Throughout time, there have been many things to which "never again" would be applicable. For this fairly common stock motivation, characters who have been abused, betrayed, mistreated, or otherwise persecuted in the past are acting to make sure that this sort of thing never happens to them again. This can encompass anything from taking a few levels in badass to ensure they'll be able to defend themselves against future threats, to attempting to Take Over the World and overthrowing the oppressive institutions that made them miserable, to refusing to care enough about anyone or anything to be hurt. The characters may also wish to spare others from suffering like they did, but there needs to be at least some element of preemptive self-protection involved to fit the trope.
It's a common motivation for the behavior of the Broken Bird. May lead to Had to Be Sharp. See also Safety in Indifference, Freudian Excuse, May It Never Happen Again, and My Greatest Failure. If the hurt is romantic in nature and new relationships are avoided for this reason, it's The First Cut Is the Deepest and Commitment Issues. See also Hope Is Scary, where recovering from despair is feared because it doesn't allow this, and We Are Not Going Through That Again for a (usually) more comedic take on the same sentiment.
- In all adaptations of Astro Boy, Dr. Tenma's son is killed. In grief, Tenma builds a robotic replica of his son, Astro Boy, and because he has plenty of Mad Scientist in him, augments the android with ridiculous amounts of weaponry so that his new son can defend himself when threatened. In a more direct version of this trope, Astro constantly sees robots getting mistreated or destroyed, often himself included, and spends much of his time defending robots without harming humans.
- In Berserk, the trope is invoked by those who become Apostles. Since a Behelit is sure to appear in the hands of its owner when they reach their Despair Event Horizon, it is only natural that most willingly sacrifice their loved ones in order to become physically and emotionally invulnerable.
- Revy of Black Lagoon became what she is due to the horrible treatment she received at the hands of those in authority, from her drunken asshole of a father at home to the police on the streets. Revy's obsession with power is a direct response to her feeling of powerlessness during those years as a kid, and she never wants to go back to that again.
- The backstory for Crest of the Stars has the Abh overthrowing their human creators and masters, then going on to conquer most of the known universe, while in the process of conquering the rest.
- This trope leads to the tragic ending of Danganronpa 3: Despair. Chiaki's friend Hajime disappears off the face of the earth, much to her sorrow. Months later, the same thing is about to happen to Chisa, so Chiaki panics and makes some really crappy decisions in an attempt to save her.
- Kyōtarō Ichikawa from The Dangers in My Heart reverts to negative thoughts and dismissal when faced with something he feels an attachment to but can't attain. For example, a game console he wanted in elementary school that he felt his mother couldn't get. This habit got worse in the present after failing to get into the private school he wanted, fearing the worst of others' impressions of him. It's a large part of why he's hesitant to accept the hints that Yamada likes him back.
- This is the reason Minatsuki acts the way she does in Deadman Wonderland. To keep anyone from abandoning her the way her mother did, she deliberately acts as crass and cruel as she can so that no one will ever get close to her.
- The manga tie-in for Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening suggests that this is Dante's main motivation. After losing his mother to demons, he didn't get stronger to protect other people, it was so nothing like that could happen to him again.
- In Dragon Ball Super, this is the motivation for Jiren's Might Makes Right philosophy. After losing first his family and then his comrades to an evildoer, he decided that a person's own strength is all they can rely on in life. He then closed himself off emotionally and pushed himself to become the strongest mortal in existence, all so he would never be vulnerable like that again. When Goku's Ultra Instinct form begins to overpower him, he starts having traumatic flashbacks, and eventually fires at the audience to spite Goku's belief in The Power of Friendship.
- This is the reason why Haruka of Kotoura-san would decide to be alone before the start of the story; several Despair Event Horizons on, she cynically thinks she would doom every living being that she cares about, so she decided to be with nobody so that they would not be hurt—and by extension, herself being hurt by abandonment from someone she cares about again. The downward spiral was only broken by Manabe.
- The central conflict of Neon Genesis Evangelion is essentially this, with every major character having some aspect of this as their motivation. Pretty much all of the characters' Angst is caused by characters being unable to connect with other people for fear of being hurt. Shinji and Asuka being in love with but too frightened of each other to try and have a relationship leads to The End of the World as We Know It, which Shinji unleashes because he believes that no one loves him and everybody would hurt him. SEELE's end goal is essentially an attempt at this taken to its Logical Extreme.
- One Piece:
- This is the reason behind Boa Hancock's behaviour. After she and her sisters were made slaves in their childhood, she put on a strong, cruel image to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. It caused her surrogate mother figure to fear Hancock had really grown cold as ice, but fortunately, Luffy's actions proved that it wasn't the case.
- Charlotte Katakuri is a Slave to PR who has cultivated an image as The Paragon that he projects in public so he won't be ridiculed like he was as a child for his "pelican eel" mouth (which he now conceals with a scarf) — in reality, he is every bit as gluttonous and hedonistic as the rest of his family. This is only amplified by the fact that the Charlotte Family is a Big, Screwed-Up Family that has no issue mocking and demeaning any physical deformities their siblings have (as Pudding and her third-eye can attest to). He only manages to break out of this mindset during his fight with Luffy, who saw Katakuri's true self (including his mouth) and didn't give a damn about any of his flaws, only about Katakuri's amazing combat ability as an opponent.
- One of the most tragic and disturbing examples in the series can be found in Gecko Moria, who lost his dearly loved crew in a fight with Kaido, with him as the sole survivor. He became so consumed by grief that he decided to make an army of corpse puppets, or zombies, powered with the shadows of others, believing it was better to have Nigh immortal zombie pawns he didn't have to care about rather than flesh and blood humans he could get attached to. Then he loses one of the few living friends he still has (Absalom) to another Emperor, whose crew taunts him with the possibility he's still alive before revealing they killed him and took his Devil Fruit.
- Oyaji’s insanely abusive father was what made the boy grow into such a violent man, even if Oyaji only resorts to violence after being being on the receiving end of it himself, he can become a murder machine to make sure whoever started to mess with him and his family to be instantly incapacitated, or even killed. However, when Oyaji makes a a comeback to his family years later, he actually tries to forsake violence as much as possible, making sure to let his wife and children know a man who shows real love instead of just trying to punch the problems away.
- In Pokémon Journeys: The Series, Goh used to distance himself from making human friends, except for Chloe, because he was usually at his home doing research. Despite this, Goh did make a friend in a boy named Horace during a family trip in Johto but believed he betrayed him when he broke his word to meet up with him again, which solidified his belief in not making human friends, minus Chloe, as he didn't want to get hurt or betrayed again. However, after meeting Ash, Goh slowly started to open up about making human friends again as he has come to realize that he needs to have more than just Chloe in his life. In Time After Time!, Goh found out that Horace was sick on the day they were supposed to meet up and ends up fully forgiving him.
- In Rebuild World, this is Akira's M.O. at the start of the story. When he was younger, he was suckered into accepting offers to live beyond the wall and eat good food from Con Artists before being abandoned on the roadside when his usefulness ended. This left him a ruthless paranoiac who only looks out for himself until he meets Alpha.
- Some portrayals of Poison Ivy in Batman - she got mutated when she fell for a guy Playing with Syringes - now she is obsessed with controlling men.
- In the Cacophony storyline, this is Batman's justification for saving The Joker's life at the end, in spite of Gordon's protests. He tells Joker that he became Batman so he could save people from dying, no matter what.
- Some portrayals of Batman himself suggest that his tendency to remain emotionally distant is a defense against feeling the kind of pain he experienced watching his parents gunned down.
- In The Death of Superman, Doomsday's motivation for killing everything he sees is that he was created via a horrific experiment that involved dying multiple times (we're talking hundreds if not THOUSANDS of deaths). He thinks everything in the universe is a threat to his life and he's terrified of dying again.
- In the ElfQuest: Siege at Blue Mountain arc, this seems to be Winnowill's motivation for wanting to take all of the pure-blooded elves somewhere they can never be hurt again. For many of them, it doesn't end well.
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: After Scrooge humiliates and arrests Flintheart Glomgold, Glomgold vows to become rich enough to avoid being humiliated again.
- Magneto, when he's given sympathetic motivations. He's a Holocaust survivor who doesn't want mutants to face the kind of genocidal bigotry he endured in his youth. Though it does kind of go against him when he has no qualms about doing that to humans.
- Supergirl story arc Red Daughter of Krypton starts out when Supergirl, who feels she's been manipulated and betrayed by everyone since she showed up on Earth several months ago, promises herself that she'll not be hurt again, and if life tries to hit her again, she's hitting back.
Supergirl: Dad. Kal. H'el. Siobhan. They ALL let me down. They all broke my heart. And now THIS. No more. Nobody gets away with hurting me ever again. Not THIS time!
- An Alchemist Abroad: Back when Sasha's parents were getting divorced, her father convinced her to vent out all her frustrations with her mother while secretly recording her ranting. He then used this recording as evidence in court as part of a bid to win full custody of Sasha. It's heavily implied that this incident was a key factor in Sasha becoming a Control Freak: she never wants to be manipulated by anyone else ever again.
- Amity and the Last Wish: After Wilfred Blight arrived at the Wishing Star too late to save his dying wife, he wishes that all members of the Blight family, whether they're related by blood or enter by marriage, will have two extra lives, granting them two extra chances to avoid death (aside from passing away from old age). He hopes that this will spare all of his descendants the pain he felt from his wife's death.
- Apex Predator (MHA): After dealing with the Apathetic Teachers and all of the Barbaric Bullying at Aldera, Izuku decides to ensure that his experiences at Yuuei will be different — no bullies will hurt anyone around him on his watch! This spurs him to start gathering information and stalking anyone at Yuuei whom he sees as even slightly suspicious.
- Better Left Unsaid: Fuu decides to become a ninja of Takigakure and hone her skills as a jinchuuriki in order to protect herself. This is also why she Hates Being Touched.
- In the The Silmarillion fic A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script, secondary character Maiwe did not want to give another chance to her formerly verbally abusive boyfriend, refusing to believe that Edrahil had changed during the war and was a different person now and having sworn that she would not be hurt again. Beren warned her that attitude may hurt her anyway.
- In The Bridge, Aria Blaze muses that she wants to become stronger so that no one will ever be able to scare her again.
- In the Neon Genesis Evangelion fic A Crown of Stars, Asuka has been hurt by virtually everyone she knew (her parents, her step-mother, her guardians, the boy she liked...). As a result of it, she does not want to let herself fall in love because she does not want to be hurt again. Another character warns her that attitude will get her hurt anyway.
- In the Love Live!/Jojos Bizarre Adventure crossover Honoka's Bizarre Adventure, while the stand Circus might be sentient and acts independent from Nico, she still is a reflection of Nico's soul. So when Honoka asks Nico to join μ's and teach them about being idols, Circus refuses at first because she doesn't want Nico to be betrayed again, just like what happened in the idol club during Nico's first year. It's only after seeing Honoka's determination as both an idol and a Stand User that Circus gives μ's a chance.
- I Was Beautiful Once: Experiment 625 was once Jumba's ultimate experiment, who took immense pride in his power and appearance. But when one of his missions exposes him to radiation, he goes from Beauty to Beast, and is so traumatized by the experience that he decides to become a Lazy Bum, as he doesn't see any point in making too much effort anymore... not after one assignment cost him so much.
- If I Can't Be Everything To You, You'll Be Nothing To Me: After Jon breaks his heart, Damien is willing to enter an Arranged Marriage with Cain. While Cain cares for him, Damien doesn't love him back, and feels as though it's unlikely he'll ever be able to love anyone else after being burned so badly.
- One of Harry/Tristan's driving motivations in the Harry Potter fic The Jaded Eyes Series. Though he believes it's too late for himself he figures he can still save other magical children from suffering the same fate at the hands of muggles.
- Loved and Lost: After Twilight's friends, brother and mentor lose their social standing due to Prince Jewelius, her initial refusal to trust them stems from her wanting to avoid the heartache she felt after being rejected at the wedding rehearsal. Later on, Jewelius urges her to give up on them altogether by arguing that she will only invite more heartache by letting them back in her life.
- In the The King of Fighters fic Sore ga Ai, Deshou?, Andy, as a result of constantly being shunted back and forth between numerous foster families, has difficulty opening up to people and forming any real attachments; his personal motto is "Don't get attached, don't get hurt."
- In the Neon Genesis Evangelion/Warhammer 40,000 crossover fic Thousand Shinji, one of the reasons Shinji wants to want to Take Over the World is he does not want anybody hurting him or Asuka ever again.
- Two Letters: After spending the better part of two years having her generosity exploited as both a civilian and a superheroine, Marinette decides to quit being Ladybug... and, more importantly, to stop caring about others, focusing entirely upon herself and her own needs. She's also deeply concerned about the possibility of being hurt again, to the point that her past self set up several contingency plans with the intent of convincing her amnesiac future self to become The Unfetttered, claiming that anything is justifiable so long as she secures her happy ending.
- In the American McGee's Alice fic WonderShock, this is Alice's primary goal. She wants to become stronger in the real world to ensure that she's never a victim of the likes of Bumby ever again.
- Deconstructed in Shielding Their Realms Forever for Sansa. Jon, having harbored a wave of ten-year-long anger with Sansa for several of her actions in the original timeline (such as not telling him about the Knights of the Vale joining them to retake Winterfell or exposing his true parentage right after he trusted her with his secret), is Peggy Sued at the moment of his resurrection to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and fully defeat the Others. After reuniting with Sansa and making her believe his knowledge of the future was a vision he saw during his death, presses her on why she lied to him, driving her to tearfully admit that after Ned's unjust execution (which she blames on herself for having been so insistent on marrying Joffrey even after Lady's death) and the subsequent abuses she suffered at the hands of Joffrey, Cersei, Littlefinger, and Ramsay, she's terrified of going back to being a helpless victim with no control over her life again. However, the way she went about it in the original timeline had her thinking she had to wear her trauma like a shield and think she was stronger for everything she faced, leading her to see everyone else as a potential enemy. Upon realizing that the original Sansa never properly healed from what she endured, Jon lets go of a large part of his past anger and takes it upon himself to keep the rebooted timeline version of her from going down that same path.
- Meg from Hercules refuses to admit that she may have feelings for Hercules due to the fact that her previous boyfriend left her when she gave her soul to Hades to save his life.
Meg: Sometimes, it's better to be alone. Nobody can hurt you.
- In The LEGO Batman Movie, Batman is forced to admit that the reason he pushes people away is because he's scared of losing them like he lost his parents.
Batman: I was afraid... Of feeling... The pain you feel... When you lose... Someone close to you.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: After she lost her universe's Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen avoids getting attached to anyone to prevent feeling loss again.
- Zootopia: After being bullied and rejected by prey animals as a child, Nick decided to never let others get to him ever again.
- Descendants 3: Invoked by Audrey in "Queen of Mean":
Being nice was my past time
But I've been hurt for the last time
- Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind: "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"
- Hitch: Part of Hitch's backstory - in his younger days he loved and was very devoted to a woman who broke his heart by cheating on him with a cooler guy, with the reason that he was too average. In explaining it, he blatantly says he set out to ensure the same thing never happens to anyone else or himself - he reinvents himself to become the very pinnacle of charm and then becomes the "Date Doctor" to give average guys real romantic chances that would otherwise never come their way.
- The Pigeon Lady in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York tells Kevin that she was hurt by a man who didn't love her back, so never let herself the possibility of having her heart broken again. That's why she was alone, that, and the pigeon poop.
- In the Italian movie Il Primo Re, the would-be founders of Rome all just want to become a force strong enough to defend themselves: Romulus and Remus have lost their flock of sheep and their native village to the Albani, their first followers were people the Albani wanted to sacrifice to the gods alongside the two brothers, and the Velientes are refugees from places raided by the Albani and lose their village to Remus' madness. They succeed even before founding Rome, as right before Remus' fated death they are reached by Albani horsemen chasing the would-be sacrifice victims and kill them all.
- This has been used as Spartacus' motivation in several fictionalisations.
- Star Wars: What Anakin's motivations boil down to post-Attack of the Clones: losing his mother made him obsessed with becoming strong enough to protect the others around him, so he wouldn't have to endure the pain of losing them as well. This obsession infamously and tragically costs him everything.
- The Suicide Squad: Harley has taken this stance after her breakup with The Joker. So when she gets engaged to the new dictator of Corto Maltese, and he mentions sending "undesirables" (including children) to be killed by a monster, she immediately shoots him in the chest.
Harley: I made a promise to myself that the next time I got a boyfriend, I'd be on the look out for red flags, and if I saw any I'd do the healthy thing. And I would murder him. And killing kids? Kind of a red flag. I know, I know. I know what you're trying to say. "Harley, why not just leave?!" And I'd say, "Why are you screaming at me?! I'm not deaf! I'm standing right here!" And then I'd say, "When your taste in men is as bad as mine, they don't just go away quietly. They slash your tires and they kill your dogs and tell you that the music you like ain't real music at all." And all the cruelty... tears you apart after a while.
- Magneto from the X-Men Film Series is both a Holocaust Survivor and mutant "lab rat", which pushes him towards Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us regarding mutant suppression by the humans.
- In A Brother's Price, after her abusive husband Keifer Porter died, Princess Trini does not want to marry again, as a new husband could be just the same. (While he was bad for the whole family, he raped and tortured only Trini, and was more subtle with the others) This causes problems because it prevents her sisters from marrying, too - all sisters marry one husband, due to male Gender Rarity Value in the setting. She is also protective of people who are in danger of facing the same fate she did - when she is told that the Porters intend to make an offer for Jerin, she neglects her own safety to help. By agreeing to marry Jerin herself.
- This is what sparks Tiffany Aching's desire to become a witch in her Discworld books. Specifically, there was an incident in which an odd but otherwise harmless old woman was turned out of her home, mistreated by the locals, and eventually died out in the cold because they believed her to be a witch. Tiffany's response was to want to become a real witch so anyone who ever wanted to pull a stunt like that again would have to go through her first.
- Although she says "never be hungry again", a good deal of Scarlett O'Hara's ruthless behavior throughout the second half of Gone with the Wind can be attributed to this, as it's repeatedly stated that she's genuinely terrified of returning to the days of cold and poverty.
- The main character of The Kingkiller Chronicle mentions this as one of several motivations for attending Wizarding School. (How truthful he was being is currently unknown—especially since the series isn't finished yet.)
- Alan Dean Foster's The Man Who Used The Universe. Kees vaan Loo-Macklin creates a criminal empire and a legitimate business empire and manipulates too many beings to name (both human and alien). He does this because he was abandoned as a child and grew up in a series of foster homes where he was mistreated because of his appearance and was determined never to be helpless and mistreated again.
- In This Immortal, Diane lets slip that she used to be a pleasure girl on Taler and it wasn't a pleasant experience, which caused her hatred of all Vegans and was her motivation to join Radpol's Returnist movement.
- Deconstructed in The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold. Miles muses that the weak always want power because they think it means that they can't be hurt again.
- Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): Kaladin is terrified that if he lets any lighteyes know about his new Surgebinding powers, they will somehow take them away. He knows it's impossible, but that does not ease his worries in any way. This leads to him breaking his vows and losing his powers. He recovers them after he realizes what he did wrong and swears a new Ideal.
- On The 100, Lexa's response to the torture and murder of the girl she loved was to stop caring about anyone on an individual level and devote herself entirely to the well-being of her people as a whole.
Lexa: I thought I'd never get over the pain, but I did.
Lexa: By recognizing it for what it is: weakness.
- The Narn from Babylon 5, in the early seasons. Their motivation, which prompts their bullying, their expansion, their desire to crush the Centauri, is largely about ensuring that they'll never again be at the mercy of the Centauri. Commander Sinclair even explicitly compares them to abused children who have learnt to hit back and now abuse others in turn.
- Ironically, the Centauri themselves: they used to be a peace-loving race before the Xon, the other sentient race from their homeworld, literally showed up from nowhere to enslave the Centauri and kill anyone who opposed. After the invasion (and a brief alien invasion), the Centauri killed every last Xon, took the stars as conquerors, and invented the mass drivers (whose use is considered a war crime).
- Also, the reason many Humans despise aliens and/or are obsessed with acquiring overwhelming military force: during the Earth-Minbari War, Mankind was brought to the verge of extinction by the Minbari, and Earth's allies deserted them out of fear of the Minbari, and no Human want that to repeat.
- It's also the reason Babylon 5 exists at all: the Earth-Minbari War started due to a formidable case of Poor Communication Killsnote , and after the war, the Humans built the Babylon Stations as a meeting point where all races would be able to meet in peace and learn about each other.
- Bridgerton: This is what motivates Anthony Bridgerton to go against marrying for love. All because he's so traumatized over witnessing his mother fell into a great depression to the point of suicidal following his dad's tragic sudden death and heartbroken after his longtime mistress, Siena Rosso, unexpectedly dumped him for another man just as he was ready to go public with her. Thus, he vows to get married soon but NOT falling in love again. Nevertheless in season 2, upon meeting Kate Sharma and realized to have fallen for her, he spends the entire season trying his best to deny and fight his feelings for her until he eventually gives in by marrying Kate.
- Cobra Kai: Hawk initially joins Cobra Kai for this very reason. Having been much abused simply for his lip, he was one of the original students of the Order Reborn and, transforming himself into "Hawk," proved himself to be a solid Determinator despite a rocky second season. Best exemplified in the third season, when Brucks (one of his tormentors) shows up at Kreese's tryouts and ends up on the other side of his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown without getting in so much as a single hit to Hawk.
- Doctor Who:
- John Lumic, who has some undisclosed and presumably painful terminal illness, decides to enforce Unwilling Roboticisation upon himself and humanity in order to eradicate death and emotion.
- Professor Lazarus from "The Lazarus Experiment" tried to create a device to avoid death due to his experiences during World War II. It didn't quite work out.
- The Doctor had periods (most notably after losing Rory and Amy) wherein he refused to take on companions or even go on adventure or rescue people (before of course doing exactly that)
- The Gua in First Wave were once enslaved by another race but eventually drove their oppressors off their world. They even renamed their entire race based on their victory: "Gua" means "the power to overcome". They pre-emptively conquer other worlds to ensure no one else is ever able to threaten them again. One of their leaders, Joshua, eventually sides with humanity when he realizes that humans also possess "Gua".
- House in House seems to be like this at times. His relationship with Stacy sent him into one period of emotional disengagement. Then when after his relationship with Cuddy goes bad, he refuses the affections of his green-card wife, apparently out of fear that sex with anyone who actually likes him (rather than hookers) might lead to attachment which will hurt him again. Of course, if you showed him this page on TV Tropes and said that it applied to him, he'd probably give you a Breaking Speech about what a moron you are for thinking it.
- Once Upon a Time: Several characters, but special mention goes to Cora, who, after being forced to kneel and apologize to Eva, decides not to stop until everyone else is on their knees.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- The Founders (a race of changelings) use this as justification for running the Dominion. They tell Odo that millennia earlier, they were peaceful, but were met with brutal distrust and were hunted down. Thus, they founded the Dominion to ensure they would never be in a position of weakness ever again, breeding the remorseless Jem'Hadar to do their bidding on lesser species. However, there are subtle hints throughout the show that the prejudice against changelings did not start until after the Founders started their empire-building.
- The Bajorans suffered a brutal fifty-year occupation at the hands of the Cardassians and ex-freedom fighters like Major Kira make it quite clear they will never suffer such an indignity again. Indeed, this is what kick starts the series, as the first step to guaranteeing the Cardassians stay away is the Bajoran provisional government requesting Starfleet establish a naval presence at Bajor, so any attacks on Bajor will be an automatic act of war against the Federation.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode "Subspace Rhapsody" explains Spock being the logic machine Vulcan that he is with the song "I'm The Ex" as Christine Chapel rather harshly breaks up with him (in song!) and, hurt by that, decides to never let his emotions guide his decisions.
- "Snowflakes" by Just Jack seems to be about a combination of this and depression in general:
Do you count the flakes when it snows,
And can you feel the heat or only the afterglows?
Do you count the flakes when it snows
And do you count the leaves when they fall?
And can you feel anything at all?
Do you count the leaves when they fall?
- "How to Be a Heartbreaker" by Marina Diamandis espouses this attitude:
Girls, we do
Whatever it will take
'Cause girls don't want
We don't want our hearts to break
So it's better to be fake
Can't risk losing
In love again, babe
- Mary J. Blige's song, aptly titled "Hurt Again."
- At the end of "Ruiner" by Nine Inch Nails the narrator denies even having been hurt declaring:
you didn't hurt me nothing can hurt me
you didn't hurt me nothing can stop me now
- The Simon & Garfunkel song "I Am A Rock" seems to describe the feelings of someone who doesn't want to love anymore because they were hurt by it once.
Don't talk of love,
But I've heard the words before,
It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
- In "Kaltes Herz" ("Cold Heart" in German) by Subway to Sally, the narrator says he changed his old heart, so it is cold and hard as stone and doesn't hurt anymore.
- The Wall: Pink gradually builds a wall throughout his life to protect him from being hurt emotionally, ultimately culminating in "Another Brick in the Wall (Part III)", where he decides that he doesn't need anything at all. Unfortunately, the instant he actually completes the wall, he realizes that it wasn't such a good idea, as this basically isolates him from everyone and drives him mad.
- BattleTech: This pretty much describes the national character of the Taurian Concordat. Having been the subject of decades of raids by the Capellan Confederation and the Federated Suns before being bloodily invaded and subjugated by Star League during the War of Reunification (and subsequently winning their freedom by aiding in Star League's overthrow by Stefan Amaris), the Concordat is a small Periphery nation with universal Conscription, an oversized military focused entirely on national defence and a huge nuclear stockpile they're willing to unleash on anyone who violates their borders, Honours of War be damned.
- In Nomine: This lies at the core of Beleth's drive to spread fear — "The creatures of Beleth defend themselves from life by becoming the most terrifying things in it." In addition to the general spreading of fear, she embodies the drive to become monstrous to protect oneself, and she pushes many humans to their fates by getting them to hurt others rather then risk being hurt themselves. As much as she may deny it, that's also the real reason why she's so focused on being the most terrifying thing in creation herself.
- Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer:
- Several justifications for falling to Chaos are protection against that god's particular domain. Mostly seen with Nurgle, the god of disease, whose followers are infested with pus-filled growths and oozing sores, but are no longer negatively affected by them, instead reveling in every new pox they develop.
- It's also the reason why Imperium hates aliens so much: during the Age of Strife, aliens, who were allies of us, turned on humanity, caused great destruction, enslaved people, etc. The Emperor decided that all aliens should be destroyed to make humanity's future safe, and frighteningly, his extremist views aren't very wrong. After his incapacitation even peaceful races are exterminated as a matter of policy.
- This is Drakath's motivation to become the Champion of Chaos in AdventureQuest Worlds, according to the end of the They Might Be Giants event, which saw him being kidnapped (along with the Hero and the TMBG members) by a crazy alien collector.
- Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: Elen seeks god-like power because his powers weren't enough to prevent his mother's murder.
- In Devil May Cry, Dante's antagonistic twin brother Vergil became obsessed with obtaining power after his human mother was killed by demons, his drive fueled by a desire to never again feel such powerlessness. Unfortunately, because power corrupts, he soon began to seek power for its own sake, leading to him being led astray by Arkham, then brainwashed by Mundus. Then he used Yamato to cut his humanity out of himself, leading to the creation of V from his discarded humanity and Urizen from his now-pure demonic nature. Urizen also reveals his (and by extension, Vergil's) reason for hating Dante coming from a belief that Dante should not be the stronger of the two because he never suffered like Vergil did.
- Sebille a (sort-of) former slave in Divinity: Original Sin II is trying to remove the last vestige of her slavery, the living scar on her cheek, with which her master can continue to control her. By doing this she knows that she can never be used to hunt her own kind again.
- Squall Leonhart of Final Fantasy VIII. The reason for his cold, detached demeanor was because his fellow orphan and sister, Ellone, left him alone as a child and he developed abandonment issues. He feels that, eventually, all friends and family will die or go away, and the only way to avoid the pain from that is to never let anyone in again. Even from the beginning of the game, however, it's clear that he's fooling himself, and can't help but care about people.
- Elsewhere in the series, Shuyin in Final Fantasy X-2 was subjected to a thousand years of Mind Rape, forced to relive the murder of his lover and himself over and over again. By the time he escapes, his only goal is to active Vegnagun and reduce Spira to its component atoms so that this can never happen to him again.
- In The Great Ace Attorney, while the Japanese people bear most of the brunt of his distrust, Lord van Zieks later admits to Ryunosuke that he can't find himself to trust anyone, not even the very judicial system that he works for, ever since his beloved brother's murder seemingly at the hands of a trusted friend (Kazuma's father) and his own growing suspicions that another friend, Gregson, was involved with the Reaper conspiracy.
- Halo Infinite: This is shown to be the motivation of the Banished. They're a group of Covenant rebels who turned long before the Great Schism in Halo 2, and their goal is to never, EVER, be oppressed and under anyone's heel again.
Escharum: We do not bow our heads. We do not kneel before false idols. We stand together! Fight together! [...] No more prophets! No more lies! We stand together! Brothers to the end!
- In Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, Allen and Jerkass with a Heart of Gold Neil behave aloof and almost rude towards the farmer for some time, and both have dialogue that implies they had been betrayed or otherwise emotionally hurt previously — Allen's entire Brutal Honesty could be him trying to be blunt, to avoid letting people too close too soon, and Neil mentions that, unlike humans, animals never betray someone.
- Haven (2020): Yu refuses to go back to the Apiary. When Kay asks what she'll do if agents find them, she says either (depending on player choice) that she'll kill them or kill herself.
- In League of Legends, after Professor Stanwick Pididly stole credit for both the creation of Blitzcrank and the technology that revived Urgot, Viktor decided to protect himself from this happening again with his newest accomplishment - the transformation of himself into a killer cyborg. This both removes (mostly) the pain and anger he feels over his inventions being stolen and demonstrates his own skill in a way that can't be stolen.
- Rather, it's "never let your loved ones be hurt again" for Like a Dragon series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, a motivation that drives him to distance himself from his yakuza life, at one point going into hiding under an alias in order to discreetly support his adopted children before ultimately faking his death at the end of Yakuza 6 so that his status as the Dragon of Dojima never comes to haunt his family ever again.
- In Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, the reason why the game's setting, the Theater District exists is ensure those who were emotionally abused in a conformist society will never get hurt by it again...aside that its deity-in-charge Nagi/Enlil decides to do that by enclosing the souls of these people in compact theaters where they will have to watch the collective negativity of people taking the form of a documentary that portrays them as failures that cannot do anything right, inadvertently giving them more pain.
- In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, various students were bullied a year and a half before the events of the game, with the then-current teaching staff not lifting a finger to help and instead covered up any incident involving bullies. Over time, these students took matters into their own hands and banned together against their bullies as well as standing up for those with bullies, inevitably forming Team Star.
- In The Secret World, reclusive property mogul Nathaniel Winter is revealed to be secretly motivated by this: having grown up neurotic and frightened of almost everything, he resolved to never be afraid again - namely by seizing power by any means available to him. For a while, being rich and connected was enough - but then he discovered the Secret World, and realized that magic could make him even more powerful than before. Unfortunately, with no innate magical talent, he'd need to study for years to harness the power he desired; impatient to become the greatest magus who ever lived, Winter decided to take a dangerous shortcut and infuse himself with magic via mechanical means. The means of harvesting and infusion was Atlantic Island Park, and the process transformed him into the Bogeyman.
- The main antagonists in Star Control II, the Ur-Quan, have this motivation: they were once enslaved and hideously mistreated by the Dnyarri, and after winning back their freedom while suffering constant excruciating pain (which protected them from Mind Control), they decided the only way to make sure it never happened again was to enslave (Kzer-Za) or exterminate (Kohr-Ah) everybody else first.
- What makes this so much more tragic is twofold. One is that due to the Ur-Quan's Genetic Memory all that torture they endured under the Dnyarri and then endured to free themselves? That's been experienced by each and every Ur-Quan that lived afterwards and will be experienced by any Ur-Quan that come after. Secondly? The Ur-Quan know it's wrong. They know that it's wrong to either enslave or kill every other species just to prevent themselves from suffering. But they have no real choice, not with centuries of agonizing torture forever in their memory.
- Lambda of Tales of Graces. His plan to kill everyone is because everyone he ever knew as a child was either manipulating him for their own ends or they died trying to protect him. Main character Asbel, who went through similar circumstances, breaks down Lambda's plan by asking a simple question: "And Then What?" The hesitation on Lambda's part shows he's really having a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
- The World Ends with You: It’s heavily implied with Neku in Another Day, due to the death of his friend, Neku took it upon himself to block out society in a misguided attempt to spare himself from even more emotional damage.
- In Volume 6, the heroes confront Ozpin about his secrets, lying and truth-hiding, with Yang claiming they'll stand by him even knowing the truth. Ozpin reveals that a close friend of his once promised the same thing, only to betray him to Salem, and that wasn't even the first time such a thing had happened; while he doesn't think Team RWBY's betrayal is a certainty, this has happened too many times for him to chance it. They ask the Relic of Knowledge to reveal the truth anyway, and then turn on Ozpin exactly as he expected, causing him to retreat into the back of Oscar's mind in despair. In Volume 7, the heroes struggle with the same dilemma of whether to share the truth with Ironwood or keep it secret, learning the hard way just how easy it is to make the wrong decision. In Volume 8, they reconcile with Ozpin after he apologises for his secrecy, and they admit they've now learned just how complicated trust and the truth really are.
- Volume 3 reveals that Cinder is motivated by the desire to be strong, powerful and feared. Volume 8 reveals that it's because she knows what it's like to be weak, powerless and fearful. An orphan "adopted" by an Atlesian hotelier to work as a legal slave, Cinder was subjected to abuse and torment. Her only hope of escape lay with a Huntsman who secretly trained her to pass the Huntsman Academy entrance exam; the catch was that she'd have to endure years of torture until she was old enough to take the exam. She eventually snaps and slaughters her adoptive family, and also her mentor when he tries to arrest her. Since then, she has sought to become as powerful and dominant as possible to ensure she's never vulnerable again, even if it turns her into a monster; unfortunately, Salem is a far more intelligent and manipulative abuser than her adoptive mother was, and is also impossible to kill.
- Big Ethel Energy: Ethel swears off dating to focus on her journalism career, but another big reason for this is because Jughead’s cruelty for misinterpreting a request from Archie as an invitation to hang with them made her afraid to put herself out there again.
- Goblins: When the time comes for Thaco to pick a class, remembering the time he spent tied up, imprisoned, and tortured, he picks the Monk class because they can escape bonds.
- Marceline from Adventure Time went through a LOT, and frightens people to show them she had enough by pretending she's a jerkass.
- Animaniacs (2020): This is why The Brain wants to Take Over the World. As a young lab mouse, he was used in experiments focused on teaching him learned helplessness via an electrified cheese plate. After a young Brain was too traumatized to try to get the cheese once the plate was de-electrified, he vowed he would be the one in control, of himself, his surroundings, and the world, and as such, never be helpless again.
- In Danny Phantom, this trope is the origin of Dark Danny. After losing his parents, sister, best friend, and teacher, Danny (with former nemesis and new guardian Vlad's help) sought to remove his human half to get rid of the pain and grief that plagued him. Unfortunately, the process turned his ghost half into a remorseless sociopath, who killed his human half, tore out Vlad's ghost side and absorbed it, and went on a ten-year-long rampage.
- In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, after having her heart broken by Razer, Aya deactivates her emotions to get rid of the pain. Then things get even worse.
- Harley Quinn (2019): Poison Ivy's fear of Harley hurting her again is why she is against the idea of them being in a relationship, despite her also having repressed feelings for her. She decides to stick with Kite-Man because he is a more reliable partner. Kite-Man finally realizing that she's just settling for him is what causes him to break their wedding.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Babs Seed. She was bullied mercilessly for her lack of a cutie mark in Manehattan, and during a visit to Ponyville, joined up with resident bullies Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon to avoid getting bullied there too. Fortunately, the Cutie Mark Crusaders show kindness and acceptance to her condition, and she becomes much happier and calls them her friends.
- Moondancer. After Twilight, the pony she considered her best friend, didn't show up for her first party and moved to Ponyville without a word, Moondancer was so heartbroken that she decided friendship just wasn't for her. Fortunately, Twilight eventually realizes she'd wronged Moondancer and their other friends in Canterlot and returns to make amends. After much effort, her apologies eventually get through to Moondancer and bring her out of her shell.
- Starlight Glimmer was heartbroken when her foalhood friend Sunburst moved to Canterlot to study magic once he got his cutie mark, which she blamed for their separation. Starlight vowed to never make another friend fearing that another cutie mark would end those friendships as well, and this event inspired her to purge all ponies of their cutie marks.
- In Star Wars Rebels, this is Ezra Bridger's motivation, although the way he goes about it evolves. His parents were taken by the Empire when he was seven, and he survived by refusing to rely on or connect to anyone. When he joins the Ghost crew and eventually adopts them as his new family, he becomes very protective of them, and trains to be a Jedi so he won't be helpless to save the people he cares about.
- Steven Universe:
- Yellow Diamond wants to destroy everything related to Pink Diamond with the full intention that she and Blue Diamond will stop grieving over her.
- When Lapis finds out that Steven escaped from Blue and Yellow Diamond on Homeworld, she realises that they will most likely come to Earth to look for him, and leaves while taking away the barn, not wanting to get caught up in another war, as the previous war had resulted in her being trapped in a mirror for thousands of years.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender: In Keith's official vlog, he comes to the realization that the reason he's seldom able to connect with other people was due to his abandonment as a child; now, he pushes other people away before they get the chance to reject him.
- Many nations with a recent or ancient history of being oppressed have carried this sentiment into the modern day, which results in rather thorny foreign policy. The problem is particularly severe in Africa and the Middle East where this trope often leads to violence but many other countries with reputations for being 'hard' or 'rugged' have felt this influence at some point.
- Case in point: Israel, which actually went so far as to print the words "never again" on their first (totally hypothetical) nuke, and generally have it as a sort of unofficial motto. This is what happens when your country is founded entirely by hundreds of thousands of shell-shocked survivors of one of the most horrific genocides in human history. And add to those numbers the Mizrahi Jews who fled or were expelled from the Islamic world. And that's not even getting into all of the Jews that had in the Middle Ages and other periods in history been used as scapegoats for things like the Black Plague and seen as targets by wayward Crusaders.
- Finland. Basically every able-bodied male Finn (and a lot of women) is trained to be a soldier.
- The Haitian revolution was originally put down under Napoléon Bonaparte, but after the French let their intent to re-enslave the Haitians be known, the war re-ignited and eventually led to the end of French rule.
- Nat Turner's Rebellion, which involved killing all of the whites the rebels came across, was started for similar reasons.
- The Philippine President has to get the approval of the Congress if the leader wants to declare martial law. This is because of abuses committed by security forces during the dictatorship of then-President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s up to the mid-1980s. When Corazon Aquino took over following the 1986 People Power Revolution, the country's constitution was rewritten and one of the changes was to remove the power of the President to declare martial law or suspend the constitution solely by decree. Marcos' wife and descendants are still active in politics and the battle cry of their critics is "Never again" alluding to the Martial Law era.
- Russia doesn't have much in the way of natural borders to prevent or slow an invasion, as seen when the Golden Horde rolled in from the east back in the Middle Ages, so after that trauma and centuries spent under the Mongol Yoke, its leaders' best defensive strategy was to push Russia's borders as far from Moscow as possible, which naturally led to conflict with Russia's neighbors. Then after the communist revolution, the Nazi invasion during World War II was so horrific that the now Soviet Union built up a glacis of subjugated satellite states, a devastating nuclear arsenal, and a military so large that it contributed to the USSR's collapse, all so it wouldn't have to go through something like that again.
- This is often the case with scholarly-minded children, especially boys, when they grow up. They are often mercilessly bullied and picked on at school, and once they graduate or otherwise get out of school, they often begin to train in martial arts, self-defence skills, and some kind of armed combat to never let the childhood trauma renew. At best, the person may become a Badass Bookworm. At worst, a Broken Ace.
- Bas Rutten, one of the most famous MMA fighters and commentators, was bullied as a child for his skin condition and scrawny constitution, and it made him start training. One of his partners in Japan, Minoru Suzuki, had a similar childhood.
- Many join the armed forces for this very reason.
- Some therapists and social workers go into their line of work to prevent what happened to them (whether it be abuse, debilitating mental illness, or attempted suicide) from happening to anyone else.
- This is also what happens with a number of bullied students that go on school shootings, which normally target their tormentors first in a desperate effort to make the bullying stop. On the other end of the spectrum, they may go the nonviolent route and instead take their own lives to keep it from continuing.
- After losing a beloved pet, some people refuse to ever adopt a new one because this will inevitably lead to going through the same pain again.
- It's been argued that sociopathy and other personality disorders are behavioral adaptations that people develop to cope with extreme situations in childhood and adolescence but which are maladaptive when trying to fit in or survive in society. Anti-social personality disorder sufferers have incredibly diminished empathy and a desire for control, paranoid personality disorder sufferers are pathologically unable to trust and always suspect people are taking advantage of them, Schizoid personality disorder sufferers use fantasy and withdrawal to cope with loneliness, etc.
- The horrid impact of World War I brought about a common sentiment of "never again" (which was also repeated in a sense after the second War to End all Wars). As history showed, it did.