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Nice Job Fixing It, Villain

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He was trying to kill them at the time, but this happened instead.

"Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself, and do good that he does not intend."
Gandalf the White (discussing Gollum), The Lord of the Rings
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Basically, the heroes have a problem. It could range from personal, to being vital in their quests. Then an antagonist does something, either accidentally or deliberately but with an unintended effect, that instead fixes this problem nicely. It's like a Kick the Dog, but instead of hurting the dog, it pops one of the dog's dislocated bones back into place.

Sometimes it can be a single act. Sometimes it can be just one too many moves The Chessmaster makes, and the villain becomes their very own Spanner in the Works.

Say the Evil Overlord decides to smash the hero's Orphan's Plot Trinket just For the Evulz, and then it turns out that trinket was a Power Limiter that the hero wasn't able to break himself (or wasn't aware had that function), and now The Hero lays a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the overlord.

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This is often Played for Laughs. Sometimes the Minion with an F in Evil is responsible for this.

This trope on its own just has the villain do this independently of the heroes. If the heroes trick the villain into fixing their problem, then this trope combines with either Briar Patching or a Batman Gambit.

May overlap with Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat if the villain had victory in hand before he did whatever he did.

Compare Hoist by His Own Petard (when the villains foil their own plans), Villain Ball, Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work (like this, only intentional), Poke the Poodle, Phlebotinum Rebel (when the villain creates the hero), Tactical Suicide Boss (when an enemy can only be beaten by exploiting a certain move) and due to the G.I.F.T, Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things (when fans do it).

Contrast Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, From Bad to Worse, Two Rights Make a Wrong.

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Super-Trope to Create Your Own Hero.

This is not villains hurting their own plans or failing to break something (like resistance against them). "Fixing" in this case means solving a problem they did not know existed, or were trying to exploit.

WARNING: Unmarked spoilers ahead!


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Other Examples:

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    Asian Animation 

    Comic Strips 
  • In the Tournament Arc of Knights of the Dinner Table, the knights get a bunch of "Doomsday" dice by rubbing their dice against the dead body of the guy who made the game. Only they end up cursing their dice, every die in their possession and every die of every friend they lent dice to, meaning the dice now produce the worst results possible, making just about anything a critical fumble. Everyone on the Knights' team was given this and they seem to be in a hopeless position as they face their Smug Snake rival team... except she reveals she learned of their "advantage" and eBay'd some of the dice, believing they were blessed and very ironically leveling the playing field.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: Jafar promised Aladdin gold for retrieving the lamp. When Aladdin succeeds in his mission, Jafar tries to kill him instead of paying him. In the ensuing struggle, Aladdin ends up with the lamp, discovers its powers, and ultimately defeats Jafar and marries the princess. If Jafar had simply taken the lamp and paid Aladdin off, he very easily could have won.
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie: Professor Poopypants does this twice. The first time was when he had the Turbo Toilet 2000 "eat" Captain Underpants. In doing so, he exposed CU to the pretty much radioactive leftovers from the school cafeteria, and it results in him getting real superpowers. The second time is when he's seemingly won after erasing George and Harold's sense of humor. He mentions the planet Uranus, which triggers the memory of how George and Harold first met, and gets them laughing again.
  • Capture the Flag: Carson tries to sabotage NASA by making their rocket leave Earth before anyone boards it and the plan fails because Mike and Amy snuck in and Mike's grandfather went there to get them out. Had Carson not tried this, he'd have about ten more hours to get rid of the flag and anything else that might be used as evidence that the original Moon landing wasn't a hoax.
  • In Cars 2, had Miles Axlerod not spilled oil onto the carpet, Mater wouldn't have become a spy and foiled his evil plan!
  • At the musical finale in Cats Don't Dance, Spoiled Brat Darla Dimple attempted to sabotage the performance of the animals who could threaten her career. However, each of her sabotage attempts only made the performance a bigger hit, thus ensuring the animals' careers. Then she went and screamed at the animals about the accident she caused and framed them for, thus clearing their names and resulting in her and her career literally going through the floor.
  • In Coco, if Ernesto de la Cruz hadn't been so stupid as to recreate Hector's death in one of his movies with himself as the victim, Hector would never have realized that he'd been murdered, let alone that de la Cruz murdered him. Since Hector's daughter Coco, the last living person who remembered him, was dying of Alzheimer's (in the setting of the movie, when a dead person is completely forgotten by the living, they are Deader Than Dead), it's likely that de la Cruz's dark secret could have stayed safe forever if he hadn't gone to the effort of betraying himself. Even worse, Miguel saw the film clip and put the pieces together, too, filling the missing piece of his family history (Hector had never abandoned his family) and is able to convince them to help Hector live after they learnt the truth. With two in on his secret, Ernesto has a Villainous Breakdown that ends up getting caught on camera, disgracing him in front of the entire Land of the Dead. Worse, when Miguel returns to the living world, he spreads the truth, with Coco's saved letters and diary backing him up, not only healing his family's hatred of music and redeeming Hector, but also disgracing Ernesto in the living world, too, putting him potentially on the path to obscurity.
  • Coraline:
    • When The Beldam tosses Coraline into the mirror for disobeying her. Of course, that's where she also left the souls of her previous victims who speak to Coraline and give her the resolve to defeat the "Other Mother".
    • Later, when Coraline returns to challenge The Beldam, some Mooks attempt to steal the Seeing Stone given to her by Miss Forcible and Miss Spink. Of course, Coraline had no clue the thing was useful and had all but completely forgotten she even had it — the only reason she figured out what it was capable of was she realized they wouldn't have tried to steal it unless it was useful to her.
  • For a bit of Fridge Horror in Despicable Me, that little kid in the beginning would've died had Vector not stolen the real pyramid and replaced it with an inflatable.
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie: Bradley's attempt to disqualify Team 99 by launching PJ out of the stadium actually repaired the father-son relationship between Max and Goofy with Goofy filling in at the last second. Bradley does it again when he betrays his right-hand man Tank by leaving him to die in the burning X-Games logo along with Max. His betrayal leads to Tank pulling a Heel–Face Turn and helping Max win, then slingshooting Bradley onto the X-Games zepplin flying above.
  • In Frozen, Hans tries to kill Elsa, and Anna throws herself in front of the sword before the curse freezes her solid (and shatters the sword in mid-strike). Because Anna did that to save Elsa, it was an act of true love that would break her curse, something she might not have been able to do had Hans not given her the opportunity.
  • The Incredibles:
    • A part of Syndrome's plan involves bringing Mr. Incredible out of retirement in order to kill him, ends up inspiring him to get back into shape making him a more formidable opponent for stopping Syndrome's later plan.
    • The Omnidroid trying to rip Mr. Incredible apart actually fixes the crick in his back, getting him back in the fight.
    • The mook who punched Dash off the vecilopod accidentally saved Dash's life because the vecilopod crashed onto a cliff seconds later.
    • Syndrome does this when he first meets Mr. Incredible. The Omnidroid is literally seconds away from finishing off Mr. Incredible but he stops it so he can monologue. Then he has the hero captured and helpless in his "zero point energy" field but he can't resist tossing him around and gesturing dramatically during his "I win" speech and accidentally flings him away. Although he is captured again later, it is this that allows Mr. Incredible to discover Syndrome's evil plan and eventually thwart him altogether.
    • Syndrome programmed the Omnidroid to adapt to any situation. Then he arrogantly stopped during his fight with it to boast to the bystanders, giving the robot the time to figure out it was being controlled by Syndrome's bracelet. It then removed it from him, and the heroes used it to destroy the robot, bolstering the image of supers in the public eye. This leads to a campaign in the sequel where superheroes become legal again, more or less he opposite of what he wanted.
    • Before Syndrome, the Parr family was in a rut, trapped by monotony, dead-end jobs, and the memories of what once was. Even Bob and Helen's marriage was on the rocks. And for superheroes in general, public opinion was negative, and they had to live in hiding. After Syndrome, superheroes were allowed to operate openly once more, the public liked them again, and, most important of all, the Parrs were happy, proud, and very closely-knit, making them even better superheroes than they ever were as individuals.
  • Incredibles 2: Evelyn Deaver tries to prove to the world why it doesn't need superheroes by creating a situation that only superheroes are equipped to deal with, thereby proving precisely why the world does need superheroes.
  • Shere Khan in The Jungle Book (1967) unwittingly saves Mowgli's life. Kaa has Mowgli hypnotized, fast asleep and in his clutches, when Shere Khan drops by and asks Kaa for information on Mowgli. The distraction is long enough for Mowgli to wake up and escape.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Lord Shen attempting genocide on the pandas not only enabled Po to complete the prophecy, but also provided the Valley of Peace with a way to stop Tai Lung in the original film.
  • The Lion King (1994) and The Lion King (2019):
    • Scar has Simba utterly on the ropes and is about to knock him off the edge of Pride Rock, when he insists on making a But Before You Die speech to confess it was him who killed Mufasa all those years ago.... freeing Simba from the guilt he had been carrying around and giving him the heroic resolve needed to stop Scar. D'oh!
    • Scar goes ahead and does it again not long after that. After the two lions run to the top of Pride Rock, Scar starts to bargain with Simba for his life, during which some hyenas (Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed) follow them, ready to assist Scar fight Simba. Then Scar ruins it by trying to pin everything he's done on the hyenas, making them back away from the fight growling in anger. Not only does this mean that he has to fight Simba without any backup, but it also gets him torn to ribbons by a pack of justly angry hyenas, after Simba had chosen to spare Scar's life and exile him. In the 2019 remake, Scar doesn't try to throw the hyenas under the bus but instead admits loudly that he sees them as nothing but useful idiots and plans on getting rid of them when all is said and done. Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi overhear this and aren't pleased, to say the least.
  • Monsters, Inc.: "I'll kidnap a thousand children before I let this company die!!!"
  • The Princess and the Frog: Tiana's first attempt to destroy Facilier's talisman by throwing it to the ground backfires, as it lets his shadow catch the talisman. In response, Facilier transports them both to a graveyard, turns her back into a frog, then pins her to the ground with his cane. What does Tiana do? Take advantage of her frog-form's long tongue and much smaller size to grab and smash his talisman before he can do anything about it!
  • Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights: Haman uses his second wish to become ruler of the universe, which enlarges the palace. It enables Aliyah-Din to leave the cell she and the Prince were locked in and eventually reclaim the lamp.
  • Lord Farquaad, the Big Bad of Shrek, did this on a series-spanning level. He sent Shrek to rescue Fiona, which messes up his own plan by allowing Fiona to meet her true love that would break the curse and allow Donkey to meet Dragon, who helps Shrek and Donkey stop his wedding and eats Farquaad. In the second movie, Prince Charming's goal to rescue Fiona and thus Fairy Godmother's intention to rule Far Far Away through him are foiled because Farquaad sent Shrek to rescue her already. Most importantly, it foiled Rumpelstiltskin's attempt to get Fiona's parents to sign a Deal with the Devil with him, letting him erase them from existence and conquer Far Far Away because Shrek rescued Fiona and rendered the deal pointless. Even further back, the only reason Shrek interfered at all in any of this was because Farquaad's deporting all the fairy tale creatures to his swamp ticked him off. Really Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!
  • Toy Story 3: The moment Lotso smashes Big Baby's locket. Cue Big Baby becoming extremely pissed and throwing Lotso into the dumpster.
  • Trolls: Chef killed Branch's grandmother right in front of him when he was a child, causing him to lose his color. Later when the other Trolls lose their color waiting to be eaten in Chef's pot, only Branch can help get them back on their feet because he's been gray long enough to be able to work around the hopelessness.
  • Wonder Woman Blood Lines: In a Pyrrhic Victory sort of way; Veronica gains access to Themyscira as planned, but Medusa's attack gave Diana the chance to reconcile with her mother and people. Now that Diana has figured out Veronica's involvement, all Amazonkind is ready for Cale's future invasions.
  • In Zootopia, Assistant Mayor Bellwether intervenes on Judy's behalf when she is about to be fired by Chief Bogo. She just didn't expect that Judy would discover she was behind the conspiracy causing Zootopian predators to go savage with the same determination Judy showed in finding the missing mammals.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 10 to Midnight: Following the botched hearing, Stacy threateningly taunts Kessler over the phone that he'll kill his daughter next. This serves as the final straw for Paul, who decides to make the matter personal, and gets his revenge by planting the morbid photographs he retrieved from Stacy's house at Stacy's workplace, costing him his job.
  • The Addams Family: Tully Alford and Abigail Craven have her son Gordon dress up and pretend to be the long-lost Fester as a means of trying to con the family out of their fortune. Not only does Gordon grow to care for and love the family through Craven's constant berating and controlling of him, but when she finally drives him to give her and Tully each a Disney Villain Death, the circumstances under which it occurs reveals that Gordon was the real Fester with amnesia the whole time.
  • In Airheads, SWAT team leader Carl Mace reveals to everyone that Chazz Darvey used to be a huge geek named Chester when he was in high school, in an attempt to make people less supportive of him. Instead, it makes everyone more supportive of him, as they reveal their own geeky pasts.
  • In the first live action Asterix movie, Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar, Asterix and Obelix infiltrate a roman camp to free Panoramix, with Obelix having to pretend to be a roman legionary until Asterix gives him a signal to stop acting. Unfortunately, the two get separated with Obelix becomming Detritus' right hand man and Asterix being sentenced to die in an arena filled with wild animals, unable to give Obelix the signal since he is out of hearing range. And then Detritus unknowingly helps Asterix give Obelix the signal because he is curious what exactly Asterix is shouting to Obelix and uses his skills of lip reading to find out.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Biff does this twice in the same scene. Marty plans to get aggressive with Lorraine, so that George can intervene and be the hero. This plan totally fails because Lorraine wants to sleep with Marty. However when Marty leaves the car, Biff happens by and actually tries to rape Lorraine, giving George the chance to save her for real. Initially, Biff is easily able to fight George off, but then takes a moment to taunt him for his weakness, giving George the Heroic Resolve to punch Biff out and ultimately win Lorraine's heart.
    • Marty's original plan — pretending to have his way with Lorraine, only for George to jump in and play Superman — was failing hard because Lorraine wanted to jump him. Biff's intervention unwittingly set things back on course.
  • In Ben Hur, the titular character taunts the man who sold him into slavery with this.
    Messala: By what magic do you bear the name of a Consul of Rome?
    Judah: You were the magician, Messala. You had me condemned to the galleys. When my ship was sunk, I saved the Consul's life.
  • One of the evil lackeys from Blade (1998) angrily kills a pureblood vampire before the main villain is able to use him for an evil ritual. Past that point, the main villain can only hope to partially summon La Magra, assuming he could even get the other 11 pureblood vampires and The Chosen One in a room together.
  • In Braveheart, when the Scots struggle to ram open the gates to York, the English help them unwittingly. First they pour boiling tar on the attackers and then they shoot Arrows on Fire at them. The arrow sets the tar-soaked ram on fire which in turn sets the gate on fire. Problem solved for the Scots.
  • In Brewster's Millions (1985), Brewster would have failed to meet the conditions of his full inheritance if the junior partner of the crooked law firm that stood to profit from the failure had just kept his mouth shut for another half an hour.
  • The entire point of But I'm a Cheerleader: Megan would never have even noticed her repressed and rationalized lesbian desires, much less embraced and pursued them, if her parents hadn't sent her to a Cure Your Gays camp to get rid of them.
  • In Cliffhanger, while hero Gabe is retrieving the first briefcase of money for the thieves, Big Bad Qualen remarks that they don't need two guides and instructs his crew to kill Gabe when he comes down. Of course, he says this while standing next to Gabe's partner Hal, so Hal naturally yells to Gabe not to come back down, allowing Gabe to flee and become the fly-in-the-ointment to Qualen and crew. Had Qualen kept his mouth shut until Gabe came down, or instructed his men out of earshot, he would've saved himself a lot of trouble.
  • In The Conjuring 2, Lorraine Warren mentioned that by knowing the name of the Demon grants power over it, allowing a successful exorcism to be performed. The Demon Valak would had succeeded in killing Janet & Ed if it did not reveal its name to Lorraine during her previous encounter with Valak.
  • The Dark Crystal: If skekZok hadn't decided to kill Kira at that moment, Jen probably wouldn't have have had the necessary anger to inject the Shard back into the Crystal. Jen was offering to trade the crystal for Kira!
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins: When Bruce Wayne goes to confront mob boss Carmine Falcone at his favorite hangout, Falcone gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. It's intended to break his will, but Bruce actually agrees with everything Falcone says about him. He immediately leaves the restaurant and embarks upon his journey to become Batman.
    • The Dark Knight: Downplayed with the Joker. Being one of the trilogy's most depraved villains, some of his actions ended up having more positive rather than destructive repercussions. While he was still indirectly responsible for Bane's revolution in the sequel, a pretty large chunk of his actions end up directly or indirectly aiding Batman in his crusade against crime: he pulls off daring robberies against Mob-controlled banks, he swindles the Mob out of millions of dollars, he assassinates the Gotham Police Department's incompetent Commissioner (allowing the idealistic and ruthlessly efficient Jim Gordon to take the job), and he personally murders Lau, Gambol and the Chechen — three of the city’s most powerful criminals. Even one of his most heinous acts — turning Harvey Dent into the villainous Two-Face — just results in Dent going on a murderous rampage against corrupt police officers. Furthermore, Dent's death allowed cops to clean up the city of organized crime, resulting in a much cleaner and safer city than it had been before. In short, the Joker did indirectly far more damage to Gotham's criminal underworld than Batman ever did, which is cruelly ironic considering his plan was to destroy society, not clean it up... although Bane almost succeeded.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: Bane's calling out of Commissioner Gordon's cover-up leads to Batman once again being looked upon as a hero and a symbol of hope for Gotham city. His plans for anarchy unravel from that point on.
  • In Diamonds Are Forever, Shady Tree discovers just in time that the diamonds were fake and got James Bond out of the retort Wint and Kidd had put him in. Bond takes the opportunity to casually stroll out of Slumber, Inc. during the inevitable questioning and later figures out that someone's bumping off the diamond smugglers when Tree gets shot later on.
    Shady Tree: [after the casket is out of the retort] You dirty double-crossing limey fink, those goddamn diamonds are phonies!
    James Bond: Now don't tell me... you're St. Peter?
    Shady Tree: Paste! Glass! Where's the real stuff, Franks?
    James Bond: Where's the real money?
    Morton Slumber: What do you mean?
    James Bond: You wouldn't burn up 50,000 real dollars, now, would you?
    Shady Tree: One last break, Franks. Where are the real diamonds?
    James Bond: You get me the real money... [climbs out of the casket] and I'll bring you the real diamonds.
    Shady Tree: Where the hell do you think you're going?
    James Bond: I hear that the Hotel Tropicana's quite comfortable. My condolences, gentlemen!
    [Morton Slumber slams the now-empty casket shut as James Bond leaves]
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, John spends the entire day fighting a hangover. When Simon leaves him in a Death Trap, John jokingly asks him for an aspirin as he last request. Simon tosses him an aspirin bottle, which a bound John wouldn't be able to open anyway. After John and Zeus escape, he realizes that the bottle is from the hotel where Simon is hiding.
  • Down Periscope has a wargame being organized by one Admiral Graham, who intentionally makes things difficult for his opponent, newly-promoted Commander Dodge. He does so by providing a barely seaworthy diesel sub and a crew designed to induce strife and poor performance. Where this trope comes in is in the selection of E.T. "Sonar" Lovacelli; the reason for his selection seems to be a previous assignment labeling him as a security risk, but said risk came about because he's so insanely good at his job, hearing the most minute of details and expertly manning his station in the sub. When Dodge gets into troubling situations in the wargame, more often than not, it's Sonar who provides him the way out, and the Stingray handily wins in the end.
  • Elysium: The plot to open up Elysium to everybody on Earth is only possible because of Delacourt's desire to overthrow the current government, requiring a virus that can reboot the system. Then Max gets a hold of it...
  • The Devil in the Scare 'Em Straight flick Escape from Hell, when the protagonist Eric arrives after inducing a near-death experience. Rather than attack him outright, the devil just tells him exactly who has gone to hell and why, and that his recently converted father didn't go there. He only attacks him just as Eric is brought back to life, then chases him into a church for good measure in case Eric needed any more help converting to Christianity. The Devil Is a Loser indeed.
  • In Face/Off, Castor Troy has a bit of a Pet the Dog moment when he saves Archer's daughter from being assaulted and gives her a butterfly knife so she can defend herself against future attackers. She uses it on Castor himself at the end of the film.
  • In The French Connection, narcotics cop Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle is tenaciously chasing down a major heroin deal. At one point, with one officer dead and little in the way of results, his superiors order him back to his regular work and close the case, effectively leaving the deal to go ahead as planned. Unaware of this, and concerned that he's giving their US clients cold feet, the French traffickers authorize a hit on him. The hit goes badly wrong and Doyle runs the hitman down. He gets the case re-opened on the strength of that, ultimately intercepting the heroin and most of the traffickers.
  • Highlander II: The Quickening: General Katana, for no good reason, sends his mooks to try and kill Connor MacLeod decades after he becomes mortal because he's worried Connor would return to try and kill him. During the altercation with the mooks, Connor beheads one of them and as a result, regains his immortality, and becomes young again, and then is later able to take out the shield that is causing harm to the planet.
  • Home Alone has the Wet Bandits Harry and Marv robbing homes in a neighborhood full of vacationing families. Marv floods the houses they just burglarized, which Harry says is "a sick thing to do". When they are arrested, this comes back to bite them. One of the officers sarcastically thanks them for identifying the houses they hit.
  • Mayor Augustus in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! not only wrecks his own materialistic drive on Whoville, but also leads to the Grinch's Heel–Face Turn. He ends up doing this when he decides to humiliate Cindy Lou Who for her decision to bring the Grinch into the town's celebrations the night before, which leads to the Grinch's thievery because of his own asshole-ish decision to humiliate the Grinch there. By humiliating Cindy Lou, her father, Lou Lou, stands up for her and realizes that Christmas isn't about the gifts, but about family. When the Grinch goes to listen for the sounds of sorrow and ends up getting singing, this ends up leading him to realize the same thing.
  • In Immortals, the villain is on the verge of victory, and possesses a magical Energy Bow that can fire infinite shots, which destroy men and rocky walls alike. So when it comes time for the final battle, he fires said bow exactly one time at the giant wall the Greek soldiers are hiding behind. Which creates exactly one small opening for his massive army to use, giving the Greeks plenty of time to defend such a small area.
  • The Stable Time Loop in Interstellar would never have formed without the betrayal that made it necessary to drop Cooper into a black hole.
  • The main antagonist of John Wick: Chapter 2, Santino D’Antonio, literally doomed himself & his organization by antagonizing the renowned assassin John Wick, fully aware he is retired & stubbornly insisted on him to carry out the marker's oath. Even Winston warned Santino in their conversation:
    Winston: You have no idea what's coming, do you?
    Santino: I have everyone in New York looking for him. I doubt we will see him again.
    Winston: Do you now? You stabbed the devil in the back and forced him back into the life that he had just left. You incinerated the priest's temple. Burned it to the ground. Now he's free of the marker, what do you think he'll do?
  • Johnny Reno: Reno would have ridden right by the Conners bothers if Ab Conners hadn't taken a shot at him. The ensuing gunfight winds up with Ab dead and his brother Joe captured. Reno hadn't even known that the Conners were wanted men, but attempting to kill a U.S. Marshal sets in motion a chain of events that exposes an entire criminal conspiracy.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, the protagonist, Sing, is rewarded for his Heel–Face Turn... by getting his face beaten into a pulp by The Beast. This however, clears up his chi flow, turning him into a true Kung Fu master, and he soundly defeats the Axe Gang and The Beast.
  • Little Giants: If not for Spike hitting Junior, Becky wouldn't have returned to the Giants.
  • The Loved Ones: Lola
    • After pushing Brent down the basement, she throws several objects at him. He uses some of them as weapons to defend himself from the beast-like captives down there.
    • After killing the police Sergeant, she pushes his corpse down the basement. His corpse added to the pile of the other victim's corpses, allowing Brent to climb up.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: Tony was making money by creating deadly weapons and was known as the merchant of death until he was almost killed by terrorists who were using one of Stark's weapons. Fortunately, the terrorists known as the Ten Rings, kept Tony alive to bribe the traitorous Stane for money and for Tony to make them weapons. This proves to be a mistake, because by keeping Tony alive (even if it may have been a broken promise), Tony was able to able to create a suit of armor to escape, stop building weapons that were killing people, and became Iron Man to do many heroic deeds later on.
    • Thor: If Loki hadn't ruined Thor's big day and incidentally gotten Thor banished, Thor wouldn't have learned humility and would have remained the same reckless and arrogant god that he was, instead of maturing like he did. Loki visiting Thor in his cell was what changed Thor into a better man. Also near the end of the movie. Loki was in charge, Thor was trapped on Earth and mortal. But Loki had to send the Destroyer to finish Thor. That gave Thor the chance to make the Heroic Sacrifice that restores his powers.
    • Iron Man 2: Justin Hammer's deal with Ivan Vanko turns out to be a mistake from his perspective. Vanko proves impossible to work with, uses Hammer's resources and technology for his own single-minded vendetta, ruins Hammer's Expo showing (while placing thousands of people in immediate danger, we might add) and ultimately leads to Hammer's arrest when it's discovered that he's behind Vanko's escape. The real kick in the pants? It was all totally unnecessary. If Hammer had simply waited, Tony Stark would have self-destructed completely on his own, been discredited in the eyes of the public, probably died from palladium poisoning, and Hammer would have still gotten his hands on the War Machine armor and been allowed to study/weaponize it as the premier US military contractor.
    • The Avengers (2012): After so carefully sowing the seeds of dissent among the already volatile heroes, Loki takes out Agent Coulson, literally giving them something to avenge, which brings them together as a team.
    • Thor: Ragnarok:
      • Loki banishing Heimdall means he won't be in Hela's way when she hitches a ride on the Bifröst. This makes him an unknown Spanner in the Works for her, allowing him to steal the sword, trapping Hela, and be Thor's guy on the inside.
      • Surtur really does live only for that one evil deed of destroying Asgard. Or so he thinks — by destroying the city, he saves the Asgardians from Hela — which was Thor's plan all along.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, once Thanos sees Captain Marvel not even flinching at being headbutted, he removes the Power Stone to give himself a Megaton Punch that blows her away. This clues Iron Man on how to beat him — he takes out all the Infinity Stones from the Gauntlet and puts them in his own glove. Thus the "universe-destroying Badass Fingersnap" is blocked, while also enabling the "villain army-destroying Badass Fingersnap".
    • A huge one occurs in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, when the Iron Gang kills Ying Li. Had they not killed her, Wenwu would not have went back to running the Ten Rings (he truly wanted to raise his children & grow old with her), which means that Obadiah Stane would have had hired someone else to assassinate Tony Stark - and they would have succeeded (no being in 'a cave with a box of scraps' ). This means no Iron Man, who was the linchpin to forming the Avengers... and this means that at the very least, Thanos would have destroyed half of Earth's population after Loki and the Chitauri delivered the Tesseract to him in 2012. It cost them their lives, but in a roundabout way... The Iron Gang saved the Earth.
  • The Matrix franchise:
    • During the scene with the Oracle in The Matrix, she explains that Neo technically isn't the One, but he will probably be one in a later life. Later in the film, Agent Smith kills Neo. However, Trinity manages to revive him and Neo awakens as the One. Nice job fixing it, Smith.
    • In The Matrix Revolutions, Smith copies himself over Neo in their final battle. Since Neo is connected to Deus Ex Machina, Smith is promptly deleted.
  • Mr. Deeds Goes to Town features this trope at the climax. Deeds is lethargic and disinterested in his own defense because of the constant betrayals he's suffered throughout the film, including from Love Interest reporter Babe. When it looks like he's finished, Babe desperately takes the stand to offer up the defense he won't. The prosecutor, frustrated by her emotional pleas, requests that he be allowed to treat her as a hostile witness since "she's obviously in love with the defendant". This breaks Deeds out of his depressed stupor, and the next time he's prompted to speak in his own defense, he does so — and lays out an epic verbal smackdown on the prosecutor's entire argument.
  • In Need for Speed, the antagonist Dino made a critical mistake of not getting rid of the red Koenigsegg which he previously drove that killed Pete, enabling Tobey not only able to use it for the De Leon race, but it is also the critical evidence Tobey needed to clear his name of Pete's death.
  • In Popeye, the eponymous sailor-man hates spinach, so Bluto force feeds him an entire can, just to be mean. You can probably guess what happens next.
  • Red Eye: Rippner's assassination on Charles Keefe could have been a success if he didn't blurt out the fact that the latter has his family with him.
  • In Scooby-Doo, the villain only needed Scooby-Doo to complete his plans, but because he wanted to make Mystery Inc witness his triumph, he arranged for the team to come back together despite them having broken up two years ago, which drove Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy to come back together as a team in time to save Scooby.
  • In Sky High (2005), Will's powers manifest when he really needs them while fighting his enemies. The first instance is when Warren is relentlessly attacking Will (who's currently powerless) in a Curb-Stomp Battle; Will suddenly gains Super Strength when Warren intimidates Will's friends, allowing him to fight back. The second is when Royal Pain tosses Will out the window; Will gains Flight, which keeps him from falling to Earth and enables him to fly back up to the school.
  • In Snakes on a Plane, feared crime boss Eddie Kim might still have managed to get off at the trial if the only crime they could definitively pin on him was the murder Sean witnessed. However, by unleashing a mass of snakes onto Sean's plane to try and kill him, Kim starts a chain of events that gives the FBI everything they need to charge him with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder and have him tried for a death sentence.
  • The first thing Norman Osborn does as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man is bomb a test flight of Oscorp's top competitor, killing the general who seconds earlier had reflected how he'd love to put Osborn out of business. Rather than cripple his competitor, Osborn instead causes the company to recapitalize and expand, which allows the board to justify ousting him by accepting an offer from the competitor to purchase Oscorp outright.
    • Venom/Eddie Brock, in Spider-Man 3 does this in a more drawn out sense. After the symbiote bonds with him and he gains all of Parker's memories, you'd think maybe he'd catch Peter unawares, or at the very least if he wanted an ally, go to Harry Osborn, who was still hating Peter at that time. But no, first he recruits Sandman and then he kidnaps Mary Jane... which leads to Harry's Heel–Face Turn, Big Damn Hero moment, and the Heroic Sacrifice that saves Peter and results in Brock's demise.
  • Star Wars:
    • Rogue One: Tarkin's destruction of the base on Scarif meant the only person in the Empire who knew of the Death Star's weakness was killed before he could tell anyone.
    • A New Hope:
      • If Tarkin had waited possibly even just a few hours to order Alderaan's destruction, Luke, Han, Obi-Wan, the droids, and the all-important Death Star plans would have been on the planet, Leia would eventually have been executed, and the movie and the Rebellion would have ended right there. If he hadn't destroyed Alderaan at all, he would have left some of the Rebellion's key leaders alive, but The Empire would still plausibly be able to pass the rebels off as mere terrorists fighting their perfectly decent and reasonable government just to be troublemakers. Instead, they proved conclusively to the galaxy just who the bad guys were, virtually guaranteed Leia's rescue and the plans' survival, gave rebel recruiters all the help they could ever need, and Tarkin eventually got himself killed for his trouble.
      • The Empire would have won if a nameless TIE fighter pilot hadn't panicked at being shot at by Han and collided with Vader. See for yourself.
      • Luke wouldn't have even fought the Empire in the first place if they hadn't massacred his only remaining family, as he was planning to enlist with them but they left him no choice but to avenge his aunt, uncle, and father instead.
    • Luke is struggling with the dark side in Return of the Jedi, but it's actually the Emperor's constant taunting — and explicitly goading him to fall — that keeps Luke from going over. Not only that, when the Emperor decides to forgo turning him and instead try to kill him, he ends up getting the exact opposite: instead of Luke turning to the Dark, Vader turns back to the Light in order to protect his son. Even Irregular Webcomic! spoofed this, with Vader complaining he could get Luke to turn if the Emperor would just stop butting in.
    • In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren's attempted Mind Probe of Rey, and her successful resistance to that probe, seems to awaken her Force abilities. Near the end, Kylo even realizes that he played an unwitting role in her growth as a Force-user and offers to train her for real.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, Sidious transmits a message across the galaxy ordering all planets to surrender or be destroyed after having blown up Kijimi, a planet that didn't get the luxury of choosing. This winds up backfiring as it puts the galaxy in a position with their back to the wall and this, coupled with the revelation of the Sith fleet's location, prompts a fleet of thousands of ships to answer Lando and Chewie's call to arms and storm Exegol to blow up the Sith fleet before it can launch.
  • In Suffragette, the antagonists want to discourage women from joining the suffrage movement, but achieve exactly the opposite. At the beginning of the film, protagonist Maud just wants to listen while her co-worker reads a report about her daily work to the men in power. However, said co-worker is beaten up by her husband, to the point that she's green and blue and bleeding from her nose. She wants to read her report regardless, but the other women are convinced that the men in power would not listen to a woman who doesn't look nice. Therefore, Maud has to talk for the suffrage cause in public, something she had not planned and would not have agreed to had she had more time to think about it. Later on, the government decides to publish the photos of some women who don't yet seem fully supportive of the movement but turned up at a speech, to... shame them into quitting, or something. That results in Maud's husband throwing her out of the house, which leads to the suffragettes organising a place where she can stay... and from that moment on, quitting is not really an option, as her husband won't take her back and even gave up her son for adoption without her consent. In short, the antagonists, government and misogynist men manage to turn shy, unpolitical Maud, who actually only agreed to go to a suffrage meeting because her coworker was so pushy about it, into a committed suffragette.
  • Superman II: In an overlap with Batman Gambit, Supes confides in Lex a means to Depower the escaped Kryptonians and save Earth. Something that is in Luthor's interests since they've repeatedly shown they care nothing for him or honoring their deals. Of course, Lex betrays Supes and tells them the plan... but instead, he's actually been tricked by Superman and helped him depower them! It seems Lex is so predictably evil, Supes could count on him always being his own Starscream.
  • In Super Mario Bros., King Koopa gets bitten in the tail by everything he ends up de-evolving. The de-evolved Toad is the reason the Goombas, his entire army, become incapacitated, and the second his two cousins are evolved to become smarter they realize it sucks working for him and they immediately turn on him. And of course the fungus which is actually the de-evolved king does everything in its power to hold him back every step of the way.
  • The entirety of Tora! Tora! Tora! can be considered as this for the Japanese military as a whole, considering what happens to them later.
  • Transcendence:
    • Before RIFT's attack, all the AI research teams were working independently and were probably decades away from a true AI breakthrough; Max flat out admits that a thinking machine is essentially a pipe dream and that their progress toward that goal is more productive in its incidental advances in other scientific fields. After the attack, key research ends up being transferred to the Casters at the same time Will is told he will die in a matter of weeks, giving them both the necessary research and the motivation to apply it. Thus, RIFT's actions create the very AI they sought to prevent. If they had done nothing, the research would still exist, but it would be very unlikely that human trials would be put into play any time soon, nor would it be likely these independent teams would share data, since Will specifically notes that he's never taken defense contract cash (which is where the research comes from).
    • This also plays out later in the film. After Will's upload and relocation to Brightwood, he had kept to himself, working on peaceful advances in technology that were completely benign. Bree has fliers distributed accusing the Brightwood Data Center of human experimentation, which was a complete lie, and not long after that two guys mug Martin and beat him nearly to death. Will uses his nanomachines to save Martin's life, in the process upgrading him into a networked superhuman, again kickstarting the very thing RIFT sought to stop. It did succeed in getting their cause greater recognition, though, so, by accident if nothing else, it wasn't a total backfire.
  • In UHF, R.J. Fletcher does this twice:
    • First, he fires Stanley for something that was actually his own fault. George takes pity on Stanley and hires him for U62. After discovering U62's falling fortunes and ratings and his girlfriend leaves him, a despondent George walks out of a taping of "Uncle Nutsy's Clubhouse" and lets Stanley take over. Stanley ends up being so popular, he gives U62 a huge ratings boost and allows them to make more shows.
    • In a later scene, R.J. Fletcher gives a penny to a panhandler, who thanks him sincerely. It turns out that the penny was extremely rare and valuable, so the panhandler was able to sell it for enough money to buy several shares in the station Fletcher was trying to close down.
  • Ultraman Zearth:
    • Zearth is stricken with an overwhelming fear of dirt and germs. Benzene Seijin, in a bid to conquer Earth, decides this is the perfect way to beat him, and torments him with tar the entire film. However, he puts the final nail in his own coffin by forcing Zearth to cross a lake of tar to save his friends. This gives Zearth the motivation he needed to overcome his fears, kill Benzene's pet monster, and kick Benzene himself into orbit.
    • In the sequel, his wife, Lady Benzene, has Zearth's spirit crushed after her robotic copy, Ultraman Shadow defeats him with ease, making him unwilling to transform. Then, she has to go call him out to try and stop her so she can destroy him. Her taunting causes Zearth to train, take another level in badass, and overpower Shadow. Then, she goes and broadcasts the fight around the world to try to crush humanity's spirit; this backfires because when Shadow finally has the upper hand, the people of Earth all chant Zearth's name, giving him to strength to destroy Shadow once and for all.
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans:
    • Viktor's decision to kill his only daughter for loving a Lycan kicks off the war between vampires and werewolves that leads to the death of Vampire Elder Amelia. Not only that, his decision to spare Seline because of her striking resemblance to the daughter leads to the deaths of both himself and Markus, also Elders. Without any strong leadership, the vampire covens fall apart and become fairly easy pickings for the Lycans by the events of Underworld: Awakening.
    • Considering that his fear of a vampire-lycan hybrid was a primary motivation for his actions, his initial refusal to believe Seline ultimately results in the (re)creation of Michael as a vampire-lycan hybrid; his murder of Singh leads to his rival Markus being reawakened and becoming a hybrid.
  • During the climax Wonder Woman (2017), Ares probably could have convinced Diana of his philosophy had he not badmouthed her love interest, whom she had just watched die in a Heroic Sacrifice. Instead, Diana embraces Humans Are Flawed and brings a beatdown only an Amazon and daughter of Zeus can on the War God.
  • In Wrath of Man, the robbers could have gotten away with their crimes if they weren't been greedy for more money. Their final attempt on Black Friday became their ultimate downfall, allowing H to locate his son's killer Jan and getting his sweet revenge on him.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Colonel Stryker. By capturing Mystique and co., he inadvertently allows Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler to infiltrate his compound and gain access to a new plane. Without his actions, the good guys would have a much more difficult time trying to stop Apocalypse from taking over Charles' body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In "What They Become", Ward unties Skye from captivity (though she shoots him right after due to his previous betrayals of the team), and doing so allows her to stop Cal from beating Coulson to death for taking his kill of Whitehall from him.
  • Angel:
    • In "Salvage", Angelus, being Chaotic Evil and all, decides to double-cross the Lawful Evil villain who'd blotted out the sun over Los Angeles. The Beast is nigh invulnerable, until Angelus uses a bone dagger made from its body to kill it. Unfortunately, as foreshadowed by a mystical dream Angel had earlier, that undoes the spell and brings the sun back. Hundreds of rampaging vampires die instantly, and Angelus is sent scrambling for the nearest safe shadow.
      Angelus: Aw crap! You mean killing the Beast really does bring back the sun? I thought that was Angel's retarded fantasy!
    • Then there's "Not Fade Away", where Hamilton, newly favored by the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart, beats the crap out of Angel... until his boasting reveals the source of his power, to a vampire.
      Hamilton: Let me make this as clear as I can. You cannot defeat me. I am part of them, the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart. Their strength flows through my veins! My blood is filled with their ancient power!
      Angel: [grins and pops his fangs] Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn't have said?
  • On Bewitched, most of the malicious pranks that Endora played on Darin often benefitted him. For instance, in one episode, where Samantha took an interest in sculpting and Darin was having his boss and a client (who was clearly an alcoholic) over for dinner, Endora made Sam's shabby bust of Darin a better likeness, added one of his boss, and then brought them to life. When the client saw them talking, he thought it was because he was drunk, and after making the deal, left quickly, swearing to quit drinking. ("When it goes from pink elephants to talking rocks, it's time to get on the wagon!") Unfortunately, Darin never seems able to say "thank you"...
    • With at least one exception, where he expresses not only humility but gratitude to Endora for temporarily turning him into a child (this is one of the episodes where Darrin was played by Dick Sargent instead of Dick York), because it was while he was in this state that he discovered that what was causing the slow sales of the food product he was promoting was not in the advertising, but in the taste itself.
  • Cold Case: In "Mind Hunters" George tauntingly refers to the childhood story which inspired his prisoner, DeeDee Cooper, to escape her rapist. Remembering this lets her summon the courage and boldness to escape from him too. It also causes the police to realize that the killer had to have access to police reports to know that detail about her original assault.
  • Control Z:
    • In 1.08, Sofia had deduced that Raúl has been the hacker all along due to some leads she had found during their time together: her stolen necklace, the same words said by the hacker while she was kidnapped, the mask under Raúl's bed and the password to his computer being the name of a dog Raúl owned.
    • In 2.06, Pablo broke the news about Raúl and, allegedly, Sofía's parts in harboring Gerry from the police, which had caused most of the students to accuse the latter of being a "traitor. However, with the incriminating evidence being out of context and Pablo's suspension from the school for beating Raúl up, they are no longer trash-talking Sofía by the next episode, thus leaving Pablo unable to fully explain his supposed side of the story. He did not even consider the fact of Raúl hiding Gerry at his house. Because of this, he had unwittingly cleared Sofía's name, supported by Raúl's absence from the school and Rosita telling everyone about Sofía's "accident".
    • In 2.08, thanks to a mistake the avenger made "out of love", as echoed previously by her father, Sofia learns that Alex is the perpetrator since she had stolen Raúl's money so she could start a new life with Gaby and initially considered abandoning her revenge plans. Most of the victims were inspired through Luis's drawings of violent fantasies, save for Gerry and Raúl. However, after Gaby left for Spain without her, Alex was heartbroken to the point of still going through with the act.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Maria, Natalia and Isabela fit this. Maria (nice) is sympathetic with other students, Natalia (mean) is prone to insult and Isabela (in-between) is snobbish but has a friendly side.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks": Dalek Caan's decision to betray Dalek Sec after the latter turns himself into a Half-Human Hybrid leads directly to the Daleks' plans being ruined and, at the end, Caan left the only Dalek alive before his escape.
    • "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End": After Donna and the metacrisis Doctor arrive in the Crucible with a plan to stop the Daleks, Davros takes out both of them by shooting electricity from his prosthetic hand. It works just fine on the Doctor-clone, but with Donna, it activates her half of the biological metacrisis and makes her half-Time Lord and making her smart enough to stop the Reality Bomb while unrestrained and with none of the villains paying attention to her.
    • "The End of Time": Things look bleak indeed. The Doctor has just crashed through the skylight of the Naismiths' mansion and is badly hurt, Rassilon and the Time Lords have escaped the Time Lock with the Master's help and plan to end time itself so they can Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. They practically had victory in the bag, but Rassilon, the Lord President of the Time Lords, tells the Master he's outlived his usefulness. Not what you want to tell the Master, who isn't quite sane at the best of times and has just won the Superpower Lottery. Then Rassilon lets slip that he is responsible for the drumbeat that the Master's heard all his life and that has driven him steadily more crazy. The Master tells the Doctor to "get out of the way" and uses his life force to electrocute Rassilon, protecting the Doctor from him until they all disappeared back to the Time War.
      The Master: YOU DID THIS TO ME. ALL MY LIFE! ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!
    • "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone": The army of Weeping Angels are low on power from being stuck in the catacombs for eons, so they start draining power from the crashed ship they're currently on, the Byzantium, in order to survive. This has the side effect of deactivating the ship's artificial gravity, causing the unprepared Angels to fall into the crack in time and be erased from existence.
    • "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang" plays this in a complicated fashion. The Pandorica was built by a Legion of Doom in order to imprison the Doctor. However, the Doctor is then able to use the Pandorica to reboot the universe. But since the Pandorica was built to imprison the Doctor so the universe wouldn't be destroyed, building the Pandorica worked out alright for the Alliance in the end.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": A Zygon gets too into character impersonating Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and forgets that when you're The Mole you're supposed to stop pretending to be on your enemy's side before giving them everything they need to stop you.
    • "Extremis": The Prophets of Truth have created multiple highly realistic simulations of Earth in preparation for their planned invasion, in order to account for all possible variables. However, in their latest simulation, as its version of the Doctor is all too happy to point out, they made it a little too realistic: the technology is good enough for the simulated Doctor to email the real Doctor a warning about the imminent invasion.
  • Dollhouse: Alpha's entire goal in "Briar Rose" and "Omega" was to turn Echo into a composite like himself. Composite!Echo's first act was to hit Alpha with a pipe. Justified in that, since he was a doll, most of his personalities are hopelessly lovelorn romantic rape-slaves specifically designed to put their assigned sexual interest on an absurdly high pedestal, and many of them were tailored to work with Echo specifically. Not all that many of the fractured components of his personality were dispassionate, experts in psychology and engineering, or particularly smart in any field but infiltration.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Locke's maiming of Jaime, while removing his ability to fight with a sword, made him a much better person.
    • Myranda showing Reek to Sansa, and letting her know just what sort of monster Ramsay is, actually helps Sansa and Theon; it pushes Sansa into thinking of how to escape and spurs Theon's Heel–Face Turn, and they both end up escaping Winterfell, killing Myranda in the process.
    • Euron boasting about his plans to take the Ironborn's fleet and ply Dany's affections with it gives Theon and Yara the idea to do the same before he can get the chance to. They ultimately succeed in this, so Euron changes strategies with brutal efficiency.
  • In The Good Place, Michael's plan to eternally torture four selfish and deeply flawed humans by forcing them to spend time in each other's company a la No Exit backfires massively when the humans, instead of doing nothing but making each other miserable, end up motivating each other to become better people. If he hadn't forced Eleanor to live with Chidi, she would have likely stayed a self-centered misanthrope instead of starting to improve through Chidi's morality lessons and Chidi would have stayed a perpetual ditherer instead of gradually learning from Eleanor how to be more decisive, and something similar can be said of Tahani and Jason too. Season 2 makes this even worse on his end — he tries many different situations, learning from the mistakes of the previous ones, but the residents always become better people. The whole frustrating experience ends up ultimately turning Michael into a Defector from Decadence.
  • Gossip Girl has Blair, who seems to create this and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero in other people (depending on whether she's the good guy at that point or one of the bad ones). Chuck gets her latest boyfriend's mother to come break them up? In one party Blair gets her approval. Chuck tries to seduce her only to be caught by said boyfriend? Blair finally gets laid by new boyfriend. Jenny tries to beat Blair and become Queen B? Within a few weeks, she's back and dangerous. Vanessa tries to blackmail Blair? Humiliated by episode's end. Vanessa tries to break up her and Nate? They're closer than ever by episode's end. And most of this is just the first two seasons! She's still going — at the end of Season 4 Serena's attempt to hurt her actually leads to her relationship with the prince becoming public, her being approved by his mother, and finally her getting engaged to him. Lampshaded by Dan — "Only Chuck and Blair could go to war and end up happier than when they started." Also, his attempt to attack them that episode? Ended up with Chuck and Blair having fantastic sex on a piano. Let's face it, no one can hurt Blair without helping her.
  • House: The Season 1 Arc Villain Edward Vogler fell victim to this, as his repeated attempts to fire/cow House into submission ends up making him look far worse to the hospital board than House himself. Had he simply ignored/put up with House's attitude, Vogler would've likely gotten full control of the hospital with little to no resistance.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In "How Mac Got Fat", Frank spends the night adding two Stop signs to back up traffic at the intersection near Paddy's For the Evulz. The result:
    Frank: Now there's four Stop signs, so no cars can go!
    Charlie: Frank, you just created a 4-way intersection. If anything, you've made this intersection safer.
    Frank: Oh shit. Huh.
  • More than a few Kamen Rider villains have done this sort of thing at least once:
    • Kamen Rider OOO sees Dr. Maki, growing impatient with the rate at which Eiji's purple Core Medals are corrupting him, forcibly stuff two more into him in order to make him go berserk. These and the five he already had become ammunition for the final attack that undoes Maki's plans.
    • Kamen Rider Build lead villain Evolt deliberately created the hero, the hero's supporting cast, all of their equipment and all of the other villains, all for the purpose of empowering himself. For the most part it even works, he just doesn't know how to quit while he's ahead, and ultimately is foiled by the fake heroes he created.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O could have ended at episode 16 with the hero willingly throwing away his powers and the other protagonists returning to the future, allowing the Time Jackers to run wild. Instead they decide to try and kill Sougo to absolutely guarantee that he won't become the king they're trying to overthrow, only for this to be what causes him to make a comeback. Unfortunately, this was all part of Swartz's plan to let Sougo become Ohma Zi-O, which also explains how he was able to reprogram future Ohma Zi-O's robot Elite Mook to follow his orders so that he will get his puppet king...with said king being Sougo.
  • Kingdom (2019): The Jerkass nobles and police lock away Yeong-shin in jail, but it becomes helpful when the zombies come. Almost all of the nobles and police involved in this end up getting killed when they try to use the jail cells while trying to escape the zombies, while Yeong-shin escapes unharmed.
  • In The Last Ship, the Chosen managed to find a hacker who was sympathetic to their cause to give them access to a network through which they could spread their virulent anti-Navy propaganda. Said propaganda ends up working a little too well, causing a bunch of riled-up, paranoid Americans to attack an oil platform after they spot a naval chopper landing on it. Said oil platform turns out to be the hub through which the propaganda network operates, and thus, not only is the propaganda network disabled, but the Chosen have also alienated the hacker.
  • In the LazyTown episode, "The Laziest Town", LazyTown must stay active all day to raise the energy meter to 100 in order to keep from being the laziest town on Earth before 5PM. Robbie believes that if LazyTown gets this title, Sportacus will leave LazyTown for good out of embarrassment. At literally the last second, when Sportacus finally loses all his energy and can no longer do tricks to keep the meter active, Robbie becomes overjoyed and does a victory dance that ends up being active enough to raise the bar instantly from 0 to 100, saving LazyTown. The Mayor, Stephanie, and the rest of the cast gather to congratulate and thank Robbie and give him three cheers. Robbie is overcome with regret and runs back to his lair.
  • The pilot for Leverage, has Victor Dubenich gather a team of crooks into robbing a rival. He then tricks them into the same spot to try to blow them up with a bomb. After they pull off their first con to ruin Dubenich and send him to jail, Nate calls the guy up to tell Victor that if he had simply paid them off, they'd have gone their separate ways and never given him a second thought. By trying to kill them, Dubenich made these strangers into a team who use this con to get wildly rich and then decide to keep it up. In short, Dubenich is the reason that scores of rich and corrupt scumbags are brought down by the Leverage team.
  • The serial arsonist in the first season of Lie to Me burns down two houses for revenge... but winds up accidentally doing the families in question a favor of sorts. The first family were up to their ears in debt, but their house was insured before the economic bubble burst. Burning it down not only gave them an economic fresh start, it also brought the family closer together by revealing that their daughter knew that mommy was cheating on daddy, pushing them to focus on the children and set aside their differences. The couple living in the second house were already divorced and stuck living together because they couldn't sell the house — again, since it now burned down, they could split the insurance money and go their separate ways.
    • Okay, so the first family DID lose their grandmother to the fire, but hey, we only see her for a few seconds right at the start, so as viewers, it's hard to feel sympathy on that count.
  • In the Lost Season 6 Finale, it turns out that the Big Bad's centuries-long Gambit Roulette worked exactly as planned except it also completely stripped him of all his powers and enabled Jack to beat him to death and toss him off a cliff. Also, his murder of Sayid, Jin, and Sun gives the others the Heroic Resolve to kill him instead of simply leaving him on the island like they had planned, leading to the above success of his plan.
  • In MythQuest, an evil god named Gorgos tries to destroy myths by causing the protagonists to accidentally change them. Unfortunately Gorgos says Alex's name a bit too soon and distracts Alex, which causes him to inadvertently re-enact the myth correctly and save the world.
  • In Once Upon a Time, if Regina had not been completely hellbent on running Emma out of town, she would have left completely of her own volition.
    • Up to Eleven in the Season 1 finale where Regina bakes a turnover with a poisoned apple to put Emma under the sleeping curse. To get the poison apple, she makes a deal with Jefferson. Henry winds up eating the turnover and falling into a coma, which leads to Emma breaking the curse! She also reneges on her agreement to erase Jefferson's memory of his fairytale life, causing him retaliate by releasing Belle and sending her to Mr. Gold. The real kicker on this was that she didn't give Emma the poisoned turnover until after Emma had already told Regina that she believed her presence was hurting Henry and was going to go away, leaving Henry to Regina: Regina had already won, and she knew it, but she still couldn't resist trying to poison Emma.
    • The candle Cora had given Snow allowed Snow to kill her and save Rumple's life. Also, she wanted to "turn Snow White's heart black as coal" for revenge against Snow's mother. She would succeed but it comes back to bite her hard.
      • Doubly so when you consider what caused the candle situation in the first place. She wound up screwing over Captain Hook, who wound up taking matters of revenge into his own hands and attacked Rumple with a slow-acting poison.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: In the Season Finale of Season 3, Sabrina and her twin Katrina are subjected to several tests to figure out who the evil one was (all Spellman family members have an Evil Twin) Sabrina flunks two of the three, the one that clearly buried her chances being an act described as "selfish, involved civil disobedience, and was extremely messy". Even Sabrina herself believes she's the evil one, until Katrina proves otherwise by failing the final test (a Secret Test of Character) miserably. When told that the good twin had to shove the evil one into a volcano, she does so without hesitation, something no good twin has ever actually done. (Although the judge claims that Hilda had come awfully close.) Simply resisting this urge would have labeled Sabrina as "evil" forever and given Katrina free reign to accomplish any machinations she desired, but she is much too evil to resist.
  • Scream Queens (2015) has a twofold example in the Season 2 finale. The final killer, Nurse Hoffel, drains the swamp behind the CURE institute to fuel a bomb to blow up the rest of the cast with, and unplugs Dean Munsch's experimental cryo-chamber to power it. However, unplugging the chamber wakes up Denise, who was recuperating in it, and enables them to disarm the bomb. And then, while Hoffel is attempting to flee, they fall into a field of quicksand created by draining the swamp, drowning in it.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise, the Romulans attempted to disrupt possible peace between the Andorians and Tellarites by using an advanced holoship which could disguise itself as any other ship to attack both sides. Because one of the Andorian ships they attacked happened to belong to Shran, a friend of Archer, Starfleet got involved and the ensuing mess resulted in the beginning of the Federation, their greatest foe for centuries to come. They really dropped the ball on that one.
  • In VR Troopers, Grimlord does this with Dream Master, growing impatient at how long it was taking him to defeat Ryan Steele. At this point, Dream Master had weakened Ryan with mind games about his father and he had connected him to an electrocution chain. Had the gunbots and tankbots not interfered, Dream Master would have beaten Ryan Steele, since JB was occupied with another monster and Kaitlin was too weakened by Dream Master's nightmares. But after the gunbots interfered and the two of them escaped fire, Dream Master continued with his shock chain only for Ryan to find a chain in this new location to redirect the current before delivering a beatdown on what was supposed to be a Monster of the Week.
    • Similarly, different times, a Monster of the Week has a trooper on the ropes, then the air force comes in for a distraction, apparently hitting both the monster and the trooper, giving the Trooper time to think of a new battle plan while bazookaing down the air force.
    • Another time, Arachnobot nearly had the Troopers beaten, but Doom Master himself killed Arachnobot out of jealousy. Thankfully for his sake, he thought it was the Trooper that did it, not Doom Master.
  • In Season 2 of The Wire, Frank's realization that the police are onto the dockworkers' smuggling/diversion operation results in a changeup to it that frustrates their investigation for a while...but not without giving them a lead to the inner circle of the criminal organization running it.

    Myths & Religion 
  • One folktale tells about a woman who was so beautiful, Satan himself became hopelessly enamored with her. After she refuses him one too many times, The Devil simply decides to Cut The Knot and steal her beauty for himself. After returning to earth, he finds that the same woman is now hideous as a boot, but is also now Happily Married with an equally ugly husband and child and free of stalkers.
  • In The Bible's Book of Esther, Haman goes to ask king Xerxes for a death warrant for his hated rival Mordecai, the representative of the Jews. Xerxes, who happens to have been reading the royal archives, asks Haman how he should reward a man who has done a great service to the king. Haman thinks he's talking about himself and proposes an elaborate celebration, only to find to his horror that the king is actually talking about Mordecai, who had saved the king's life a while back. Haman winds up having to carry out his own plan to publicly honor Mordecai. This is just the beginning of his Humiliation Conga.
  • In renditions of the part of The Bible where Jesus tells Judas that he's going to betray Him, it's often said that "at that moment, Satan entered into him" or something to that effect. So what we're saying here is that although Satan may have caused Judas to betray Jesus, the results of Jesus' death led to the cleansing of humanity's sins and the founding of Christianity, which means that Satan's plan (if there was one) failed. Nice job fixing it, Satan!

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Faarooq replacing Ahmed Johnson, who he felt was overshadowing him in The Nation of Domination with Rocky Maivia, who ended up taking over the group and kicking Faarooq out.
  • Ray González is the head of La Familia del Milenio, pretty much holds an iron grip on WWC until he starts antagonizing camera man Carly when he finds out he's the son of the company founder. Carly had no desire to be a wrestler prior but because of that he trained and beat every member of La Familia, including González for the WWC Universal Title.
  • During the Chavo and Chris Benoit feud on Smackdown, Chavo Guerrero used the lure of Kurt Angle, whom Benoit hated, to lure Benoit into a beat down in the locker room. Thing is, Angle didn't like the Guerreros too much either and soon he and Benoit were teaming up against them.
  • In 1997, Bret Hart reformed the Hart Foundation as an Anti American/Pro Canadian/European stable and immediately began going after Bret’s two biggest enemies: Stole Cold Steve Austin and The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, two patriotic, American wrestlers. Thing was, at this point, Shawn and Steve (on camera) BARELY tolerated each other and had little patience for one another. By giving them a common enemy, Bret indirectly helped them find common ground which lead to them teaming up and beating Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith (Hart Foundation members) for the tag team titles. As Vince McMahon said in his commentary “Shawn and Steve’s hatred for each other is surpassed only by their mutual hatred for the Hart Foundation.” Jim Ross: “It’s like John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd teaming up to rob the same bank.”
  • AJ Lee'snote  efforts to torment all of her former lovers after becoming the general manager of Monday Night Raw. Did her efforts have the desired effect? Judging how successful they ended up being, Hell No!
  • Wink Vavasseur's punting assailANT into Chikara's Colony in 2012 for being the "weak link" of GEKIDO lead to assailANT's Face–Heel Turn and prevention of deviANT's attempt to burn down the Wrestle Factory.
  • Then nCw Femme Fatales International Champion Mercedes Martinez took two steps to fix the problem that was herself. First by offering an open four way challenge for a shot at her belt (which she won, admittedly) and then interfering Courtney Rush and Cheerleader Melissa's #1 contender match to keep either from getting a shot. Having already put the idea in their heads, she was put in another fatal fourway with both of them and Femme Fatales founder LuFisto(Rush won the belt).
  • Cody felt that Kenny Omega was not acting like a true leader of Bullet Club and turned on him at New Beginning in Sapporo. The leadership feud ultimately ended at ROH Supercard of Honor XII with Cody beating Kenny, however it ultimately did nothing to fix the divide within Bullet Club (as well as the divide between his fellow BC/The Elite members which was caused by him) and nearly all of the members (including Kota Ibushi whom is not a BC member, rather one half of The Golden Lovers) have to face each other at Wrestling Dontaku. Way to go Cody.
  • Austin Aries's mistreatment of Team IPW allowed Stu Bennett to hire them as part of the Defiant Wrestling roster in the fallout to Defiant Chain Reaction. And while Aries eventually lost the World Title to Rampage at Defiant No Regrets, Mark Haskins (along with Jimmy Havoc) and Aussie Open (the first ones to turn on Aries) got to play Hot Potato with the Tag Team title ever since the latter team obtained it, putting every other team in the background.
  • Bray Wyatt's decision to go after John Cena at an inopportune time set off a chain of events that ended up wrecking The Authority's power base. The Wyatt Family interrupted a match involving The Shield vs. the team of Cena, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, with the winning team earning spots in the 2014 Elimination Chamber for the WWE Title. They attacked Cena mid-match, thus causing the Shield to be disqualified through no fault of their own. This severely pissed off The Shield, leading to a direct, public clash with Triple H, as they demanded a match with the Family for revenge, and Trips wanted them to stay on task doing the Authority's dirty work. The Shield started to tire of being used as pawns, which earned Kane's ire, and made it next to impossible for The Authority to control him any longer either. Case in point: Kane accidentally outing Triple H as having tried to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on the Shield at one point. Predictably it was the last straw. The relationship between the Shield and the Authoritys was severed, leading the Shield to turn face, pound the New Age Outlaws back into retirement at Wrestlemania XXX, and directly cost Triple H the championship the next night on RAW. Triple H's only remaining in-ring hands were himself, Randy Orton, and a bunch of lower-card Mooks that had little to no investment in Trips's personal vendettas. Triple H had to take drastic measures in a last-ditch effort to keep any semblance of in-ring presence (or at least whatever's left of it), and even that didn't work quite as planned. And maybe, if The Wyatt Family had waited before or after Cena's match to beat the hell out of him that night, the first half of 2014 would have gone very differently.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode "Spectrum Strikes Back", the Mysterons try to kill a committee taking a look at some anti-Mysteron prototype equipment that could be useful. In the end, all the Mysterons essentially achieve is provide a spectacularly successful field test for the stuff that proves its worth.

    Radio 
  • In the comedy fantasy series Elvenquest, Lord Darkness, the Big Bad, frequently ends up unintentionally saving the protagonists from the consequences of their own mistakes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Awakening: The primary conflict of the game focuses on a war between two factions of Mages, the Diamond Orders, who wish to free humanity from the tyranny of entities known as the Exarchs so everyone may use magic, and the Seers of the Throne, who serve the Exarchs and want to keep humanity under their servitude. At some point however, a third large faction of Neutral Good mages known as the Nameless, who were annoyed with the traditional approach of magic and wanted to try modern methods, developed. They initially didn't see eye to eye with the Diamond Orders, and were in fact on the verge of going at war with them... until the Seers of the Throne decided to step in and approach the Nameless, offering them a We Can Rule Together. As it turned out, they had fundamentally misunderstood their motivations, and the Nameless took it as a personal insult, to the point they formally allied themselves with the Diamond, renaming themselves Free Council in the process.
  • In Exalted, when the Great Contagion was killing the majority of Creation, The First and Forsaken Lion got The Fair Folk to invade, destroying fully half the territory and killing many of the Contagion's survivors. The problem? The Balorian Crusade was repulsed, and the infusion of Wyld energies may very well have helped Creation fight off the effects of the Contagion, thereby allowing it to survive. Falafel's Neverborn master was quite angry, to the point where it bound him into his armor. Painfully.
    • And exiled him to a fortress that was essentially in the middle of nowhere.
      • Which of course delayed and inconvenienced any number of his extremely effective war plans to destroy Creation more thoroughly this time. So... nice job fixing it...Cthulhu
    • The Neverborn seem to have a history of sabotaging their own plans to further the cause of Oblivion. Between the First and Forsaken Lion getting spot-welded into his own armor for not destroying enough of creation, and Princess Magnificent almost getting thrown headfirst into Oblivion for losing to the gods behind the city of Great Forks, there's a reason most of the other Deathlords have been twiddling their thumbs for millennia. They don't want to see what the Neverborn will do to the next guy who fucks up.
      • Alternative Character Interpretation: We're told, explicitly, that most of the Deathlords only agreed to kill the world so they could enjoy using the power they were given to rule over its dying husk. Is it really a surprise that most of them drag their heels? You can't rule the world if you kill it.
    • We also have the Ebon Dragon, the literal inventor of the concept of Card-Carrying Villain, existing to screw people over. Due to certain psychological problems this brings, this goes equally for the Ebon Dragon himself.
      • Here's a short list of the ways the Ebon Dragon bollocked up the Reclamation. First off, he included rules that make the Infernals have to act like B-movie villains every so often, but said nothing about who they have to do it to. Instead of granting the Infernals their own innate Charms, he and the other Yozis decided to make it so they share Charms with their patrons... which means not only do the Infernals get access to the high-level Charms that make the Yozis worlds/gods, they could conceivably make their own Charms and infect their own patrons with their particular mindset. Oh, and then there's the Heresy Charm Set... So basically, what you've got is a Hell-forged superpowered being who needs to act like a bastard to someone, has access to god-like power, and can sever the ties with their demonic masters. That sound you just heard was the Shadow of All Things realizing he just invented his Bastard Understudy... Which, again according to his basic nature, might be All According to Plan.
    • And, of course, the big one that sets the whole setting off. Creation has been in a precarious position for centuries, with the overworked Sidereals, the Lunars driven to the edge of the world, the heavily corrupt (or absent) gods, the almost equally corrupt Realm, the forces of the Underworld massing, and the Fair Folk being just barely kept in check. Into this comes the person controlling the Realm (and its big superweapon that keeps most of the other big enemies at bay) mysteriously disappearing, bringing it to the verge of a civil war that could tip Creation over the edge. And then... the Neverborn and the Yozis conspire to break open the Jade Prison, and use its captives to make their own Exalted. Half of those captives escape them. They become the Solar Exalted.
  • In the the world of Innistrad in Magic: The Gathering, the angel Avacyn used to lock demons away in an artifact called the Helvault, until she was tricked by the demon Griselband and the two were sealed together. Losing its guardian angel, lots of bad things happened in Innistrad, until the necromancer Liliana Vess decided to break the Helvault to kill Griselband without knowing that it would also release Avacyn.

    Theatre 
  • In the musical 1776, Judge Wilson (who is against independence) mentions that they must first "define the nature of the beast." Later, when it looks like the move might be defeated, Adams and Franklin use this as the means to delay the vote until they write The Declaration.
    • If Dickinson (the face of the anti-independence faction) hadn't basically begun gloating about how his vote would kill the independence vote, Franklin wouldn't have had enough time to call for a delegation poll, leaving the final vote (and the fate of the United States) in the hands of Wilson, who sides with the independence voters because he doesn't want to be remembered in history as the man who killed American independence.
  • As a meta-example, Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust proclaims that he is "Part of that Power which would The Evil ever do, and ever does the Good."
  • Opera villains (like many other characters in opera) often tend to be Too Dumb to Live:
    • Paolo Albiani in Simon Boccanegra, a skilled politician who has been in the limelight for more than 25 years, seems to have grabbed an Idiot Ball somewhere after his first meeting with Amelia Grimaldi. He kidnaps Amelia after she rejects him and leaves her in the house of a rather cowardly mook, enabling Amelia to run away and make an appeal to Simon. Then, vowing revenge on Simon, he slips a very slow-acting poison into his drink, so that Simon would suffer for long. Between drinking the poisoned water and finally dying, Simon: reconciles himself with Gabriele Adorno and Jacopo Fiesco, revealing them Amelia's true parentage, crushes a rebellion, makes himself a favorite with the crowds again, appoints Adorno as the next Doge, and sends Albiani to the gallows, on his way to which he is forced to hear the choir at Adorno and Amelia/Maria's wedding. Thank you, Paolo, for allowing the Doge to organize a proper happy ending.
    • Ptolemy in Giulio Cesare by George Frederic Handel has grand plans and an actually competent army. But his actual acts ruin whatever potential he has. He sends Pompey’s head to Caesar, and Caesar denounces him as a murderous tyrant and wages war on him. He insults and degrades his sister, causing her to join Caesar’s cause. He tries to rape Pompey’s widow, which results in his own right-hand man who’s in love with her deserting him and aiding the heroes. Finally, he lets Pompey’s son live (when the latter practically waltzes into the palace, too) and doesn’t even keep him under a good guard, and, big surprise, the boy ends up killing him.
    • In The Magic Flute, the Queen of the Night and the Three Ladies do more helpful deeds than evil ones. They save Tamino from a giant snake and send him to "rescue" the Queen's daughter Pamina from her enemy Sarastro, not realizing that Tamino is destined to join Sarastro and strengthen his community against them. They also give Tamino the titular magic flute, thinking it will help him defeat Sarastro, but instead he and Pamina use it to succeed in Sarastro's trials and join his brotherhood. At the same time they give Papageno the magic bells that bring his true love to him in the end, and they entrust the young men to the Three Boys' wisdom, only for the Boys to give them pro-Sarastro guidance throughout.

    Visual Novels 
  • This becomes useful in solving case 6-4 of Ace Attorney. A dying message is left in order to implicate the client you're representing, but it soon comes to light that a witness rearranged the cards from the original message, which also implicated an innocent party. The fact that the second party in question is part of the witness's Split Personality that the defendant didn't know existed paves the way to proving his innocence and pointing to the real culprit's identity.
  • In the fourth case of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Monokuma replaced a suicide note from Sakura Oogami to make it seem that she killed herself out of despair from everyone suspicion of her being his spy to make her closest friend Aoi Asahina manipulate the crime scene and make herself look like the Blackened. After Makoto and Kyoko deduce that Sakura had killed herself, Aoi reveals the suicide note she found, only for Monokuma to brag that it was a fake and reveal the real reason Sakura took her life was out of defiance against Monokuma's orders to kill one of her classmates. Not only does it remove incrimination from Aoi, but it also brings the surviving classmates together.
  • In Heart of the Woods, Evelyn makes two crucial mistakes that seem innocuous by themselves, but end up causing her downfall. The first mistake is when, after Tara and Madison come to investigate paranormal phenomena in Eysenfeld, and show no intention of leaving, Evelyn tricks Madison into pursuing an illusionary Tara into a blizzard, resulting in Madison freezing to death. The second mistake is destroying the ancestral tree of the forest, thereby dooming the rest of the forest. By killing Madison, Evelyn enables Abigail to bring Madison back as a ghost, resulting in Madison meeting the fairies and learning about their missing queen, whom they believe Madison can replace. After the ancestral tree is destroyed, Madison decides to accept the fairies' offer, enabling her to temporarily become fairy queen and play a crucial role in defeating Evelyn. If Evelyn hadn't made both those mistakes, she might have gotten away with her evil schemes.
  • In The Pirate's Fate's DLC path, after Mila and the villainous pirates led by Rourkie have been captured together and slated for execution, they get an opportunity to use the Queen's magic crown, which has been enchanted so that whoever wears it becomes the Queen's younger sister. Rourkie snatches it up and puts it on, fully intending to use his new royal status to escape while leaving the others to die. What he didn't count on, however, was that the coin operates by Cosmic Retcon. Since she was suddenly always a princess, Rourkie the pirate simply never existed, and thus he managed to undo every single act of murder and destruction that he ever performed, and in the process wound up making some of his rivals very happy.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • During the Battle of Beacon, Adam vows to Blake that his revenge for her abandoning him will consist of him hurting everything she's ever loved. In Volume 5, Blake and Sun are unsuccessfully trying to convince the Faunus population of Menagerie to rise up and protect the humans of Haven from a White Fang assault led by Adam. The Menagerie population, however, are tired of humanity's racism towards them and live there to escape the pain in the rest of the world. They have no interest in protecting humans from anything, least of all the White Fang, which claims to act on their behalf. When Adam hears about Blake's attempt to raise an army against him, he rants about Blake's family being a thorn in his side and decides to make good on his promise to Blake: he sends an assassin to kill Blake's parents and capture Blake alive. When the assassination attempt fails, the fact that the White Fang was willing to turn on its own people just for disagreeing with their methods, unites the Menagerie population against Adam's cause. As a result, a Menagerie army shows up to Haven with the Mistral police force in tow; the heroes weren't in a position to stop the villains from carrying out their plans, but Menagerie's intervention completely ruins both Adam's attempt to destroy Haven Academy and the Big Bad's secret plan to steal the Relic of Knowledge from Haven's vault using the White Fang assault as cover.
    • Ever since Ruby wounded her at the Fall of Beacon, Cinder has held a huge grudge against the rookie huntress. When Salem sends her team to strong-arm Raven Branwen into helping retrieve the Relic of Knowledge from Haven, Raven demands that they kill Qrow in return. Seeing this as a chance to pay Ruby back, Cinder eagerly accepts, even though it sacrifices their advantage of Haven being empty. During the battle, Cinder, Raven, and Vernal, the supposed "Spring Maiden" slip away but before any of them can open the Vault of the Spring Maiden, Cinder reveals she has a Grimm arm and kills Vernal to steal the Spring Maiden's power — except Vernal was just a decoy, Raven was the Spring Maiden! Cinder loses the ensuing battle, leaving the Relic to be claimed by the heroes. In short, Cinder's lust for power and vengeance costs the villains the victory.
    • Just before that, Cinder retaliated against Jaune by attacking and badly wounding Weiss... which led to Jaune unlocking his Semblance and saving her life.

    Web Comics 
  • Agents of the Realm has a bear-bleed attack Norah after she discarded her Transformation Trinket. This causes the amulet to return to her and her to change into Magical Girl Warrior, which is definitely against the intentions of Ruby, who may be behind the recent incursion of bleeds.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta features this trope in spades. When fighting Milon, he offhandedly says that he's invincible as his unobserved power is infinite — which causes Lucca to use her SightScope to observe his power and turn it into a finite number. Later on, Palom casts Virus on Milon, enraging him and making him use his "Eternity In A Second" attack to take the next few thousand turns. He says that he'll enjoy watching everyone squirm, unable to do anything — and then dies. (Turns out Virus inflicts Sap, which depletes a little HP each turn — and when Milon takes thousands of turns in a row...)
  • Casey and Andy: "No! Wait! My inventions must not be used for peace!"
  • In Darths & Droids, Pete gets egotistical and gives everyone a +1 morale bonus just by watching R2-D2 fly. This gives Annie enough of a stat boost to dodge a quintuple guillotine.
  • In an early story arc in Dominic Deegan, Greg, a white mage, is infected with the "Blight of the Undead", a curse that would essentially turn him into an undead abomination. It was kept in check by his devout use of White Magic. Later on, in a confrontation with his eldest brother Jacob (a Necromancer), he rips the blight out of his body through his un-blighted parts. Jacob then learns the hard way that the Blight was acting as a magical Restraining Bolt, and with it gone, Gregory's magical power increased exponentially. And have we mentioned that White Magic is already exceptionally effective against necromancy, and that just to set the tin lid on it, Gregory (who'd been making excuses for Jacob for years) is now extremely pissed off? The ensuing fight is very short and very one-sided.
    • During the battle between Dominic and Celesto in the Storm of Souls arc, Celesto uses his powers as the Champion of Chaos to trap Dominic and try to use him as fuel for the Weapon of Mass Destruction. Cue Dominic gaining a level in badass when it turns out he's actually the Champion of Balance and chaos was the last force he needed to experience in order to gain full power, beat Celesto, stop the Storm, and save the world.
  • In Dragon City, during an Arc that explored the relationship between Kim and Jonas, Erin (not an antagonist Per ser, but still a very callous and selfish character that only occasionally display a good heart) finds out about their relationship. While tolerant about it, Erin, being the former's best friend and the latter's big sisters, isn't amused with the situation and warns them that with either broke the other's heart, she will beat them up. Given her temperament, neither protested, but as noticed by Rachel, scaring them into commitment will only get them closer, much to Erin's chagrin.
  • Freefall:
  • Girl Genius:
    • The main character, an orphaned young lady named Agatha, wears a locket-type amulet with pictures of her parents in it. The locket is her most prized possession, given to her by her paternal uncle Barry shortly before he mysteriously departed, leaving Agatha in the care of her adoptive parents, the Clays. She never removes the amulet for very long and is never far away from it. Agatha struggles to be an engineer and inventor, like her beloved uncle, but fails constantly due to the severe and sudden migraine headaches she suffers whenever she tries to concentrate. Near the beginning of the story, a pair of drunken soldiers accost Agatha on the street. One snatches her locket, planning to sell it for a little quick cash. It turns out Barry designed the locket to suppress Agatha's "spark", her innate intelligence and engineering talent. With the amulet gone, Agatha becomes a super-genius. She converts a steam-powered tractor into a complex robot programmed to seek out the amulet and return it to her, an impressive feat in and of itself made even more so by the fact she literally does this in her sleep!
    • It also turns out the waves emanating from the amulet are extremely dangerous to anyone other than Agatha, as the loutish soldier who stole it soon finds out. The amulet ends up killing him by slowly destroying his brain. His fellow soldier, actually his younger brother, realizes the amulet is the source of his brother's demise when it is accidentally broken open, revealing the mechanism within. The young soldier uses the address engraved on the back of the locket to track Agatha down, looking for vengeance. Normally, the amulet would dampen Agatha's genius ability when brought in close proximity to her, but the young soldier broke it by throwing it against a wall in rage. The now brilliant, clear-headed and more confident Agatha easily out-smarts and overpowers her would-be attacker and turns the tables on him, tying him up and reclaiming her beloved keepsake.
    • Later in the story, an evil entity known as "The Other" possesses Agatha and gloats over an incapacitated Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, sworn enemy of The Other who is also hunting down Agatha so he can lobotomize her and permanently destroy her spark. The Other notices Klaus is carrying Agatha's amulet, which has a trilobite design on it, the symbol of Agatha's real family, the Heterodynes. The Other decides to use the amulet to pass itself off as a legitimate Heterodyne heir and lay claim to their family castle, stuffed full of amazing and highly dangerous technology and research. As soon as The Other slips the amulet around Agatha's neck, however, she is able to regain control. That's TWO villains each cancelling the other out.
  • Homestuck: Jack Noir can't bring himself to kill Jade Harley because the prototyping of her dog Becquerel caused Jack to inherit his Undying Loyalty to her. Instead, with no other options open to him, he orders the Courtyard Droll to kill her. Much later, during which time Jack has started following Jade around like a lost, harmless dog, the Droll actually succeeds... right in front of Jack, who promptly flips his shit and kills the Droll. Visibly saddened and enraged by Jade's death, he takes her body to her Quest Bed, causing her to ascend to the God Tiers, gain power well beyond Jack's, and use it to escape their dying session.
  • Raul's abduction of Kayn'dar in Inverloch was initially a huge blow to the elves. For decades, more and more children were born Severed, with white hair, gold eyes, no ability to use magic, and mortality—a punishment from the spirits for their corruption and arrogance. Kayn'dar, born with the mark of the Severed but able to use magic, was viewed as The Chosen One who could save them. Ironically, Raul had no idea he had kidnapped the most important elf kid in his quest for vengeance on the elves. By transposing Kayn'dar's soul into a child from another race, Kayn'dar grew up understanding prejudice, learning empathy towards others, and ultimately being in a much better position to reform the elves' isolationist and bigoted society than if he had been raised by them.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Bentley Kindle, Kevin's father, is a serial miscreant and habitual criminal. He never liked Kevin growing up because he was the Black Sheep (in rabbit terms), and initially disowned him when he married Kell Dewclaw. But along the way, he had an online fling with a lady rabbit. That rabbit turned out to be Angelique, Kevin's first wife, and it ended their marriage. Given how awful Angelique was (and continues to be), Bentley inadvertently did Kevin a solid there.
  • In the backstory of MegaTokyo, Tohya Miho used a hidden statistic in the Endgames servers to enslave large portions of the in-game populace, even doing so to a certain extent with the in-game identity of one of the protagonists of MegaTokyo, Piro. Only she made the mistake of manipulating Piro by founding a real life relationship with him, trying to take control of his in-game character while breaking his heart in the process. The result? Piro broke the in-game emotional control she used, ultimately whipped her ass in-game, destroyed the character she used, and got her completely and totally banned from the game in which she tried to take control. Nice job, Miho.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Xykon breaking Roy's beloved sword both fills the fighter with a vengeful resolve, and forces him to grapple the lich bare-handed. He promptly hurls Xykon into a trap-warded gateway, which blows the undead sorcerer's body to pieces: something Roy certainly wasn't powerful enough (yet) to accomplish with sword strikes.
    • Also, Xykon is an epic-level sorcerer, the Order has no chance of defeating him. Except, Xykon broke Roy's sword, and Nale sent Roy on a dangerous sidequest to get it fixed, which has resulted in Roy's sword being made of a material that is very effective against undead.
    • One arc concludes with Xykon's attempt to Breaking Lecture the recently defeated Vaarsuvius not only failing, but actually lifting V out of a pre-existing case of Heroic BSoD, and giving V advice that's made him/her more effective than s/he'd been even before the Heroic BSoD.
    • Nale's actually pretty good at this. Elan took a level in the Dashing Swordsman prestige class because Nale stole his identity. Later, one of his more impressive momentsnote  backfires doubly: It gives Vampire-Durkon his free will back. Durkon immediately kills one of Nale's teammates and rejoins his friends. Then he throws the feat back in Tarquin's face as proof of how he doesn't need or want Tarquin's protection. Malack was Tarquin's best friend and fellow party member. Filicide ensues and the Order is down one recurring nemesis. On the other hand, with his free will restored, The Corpse Formerly Known As Durkon turned out to be more dangerous than ever, so YMMV.
    • When Bozzok had Crystal turned into a flesh golem, he paid extra to have her retain her sentience. This allows Haley to reason with her and turn Crystal against Bozzok.
    • Instead of turning to incorporeal mist and hiding, the High Priest of Hel possessing Durkon's body decides to fight with Roy instead, and attempt a Breaking Speech. This has two consequences. First, Roy realizes that the High Priest is not actually Durkon, and so stops holding back. Second, Roy wills the Greenhilt Sword into a Weapon of Legacy.
  • One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic shows a mad scientist mixing poison to kill all the world's children, and the subtitle states that coincidentally, he released it on the same day that aliens secretly took over the bodies of all of Earth's children. His face is being added to Mt. Rushmore as we speak.
  • Slightly Damned: All that was needed to remove Kieri's magic restraining cuffs & collar was for her name to be spoken. Guess what the villain shouts out between swears at the top of her lungs.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In "The Stormbreaker Saga", Zoë, trapped in the past, is prophesied to defeat the demon K'Z'K but also about to be executed by the fairly dim-witted King Sighard of Trent. All she has left is a shotgun (they let her keep it because no-one has any idea what it is) with one shot. That wouldn't do much good, except that K'Z'K has turned the executioner into one of his undead minions, and he tries to kill the king instead — giving Zoë a chance to use that one shot to save the king and impress everyone with her "magic", convincing them that she is The Chosen One. Thus, K'Z'K unknowingly helps a far more dangerous enemy survive when trying to eliminate a lesser one.

    Web Original 
  • This Cracked List tells this all.
    • RoboCop: The Big Bad had a secret directive planted in RoboCop's programming. Instead of using it to shut the android down, he tells RoboCop exactly what it is and how it works, knowing RoboCop records everything. RoboCop is later able to reveal the directive's instructions to the one man who can say the two words that stop the directive applying to the Big Bad.
    • Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine sets a trap for the Rebellion by leaking the location of the shield generator for the unfinished Death Star... and he uses the actual shield generator for bait.
    • The Lord of the Rings: Sauron lets Gollum go after torturing him for we don't even know how long. Books or film, Sauron wasn't using Gollum as bait or an assassin; he just let Gollum go. And if it weren't for Gollum, the Ring wouldn't have wound up in Mt. Doom.
    • Total Recall: The bad guys don't sedate Douglas for the brain reprogramming — even though, according to them, he's a trained killer. That allows him to go mildly berserk and escape. Made worse because last time they did properly sedate him.
    • The Running Man: Instead of pulling a Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? on Amber, the bad guys stick her in their televised-everywhere games. This gives the rebellion time to rescue her, retrieve the tape with the evidence of just how badly corrupt the government is, and broadcast it. (They also suck at searching her — this was an old-style VCR tape, and they made her change her clothes before dumping her in the arena.)
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark: Belloq failed to read all the material on the Ark, which includes the stuff in the Bible. 1 Samuel 6:19 explicitly said that men were struck down for looking in it. Seriously, what did he use the trip from Germany to Egypt for, napping?
  • New Deal Coalition Retained:
    • Iran's military gasses unarmed Kurdish civilians in an attempt to warn off others from rebelling. All they do is horrify and anger just about the whole world (including their own allies), give Iraq a massive PR victory, and convince the entire Kurdish population to rise up against them.
    • During World War III, the Soviets launch coordinated air raids (referred to as the Second Blitz) on several NATO nations in an attempt to break their spirit and bring them to the negotiation table. Instead, it just enrages the various nations and makes them even more determined to fight back.
    • Following onto the above, the Soviets retaliate against South Korea's material support of Japan's Siberian invasion by launching an air raid which devastates Seoul, which causes South Korea and all the other anti-communist nations of Asia to abandon neutrality and declare war on the Soviets. And on top of that, China — which had been planning to declare war on Japan, counting on NATO not wanting to expand the war further by getting involved directly — realizes that it's now not a viable option, so has to resort to merely sending volunteers to fight for the Soviets.
    • The Bolivians practice a particularly hardline version of communism, which involves arresting anyone who even remotely disagrees with those in power. When they do this to a popular army captain in command of a frontline division one the eve of a major battle with the Allies, the whole division mutinies and defects, opening a massive hole in the communists' defenses. This turns the whole battle into a Curb-Stomp Battle in the Allies' favor.
  • Saga of Soul: For several chapters, Soul feels growing doubts about her own humanity. Downfall is able to sense it, and prepares a massive speech to break her spirit. But he ends up being so heavy-handed about it, he ends up accomplishing the exact opposite, showing Soul exactly how silly her doubts were in the first place. Cue Curbstomp Battle.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-4357-J, "Cooperative Demon", is the embodiment of this trope Played for Laughs. He underestimates the Foundation's ability to contain him to the point where he straight up tells them how to do it while boasting.
    • SCP-6140 has a Children of the Scarlet King cult, in attempting to return the Daevite Empire to the present, accidentally erase them from existence by summoning the real country that existed before the author of SCP-140 forcibly replaced them in history with the Daevites as described in 140. The Republic of Daevastan is peaceful, cooperative with the Foundation, and nothing like the Daevites everyone was expecting.
  • Worm has the ABB. Their actions cause Skitter to join the Undersiders, the superheroes and supervillains of the city to join forces against them, and Lung's second loss to Skitter when he attempts revenge for their first fight. It also allows her to carve out his eyes when she beat him again, making him easier to capture by the heroes. This wipes out the ABB.

    Web Videos 
  • Noob:
    • In Season 3 finale of the webseries, Roxana, just For the Evulz, decides to kill Sparadrap's pets in front of him. That's how we find out that the series Stupid Good Kindhearted Simpleton has a Berserk Button. The novel version of the scene reveals that The Cavalry arrived in time due to Roxana taking time to Kick the Dog rather than immediately killing Sparadrap and his teammates (which she could have done easily).
    • That season / novel also has the leader of Relic Hunter guild get Caught on Tape from gloating about his plans in front of the very people who ended up in a Frame-Up because of him. That group includes a player that is frequently loading videos of in-game events on her blog.
  • Parodied in this video by ProZD, where all of the evil deeds the villain does only ends up helping the city in some form or another, all as informed by Commander Fistfight. The villain shoots Fistfight in response, hitting him in the shoulder. The impact of the shot ends up fixing a previous injury Fistfight sustained to his shoulder.
  • Skeppy: Gave Technoblade an ender pearl in I tried a cursed troll but it backfired... (Ft. Technoblade) which Techno used to skip the parkour. Skeppy teleported him back to where he was stuck and gave him another ender pearl which he used to escape the map.
 
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Avatar Aang

During his intense battle against Firelord Ozai, Ozai inadvertently frees up Aang's twisted chakra, allowing him to finally gain full control of the Avatar State. Aang then uses its full might to call upon all four elements against Ozai.

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