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?"
A well-intentioned but misguided character — very likely a Tragic Hero, a Tragic Villain or Anti-Villain — comes to realize that their 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 (with or 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 they were 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 HeelFace 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 or a Guilt-Induced Nightmare.
Often the result if the protagonist becomes an Unwitting Pawn. Sometimes combined with Heroic BSoD or Despair Event Horizon; common with Villainous BSoD. 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 HeelFaith Turn.
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- 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.
- "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan"◊ by Ilya Repin depicts Tsar Ivan IV just after he'd fatally struck his son in the head, his eyes wide in horror and regret. Note though that this version of events might be Hollywood History, the painting was once even vandalized by a museum patron for being historically inaccurate.
- 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.
- How Jack Sought The Golden Apples: The king orders Jack executed for apparently trying to poison him with rotting gilded apples. However, he feels sorry about it afterwards, and he is overjoyed when the executioner tells him he didn't actually carry out the order.
- Played with during Bob Backlund's run as a crazy heel, where he'd blankly stare at his hands, mouth agape, after snapping and placing his opponents in his Crossface Chickenwing finisher. He would not, however, apologize for his actions the next time he'd appear on screen, as he'd continue to run down fans and rivals alike with highfalutin words, boast of his finisher's efficiency, and generally act like a Cloudcuckoolander who went off the rails following a tough loss to Bret Hart.
- 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 beaten 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 upside 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.
- This was Gangrel's reaction after accidentally knocking out the referee during his match with The Hungarian Barbarian at Pro Xcitement Wrestling's June 23, 2002 show. Darren Wyse, The Hungarian Barbarian's manager, was on commentary and used this opportunity to interfere, bringing out Gangrel's Violently Protective Wife Luna Vachon to make the save in one of her two Big Damn Heroes moments that night.
- This was Deonna Purrazzo's reaction after she accidentally hit Mandy Leon with a chair during Mandy's No DQ Women of Honor match with Taeler Hendrix, as Hendrix sat there mocking Deonna with an Evil insane laugh.
- Jon Moxley had this reaction when he came into All Elite Wrestling with an open challenge to the locker room, and his second challenger was Darby Allen, a man nearly half his size. Though Moxley handily defeated Allen, he also seriously injured Allen, leaving him unable to wrestle for months, which weighed heavily on Moxley's conscience and influenced his preference for directly challenging larger men like Jake Hager, Brian Cage, and Chris Jericho.
- A villainous — and all the more significant for it — example occurs in A_J of AJCO after she forced Egg into the potentially irradiated and poisonous wasteland above the bunker.
<Facilitator A_J> This is always how it ends. With our betters making an example of us.
<Facilitator A_J> Why then
<Facilitator A_J> Am I not content.
<Facilitator A_J> Why then do I feel a grave error has been made.
[Aimie_Jane lays down the clipboard, finally]
<Facilitator A_J> What has become of me.
- Two examples from the same fight in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. Daigo attempts to strangle Harriet, so Rhys shoots him in turn. However, Daigo dodges the bullet so that it instead hits Carlie, with Rhys horrified at himself as he watches her body fall. At the same time, Harriet tries to use her spear to hit Devin in the hand, so he can't use his superpower, but the gunshot disorientates her so that instead she spears him in the abdomen. Combined with her existing regret over her parents' death, Harriet then experiences a Freak Out.
- This has a tendency to crop up in Survival of the Fittest, usually when a 'hero' character kills somebody. An example of this is Julie Mikan after killing Owen Fontaine, going into a Heroic BSoD simultaneously at the realisation that she has actually ended somebody's life.
- The humans in Void of the Stars are quite prone to this trope. Especially when they have a religious civil war.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! East Academy, Marcus briefly has this reaction when he believes that the cultist he Mind Raped and killed was a friend of Roxas. He gets over it in seconds, however, when he finds out that Roxas objected on principle alone.
- Legend of the Five Rings: In the backstory, the Lion and Phoenix clans were at war (as usual), until the Crane negotiated a peace between them. The Phoenix shugenja, Isawa Asahina, was outraged that the Phoenix dead wouldn't be properly avenged, and went on a rampage in Crane lands. Eventually, a Crane samurai named Doji Kiriko stood in his way and just let him burn her with his spells until his rage finally ebbed. When Asahina calmed down, he realized just how much damage he had done, and immediately swore fealty to the Crane to make up for the destruction. He would later become the founder of the Asahina family (marrying Doji Kiriko in the process), known for their Actual Pacifist philosophy.
- 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".
- When the Chaos Gods really want to screw with their followers, they'll deliberately cleanse them of their madness. Most victims of this are horrified beyond comprehension and what they've become, but they know there's no going back. Some even try to take their own lives - having forgotten that they'll likely just be brought back by the Chaos Gods anyway, as their souls are forfeit.
- He may try to deny it, but in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kokichi Ouma is responsible for the deaths of two of his classmates, Miu and Gonta and his actions in the fifth chapter are easy to infer a way to atone for what he did. After he abducts Kaito, he decides to orchestrate an unsolvable murder in order to end the Killing Game and prevent Maki from being executed as the Blackened. He then volunteers himself as the final victim of the Killing Game, despite the fact that he knows Kaito is already dying and he previously showed nothing but contempt for Maki, as she is the Ultimate Assassin and he despises murder, plus he willingly allows himself to be crushed to death inside an electric press, which he likely wouldn't have agreed to if Miu and Gonta hadn't both died in such horrible ways because of him.
- 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.
- Melody has a couple:
- Melody is distraught after she realizes that her food theft at the karaoke bar probably led to Xianne getting fired.
- Hank also has one of these moments after he realizes that he was tricked into giving Bethany access to one of Melodys concerts.
- Rika from Mystic Messenger says this nearly verbatim during V's route immediately after stabbing V; she calls you in a panic, begging you to come save him, lamenting that she really is a monster, and insisting to herself over and over that his wound isn't that deep.
- Part of the cornered meltdown of Acro in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. In attempting to murder Regina for having an (unintentional) hand in putting his brother in a coma from which he'll probably never wake up, he accidentally killed her father, to whom Acro and his brother owed everything. As Sympathetic Murderers go, he's high on the list owing to his clear remorse.
Acro, smiling, with tears streaming down his face: No...I'm nothing but a murderer.
- Edgeworth begins to go through this process during the final case of the first game when he realizes that the man he's been studying under and trying to emulate for the last fifteen years is his father's killer, and not only that, but the aforementioned man has been planning to tie up loose ends and get true revenge on Edgeworth's father for those same fifteen years by one day getting Edgeworth framed and convicted for murder. He doubles down in the DLC case when it comes to light that much of the evidence that the police department has been supplying the prosecutor's office with for years has been fabricated, meaning that not only has Edgeworth been putting away every defendant who had the misfortune of being tried by him using dirty tricks and basically no morals, but he's been doing it with fake evidence. No wonder he "chose death" and went to Europe for two years to contemplate his character and the nature of law. He comes back from it kinder and more honest, with a visible weight lifted off his shoulders, and is now only concerned with finding the truth behind the crimes he's faced with, no matter the danger it places him in.
- 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.
- 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 ships 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 familys starship.
- 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 "I'm in my happy place" over and over again. It gets even worse for there...
- Played for Laughs in the "Cake" segment of the first ASDF Movie.
- Oran from Broken Saints says this after he attacks his childhood friend Hassan in a cabin fever-induced madness.
- In Clear Skies 3, Hausmann does this during the final battle and surrenders rather than see more of his people killed.
- In the DEATH BATTLE! episode, Deadpool vs. The Mask, the hosts, Wiz and Boomstick, have one of these upon coming to the Heel Realization that they had given up their impartiality due to spite by putting Deadpool into a fight they knew he couldn't win, just to get rid of him.
- Keela from Dreamscape goes through this after snapping out of her Superpowered Evil Side...until Vampire Lord gives her one hell of a wake-up call.
- Played for Laughs in the first episode of DSBT InsaniT by Frog during his Tempting Fate moment.
- Freeman's Mind gives us this line during Half-Life 1's 'Resonance Cascade Incident':
- Homestar Runner: Parodied in "A Decemberween Mackerel", where the tagline for a bizarre holiday drink called "Hot Pooey" is "Oh Dear God, What Have We Done?"
- In the Warcraft animation Lords of War dedicated to Durotan during his youth, he is forced to fend off several garn to protect his comatose mother. In the heat of battle, Durotan loses control of his anger, and kills all of the garn, but also accidentally kills his mother's wolf companion, Stormfang. Durotan is visibly distraught and horrified by what he has done. Later in life, he wears the wolf's fur as a reminder of the wolf's courage and loyalty, but also as a reminder that even the most noble of orcs can lose themselves to savagery.
- Arthur from Mystery Skulls Animated is crying and looks absolutely horrified right after his possessed arm pushes Lewis off a cliff to his death, at least the side of his face that he still had control over does, the other half appears to have been laughing. It's reversed when Lewis throws Arthur in ghost replica of the cave.
- 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.
- He gets a much more serious case of this in Season 10, when his biggest outburst yet causes all his friends to abandon him (yes, even Caboose).
- In Reversal of the Heart The Prince shudders in horror and drops his sword and helmet, before falling to his knees, upon realizing the dragon he tracked down and nearly killed for the apparent death of his love, was actually his love transformed into a dragon.
- Share My Story: Downplayed. When Clara tells the protagonist that she got with Brandon behind his back and they are in a relationship now, she is in tears. However, that does not stop her from kissing Brandon in front of him.
- In RWBY, this is Pyrrha's reaction to bisecting Penny with her swords by using her Semblance. She also had one earlier when she ended up slamming Jaune (who she has a massive crush on) into a pillar due to Power Incontinence while he was trying to cheer her up.
Pyrrha: I'm... I'm sorry.
- Can You Spare a Quarter?: Graham is haunted by his conscience after he has left Jamie alone in the food court in order to get to his workplace, and is constantly distracted and feels physically ill as a consequence.
- Cobra Kai loves this trope, especially when it's the climax of the last episode of the season.
- Season 1 at the tournament: Johnny did a fantastic job of training his students to physically fight back. But when he sees his son (the Miyagi-do fighter) getting mashed by two of his top students (the first because Robby made the mistake of answering Hawk's Trash Talk), he realizes he's created a Thug Dojo by accident — which his own sensei congratulates him on.
- At the All Valley Championships, Johnny finally gets to see the aftereffects of his Training from Hell (inspired by the dojo's creed). Hawk blasts Robby with a cheap shot after a crack about his "stupid haircut", while Miguel exploits Robby's injury to take the title. When Johnny rightfully questions how they acted in the arena, each of them has an Armor-Piercing Response that stuns him.
- Season 2 inside the school: Taken Up to Eleven! Daniel opens up Miyagi-do in response, which triggers the Disaster Dominoes between the sides over the latter half of the season. When Miguel is knocked over the top floor railing, Robby (his opponent) is so stunned that he just dashes off. Having been read the riot act by their respective other halves, Johnny and Daniel realize the hard way just what kind of an impact their old rivalry has had on those they had worked so hard to be positive role models to. They abandon their dojos in the process.
- Gaia Online:
- Slightly subverted in the plot: 247 says the line after killing 013, but before he knows the full consequences of his action.
- Played a bit more straight when the Jerkass Corrupt Corporate Executive William F. Drink finally sees the mass chaos for himself and realizes he should have listened to his son all those years ago about the chemical byproduct that trapped the ghosts in their graves and drove them insane.
- Chrome Cobra in the Metro City Chronicles gets one after beating up a temporarily insane shapeshifting comrade.
She flew back, bounced on the roof once, went over the side of the building bonelessly. Yelped when she hit the pavement in the alley. Yelped like a wounded puppy.
- The Onion:
- Geb from The Wanderer's Library story The Rise of the Steam Soul. "Gods forgive me; I knew not."
- Ayla from the Whateley Universe has a bad case of this when after fighting a demon and being taken away, held and questioned by the anti-mutant police, he discovers that the MCO really do send mutants away to be dissected, studied and killed. Given that Ayla used to be Trevor Goodkind, a member of one of the world's richest and most powerful families, and that in some years he donated more to the MCO than some countries, he was indirectly sponsoring the murder of innocents. While a lot of his friends tell him that it's not his fault and he couldn't have known, the principal tells him that even though sponsoring a legal organisation isn't illegal, by her estimate, the MCO are guilty of 90% of the disappearances, and what happened to the other 10% of the children is probably even worse.
- Worm tells the story of an Anti-Hero who becomes a supervillain in order to do good for her town, which in the process involves some very questionable tactics. It comes to a head in the early chapters of Arc 27 that she finally realizes that everything she did was all for nothing and regrets it all.
- Legend says this word for word when they learn the extent of Cauldron's crimes against humanity.
- Eidolon gets hit by one of these and falls into a fatal Heroic BSoD when Scion indicates that Eidolon may have been responsible for unconsciously creating the Endbringers and thus being indirectly responsible for the millions of people they killed over the last thirty years.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd has this reaction when he plays various games based on himself, and realizes that most of them intentionally include some of the Scrappy Mechanics that he often complains about in his videos as a form of Mythology Gag. For instance, when he plays The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, he encounters the over-the-top deathtrap that he came up with in his Super Pitfall review.
AVGN: I can't even blame anyone but myself! I came up with this! What was I thinking?!
- ContraPoints: Saul Salzman is horrified when Jackie seems to be agreeing with Fritz the Fascist.
- Ethan from CrankGameplays regrets not saving Mia during his playthrough of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. His choice leads to Zoe dying and Ethan (the game character) being forced to kill Mia for real. When he sees a message on the wall saying, "It's all your fault", he willing accepts that he is to blame for his choices and Zoe and Mia dying.
- The Cry of Mann:
- Frank is left reeling after killing Jouglat, claiming that what he did felt wrong, and not taking kindly to Courtney's mockery about the situation.
- Jack becomes remorseful for how he treated Jouglat, stating that he shouldn't have cared more about his art and his ego than the fact that his brother was home.
- In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Villain Protagonist Dr. Horrible has one of these moments as he kneels over the body of his would-be Love Interest, Penny, the innocent victim of his exploding Death Ray. The closing song, "Everything You Ever", is both a celebration of his triumphant victory and a dirge for his lost hope.
- Sketchbook encourages the characters of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared to be creative. It doesn't work out as expected. Somehow they go from doing innocent things like arranging sticks into words to doing very mind screwy, horrific things. The short ends with Sketchbook saying "Now let's all agree to never be creative again" while everyone looks stunned and horrified. Sketchbook is Ambiguously Evil but even that was too much.
- In Epic Rap Battles of History, J. Robert Oppenheimer spends his battle with Thanos in a state of shell-shock complete with Thousand-Yard Stare over the destruction his creation caused. Truth in Television, since the performance is based on an interview with the real deal where he expressed similar sentiments. Thanos of course, mocks him for it.
Thanos: ... With bars weighing on you harder than your haunting guilty conscience.
- In Funny or Die's "The Ballad of G.I. Joe", Tomax is shown "boosting" a sleeping Xamot's wallet (he needs the extra cash). After a second he visibly has a nonverbal reaction, looking at the wallet in his hand, of horror stealing from his brother.
- The Nostalgia Critic:
- The Critic is pretty broken up about shooting his childhood icon, Mary Poppins, when she didn't explain all the Plot Holes in Quest for Camelot. Then he shoots Mickey Mouse, tearfully apologizing (Mickey understood though).
- He looks crushed in Kickassia right after he accidentally shoots Santa Christ.
- Said word-for-word in To Boldly Flee after The U.S.S. Exit Strategy and her crew are consumed by the plothole.
- She'd never admit it verbally, but The Nostalgia Chick draped her dead BFF's Star Trek shirt over a nearby chair in guilty memorial of the Kirk vs. Picard fight that got her killed.
- In the Wii Photo Channel episode of "Luigi Time!!!", Luigi feels guilt over accidentally shooting his brother Mario, so he tries to relieve his stress by playing more Wii.
- In the Paper Mario episode of "Luigi Time!!!", when Luigi realizes that the injuries he inflicted on Mario have put him in a paper coma, Luigi realizes how selfish he's been for only thinking about getting the Nintendo 3DS from Mario and wishes for his de-paperization operation to be successful.
- Played for Laughs in videogamedunkey's heavily modded Ultimate Skyrim video. He apparently realises how ridiculous his choice of mods are when Thomas the Tank Engine lays waste to Helgen in place of Alduin. Of course, it only gets sillier from there.
- In his video essay "Why I Love Batman v Superman, or: How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love Zack Snyder", YouTuber Bailey Parkinson, aka Loverboy Media, describes that this was how he felt when he realized that he had let his dislike and disappointment of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fester into a full-blown and irrational personal hatred for its director Zack Snyder. Then, news broke out in March 2017 that Snyder had chosen to step down from directing the Justice League movie to properly grieve the sudden passing of his daughter and not feeling up to fighting and negotiating with the WB executives over the movie at the time. He sums it up as such:
"All of a sudden, all my hate and animosity towards this guy, this father... it just evaporated. Every comment, every post, every tirade I'd launched against this storyteller for making a movie I didn't like suddenly came into perspective. This is a human being and he didn't ask for any of this. I still hated BvS at the time, but this twisted fallacy that Zack had made this movie with the intent of hurting anyone, let alone me, it just vanished. The guy made the choices he thought were right in the hopes of giving us a movie we'd love and I was behaving like he killed my dog!"
TV Tropes wasted my time! What have I done?