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Oblivious Guilt Slinging

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"I'm so happy I have you as my best friend, and I love Lisa so much."
Johnny to Mark, who is having an affair with Lisa, The Room (2003)

Alice is planning something that will hurt Bob in some way. Even though she feels bad about it, she's decided to keep this a secret from Bob. It is therefore almost guaranteed that even though Bob doesn't know what Alice is up to, he will say things that make Alice feel even worse, talking about how much he trusts her, or the importance of not keeping secrets from each other, or just what a wonderful person Alice is.

How Alice reacts to this added guilt varies. Sometimes she'll simply put up with it and go through with her plan anyway. Sometimes, she'll want to stop, but has already put things irrevocably in motion or simply gone too far to reverse course. Often, the added pressure leads to a breakdown and a confession. Depending on the nature of the story and the deception, it can also be part of Becoming the Mask or a Heel–Face Turn, as the guilt changes the character's plans or actions.

Most of the time, the audience is aware of the deception or secret, making this a subtrope of Dramatic Irony, as the audience cringes on behalf of the character, who is most likely already in an unpleasant situation, and now has to feel worse about it. However, there are occasional exceptions where the audience is unaware of exactly what the secret is, and the irony only becomes clear later on.

Another common type of this is the opposite: Alice is about to tell Bob something that would hurt him in some way - usually by confessing a lie or an action - only for Bob to, right before Alice is about to say so, gush about how Alice would never hurt him and how truthful she is or how proud the thing she lied about doing makes him feel, thus making Alice unable to face the disappointment of Bob finding out the truth and keep lying as opposed to revealing it. Usually an aspect of a Snowball Lie. In sitcoms, this trope is thus often used to maintain the "Fawlty Towers" Plot, by guilting someone out of their decision to tell the truth before it's gone too far.

This is a subtrope of Dramatic Irony.

This trope is also used to build suspense, as the guilt-ridden character wonders whether or not to go through with the deception. Compare Insult Friendly Fire, when Alice accidentally insults Bob without realizing she's done so (at least at first), Oblivious Mockery, and Innocently Insensitive. See Guilt-Tripping when this is done on purpose.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Accel World: In the sixth episode, Haru spends 300 points to level up, leaving him with only eight points left; if he loses even once, he'll lose Brain Burst forever. Because of that, he keeps it secret from Kuroyukihime when he meets with her, and when they discuss their future plans, he acts as though he hasn't leveled up yet. Kuroyukihime warns him not to level up without enough points in reserve and tells him that he won't be stupid enough to make that mistake, unaware that he already did.
  • Death Note: Sōichirō does this to Light a lot. He's always ready to step in and defend his son when L accuses Light of being Kira, and talks about how proud he is of the mature and honest man Light has grown into. Initially, Light just ignores his father's behavior, but in the chapters leading up to Sōichirō's death he seems increasingly affected by it.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, in a flashback some time after Biko graduates from Rio's tutelage, Biko notices that Rio hasn't made any magical tools for a year, and concludes something is wrong with her. Biko reminds Rio of something Rio once said- that you can keep going through hard times if you have someone close to you- and then asks if she can be that person for Rio now that Rio's mother is dead. Rio then says that she's "a fool" for not realizing that she had Biko, but back then, she'd already betrayed the MLS and joined Enchu, so she believes it's too late for her to go back.
  • Overlord (2012): Ainz is nothing but an ordinary human transported into a world (that works a lot like the MMO he spent all his free time on) as a ridiculously powerful lich. His subordinates (created by his guildmates) all believe him to be the pinnacle of the Evil Genius, Evil Overlord and Sorcerous Overlord all in one and praise his every move as another step in an ingenious plan they would never have thought of in a million years. Ainz is very thankful his Skull for a Head doesn't show emotion at times like these, because their absolute sincerity hurts him the same way a father wouldn't want to disappoint his children.
  • Soul Eater: After Crona pulls a Heel–Face Turn, Crona's mother has Crona act as a spy, starting by bugging Marie and Stein. The first thing Crona hears when listening in on them is Marie telling Stein what a nice kid Crona is.
  • The mother of Kurama's human host body does something that has a similar effect in YuYu Hakusho, when Kurama was planning on leaving forever once he had recovered his powers. She saves him from being badly cut by broken dishes, injuring herself in the process. Kurama planned on leaving at some point after that, but couldn't bring himself to do so, and eventually came to love her enough to be willing to give his life to save hers.
  • Spy X Family: After discovering that Yor's brother is a member of the Secret Police, Loid plants a bug on her in an attempt to find out if she's aware of her brother's job or if there are any other hints that she might be aware that he's a spy. What he actually hears is mostly her worrying about whether or not she's a good wife and mother. When they meet again, he destroys the bug, clearly feeling guilty about having questioned her character.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Ten's mother used to tell her son stories about her hunting down and punishing arsonists, unaware that Ten is a fire-breathing pyromaniac, and her gung-ho attitude towards punishing people who set fires leaves Ten terrified.

    Comic Books 
  • Classic Star Wars has a story in which Vader hires an actor to impersonate Obi-Wan and lure Luke into a trap. Luke is overjoyed at the prospect of his teacher surviving, and openly so. This guilts the actor severely, and Luke pulls him into situations where to deflect suspicion he has to do what Obi-Wan would... and in the end he has a literal Obi-Wan Moment and calmly dies to save Luke. Who may, possibly, have been not so oblivious after all - he doesn't seem surprised when the actor confesses while dying in his arms.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: Thor is reluctant to work with Amora the Enchantress, given their history. When "Agent Loki" asks if that also applies to them, Thor dismisses the comparison, as this new Loki isn't the one who wronged him. He's not wrong, technically, but still thinks he's talking to a grown-up Kid Loki instead of a third personality (who came about by overriding and killing Kid Loki). Loki awkwardly changes the subject.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, the Sultan does this to Aladdin, who at this point, was fraudulently using Genie's magic to pass himself off as a prince to gain the affection of Princess Jasmine....:
    Sultan: And then you, my boy, will become sultan!
    Aladdin: Sultan?
    Sultan: Yes, a fine upstanding youth such as yourself, a person of your unimpeachable moral character is exactly what this kingdom needs.
  • Aladdin: The Return of Jafar:
    • After Iago saves Aladdin's life, Aladdin agrees to bring him to the palace ask for a royal pardon. Before he has a chance, the Sultan offers to make him royal vizier, and Genie comments on how much better of a vizier Aladdin will be than Jafar, finishing with this:
      Genie: You don't see this guy hanging out with any evil parrots!
      Aladdin: [nervously] Heheh. It's funny you should mention Iago.
    • Jasmine tells Iago she was wrong about him, and he almost tells her he's a traitor, but balks when Jafar silently threatens him. When Jafar comes in to praise him for his treachery, he visibly shudders, and when Aladdin thanks him for the lovely day out, he looks like he wants to be sick.
  • The initial plot of The Bad Guys (2022) has Wolf lead the title group on a Falsely Reformed Villain scheme in order to steal the Golden Dolphin in order to one-up Governor Diane Foxington. However it becomes complicated when Diane actually starts bonding with Wolf and causing a real pang of conscience. By the time of the heist, Wolf is ready to engineer the big public distraction in order to begin the final stage of the plan, only to see Diane smiling adoringly back at him. Unwilling to betray Diane, he aborts the scheme and makes the Heel–Face Turn a real one, to the horror of his teammates.
  • A Bug's Life:
    • Princess Atta sends Flik out to find some bugs to fight Hopper, not expecting him to actually find anybody willing to defend an ant colony (as well as just to get Flik out of the picture). When Flik returns to the colony with the "warriors", Atta, though shocked by this turn of events, decides to go along with Flik's "success" anyway. During the welcoming ceremony, Flik sincerely thanks Atta for "believing in him" and Atta smiles awkwardly.
      Flik: Thank you, Your Highness. Oh, sure, I'd like to take credit for all of this, but, well, that wouldn't be right. Because it was you, Princess Atta. You believed in me, and you sent me on my quest.
    • Later, Atta asks Flik if she could talk to him in private, leading to this exchange.
      Atta: You don't think I've offended the warriors, do you?
      Flik: What? You? No!
      Atta: Oh, good. 'Cause you see, when you first brought them here, I thought you'd hired a bunch of clowns.
      Flik: Y-Y-Ya did? [laughs nervously]
      Atta: Don't tell them I said that.
  • Frozen: Every time Anna pesters Elsa about coming out to play (as a child) or open up to the world (as a young adult) triggers Elsa's bad memories of the time she nearly killed Anna when they were playing with her powers as children - an incident Anna can no longer remember. It gets to the point that Elsa reveals her powers publicly and runs away, prompting Anna to lampshade the trope and insist she should be the one to go after her because of it.
  • In A Goofy Movie, the morning after Max changes the map's destination from Lake Destiny to Los Angeles behind Goofy's back, Goofy decides to make Max the navigator of the road trip, saying he trusts him wholeheartedly. Max keeps up the charade, though he was initially hesitant. This is later invoked when Goofy finds out that the map was changed, to secretly give Max a second chance. To Goofy's shock and anger, Max keeps it up.
  • The Incredibles: While Bob and Helen are drying their stuff after Bob accidentally sets the sprinklers off, Helen expresses her gratitude to Bob for sticking with his job and supporting their family despite how frustrating it is and how much he misses being a superhero. She does not know that Bob actually blew cover by accidentally outing himself as a super and lost his job. When Helen then comes to the mistaken conclusion that he was promoted and praises him for it, Bob can't bring himself to correct her. As a result, Bob decides not to tell her and instead decides to accept the mysterious job offer he received from Mirage, lying that he was promoted and is going to an out-of-town conference for a few days.
  • The Jungle Book (1967): After Baloo finally agrees with Bagheera to send Mowgli to the man village instead of living with him, Mowgli reminds him about all the fun they're going to have together and sings "The Bare Necessities", all while Baloo had a guilt-filled expression.
  • In Mulan II, after Mushu managed to create a rift between the titular character and her love interest all so he can keep his job, as they temporarily walked different paths, Mulan comments on how good a companion Mushu is, which causes him to break down and confess.
  • In Oliver & Company, Fagin ransoms Oliver, believing that he was briefly owned by a wealthy adult who will pay anything to get their pet back. When the kitten's owner turns up - a little girl with wealthy parents who brought her own piggy bank to pay the ransom — Fagin changes his mind and "finds" Oliver on the street.
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure: Christopher Robin has the unpleasant duty to tell Pooh he's going to school the next day, all but telling him his childhood is starting to come to an end and that they'll no longer be spending every day together. What does Pooh say when he tries to tell him? It can wait "forever and ever", which is the title of the song the pair sing wherein Pooh says they'll always be together. Christopher Robin eventually caves and has one last fun day with his stuffed bear, only to realize by sundown he's out of time to tell him. Thankfully, the movie is about Pooh learning that they will always be together in their hearts even if it's not in person like he claimed in his song.
  • Ratatouille: Linguini does this to Rémy when he comes to look for him in the kitchen after their fight and apologies for losing his temper whilst going on how Rémy has never let him down before and how he was the best most trustworthy friend he has all the while unaware that Rémy had brought his entire family to pillage the kitchen as revenge for their argument. Cue an Oh, Crap! from Rémy when his cover is blown.
  • Storks: Tulip launches a more or less continuous stream of this to Junior when he's sent to fire her, expressing a surprised joy that he'd talk to her at all and (erroneously) thanking him for coming to wish her a Happy Birthday. Junior understandably struggles to fire her after that.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph helps Vanellope achieve her lifelong dream of entering the race. Then he's told that he needs to prevent her from entering for her own good, since it could lead to Sugar Rush being shut down and Vanellope actually dying. Before he gets the words out, she gives him a cookie medal she made. He ultimately has to destroy the car they made together, breaking her heart, and afterwards sees the words "You're my hero" written on the medal. Ouch.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Armored: Ty tries to persuade Palmer to let him go while talking about how he hasn't hurt anyone. Palmer has just killed Dobbs, and hearing Ty say that makes him cry and then scream for Ty to shut up.
  • In Blow, the protagonist, happy after a successful drug run, drunkenly showers affection on his partners, promises them an extra $200,000, and says he's getting out of the business. All while the federal agents they're siccing on him are poised to break down the door.
  • In Central Intelligence, Calvin is forced to betray Bob to the CIA when Harris threatens to arrest his wife. Bob calls Calvin his best friend and assures him that he's the only one he trusts, guilting Calvin into confessing he betrayed him.
  • Devil in a Blue Dress: After Coretta is murdered her husband thinks it was because she refused to sleep with her killer, and tells Easy how she'd never cheat on him. As Easy had sex with Coretta shortly before her death, he's not happy about this.
  • Downfall (2004): In their last meeting together, Hitler calls Himmler his "loyal Heinrich" when in fact Himmler is already making moves to betray him by attempting to broker a peace with the Allies behind the back of his leader.
  • In In a Lonely Place, Laurel has just decided to leave Dix when he comes around to prepare breakfast and propose to her, which puts her in an extremely uncomfortable spot.
  • In Which We Serve. A crewman who deserted his post during a battle isn't happy about his comrades singing "Run Rabbit Run" and tells them to pick another tune.
  • It Happened in Hollywood: Billy does this while appealing to Tim, not realizing that Tim's career is over and that he is broke. It moves Tim to stage the party full of doubles of Hollywood stars so he can keep his promise to Billy.
  • In Johnny Belinda, all strings are being pulled when Stella comes to take Belinda's baby away. Belinda is unsuspecting and kindly welcomes Stella, offering her food and beverage. The heartiness affects Stella and she cannot bring herself to carry out the order and begs her husband to call off the whole thing.
  • The Little Mermaid (2023): After Ariel disappears following an argument with her father that turned ugly, King Triton orders his other daughters to search the seas for her. As the girls wonder aloud why Ariel would suddenly abandon the safety of her home, Triton nervously freezes.
    Karina: Ariel wouldn't dare go above again.
    Perla: Don't you ever think such a thing!
    Mala: It doesn't make sense. Why would she leave?
    Perla: I... I have no idea.
  • In Locke, Ivan has to switch between phone calls admitting to his wife that he cheated on her, and phone calls desperately trying to manage an important construction project. After his sobbing wife hangs up on him, he successfully manages to assemble a crew to deal with a problem, and one of them shouts "Ivan Locke is the best man in England!". He says nothing, but is visibly hit by this.
  • On the lake in A Place in the Sun, Alice makes George remorseful for all the trouble he had gotten her into, rendering him unable to go through with his plan to drown her.
  • Pitch Black. Carolyn looks guilty when the survivors of the Hunter-Gratzner congratulate her for having landed them safely on an alien planet. They don't know she had planned on ejecting their passenger compartments, but had been stopped only due to her navigator's interference.
  • Reservoir Dogs. Mr. Orange feels very, very guilty when Mr. White takes a bullet while trying to convince Joe that Orange is not the rat. The problem being that, of course, he is the rat, being an undercover police officer. After White guns down Joe and the latter's son Eddie to protect Orange, this overwhelming guilt leads Orange to confess to White, who then kills him while Orange repeatedly apologizes.
  • In Roman Holiday, Ann is thankful to Joe for giving her such a great time, while he is only in it for the money. At that point anyway.
  • The Strange Door: Blanche praises Voltan as a trustworthy person who can help Denis escape right as Voltan was preparing to kill Denis to stop him from marrying Blanche. Voltan looks a bit awkward throughout the scene.
  • Stuart Little 2: Margalo the canary is assigned by an evil Falcon to steal household valuables from the Little family. However, Margalo can't seem to focus on her assignment as she starts to enjoy spending time with the family, and becoming smitten with Stuart. Finally losing his patience, Falcon threatens Margalo: steal Mrs. Little's ring or else he'll kill Stuart. Margalo steals Mrs. Little's wedding ring. When the Littles notice the ring missing, they think it's fallen down the drain and Stuart volunteers to go after it, but the string that's holding him breaks. Margalo saves him, but Stuart's gratitude towards her only makes her feel more guilty. Later that night, Margalo gives a sleeping Stuart her precious jeweled stick-pin, before leaving the house out of guilt and shame.
    Stuart: Margalo, You're the best friend I ever had.
    [hugs Margalo, who sadly hangs her head in guilt]
  • Lampshaded a bit in The Truman Show. Marlon tells Truman, "The last thing I would ever do is lie to you" while Cristof is secretly telling him to say exactly that. There are hints throughout the movie that Marlon is an alcoholic basket case due to his constant deception of his best friend.

  • There is a joke about a woman on trial for murdering her husband with poison in his dinner. When the judge asks her whether she felt any guilt or shame, she answers, "Yes I did, Your Honor; when he asked for seconds."

  • In Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck decides to do the "right" thing and turn in his companion Jim, an escaped slave, to the authorities. However, when Jim calls him a great friend — the only friend he has, in fact — Huck finds that he can't go through with it.
  • In the Discworld novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, the cat Maurice gained the ability to talk after eating one of the eponymous educated rodents. He keeps this a secret from the other rats, but feels bad and is eventually forced to confess after several remarks on how nice he is, especially in being careful not to eat intelligent creatures. In this case, the reader didn't know exactly what Maurice's secret was until he said it, although they knew the praise was getting to him. Bit invoked; one of the rats had a strong suspicion about this, and was making pointed comments on purpose.
  • In Jasper Fforde's book The Big Over Easy, DS Mary Mary is secretly reporting on Jack Spratt's case to the decidedly unpleasant DCI Friedland Chymes. Jack continually bolstering her with what a good job she's doing just makes her feel worse that she's betraying him, and eventually she gives it up.
  • In Captain's Fury of the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher, the hero Tavi tells his beloved Aunt Isana how much he trusts her, and how family, unlike the untrustworthy nobles he has lived among for the last few years, won't betray you by keeping terrible secrets... not realising that Isana was just about to confess that she was really his mother, and was responsible for his lack of superpowers. Guiltstricken, she keeps silent, which of course just makes thing worse.
    • In the same book, Fidelias gets this both coming and going. There's the Your Approval Fills Me with Shame from Invidia when he suggested a cruel and underhanded Morton's Fork (basically, either execute innocent civilians or step down) to get Tavi, who he personally admires, out of power. Then there's Tavi and company praising Valiar Marcus's loyalty, when he's actually Fidelias, there on Invidia's orders to spy on the First Aleran.
  • Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome has the eponymous character torn between staying with his ill, shrewish wife Zeena and running away with her sweet cousin Mattie who he's fallen for. When Ethan decides to ask his neighbors for an advance payment on the logs he chops up for them to have enough money to run away with Mattie to the West, he's deterred from doing so when one of them praises him for taking care of Zeena, saying sympathetically, "You've had an awful mean old time, Ethan Frome."
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ginny is distraught after the attack on Mrs. Norris and Ron helpfully assures her that "they'll catch the maniac who did it and have him out of here in no time." Way to go, Ron. (To be fair, Ginny probably didn't suspect herself yet at that point, as she's stated to be a cat lover.)
  • The Alan Ahlberg poem "I Did a Bad Thing Once" has a child describe how he stole money from his mother to buy bubblegum, only for his mum to then give him bubblegum as a reward for being good.
  • The Savior's Series: At several points when they're alone together, Tobias takes the chance to vent his gripes with the Savior and how much he's come to hate her and the messed up tournament held for her hand to Leila. Unaware of the fact that Leila is the Savior, who has been doing everything in her power to take control over her kingdom back from her tyrannical father. She also doesn't like the tournament anymore than Tobias does and feels incredibly guilty for the deaths that have occurred.
  • Watership Down. After being offered shelter in Cowslip's warren, Hazel's rabbits are asked to tell a story, so they offer to tell of their adventures. Their hosts respond with a clearly uncomfortable silence, so they decide to tell a traditional folktale instead. After The Reveal about the true nature of the warren, Fiver explains why: No-one wants to hear of brave deeds when they're ashamed of their own, or an honest tale from someone they're deceiving.
  • In Jon Klaasen's picture book We Found a Hat, two turtles find a hat that they both love but decide they should leave alone because it wouldn't be fair if only one of them got a hat. However, one of the turtles can't resist the temptation of sneaking out while the other turtle is sleeping to take the hat for itself... until its friend sleepily says that it's having a great dream about them both wearing hats. After hearing this, the turtle quietly returns without taking the hat and goes to sleep next to its friend.

  • In the John Finnemore's Double Acts episode "Mercy Dash", Sue is accosted by Malcom, who is terribly sorry but everything's locked in his car and he desperately needs money to get a train to visit his sick daughter. As Sue's unexpected determination to help drags Malcom on an adventure he was completely unprepared for, she repeatedly mentions that he will have to pay her back before Wednesday or they'll stop her water, and at one point that her son thinks she's a "silly old fool" and is looking for an excuse to take her bank account away. While we don't learn exactly when Sue realised the truth, it turns out to be at least partly invoked.

  • In Cactus Flower, when Julian is feeling guilty about Toni's suicide attempt, she tries to reassure him by telling him she loves him as an honest man and a "decent guy," and she wants to make him happy by returning him to his wife and kids. Julian's problem, of course, is that he lied to Toni by telling her he was married.
  • A minor example in Hamilton: in the song "Tomorrow There'll Be More of Us", Hamilton receives a letter from friend and fellow revolutionary John Laurens, but puts it aside because he's busy working. When his wife Eliza (who has presumably read the letter already) tries to get him to read it, he cites the above reason - until she says it's from Laurens's father, because the letter states that Laurens was killed in action shortly after the war ended.
  • In In the Heights, the end of "No Me Diga" consists of Daniella, Carla, and Vanessa talking about how proud they are of Nina for getting out of the ghetto and going to college (Stanford, of all places). Unbeknownst to them, she has already dropped out, and is feeling extremely guilty about it (not only was she "the one" to make it out of Washington Heights, but tuition is also bankrupting her parents).
  • In Les Misérables, Marius constantly tells Eponine what a good friend she is, and even uses her to help get into contact with his love-interest Cosette - multiple times. What he doesn't know is that she is very, very much in love with him, to the point that she refuses medical aid when shot just so that she can die in his arms.

    Video Games 
  • If the player has the "Old Witch Ring" in Dark Souls, every line of dialogue spoken by Quelaag's sister counts as this. She's suffering and in indescribable pain because of her kindness and selflessness, but tell you that she'll be all right as long as she has you, her dear sister Quelaag, by her side. You know, the same Quelaag you just KILLED to be able to reach her in the first place.
  • Dark Souls III: At the end of the Ringed City DLC, when the player brings the blood of the Dark Soul to the Painter, she'll thank you and ponder when her uncle Gael will come home, as she wants to make her painting as a kindly home for him. Thing is, you killed Gael in order to get that blood. You Bastard!.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • It's entirely possible for the Grey Warden to do this to Morrigan, especially if the Warden is a male character romancing her. It doesn't stop her from following through with her true objectives, but it's clear that she feels guilty about it. Then again, if this isn't the first playthrough, there's nothing "oblivious" about it.
      • You can also do this to Arl Howe in the human noble origin, who is planning to have you and your entire family killed by the end of the night; if you go out of your way to be nice to him, he's a bit nonplussed and becomes uncomfortable, in probably the only decent moment the man has all game.
        Human Noble Warden: I just wanted to wish you well, Arl Howe.
        Arl Howe: Thank you... [looks noticeably uncomfortable and turns away] That is... quite unnecessary.
    • Something similar can happen in Dragon Age II depending on the actions and dialogue the player chooses near the end of Act 2. You can't stop Isabela from betraying you, but you can make her feel really bad about it and pull a Changed My Mind, Kid later.
    • In Inquisition, Solas can get quite a bit of guilt slung in his direction from the Inquisitor, especially if they're in a romance. Befriending him and/or romancing him not only rubs it in his face that he's (unintentionally) behind all your problems, it confronts him with the fact that all the people he's going to sacrifice to remove the veil are in fact people and he's going to commit mass murder. You can also take him to Elven ruins... which are ruins because of something he did; something especially noticeable at the Temple of Mythal. What Pride Had Wrought, indeed...]
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Midway through the Dark Brotherhood questline, you get a special mission from Lucien Lachance to slaughter all of your comrades in the Cheydinhal Sanctuary, as he suspects one of them is a traitor. If you talk to any of the victims before doing this, they can invoke this effect. Most notably, M'raaj-Dar, who had until now despised the player, admits he was wrong about you, apologizes, and asks if you can be friends. The joke is, none of them are. The traitor is someone from outside the sanctuary. You just killed your buddies for no reason.
  • Fable III: During the Kidnapped quest, the Hero is asked by the proprietor of a shelter (either Linda or Laszlo, depending on the Hero's gender) to rescue her/his fiancé/e. Depending on the choice you made in the beginning of the game, that person could be your childhood friend and would-be love interest, Elliot/Elise — in which case you have the option to either tell Elliot/Elise to stay with Linda/Laszlo or encourage Elliot/Elise to leave Linda/Laszlo for you. If you tell Elliot/Elise to dump Linda/Laszlo so the two of you can be together, Linda/Laszlo's final words to you at the end of the quest turn into this.
    Linda/Laszlo: [with absolute sincerity] You saved the love of my life. I'm forever in your debt. Thank you for everything.
  • Final Fantasy X - Yuna begins her journey to defeat Sin knowing that she will die in the process. Tidus, who's rapidly building an attraction to her, doesn't know this, but unwittingly says things that remind her of it - like "We can come back and see this place again later", or "After we beat Sin, we can...". When he's told what will happen, he beats himself up about it, and hangs a lampshade on his part in this trope. In this case, it's not Yuna who he's making feel guilty, it's everybody else in the party.
    • The situation also happens in reverse with Tidus; after The Reveal that Jecht became Sin a decade ago, every time someone (especially Yuna) brings him up in a heroic light or talks about how much suffering Sin has caused (since the last Calm), it makes Tidus guilty and uncomfortable, due to him feeling personally responsible for his father.
  • Genshin Impact: Barbara begs for Barbatos' forgiveness after seeing the Holy Lyre der Himmel's sorry state after it was mangled during Dvalin's rampage, unaware that Venti, who had the Lyre at that time, is Barbatos himself and obviously feeling a bit uncomfortable about the whole situation.
  • God of War (PS4): One sidequest involves a Reaver family where a reaver killed his father in revenge for the man killing his grandfather. Atreus talks a lot about how horrible it is that they'd kill their own parents... not knowing that Kratos killed his entire extended family back in Greece.
  • Played to extreme levels in It Takes Two. Our protagonists believe that the only way to fix the situation is to make their daughter cry by killing her favorite toy, Cutie the Elephant. Only problem—after a long and arduous journey to reach her, Cutie is the most genuinely sweet, kind, cute character imaginable, lovingly welcoming the two with open arms. As May and Cody internally reflect on how they have to kill her, Cutie notices their sadness and offers big hugs, trays of cookies, and a promise that she would do everything she could to help them in their journey: "After all, that's what friends are for!"And it makes the subsequent death scene that much more genuinely horrifying on every emotional level.
  • Can be done to Shepard in Mass Effect 3. If Shepard chooses not to tell Eve about the fact that the salarians sabotaged the genophage cure long ago, Shepard has to listen to Eve constantly talking about what a hero Shepard is for all s/he's doing for the krogan people. Wrex also praises Shepard for being a hero (although how much he does depends on how many decisions you made that are good for him or the krogans), but is a subversion of the trope since Wrex doesn't stay oblivious forever...
  • In the main storyline of No Man's Sky, the Last Traveller/player character has been trying to meet a fellow Traveller named Artemis, whose is in another universe and is desperate to meet another Traveller. However, it turns out that she's dead already, and her consciousness is somehow trapped in between universes. The player has the option to let her die for good, or save her consciousness into a simulated universe. If you save her, you can either tell her the truth, or lie and say that you are still looking for her, and that you will meet up eventually. if you do that, then she will contact you occasionally, talking about the things you'll do together when you finally meet, and how happy she is to not be alone anymore.
  • Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners: After finding a room full of treasure, Kyosuke briefly contemplates pocketing some, but decides against it, not wanting to look "uncool" in front of his crush Yoko. His remarks about how finding something doesn't give you the right to take it make her deeply uncomfortable, as she's reminded of how she shoplifted a pendant from a department store back in Japan.
  • In Sam & Max: The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball, Sam and Max are ordered to kill their friend Sybil to gain the Toy Mafia's trust. When you talk to Sybil, she knows the Mafia is planning to kill her, and says that Sam and Max are the only ones she can trust. This doesn't make them feel any better. The Trope Namer comes from Max's remark: "She should consider guilt-slinging for her next career".
  • In season 2 of The Walking Dead, Clementine's group of survivors encounters another group at a ski lodge. The ski lodge group lets them stay for a while, and during that time a man from the Ski Lodge, Walter, tells Clem's group that his partner Matthew should be back from his hunting soon. Clem's group slowly realises that Matthew was a man they encountered and accidentally killed on their way there.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Chihiro does this to Mondo: Chihiro had been pretending to be a girl to avoid the ridicule he had received for being sensitive and emotional rather than being "manly". He tells Mondo that he inspired him to face his weakness and overcome it by growing stronger so he could be confident enough to be himself rather than using his crossdressing to hide from it. Unfortunately, he's unaware that Mondo has a major Inferiority Superiority Complex that stems from having caused his brother's death, and unlike Chihiro he didn't have the resolve to overcome that insecurity. Chihiro's speech inadverntantly hammers Mondo's Trauma Button so hard that Mondo has a Freak Out and kills Chihiro with a blow to the head.
  • In Frozen Essence, being nice and helpful to Varian causes him to become visibly uncomfortable and tell Mina outright that helping him will not help her. It doesn't stop him from helping Oryon capture and attempt to reseal her, although he's clearly wracked with guilt/doubt about this. On the other hand, pulling this off on him again during his path with the right choices does result in him having a change of heart at the last minute about his plan to reseal Mina.
  • The demo version of Heart of the Woods had a scene that takes place when Tara records her last video for her Vlog Series Taranormal before going to Eysenfeld, where the game takes place. Tara is as enthusiastic about her work as always, and calls her best friend Madison "the best manager ever." Madison, who wants to quit her job as Tara's manager but hasn't told her yet, feels a little guilty about quitting, but tells Tara about her decision before they leave.
  • Nicole: One of Nicole's potential love interests is — unknown to her, obviously — also the man who kidnapped three women and is now planning to kidnap her, along with tormenting her through threatening messages on her phone. At one point, she essentially beats his door down to comfort him over a recent failure, and yells at him until he accepts that she truly does think of them as friends and she's not trying to emotionally manipulate him. He's so distraught over this that he threatens to rape her in an attempt to make her hate him; when she calls his bluff and tells him flat-out that she knows he's not really going to do it, he freezes up. The fact that she shows so much faith in him even after he threatens her like that completely unsettles him.

  • When Edward of El Goonish Shive finds himself in an awkward position due to things he really should have told Tedd earlier, Tedd's unexpectedly joyful and gracious responses leave him feeling even more guilty.
  • Girl Genius: Gil and Tarvek discuss how Von Pinn was the closest thing they had to a mother and in Tarvek's case the only parental figure he ever had that actually showed him any love or affection and how they intend to painfully kill whomever wounded her while Agatha grows more and more uncomfortable in the background. Of course Von Pinn had torn her parents apart right in front of her so she was understandably pissed and untrusting of the construct.
  • Homestuck:
    • This happens when Jane (who has a huge crush on Jake), is asked up-front about her feelings for him and freaks out and denies it. He goes on to effusively thank her for her honesty, telling her how much it means to him to have a good friend right now, and confides in her about his confusion regarding Dirk. Her reaction is both hilarious and heart-breaking.
    • Also happens earlier from a different direction when Roxy, frustrated with Jane's refusal to believe her about the batterwitch, sends her a file that will cause her computer to explode pretending it's from the batterwitch in the hopes that Jane will finally start taking her seriously...only for Jane to come around on her own and start apologising for being such a bad friend. Roxy has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and tries to stop Jane from running it, but she goes ahead anyway.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Rudy confides in Bruno about his domestication, then goes on to talk about how much he'd hate for them to keep secrets from each other, which puts Bruno in a very awkward position, since he hasn't yet told Rudy about Corrie.
  • Pixie and Brutus: As an eagle carries her off, Pixie keeps trying to talk to her and complimenting her prettiness. When the eagle realizes Pixie legitimately doesn't know she's supposed to serve as dinner, the guilt gets too great and she decides to bring her home as a new sister for her children.
  • Precocious: Deirdre does this to Jabob here.Context Subverted, she's actually in on an elaborate prank.
  • In Sam & Fuzzy, where Sidney "the Sicko" tells Crush actually Sam with a beard that he's the only person he can trust. Unbeknownst to Sidney, Crush is currently dating his on-again-off-again girlfriend, of whom he is notoriously fanatically possessive. Crush is extremely upset by this, since Sidney has always been kindness itself to him, and aside from his neuroticism regarding his ex, is a pretty cool guy. This trope happens again later, with Gert, prompting the appearance of her conscience cat.
    • Much later, when the fact that they are dating finally becomes known to Syd, he reacts predictably- only to have her yank him firmly down to earth by sternly reminding him of the "ex-part" and make him apologize. Everyone remains good friends.
  • Natani of TwoKinds confesses that Keith is her best friend when he's been ordered to betray the group (Keith's race is biologically disposed to follow orders). He then finds that he cannot kill her, and tries to kill himself instead.

    Web Original 
  • Chuggaaconroy mentions while playing Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time that he did this to his parents as a child. They gave him a wallet to keep his money in, so he'd learn to take care of his finances, but it was actually a way to be certain where his money would be, so they could take it and use it themselves. And Chugga once told them that his wallet was weird because any money he put in disappeared, even if he didn't spend anything. Years later, his parents admitted what they did and that his innocent comment made them feel terrible for stealing from their child.
  • "Inside the Trojan Horse" depicts a Greek soldier looking increasingly uncomfortable as a Trojan enthuses about how his faith in humanity is restored by the gift of a giant wooden horse, and the kids at the children's hospital where he volunteers will be so excited.
    Trojan: This is without a doubt the best day of my life!
  • Happens in Kickassia between The Nostalgia Chick and The Nostalgia Critic. He goes on about how nice she is and how much he trusts her while she's trying to kill him to gain his power. Her being The Sociopath, she just finds this more awkward than painful.



Anne unknowingly strokes Hop-Pop's guilt regarding the music box.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObliviousGuiltSlinging

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