No protagonist is perfect. Every man, woman, child, or person of ambiguous or nonstandard gender brings their own unique flaws and difficulties to their role in a story. Often stories will be about a protagonist's struggles to overcome these flaws. However, whether they succeed or fail, many of them will experience at least one Moment of Weakness. That instant in which their emotions or the stress of a situation goes past critical and causes a thoughtless reaction that they would never have if they were thinking clearly.
A Moment of Weakness can come and go, but will usually be recognized very quickly by the perpetrating protagonist. The typical response is usually one of two extremes. Either they'll wonder with horror "My God, What Have I Done?" and try to atone for it or it will be the first step in a running jump off the slippery slope. On occasion, you can even get someone who realizes the horror of their action, but not have that be enough to stop the leap.
To mitigate the potentially subjective nature of this trope: A Moment of Weakness is a single moment in which a character's emotions or stress levels run so high that they act contrary to their usual nature. This action almost always causes damage of some kind, most commonly to someone or something the protagonist truly cares about. This is one cause of OOC Is Serious Business. Do not be surprised if an Oh, Crap! follows.
It is not necessarily something that the character will look back on as My Greatest Failure after the fact, but chances are that they definitely will be thinking of and agonizing over it as one of their more serious personal mistakes.
See My God, What Have I Done? for more long-term examples and Start of Darkness when the Moment of Weakness sends them the other way. If a rash action during such a moment leads to tragedy, see A Tragedy of Impulsiveness. Can potentially result in Insult Friendly Fire or Kick the Morality Pet. Compare In Vino Veritas, when this sort of thing can happen due to drunkenness, and Too Desperate to Be Picky, where they violate their own personal standards for the sake of a need. Contrast Sudden Principled Stand.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Gohan considers the moment when he cowered behind a rock instead of attacking Nappa back in the Vegeta arc to be this. Moments afterward, Tien dies, and he blames himself for not being strong enough to prevent it. Worse, Piccolo agrees with him and chews him out even more, nearly dismissing him. Even in the Cell arc in the anime, it's shown that he still feels guilt over this, enough for it, and his other insecurities, to push him into a Super Saiyan transformation for the first time.
- Gohan has another when he lets his Super Saiyan 2-fueled bloodthirst get the better of him during his fight with Cell. Rather than finish Cell off, he decides to drag it out and torture the bioweapon. This leads to Cell getting desperate and self-destructing, forcing Goku to perform a Heroic Sacrifice.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: For Joseph Joestar, it was cheating on his wife and having an illegitimate son, then spending the next 16 years being a Disappeared Dad to said son.
- Code Geass: Lelouch boasted that if he had to abandon his conscience to exact revenge, he'd discard it — mere minutes before abandoning the people who were relying on him to go search for his little sister during the 1st Assault on the Tokyo Settlement (quite literally as soon as he started it).
- Saki's Hajime Kunihiro gave in to the urge to use sleight of hand to win a Mahjong tournament in grade school. Even into high school this act haunts her, undermining her confidence to play without doing so. This is the reason she's Chained by Fashion and wears handcuffs much of the time.
- Bitter Virgin:
- Daisuke found himself falling for Hinako. But when she obliviously gives him a Just Friends line, he angrily blurts out that he knows her dark secrets. He gets lucky that Hinako wasn't actually listening to him at that moment but is horribly ashamed of himself afterward.
- Same with his childhood friend Yuzu, she accidentally overhears Hinako's dark secret. At first she is willing to keep it to herself but after hearing that Daisuke has already confessed to her, she blurts it out. She feels utterly horrified at herself when she discovers that not only is Hinako right behind her, but that Daisuke already knew.
- Ling in Fullmetal Alchemist knowingly makes a Deal with the Devil and allows himself to become the new Greed because of his obsession with gaining immortality. It overlaps with An Offer You Can't Refuse because Ling would have died otherwise and Greed later did a HeelFace Turn, so that it ultimately wasn't a bad decision.
- During the Water Seven arc of One Piece, while having a heated argument with Usopp, Luffy blurted out that if Usopp didn't like the way he did things then he should just leave the crew. Sanji immediately stepped in to shut Luffy up, and Luffy apologized as soon as he realized what he'd said. But the damage had been done, Usopp took Luffy at his word, and (temporarily) left the crew.
- My Hero Academia shows one for Rei Todoroki during a flashback in the Sports Festival. In it, she's talking to her mother over the phone about how her husband, Pro hero Endeavor, has been abusing her and her children, to a point that her son Shoto's left side only reminds her of him. She openly states that she thinks she's losing it. The second an eavesdropping Shoto makes himself known, we only see the all-consuming terror and hatred in her eyes before she empties a boiling kettle of water on Shoto's face.
- Inverted in Nichijou when Yuko throws a compliment to Mio while the two are having a fierce (read: Mundane Made Awesome) argument, which leads to the whole thing defusing.
- Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica is consistently shown trying to take advantage of such moments to score a Magical Girl contract. This is, in fact, how he recruited Mami and Sayaka.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the filler Doma arc, Yami does this when he faces off against Raphael for the first time and ends up getting the Orichalcos card after Raphael plays a card that forces them to switch each others hands. As Raphael repeatedly chips away at Yugi's lifepoints and backs him into a corner. Yami, against Yugi's protests, play the Orichalcos card, desperate to avoid defeat despite there being no risk in losing as long as the Orichalcos card isn't played. While it gives him an advantage, he constantly sacrifices his monsters to do so. This leads to falling right into Raphael's tactics and losing both the duel and Yugi's soul who went in his place as the seal only needed one of them. Needless to say Yami has a Heroic BSoD for awhile after that.
- Cardfight!! Vanguard:
- Aichi Sendou has his moment following a Break the Cutie incident revolving around Kai walking out on Team Q4 due to Aichi inadvertantly using Psyqualia. Kai has no idea how to stop it and, as Aichi's been working to become strong enough for Kai to acknowledge him, takes himself out of the picture. That plays right into Ren's hands, who hands Aichi a Shadow Paladin deck, which Aichi can feel the power of due to his ability; resulting in him tossing away the Royal Paladin deck has spent years building, including the Blaster Blade that Kai gave him. For several episodes, Aichi becomes Drunk on the Dark Side and uses tactics that sacrifice his allies, all in the name of his desperation to become stronger quickly - the opposite of his previous and something Aichi would never ordinarily do.
- Happens to Kai during Season 3. When he realizes that both Aichi and Ren have surpassed him in strength he begins to lose direction. It is when Takuto, who has been possessed by Link Joker, tells him throughout a tense fight that the power of Link Joker will grant him the strength he desires. Kai gives in and becomes Reversed. He then goes on to Reverse many other cardfighters. All of this is in the pursuit of becoming the strongest so he can defeat Aichi and Ren.
- In Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, an argument between Sukeroku and his master, the Seventh Yakumo, begins heated already, as Sukeroku thinks Rakugo needs to change survive the modern era while Yakumo feels that would be no different than killing it. Between that and a bit of alcohol, the fight starts in earnest when Sukeroku blurts out that Yakumo's rakugo was old-fashioned and boring. From there things escalate into Yakumo taunting Sukeroku with plans to pass his name to Sukeroku's fellow apprentice, Kikuhiko. Sukeroku gets riled up to the point of nearly attacking his master, which gets him expelled.
- Berserk: Given the Dark Fantasy tone of the story, these crop up in abundance due to the Godhand's Reality Warper and Winds of Destiny, Change gambits. Their Beherits activate once their victims reach their lowest point, offering them back everything they've lost along with immortality and power for the tiny cost of damning the person said victim most loves. These deals also include a newly inhuman mindset to ensure that they have no regrets afterward.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender The Search: It's revealed that Ursa choose to have her memories of her life as the former Crown Princess of the Fire Nation erased by the Mother of Faces in order to live her life over with Ikem free of the trauma and pain she suffered under Ozai. This includes the memory of her children despite how much she loved them. After deciding to have her memories restored at the end of the book she is left ashamed of herself that she chose to give up her memories of her children and vows to make up for her mistake with Zuko.
- Black Canary: Implied. During the Cry for Justice & Rise and Fall storylines, Dinah abandons her husband Oliver and her adopted son Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow I (Roy Harper). She left the both of them because Oliver murders Prometheus for destroying Star City and causing the death of his adopted granddaughter Lian, while Roy goes back to using heroin after the pain in his right arm becomes too unbearable because of the infection and the horrible prosthetic Cyborg made, with Dinah officially considering him a lost cause. However, it is hinted that Dinah was traumatized because of the events of the story and was lashing out at them. It is also hinted that Dinah was subconsciously looking for an excuse to abandon them and leave the painful tragedy behind her. In Birds of Prey, it is revealed Dinah harbors a huge amount of guilt for her actions and regrets abandoning them when they needed her the most.
- Iron Man: During the Manhunt comic arc in Iron Man where Tony Stark is framed for the attacks on the Chinese. FBI agent Neil Streich threatens to draw in Pepper Potts and the hospitalized Happy Hogan unless Pepper agrees to cooperate with him. Pepper agrees, and provides Stretch with the code he needs to activate a failsafe which deactivates the Iron Man armor. Pepper is heart broken and horrified when she gives Neil the code and shamefully admits to a comatose Happy that that was the worst thing she could have done to him. When Tony is able to evade capture and clear his name, he forgives Pepper for her betrayal. Pepper breaks down and cries as Tony hugs her, saying "You don't have to say that. You have every right to think I let you down because I did. Stretch got me worried about Happy and I should have been stronger, or cleverer" as Tony says everything is OK.
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: In "The Empire-Builder From Calisota", Scrooge makes the biggest mistake of his life, the only "sharp deal" he ever made, when he hires a group of criminals and thugs to destroy an African village, then tricking their chief, Foola Zoola, into selling the land to him for a pittance. His sisters state at the beginning of the story that Scrooge had gotten increasingly cynical and harsh over the past decade while building his fortune, but this was the only time he outright crossed the line into villainy, and his family abandons him. It's only after some serious introspection that Scrooge realizes what a bastard he's become, and runs off to try and make amends... but it's too late. Foola Zoola has tracked him down first, and sets a zombie carrying a cursed doll after him before running off into the night. Scrooge escapes, but this one moment would come to haunt him for decades.
- The final part of the Revenge of the Green Goblin story, "Trick of the Light," has Peter briefly choose the darkness over light, which Norman is happy to gloat over.
- This is the reasoning Dan Slott gave as to why Doc Ock was the "superior" one during his Battle in the Center of the Mind with Peter Parker in Superior Spider-Man - Peter suffered a Moment of Weakness when he tried to stop Ock from using a device to save a girl that would end up finding him. Octavius is disgusted and uses that justification to erase Peter from his mind.
- In the last arc of 2009 Runaways, Chase, having lost his beloved Old Lace, hits his moment of weakness and threatens to break every bone in Klara's body because she won't stop crying, and thus comes dangerously close to becoming an abuser like his old man. This in turn leads to a moment of weakness from Nico, who uses magic to force Klara to stop crying, because she doesn't want to stand up to Chase. Molly, whose own parents used to use their powers in similar fashion, is NOT pleased by this...
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): In the future story "Swan Song," Radical, who had become Leonardo's Love Interest by that time, is attacked by her Arch-Enemy Complete Carnage, who snaps her neck right in front of Leo. Many years later, Leo, having become a Buddhist monk, tracks Carnage down to Hong Kong, where he has kidnapped several people, intending to forgive him for Radical's murder and free the hostages. During the ensuing fight, Leo tries to persuade Carnage to give up his evil ways and learn to understand the true value of life... but when Carnage gleefully kills one of his hostages and mocks Radical's death to Leo's face, Leo succumbs to his anger and slices Carnage in half, outright declaring that he's not worthy of forgiveness. Immediately afterwards, Leo, acknowledging his weakness, discards his katana and rededicates himself to spiritual cleansing.
- In the Trollhunters spinoff graphic novel Trollhunters: The Secret History of Trollkind, Blinky admits that some of the trolls considered breaking the pact and subsisting on the human passengers on the Mayflower, he refuses to disclose who did so. The same panel shows a hysterical Blinky being the one to propose the idea.
- In his book Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels Peter David discusses how hard it is to pull off this trope in long-running comics. He explains most people would have no problem believing a real-life upstanding, law-abiding person had, after accidentally running over somebody, panic and flee from the scene of the crime. But people are so attached to their favorite fictional characters they would strongly oppose a story saying someone like Mary Jane Watson could do it.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mega has one in episode 8 when he presses Wily's Berserk Button while trying to negotiate with him and Drill Man; he regrets it almost immediately.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic A Taste of the Good Life, Scootaloo unexpectedly reunites with her mother, Ebby, whom she wants nothing to do with due to her having been an emotionally abusive alcoholic. Ebby continually pleads to reconcile, even going so far as to bring in Foal Protective Services. When Scootaloo runs away, Ebby pursues her and winds up hanging from a cliff. Scootaloo, absolutely desperate to have her mother out of her life forever, flat-out refuses to try and help her, leaving her to her fate. Scootaloo soon realizes she went too far and her mother (who was rescued anyway) realizes just how much she's hurt her daughter. This leads to a slow but genuine reconciliation.
- A couple of sidestories of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines have examples of this:
- In the Butterfree Interlude, Ash's Butterfree becomes upset when the group reaches the spot where his species find mates, after having heard the mating Butterfree were caught by criminals. When Ash tries to talk to him, he angrily lashes out, thinking that Ash just dragged him back to his adventure without a care, and leaves in a huff to try and find his mate from the previous timeline. He does find her, but it turns out she's in a relationship with another Butterfree, and she seems happier than she was with him, so he ultimately lets her be. When he comes back, he apologizes to Ash, understanding that he never meant to cause him pain and that he still has a lot to live for.
- In the Hala & Hau Interlude, the former is getting depressed due to how the current generation is losing interest in the trials, as well as Kukui's proposal of creating an Alolan Pokémon League. When he asks Hau if he thinks the trials are getting old-fashioned, Hau says no, despite how appealing a Pokémon League could be. Hala remarks that he never said anything about a League, and thinking that Hau is losing interest in the trials as well, he lashes out on him, even telling him to leave just like his father did years ago over similar disagreements. This scares Hau so much that he almost follows through with it.
- Dirty Little Secrets: Ever since he first developed his Compelling Voice Quirk, Shinso has constantly dealt with others treating him as creepy and suspicious, and has worked incredibly hard to prove that he's not the sort who would abuse his powers. However, while under the influence of a classmate's Quirk making him drunk by proxy, he gets pushed past his breaking point and uses his Quirk to make Mineta leave him alone. Once he realizes what happened, Shinso then struggles to decide the best way to handle the fallout, not wanting to lose everything due to that single moment of anger.
- In What Happens in Vacuo Stays in Vacuo, Jaune and Neo are stuck dealing with a resort employee telling them that "Love love fun time is for private" and trying to make Neo wave her hands to the beat of her saying that. After nearly an hour, Jaune knocks the employee out the moment she looks away. To be fair, his first instinct was to simply let Neo murder the woman.
- In Purple Days, Joffrey, still unbalanced from the "Groundhog Day" Loop he's trapped in, finally manages to find some time to spend with his confidante Nalia, losing his virginity and just talking with her. However, at one point Lord Petyr Baelish reveals he's Nalia's pimp, and through her he's been gathering evidence to declare Joffrey insane. Driven mad by the revelation, he snaps, killing Baelish and torturing and mutilating Nalia. Once he's done, he's left horrified, both at what he did and the fact he very much enjoyed doing so.
- In Predator and Prey, Noah witnesses Alejandro rape Bridgette but does nothing to stop the horrific event in fear of attracting attention and believing himself to be too weak to stop Alejandro.
- The One to Make It Stay:
- I Owe You Every Joy of Love follows Alya as she deals with the fallout from her posting a edited video of one of Chat's Love Confessions on the Ladyblog, as well as Marinette insisting that they should take a break from each other over the summer. With Ladybug having benched Rena Rouge as well, she wants to prove that she's still trustworthy, but keeps taking blow after blow as the dominos keep falling. After Nino suggests that they need to spend some time apart as well, Hawkmoth takes advantage of her unhappiness to hit her with an akuma and tempt her into becoming Friend Zone. She manages to resist and reject the butterfly.
- Luka admits to Marinette that he's afraid of his own anger. While generally pretty calm, his outrage and frustration after seeing Bob Roth dismiss and threaten her was promptly exploited by Hawkmoth to akumatize him into Silencer, and he fears that happening again.
- Blackened Skies: After Kaede unintentionally hits one of his Berserk Buttons, Mondo nearly repeats his greatest mistake and swings a dumbbell at her, barely missing. Upon realizing what happened, he drops to his knees — while Kaede's terror gets the better of her and she picks up the dumbbell, preparing to bash his head in. Afterwards, both struggle with the guilt of what they almost did in the heat of the moment.
- Carl Fredricksen in Up suffers two of these. The first at the beginning of the film. In a panic over his mailbox being knocked over, he hits a construction worker with his cane, getting him branded a public menace. The second is near the climax when Charles Muntz sets fire to his house. He drops everything else, including protecting Kevin, the Living MacGuffin bird (which results in her capture), to put the fire out and snaps at Dug and Russel when the latter calls him out.
- In Big Hero 6, Hiro discovers the identity of Yokai and, realizing his brother died in vain, tears out Baymax's healthcare chip to have him kill Yokai for him. It is when his teammates stop him and him discovering his brother's true intentions for Baymax is that helps him see the error is his ways.
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Simba, believing that Kovu planned the Outlander ambush that nearly killed him, banishes Kovu from the Pridelands, and defends his rash actions to his daughter Kiara by claiming that his father Mufasa would have done so. Kiara is furious with him, saying that Mufasa wouldn't want that and that he'll never be like him, causing Simba to reconsider his actions.
- In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Twilight Sparkle, the "Princess of Friendship", faces her friends' antics being unhelpful or liabilities in their quest to save Equestria and decides friendship won't work this time. This leads her to resort to dubious means, which in turn leads to her saying a nasty comment she promptly comes to regret.
- Star Wars:
- In Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker was perfectly content to sneak around the Sand Peoples' camp and not start a fight up until his mother died in his arms. His rage at that moment prompted him to murder every Sand Person there. He felt guilt over it afterward, but it didn't stop his fall to the Dark Side. It only got worse from there.
- In The Last Jedi, Luke reveals what pushed Kylo Ren over the edge. One night, Luke felt the immense darkness inside then-Ben Solo. Overcome by fear, Luke drew his lightsaber, thinking that if he killed Ben, he might stop the evil before it began. Although he instantly felt ashamed and dismissed the idea, Ben awoke, and the sight of Luke standing over him with a lightsaber caused him to draw his own conclusions.
- In End of Days, Jericho's best friend betrays him and makes a Deal with the Devil because "it's amazing what you'll agree to when you're on fire." Especially galling since the Devil was the one who set him on fire in the first place. Near the end he can't bring himself to betray Jericho a second time, and the Devil revokes their deal by setting him on fire again.
- Spoofed in Water (1985).
Reverend: Am I never to be forgiven for one moment of weakness?
Baxter: According to our latest census you've had at least fourteen moments of weakness, Eric.
- Carrie: Implied. According to Rita Desjardin, Sue Snell is not a bully by nature and therefore joining her classmates in gleefully taunting Carrie and pelting her with tampons was very out of character. It is implied that Sue only acted under peer pressure, being one of Chris Hargensen's cronies. Sue was actually disgusted with herself; she unfriended Chris, and tried to make up with Carrie by having her boyfriend take her to prom.
- In The Dresden Files book White Night Harry is forced to acknowledge the steadily growing influence of Lash after he loses his cool and destroys part of a building with his magic. Something the nature of Dresden-verse magic would make impossible unless Harry really believed in what he was doing. One of the book's villains, the Skavis, specialized in provoking and manipulating Moments of Weakness to make his victims commit suicide.
- In the Pendragon series Bobby snaps and pushes a bad guy out of a helicopter. Saint Dane had wanted him to do it, and told him to, and he knew it would end up making things worse, but he was just that angry.
- In Memory, Miles covers up an assignment that was horribly botched because of health problems which he had also been keeping from his superiors. Although he's always breaking rules, up to this point it had been for the greater good; this time it was mostly selfish and he is dismissed from imperial service as a result. Later in the novel, when considering the villain, Miles notes that this could have been the point at which he did a FaceHeel Turn, but unlike the villain, he stopped himself.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it's revealed that it was exactly such a mistake that caused Severus Snape to forever destroy his friendship with the one person he cared for when he called Lilly Potter (then Evans) a mudblood. A mistake like this also sealed Dumbledore's fate when he realized he had the Resurrection Stone in his hands. He immediately put it on hoping to summon his dead family and tell them how sorry he was about his sister's death, forgetting that it was also Voldemort's Horcrux meaning it likely had a powerful curse on it. This curse ensured that Dumbledore would die after about a year or so even after Snape helped him limit it to his hand.
- In Well Of Ascension , Vin gets frustrated by her inability to protect Elend and her general feelings of inadequacy at everything except killing and decides to attack Cett and slaughter everyone who gets in her way.
- Before Kayneth's assault on the Einzburns' castle in Fate/Zero, Irisviel is starting to wonder just how much she really knows Kiritsugu. The past few days has seen him return to his Cold Sniper persona, in stark contrast to the loving father and doting husband she'd known for the last few years. As she's wondering, he embraces her and, on the verge of tears, asks her if they can just forfeit the Grail War, rescue Ilya, and live together in peace.
- In the first Safehold book, Off Armageddon Reef, Merlin acts entirely without thinking when a group of children are attacked by the Safehold equivalent of a shark; in the process revealing a portion of his more-than-human abilities to someone whose trust he needs and could easily view his abilities as demonic. Merlin only realizes this a few seconds after he's already committed to action. Only the fact it was a blatant act of Chronic Hero Syndrome that Merlin never considered not doing allows him to retain the trust he's earned.
- Journey to Chaos: Tasio has been waiting for Eric to have a particularly bad day, because only then would he ask for help. The Trickster needs him to do this so he can deliver the Call to Adventure and drop him in another world.
- In The Sea and Little Fishes, Nanny Ogg has a moment where she reflexively thinks that Granny Weatherwax could have hurt a child. The thought makes her deeply ashamed for the rest of the story and underlines just how successful Granny's Paranoia Gambit was.
- Babylon 5:
- Lennier at the end. In his case he pays penance for the rest of his life, apparently dying in the Telepath War.
- Delenn at the Earth-Minbari war. Like Lennier, she too pays penance for her tragic mistake.
- Sheridan while interrogating Mr Morden. Unlike the two previous, he's stopped before his actions result in greater tragedy.
- Cobra Kai: Happens often the biggest example being:
- In the Season 2 finale in the school brawl, Robby tries to stop the fight between his girlfriend, Sam and Tory... Unfortunately this gets mistaken by Miguel (Tory's boyfriend) as him attacking her and he begins fighting against Robby; near the end Robby gets beaten into the ground and has his personal Berserk Buttons all provoked by Miguel, the latter eventually realizes what he's done and lets go of Robby, intending to end the fight there, unfortunately Robby blind with rage over Miguel's words and recalling how Miguel refused his mercy uses this chance to kick Miguel away, which unfortunately causes him to accidentally fall off the second floor and end up paralyzed, much to Robby's horror, he runs away in fear and eventually ends expelled and arrested for his actions in Season 3, which end up leading him to a FaceHeel Turn.
- The short-lived television series GVsE generally had villains who convinced people to make a Deal with the Devil, and good guys getting them to break those deals at the cost of what they were given. One episode stands out, however, as the bad guy of the episode approached people on the verge of death from accidents and used these deals to save their lives.
- Kamen Rider Build: Shocked and unable to come to terms with the fact of his father allying with Evolt, Sento attacks Ryuga before he could injure him any further, putting him in a coma, which also leads to him losing Kazumi and Gentoku's trust in him.
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, the stress of gaining telepathy along with pre-existing mental issues causes Zia to snap and nearly use her power to choke Ivy and Jessica to death. A flashforward shows her choking out Ivy again after she dares to mention Finn's name, who's implied to have turned against the heroes. Both times she snaps out of it and is horrified at what she's done.
- Even Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series isn't immune to this, though his/her single (so far) Moment Of Weakness potentially happens in a very sheltered environment and doesn't have any lasting consequences: in the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker storyline, Liara comes to visit Shepard and asks him/her how s/he is truly feeling rather than what s/he tells the crew. The Paragon answer to that is the first and only occasion the Commander expresses any doubt about his/her mission in the entire series (depending on whether this takes place before or after the Suicide Mission, Shepard will refer to the latter or to the impending Reaper invasion). Also, this speaks volumes about Shepard and Liara's relationship (regardless of whether romance was pursued).
- S/he also shows it if you pick the renegade options (not really renegade but just different emotional responses) where Shepard both talks about just how hopeless his/her war against the Reapers seems and how exhausted s/he is from dealing with Cerberus, the Citadel Council who always treat him/her like s/he's lying or insane, and of his/her closest friends shunning him/her because s/he's working with Cerberus.
- S/he has a ton of them in Mass Effect 3 where s/he finally starts to crumble, physically and mentally, under the pressure of being the spearhead of a war effort against a nearly unstoppable enemy force. All of his/her friends constantly worry about him/her and do what they can to keep her from going completely past the Despair Event Horizon. S/he very nearly has a Heroic BSoD after the Fall of Thessia.
- One particularly notable one is during the assault on the Cerberus HQ, when Shepard finds a video describing how bad his/her body's condition was following his/her death at the beginning of 2. Almost completely absentmindedly, without even thinking about what they're in the middle of or the people around him/her, s/he goes into a brief existential crisis over whether or not s/he's the real Shepard or just an advanced VI programmed to think it's Shepard, talking more to him/herself than anyone else. It takes his/her True Companions and possible Love Interest reassuring him/her that they believe s/he is real to snap him/her out of it.
- In Dragon Age II, any companion you bring into the Fade in the sidequest 'Night Terrors', no matter how high their friendship or rivalry score is, will fall for the demon's offer and attack you (except for Anders, who's immune due to Justice, and Sebastian, who refuses to go in the first place).
- Katawa Shoujo: Go on. You know you want Misha, don't you? She's right there. All you need to do is say "yes"...
- Sonic has a particularly nasty one in Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. After warding a wave of robots outside of Lyric's Tomb, an even larger wave shows up. Whereas Knuckles, Amy and Tails move into place to face them, Sonic just sits there paralyzed; in his panic, he moves to open the door, with Amy telling him not to. Then Metal Sonic shows up, and Sonic caves, opening the tomb and leading everyone inside. Not only does this lead to Lyric getting loose, but Sonic gets on the bad side of everyone watching: Amy, Knuckles, Tails, and even Shadow, who saw the whole thing from above.
Tails: Uh... I don't think those doors were built to keep us out... they were meant to keep that in!
Amy: Let's get out of here! Oh, wait I forgot. We can't.
Knuckles: Not cool, Sonic! You locked us in!
Sonic: Locked us in? I was saving you!
Knuckles: We didn't need saving!
Amy & Tails: Yeah!
Shadow: Saving the world? You? Don't make me laugh. You're weak! And you know what makes you weak? Your loyalty to your pathetic friends! You're not going through that portal... I'm going to show you just how weak you are!
- In her background, as related in Touhou Bougetsushou, Touhou's Fujiwara no Mokou followed a troupe of soldiers to the top of Mount Fuji when they were about to dispose of an Immortality Inducer elixir. She kept on going after them as they fell one by one until only one, Iwakasa, remained. When he was about to dump the thing into the volcano, he received a divine message telling him not to, lest he trigger a permanent eruption. Mokou took advantage of the tired soldier and killed him, taking the elixir for herself. Centuries later, she still feels enormous guilt over killing Iwakasa.
- In Telepath Tactics, Emma does not take her reunion with Silithis Predat well. In a departure from her normally reserved behavior, she immediately assumes the worst of Silithis and insults her when Silithis tries to apologize for her past abuse. This ends up working out well for her, as it allows Silithis to realize that she really was too hard on Emma. Emma later accepts the apology when Silithis tries again.
- In Undertale's backstory, the monsters' king, Asgore, declared war on humanity after a group of violent humans directly caused the death of his son within a day of the death of his and his wife's adopted human child. Asgore made the decision in grief and anger, but by the time he realized what he had done his declaration had given the monsters hope of eventual freedom from the Underground in which they were sealed. This left him feeling unable go back on his decision. He tried to Take a Third Option by just taking the souls of humans who fell into the Underground. However that accomplished nothing except causing the monsters suffer more because Asgore did not want to dirty his hands. This act so disgusted his wife she left him soon after.
- Tiamat in Final Fantasy XIV admits to this when she tells her story to the Warrior of Light. Her brother, Bahamut, was killed by the Allagan Empire 5000 years prior. Filled with grief and rage, she consorted with the Ascians and learned how to bring her brother back to life. Said brother came back as a bloodthirsty primal that rampaged across the land and was captured by the Allagans. Realizing the horror she unleashed, Tiamat, who was shackled in place by the Allagans, atones for her actions by keeping herself bound as punishment.
- In the God of War series, Kratos, as a Spartan, is usually as fearless as he is tough. But there was that one time he pledged himself to Ares, the War God, because he feared dying to a barbarian horde. Kratos' life was saved. Then, Ares tricked him into killing his own family. It only got worse for him from there.
- Persona 5
- Makoto Niijima, the Student Council President of Shujin Academy. She is under constant pressure from the school and her older sister to succeed in life. Things come to a head after Principal Kobayakawa relegates to her the task of determining the identities of the Phantom Thieves. She takes this opportunity to blackmail the Thieves into stealing the heart of a crime boss in Shibuya, lest she release evidence to both Shujin and the police. After an outburst from Sae, and offhand comments from Goro Akechi and later Ann Takamaki, Makoto tries to prove that she isn't useless to anyone by getting the Thieves into contact with the crime boss—which gets all of them into Kaneshiro's attention. Though things turn out positively in the long run, Makoto acknowledges that her desperation has put her schoolmates into danger, and pleads with the Thieves to let her handle this so as not to further embroil them. They refuse, enlisting her help to infiltrate Kaneshiro's Palace and leading to her joining the team.
- A party-wide one happens around the start of the third term in Royal. After the group defeats Yaldabaoth, the God of Control, Takuto Maruki uses his Persona powers to rewrite reality and make it ideal for all of the Phantom Thieves; traumas are undone, loved ones are still alive and/or not evil, and dashed dreams are once again achievable. With the exception of Joker and Akechi, the Phantom Thieves accept this reality, until the player asks them the right questions, forcing them to realize what had happened. The Phantom Thieves come to their senses in time to help Joker, but end up feeling ashamed of their actions, believing that they betrayed Joker and everything they fought for.
- The Order of the Stick, Varsuuvius made the decision to make a Deal with the Devil (and Demon, and Daemon). V knew that dealing with infernals was a bad idea, and they even offered an alternate method where the elf would owe them nothing. However, at that point, V was trance-deprived, guilt ridden, and both pride and body were crushed by a dragon, who was minutes away from killing the elf's family. Varsuuvius, unable to admit defeat like the alternate method would require, makes the deal and takes a step towards The Dark Side. The strip is even titled "The Wrong Reasons" in reference to a prophecy that Varsuuvius would obtain ultimate power by saying the right four words at the right time for all the wrong reasons.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony & Reynardine do this to each other. Annie tells Renard that he'd been used by someone he'd cared for when he kept badmouthing her father. He got back by revealing the real reason behind her mother's death.
- In Sinfest, after a Flashback, Fuchsia had a stabby episode. Sometimes she just gets so angry at everything.
- El Goonish Shive:
- Susan panicked the first time she saw Nanase use her Fairy Doll spell and, in the process of getting help, blurted out to the others the personal issues they had been talking about.
- When asked for a date by a guy, Susan freaked out: waving her hands, spitting out a bunch of lame excuses to ultimately run away.
- Schlock Mercenary: Played for Laughs. While Admiral Chu was auditing all the terrible black-ops projects in his military to drag them into the light, his people found a really big gun. Chu admits that, in a moment of weakness, he code-named it "Zeus" and let them test fire it. The shot could be seen from the other side of the solar system. His superior dryly points out that this isn't going to make the civilians feel better about all those military black-ops projects.
- 6teen: In the opening episode, after dealing with the inexperienced Caitlain's multiple errors, Jen finally snaps at Caitlain and screams at her over her multiple errors. Coach Halder reveals he overheard the outburst and comes extremely close to firing her before Caitlain intervenes.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Aang can't let go of his love for Katara; this turns out to be quite the problem.
- Katara never forgave the Fire Nation for her mother's fate and almost murders a man in a fit of vengeance.
- Zuko subverts pulling a HeelFace Turn despite having every reason to do so, which disgusts his uncle Iroh. Later, when Ozai revealed his plan to burn the Earth Kingdom to ashes, Zuko didn't protest it (because he remembered what happened the last time he did). That made Zuko realize that he had lost his courage, and that was the final push he needed to join Aang's side, double-subverting the HeelFace Turn.
- The Legend of Korra:
- Korra has a breakdown at the end of "The Voice In The Night". She makes a public challenge to fight Amon at an appointed time and place, and naively believes he'll play fair. Amon does eventually show up for the fight, except he brings a dozen armed henchmen with him. They ambush Korra, tie her up, and drag her off into the darkness where Amon makes it clear to her that the only reason he doesn't kill her or take her bending is because that would turn her into a martyr, and he's too smart for that. After they take their leave, Korra is left sobbing into her mentor Tenzin's chest.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Batman Beyond:
- In the first five minutes of the series, an aging Bruce Wayne is forced to pull a gun on a kidnapper who was beating him to death when his heart gives out during the battle. He retires from being Batman immediately afterwards.
- In "Out of the Past", Talia offers Bruce an opportunity to restore his youth using the Lazarus Pit. He resists the temptation, but changes his mind after he and an innocent bystander are nearly killed in a mugging he once could have handled easily. It was a setup designed to trigger just that reaction.
- CatDog: In the episode "All You Need is Lube", a tick attaches to Lube's toe. Cliff and Shriek are too afraid of the tick to help Lube and run away, while Cat takes the tick off, so Lube decides to serve Cat for saving his life. When Cliff and Shriek come back, lying that they left to get help, Lube is not fooled and angrily calls them out for abandoning him and tells them he's with Cat now. Cliff and Shriek genuinely feel bad about letting Lube down and do try to make it up to him to earn back their friendship.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Dipper and Mabel Vs. The Future" Mabel goes through an extremely bad day realizing Growing Up Sucks, leading her to make a deal to freeze time to prevent this without regard to how it would effect others.
- Infinity Train: Throughout Season 3, Grace becomes a sister figure to Hazel. While at first Grace was manipulating Hazel with kindness, she starts genuinely caring about her. After Simon wheeled Tuba (Hazel's companion and adoptive mother figure), Grace learns that Hazel is a denizen who she and Simon view as inferior to passengers, but she keeps it a secret from Simon to protect Hazel. In a pivotal moment in episode The Hey Ho Whoa Car, when Hazel starts stressing out and transforms into her turtle self in front of everyone, Grace acts surprised so Simon would not know that she know Hazel's secret. When Simon suggests that they leave Hazel with Amelia, when Hazel asks Grace if she'll really leave her, to save face in front of Simon, Grace angry says she will and calls Hazel a Null, breaking Hazel's heart. Grace is immediately horrified by her backslide, but does not apologize to Hazel with Simon there. In the next episode, Grace thinks on it and decides that she wants to protect Hazel even knowing what she is and what her mere presence does to the cars. But the damage was done and the bond of trust Hazel had with Grace is gone. Hazel rejects coming with Grace, choosing to leave with Amelia despite Grace begging to come with her. Hazel just sadly says goodbye to Grace, leaving her heartbroken.
- Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: When the Mega Mute that took the Scratching Tree appeared, Yumyan Hammerpaw was so terrified he ran up a tree pass the canopy. He spent all the time since then atop a tree, hunting a firefly.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Double Subverted in the episode "Sisterhooves Social." Throughout the first half, Rarity is actively trying not to blow her top at little sister Sweetie Belle's Unwanted Assistance. However, Sweetie Belle's frustration at Rarity not wanting to spend time with her eventually reaches a breaking point, prompting her to angrily disown Rarity as a sister, and Rarity finally loses her temper right back.
- In "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils," Sweetie Belle hits her Rage Breaking Point when she thinks Rarity deliberately upstaged her with costumes so good that the audience of the play she wrote, directed, and starred in found them more memorable than the play itself. In retaliation, she sabotages a headdress made for one of Rarity's most important clients. The episode focuses in getting her to realize her error and fix it before it's too late.
- The Owl House: Lilith accidentally revealed to her sister Eda during their battle that she was the one who placed the curse on her. After Eda is captured and Emperor Belos goes back on his deal with Lilith to cure the curse, instead planning to have Eda petrified permanently, Lilith teams up with Liz to recuse her. Lilith reveals to Luz what happened - when they were kids they were close, but Eda was the stronger magic user, so when they were pitted against each other in a witch's duel to see which one of them got to enter the Emperor's Coven, Lilith went to the black market and got a curse that was supposed to weaken her powers for one day. Only for Eda to forfeit the duel and let Lilith win; as Eda left, the curse took effect and Eda transformed into an owl beast and was chased away by the crowd. What makes it worse is that the curse did not last one day but appears to be permanent and is slowly overtaking her until she permanently transforms into a mindless beast. In one moment where she tried to have an advance over her sister, she made her an outcast and permanently cursed her for nothing.
- The Powerpuff Girls: In the episode A Very Special Blossom, The Professor unintentionally puts pressure on his daughters to get him the set of limited-edition Pro Excellence 2000 series golf clubs on Father's Day. While cleaning up the aftermath of a battle with Mojo Jojo, Blossom sees the clubs through a broken window in a store, Blossom actually resorts to stealing so that she could make the Professor happy. She pays the consequences of her actions when the Professor is arrested for having a stolen item, and when she tries to frame Mojo for stealing them before she is forced to confess. She has to pay for her crime by doing community service.
- Rocket Power: In the episode "Rainy Days & Sundaes", Reggie, Otto, and Twister make a huge mess of the Rockets' kitchen when they turn it into a slip and slide with sundae ingredients. When Raymundo comes home, Reggie (not wanting to miss the Junior Triathlon) bails out the window, leaving Otto and Twister to suffer the punishment by themselves. Reggie is left feeling guilty for getting out of getting punished, while Otto and Twister are, for the mess they all made. Even though Otto and Twister agree to keep her role in making the mess a secret until after the Junior Triathlon, Reggie spends the episode feeling guilty until during the Junior Triathlon she decide to leave the sport event and go to her father and confess to him. It turns out he knew all along that she made the mess with Otto and Twister, and was waiting for her to tell him. While he was proud of Reggie for telling the truth, he still punishes all three by having them work at his restaurant during a rush hour.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Rose's Scabbard", the discovery that Steven's mother Rose Quartz had secrets she kept even from Pearl, who thought herself Rose's closest confidante, sends her into a freak-out. When Steven tries to suggest that perhaps Rose was trying to protect Pearl with the information she kept from her, Pearl angrily blurts out that Steven couldn't possibly know that because he never met his mother. After a tense moment, Pearl flees the house, forcing Steven to go after her.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man: For most of Walter Hardy's career, he prided himself on never hurting anyone. But as he got older and slower, he took to carrying a gun, just in case. He ended up shooting Ben Parker in a moment of panic.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In "Turtle Temper," Splinter states that one such moment on his part is partially what triggered Shredder's Start of Darkness, which he informs Raph of in an attempt to Tame His Anger. Splinter recounts an incident where Shredder openly and relentlessly insulted him in front of Tang Shen, eventually leading Splinter to lose his temper and attack him. This caused their rivalry to intensify, eventually leading to Shen's death at Shredder's hands. Raph claims that he had no choice but to get angry since Shredder was insulting him, to which Splinter retorts that he did have a choice: he could have just ignored Shredder's taunts and walked away, but he didn't.
Splinter: I could have chosen to ignore him. I could have chosen to let his words wash over me, like a river over stone. But I let him anger me. It was I who made his words into weapons. That was the choice I made. What choice will you make?