Become a thief in the night, become a dog on the run?
Have I fallen so far, and is the hour so late,
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate?"
Well-intentioned but misguided character — very likely a Tragic Hero, a Tragic Villain or Anti-Villain — comes to realize that his actions have caused incredible damage, physical pain, emotional pain, or even loss of life. The usual line that comes after this is the title of the article (sometimes, without the "My God"). Tears of Remorse may accompany it.
Often the realization only comes when someone/something close to the person is hurt or destroyed. In quite a few cases, that "someone/something close" is the very entity he was trying to get rid of to begin with.
Usually delivered dramatically, sometimes, well, over-the-top. A villain might utter this line if they're about to take the Last-Second Chance. Or a hero after being freed from The Virus, being Brainwashed and Crazy, or a Superpowered Evil Side, or after making an unintentional but catastrophic mistake.
Sometimes followed by Must Make Amends, other times by an Ignored Epiphany. This trope is almost always the cause of The Atoner's Heel–Face Turn with the memory used as a constant reminder of why they must follow the path of atonement. Can also lead into He Who Fights Monsters.
See also Screaming at Squick.
Often the result if the protagonist becomes an Unwitting Pawn. Sometimes combined with Heroic B.S.O.D.; common with Villainous B.S.O.D.. Can be a self-inflicted What the Hell, Hero? Contrast I Did What I Had to Do, Be All My Sins Remembered, and I Regret Nothing. Compare It's All My Fault, Heel Realization and Kick the Morality Pet. See also Out, Damned Spot!, Being Evil Sucks, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!, and Sympathetic Murder Backstory. This sort of moment is often why a Regretful Traitor feels that regret. If it's done by two or more characters who are fighting, then it's Dissension Remorse. May be the result of an all too successful Pygmalion Plot to Teach Him Anger. When a work tries to deliberately invoke this as an audience reaction, that's You Bastard (whether it's successful or not). Although they are not related, it's possible to overlap with What Have I Become? If "My God" is taken literally, it may lead to a Heel–Faith Turn.
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- Real Life
- Marriage A-la-Mode:
- In The Bagnio, the Countess is on her knees next to her dying husband, begging his forgiveness with tears in her eyes for the adulterous affair that has led to his death. The fact that the bed is unmade, the clothes and masks from the masquerade are on the floor, and the door lock has been broken make it clear that the Earl surprised his wife and Silvertongue in flagrante delicto, while Silvertongue's genitals are just visible as he flees through the window, all contributing to a sense of the Countess' pleas for forgiveness being intended to assuage her conscience rather than motivated by genuine remorse.
- But with the blood of two men on her hands, the Countess commits suicide in The Lady's Death, and now it is the dull-witted manservant who wears an expression of horror at the results of his actions, having been the one who bought the fatal dose of laudanum at his mistress' request.
- Child Ballad 54, "The Cherry-Tree Carol",
"Oh, what have I done, Lord?
- The bandit in "Bonnie Banks o'Fordie" has one when he learns that the girl he just murdered is his sister. It ends with him stabbing himself.
- Freeman's Mind gives us this line during Half-Life's 'Resonance Cascade Incident':
- In Clear Skies 3, Hausmann does this during the final battle and surrenders rather than see more of his people killed.
- Church of Red vs. Blue suffers this when he realizes that the reason he's dead is because he tampered with the tank by disabling the friendly-fire safety.
- A rather disturbing example in the final episode of Arby 'n' the Chief. After Arbiter literally rips Chief to pieces after learning that Chief killed Cortana, both intentionally and by accident. Things only gets worse for him when Tyler shows up planning to kill them both after revealing that Eugene committed suicide. This hits Arbiter so badly that he starts mumbling the montra "I'm in my happy place" over and over again. It gets even worse for there...
- Instead of celebrating his success in turning the company around financially The Great Muta resigned from All Japan Pro Wrestling in disgrace after Super Hate was beat so badly in an altercation with Taru it resulted in him having a stroke. That's not an example of this but his reaction to All Japan's buyer Speed Partners IT proceeding to fire his friend and run the business even further into the ground than while turning the rest of the puroresu promotions against AJPW was, as Muta tried to buy back his company shares and resume his position to no avail. On the up side for him, this caused several All Japan wrestlers to resign in loyalty to Muta and provided Wrestle-1 with a lot of publicity that attracted many fans looking for more of his "Puroresu Love" brand.
- Magic: The Gathering: In Judgment, Kamahl pulls a "Dear Fiers, what have I done?" (with a nice, hearty Big "NO!") after mortally wounding his sister Jeska in a fit of Mirari-induced temper.
- Warhammer 40,000: A lot of people who are being mind-controlled by the Chaos gods are only able to break free immediately after they've done something they really shouldn't have, such as betraying their adopted father and dooming the galaxy to an eternity of war or betraying their entire legion and mortally wounding their adopted son.
- Corax, the Raven Guard Primarch, went through a catastrophic moment like this. After the Isstvan drop site massacre, most of his legion was decimated, so he ordered some questionable methods to rebuild the legion. His orders left a lot of the recruits as mutated monstrosities. The situation was dire enough that he personally led them to their glorious deaths, those unfit for combat serving as a literal meatshield for those who could still fight and afterwards locked himself away for an entire year praying for their souls and his. In the end, he took his ship and flew it straight into the Eye of Terror, his last words being simply "never more".
- Part of the meltdown of Acro in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. You don't actually see the moment onscreen but the aftereffects are obvious during his breakdown. In attempting to murder Regina he accidentally killed her father, to whom Acro and his brother owed everything. As Sympathetic Murderers go he's high on the list.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, in the DLC case, Marlon Rimes is quite similar to Acro. His girlfriend died during a performance a year ago, and he believed Orla the orca whale was responsible, not knowing that 1) His girlfriend had a heart condition and 2) it was an entirely different orca. He tried to kill Orla by draining the water, but Jack Shipley, the owner of the aquarium and his boss, rushed out to save her, slipping and falling in the empty pool in the process despite Marlon's attempt to save him. Marlon tried to frame Orla for Jack's murder, but ultimately realized the truth of things and had this reaction. Thankfully, after it's pointed out that he tried to save her, he decides to make amends, however long it takes.
- Archer from Fate/stay night as revealed in UBW route. He is trying to kill Shirou, himself from past, because he wants to prevent him making a pact with world to protect people, because it'll only make him one who kills some to save many.
- One of the extended bad endings in the PS2 version of School Days has Kotonoha murder Sekai in cold blood and then offer herself to Makoto, who was watching. Makoto's horrified reaction causes Kotonoha to realize what she has done, and she breaks down in tears.
- In Sunrider Mask of Arcadius, Icari Isidolde tries to convince Captain Kayto Shields to let PACT forces destroy a civilian freighter carrying Alliance diplomats in order to spark a war. Whether Shields abandons the freighternote or defends itnote , Icari experiences this trope when she looks through one of the ship’s portholes and sees a terrified little girl staring back at her. It hits Icari especially hard, as she herself was orphaned as a child when a PACT patrol blew up her family’s starship.