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Laser-Guided Karma

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"Karma police, arrest this man."
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While in Real Life there is rarely a direct and easily traced cause-and-effect relationship between Bob's actions and their subsequent reward or punishment, in fiction the connection is usually a lot more... express. Did Bob help an old lady across the street? Several chapters later, she'll turn out to be an elite ex-commando who will gladly help him storm the Big Bad's castle. Did the Big Bad kick the little dog just because it was barking at him? The dog will sniff him out and lead the heroes right to his Supervillain Lair.

The Golden Rule states, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but in fiction, the rule seems to be more, What you do unto others will be done unto you. If you mistreat the people and things around you, karma will strike you down. Treat them well, and you will be rewarded. Accordingly, every notable act of a fictional person will yield a meaningful return before the end of the story; every little action, good or bad, will be repaid in kind with the accuracy of a laser-guided missile. Whether its payload is sunshine and puppies (see Earn Your Happy Ending) or painful irony (also see Ironic Hell) depends on whether Bob was a saint or a bastard.

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If taken too far, stories with this aesop can turn anvilicious or into a Space Whale Aesop: always be kind to strangers, never kick puppies et cetera, or the universe itself will make your life a living hell. It also undermines the standard "do good for goodness' sake" lesson, since Bob never has to suffer for doing the right thing or accept virtue as its own reward — in Fictionland he always gets repaid. That being said, it's worth noting that the negative consequences tend to fall more directly than the positive; the villain's evil deeds turn out to be the ultimate cause of his downfall, while the hero's virtue rewards him with some much-needed assistance (but still leaves it up to him to save the day).

On the good side of the karma coin:

On the negative side of the karma coin:

See also Pay Evil unto Evil, Sweet and Sour Grapes, and Sexual Karma, especially Karmic Rape. Contrast Karma Houdini and Karma Houdini Warranty. For karma punishing a hero for their mistakes, see Tragic Mistake. Also contrast with "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", which is a corrupt form of this trope; as well as Can't Get Away with Nuthin', where the slightest misdeed committed by the hero results in Disproportionate Retribution.

When you help someone but receive punishment rather than reward, you might be looking at The Farmer and the Viper.

See also: Hoist by His Own Petard, when a villain gets killed by their own weapon, or The Dog Bites Back, when they're killed by an abused lackey.

For sake of trope differentiation, examples should be limited to bad karma, heroic or villainous, and when an opponent's "good karma" combines to double-wham the antagonist.

Since in Real Life, whether a bad thing that happened to someone had been karma or not is inherently controversial and subjective, No Real Life Examples, Please!

This trope is by its nature Spoileriffic; spoilers will be unmarked.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Anthony Bourdain's Hungry Ghosts:
    • In "The Starving Skeleton", a chef had refused to fix something for a starving man, only for that man's undead spirit to return and eat him as revenge.
    • The titular pirates in "The Pirates" make it no secret that they all intend to rape the woman they find adrift in the ocean. In-response, the woman (revealed to be a Sazae-oni) steals all of their testicles and swims off with them.
    • In "Salty Horse", a Spanish Lord develops an insatiable appetite for horse-meat and has every single one of his horses - including the foals - killed, cooked, and eaten. One of these horses manifests as a vengeful spirit and possesses him. If the story-teller is anything to go by, the rest of his life was very unpleasant.
    • At the end of "The Heads", a mugger tries to mug the protagonist after he has been through hell escaping a Rokurokobi and being accused of murder. He then gives him the detached head as compensation, whereupon it comes to life and eats the mugger.
    • In "Deep", a particularly sadistic chef that sexually molests his apprentice has his shirikodama ripped out of his torn-apart carcass and eaten by a Kappa.
    • In "The Snow Woman", the Yuki-onna spares the man — and even has sex with him — in exchange for not speaking of it to anyone. Years later, he confesses of his encounter to his wife. His wife turns into the yukionna and freezes him to death.
    • In "The Cow Head", the starving villagers kill and eat the kudan that had done nothing to them. Then youkai all burst out of their stomachs.
    • The chefs in the Framing Device reveal themselves as youkai and cook and eat their hosts, doing so to punish them for their Conspicuous Consumption.
  • In Archie Comics, Veronica's schemes to beat Betty usually tend to backfire on her.
  • Batman: Dark Victory has two.
    • Former commissioner and Corrupt Cop Gillian Loeb briefly reappears in issue #2. Jim Gordon, who'd recently attained his iconic rank as Commissioner, is clearly less than pleased by the visit — and rightfully so as Loeb came to gloat about both Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face and the Hangman killing Chief O'Hara, and to not-so-subtly imply that he intends to use the latter to try to get the Commissioner position back from Gordon. The issue literally ends with the reveal of Loeb's corpse, a victim of the Hangman, before he could realize his plan.
    • SWAT officer Pratt, another corrupt cop (whose crimes included partaking in a firebombing of a building ordered by Loeb and attempting to shoot a cat while searching through the wreckage for Batman) tries to shoot Batman as retaliation for Bats punching him through a wall (which itself was a response to Pratt's attempt to shoot the cat). Not only is Batman wearing body armor, but when Batman comes to, he finds that the Hangman got to Pratt in the meantime.
  • From Black Science:
    • In the first issue, Grant impulsively rescues a slave during his smash-and-grab. They immediately run into her husband when they reach the surface. Overjoyed to be reunited, the husband leads his warriors against the slavers pursuing Grant so the latter can escape.
    • A woman murders her alternate universe clone and takes her place. Grant reveals evidence of the murder to her family and calls the police, knowing that she can't furnish any realistic defense.
  • In Camelot 3000, Sir Tristan's reincarnation as a woman initially seems purely random, until it's revealed that he'd raped at least one woman in his previous life. His new female form is therefore both a deterrent and a karmic lesson, especially when he/she is stalked by his/her reincarnation's former fiancee, who won't take no for an answer.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis shows karma being paid onto a resident of Earth-3. Superman-Prime kidnaps Annataz Arataz, the evil doppelganger of Zatanna, and forces her to help him torture Mr. Mxyzptlk for information on Earth-Prime's whereabouts. When Annataz is first shown, she's a sniveling coward who begs Prime not to kill her, but as her ordeal goes on she finds the strength to help Myx and turn against Prime, foretelling that he will never find his home. Myx offers to help Annataz escape, but she sends him away as a way of acknowledging what a horrible person she truly was, and that Prime's torture was karma getting even. She pulls a Heroic Sacrifice as a way to fully atone for her past deeds, allowing Prime to kill her when he brings down his headquarters on top of them. Even Mxyzptlk, the mercurial trickster that he is, feels Annataz doesn't deserve to die that way.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In Scrooge and Flintheart's second confrontation for determining who's the world's richest duck, they convert all their holdings into silver dollars and will have the piles measured. Glomgold, worried he might lose, tries to cheat by purchasing a special liquid that can shrink things with the goal of using it to shrink Scrooge's pile of money. His plan is thwarted, and he ultimately loses... by the same amount of silver dollars that he spent to buy the juice.
  • An interesting one that took a few storylines to get to. In Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes an elderly couple, acting on the xenophobic drive of Earth-Man, murder a crash-landed alien child and bury him in their field. Flash forward to Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, where the same couple discover Superboy-Prime in their field. They make the mistake of pissing him off and he vaporizes them both, unwittingly avenging the young alien.
  • The Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! mini-series is this trope's race to catch The Human Flame. After being pegged as the man who photographed the Martian Manhunter's final moments, he suddenly finds himself the most wanted man ever and he decides he's not going to be pushed around anymore. He gains what he feels is ultimate power, only to for karma to finally catch up, leading to Firestorm, Red Tornado, and John Stewart to haul him away in a prison in space, unable to move or use his powers. John even calls this karma.
  • In the early days of Firestorm, the villain Plastique tried to blow up a building full of innocent people with a suit that had a bunch of bombs attached to it. So how did Firestorm defeat her? He vaporized her suit to get rid of the bombs, leaving Plastique herself naked in public, laughed at by her would-be victims.
  • The Flash:
    • In one issue early in his time as the Flash, Wally West expresses contempt for a homeless man who seeks shelter in his apartment building. Then he's evicted, and thanks to various other misfortunes (his credit cards being inexplicably declined, his superspeed shorting out from hunger, losing both his luggage and his mother) he's reduced to eating pretzels from mud puddles in less than a day and getting the same amount of scorn from passersby (one of whom dropped that pretzel in the puddle to see if he was desperate enough to eat it). It eventually turns out that it's all due to machinations from aliens who were deliberately putting him under stress.
    • Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) tried to ruin Wally's life because he thought Misery Builds Character and he wanted to make him a better hero. It was also partly out of revenge for not helping him prevent his paralysis at the hands of Gorilla Grodd. So Wally shoves him through one of his time rips, where Zoom is forced to watch His Greatest Failure: Sending his father-in-law to his death because he (a criminal profiler) told him a criminal he was meeting with wouldn't be armed. Again and again and again. Hearing himself say "Don't worry, the perp will not be armed" over and over. The last we see of Zoom in that story, he's vibrating from impotent rage. So... How about that misery, Zoom?
  • One issue of G.I. Joe: Special Missions juxtaposed positive and negative examples of this. Just before a mission, pilots Ace and Slipstream are friendly and cordial with their ground crews while Cobra's Strato-Viper is mean and abusive to his. During the mission, the Strato-Viper shoots down Ace, only to be shot down himself by Slipstream. The Joe ground crew rushes to Ace's aid and rescues him, but the Cobra ground crew takes their time and gets to the crash site just in time to see the Strato-Viper's Night Raven slip beneath the ocean surface. Not only that, the Strato-Viper was unable to escape from the cockpit because one crew member stole his breakout tool.
  • Green Arrow: Deconstructed during the Cry for Justice & Rise and Fall storyline, where Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen) murders Prometheus for destroying Star City and causing the death of his adopted granddaughter Lian Harper. During Oliver's capture and trial, his family washes their hands of him, with his wife Black Canary (Dinah Lance) returning her wedding ring and declaring their marriage over. His adopted son Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow I (Roy Harper) and biological son Green Arrow II (Connor Hawke) tell him they are through with him. It is implied that Oliver killing Prometheus is the last straw, with Oliver constantly cheating on Dinah, his neglect of Roy, and his abandonment of Connor and lying that he did not know he was his son was the main cause of them leaving Oliver. However, before that storyline, Oliver Queen works hard to repair his relationships with them, and they had forgiven him before. It is also implied that they were traumatized by the events of the story, Star City being destroyed for Dinah, the loss of his daughter for Roy, Connor being in a coma and losing and regaining his memories, and with the resentment they have for Oliver despite forgiving him, they all lash out at Oliver.
  • Literally in Halo: Blood Line. After the Covenant warrior Reff goes mad with power, kills his brother, and tries to take over an ancient Forerunner superweapon, the facility's robot caretaker fires an Eye Beam of doom and fries him to a crisp.
  • Happens to Iznogoud in almost every episode. Whatever trap he's trying to set for the Caliph, he's the one who will fall into it, so that he ends up blasted into space, trapped in the Stone Age or the 20th century or an alternate dimension, turned into a dog or a frog or a woodlouse or a gold-plated statue or a photograph, turned invisible, and so on and so forth. One particularly memorable example happens in "Scandal in Baghdad" when he has a scandalmonger who can literally sniff out scandals plant a fake story in the papers about the Caliph having an abandoned illegitimate child. When the plan backfires, Iznogoud jails the scandalmonger... who sniffs out that Iznogoud himself has three secret children whom he had imprisoned so that he didn't have to deal with them — and when Iznogoud is jailed for being a deadbeat dad, the family reunion is far from happy...
  • After Red Mist is revealed as The Mole, Kick-Ass soundly beats the shit out of him the first chance he gets, and without much effort to boot. And this is pre-Took a Level in Badass Kick-Ass, for those keeping track.
  • In Love and Rockets, Gato and Sergio are killed in a car crash immediately after murdering Fortunato, because Sergio injured his hands beating Fortunato to death and consequently lost control of the car.
  • Some of the strips Sergio Aragonés does for MAD feature this. One notable example is from "A MAD Look at Racism", where at a restaurant, a black man is treated poorly by the head waiter, ignoring him in favor of white patrons, placing him at terrible tables, etc. The waiter gets his comeuppance when he later finds out that the black man was a food critic for a local newspaper, who proceeded to give a scathing review to the restaurant.
  • In Preacher, Cassidy the vampire is captured and tortured mercilessly by a hitman until Jesse arrives to save him. Jesse knocks the hitman into the pit where Cassidy's been contained, breaking his neck in the fall and paralyzing but not killing him. The last shot is of Cassidy leaning right over him with a big grin and saying "How're yeh?".
  • Rick and Morty (Oni): When the Meeseeks escapes prison, the guard viciously beats his legless cellmate, who stayed behind, not wanting to get in trouble. Once the guard's finished, he realizes that the Meeseeks, on its way out, let all of the other prisoners out of their cells.
  • If you encounter the Runaways, stay far away from Molly Hayes. Do not yell at her, spook her, be mean to her, point a gun at her, breathe fire at her, or try to hurt her in any other way. And definitely do not kidnap her and try and kill her, even if her evil parents killed your whole gang and psychically paralyzed you. It never ends well. Just ask the Punisher.
  • The Spectre: Overlapping with There Is No Kill Like Overkill, those who find themselves on the wrong side of the Spectre almost always end up facing the most gruesome form of poetic justice.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In his origin story Spider-Man allows a burglar to escape from a pursuing policeman. One page later his beloved Uncle Ben is dead, killed by the same man. Not a Tragic Mistake, as this event then galvanizes him to devote his life to heroically fighting crime instead of propelling him towards a tragic catastrophe. Which is also why Spider-Man decides not to interfere with the event when he travels back through time in Amazing Spider-Man #500.
    • Flash Thompson seems to be an aversion, as he ends up sharing an apartment with Peter Parker. Averted/lampshaded when he loses his legs when serving in Iraq, saving a fellow soldier, fulfilling the jock ending up crippled aspect of this trope.
  • Karma finally catches up to Prince Namor in the All-New, All-Different Marvel reboot of Squadron Supreme — after willingly destroying the Black Panther's kingdom of Wakanda in Avengers vs. X-Men and pairing up with Thanos and his group to speed up the Incursions in the lead up to Secret Wars (2015), he finally gets his comeuppance as he ends up getting killed at the hands of Hyperion, whose homeworld was destroyed by Namor's actions.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Aphra spends the entire Catastrophe Con arc manipulating and using a hapless, innocent shapeshifter despite his kindness towards her, even admitting to him that "it's used or get used" when he tries to protest her treatment of him. Turns out he wasn't an innocent shapeshifter after all, but Dr. Evazan, and Aphra's actions gave him an idea to use her for a little entertainment.
  • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Mxyzptlk and his kind initially find messing with Linda Lee funny as part of a game they're playing together. But then he gets greedy, breaks the rules (never take the game too far), traps his kind in a separate dimension, and tries to gain power for himself. After he's defeated and poofs back home in humiliation, his kind punish him by sending him to the 1st dimension, which is just a flat land akin to a kid's scribble drawing.
  • In Tintin:
    • In The Blue Lotus, Tintin defends a rickshaw driver from an abusive racist bully. Later, when the Japanese put a price on his head, he manages to escape the town with the help of the driver's brother.
    • Likewise, in Prisoners of the Sun, he defends Zorrino from bullying foreigners, and is given a talisman which will save him from death.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Batman vs. Dracula, when The Joker shocks Penguin and tosses him into the river, Penguin recovers just in time to see Batman swing after a retreating Joker. He nearly drops the trope name:
    Penguin: Instant karma, Joker!
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast has the prince and his castle and staff transformed for denying a beggar woman shelter. She was really a beautiful (if somewhat petty) enchantress.
  • In Coco, Ernesto being crushed to death by a falling bell back in 1942 seems to be this for him after he deliberately poisoned the tequila his former music partner Héctor drank, then gained success by claiming to have written songs that were really composed by the man he murdered. Even better, after he gets tricked into making an Engineered Public Confession while in the Land of the Dead, he ends up trapped under another bell.
  • Frozen: Prince Hans arrives in Arendelle with an idea to usurp its throne in order to prove himself to his Massive Numbered Siblings. He quickly formulates the plan when he meets the naive Princess Anna, using her loneliness and desperate longing for affection to manipulate her into accepting his marriage proposal; once they're married, he intends to murder her sister, Queen Elsa, so he can be the royal consort. He even gloats about it when he thinks it's all about to come to fruition — prior to this gloating, the audience has practically no reason to suspect him. But at the end, after his treachery is exposed, he gets punched by Anna for it before being exiled from Arendelle to be judged and punished by his own family.
  • Played with in The Incredibles. Thanks to Syndrome's Kick the Dog moment, his Dragon Mirage does a High-Heel–Face Turn in favor of the merciful Mr. Incredible.
  • In Inside Out, when presented with a memory retrieval chute that can instantly return her to Headquarters, Joy abandons Sadness rather than risk her corrupting the core memories by proximity, and because "Riley needs to be happy". This act of betrayal directly leads to Joy being plunged into the memory dump when the memory chute is damaged.
  • When they first meet in the climax of Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung, mocking Po's weight, goes "What are you doing to do, sit on me?" This is also Tempting Fate as, during the stairway tumble, Po does land ass first on Tai Lung's face at one point.
  • In Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, when Mickey interferes with Pete conning a poor family into buying a badly-made 10-foot tall Christmas tree, Pete takes the money he would've gotten out of Mickey's paycheck, leaving Mickey broke, before literally throwing Mickey and Pluto off the lot. He then proceeds to put his cigar in the same back pocket with Mickey's money, which burns his butt and causes him to run into and ignite the buckets of highly flammable glue he used to make the trees, sending him into the sky and causing flaming shrapnel to fall down and burn the lot to the ground.
  • Strange Magic: The unnamed girl with whom Roland cheats on Marianne. Since Marianne is the princess of their kingdom and is getting publicly married to Roland, the girl is a knowing home-wrecker. The film punishes her by having her be influenced by a Love Potion into loving a frog. note 
  • In Toy Story 3, Lotso leaves the toys to die in a garbage incinerator after Woody and Buzz save him from the shredder. For a moment, it looks like he's going to be a Karma Houdini, as Woody tells the others that "he's not worth it" upon escaping. But then Lotso is found by a Cloudcuckoolander garbageman, who straps him to the front of his truck and drives off with him.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs: Scowler attacks and beats up his brother Patchi, nastily tells him he's no longer of the herd, and leaves him to die while preventing everyone, including Juniper, to help him. All for leading said herd from drowning in a frozen lake, which Scowler himself led them into. Minutes later, Scowler gets attacked and mauled by Gorgon with the rest of the herd abandoning him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 11:14, Eddie is peeing out the window of Mark's van when the van runs into Cheri, because Mark is distracted telling Eddie no to pee out the window and hitting him. Eddie's penis is severed in the accident.
  • The final outcome that awaits Carter Burke in Aliens is this in spades. After ditching everyone else behind a locked door, he runs into one of the very creatures he wanted to capture and weaponize. It isn't a pretty fate.
  • In Andhadhun, Murli dies as a result of his involvement in the organ harvesting scheme, and when asked to save him the doctor says that the only thing that can be done is to donate his organs.
  • A very literal use of this trope is utilized in Austin Powers in Goldmember, specifically in regards to the film's titular villain. To put it simply, Goldmember betrays Dr. Evil (who, surprising for his name, undergoes a Heel–Face Turn when he learns that he is actually Austin Powers' long-lost brother and that Nigel Powers is his father) and attempts to fulfill the plan which Dr. Evil nearly started: the destruction of the planet with a Golden Meteorite dragged onto the planet by the Preparation H tractor beam. He also kept a spare of the master key (hint: it's his gilded groin) after losing the original Master Key into the shark tank. Dr. Evil, now Dougie Powers, manages to reverse the polarity of the tractor beam, which causes the tractor beam to backfire on Goldmember, electrocuting him. He is then arrested and going by his comments, is most likely going to await execution.
  • The Avengers (2012): Loki spends much of the movie belittling Bruce Banner/Hulk, basically describing him as a mindless uncontrollable subhuman to anyone within earshot, even to his very face. Loki even manages to use Banner's more vicious side to steamroll over S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. No prizes for guessing who gets to ram a thick, humbling slice of marble and concrete-flavored pie down his slimy gullet in the denouement!
    Hulk: [after beating Loki to a pulp] Puny god!
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Lex Luthor gets what's coming to him big time at the end of the film. After blowing up a Senate hearing, kidnapping Martha Kent, manipulating Superman and Batman into trying to kill each other, and creating Doomsday, Lex is arrested, and his use of an Insanity Defense to avoid jail time backfires when Batman arranges for him to be sent to Arkham Asylum.
  • The main plot of the kung-fu film, The Bells of Death. The bandits who kills the family of an innocent farmer For the Evulz, ends up getting killed by the farmer five years later, when the farmer became a warrior and assassin after learning kung-fu from an old hermit and subsequently went on a R Oaring Rampage Of Revenge that have more than 60 bandit mooks slaughtered, including the three bandits responsible for killing his family, before executing their leader in a one-on-one confrontation.
  • The Bling Ring has a rather embarrassing example. What did Nicki expect when she burglarized the home of a regular lawbreaker?
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: A tragic example. A commander of a concentration camp happily partakes in the murder of Jews. His own son is inadvertently gassed.
  • Bumblebee: Tina cruelly mocks Charlie by calling her car (Bumblebee) ugly and that her father should get her a better one. Later on, Bumblebee has her car obliterated.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Harvey Logan challenges Butch, the leader of their gang, to a Knife Fight in the hopes of scoring a Klingon Promotion. Butch inquires what the rules are, and Logan responds that There Are No Rules — and promptly gets a kick in the nuts and a quick knockout for his trouble.
  • Early on in Carrie, instant karma hits a boy on a bicycle who dares to mock Carrie as they cross paths. His bicycle goes off the path and crashes almost at once, implicitly because of Carrie.
  • Cloud Atlas: Occurs repeatedly, both for good actions (such as Ewing saving Autua's life, and then being saved by him) and bad (as when Smoke shoots a woman's dog and is later killed by her). Plays heavily into the theme that our actions create our own future.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins:
      • A Smug Snake crime lord named Falcone, who is implied to have caused a lot of poverty and corruption in Gotham, eventually gets confronted by Batman during a drug shipment, and chained to a searchlight for the police to find. That's not all, though; in prison, there's a scene where Falcone's talking to a corrupt psychiatrist named Jonathan Crane, and trying to resort to blackmail against him. Crane sprays fear toxin in Falcone's face in response to this, forcing Falcone into an intense panic attack that leaves him permanently insane.
      • Crane uses his fear toxin on Batman in their first encounter and has a grand old time taunting him as the Scarecrow before setting the Caped Crusader on fire. In their second encounter, Batman sprays Crane with his own fear toxin ("Taste of your own medicine, Doctor?") and tries to intimidate information out of him while Crane freaks out thinking that Batman is some kind of monster before an irritated Dark Knight bashes his head in.
    • The Dark Knight:
      • Coleman Reese is about to use his information on Lucius Fox as a means of extortion but backs off when Lucius calls his bluff by pointing out a few theoretical flaws in his strategy. Getting off with a warning might make him seem like a Karma Houdini, but then later in the movie, he is apparently considering revealing Batman's identity so as to appease the Joker. The Joker goes back on the idea and threatens a terrorist act if Reese isn't killed by any random person within an hour, and crowds of people in the streets try to kill him. Before he can even resort to appeasement, he ends up being the victim of others' appeasement. It would be too cruel an irony if not for the fact that Reese was, conveniently, an extortionist.
      • Another crime lord, The Chechen, is ordered to be put to death by the very same psychopath he had no qualms about hiring earlier in the picture. As an added layer it's implied that he's cut up and fed to his own hungry dogs, which he threatened someone else with near the beginning of the movie.
  • Happens in Deconstructing Harry as the payoff for a short story written by the protagonist: borrow a sick friend's apartment, pretend it's your bachelor pad, use his name to introduce yourself to a High-Class Call Girl... hey, that's The Grim Reaper at the door. And he won't believe you're not the guy.
  • The Die Hard franchise:
    • In Die Hard, Dick Thornburg endangers Holly by inadvertently revealing her relation to John on television, resulting in her being taken hostage. When he requests a live interview, she appropriately punches him in the face.
    • In Die Hard 2, Dick acts like a smarmy ass on the plane, and later causes a panic at the airport by revealing and embellishing the terrorist plot, impeding John from taking down the terrorists and possibly injuring hundreds. Holly tases him.
  • Downfall: Hitler is dining and elaborates about being The Social Darwinist, how compassion is an evil sin, to feel empathy for the weak is treason to nature, and how Hitler had always chose the most reasonable path: to destroy the weak inside and outside Germany. Just then, he gets a report about Himmler surrendering to the allies. Himmler just had Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and, reasonably, is abandoning the weak (Hitler) to join the strong. Of course Hitler fails to see the irony and begins yet another Villainous Breakdown.
  • Played for Laughs with the gassing of the Nazi radio tower during the climax of Escape to Athena.
  • What happens to Rodmilla de Ghent and Marguerite in Ever After. They verbally and emotionally abuse Danielle and Jacqueline and also mercilessly bully the servants, punishing them for "stealing" household goods when they themselves are secretly selling off those same items to buy jewelry and other fripperies. So it's a glorious comeuppance at the end when Danielle — now Princess Danielle — and her royal in-laws enact a lavish spectacle to humiliate the pair in front of the court, then banish them to work in the palace laundry. The karma runs in the other direction too; Jacqueline, the stepsister who always treated Danielle with kindness, gets to live in the palace with her and (it is implied) marries the Prince's personal guard, and the servants who raised and loved Danielle all her life likewise get to live with her in the palace.
  • In The Fly (1986), Seth Brundle's Godzilla Threshold plan to reclaim some of his humanity turns out to involve genetically fusing himself with his lover Veronica (and their unborn child), figuring that if nothing else he'll have "the ultimate family". He comes very close to pulling this off since in his One-Winged Angel Brundlefly state she isn't able to stop him from tossing her into one telepod while he climbs into the other... but Veronica's desperate ex-lover Stathis, who's just lost a hand and foot to Seth's corrosive vomit, manages to shoot out the cables connecting her pod to the others with seconds left on the countdown. With his Tragic Dream thus denied him, Seth/Brundlefly has a Villainous Breakdown and smashes open the door of his pod to at least get back at Stathis... but can't get out before the countdown ends, and as a result, the computer controlling the pods merges him with the wreckage of the pod that ends up teleported with him! This leaves him a pathetic Clipped-Wing Angel, and though unable to speak, he manages to communicate to the now-free Veronica that he wants her to finish him off with Stathis's shotgun, and she tearfully obliges.
  • In The Fury of Hercules, the mute warrior Kaldos kills the Queen by throwing a spear at her, stabbing her in the back. Shortly thereafter, a pissed off Hercules kills Kaldos by breaking his neck with a spear.
  • The Godfather:
    • The first film starts with Don Vito sending Clemenza and some "people who aren't going to be carried away" to demonstrate lex talionis by beating up two young men who had escaped justice after violently violating family friend Amerigo Bonasera's daughter and beating her to the point that "she will never be beautiful again", having decided against outright executing them ("We're not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks").
    • In a deleted scene from The Godfather Part II, Michael is told that his treacherous bodyguard Fabrizio has been tracked down. The man is seen leaving work and getting into his car, which promptly explodes, killing him exactly the way he murdered Michael's first wife Apollonia.
    • In The Godfather Part III, Michael's daughter is murdered by one of his many enemies, and he dies a lonely, broken-down old man.
  • Godzilla (2014): Albeit with both parties unaware of the fact: Right when Godzilla is being pinned down by the MUTOs, Brody sets fire to the nest and draws the female's attention, giving Big G an opening to stand up and regroup. His assistance is rewarded when, just as the female MUTO is about to kill him, Godzilla appears out of nowhere to bite on the MUTO's neck and let Brody get away.
  • In The Grey Zone, during the revolt, one of the Nazi officers overseeing the mass incineration of the Auschwitz victims is himself loaded into one of the burning ovens by the Sonderkommandos.
  • Hang 'Em High has a rancher's murderer, who frames an innocent man for the crime and nearly gets him lynched by vigilantes. He himself is hanged for his crime onscreen shortly afterward, with his exonerated would-be victim being treated to the sight from the sheriff's office. As for the vigilantes, most of them (save for the Big Bad) are killed by their intended target, who turns out to be a former lawman from a different town and was appointed deputy so he could personally deal with the vigilantes without himself committing a capital crime for real.
  • Alan uses Rohypnol with malice aforethought in The Hangover Part II, and the third film revolves around him being committed to an insane asylum after treating himself and the rest of the Wolf Pack to Rohypnol .
  • In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the sports enthusiasts and racist cops are all arrested in the end.
  • A possible case of Laser-Guided Karma exists in the first part of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where, after Harry Potter manages to deactivate Umbridge's Patronus keeping a hive of Dementors at bay, she and the court are engulfed by them.
  • In An Innocent Man, the two dirty cops who framed the main character James get sent to the same prison, on the same block at the end (although in Real Life they likely would be put in protective custody).
  • The Jurassic Park franchise:
    • Jurassic Park:
      • In that scene we all know, Asshole Victim and Amoral Attorney Donald Gennaro abandons Tim and Lex during the Tyrannosaurus attack. He subsequently gets eaten by the dinosaur after Ian Malcolm unintentionally leads her over to where Gennaro is hiding, thereby ironically getting killed by the very thing he abandoned the children to.
      • In another well-known scene, an Asshole Victim and the guy who caused the whole mess by being a greedy amoral dick (computer programmer Nedry) gets blinded and mauled by a dilophosaurus. Nobody cried, many cheered.
    • In Jurassic World, Hoskins is killed by Delta, one of the Velociraptors he wanted to weaponize. After invoking the Godzilla Threshold, Hoskins was able to manufacture a situation that justified releasing the raptors into a combat zone, only to learn first-hand just how effective the Velociraptors are.
  • In Kidulthood, the film begins with a group of vicious bullies, including the show's antagonist Sam, beating up and humiliating an innocent girl, leading to her suicide. This doesn't come back at him until during the movie's climax, when he meets the girl's big brother. Who happens to have a gun. He is forced to the ground, obviously crapping his pants, before the protagonist manages to talk the brother out of pulling the trigger. Granted, Sam doesn't die, but the sheer humiliation of having to beg for his life in front of a majority of his school still make this a memorable moment.
  • About as literal as it gets without actually involving lasers in Kingsman: The Secret Service: Valentine is able to fill an entire Elaborate Underground Base with world leaders and one-percenters who support his scheme, as well as similar ones throughout the world — and gives them all Explosive Leash implants that protect his secrets and protect them from the Hate Plague. Eggsy and Merlin set them off — all of them — during the Final Battle. As there were numerous similar individuals who didn't support him imprisoned on the base without implants and thus spared, global politics have taken a massive step forward — the only ones left are the ones who find attacking their citizens repulsive enough to be imprisoned rather than do it. Last time something like that happened, the Kingsmen were created.
  • In Little Big Man, the Seventh Cavalry ride into a Cheyenne village at Washita and rape, kill, and destroy everything in their path, with the mad Custer roaring encouragement. In the background, musicians are playing the regimental march, Garryowen. Indeed, the faint distant strains of Garryowen are the first sign that the cavalry are coming. The next time we hear Garryowen, the Seventh are riding to their death and destruction at the Little Big Horn.
  • Man of Steel: Clark gets back at a rude trucker who was harassing a waitress by smashing his truck instead of fighting him.
  • Muppet Treasure Island: Long John Silver disposes of Mr. Arrow by setting him adrift, after convincing him that the ship's lifeboats may be in bad condition and need to be tested. By the end of the film he attempts to escape justice with a share of the treasure in another one of the ship's lifeboats, only for Arrow (who survived because the lifeboat he tested turned out to be in perfect working order) to point out that the lifeboat Silver stole was in horrible condition. Sure enough, it sinks and maroons Silver on Treasure Island.
  • In No Country for Old Men, Anton Chigurh murders the innocent wife of the protagonist even after she argues with him that he has no reason to kill her. As soon as he drives off, he gets hit by a car. The laser was slightly off that day; Chigurh gets through the car crash with a broken arm, but it is made clear that was more because of pure luck than anything else.
  • Office Space: Initech is burned down by the very man they mistreated.
  • In OtherLife, Sam forces Ren to reenter her virtual confinement so that he can figure out how she did it. When she escapes again, she forces a dose on him in return with a heavy implication that the scenario will also trap him for more than a year as it did her.
  • In Plunkett & Macleane we get a pretty vicious example of this. General Chance, who is quite fond of eye torture, ends up with a bullet through the eye whilst he's about to gouge yet another person's eye out.
  • In the movie Polar Storm, a soldier refuses to believe (including turning off the generator) that Cynthia Mayfield (who has received information) knows how to survive the EMP blast and tells her to get out and to not show the map again, with only two people believing and going with her. A few minutes later, the EMP activates, the generator short-circuits and a bolt of electricity goes inside the church, killing everyone. In the same vein, a robber hijacks their car and gets killed by the EMP blast seconds later when he starts it.
  • Subverted in The Rape of Richard Beck (also called Deadly Justice): A cop who is flippant and insensitive in his dealings with rape victims is assaulted himself, but as the message of the film is that no one deserves or "asks" to be raped, his attack is not portrayed as karma so much as a terrible experience that he eventually turns into a useful lesson.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
    • Stacey, with a big smirk, tries to manipulate the conversation so that Ramona and Knives discover that Scott is dating them both. A moment later, Wallace steals her boyfriend.
    • Later in the movie, Gideon kicks Ramona down a flight of stairs during the climax, and gets his ass promptly kicked soon after by both Scott and Knives.
  • In Skyfall, James Bond's boss M gets a heart-wrenching version of this. Having given up one agent to save six others in the past, years later she can only watch helplessly as the same agent exposes five others to certain death.
  • In the movie Snakes on a Plane, an absurdly, cartoonishly snooty bald guy tries to throw a small dog at the snakes to cover his escape. This is after he insulted a woman and her child for simply sitting next to him and genuinely being a tremendous douche from scene one. His plan ironically fails because he stops to gloat about it afterward, allowing the snake to eat both him and the dog. Oh but wait, that's not all: Afterwards he and the snake eating him are both sucked out of the plane as it crashes. In keeping with everything else, it's a borderline Humiliation Conga with fatal results.
  • The plot of Snatch. centers around a stolen diamond that most of the other characters are trying to steal so that they can profit from it... except for Turkish and Tommy, two hapless boxing promoters who don't even know the diamond exists and are doing nothing more morally or ethically questionable than trying to survive a rigged boxing match organised by a psychotic gangster. They end up finding the diamond and profiting from it, while everyone else either dies, gets arrested, or loses out.
  • In Sorry, Wrong Number, Henry is being arrested right after Leona is murdered.
  • Spider-Man gives a triple dose.
    • First, Bonesaw McGraw's booker short-changes Peter Parker on the money he was supposed to win thanks to Exact Words: "You had to stay in there with him for five minutes, and you pinned him in two." When Peter protests, saying he needs the money, the booker replies "I missed the part where that was my problem." Immediately afterwards, a burglar steals the booker's money, and Peter lets him get away. "I missed the part where that was my problem."
    • Unfortunately, the Laser-Guided Karma hits Peter immediately afterwards, since the burglar's escape ends up resulting in his Uncle being shot and killed.
    • Near the end of the movie, Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin is begging Spider-Man for mercy, while at the same time trying to set up his Goblin Glider for a sneak attack. Unfortunately for him, Spider-Man senses it coming and leaps over it, resulting in the Green Goblin killing himself.
  • Star Wars:
    • In A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin uses the Death Star to destroy Princess Leia's homeworld of Alderaan while she helplessly watches. Her people's deaths are felt in the Force. When Tarkin refuses to evacuate the Death Star when it's moments away from destroying Yavin IV, Luke Skywalker uses the Force to guide him and blows up the entire Death Star with Tarkin on it.
    • Return of the Jedi:
      • When Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and the droids are surrounded by the Ewoks, Luke insists on a non-violent surrender instead of attacking. By sparing the Ewoks and later winning their confidence, the Rebels gain valuable allies in the coming battle. The Ewoks are the Spanner in the Works making it possible to destroy the Death Star II's shield generator and defeat the Empire. Behind-the-scenes set footage of Mark Hamill, George Lucas, and director Richard Marquand reveals that this trope was intentional.
      • After Luke disarms Vader, the Emperor tells Luke to kill Vader and take his place as the Emperor's apprentice. Luke refuses, so the Emperor attempts to kill Luke instead. Negative Laser-Guided Karma strikes the Emperor as Vader grabs him and throws him down the Death Star II's reactor shaft. Luke receives Positive Laser-Guided Karma because his earlier refusal to kill Vader leads to Vader saving Luke.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a guard at a mental hospital commits a rather squicky sexual assault on Sarah Connor, and is also seen harassing sleeping mental patients by banging on the doors with his nightstick. Needless to say, viewers don't feel much sympathy for him about two scenes later, when Sarah escapes from her cell and gives him a teeth-shattering wallop around the face. He's even worse in the extended cut, making his comeuppance that much sweeter.

    It's even better in light of this out-of-universe tidbit: In the earlier scene where orderlies subdue the raging Sarah Connor, that particular orderly's actor had been pulling his punches, which resulted in the need to reshoot numerous times. Linda Hamilton was not happy about this. For the scene where she gets violent revenge on the deviant orderly, the beating she inflicts is 100% real. And, as a result, Hamilton nailed it on the first take.
  • Trading Places:
    • Louis Winthorpe III, a racist and an elitist, gets a black man arrested for accidentally bumping into him — although to be fair, Winthorpe honestly thought he was being attacked and Billy Ray Valentine had already caught the police's attention as a con beggar (pretending to be a blind, disabled veteran). Over the course of the movie, he gets his job, home, and social life taken away from him, and ends up a street hustler himself, thinking that the very man he sent to jail stole it from him. Ultimately, he gets better and loses his old habits.
    • That's more than you can say about his bosses the Duke Brothers, who not only caused his fall from grace but planned to leave him there, and Valentine as well, all over a one-dollar bet. Valentine and Winthorpe, whom the Duke Brothers trained in commodities trading, give them theirs by sending them a fake crop report, causing them to bankrupt themselves while attempting to corner the frozen orange juice market.
  • The entire plot of Unfriended is Laura's vengeful spirit haunting and killing her "friends" to find out who posted an explicit video of her that resulted in her humiliation and suicide. At the end of the movie, Laura hacks into Blaire's Facebook account, posting the extended version of the video, revealing it was Blaire who posted it, finding amusement at Laura's expense. This is immediately followed by Blaire's Facebook followers seeing the video and becoming disgusted with Blaire for causing Laura's death, resulting in all of them denouncing their friendship with her. With Blaire's dark secret revealed for the world to witness, Laura finally appears before her, jumping her upon closing her laptop, presumably killing her.
  • Valentine: Dorothy Wheeler, with the help of three of her friends, framed Jeremy Melton for sexual assault when they were in middle school, leading to him being beaten by a Gang of Bullies, sent to reform school, and later a mental institution. Years later, Jeremy, acting under the guise of Adam Carr, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that claims the lives of her friends. The pièce de résistance is putting Dorothy in his costume and throwing her at his girlfriend Kate, who was the only one of the friends who didn't participate in the Frame-Up years ago, and knocking them both down a flight of stairs. When Dorothy tries to get up, "Adam" kills Dorothy and unmasks her, pinning all his crimes on her.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Erik kills Shaw with the very same coin that "Dr. Schmidt" killed his mother over. Very slowly.
  • In Youth in Revolt, Jerry screws over a trio of sailors by selling them a car that immediately breaks down. They respond by disassembling the car, and reassembling it piece by piece in his living room.

    Folklore 

    Literature 
  • Lots of fairy tales rely on this trope.
    • Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm have a lot of stories like this, such as Diamonds and Toads and The Queen Bee.
    • In at least one Russian story, Baba Yaga's gate/pets/household goods help the heroine to escape because she was kinder to them than Baba Yaga was.
    • Many fairy tales also have poor, hungry, often ugly old women who just want some food or a place to stay. They may or may not be a fairy queen in disguise, but it's always a Secret Test of Character, generally with good advice for the people who succeed and deadly curses for those who don't. The most obvious example is Beauty and the Beast.
    • There is an Irish folktale called The Hunchback and the Elves where a hunchback happens upon a gathering of elves; because he is kind to them, they reward him by removing his hunch. He tells another hunchback, who also visits the elves, shows them kindness, and is rewarded the same way. A third hunchback visits the elves but tries to steal their treasure and instead of being rewarded, the elves give him the other two hunchbacks' hunches in addition to one he already had. Japan has its own version of the tale titled How an Old Man Lost His Wen. The only differences are that there are two men instead of three, instead of a hunch the men have a growth on their faces called a wen, and instead of elves they run into tengu.
  • In And Then There Were None, Judge Wargrave lures nine people who escaped punishment for killing others to an island with the intent of being the instigator of this trope for them. It's quite telling that in adaptations that spare some of Wargrave's intended victims, the spared victims are always revealed to be actually innocent of the murders he believed them to be guilty of.
  • This has been known to happen to Brother Bear from The Berenstain Bears whenever he's rude to his little sister. For example, in "The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream", he drags his sister to a movie about the Space Grizzlies (a series he loves) that scares the daylights out of her and results in a bad dream. Not long afterwards, he also has a bad dream. He also (somehow) winds up afraid of the dark by the end of "...In The Dark" after he picks on his sister about being afraid of the dark herself for most of the book.
  • The Bestseller:
    • Daniel goes to massive lengths to "prove" he wrote a major novel when his wife Judith did all the work. The novel turns out to be a huge flop and Daniel's insistence on taking sole credit means he gets sole blame.
    • In the same book, bitchy editor Pam's constant scheming and screwing over others finally gets her fired.
    • Also, Gerald's own scheming and attempt to steal the sales of other books to boost his own is discovered and he's fired by his own father.
  • In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, an amoral, self-centered pedophile with no redeeming qualities whatsoever is working for the book's bad guys to create a super-virus. When he along with the child slaves being used for both test subjects and his personal gratification are rescued by the protagonist team, two of the children he abused use a shoelace and pencil to create a tourniquet they use to kill him by strangulation.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs on this with regard to the four naughty kids — their selfishness, pride, etc. is such that they disregard Willy Wonka's instructions and warnings as the tour of the factory progresses, and in each case, it backfires on them big time.
  • In "Dancing Dan's Christmas" by Damon Runyon, Dancing Dan decides on a whim to borrow a drunken Mall Santa's outfit and anonymously improve the lives of some poverty-stricken persons of his acquaintance. This whim saves his life, as it causes a hitman who'd almost tracked him down (and of whose existence he was completely unaware) to lose his trail.
  • Discworld:
    • The Eludidated Brethren of the Ebon Night, who summon the dragon in Guards! Guards!, end up burnt to death as soon as the dragon slips the leash. The Discworld Companion lampshades this in the entry for the Brethren. "The thing about karma on the Discworld is that it often happens real soon."
      Brother Watchtower: We just wanted what was due to us.
      Death: Congratulations.
    • The Last Hero mentions one tribe with no imagination, and therefore no gods, that was wiped out by a nearby tribe who believed a light from the moon was a signal from their god to increase their hunting grounds. The second tribe was wiped out years later by a third tribe, who apparently got a message from their ancestors living in the moon that all non-believers in their goddess should be killed. That third tribe was killed years later by a rock falling from the sky, as the result of a star exploding a billion years ago.
      What goes around comes around. If not examined too closely, it passes for justice.
  • Peter in Divergent receives a whopping heap of it. After spending most of the book bullying others, sabotaging or attempting to murder anyone who does better than him in the trials, he ends up injured courtesy of Tris, begging for his life and forced to assist in undoing the brainwashing simulation knowing that everyone can see him for what he really is.
  • At the beginning of Dragon Bones, Ward finds out that one of their cousins has bullied his sister Ciarra, and punches him in the face. Then he goes to find her, as if she is late to dinner, their abusive father will beat her up. When they arrive home, they are told that their father is on his deathbed after having been thrown by his horse — a horse he turned into an aggressive beast through mistreatment.
  • Arianna Ortega from The Dresden Files falls prey to this; she keeps her dad from interfering with her plan to gain the prestige to dethrone him by citing legal reasons; when the father of the girl she kidnapped and planned to sacrifice comes calling, he uses the same excuse that she did to get her father to let him challenge her, which ends with Arianna impaled by ice spears. Then her father tries to back out of his deal with the father to let him and the child go. It costs him more than his life when karma comes calling.
  • Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile. The title character's misdeeds towards other animals throughout the book backfire on him big time, and devious attempts to eat kids are thwarted at every turn. He ends up being thrown into the Sun by the elephant he bit earlier.
  • One particularly horrific version appears in the Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel Festival of Death, in which a character wipes out a species as research into how they are able to resurrect at the beginning of their lives with memories of how the last one went, in the hope of doing this and saving his parents from a shuttle accident. He succeeds, and learns that he can only watch, not interfere with what's happened, essentially forcing him to watch all the tragedies and atrocities of his life an infinite number of times.
  • In The First Wives Club, all of the ex-husbands end up humiliated in their various fields, a couple lose their jobs when their long-term cheating is discovered, and Gil (a racist who drove his ex-wife to suicide) goes to jail for insider trading.
  • Harry Potter:
    • This trope is subverted and then played straight, then subverted again, in the case of Wormtail. Harry allows Wormtail to live, even though Wormtail was responsible for the death of Harry's parents, which first allows Wormtail to find Voldemort and return him to full power. However, as Dumbledore suggested, Harry's kindness meant that Wormtail felt that he was in Harry's debt, eventually leading to Wormtail saving Harry's life in the final book. Wormtail is then rewarded for this act of mercy by being strangled to death by his own magical prosthetic hand, which had been programmed to do so by Voldemort in case Wormtail's loyalty ever wavered again.
    • Umbridge at the end of Order of the Phoenix. Hates "half-breeds" like centaurs, mermaids, etc. Traumatized so badly by them that the next time we see her (not too long after the incident in question), she's practically catatonic. Sadly it doesn't stick.
    • Cornelius Fudge spends an entire year denying that Voldemort was back, and sets up an entire smear campaign against Harry, Dumbledore, and their supporters to disgrace them and to destroy their reputations. Once it turns out that Voldemort really has returned, all of the slander he aimed at his "enemies" turns around and bites him in the ass. The entire wizarding community now sees him as a Dirty Coward, so he gets fired in disgrace and his reputation is destroyed, and he's going down in history as one of the worst Ministers of Magic ever.
    • Marietta Edgecombe betrays Dumbledore's Army, only to have the word "Sneak" written with pimples all over her face. This was Hermione's doing — all of the members of Dumbledore's Army unknowingly signed an enchanted contract.
    • Gilderoy Lockhart, who takes credit for other people's achievements then erases their memories. He tries to do the same to Ron and Harry in Chamber of Secrets but uses a broken wand, which causes the Obliviate spell to backfire and wipe his memories. Pottermore shows that this was somewhat intentional on Dumbledore's part at least, since he knew some of the people whose memories Lockhart wiped and hired him so he'd end up exposing himself as a fraud.
    • What gets Bellatrix Lestrange bitten in the butt is her trying to murder Ginny Weasley in front of her overprotective and furious mother. "Not my daughter you bitch" indeed. Even more ironic is that Bellatrix kills her cousin Sirius after he underestimated her, and yet she later does the same thing with the same consequences; especially ironic is the imagery of both of them laughing right before the curse hits.
    • Dudley Dursley spends his childhood bullying Harry just because he was there. Once Harry has some more powerful friends, they seem to make it a personal mission to torment Dudley whenever in his presence. But in the fifth book, Dudley gets a different kind of karma when he and Harry are in the presence of a Dementor — which causes him to see exactly what a horrible person he truly is. Because of that karmic revelation, Dudley changes his ways. By the time the Dursleys go into hiding in the last book, Harry and Dudley have made peace and part very amicably, and Word of God says that as adults, they occasionally get their kids together for playdates.
    • The Death Eater organization as a whole end up being on the wrong end of a satisfying karmic beatdown during the end of the battle of Hogwarts at the hands of everyone/thing they've been terrorizing for the last two books, including: the enraged Mama Bear and Papa Wolf parents and family members of every student who stayed to fight, the returning students of Slytherin house who had fled before the fighting started (including their head of house), every house elf in Hogwarts (whom they view as slaves), the centaurs (who are viewed as animals), a herd of Thestrals, a Hippogriff, and a giant.
    • Bartemius Crouch Senior becomes an Unwitting Pawn and later killed because of the two Death Eaters who helped Voldemort's return to power. One of those Death Eaters is Bartemius Crouch Junior, who was at large because Senior broke him from Azkaban and kept him under the Imperius Curse, which was later used to force Senior to help with their plan; and the other is Peter Pettigrew, whose trick to cheat justice in the past was helped by Crouch Senior sending Sirius Black to Azkaban without a trial.
  • In Holes, white school teacher Kate Barlow and black onion seller Sam kiss, and as a result, the town of Green Lake lynch Sam and burn down the schoolhouse. In bitter retribution, Ms. Barlow becomes the feared outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow; meanwhile, the town suffers a drought which dries up the lake for which it was named, also causing the fortune of the man who led the mob to dry up as well. Ironically, an old woman who saw the kiss commented "God will punish you!" As the narration notes, whom did God punish, indeed?
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Two from Honor Among Enemies:
      • Andrew Warnecke and his close followers are killed by Honor and her crew, having followed the terms of the agreement that Warnecke "forced" on them nearly to the letter. His mistake was in not searching for chemical-propelled weaponry, like Honor's Colt M1911 pistol.
      • Steilman's gang of thugs ultimately wind up killed by a grazer fired by a warship from the same people to whom he had planned to defect, with copies of the manuals for advanced Manticoran military technology.
    • In Storm From the Shadows, Solarian admiral Josef Byng slaughters three Manticoran destroyers out of hand while their wedges are down and the ships are entirely unprotected in the star system of New Tuscany; the fourth and last member of the division survives only because it was hiding out-system. Later in the novel, Admiral Michelle Henke, a bit irritated at the unprovoked destruction of a part of her fleet, guides karma comprised of lasers — the kind that make up the RMN's ridiculously powerful, precisely targeted, and very lethal missile heads — right into Byng's flagship. Neither flagship nor Byng survives the encounter.
  • In How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III spends the whole book on a dangerous quest for the believed-nonexistent potato to save his friend Fishlegs from the bite of a poisonous dragon. That's a good thing because guess who was really bitten.
  • In The Hunger Games, Foxface keeps stealing everyone else's food. In the end, she dies after stealing some berries from Peeta that turn out to be poisonous.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Jonathan's father Lawrence decides to punish a servant who annoyed him by sending him out on a long and pointless journey on a cold night. When he comes back feverish Lawrence insists that the man attend him as he works all night, and opens a window. He overlooks that feverish as the man is, the servant is much younger and in better health, and in the morning Lawrence is found to have died of exposure.
  • King Of The Bench: Jimmy Jimerino's dad spends every game in Kicking and Screaming being loud and obnoxious, and becoming disappointed in his son every time he misses. At the end of the book, he's been sentenced to spend every game he attends from that point on sitting in front of Principal T.
  • Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Charles Chiltington pressures his teammate Andrew into stealing a competitor's library card, which he knows would get him removed from the competition. One of the adults in charge reviews security footage, sees he put Andrew up to it, and disqualifies him too.
  • In Killer Frost, the final Mythos Academy book, Gwen is fighting Vivien, who murdered Gwen's mom and countless others, and is just all-around evil. Gwen uses her psychometry to push every bit of suffering she's experienced in her own life and through others into Vivien's mind until it breaks. Vivien is left curled up mumbling to herself and begging for it to stop — apparently for the rest of her life. Even Vivien's thoroughly evil mentor is horrified and looks at Gwen with fear.
  • Although Artemis Entreri was a Karma Houdini in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, taking Regis captive and cutting off two of his fingers, karma catches up to him shortly after. In The Legacy he tortures Regis even more, to goad Drizzt into fighting for his friend's life. But when it's all said and done, Entreri ends up badly injured and hanging from a cliff by his torn cloak. He is stuck in that position for over a day before he is found... by Regis. Regis taunts the helpless Entreri, takes several of his possessions, wonders aloud if he should bring help for the assassin... then decides that he's not feeling too merciful, and cuts the last remaining strands of Entreri's cloak, causing him to fall. And while Entreri does survive this, he winds up stuck in Menzoberranzan, and he is absolutely miserable there.
  • In the The Lord of the Rings, each of the Ring-bearers shows mercy to Gollum and is rewarded for it later. Bilbo refrains from murdering Gollum in the goblin caves and is rewarded (according to Gandalf) by taking very little hurt from the evil of the Ring and being able to give it up at the end. Frodo is merciful when Gollum finds him and Sam in the Emyn Muil and is rewarded when Gollum successfully gets the two of them into Mordor. Finally, Sam himself shows mercy to Gollum on the slopes of Mount Doom and is rewarded when Gollum bites the Ring from Frodo's hand (thus freeing Frodo from the Ring's control) and falls with it into the Fire. Conversely, the Ring's malevolent corruption of Gollum ultimately results in the Ring's own destruction.
  • In Loyal Enemies, one of the villains attempts to pull a Karma Houdini after the final battle by stealing one of the heroes' kelpies. Now, kelpies are actually water currents that take the form of white horses on land and have to be kept bridled or they run for the nearest body of water to reunite with it. Veres, pretending to be intimidated, lets Etvor have the horse — sans bridle. Thinking only of getting away as fast as possible, Etvor lets the kelpie run freely and ends up drowning in the nearest icy river.
  • Played straight in The Millennium Trilogy. Every single evil-doer gets their comeuppance.
    • Gottfreid Vanger is murdered by the daughter he raped and abused for years.
    • Gottfreid's son, Martin, who also turned out to be a serial killer, commits suicide after being attacked and chased down by Lisbeth.
    • Nils Bjurmann first gets "I am a sadistic pig, a pervert and a rapist" tattooed on his abdomen by Lisbeth; then, in the second book, he is murdered.
    • Zala is shot point-blank and murdered by Evert Gullberg, who then turns the gun on himself.
    • Gunnar Björk is murdered and staged to look like a suicide.
    • Peter Teleborian is arrested for possession of child pornography which Lisbeth and her fellow hackers found on his own laptop after being exposed as a liar and a criminal by Lisbeth's lawyer, Annika Giannini.
    • All the members of the Section are arrested by the police in a highly organized raid and crackdown.
    • Niedermann is shot by a rival gang member, and then those gang members are arrested by the police.
  • Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt has three heinous villains, because one creep obviously wasn't enough. But at least karma eventually catches up with them.
    • Count Rosenschiöld is a sadistic serial abuser of women who rapes and almost kills Beatrice (the poor female protagonist) on their wedding night who ends up dying what we only can hope is a painful death. As a beautiful irony, Beatrice survives to find happiness with another (much younger) man and work for women's rights.
    • Edvard takes his sadism too far one time too many, leaving him brutally maimed and hiding in a hospital in Germany.
    • Wilhelm is a cruel domestic abuser who has loses everything in the end. His son has been maimed, his daughter no longer wants to see him, even his doormat wife has left him, and Beatrice (his niece) claims the right to "his" house, which turned out to be her inheritance from her grandmother.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Metzengerstein," the title character is a Spoiled Brat who burns down the stables of the rival Berliftzing family, killing the patriarch. A strange red horse apparently escapes the fire, and Baron Metzengerstein takes it for his own. The horse is implied to be Count Berliftzing reincarnated, and he eventually carries Metzengerstein to his doom... in a fire.
  • In the Pig the Pug series, Pig is rude, gross, and ignores all the advice that Trevor attempts to give him. Because of this, Pig's actions always come crumbling down by the end of the story, often in a way themed after the book.
  • A Rebellious Princess herself in her youth, Cassandra from Ranger's Apprentice does not appreciate having a daughter who does the exact same things she did as a stupid teenager. This is lampshaded. Heavily.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, a man in one city begins to rape his own daughter, telling her to shut up and enjoy it as she screams. Cue Daylen Namaran crashing through the roof and performing an impromptu castration on the rapist before throwing him straight through a brick wall.
    Daylen: Your father deserved it.
  • In Space Marine Battles novel Siege of Castellax, Skintaker Algol threatens to kill a runaway slave as slowly and painfully as possible. Come the end of the novel, and he's buried under rubble, immobilizing him. The same slave finds him and starts stabbing him, and Skintaker's superhuman metabolism results in long, drawn-out death.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has several instances of this.
    • One of the most shining examples would be Tywin Lannister getting killed by Tyrion, the son he always disliked and mistreated, by the end of A Storm of Swords.
    • In the first book, Jaime Lannister pushes young Bran off a tower in an attempt to kill him, thus violating his guest rights to his hosts, the Starks. Two books later, the hand with which he pushed Bran gets cut off by a bloodthirsty sellsword.
    • Twyin's daughter Cersei gets her own karmic treatment near the end of A Feast for Crows. She gets arrested by the story's Church Militant and punished for her sins in a most humiliating way. That's right, the same Church Militant she raised back to power earlier in the same book.
    • After the Freys break the Laws of Hospitality by killing several Starks and their bannermen during the Red Wedding, their reputation is tarnished. Even worse, many of the Northerners and the Brotherhood without Banners actively hunt down and kill any Frey they capture.
    • Jorah Mormont is extremely bitter about being banished from Westeros, which he believes to be Disproportionate Retribution for selling "a few lice-ridden poachers" as slaves. Later, he thinks nothing of encouraging Daenerys to buy the Unsullied, an army of slaves, to retake Westeros despite her hatred of slavery. Several books later, he himself is Made a Slave.
  • In Speak, the protagonist Melinda, a social outcast, befriends and helps the new girl, Heather. However, Heather, being a Social Climber with aspirations of popularity, ditches Melinda the second she gets the chance to join a clique of popular girls known as The Marthas, even returning the friendship necklace the latter gave her for a Christmas gift. Several months later, Heather comes crawling back to Melinda, asking her help in decorating the Route 11 Holiday Inn ballroom for the prom, as she is unable to do it by herself. Melinda refuses, and the last we hear of Heather is that she missed school the day after prom because everybody is grumbling about her lame decorations. Immediately afterward, Melinda remarks that Heather should run away and join the Marines because "they'll be much sweeter to her than a swarm of angry Marthas".
  • In an Italian children's story called Strega Nona (which translates to "Grandma Witch"), the titular character owns a pot that can magically cook pasta. One day, she leaves to visit a friend, and her caretaker, Big Anthony, uses the pot to make pasta for the entire village. But because he doesn't know how to make the pot stop, the entire village is soon flooded with pasta noodles. After Strega Nona returns and saves the day, she hands Big Anthony a fork and tells him to eat all of the pasta, saying "the punishment must fit the crime".
  • Struwwelpeter from Germany has "The Story of the Inky Boys": Three kids who tease a black boy get their just deserts when Nikolas dips them into a gigantic inkwell.
  • Treasure Island: Old pirate Pew leads Flint's pirate crew to find the treasure map in the Admiral Benbow, ordering the men to burn the place down later. He gets so angry that all the other pirates run away while he screams at them - at which point a soldier patrol arrives on horse, accidentally running over Pew.
  • In Warrior Cats, Tigerstar has been manipulating events for a while in order to become ThunderClan's leader. He got to set a trap for Bluestar at the edge of the Thunderpath with the intention of killing her, but Cinderpelt ended up investigating the Thunderpath and getting hit by a car, which permanently damaged one of her legs and dashed her hopes of ever being a Warrior. Before that, in Into the Wild, he killed Redtail, ThunderClan's deputy at the time. Not many moons after that, he learned that Ravenpaw, his apprentice, saw what happened, and Tigerstar tried to turn the clan against Ravenpaw and planned to kill him to make sure he stayed silent. In Forest of Secrets, he led a group of rogues in an attack against ThunderClan, and he surely would've killed Bluestar if Firestar hadn't been present. In A Dangerous Path, he led a pack of dogs to Snakerocks, which ended up killing one apprentice and disfiguring another as well as killing another cat to give the dogs a taste for cat blood. It all comes to a head in The Darkest Hour when he wants to unite the clans as one (which is a lot worse than it sounds) under his leadership. He manages to get RiverClan to join "TigerClan" and tries to get Graystripe's kits killed by having Stonefur, Bluestar's son, kill them. When Stonefur refuses, he sics Darkstripe on him, and when it looks like Darkstripe is going to lose, Tigerstar gets another one of his followers to kill Stonefur. And after his betrayal, Bluestar completely loses her mind, which makes her stop caring about her Clan. While his death at the hands of Scourge isn't one that any sane cat would wish on another, you have to admit that after all that happened he really deserved to die. In fact, Tigerstar is so despised that his son carries the suspicions of his Clanmates.
  • In Watch on the Rhine, Sergeant Major Krueger, a rejuvenated SS soldier who once served in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, loves to boast about how easy it was to rape the female prisoners — you didn't even need to ask their names. His commanding officer is also a rejuvenated SS soldier — but one who later in life joined the Israeli military as a form of penance, and ended up marrying a survivor of Ravensbruck. At the end of the book, Colonel Brasche ends up alone with Sergeant Major Krueger.
    Hans Brasche: This is for my wife Anna, whose name you never asked, you NAZI SON OF A BITCH!
  • Way of Choices: Xu Yourong, poisoned and gravely wounded, is captured by the cowardly Bai Hai, who hopes to drink her blood and steal her power. He does manage to get at her blood, but it's still full of poison and he is much, much weaker than her...
  • In the Wings of Fire series, Darkstalker committed such horrifying atrocities that other NightWings gave up their powers (of telepathy and precognition) to make sure no one as powerful as him would ever be born again. This is why no one knows Darkstalker is still alive, hundreds of years into the future, trapped under a mountain and unable to move or eat — they can't hear him.
  • In Worm:
    • Regent is baffled in the Shell arc by Skitter's refusal to seek any revenge on those bullying her civilian identity. After they discover one of these bullies to be a Nominal Hero, Regent takes control of her for a mission, then fakes driving her out of town for his team. In actual fact, he puts her through a Humiliation Conga by exposing all of her misdeeds that he can and revealing her nature to her family, culminating in nearly having her kill herself, all because she messed with his teammate and he knows she'd never do it herself.
    • Doctor Mother, leader of Cauldron, had thousands of people across various worlds kidnapped to act as test subjects for the formulas to create superheroes, which ended up turning them into Case 53s: barely human creatures that have no memories of who they are and problematic powers. Before the final battle, Doctor Mother ends up crushed to death by a Case 53 who had lost control of her powers.
  • In Young Wives, cheating husband Reid ends up humiliated by his ex-wife into a kinky scene in front of his new fiancee.

    Music 
  • The Bloodhound Gang's "I Hope You Die" starts with a guy Flipping the Bird to another guy, who cuts the first guy off and causes him to crash, killing scores of innocent victims. When the first guy goes to prison and has to share a cell with an insane cellmate who rapes him and forces him to wear a wedding dress while Bound and Gagged, the prison guard refuses to come to help... because he's the guy he flipped the bird the other day.
  • The whole idea of Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down". If you're a sinner, God is pissed and He's coming for you. It doesn't matter how long or how far you run, you will get the judgment you deserve.
  • The Grayson DeWolfe song "Karma" is sung from the perspective of a man who learns that his ex-girlfriend, after cheating on him, ended up discovering that her new boyfriend is cheating on her with someone else.
  • Willie Nelson: "A Little Ol'-Fashioned Karma". In this 1983 song, he keeps it simple with a former lover who had done him wrong: There'll be "A little bit of sowing and a little bit of reaping / A little bit of laughing and a little bit of weeping", and "If you're gonna dance you've gotta pay the band".
  • In Queen of the Wave by Pepe Deluxé, it's strongly implied that Atlantis was destroyed because of the moral failure of its citizens: both "Grave Prophecy" (in which Atlantis's destruction is foretold) and "Riders of the First Ark" (in which the destruction happens) prominently mention The Book of Laws being "forgotten". An even more direct example is when Zailm begins an adulterous affair with Lolix: "The nemesis of Karma starts pursuing him. A pursuit that will eventually lead to the deaths of both Zailm and Lolix..."
  • This is the theme of the main story of the Sublime song "Date Rape". First, a guy attempts to drug a girl and rape her. However, the girl wises up to the man's plan and files a police report. The guy then gets sent to prison, where he is anally raped by a fellow prisoner.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The "Eye for an Eye" law established by Moses can be interpreted as applying this directly to real life.
    • In the New Testament, Acts 12 (21-23) (NIV);
      On the appointed day, Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
    • In Matthew 7 (1-2) (NIV), Jesus warns, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
    • God's justice is described as this in Galatians 6:7 (KJV): "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap."
    • The Bible also hints in a few places that Heaven and Hell reward and punish proportionally, though exactly how the rewards and punishments are proportioned is not explained.
  • Some might say it's subverted in Greek Mythology because most times karma is just the gods helping or messing with the heroes, but the fact is that the heroes' good or bad actions have consequences, and the gods represent universal forces, so this is still technically true. Here are some examples:
    • Achilles's profanation of Apollo's temple leads to his death by Paris, who is a servant of Apollo.
    • Depending on the version, Apollo curses Cassandra that her prophecies may never be believed because she lied to him to get her power in the first place. In some versions, though, it was just because she rejected his sexual advances.
    • The Odyssey:
      • Odysseus blinding Polyphemus is what incites Poseidon to curse him, setting the stage for the whole story. On the other hand, Odysseus only put out Polyphemus's eye because the cyclops meant to eat him, so they were kind of holding each others' lasers. Odysseus's tribulations are as much because of hubris as anything else because he would have gotten away with blinding Polyphemus if he hadn't decided to boast by shouting his real name at the monster as he left. Polyphemus initially offered to feast with Odysseus instead of on Odysseus in his honor for his cunning; it was only after Odysseus cursed him that Polyphemus cursed him back.
      • The greed of Odysseus's crew leads to Aeolus's gift blowing them off course.
      • The plunder at Ismaros is rewarded by storms that blow the crew off course.
    • The vast majority of Greek kings and leaders end up reaping the karmic rewards for massacring the Trojans that attempt to seek sanctuary in the temples of the gods.
    • Jason's efforts to dump his lawful wife Medea (who had allowed the Argonauts to escape the land of her father Aeetes) for another woman costs him Hera's favor and leads to his disgrace and eventual death.
    • Ixion first murders his father-in-law, flees to Mount Olympus to escape punishment, and repays Zeus's hospitality by attempting to rape Hera (and only sort of succeeds; he rapes a cloud nymph in the form of Hera from which the centaurs are born). An infuriated Zeus banished him to Hades, where he's strapped to a flaming wheel and left to spin around for the rest of eternity.
    • Ixion's son Peirithoos is just as bad, convincing Theseus to sneak down with him into Hades and kidnap Persephone to be his bride. Needless to say, Hades is not amused. When Heracles comes down to the Underworld on the last of his Twelve Labours, he's allowed to free Theseus from Hades's captivity. The Underworld shakes when he tries to free Peirithoos, which is Hades's way of letting our hero know that this is a very bad idea.
    • Tantalus was a king who tried to steal some ambrosia from the gods. They found out and banished him from Olympus. He invited them to a feast at his home to "try to make it up to them"; he killed his children and fed them to the gods to prove that they weren't all-knowing as revenge for being banished. They found out about that, too (they are gods, after all) and now he's in the Fields Of Punishment. He's standing in a lake under a fruit tree, and he's starving. Every time he tries to eat or drink, the food/liquid moves away from him.
    • Sisyphus's attempts to cheat death (and by extension Hades) ended in failure and got him stuck pushing a boulder up a mountain for eternity.
    • Though they are the main forces of karma in Greek myth, not even the Olympians themselves escape karmic retribution for some of their particularly loathsome actions.
      • The deity who suffers from this most often is Hera. Whenever she tries to kill one of Zeus's many children when they're babies, they always live either via Zeus saving them or just fate itself ensuring they survive, and they almost always become either a great hero or come up to Olympus to become a god, much to the fury and humiliation of Hera.
      • Hephaestus is easily one of the most easygoing and friendly gods on Olympus, but not even he can tolerate adultery. When his wife Aphrodite cheats on him in favor of Ares, Hephaestus catches them in an unbreakable net whilst they're having sex and drags them in front of the other gods, who point and laugh at the two adulterers.
      • In some versions, Sisyphus's final fate does not bother him at all and he actually finds solace in pushing his boulder since it gives him time to himself to think for all eternity. For all the gods involved, this is a source of unending frustration for having one mortal they were never able to humble.
    • Even before the Olympians and mortals, the primordial gods and titans were not immune to karma. Ouranos threw the cyclopes and hecatoncheires into Tartarus for how ugly they were. In anger, his wife Gaia made a golden sickle that she gave to Kronos, who rose up against Ouranos and killed him... but then Kronos was also repulsed by their appearance and left them in Tartarus. Later, when Zeus and the other Olympians found them and released them, it was easy to convince them to rise against Kronos. The cyclopes made powerful magic items for Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades which helped them beat Kronos's army, then when the titans were thrown into Tartarus themselves it is none other than the hecatoncheires who now make sure they can't escape.

    Podcasts 
  • The Adventure Zone: Balance experienced a brief break from the Dungeons & Dragons formula during the Stolen Century-arc. When the new arc begins, the D&D-ruleset returns with Merle and Taako having to make saving throws. Clint (Merle) immediately rolls a 2. Justin (Taako) starts making fun of him... and then also rolls a 2.
  • Cool Kids Table:
    • At the end of the game All I Want for Christmas, Jed the toy collector is forced to give up his entire toy collection as punishment for causing chaos in an attempt to get a Turboman toy.
    • At the end of the fourth arc of The Fallen Gods, a Tower full of Wizards who enslaved dozens of merfolk end up getting torn apart by them as soon as the spell is broken.

    Radio 
  • When Kix Brooks (formerly of Brooks & Dunn) took over as host of American Country Countdown, he cut the show from 40 positions to 30 after program directors complained about the unfamiliarity of the lower-charting songs. In 2012, Brooks released "New to This Town", his first solo single since the breakup of Brooks & Dunn. Where did it peak? #31.

    Tabletop Games 
  • During the backstory of the New World of Darkness game Asylum, Psycho Psychologist Dr. Moorcock conducted over five hundred unnecessary lobotomies over the course of his career, killing fourteen; in one particularly egregious case, he even went so far as to perform the procedure on Allison Purchase — who was not only perfectly sane but had only ended up at the asylum due to a bad LSD trip. Naturally, Moorcock's tenure comes to an end when someone decided to lobotomize him, leaving the doctor a gibbering, barely functional ruin of a human being. The game books suggest two possibilities: either Moorcock was silencing witnesses on behalf of a third party, and said third party decided that He Knows Too Much... or Allison managed to recover just enough to take ironic revenge.
  • Instant Karma is an optional game mechanic in GURPS: Thaumatology that can strike people who use ritual magic to harm others.
  • Magic: The Gathering has It That Betrays, a card that makes any card your opponent sacrifices yours. It also makes your opponent sacrifice two cards each time it attacks. Given that Eldrazi (the creature type It That Betrays is a member of) cause people to sacrifice permanents, this is more like Laser-Guided Theft.
  • In Traveller, judicial slavery is sometimes used as an alternative to capital punishment in the Sword Worlds. If this is interpreted to imply that this is the penalty for human trafficking, which seems likely, then the poetic justice of this is rather grimly amusing.

    Theater 
  • In Twice Charmed, Lady Tremaine tries to summon her Wicked Fairy Godfather, Franco DiFortunato, to wreak havoc at the ball. But since they failed to separate Cinderella and Prince Charming, the Tremaines are forced to do Franco's chores for eternity.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • The Ace Attorney series, being an exploration of legal justice, has several examples of this trope.
    • The fact that Iris looked the other way the first time her sister Dahlia committed murder makes it all the harder for her to come forward when Dahlia tries to kill again... and this time, her victim is a person Iris actually personally cares about. To add insult to injury, Iris is a shrine maiden, and can actually recognize and understand her karma. That's why she peacefully accepts imprisonment at the end of the game.
      Iris: I've committed some sins. Sins that I need to pay for.
    • Another example is when Iris lied to Phoenix about her identity for a full 8 months, and consequently broke off ties with him because she couldn't bear to admit her guilt. Some time later, Iris is framed (by herself) so expertly that only one lawyer is willing to defend her in court... Phoenix. Even Edgeworth, a total stranger, only helps Iris on the condition that she be honest with Phoenix.
  • Mihaly of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown makes a living as the self-proclaimed "King of the Sky", coming out of retirement when it turns out the drones with programming based on his combat data are being shot down too easily and takes to the air again to reclaim "his" sky. He does this by ruthlessly stalking and chasing down planes, regardless of whether they are damaged or fully combat capable, and terrifying the poor pilots as he takes his time hounding them just so he can have the satisfaction of "seeing them at their best" before he executes them. His undoing comes when he challenges Trigger to a duel and promptly gets shot down; the injuries he sustained from the crash end up leaving him bedridden, unable to take to the skies ever again. Avril comments that this isn't really a punishment, since it means instead of dying the violent death of his opponents, he will be able to live in peace with his granddaughters, but the bitter tone in Mihaly's voice when he says how he cannot fly any more shows that he is still less than pleased with the situation.
  • The player can invoke this on Alexander in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Alexander is revealed to be a Manipulative Bastard who is responsible for torturing and killing hundreds of people to harness the orb's power. He also manipulated Daniel into torturing innocent people and lied that he would protect him from the Shadow that's chasing him, and would have just left him to be eaten by it. The player can disrupt the portal from opening, leaving him to be eaten by the Shadow.
  • The Player Character in Baldur's Gate II has an opportunity to deliver a sweet dose of this to some drow. S/he is infiltrating the Underdark with his/her party, on a mission to recover a good dragon's eggs from Matron Mother Ardulace. Meanwhile, her daughter Phaere is trying to usurp her mother's position, and hopes to use you and the eggs to accomplish this. You could choose to betray the mother to the daughter or vice versa — morality-wise, it makes little difference, since both of them are nasty pieces of work. However, with the right choices, you can arrange things so that both of them get their comeuppance at the hands of a demon they tried to summon.
  • Bayonetta 2 has Alraune, who seeks to use Jeanne's soul to gain more power for herself after Jeanne gets Dragged Off to Hell. Aside from getting her ass kicked by a pissed-off Bayonetta, who tore through Inferno just to save Jeanne, her ultimate fate is deliciously ironic: Rodin uses her soul in order to create a new weapon for Bayonetta.
  • In one of the Beyond Good & Evil trailers/in-universe Hillian News propaganda videos, Fehn Digler warns that pearls are illegal to use as currency, and quotes the Alpha Sections as describing the damage the Mammago Garage (which accepts them) has suffered as "poetic justice".
  • Beyond: Two Souls: During the "Homeless" chapter, a group of thugs burn down the building where Tuesday has just given birth and beat Jodie into a coma. As revealed in a newspaper article Jodie sees when she wakes up, the thugs were arrested shortly afterwards because of the smell of gasoline on their clothes.
  • Castlevania:
    • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, a priest locked himself in a small fortress with a powerful artifact that could've been used to save his village from vampire attacks for his own personal protection. Almost immediately after the main character takes the artifact from the priest to use against the vampires, the priest gets torn apart by vampires who seemed to have been waiting for the moment they could kill him.
    • In the original series, a now-retconned plot point revealed Alucard to be Trevor Belmont's father. This would have meant that Dracula had been getting taken down by his own descendants, generation after generation. This twist was later applied in a slightly different way to the sequels of the Lords of Shadows universe, as Trevor and Alucard are the same person.
  • Early at the fair in Chrono Trigger, Crono has the opportunity to help a little girl find her cat, and to eat a random man's lunch for HP. A few sequences later, though, he needs character witnesses, and every Good or Evil act comes back up... not that it will matter. Sure, being found innocent nets you a couple Elixirs, but Chrono will still get sentenced to execution.
  • What happens to Kizami in Corpse Party. After hurting animals, killing innocent people and even kicking Yuka, he ends up getting attacked by Yoshikazu, dragged to Sachiko, and turned into an anatomy model]].
  • One of the choices at the end of The Dark Meadow is to corrupt your daughter's soul in exchange for a longer life. If you decide to cross the line, your character will land in a mental asylum for the next 17 years of his life. Have fun!
  • One of the PvP factions in Dark Souls, the Darkmoon Blade, is all about this. When players kill other players and NPCs, they accumulate sin. The Darkmoon covenant is a covenant specifically based around hunting down those with a large amount of sin.
  • The Dead Rising franchise:
    • In the first Dead Rising, Frank comes across a paranoid gun shop owner warning another man to stay away, while the other man is asking him to let other people use his guns. Finally, the shop owner shoots the man with a shotgun, blasting him out of the store. After defeating him in a mini-bossfight, he staggers out of his shop blubbering and terrified, only to run headfirst into the zombie of the man he killed.
    • In the sequel, Dead Rising 2, Chuck comes across an unhinged CURE (basically a zombie rights group) supporter in a bathroom. He's been keeping a zombie around to spread the disease because he thinks it's a blessing of sorts. Shortly after you beat him, he stumbles right into the bathroom stall he was keeping the zombie in, and is bitten. Rather than become a zombie, he opts to slit his own throat.
    • Dead Rising 3: The bosses are based on the seven deadly sins, and die accordingly: The mad monk is so angry he commits suicide out of rage, the organ harvester is stabbed with his drug syringes until he hallucinates his organs being harvested by zombies, the lazy heir dies of a heart attack from lack of exercise, the bodybuilder is crushed to death by her trophy collection when she tries to lift it, the snuff pornographer overdoses on his phallic-distributed gas, the ex-dietary bulimic slips on a puddle of spilled food and chokes on her vomit, the looney fanboy is killed by his idol in self-defensenote . And in all endings, the Final Boss will always lose, even if the protagonist dies - because starting an uprising with zombies was never going to earn them good PR.
  • The Dead Space franchise:
    • Near the end of Dead Space, you desperately fight to put an artifact back in place on a pedestal to neutralize all the alien monsters on the planet. Then The Mole shows up and steals it away, mocking you. Not five minutes later, said Mole is smashed into paste by the monster that would have left everyone alone if the artifact hadn't been disturbed.
    • In Dead Space 2, Daina Le Guin dies about 20 seconds after you find out she was a Unitologist using you the whole time.
  • Disgaea 5 has karma force-feeding Majorita more humble pie than she can stomach. At the game's onset, Majorita is running a manhunt for Usalia after cursing her, taking over her Netherworld (Toto Bunny), exploiting it for manpower, killing her parents, and raising them as zombies to torture her further, on top of committing all sorts of atrocities in Void Dark's name. Over the course of the game, not only does Usalia devolve the curse into her Overload and take back Toto Bunny, but Void Dark uses his own Overload to throttle Majorita's out of her before killing her and reviving her as a zombie. Even the post-game is unkind to her; Majorita does come back to life as a living being... but she had to prepare one of her own curses in advance to do so, and the curse in question requires her to "fulfill the wishes of the one who hates her the most", and Majorita knows exactly who that is and what that entails. As one of Seraphina's skits would say: Karma is a bitch, plip!
  • Dishonored has an entire achievement revolving around eliminating your targets non-lethally, aptly named "Poetic Justice". High Overseer Campbell, the most corrupt member of his order, can be branded with a special brand that makes him a public outcast, the corrupt aristocrats Morgan and Custis Pendleton can be abducted by a street gang, who will shave them, cut out their tongues, and put them to work in their own silver mine, and Lady Boyle can be delivered to her stalker. The crowning example, though, is Lord Regent Hiram Burrows. By playing his audio diary over the city's PSA system, it exposes his role in not only the empress's assassination but also the rat plague that's been devastating Dunwall, for the whole city to hear.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • In the Dwarf Noble origin, Lord Harrowmont is a Reasonable Authority Figure who will support your character if you were falsely accused and puts his political career on the line to try and save your life (although he ultimately fails because your accuser was one step ahead). You later return to Orzammar and find him deadlocked in a battle for the throne with your accuser, and have the option of handing him the crown.
    • If you spare Loghain and allow him to live, he's a Grey Warden and is being shipped off to Orlais after Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. Loghain hates Orlais.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, Mages Guild Stewardess Ranis Athrys has a very With Us or Against Us, Join or Die attitude toward any mages who do not join the Mages Guild. Several of her quests involve convincing some of these outside mages to join the Guild, and in most cases, simply killing the outsider mage satisfies Ranis. During the quest to root out a Telvanni spy, you can lie and say that Ranis is the spy. She'll be immediately expelled from the Guild.
    • Skyrim:
      • The sidequest villain Arondil, who is a Necromancer and a necrophile. After being kicked out of Dawnstar for lusting after women there, he decided to retreat to the tomb of Yngvild and start kidnapping women, murdering them, and raising them from the dead with magic so he could keep them as undead Sex Slaves. If you've been to Rannveig's Fast previously and encountered the Apologetic Attacker ghosts there, you know that ghosts are fully conscious but unable to control their actions. One of the best ways the player can dispose of him is, instead of confronting him directly, to simply run back to his chamber and remove the soul gem controlling the ghostly women — doing this causes them to go berserk and tear him to shreds.
      • Between Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, the Dunmer (Dark Elf) people get hit with this. The post-Red Year invasion of Morrowind by the Argonians is a result of the Dunmer's own centuries of raiding Black Marsh for slaves. Admitted by a member of House Telvanni in a posthumous letter to his son:
        Lymdrenn Telvanni: "The irony of our demise glows brighter than Masser on the summer solstice. We brought this upon ourselves; the Argonians simply answering a rallying cry incited by a millennia of suffrage imposed by my kind."
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 2 features an amoral, greedy little twerp named Myron, who thinks he's hot stuff because he invented the highly damaging and highly addictive drug known as Jet and thus is the key for consolidating the Mordino crime family's power in New Reno. Except in practice he's just a petty drug dealer and given an alternate interpretation of a Series Continuity Error made in Fallout 4, it's even possible he never actually invented Jet, he just reverse-engineered a pre-War drug and took the credit. Whatever the case, the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reveals that only a few weeks after the end of the game, he was fatally stabbed to death in a sleazy bar by a Jet addict and the Wasteland immediately forgot all about him.
    • Subverted in Fallout 3. Mr. Crowley gives the player the quest "You Gotta Shoot 'Em in the Head", in which he hires them to kill four supposed Ghoulophobes. He stipulates that they must be shot in the head as a sort of ironic nod to the false belief that ghouls can only be killed that way. He also mentions that three of them have keys that he wants. His actual goal (discoverable via a speech check) is more materially motivated. One of his targets, Alistair Tenpenny, hired Crowley and four other mercenaries years ago to retrieve a rare weapon from Fort Constantine. The heist ended with one of them dead and Crowley also presumed dead. Crowley wants the keys from the surviving mercs in order to enter Fort Constantine and take a valuable suit of power armor. As for Tenpenny, that's played straight; he really is just a bigot who deserves to die.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • In the downloadable content Dead Money, you spend most of the time trying to access a secret pre-war fortress of technology for the insane former elder of the Brotherhood of Steel, Elijah. At the end of the DLC, when you finally access the Sierra Madre Vault, you have the option of talking him into coming down, then simply leaving. Elijah will walk into the vault and try to access what's inside. Then he'll accidentally trigger an event on the computer that traps him inside. There's no way out of there now, he's trapped in there until he dies.
      • The hordes of nightmarish Ghost People are victims of karma. The entire construction crew that was building the Villa around the Casino was pulling a scam; they were cutting every corner possible to make the flimsiest, least safe town ever constructed, and saving a ton of money in the process. Partially as a result of their shoddy construction, a dangerous toxic cloud began building up in the ventilation systems. After the bombs fell, with no one to turn off or repair the vents, the Cloud spewed out unstopped for centuries, and the construction workers can be found shambling around the Villa in a horrid parody of life, still wearing their hazmat suits.

        The hazmat suits themselves are also part of the whole karma play. In order to get back on the costs of the Villa's creation, the client got in contact with a group of crazy amoral scientists, who used the Villa as a test lab for their newest creations, one of them being the hazmat suits, which were made of an experimental material and could seal people inside them because contact with the cloud quickly corroded the seals. This means the workers who were trapped in the cloud were unable to get out of the suits because of the client having to get back money that the workers displaced.
      • Caesar's Legion don't like women very much, and will tell your female Courier to her face that she should Stay in the Kitchen. She can potentially: Kill the frumentarii and all his bodyguards in Nipton; kill all the elite Legion assassins sent to do her in; wipe out the slaving camp at Cottonwood Cove; slaughter various Legion patrols; lead the NCR to take the town of Nelson from them; repel an attack on Bitter Springs; destroy the Fiends and kill all their leaders, and dig out the Legion spy at Camp McCarran. After you reach Vegas itself, she can kill Alerio after he tries to give you the Mark of Caesar, foil the Omertas plan to attack the Strip, sever the Legion's alliance with the Great Khans, unite all the factions of the Mojave against them either under the banner of the NCR or under an Independent Vegas, upgrade and activate an entire army of elite killbots sitting right underneath their main fort, personally rampage through their base, slaughtering their troops by the truckload and even possibly killing Caesar himself, and even launch nuclear strikes at their cities out East. Several characters, such as Astor, relish in the irony of one woman single-handedly breaking the backs of an entire civilisation of hardcore rapist misogynists.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • You have a sort-of example with Tonberry enemies, which cast a spell called "Everyone's Grudge" (varies from game to game) which does damage that scales with how many of their friends you've murdered.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has a good few, given its nature as an MMO. To name one example, Teledji Adeledji, one of the leading Monetarists of Ul'dah, is a massive Smug Snake with delusions of grandeur. His mask of concern and generosity fully comes off during the final cutscenes before the Heavensward expansion, as he gloats to an utterly shattered Raubahn about Nanamo's (assumed) death by poisoning. This was an unwise idea; Raubahn, assuming Teledji was responsible (which he wasn't, admittedly, but had tons of motive), rushes him in a colossal rage and chops the little bastard in half, to the delight of nearly every player.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: The demise of the Big Bad Ashnard. An unlockable cutscene in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn reveals that the man who was in charge of strategy for the battle where he lost was the son he abandoned as an infant, all grown up. Additionally, the man who kills him was the person who, through being nice to said son, gained his Undying Loyalty forever. If Ashnard hadn't abandoned his son, the two of them likely wouldn't even have met, let alone be working together to cause his demise.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has a Running Gag wherein Setsuna tends to fall into pits and get stuck in traps. When paired with Jakob, Jakob constantly expresses his frustration for her getting stuck in pits all the damn time and for having to rescue her from them. Naturally their "A" support begins with Jakob stuck inside a pit, and Setsuna rescues him. (...after she jumps in with him.)
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, those who slither in the dark experimented on Edelgard and her siblings when they were children, killing all of them but her to imbue one of them with the Crest of Flames to turn her into a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb. In all of the routes but Azure Moon, she's able to get revenge on them - after conquering Fodlan, she directly turns on them in Crimson Flower, and in Verdant Wind and Silver Snow, she gets the last laugh from beyond the grave thanks to a letter from her Dragon Hubert alerting the protagonists to their existence and allowing them to put a stop to their plans for good.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Grand Theft Auto IV has this. At one point late in the game, you can choose to either help a man who once betrayed you with a large heroin deal (you're ordered to do so by a mafia boss), or just kill the guy for revenge. Whichever choice you make though, you end up paying for it dearly. If you help with the H deal, not only do you get double-crossed again, but your cousin gets killed. If you go and kill the guy who betrayed you, the mafia boss that ordered you to work with him comes along and shoots your girlfriend. During a wedding. The mission that follows this lets the player get their turn at inflicting some Laser-Guided Karma, thus subverting Heads I Win, Tails You Lose.
    • Steve Haines in Grand Theft Auto V is the quintessential government scumbag that these kinds of games love to produce. Most of the jobs that the three protagonists end up doing for him revolve around him doing something against the IAA to get funding for the FIB, which includes torturing an innocent man that did nothing to deserve it, shoot up the office with a sniper rifle resulting in the deaths of multiple agents, and various other activities that culminate in them bombing the FIB headquarters in order to remove incriminating information that they have on him. This later turns out to not be enough, as he's led into a setup that results in him getting shot in the leg. This isn't the end, though, as in the game's Golden Ending he's killed.
  • Kindergarten:
    • If you're careless in ratting a student out, this can happen to you. If Cindy is present when you present a dead dog in Nugget's cave to Ms. Applegate, she will be enraged thinking you've killed hers and will kill you. And then Ms. Applegate will give her a gold star for getting rid of you.
    • In the secret ending of Kindergarten 2, Ted Huxley starts getting dusted Infinity War-style. His twin brother Felix openly cheers at this, remarking that it saves him the trouble of doing it himself, and Ted dies having just found out that his own brother never cared about him. Then the second wave of deaths comes and Felix suffers a far messier fate, using his final words to beg Ted to come back.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 absolutely love punishing egotistical behaviour on higher difficulties. The game actually actively spawns Special Infected next to people that wander off on their own to scavenge some pills or who think they can survive on their own. Chargers in particular have a reputation for this. Rumour also has it that "teabagging" a downed or dead teammate spawns a couple of hordes which home in on you.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, at the end of the first game, Crow assassinates Giliath Osborne by shooting him in the heart. In Cold Steel II, Crow is impaled through his heart by the Disc-One Final Boss. He even acknowledges this as karma.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Little Nightmares:
    • The Janitor is a Super-Persistent Predator to Six, especially in his Lair. He is ultimately defeated because of said Lair, as his rooms are disorganized and unkempt, allowing Six to evade and distract him, and in his persistence to capture Six, he ultimately loses his arms and with them the ability to do his job.
    • By the end of the game, Six gains cannibalistic darkness powers and eats the owner and clients of the cannibalistic restaurant the game takes place in.
  • Wily's plot in Mega Man 10 is to infect all robots with the Roboenza virus, using the promise of a cure to lure any robots that haven't been driven berserk by it into serving him. By the time you defeat him, it turns out that Wily's fallen ill himself (possibly with actual Influenza) and needs to be taken to a hospital.
  • The Metroid franchise:
    • At the end of Metroid II: Return of Samus, Samus spares a baby Metroid that imprinted upon her as its mother. In Super Metroid, the Metroid returns the favor by not draining Samus to death, and then sacrificing itself to save her life in the fight against Mother Brain, triggering the mother of all Mama Bear moments from Samus, who, by the way, now has the Hyper Beam.
    • Another cross-game example: Remember those cute critters that taught you how to shinespark and wall-climb in Super Metroid? At the end of Super Metroid you can take some time off your busy schedule of escaping the self-destructing planet and help them reach their own ship (it's the small dot flying away from Zebes in the ending cinematic). These critters appear again in the middle of Metroid Fusion trapped in a research habitat, and Samus saves them once more; after which, they return the favor by saving your ship from the rampaging Omega Metroid, allowing you to escape the doomed space station.
  • In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, one of the Uruks you recruit as part of the campaign, Bruz, betrays you and takes control of a fort you just captured. Later on as part of the story, you shame Bruz, breaking his mind like a twig until he is reduced to a shell of an orc complaining about how he never wanted your fort. If you find him later, you can not only recruit him back into your army, but assign him as overlord of one of your forts, forcing him to protect it, even as he keeps crying about how much he doesn't want the fort.
  • Minecraft: When a Griefer laying TNT on someone's build accidentally sets it off while still on the scene, often through an accident with the flint and steel.
  • Sirrus and Achenar rightfully fall prey to this in Myst. After pulling off their scheme to trap their parents in books, they wind up trapped in prison books themselves. To extend the karma even further, in Myst III: Exile, after trapping Saavedro for 20 years, Sirrus and Achenar remain in their respective prisons for the same amount of time.
  • Persona 5:
    • Most of the major targets end up foiled at the hands of the same people they tried to prove their dominance over, but none get it as bad as Masayoshi Shido. A Corrupt Politician who spent his entire political campaign assassinating or ruining the lives of anyone who ever inconvenienced him, he's personally pissed off every playable character (save Morgana) by the time you fight him. He compares his campaign to an unsinkable ship and justifies his actions with "a small leak will sink me", not realizing that his pettiness created enough leaks to sink the ship he's so proud of. His entire campaign is ruined because an insult to his pride that he trampled on and forgot about came back and dismantled his entire operation.
    • Yamauchi, one of the few corrupt adults who doesn't get his heart stolen, plans on using Takeishi's mother, the president of the PTA, to help him become coach of the track team, making her son captain to secure her cooperation before making him suffer a Career-Ending Injury to make way for a better captain. Once Mrs. Takeishi finds out, she and the rest of the PTA get together and thwart his plan.
  • Phantom Brave: At one point in the game, Marona is hired to stop Raphael from wreaking havoc in a village, only to discover that it was an impostor using his name. After the job is complete, the person who offered the job uses Loophole Abuse to cheat Marona out of her pay, stating that, regardless of who was actually behind the trouble, the job explicitly said to stop Raphael. As it turns out, the real Raphael, who showed up during the fight and helped Marona stop the fake, overhears the entire exchange and promptly goes on a rampage through the town for real. To further add to the karma, Marona refuses to stop Raphael when the man asks her to and leaves.
  • Pilgrim (RPG Maker): In the My Sister end, Alice gets stabbed to death by Akemi just as she is about to take Akemi's soul.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: The shopkeeper Kecleon has a random bazaar in dungeons selling various goods that can be picked up and he'll ask for payment. You can easily steal them if you want, but karma will have a funny thing to say about that: Literal endless waves of super high-level Kecleon with high speed swarm the floor, all with a direct bead on your location, and proceed to curb stomp you. And if you thought you could sneak a few stolen items past the respawn, the Kecleon will replace every last item with worthless plain seeds. "Thank you for coming, I'll see you in hell!". In the first installment, this scenario even has its own theme. However, doing this is also the only way to recruit a Kecleon.
  • Punch-Out!! (Wii) has Aran Ryan, who has two signature illegal moves: a headbutt and, in Title Defense, a glove on a rope that he uses when he gets knocked down. Countering the former with a 3-Star Punch or the latter with any Star Punch will KO him instantly.
  • In The Reconstruction, Yacatec is a slave trader who sells his own race into slavery, but he's revealed to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold due to Love Redeems. After the apocalypse, his wife is murdered, and he himself is enslaved by the si'shra.
  • In the prologue of Resident Evil 4, you can choose to rescue a stray dog from a bear trap. Most players do this solely due to the dog's Woobie-ness, to be rewarded when he jumps into their fight with El Gigante, distracting him and making the fight easier.
  • In the scenario of "Battle of Okehazama" in Samurai Warriors 2, a dying Yoshimoto threatens Dark Lord Nobunaga with a speech about Karma that will eventually find him and make him suffer a painful defeat. Nobunaga's answer?
    Nobunaga: ...I cannot wait.....
  • Especially common in adventure games by Sierra such as Quest for Glory and King's Quest, being based on The Hero's Journey and Mega Crossover Fairy Tales respectively. Kill a rare flower? You'll eventually get turned into one. Fail to stop a cat from attacking a rat? Well, now who's going to chew through your ropes?
  • The Mystery of the Mooil Rig Downloadable Content for Sunset Overdrive provides a fairly blatant example with Corrupt Corporate Executive Gwyneth, who attempted to turn the rig's workers into OD after they threatened to unionize. Shortly after her introduction, she is smashed into paste by a tentacle from the DL Sea Monster. Her bloody remains even spell out the word "Karma" on the deck of her ship.
  • The Talos Principle: Humanity as a whole received this when it suffered extinction due to a virus released by global warming.
  • In Undertale, Sans weaponizes this against you in the Genocide Route, along with breaking practically every rule in the battle system. At one point in the fight, he'll offer to spare you and give you a hug, saying he knows there's some good in you somewhere. He's damn lying. What makes this Laser-Guided Karma is this is the exact same way you killed his Nice Guy brother Papyrus earlier in the game. If you are on the Genocide path when you meet him, he always spares you right away, hoping to turn you around. And you killed him in one hit. You Bastard!
  • WarioWare: In WarioWare Gold, after Wario has stolen Luxeville's golden pot, which is really the village toilet, made all of his friends do all the work for his video game tournament and attempted to run off with all of the money as Wario Deluxe, Karma comes back to bite him...hard.
    • First, the Hero of Luxeville, Lulu, defeats Wario Deluxe with the help of the player and steals back the toilet.
    • Then, all of Wario's employees arrive and he attempts to run away with the money, only for Young Cricket to catch him and dangle him off the ground by the overalls.
    • Lastly, upon finding that he already spent most of the money, all of the employees divide what little money remains between themselves.
  • World of Warcraft: When the Alliance and Horde tried to halt the Legion at the Broken Shore, it was a disaster for both. Heroes were slain, the armies were destroyed, and survivors were forced to limp back home while the mostly-unscathed Legion was laughing in their faces. Then came patch 7.2, known to players as Round 2. As the intro shows, the tables have turned, with dozens of troops from all the class orders and races, including some that aren't even technically part of the Alliance and Horde, joining the players as they bum-rush the beachhead of the Broken Shore, pushing the Legion back a good 1/3 of the zone in a show of unity not seen since the Battle for Mt. Hyjal. All the while, demon commanders are shouting This Cannot Be!, and Khadgar is celebrating the rousing success, proving once again that nothing stands in the way of a united Azeroth.
    • Come the Shadowlands expansion, there's a lich in Maldraxxus named Scrapper Minoire who sends players to a group of brokers in order to acquire a potion that will give her an unfair edge against her opponents in the arena. Upon drinking the potion, she instead transforms into a helpless slime, and is forced to forfeit her spot due to her newfound condition.
  • In Yakuza 2, Kazuma helping out a fun-loving old lady with item quests will allow him to learn some useful fighting techniques, and eventually discover that she is in fact the former martial arts instructor of a Triad leader he fought in the first game.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Eden of Grisaia: It was series villain Heath Oslo who taught the basics of knife combat to protagonist Yuuji, as well as the fact that anything with a sharp point can be used as a deadly weapon. It's a method that Yuuji used often when he was still a brainwashed child soldier/assassin of Oslo, killing several of his targets with a ballpoint pen. At the climactic confrontation of the two at the end of the novel, Yuuji puts this knowledge to good use when killing Oslo, by stabbing him in the eye with a ballpoint pen.
  • Averted much more often than not in Katawa Shoujo (which is interesting in itself, because even good Visual Novels tend to invoke this trope way too often), but there are still a few examples.
    • Act 1's bad ending and Lilly's entire path are this. Following Lilly's path, Hisao manages to pull a good end only if he was completely open to Lilly on three separate occasions during the story - and his way of doing so isn't related to any of those occasions.
    • An interesting variation in Shizune's story, where a single bad act (which can be a romance-ruiner in itself so very much) committed by Hisao doesn't, in fact, have any direct grave consequences, but another practically unrelated chain of events appears and eventually leads to a bad ending.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Masaru offered up the Momoi Department people as sacrifices to summon Tsukuyomi and have it grant his wish. When he died along with them, he became Tsukuyomi itself, forced to live a life of torment until Akira and co. take care of him.

    Web Comics 
  • Blip:
    • One guy trying to slip some roofies to a succubus ends up getting drained by her.
    • The children at Hester's summer camp could have saved themselves some future therapy bills and mental trauma had they been actually nice to Hester. As it stands, their hazing of the red-headed witch is directly linked to their terrorizing by a vampire.
  • In Dead Winter, Arlen insists on kicking Liz, Alice, Monday, and Lou out of his shelter (in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse)—and as if that wasn't dickish enough, he also steals the keys to Lou's van. Then the hitman Sixgun comes looking for Monday, and the van out front convinces him that Monday is inside the shelter. Arlen attempts to bar Sixgun's entrance, and just gets shot.
  • A Loonatic's Tale: Not a villainous example, but certainly notable: Dr. Chester is mean to everyone, and the degree to which he is mean is in inverse proportion to how much they need someone to be nice to them (so to his bosses, he's merely surly, but to Dr. Qubert or his own patients, he's actively derisive and hostile). As a result nothing ever goes his way — machines won't work, his bosses wonder why they hired his useless butt, and his coworkers have nothing nice to say either to or about him.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • After conquering the hometown of the paladins, Redcloak loses his eye to a paladin that he had tortured in order to gain information about a plan for which he had, in Start of Darkness, murdered his own brother, who himself had lost an eye to a paladin of the same order who helped conquer Redcloak's hometown. It's like a karma palindrome. For bonus points, it's the other eye! And afterwards, when Xykon's phylactery is falling, it bounces off the statue of Redcloak, hitting the same eye he lost! For double bonus points, Redcloak, as a cleric, has access to the Regenerate spell that would let him get the eyeball back... but Xykon forbids him from ever using it so that he'll always have a reminder of his failure.
    • In the first fight with the Linear Guild, the guild disables the cleric and moments later loses their own. Roy even says, "I think karma just evened that score."
    • From the same fight, Nale falling off the bridge that he ordered destroyed. And lampshaded again with "Karma-riffic!"
    • Vaarsuvius unleashes a spell called Familicide that wipes out an enormous number of black dragons and their descendants. Turns out the Draketooth clan that guards one of the gates is descended from a black dragon, wiping out the clan and leaving the gate unguarded.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the exact moment Cloney tries to bite off Aylee's head, Torg chops Cloney's head right off.
  • Unordinary: Sera views this as something that happened to herself. By remaining ignorant to those around her when she was the school's powerful Ace, karma came back to bite her in the ass when the Wellston mid-tiers she's been ignoring and possibly harming decide to kidnap and beat her up after she's been depowered.
  • In Urban Underbrush:
  • In Weak Hero, Gray's a fan of taking down his opponents in ways that are based off their own bullying techniques:
    • Teddy starts off his bullying of Gray by dumping cola on him, dunking his schoolbag into water, and marking his back with a giant black X. When Gray retaliates, he does so by soaking Teddy's prized backpack in the rain, knocking him out with a cola can, and then topping off with the X across his back.
    • When taking down Oswald's gang after they hospitalise Stephen, Gray makes use of the safety pin Stephen gifted him to restrain Oswald, and then wraps them all up in the tape that Stephen used to use, and which got him made fun of by the gang.
  • In WTF Comics, Nikisha (a Dark Elf Dark Action Girl working as an assassin for the villains) helps an imprisoned child she was supposed to be guarding escape. The same child promptly acts as a Character Witness and prevents the heroes from killing her. That is not enough; the Big Good happens to meet her shortly after and gives her advice on how to protect herself from the Big Bad. Karmariffic, indeed.

    Web Original 
  • In one D&D story, described in the "Barbarians: The true masters of the Mind" demotivator image, a barbarian ended up dying, with a psion character mocking him by stating this is why he kills with his brain: to not get killed back. Since the barbarian had Diehard, he decided to kill the monster who gravely injured him by throwing his brain at it. He missed and ended up hitting a psion, inflicting huge amount of damage to him, killing him in process.
    Psion player: ...You killed me.
    Barbarian player: [nods] With my brain.
    [Everybody is in Stunned Silence, then they all, minus the psion player, burst into laughter]
    Psion player: I! HATE! YOU! SO! MUCH!
  • Achievement Hunter:
    • In the Let's Play of Far Cry 3, a lot of the gang gets hit with this constantly. Incidents include Jack getting ran over by a truck twice after he reveals that he refused to help Ray with being attacked by a dog, Ray getting attacked by a dog for taunting Jack over being run over by the truck, and Michael getting attacked by a dog when he says that the dogs were attacking him because he was Puerto Rican.
    • In the Let's Play Grand Theft Auto V series, Ryan enjoys being a dick and trying to mow down everyone during certain events (especially the Heist episodes). Karma will usually come back and bite him hard.
    • A particularly poignant example is in their Let's Play of "Bidiots". Jeremy, already lined up to make a modest profit on one of his drawings but looking to make a couple extra bucks, bids up his own drawing then sneakily tries to use a Screw to force someone else to outbid him. This would have worked finenote  if the person he chose to Screw hadn't been Gavin, who had already been Screwed into purchasing several other drawings already, leaving him nearly broke and unable to top Jeremy's bid, invalidating the Screw. As a result, Jeremy's Screw is thrown out and, with no one lifting a finger to bail him out, Jeremy is forced to buy his own artwork for an exorbitant amount while also forfeiting his artist's commission for the drawing.
    • In their Let's Play Minecraft videos, this is present all the time. One example is Episode 9, where the crew must build the Tower of Pimps, which consists of three blocks of gold. Gavin is the first to place a piece of the tower and is in the lead since no one else has placed a piece or is even close to making their first one. After dying and losing his map, he decides to kill Michael, then Ray, but neither of them had any maps. So he then decides to attack Geoff... who proceeds to kick Gavin's ass in real life, and then, for good measure, steals the gold Gavin was carrying with him. Gavin continues to mine for materials (and gold) to renew his attack Geoff, only to die each time and lose more gold he had mined, inadvertently giving Geoff the win. Which is then Lampshaded by Geoff.
    • There was also the time where AH and Fun Haus played a few rounds of Smite, with FH not realizing that AH swapped out their usual team in favor of their more video game-competent "B Team", creaming them. In response, when they came back to play Overwatch, FH brought in Cloud 9, a professional e-sports team. The Curb-Stomp Battle was so bad, Geoff Ramsay had to call in his daughter Millie to save face!
  • In the Bad Call TV episode "What's in a Name?", both of the executives that oppose changing the name of Ayds Candy in light of the growing AIDS crisis wind up dying of AIDS.
  • Battle for Dream Island: Pencil's downfall in "Reveal Novum". After 6 episodes of being a complete Jerkass, Pencil still hasn't been booted from the game, because she is rarely up for elimination. In the episode, she wins the challenge, triumphing over such threatening enemies as Rocky and David... Then, because of the double-digit point system, she falls to the bottom of the scoreboard and finally gets ejected from the game.
  • Bitey is usually the victim of this in the Brackenwood series. This is mostly because he keeps being a total Jerkass to the many peaceful animals of Brackenwood. However in a twist, in "The Last of the Dashkin", it's revealed that some of those sweet little animals may be just as deserving of that karma as Bitey.
  • Dreamscape: After putting Keela in the hospital from going overboard during their fight in the tournament, Vampire Lord is subject to a mauling by Anjren's pet polar bear as payback.
  • In Noob, Omega Zell, in addition to being a misogynist with three female guildmates, also has quite a few cruel words for Sparadrap. Guess what happens when he gets into his dream guild through the back door, hence angering its female recruiter, teams up with the recruiter in question, and pretty much ends up being The Load.
  • While she's too oblivious to see it as such, The Nostalgia Chick has gotten her disregard for the privacy of others thrown back at her a few times, like Obscurus Lupa hiding in her bed or Nella popping up next to her out of nowhere.
  • The Runaway Guys:
    • The Runaway Guys are struck by this in episode 8 of New Super Mario Bros. Wii when ProtonJon is attempting to guide the others through the fortress, and JoshJepson decides to have a little fun...
    • They have another occurrence in their very first project, the classic Mario Party for Nintendo 64. Towards the end of the first part of Luigi's Engine Room, when Jon gets a Poison Mushroom, Chugga chimes in with this:
      Chugga: Hey, Jon. Hey, Jon. Don't eat the mushroom.
      Jon: ...I hate your face.
      [Chugga laughs, NCS groans]
      NCS: Man, talk about perfect timing!
      Chugga: I was saving that joke!
      Jon: I like how you scripted jokes for— to say—
      Chugga: Well, I just thought of it on the plane!
      Jon: You thought of it on the wa— You literally have thought of this for days! You've been waiting days to make a "Don't eat the mushroom" reference!
      Chugga: Well, I guess I knew it would bug you! I knew it would bug you, that's why I did it.
    One turn later, Chugga gets a Warp Block ("NOOOOOO!"), switches places with Jon ("NOOOOOO!"), and also gets a poison mushroom ("NOOOOOO!"). NCS bursts out laughing while, naturally, Jon remarks with a mocking tone, "HEY, CHUGGA! DON'T EAT THE MUSHROOM! I HEAR IT'S BAD FOR YOU!"
    • Another moment occurs in their playthrough of Kirbys Return To Dreamland. Early on in one of the final levels, Chugga and NCS are trapped on a collapsing bridge and end up falling. NCS dies and loses a life, but Chuuga just barely manages to fly back up in time. Even though Chugga is playing Kirby and him dying would force all three to restart the level, Jon starts getting exceptionally trollish and is upset that Chugga survived, wishing that he'd also fallen to his death while making a Dead Artists Are Better joke, all to Chugga's annoyance. Immediately after this happens, Jon flies too low and crashes into a platform made of lava, causing him to fall to his death.
  • The RWBY franchise:
    • RWBY: A grander example than usual. The man who would become known as Ozpin failed to stop Salem's evil plots. The gods therefore cursed him to keep fighting her, forever. Thousands of years later, he considers this a perfectly fitting punishment. Of course, as with everything else regarding this character, it turns out to be quite a bit more complicated than he claimed. Ozma was Salem's lover until he died of a mundane disease. Salem entreated the gods to resurrect him, and even tricked them into doing so briefly, but was punished for her hubris with Complete Immortality. When she raised a rebellion against the gods, she was punished further by having all of humanity wiped out, leaving her alone. It was only when humanity managed to return, in a lesser state, that Ozma was pulled from the afterlife and given the opportunity to redeem humanity. He was reincarnated, found Salem, and they raised a family together. But when he realized that Salem planned to start a Master Race of their children and kill everyone else, he tried to take the children away. Ozma and Salem fought, the children died, and Ozma was reincarnated again. So while it was a karmic punishment, it wasn't really as simple as the gods directly punishing him for his mistakes, as he originally said.
    • RWBY Chibi: In "Happy BirthdayWeen", Ruby acts like everything should go her way and everyone should do what she wants because it's her birthday, up to and including forcing Team JNPR to give her their Halloween candy as a present and stealing an entire bowl of candy left out by Dr. Oobleck. By the end of the skit, the rest of Team RWBY has gotten sick of it; when Ruby tries to convince them to buy a Halloween costume for her, they dress her up as a trash can, complete with a sign saying "TRASH".
  • Back in 2008 during the midnight launch of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, ScrewAttack members Craig and Ben went to their local Gamestop to auction off an early copy of the game they had received, with the proceeds going to charity. At one point a customer in line for the game objected to having his face on camera and angrily ordered them to turn it off. (His face was edited out with a paper bag with a frowny face reading "I don't want my face on camera".) Eventually, he accused them of assault and called the cops. When they showed up and the guys gave their side of the story, the cops turned around and arrested the guy who called them.
  • Share My Story: Clara and Brandon both get hit with this:
    • Clara dumped, cheated on, and humiliated her boyfriend just to date this cool ladykiller, only for her to be cheated on and humiliated as well before they break up.
    • It is implied that the only reason Brandon wanted Clara in the first place was to spite the protagonist. After winning Clara over, they end up having a lot of problems in their relationship and it's implied that he was miserable with Clara for months and cheated on her constantly as a result.
  • In Soylent Scrooge, after making a meal of Marley's remains, Scrooge finds it gave him killer food poisoning.
  • Many episodes of SuperMarioLogan have Bowser Junior do something bad and try to cover it up, only to fail miserably. One notable example is in the episode "Bowser Junior's Clown Car!", wherein Junior breaks a table with Bowser's old clown car and gets sent to Military School for it.
  • Team Four Star:
    • Played for laughs in the Let's Play of Left 4 Dead 2 custom campaign "I Hate Mountains". During the rescue, they remind each other to remember the lessons learned when they played "Hard Rain". After a Beat, they start shooting Kaiser Neko, who was the Sole Survivor of "Hard Rain"note . When the rest of the group runs to the escape plane, a Tank appears and starts kicking their butts; they instantly declare it the Karma Tank (though two of them still manage to get away).
    • In Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged, Lanipator gets hit twice with this during part 3 of "Blood Harvest". At one point Takahata has been incapped and KaiserNeko asks if anyone wants to help him. Lani just says he's shooting Taka. A Charger then attacks Lani. Later, Ganxingba gets trapped by fire and Lani decides to throw a gas can and a propane tank to make it worse. He's then grabbed by a smoker. In both instances, he calls it karma.
    • In a Serious Sam 3: BFE mission, Lani makes a joke about fat people and is blown up seconds later. He calmly admits that was karma.
  • In the Yogscast Minecraft Series, Simon jokingly sets fire to the Yogcave, then stands around yakking while Lewis panics trying to put the flames out. Moments later, Simon is "accidentally" knocked into a deep underground pit. He climbs out and promptly burns to death. Later, when he's respawned and the fire's gone out, he wanders out the back door... and triggers a booby trap and blows up.


Karmō canicula est.lat 
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Bad Karma

Laser-Guided Karma gets taken to the logical extreme.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

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