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Post-Robbery Trauma

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When a sitcom protagonist has an encounter with crime they will become paranoid of everyone around them. They will take a self-defense class (you-know-what ensues) or buy a gun. In the latter case a trigger-happy random shootfest inevitably follows, and somebody gets shot in the foot.

Not everyone needs to (or should) own a gun, and not everybody who owns one knows or cares how to use it responsibly. Some statistics show friends and relatives are shot more often than criminals, yet others also show that some areas with high gun ownership may have lower crime rates than areas with low gun ownership. In short, a lot relies on your interpretation of Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.

This plot may involve Living Is More than Surviving if the protagonist becomes so terrified they begin to close themselves off from the world to ensure their safety, messing up their quality of life.


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    Comic Books 
  • Superman #246: In the B-plot in "Danger: Monster at Work", a series of break-ins in Clark Kent's apartment building has Nathan Warbow, one of Clark's neighbours, agitaating for the residents to form a watch group to protect themselves. At the end of the story, Warbow shoots and wounds one of his neighbours after mistaking him for an inttruder, allowing Clark to deliver An Aesop about he dangers of paranoia.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Calvin and Hobbes story had burglars break into Calvin's house and steal the TV and some jewelry while they were out of town. Calvin's parents were traumatized by the breach of security, but Calvin was (once he had ensured that Hobbes was safe) mostly just annoyed about the lack of TV.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Hannah Swenson:: A variant occurs in book 2 (Strawberry Shortcake Murder). In the climax, Hannah wrestles the villain's gun away and manages to injure and restrain him. Later that evening, she asks Herb Beeseman to teach her how to handle a handgun. Not because she's planning to buy one herself, but so she knows how to use one if she ever finds herself in a similar situation again — she already knows how to safely handle a shotgun, since her father taught her, but not handguns.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In book 12 (Murder at the Powderhorn Ranch), after Paul Molloy is found dead and Jessica has to tell his wife, Geraldine has a slight panic attack and runs back inside, hiding in the bedroom and then comes out of the cabin with a revolver (she later claims it's because she heard someone in the cabin; she did, but it was just Jessica, who'd gone inside because she was worried about the other woman). She later explains to the local sheriff's department that it was her husband's, who had it because of this trope — he'd been attacked a year or so back and bought it for protection. It's never confirmed if this was true or not after it comes out that she's a government agent and their "marriage" is just a cover story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Jack in "The Tuxedo Begins" refuses to leave his office for days after being mugged.
  • 7th Heaven, after Annie and Matt are robbed at gunpoint. Matt reacted in the usual terrified way, suffering a Heroic BSoD the next morning, while Annie remained calm and strong as usual. However, later on Matt was getting better thanks to a support group while Annie unexpectedly broke down in tears a few nights later, and freaked out when she mistook a stranger giving back a pair of dropped sunglasses for an assailant.
  • Any Day Now: M.E. after being mugged at her job—as a security guard, ironically. Especially since the guy stole her keys as well and she's freaked out about her children being home alone. Then after she returns home, she sits up with a gun, genuinely afraid that the guy will break in.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210, when the Peach Pit is robbed. Brenda (the victim) admits how terrified she was, but insists that she's feeling better as time goes on even though she is actually getting worse. She finally flips out in the middle of an exam when a sound reminds her of the robber's gun cocking.
  • Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory experienced this after Leonard's and his apartment was robbed. However, in keeping with the light 'n' happy, nerdy tone of the show, he and Howard designed a security system equipped with a taser-fitted fishing net. Needless to say, it didn't end well.
    • It happens again in the fourth season, only instead of a break-in, someone hacked Sheldon's World of Warcraft account.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation. After she is the victim of a robbery while home alone, Fiona becomes increasingly paranoid about it happening again. She foolishly tries to illegally buy a gun from a back alley dealer, but nearly gets killed in the process.
  • Diff'rent Strokes: Arnold is traumatized after he is robbed at knifepoint. His coping mechanism is to bluff to his friends that he held his own and that he isn't scared, but Mr. Drummond suspects that his son is deeply upset. Eventually, he is able to get Arnold to admit he was scared for his life … and a classroom exercise in self-defense exposes the truth.
  • Doogie Howser, M.D., Doogie and Vinnie are robbed by a home invader and actually admit that they're pretty freaked out by the whole thing, especially when the intruder returns and steals Doogie's car this time. They just don't realize how much or seek any help until Doogie nearly attacks a guy he mistook for a mugger.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
    • Dorothy's son, a morphine addict, breaks into Dr. Mike's home, looking to steal some. Dr. Mike handles it okay, even after shooting him in self-defense, but daughter Colleen is severely traumatized to the point of being afraid to leave the house.
    • In the final season, Dr. Mike herself is shot by a man who hates doctors. She too becomes agoraphobic for the remainder of the episode before finally snapping out of it.
  • Ellen: After a break-in, Ellen is given a gun by Audrey and tries to learn self-defense. She also has bars installed in her windows, and takes to sleeping cuddled up with a life-sized mannequin meant to give intruders the illusion that she lives with a man.
  • On Empty Nest, after Laverne is mugged, she reacts like her usual wisecracking self. Only after giving her statement to the police does she realize how terrified she was and she spends the rest of the episode in a Heroic BSoD until Harry snaps her out of it.
    • Another episode, essentially a Recycled Script of The Golden Girls episode "The Break In", has Carol buying a gun after the house is robbed and nearly killing Charlie with it.
  • On ER, although he isn't robbed, Mark gets the daylights beaten out of him by a never-identified attacker. For the next several months he acts like a Jerkass, to varying, sometimes understandable degrees—jumping out of his skin when approached in the hospital parking lot, pulling a gun on several youths who he thought (possibly correctly) were going to mug him, snapping at his coworkers and finally humiliating himself by screaming at the bereaved widow of a patient. His is the most extreme example—all other staff members who went through similar traumas appeared to recover quite rapidly—in that very same season, Carol was held hostage during a grocery store robbery, yet suffered no lingering effects, and neither did Sam after having been kidnapped and raped by her ex and finally more-or-less forced to shoot him in self-defense.
  • Elyse invests in a gun after a break-in in Family Ties.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air used this for drama. Will and Carlton were robbed; Will was shot, which set up a long recovery arc, and Carlton got paranoid and bought a revolver. Guess how well that went over...
  • The Golden Girls, "Break In": The house is robbed while the Girls are out for an evening. Terrified, Rose buys a gun for protection. Rose accidentally shoots Blanche's very expensive vase, thinking that the burglar has returned when it was just Blanche and her date returning to the house.
    Blanche: You shot my vase!
    Rose: I didn't shoot Lester! (Blanche's date for the episode)
    Blanche: I'd rather you shot Lester!
  • Growing Pains: In "Gone But Not Forgotten", the Seavers come home to find that a burglar had been there and spend the episode preparing themselves in case the burglar ever returns.
  • Home Improvement did this once, though it was actually neighbor Wilson that got robbed. In any case, imagine Tim Taylor Technology applied to a home security system and... yeah.
  • L.A. Law. DA Grace Van Owen is shot by a vengeful gangbanger (she'd just sent a fellow gangbanger to death row). She deteriorates to the point of being afraid to even walk into a courtroom and becomes dependent on alcohol and the painkillers prescribed to her. Her boyfriend, fellow attorney Michael Kuzak, forces her to snap out of it by telling her that they're through unless she gets professional help. She disappears for a few days, resurfacing after finally getting herself together.
  • A really seriously twisted version of this is part of an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with a serial rapist that not only attacked women once, but kept track of them and raped them again, even years later in order to make sure they stayed afraid of him for the rest of their lives. The Victim of the Week was a woman that had been attacked several times already and had been traumatized to the point she never left her home, moved across several states and changed her name, shunned all human contact, made her home practically a fortress, constantly had a Hand Cannon by her side and practically had to be begged by the police to so much as open the door, let alone provide information for the case. By the time SVU finally obtained enough evidence to arrest the rapist, the man had managed to get to the woman and killed her.
  • On Life Goes On, the family returns from an evening out to find that they've been robbed. They all freak out to varying degrees, with the father eventually buying a gun. Unfortunately, son Corky nearly shoots a presumed intruder with it—he was a classmate of Paige's stopping by to help her with an assignment—and it forces the family to realize that they haven't been handling the situation very well.
  • Living Single: Happens to Regine after she gets her purse stolen, as she starts annoying Khadijah and Synclaire with her obsession of getting hi-tech security system ... then the same mugger (who now had Regine's driver's license and keys) breaks into the apartment and robs them. Soon after all the main characters (Max and the boys included) are suffering for fear of their safety.
  • Mama's Family:
    • In "Black Belt Mama", Thelma gets mugged and gets her purse stolen. She then takes a self-defense class with Naomi and Sonja. Later on in the episode, Thelma is at a bus stop with another woman when the same mugger comes for her purse. Thelma reminds the thief to remember to take the other woman's purse too, at which point Thelma slams him in the back of the head with an iron in a shopping bag.
    • Applied hilariously in "The Key to the Crime": After the Courteous Crook hits the Harper home, Thelma notices he cleaned up the bathroom and remarks, "I ain't gonna be able to sit in there again!"
  • The Odd Couple: A non-violent example in "Security Arms"; Felix, who caught the robbers in the act and got bound and gagged, feels unsafe in the apartment after the experience and starts looking for a safer place to live. Even as the "security measures" for the new apartment start becoming increasingly restrictive and/or creepy (like mirrors the staff can see through), Felix brushes it off as just the price of security. Even he eventually decides it's not worth it.
  • Space Precinct: After Lt. Brogan's family gets caught up in a robbery, his teenage son Matt somehow manages to get hold of a handgun and stashes it in his bedroom closet. His father absolutely hits the roof when he finds it, with some justification given that it was acquired illegally and stored loaded, but backs off a bit when he realises just how badly shaken Matt was by the experience.
  • Suddenly Susan: After Susan's apartment gets robbed, she decides to get a gun and ends up accidentally shooting her elderly neighbor.

    Video Game 
  • Saiko No Sutoka: Yangire Mode is implied to be a nightmare Akira develops after escaping from the school.
    • Steam Cards also display a Nightmare Saiko with the description that she continues to haunt Akira even in death. A Nightmare Mode is in development, and the dev has confirmed Akira will develop PTSD after escaping, having been traumatized at witnessing Saiko die from her wounds.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted with the protagonist of Daughter for Dessert. He calmly orders a new toaster and goes about his business as usual when his very expensive toaster is stolen.

    Western Animation 
  • Doug, in the episode where Doug's bike gets stolen.
  • Played for Laughs in The Fairly Oddparents episode "The Lame Ducks" with Timmy's dad being driven to start a neighborhood watch consisting of him, Timmy, and Mr. Crocker.
  • Hey Arnold!, "Mugged": Arnold learns martial arts from his grandmother after getting mugged, but starts becoming more and more aggressive. He becomes guilt-ridden after lashing out at an innocent bystander, but gets over it after a pep-talk from his granny and a final confrontation with the guy who originally mugged him.
  • Metalocalypse has the band refuse to go out in public after they are attacked on-stage at the end of season one.
  • Slight variation in The Simpsons, (Strong Arm of the Marge) when Marge becomes a shut-in after having her necklace snatched. Eventually, she regains her self-confidence after using free weights, and pummels her attacker (earning Chief Wiggum's praise). However, she soon starts taking steroids, but that's a trope for another day...
    • Less variable variation: in the episode "The Cartridge Family", after a particularly violent soccer riot, Homer buys a gun to protect his family. Marge becomes naturally worried, particularly with Homer acting ... well, like Homer with a deadly weapon, and takes the kids to a motel, while Homer reasons there's no need to have a gun for protection when he has nothing to protect. The episode ends with Marge taking the gun and throwing it in the trash Until she sees her own reflection with the weapon and decides to keep it for herself.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Squid Defense" has Squidward wanting to learn karate after he is mugged for his groceries. He later uses his newfound skills to beat up the mugger, despite Sandy's warnings of not using karate for revenge. It turns out that the "mugger" was actually someone trying to return Squidward's groceries, so Sandy strips Squidward of his karate belt and he is arrested for assault.
  • In an episode of Watch My Chops, Corneil witnesses a robber break into his house in the middle of the night, and becomes so terrified that he refuses to be left alone; driving his owners crazy.