of sharks is Played for Laughs.
  • Transformers: Animated: Nanosec in his debut in the titular episode. He may have been a greedy crook who was recruited by Megatron to retrieve a highly-dangerous element, but that's pretty much all he is, unlike the fascistic Decepticons, the sociopathic Meltdown, or Porter C. Powell, the corporate prick who callously threw a tween girl with no accountable next of kin out on the street the second he had control of her father's company. Nanosec getting tricked by Bumblebee into rapid-ageing himself until he's a withered old man who can't so much as stand without support seems like an overly-cruel fate even if it was necessary to stop him accidentally blowing Detroit sky-high, especially since the ageing could well have majorly shortened Nanosec's lifespan if he hadn't been de-aged in his reappearance.