Follow TV Tropes


My Greatest Failure

Go To
Those were the droids he was looking for.
"Watson, if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you."
Sherlock Holmes, The Yellow Face

Nothing defines a hero better than his morals, and the biggest sympathy point can be guilt over some monumental screw-up that taught the hero to buckle down and stop taking his job too lightly. This is sometimes related to the origin of a Superhero, but has more impact when the hero's career has otherwise been going well for a while.

From a philosophical standpoint, this makes sense — if someone wins all the time, as heroes tend to do, they would be more defined by their failures than their successes. In Marvel Comics, this is sometimes a consistent psychological flaw (the "Marvel Flaw") which occasionally prevents a hero from succeeding.

The hero will often declare that "It's All My Fault" while their friends and family say, "You Did Everything You Could."

The hero may recover from this and when they do, it's usually a sign they have grown, although retcons can cause an unpleasant return to status quo.

The Failure Knight has this as part of his backstory to explain why he is so devoted to his new charge. Often produces a combination of Past Experience Nightmares and Anxiety Dreams.

See I Let Gwen Stacy Die for one of the most common failures. Might result in We Used to Be Friends. Often happens to heroes who fail to make amends. Can be a Career-Building Blunder. When the failure is what put the character on the path to being the current (better) person they are now, it's Necessary Fail. If the plot brings about an opportunity to correct or make up for their failure, you have My Greatest Second Chance. If failure puts the hero in a funk that takes years to shake off then you have a Scrap Heap Hero. Also compare to Old Shame, which is often what drives this mindset.

For Real Life examples from creators, see Creator Backlash and Bury Your Art.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Films — Animation 
  • Played with in The Book of Life. Manolo's father tells his son when he is very small that he will grow up to be the greatest of the Sanchezes. But when Manolo refuses to kill the bull, he reacts very badly. But when Manolo lives up to his heroic destiny, his father says that Manolo has indeed become the greatest of the Sanchezes.
  • In the climax to Despicable Me, when Gru is trying to save the girls from Vector, Margo angrily yells at Gru that he had abandoned them before, making her hesitant to jump to him now. Gru admits, with obvious self-loathing, that said abandonment was the worst thing he had ever done. However, he also says that he'll never do anything like that again, and he follows through when Vector comes in to try to keep Margo.
  • In Finding Nemo, Marlin holds a great regret of having failed to protect his wife and multiple unborn children from a Barracuda attack, causing him to become overprotective of his only surviving son, Nemo. It's the journey to get him back that allows Marlin to let go of his guilt, having realized that his attempts to protect his son nearly got him killed.
  • Frozen (2013) sees Elsa harbor a great deal of shame for her powers nearly killing her sister on accident when they were children, causing her to become cold and distant from Anna as they got older. It's thanks to the events of the film that she's able to overcome this and rekindle her relationship with her sister, allowing her to move on with her life free of the guilt.
    • However, this comes right back around in Frozen II when Elsa and Anna's quests to Northuldra lead them to learn the journey on which their parents died was because they were attempting to try and learn the cause of Elsa's powers, causing Elsa to blame herself for what happened to them. Again, it's the film's events that allow her to move past this regret.
  • In Hercules (Pure Magic), the title character destroys Thebes after being tricked into drinking Hades' nectar, and he willingly surrenders to the authorities and promises to do anything he can to pay for his mistake. He does hesitate when he is told to slay the Hydra, but then goes ahead when he finds out that his Love Interest Deianira is doomed to die unless he completes the task.
  • In The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, Buck and Zee hold the deaths of their old teammates as this, and it causes several arguments in the present day.
  • Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles blames himself for spurning Buddy (later known as Syndrome), his biggest fan. Later, Buddy turns to evil. Subverted as Buddy points out that Mr. Incredible hadn't given him a single thought until he became Syndrome.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, former Big Bad Sunset Shimmer feels this way about her previous actions in the first movie. As an Alpha Bitch who ran the school with an iron fist, Sunset's Heel–Face Turn has been met with rejection by the students of Canterlot High School. Even as Sunset tries to improve, her low self-esteem gets exploited to keep her quiet after Sunset finds out about the plans of the Dazzlings.
  • In The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, Jasper is haunted by a recent airship voyage where a mistake in his calculations led to a collision and a crewman going overboard.
  • Not being able to eat Little Red Riding Hood is, according to The Big Bad Wolf, his biggest failure in Redux Riding Hood. He attempts to build a time machine to rectify that mistake, but only ends up making things worse for himself.

    Multiple Media 
  • MonsterVerse:
    • James Conrad gets one in his backstory in Kong: Skull Island — The Official Movie Novelization. He previously took a mission to rescue the illegitimate Malaysian daughter of a British embassy worker who'd been kidnapped by rogue Indonesian soldiers, and the mission ended with the girl and several of Conrad's own men dead. As a result, Conrad became disillusioned by the British government (not least because he suspected the mission was fixed from the get-go), he left the SAS, and he chose freelance missions more cautiously from then on.
    • Mark Russell in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) personally feels that him abandoning his remaining child Madison after the death of his elder son is the worst mistake he ever made, and it's a big motivator in his personal quest to get back to her. Deconstructed in Godzilla vs. Kong, where Mark has misinterpreted and over-embellished the lesson to be learned from this mistake by swinging from being an overly-absent father to instead being a controlling, patronizing and hardass father who insists to the point of delusion that Madison is Just a Kid with no brains of her own.
    • Dr. Nathan Lind in Godzilla vs. Kong is ashamed that his and his brother's first attempt to launch a manned expedition to the Hollow Earth got several people including the brother killed, blaming himself for the disaster. And now he's trying to reach the Hollow Earth again, without causing another catastrophe.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • Captain Kirk failed to restrain his friend Commander Mitchell when he began exhibiting God-like powers, although he was warned by Mr. Spock; it wasn't until Mitchell killed a crewman and set about destroying the Enterprise that Kirk took action. And prior to that, he was haunted for over a decade by the deaths of over 200 crewmen (including his CO) because he thought his hesitation in firing on the Monster of the Week allowed it to attack; it was only when he saw it would have made no difference that he accepted his choice.
      • Beyond Kirk, Commodore Decker in "The Doomsday Machine" is pushed beyond the Despair Event Horizon when he watches in horror as the planetoid he evacuated his crew to is destroyed by the titular device, killing everyone. He's Driven to Suicide by the result.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Kirk's blunder in failing to arm the Enterprise in time resulted in Khan blasting the ship nearly to hell. He came back nicely though...
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • Subverted in the episode "Tapestry", where what Picard thought was his worst failure was picking a fight as a cadet and getting an artificial heart due to getting his real one stabbed. As Q showed, that incident made Picard what he is.
      • In "The Bonding", the non-corporeal Koinonians chose not to interfere when their physical counterparts began a war that ultimately destroyed them. They view their failure to prevent this as a great shame.
      • In "Family", Picard perceives being unable to stop the Borg from using him as part of their invasion in "The Best of Both Worlds" as his greatest failure.
      • Lwaxana Troi is shown to be going to great lengths to cover up what she sees as her greatest failure in the episode "Dark Page." She blames herself for the accidental drowning of her first-born daughter & Deanna's older sister.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In the episode "Things Past", Odo's friends witness his greatest failing as a security officer during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor: in the interest of keeping order, he condemned three innocent Bajorans for attempting to assassinate Gul Dukat based on circumstantial evidence. He eventually recognized his mistake and has tried to do better ever since. At some points, he seems to suggest that working for the Cardassians in general was this to him.
      • Worf has his own: as a child, not realizing how much more powerful Klingons are than humans, he killed another child during a game of soccer. He's held himself back from full enthusiasm over anything ever since.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Chakotay failed to catch (and ended up falling in love with) the Cardassian spy Seska in his Maquis cell, which came back to haunt him when she betrayed the series' titular ship and its crew to the evil Kazon. To add insult to injury, he also failed to catch the Federation spy Tuvok, compounding the guilt over Seska's betrayal. He only (sorta) recovered when he realized that neither spy realized the other was in the cell, making the incident not (entirely) his fault.
      Chakotay: (to Tuvok) She was working for them, you were working for her... was anyone on my ship working for me???
    • Star Trek: Picard: Hugh is responsible for the well-being of the former Borg drones on the Artifact, so when about a dozen of them are gunned down by Narissa and her guards, he feels guilty that he was unable to shield them from the cruelty of the Romulan Free State.
      Hugh: I've failed them all.
    • In Star Trek (2009), Spock-prime's greatest failure was not arriving in time to save the planet Romulus from a supernova blast. This results in a mad man from the future seeking vengeance on The Federation and destroying Spock's home planet, Vulcan.

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance:
    • Taako screwed up a transmutation spell during his cooking show that resulted in everyone who ate the samples of what he made getting poisoned and dying on the spot. Retroactively subverted when he learns, years later, that his jealous roadie Sazed had actually poisoned the food with arsenic.
    • Magnus also deeply regrets his failure to protect Raven's Roost from Governor Kalen.
    • Lucretia sees her time in Wonderland as this.

  • In Survival of the Fittest, Adam Dodd doesn't only have one of these, but two. The first of these is allowing himself to become separated from the other members of his group — among them his girlfriend and other close buddies of his. They all proceed to be killed, and in one case, raped. Adam blames himself for this. His second stems from an incident where his (mentally unstable) brother attacked him. Adam regrets throughout version 1 his failure to forgive his older brother until one of the very last scenes of the V1 endgame.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! East Academy: While he tries to deny it, Marcus clearly feels horrible about the death of Sylvestre.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: This is how Green Sun Princes become Green Sun Princes. They're on the edge of a heroic, epic act that would grant them Solar Exaltation... but then they choke, and then, in their moment of weakness, despair, and regret, the Yozis are there to offer them the Deal with the Devil that grants them the Infernal Exaltation.
  • Forgotten Realms: For decades, Drizzt Do'Urden had kept a vow to never kill another dark elf. However, he couldn't keep it forever, and in order to escape, he had to kill one of his kin. He was guilt-wracked for this... but, in a possible subversion, not for long, as he realized it was a hypocritical vow, given that he had often seen the necessity of killing orcs, humans, goblins, duergar, wererats, and others who actually tended to be less Always Chaotic Evil than his own people. In addition, the primary reason he had been able to keep that vow for so long was that he had been able to avoid other members of his race for most of that time, and being able to keep a vow because you never end up in a situation where breaking it is possible doesn't mean all that much.
  • In Nomine: Even 20,000 years after the fall, the Archangel Blandine still hasn't got over her lover, Beleth, betraying her and Heaven, and blames herself for having failed to notice Beleth's growing resentment and unhappiness. More recently, failing to stop Uriel's crusade and his slaughter of the spirits of the Marches has also been weighing on her both emotionally and practically.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium of Man had its own greatest failure during the end of the Great Crusade. During the beginning, it was believed that there was nothing science and reason couldn't conquer. And then they met Chaos.... Horus rebelled, the Emperor was placed upon the Golden Throne, and suddenly the Imperium became very suspicious of itself. So new measures were taken to make sure such heresy never happened again.
    • Sarpedon of the Soul Drinkers nearly led his Chapter into the clutches of the Dark Gods... and has eight legs to remind him of the danger of Chaos.
    • This is nothing compared to the Eldar race's greatest failure, which resulted in: 1) the destruction of their galaxy-spanning empire and the deaths of billions (if not trillions) of their race; 2) the fragmenting of the race into repressed ivory-tower ascetics, nature-attuned tribal agrarians, and blood-thirsty torture-obsessed sociopaths; and 3) the creation of one of the most powerful, and seriously messed-up Chaos gods.
    • Ahzek Ahriman feels a lot of guilt for accidentally transforming most of the Thousand Sons into suits of Animated Armor when he cast the Rubric and spends a lot of time trying to restore their humanity. The novel Ahriman: Unchanged reveals that he’s repressing an even deeper sense of guilt for failing to save his brother Ohrmuzd from dying of the flesh-change.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: The Dwarfs consider the Chaos Dwarfs this. They are everything the Dwarfs are not, forsaking the ancestor gods for the Chaos God Hashut, taking slaves instead of relying on good Dwarfen labor, allying with Greenskins instead of exterminating them on sight, and immediately putting new technology to use instead of relying on tried and true tradition. All this, combined with the utter shame of having their own people betray everything that is sacrosanct to them, means that the Dwarfs, to this day, prefer to pretend they don't exist and utterly refuse to speak of the Chaos Dwarfs, and react very angrily to anybody else bringing them up (the fact that the Dwarfs will also bring up Men and Elves' issues with Chaos traitors every chance they get is, to them, completely besides the point).

  • In Critic's Choice by Ira Levin, Parker resists Charlotte's demand that he give Angela's new play a good review even though it's not a good play and both of them know it, because he's still consumed with guilt over the uncritical reviews that he used to give the plays his first wife appeared in:
    "Charlie, I'm a nut, I know I am, but I still have nightmares once in a while about those fake reviews I wrote to keep Ivy happy. And when I say nightmares, Charlie, I mean pajama-soakers! I'm in a plane, a passenger plane, flying over mountains. The stewardess comes around with cocktails, and those six reviews are printed on the little napkins. Suddenly everybody is ugly-drunk and coming at me with their knives and forks. "Listen, folks, look, I told the truth about Helen of Troy!" And then the pilot comes out, played by my high-school English teacher, and he taps me on the shoulder and informs me that we're overweight and one passenger has to jump..."
  • In Hamilton, as recounted in the song "History Has Its Eyes on You", George Washington is haunted by his first command, where he led his men into a massacre.
  • In The Mousetrap, it's eventually revealed that decades earlier, the protagonist was sent a letter that could have saved a child's life, but was too ill to read it when she got it, and then it was too late. Even though it wasn't her fault so much as it was just terrible luck, it's haunted her ever since.
  • In the Mrs. Hawking play series: In part four, Gilded Cages, it is suggested that for Mrs. Hawking this is her very first attempt at superheroing, when she tried to help her maid Malaika steal food for her starving village in Singapore. Their attempts resulted in failure, Malaika losing her job and imprisoned, and herself forced to marry in exchange for her father providing relief to the village.


    Visual Novels 
  • Code:Realize has this as a motivating factor for certain love interests.
    • Victor blames himself for creating Zicterium and by extension, chemical warfare and continuing to research it at the urging of Isaac Beckford and the government, not realizing what they intended to do with it until it was too late. He considers it his personal mission to see that the knowledge of the above does not fall into anyone else's hands and any remaining stockpiles of it are located and destroyed before it can be used.
    • Van Helsing deeply regrets actions he had taken during the Vampire War. He had infiltrated the vampire community as a spy but found the vampires not to be a threat to humanity and tried to advocate for them. But Finis forced him to betray and kill the vampires by holding his family hostage. He now dedicated all his time and energy into finding Finis for one final revenge, not even caring if his life could be lost in the attempt.
  • The protagonist of Daughter for Dessert comes to realize that not telling Amanda the whole truth about Lainie, nor about his relationship with her was a grave error after Cecilia takes advantage of Amanda's curiosity to draw her away from him.
  • For the protagonist of Double Homework, causing an avalanche on Barbarossa that kills a dozen people is this. The weight from his blunder consistently causes him to act more maturely than he did before.
  • Many of the prized possessions in Fleuret Blanc are, in fact, reminders of these. You usually only discover this after winning them and reading either the item description or Squeaker's commentary.
    • Le Neuvieme's grimoire is a reminder of how he disappointed his family by straying from the family profession, and the obligations he still holds.
    • Amara's metronome is a reminder of a time she failed to uphold her ideal of perfection and damaged the metronome during fencing practice.
    • Junior's stuffed animal is a reminder of a childhood embarrassment in which she discovered that for all her technical prowess and determination, there are some skills she is not capable of.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Amane and Sachi are living with this kind of regret:
    • Amane: When her entire class got stranded in a ravine after an accident, things went to hell, the situation escalated until the survivors resorted to eating their dead classmates, something Amane and her best friend Kazuki not participated in; in fact, Amane didn't even now they were doing that. When she and Kazuki try to escape, the crazed survivors try to chase them down and Amane is forced to leave Kazuki behind. She feels personally responsible for Kazuki's death, living the rest of her life believing she does not deserve happiness.
    • Sachi: After her previously caring parents grow distant to her, being buried by work, Sachi doubles her effort both in school and home the earn their attention, but with little success. An entire year of neglect later on her 10th birthday, her parents seemingly come around suddenly, which angers Sachi and she runs away. Just when her parents find her at the local playground, they are run over by a truck right in front of Sachi's eyes. She convinces that it was her fault, for not being reasonable, and toughing out the neglect, this belief leads to severe mental issues for her.
  • Subverted with the protagonist of Melody. He considers his relationship with Bethany as his greatest failure; however, Bethany's own sociopathic tendencies also were a huge factor in the failure of that relationship.
  • Monster Prom: In a secret route, Liam reveals that he has two: getting the second Hope killed, which led to his fractured relationship with the Coven, and choosing Angelus as his villain name.
  • Ed from Policenauts can't use a gun anymore because of shooting Marc's father in front of Marc, who was revealed to be Ridley, Tony's brother. However, he does use a gun when he saves Jonathan from being shot by Gates.

  • A villainous example in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Dark Pegasus made a plan to take over the kingdom of H-Ann, a country renowned for its stable defenses and the protection of their citizens. However, he rushed his plans, and when it all backfired on him, he started making less and less stable ones. At the point of the comic, he's returned from the dead multiple times (and it's implied that he Came Back Wrong), and his family are more than a bit concerned about how lopsided those plans have become.
  • Ennui GO!: When Omegaman was just starting out as a hero, a woman in Florida drove a car into the ocean, presumably killing her two daughters. He never found the girls, and the case has haunted him ever since. Of course, those two girls are main character Izzy and her sister Adelaide, and when Omegaman finds this out, he...doesn't take it well.
    Izzy Omegaman, that was me. Me and my sister are those girls.
    Omegaman: (beat) What. You're lying.
    Izzy: I'm not. It happened a little over fifteen years ago. Our mom's name is Morrigan. We lived on the south side of Costa Noche, Florida.
    Omegaman: Stop it.
    Izzy: She liked heroin and everclear. She had a Ninety-Two Honda Accord, that's what she drove into the bay.
    Omegaman: STOP IT!
    Izzy: Omegaman, I still have my old library card from when–
    Omegaman: (unmasking, revealing his face) I'm SORRY, okay?! I looked for you! I looked EVERYWHERE for you! But the police gave up and I'm not a detective like Miss Mantis! I was just some kid who got powers! What kind of superhero can't save two little girls?
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Grace cowered as Damien went on a killing spree breaking her and her brothers out of the lab that created them. Grace later finds out that she was created to fight Damien, and her guilt over failing to act the first time overcomes her pacifistic tendencies and drives her berserk when Damien threatens to kill Nanase and Ellen. Despite saving her friends' lives and freeing her brothers by defeating Damien, she feels even more guilty for losing control and then failing to keep him from committing suicide. This hat trick of perceived failure leads her to swear off using her shapeshifting powers until her sister and grandfather convince her to stop blaming herself.
    • Mr. Raven holds himself responsible for Tedd's mother having divorced his father and not having any further contact with her son. It's not entirely clear what happened, but from his reactions, it seems that Raven's zeal for fighting evil went a bit too far and pushed Mrs. Verres down a self-destructive path.
  • Homestuck:
    • Even after 413 years, WV still won't let himself forget that he failed to prevent Jack from murdering his army.
    • Equius still regrets failing to protect Nepeta. When he and Nepeta find themselves fused to other characters as sprites, he apologizes to her, admitting that his refusal to do anything against Gamzee due to the blood cast was the wrong idea.
    • Kanaya regrets her failure to protect the Matriorb.
  • Magical 12th Graders: Namgung blames himself for Gyeowul's death, and wishes more than anything that he can fix it — but the wish that the pin grants can't be used to revive the dead. He can, however, use it to turn back time, but he can't turn it back to before the moment where she died. He's still tried a dozen times.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Vaarsuvius is a highly intelligent elven wizard with a large ego. This sets them up for a fall on two occasions:
      • Their ego takes a severe beating when they're unable to defeat a highly spell-resistant death knight, fail to prevent the hobgoblins from overrunning the breach at Azure City and winning the battle (including having fleeing allied soldiers beg V to help them and one of them cursing the elf's "useless goddamn magic" with her dying breath after V is unable to help them due to having run out of spells), and then spends months trying to overcome the effects of an anti-scrying abjuration without luck, in a situation when the fate of the world practically hinges on the elf's success. The long-term consequences for Vaarsuvius remain yet to be revealed, but in the short term, they certainly include Past Experience Nightmares, every symptom in the book for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and easy temptation to a Face–Heel Turn when their self-perceived lack of ability puts their family in danger. Based on this strip, it looks like V isn't going to live down that Face–Heel Turn, either.
      • After that is the realization that the Familicide spell V used during said Face–Heel Turn wound up being responsible for the death of a staggering number of innocent people.
    • Elan gets a bit of this when the half-orc Therkla is killed trying to protect him. She's poisoned, and Elan lacked the Bard spell that would have cured her. It affects Elan enough that when he reunites with Haley, he reveals that he took "Neutralize Poison" at his next level up.
    • Roy blames himself for not intervening in a situation where one of his father's experiments ended up costing his baby brother's life, in spite of Roy being ten years old at the time. A villain later tries to exploit this guilt.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: When he was thirteen, Lalli's Mathematician's Answer in a scout report caused a group of soldiers from his military base to venture into a dangerous area and four people to be killed. The number was considered low in regards to the attack's violence. His older cousin reprimanded him quite harshly about it, and during the scolding implied that a single mistake from their grandmother was the reason they had left their old home to live on that military base five years before that event. In the present day, it causes Lalli to prefer fixing a mistake in finding a path while half-asleep to leaving it hanging and forcing the rest of the crew to backtrack. When he couldn't find a safe path to a new campsite, he put himself into a Power-Strain Blackout to create one via clearing a tunnel full of troll pods.
    • Adventure II goes into more detail about their grandmother Ensi's mistake: she dismissed Hilja's strange behavior as the onset of dementia, and locked eyes with her, which allowed the kade that possessed Hilja to force Ensi into the Hive Mind as well. This led to Hilja infecting an entire village with the Rash, the massacre of said village to prevent its spread (with Onni, Lalli, and Tuuri the only survivors), and Ensi being unable to move on to the afterlife since she's part of the kade.
  • In Weak Hero, Alex holds himself responsible for Ben's arm injury, as not only was Ben protecting him, but it was Alex getting involved with the wrong crowd that led to them both being at the construction site in the first place. Even though Ben constantly tells him not to blame himself, Alex can't help but do so.

    Web Original 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie: Harvey Finevoice confides in Nash that he never forgave himself after he ran out on Linkara back when they first faced off against Mechakara and he's been afraid of Linkara getting killed ever since.
  • Gameboys: Cairo, when he ran away in fear when he was outed to his family. His father got sick of COVID-19 while looking for him, and eventually passes away. His older brother London is upset with him over this. The two siblings get better, though.
  • In Greek Ninja, Sasha fails to save her sensei during the invasion of Ariadnio.
  • In Episode 7 of HFIL, the villains (sorry, the morally compromised malefactors) are invited to show this through macaroni art:
    • Guru, after initially trying to eat it, spits it out, revealing his greatest regret is knowing Nail.
      Guru: Nailed it.
    • Cell's is not choking the life out of Tienshinhan.
    • Freeza's is not choking the life out of Goku. Who, King Cold points out, didn't kill him.
    • Recoome's greatest failure isn't shown on camera, but it's apparently horrifying enough to inspire disgust in most of the others, and abject horror in Guldo, since it involves his wife. (Raditz has no reaction, and Burter just muses that this is why he couldn't find any rigatoni.)
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Agent Carolina is this in SO many spades over her previous overly-competitive nature to please her disconnected father so long ago, where she had a great many opportunities to drive off her self-destructive path of proving herself to Project Freelancer, with the Project itself destroying the other Freelancers' lives over time during its ruinous slog of development of its AI Fragments during the years of its activity. she definitely feels multiple ripples of this BIG time after many of her former comrades died, earning the eternal vengeance of an inferno-obsessed pyromaniac and seemingly forgets a time she accidentally killed a very dear friend of a Simulation Trooper, thus having him vengefully haunt her later on in the future and giving her a VERY horrific view of what happened to the other surviving agents leftover from the disbanded Project Freelancer. She especially gives a past version of herself a very scathing "talk" involving her aforementioned self-destructive victory-obsessed-self, essentially hating on her past-self a very great deal.
    • Doc reveals that when he was young, his little brother Deke fell into a river and drowned. Doc tried to save him, but he didn't know CPR, so Deke died. Doc became a medic so that a tragedy like that would never happen again.
  • RWBY:
    • As a child, Yang was so obsessed with finding her biological mother that she almost got herself and her younger sister killed when chasing clues lead her straight into a nest of Beowolves. They were rescued by Qrow; she learned the hard way to never allow obsession to control her.
    • Blake criticised her parents for leaving the White Fang, openly calling them cowards, only to eventually understand that her parents understood just how far the White Fang was falling from its original goals. When discussing the incident with her father, she tearfully admits she can't understand why they still love her. Her shocked father tells her that what matters is that she pulled herself out of it and came back to face her demons; most people don't have that kind of strength, and he's very proud of her for doing so.
    • Ozpin takes responsibility for everything that's gone wrong in the world, regardless of accuracy. However, his greatest mistake seems to drive his actions in the present. The first time he reincarnated, he defied the God of Light's warning that Salem was no longer the person he knew; when they reunited, she manipulated him into trying to unite the world by pretending to be gods. He swallowed his misgivings until it eventually became impossible to ignore how evil she had become; this led to a terrible confrontation between them in which their castle, kingdom and four daughters all perished. That event became the trigger for Salem's world-destroying machinations, and the crippling guilt and secrecy Ozpin struggles with.
  • Whateley Universe: Captain Patriot of SPECTRUM once talked a young mutant into surrendering to the MCO: the kid promptly disappeared and was never seen again, and the MCO still steadfastly denies he even existed. He will go rogue before he lets the MCO get their hands on Stacey and makes sure they know it.


Tai and the Firewall

After his friends successfully convince him that touching an electrified fence in the wrong place could kill him, Tai freezes in fear.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeerInTheHeadlights

Media sources: