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Rejected Apology

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"I said it's too late to apologize."
— "Apologize" by OneRepublic

Bob did something terrible to Alice. He feels guilty, so he gives her a sincere apology. However, Alice won't have it. She doesn't care about the apology. Whether Bob's actions were that bad or Alice is just a plain Jerkass who holds grudges, she refuses to forgive him.

This results from someone holding a grudge that they refuse to let go of. Unfortunately, this can make out someone who has a rightful reason to be angry into a cruel person if the apologizing party is sincerely guilty for their actions. On the other hand, it may not take away much, if any sympathy at all if the person who's apologizing has committed wicked deeds that were too numerous or too horrible to deserve forgiveness, and in extreme cases can even make the apologizer look like a total, selfish jerk for thinking one sorry is enough to make up for a lifetime of atrocities, especially if said "apology" was disproportionate and half-hearted. There are times when even the apologies themselves could be an even bigger insult than the original offense, especially if they believe a single apology will undo all damages.


In a rare occurrence, sometimes the rejected apology was coerced by outside parties. In the event of this, the one apologizing is shown as more sympathetic due to receiving harsh treatment from both sides and the rejecter is portrayed as even more jerkish and completely unreasonable, however fair that may be. In some cases, however, the fact that the apology was clearly enforced and not sincere is exactly why it was rejected. In really tearjerking occasions, the incident that led to the rejecter being angry was a complete misunderstanding, but the rejecter refuses to listen to or maybe even believe the apologizing party's explanation. In more extreme cases, the rejecter might even turn down the apology while on the rejecter’s deathbed to deliberately spite the one apologizing with Parting Words Regret.


The opposite of Redemption Rejection, where the one who did wrong is offered a chance to be forgiven, but he turns it down. A super trope of Reformed, but Rejected. An extreme version of this trope is Heel–Face Door-Slam, which happens if rejecting an apology also involves killing the offender. Contrast Easily Forgiven, where it's a character forgiving those who don't apologize for their actions. Sometimes, the victim gives a Flippant Forgiveness, where the victim accepts their offender's apology in a sarcastic, insulting way. If the character does accept their apology but is still upset by their actions, then it's Forgiven, but Not Forgotten. Contrast The Unapologetic, where the wrongdoer refuses to apologize (for this case, having their apology rejected or knowing that it will be rejected by the other party can be a reason why they refuse to apologize, especially if they know deep down they're not truly sorry for what they've done). See No Sympathy for Grudgeholders where this may or may not be a fitting response to the character's lack of forgiveness. This can often be part of the "The Reason You Suck" Speech if the rejection is extremely harsh. Virtue Is Weakness might come to play in that the rejecter might see forgiveness is a sign of weakness. If the apologizer acts equally standoffish and recants their apology after being rejected (either due to arrogantly expecting forgiveness or hypocrisy on the refuser's end), Then Let Me Be Evil is what they may commit. Often found in many Downer Endings, and few Bittersweet Endings.


Sadly, this is Truth in Television — whether or not the offender is truly regretful or that the person who was offended has always held on to grudges.


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    Comic Books 
  • Variation in Legacy. Darth Wyyrlok says that he isn't going to apologize for trying to murder Darth Krayt. Krayt replied that he wouldn't accept any apologies, either. A duel to the death ensues.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: In issue 10, Loki finally confessed and tried to apologize for what they did in Journey into Mystery (Gillen) (murdered and body-snatched their own child self), and Thor understandably snapped, and barely restrained himself from killing him. Tragically, Loki not only meant it, but knew that he deserved every bit of what he got, not lifting a finger to fight back.
  • In the graphic novel Kelly Green 1 The Go Between by Leonard Starr and Stan Drake, Kelly is kneeling beside the dying body of her husband's killer It was Dan Green's partner, Angie who ask her to forgive him. She asked him does he believe in God. He says yes. She replies that he can go to hell in that case and walked away.
  • A pretty realistic example with Spider-Man's Aunt May was at first unwilling to forgive the Vulture when he pleaded for forgiveness for killing her boyfriend Nathan Lubinski. (He was dying, and sought to tie up loose ends.) His first attempt ended with her slapping him and ordering him to leave (he did, but not for long). When it was clear that his remorse was heavily tainted with hypocrisy (he had also committed several murders as part of tying up "the loose ends") Spidey beat him to a pulp, dragged him back to May's house, and made him apologize for everything he did. May still didn't accept it. She dealt with her inner pain eventually, and visited him in jail, where she stated that she wasn't unwilling to understand, she couldn't bring herself forgive him, simply saying it was between him and God. (Unfortunately, future stories showed it was lost on him.)

    Films — Animation 
  • After "totaling a mammoth" in Brother Bear, Rutt refuses to accept Tuke's apology and declares their brotherhood over, even going as far as to say that Koda is his new brother. But after a heartfelt talk between the two moose, they feel happy again and walk off.
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible apologizes to Syndrome for the slight that put him on the path to supervillainy. Syndrome answers "See? Now you respect me. Because I'm a threat," and continues monologuing. Mr. Incredible realizes that Syndrome can't be reasoned with, and starts throwing stuff at him.
  • Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking examples was in Kung Fu Panda, where during the climactic battle between Shifu and Tai Lung, Shifu apologizes to Tai Lung for allowing him to go down his path of darkness, only for Tai Lung to reject it and demand the dragon scroll.
    Tai Lung: I don't want your apology. I WANT MY SCROLL!.
  • From Lilo & Stitch:
    Lilo: I'm sorry I bit you... and pulled your hair... and punched you in the face.
    Mertle: Apology NOT accepted. Now get out of my way before I run you over!
    [Stitch then pushes Mertle off of her trike]
  • The Lion King (1994): Scar, when being confronted and stalked by the hyenas after they reveal they know that he tried to blame them for the plot to murder Mufasa and the attempted murder of a then-child Simba. As he tries to beg for mercy, one of the last things he cried out is “I’m sorry,” but all it does is make the hyenas jump him moments later and maul him to death.
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: During the climax, when Ariel tries to apologize to Melody for lying to her about her mermaid heritage her whole life, Melody tells her point-blank that it's "too late" and spitefully hands the trident over to Morgana. Immediately afterward, Morgana reveals her true colors to Melody and why Ariel did what she did. In the end, Melody does accept the apology.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beast (2017): Late in the film, Moll approaches and tries to apologise to her high school bully for stabbing her. Though shocked, the woman seems willing to accept it, saying it happened over a decade ago...until Moll says she was only "defending [herself]". The woman doesn't take this well, becoming distraught and furiously ordering Moll to leave.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy film, The Bullfighters, a secretary told them that they can't apologize to Richard K. Muldoon. Instead, he will skin them alive for revenge.
  • In Pitch Perfect, Beca, the protagonist, goes all the way up to her love interest to apologize for being a Jerkass earlier. The love interest doesn't accept or even appear to want one, instead pointing out her flaws in driving people away.
  • In the 2007 film Bridge to Terabithia, Jess Aarons tried to apologize to his younger sister, May Belle, for pushing her because he was angry about the death of Leslie Burke and told her he misses her talking to him, only for May Belle to ignore his apology by turning away from him.
  • In Crazy Heart, Bad Blake tries to call his son after being absent for all of his life, only to find he wants absolutely nothing to do with him, and that during the time he had been gone, his ex-wife had died. Blake doesn't take it well.
  • From Duck Soup:
    Trentino: I'm sorry we lost our tempers. I'm willing to forget if you are.
    Firefly: Forget? You ask me to forget... Why, my ancestors would rise from their graves... and I'd only have to bury them again... A Firefly never forgets.
    Trentino: I am willing to apologize... I'm willing to do anything to prevent this war.
    Firefly: Nothing doing!! I've taken a lease on the battlefield. I'd lose my deposit, besides, I've already ordered the ammunition.
    Vera: Oh, Your Excellency, isn't there something I can do?
    Firefly: Yes, but I'll talk to you about that when we're alone.
    Mrs. Teasdale: Oh, won't you reconsider.
    Firefly: Well, maybe I am a little headstrong... But, you know, it's awfully hard to forget what he called me.
    Trentino: What I called you... Why, what did I call you?
    Firefly: I don't remember.
    Trentino: [with a little chuckle] Oh — you mean... worm?
    Firefly: No, that wasn't it...
    Trentino: Was it — swine?
    Firefly: No... it was a seven letter word.
    Trentino: [thinking, then with a broad smile] Oh yes! — UPSTART!
    Firefly: That's it...
    [takes gloves from Trentino's breast pocket and socks him across the face, and puts them in his own breast pocket; Trentino becomes apoplectic]
    Trentino: Why — er — Mrs. Teasdale — this is an outrage! This man is impossible... My course is clear... this means war!
  • At the conclusion of Gone with the Wind, having finally realized that she loves Rhett, Scarlett repeatedly apologizes for her ill-treatment of him. But the worn-out (and probably disbelieving) Rhett dismisses her, saying, "My darling, you're such a child. You think that by saying 'I'm sorry', all the past can be corrected."
  • Star Wars: At the climax of The Last Jedi, Luke apologizes to Ben Solo/Kylo Ren for failing him as a teacher, leading to Ben's fall to The Dark Side. Ben doesn't even care anymore and says as much, making clear that nothing Luke has to say can dissuade him destroying the Resistance.
  • In Tell No One, Anne tearfully apologizes to her brother Alexandre for not telling him Margot - his dead wife, or so everyone thinks - was beat up by Phillipe (whom Marie worked for) before her death. While he lets Marie hug him, all Alexandre says is, "Thanks for telling me", and his total manner is non-forgiving.
  • Averted in V for Vendetta, where V's last victim is actually sorry for everything she has done to him. She expects him to use this trope, but he tells her it is never too late to apologize and gives her a painless death.

  • In Divergent, Al is bawling when he attempts to apologize to Tris for assisting in an attempt on her life, after she ranked first. She says that if he ever comes near her again, she'll kill him.
  • In Harry Potter, a young Snape tried to apologize to Harry's future mother Lily, who back then was his Only Friend, for having insulted her gravely with racist slurs. She refused to accept it, and it's implied that she had tried to be patient with him as he fell in worse and worse company, but this last offense was her absolute last straw and she decided to cut ties with him.
  • In Left Behind, Leon Fortunato, when he is brought before Jesus along with Nicolae Carpathia, tries to repent, but Jesus considers him long since sold out to Satan and throws him and Nicolae to Hell along with those who have not chosen to follow Him.
  • In the Star Wars Legends book Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Exile, Ben Skywalker is called out by an elderly woman for holding up a line. "Sorry," he tells her, but she replies that it doesn't mean anything, that if he were sorry, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. "Sorry," he replies again, and she tells him that he's now just being insolent. "Sorry," he says again, and being a great admirer of Jacen Solo, thinks to himself that he wouldn't be treated this way if he were him. He wonders what he would do. The woman comes up behind him, telling him that he's a very nasty little boy, and he lands on this...
    Ben: I take it back. ... My apology. I apologized, but you didn't accept it. You just used it as an excuse to keep being rude. You have the manners of a bantha with digestion problems. If you had children, I hope they were raised by piranha beetles so they'd be nicer than you. (The woman lunges as if to slap him, Ben glares and uses the Force to infuse the suggestion "Try it. See what I become.")
  • In Villains Are Destined to Die, Penelope spent years being verbally abused by Reynald, who rejected her as an adopted sister. He even framed her for stealing a valuable necklace early on, which turned the rest of the household against her. Eventually she manages to face him and uses a combination of "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Armor-Piercing Question and Did You Think I Can't Feel? to make him realize their "rivalry" was entirely one sided, and she'd done nothing to earn his Irrational Hatred. It works, and instead of killing her as she feared, later on he offers an honest apology for all the harm he did. She calmly replies "I don't want it." The reason why is complicated, but it boils down to the fact that "Penelope" is actually Chia Seiyon, a Korean girl who has reincarnated into Penelope's similarly aged body. She thus considers that the apology should be given to the real or previous Penelope, and even though she herself suffered some amount of abuse by Reynold, she doesn't really care about fixing their relationship or even having one. This further spurs Reynold's character development, since from his POV he comes to think Penelope would rather cut ties with him and he resolves to do better.
  • After being bullied by Clear Sky in Warrior Cats: Dawn Of The Clans, Jagged Peak refuses to accept Clear Sky's apology after Gray Wing tells him off.
  • Zara Hossain Is Here: Travis apologizes multiple times to Zara for his father having shot hers. She thinks it's just to assuage his guilt about it and not helping her though, so she rejects them.

  • As quoted above, OneRepublic's song "Apologize" is based entirely on this trope.
  • Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "All Cried Out".
    Both: Don't you know the hurt will cause an inferno?
    Romance up in flames, why should I take the blame?
    You were the one who left me neglected.
    Male: I'm so sorry.
    Female: Apology not accepted, led me to the broken heart you collected.
  • Despite her memories with him, Katy Perry burns up an (admittedly half-hearted) apology letter from her former boyfriend for something he did with another woman at the beginning of her Part of Me video.
  • JoJo: "Too Little Too Late" is another song based on this trope because her likely narcissistic ex is now hoovering her as she is healing. "It's just too little too late, a little too wrong, and I can't wait. . ."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: God is generally presented as extremely patient and forgiving, but there is a point where even He will draw the line:
    • Samuel rebukes King Saul for disobeying God's commands in destroying every single Amalekite (he only spared the king and their sheep and cattle). Saul sincerely repents, but Samuel tells him that God won't accept it and He has rejected him as king of Israel. (Depending on the interpreter, the reason for the lack of forgiveness varies.)
    • Judaism includes a set of rules about the correct way to apologize. Included in those rules is that if you have wronged someone, then you have to apologize to them. You have to try sincerely to apologize up to three times; if they reject all three, you have fulfilled your obligation to your fellow man. Then you have the right to beg final forgiveness from God on Yom Kippur, the annual day of atonement.
    • The Bible also repeatedly warns that one day, there will be a final judgment, and by then, it'll be too late to repent.
    • According to almost every form of Christianity and Islam, there is no ministry in hell. It's too late to repent your sins and accept the love of Jesus or God into your heart once you're dead.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In the WWE, John Laurinaitis demanded an apology from the The Big Show for making fun of his voice, even going as far as forcing him to kneel down and beg for his job. As The Big Show tearfully apologizes, Laurinaitis smugly rejects the apology and fires him anyways.
  • In 1998, to help build heat for Vince McMahon's then still-relatively-new persona as "evil boss" Mr. McMahon, gives Mick Foley a severe dressing down the day after Foley (wrestling as Dude Love) failed to defeat his nemesis "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at a pay-per-view event. Near the end of the scathing promo, Foley offers a tearful "I'm sorry," but McMahon angrily rejects it, berates him some more and then tells him his services "are no longer required."
    • Vince McMahon has been on the receiving end of this as well. He once was held at gunpoint in the ring by an angry "Stone Cold" Steve Austin ... only for Austin to reveal he had a pop gun that revealed a white "Austin 3:16" flag (the infamous promo where McMahon shit his pants in the ring), before dropping him with a Stone Cold Stunner. Several years later, Trish Stratus and others set McMahon up to have his philandering ways exposed (literally) to his wife, Linda; Vince tried to backpedal and apologize, but Linda demanded a divorce.
  • Bobby Heenan has had many of his apologies flatly if not angrily rejected by others, knowing he was trying to weasel his way out of the responsibility of a major attack or a miscarriage of justice.
    • With Gorilla Monsoon, a classic example came on the January 23, 1989 episode of Prime Time Wrestling, a week after Heenan initiated a sneak attack of the Red Rooster by the Brooklyn Brawler, and when Monsoon got pulled into the middle of the fracas got knocked out. On the January 16 issue, Heenan smugly "apologized," but a week later when he tried to say he was sorry and that he never meant for Monsoon to be hurt, Monsoon scoffed at him and warned him that the USA Network and the WWF had put him on a short leash. A later example came with the September 11, 1989 edition, when Heenan pleaded for forgiveness, this time after he helped initiate a verbal and near-physical confrontation between his protege Rick Rude and Arch-Enemy Roddy Piper.
    • Multiple times, when former proteges of his were making face turns, Heenan would berate them and slap them in the face, before the guy he tried to attack stalked him, prompting Heenan to do an Oh, Crap! and try to back off, only to get a massive beating (sometimes with Heenan trying to beg for mercy. At least one time, during his AWA days, it (kayfabe) ended with a beating so severe he wound up with a severe concussion and his being placed in a body cast.

  • In Lizzie, the title character does a variant of this. In her first solo song, "This is Not Love," she comments that her sexually abusive father sometimes apologizes for his actions, but always ends up repeating them later. Lizzie understandably rejects these apologies, as well as his claims of loving her, albeit not to his face.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, this happens with Fuyuhiko Kuzuryuu, whose actions caused the second murder. Hiyoko Saionji refuses to forgive Fuyuhiko, partly because she's a jerkass and partly because the victim was her best friend, Mahiru Koizumi. Hiyoko refuses to forgive Fuyuhiko even after he goes into a Pose of Supplication, but is horrified when he attempts Seppuku. Sometime later, she becomes a little more tolerant him, but then she's murdered a few days after that.

  • Dracula: Ruler of the Night: Minerva Westenra does this to the hunters, specifically Van Helsing when Helsing apologizes for her being turned into a vampire and offers her "peace" (i.e staking). She shoots back that not only did he fail to protect Lucy from Dracula, but likewise kept what was really going on from her when she was under the impression Lucy's sickness was something standard. Minerva only found out otherwise after she was kidnapped by Dracula's brides, met Dracula himself, was bitten by her now vampirized daughter and became Dracula's most recent bride, and willingly joins Dracula's fight against the hunters stating that while Dracula may be a bloodsucking monster, at least he's honest in his intentions.
    Minerva: You assume that this is the corruption speaking for me. I assure it is not, doctor. However good your intention was, the fact that you failed to follow through after not even giving me the courtesy of the true dilemma stings more than becoming one of these creatures. Even if he is a monster, Lord Dracul is at least true to his words. So keep your so-called "peace" (Eyes glow as she levitates) but for my daughter, I will obey his wishes...and you all must die.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Melissa attempted to apologize to Justin for outing him multiple times.
  • In General Protection Fault, after Sam tries to rape his fiancée Ki in a fit of rage, he goes up to the next day to try to apologize. Ki notes that while he seems sincere, she recognizes that he's crossed a line, and immediately breaks off the engagement with him.
  • In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, warring sister goddesses Ranna and Ch'Thier are told by their aunt that they weren't the goddesses of Good and Evil but of Chaos and Order, respectively. They were warped into their current Black-and-White Morality roles by their followers. Ch'Thier offers her hand in forgiveness and reconciliation to Ranna, vowing that they can start again in the roles they were meant to have. Ranna's response is to turn into a giant dragon and swallow Ch'Thier whole. It had been established that this isn't the first time they've had to be reminded of who they really are. From the reactions of the other immortals present, this also isn't the first time Ranna said "Screw That."
  • Zebra Girl: Sandra tries to apologize to Crystal for her actions, but Crystal, who had her faith in Sandra shattered only a few hours before, is not willing to listen.

    Real Life 
  • Reverend William Aitcheson confessed to burning a cross on a black couple's yard when he was a KKK member, and his apology was rejected by said couple. It didn't help that he waited forty years to offer his apology.
  • Marty Stroud, an attorney in Louisiana, tried to apologize to Glenn Ford, a man he had helped convict who spent 30 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit when he learned Ford was dying of terminal cancer. Ford refused to forgive him, understandable since he was near death when the attempt was made and had only been free from prison for less than a year by that time.


Video Example(s):


Callaghan's Apology

Robert Callaghan apologizes to Hiro for indirectly killing his brother. Despite the sentiment, Hiro is unable to forgive him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / RejectedApology

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