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Revenge Tropes

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"Revenge is sweeter than life itself. So think fools."

"An eye for an eye" (or, at least, how many people misunderstand the bible verse) has long been the standing policy for many humans. Perhaps it's related to reciprocal altruism — just as people are prone to repay kindness with kindness, they are also prone to Pay Evil unto Evil. In any case, the concept of revenge works even better in fiction, but in other works, an Aesop on the futility of revenge is frequently featured.

For many avengers, revenge is an obsession. Compare Crime and Punishment Tropes, Hatred Tropes, & Morality Tropes. Contrast A Forgiving Index.

A list of Revenge Tropes:

  • Revenge: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. What this index is all about.
  • Accuser of the Brethren: A person doesn't care that someone else may be sorry for what they did.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: A victim seeks revenge against a character who did nothing to save them.
  • Animal Nemesis: A person fixates upon an animal as his arch-rival as a result of twisted logic. Also called Captain Ahab Syndrome.
  • Attack on One Is an Attack on All: A group, nation, or entire race sees harm to one of its members as a declaration of war and responds in kind.
  • Avenging the Villain: A villain goes after the hero in vengeance for another villain that the hero killed.
  • Best Served Cold: Someone seeks revenge after a long period of biding their time.
  • Bewildering Punishment: When the victim has no reason to know why he's being targeted by the revenge.
  • Buy Them Off: Trying to buy off the victim of a crime so they will not seek revenge when they learn that the person has wronged them.
  • The Chain of Harm: Evil you do to one person doesn't stop there, it messes up their entire family.
  • Color Me Black: Taking revenge on a racist by transforming them into the object of their hatred.
  • Crusading Widower: The death or murder of their significant other (or the whole family) motivates the character to seek revenge.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Vengeance begets vengeance, and tends to lead to a blood feud.
  • Designated Bullet: Saving or Crafting a specific special bullet for your specific special target.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: For when "eye for an eye" just isn't enough for some people. (Hell, the concept of "an eye for an eye" was invented to avoid this!)
  • Do with Him as You Will: The hero leaves the villain in the hands of those they've most grievously wronged, allowing them to take vengeance upon them.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When a villain is on the ropes, someone they've abused one time too many times may take an opportunity for revenge.
  • Dying Curse: In the rare cases where the victim not only wishes, but makes good on their spiteful last words.
  • Escalating War: When one minor slight leads to a situation where opposing sides have to come up with larger and larger schemes to one up their opponent.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Carrying out revenge, melee style, way beyond what is necessary.
  • Feuding Families: A Cycle of Revenge between families.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Earth has had enough of being abused by humanity, and now, she's striking back.
  • Genocide Backfire: Trying to wipe out a people to keep them from destroying you will only give the survivors (and there are always survivors) all the reason they need to destroy you.
  • Gypsy Curse: A curse that is more about vengeance and spite than actual justice. Expect it to be disproportionate.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: When a character out for vengeance becomes just as bad as (if not worse than) the scum they're trying to take vengeance on.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Someone who is pursued decides to stop running and turn the tables on their pursuers.
  • It's Personal: The villain has killed or otherwise hurt someone important to the hero. Now the hero wants revenge.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: The hero's Arch-Enemy isn't the main Big Bad, but said big bad's top enforcer, and it won't be settled until one of them is dead.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Revenge directed against those who cannot reasonably be blamed for the crime, save by some extremely shaky justification.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: A character is called out by others for seeking revenge or at least harboring unforgiveness.
  • Opposites Attract Revenge: When a Love Triangle leads to a vendetta between the two rival love interests.
  • Paranoia Gambit: A Batman Gambit involving the victim sabotaging oneself out of paranoia.
  • Parking Payback: Parking somewhere you shouldn't has consequences.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Doing unto others the evil they have done unto others. Revenge is a viciously personal form of this — doing unto others the evil they have done unto you.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: Convicted and/or incarcerated criminal seeks revenge against authorities for his punishment.
  • Rape and Revenge: A person (usually a woman) gets revenge on their rapist.
  • Relative Button: A person finally confronts another over the family members they murdered.
  • Remember the Alamo: A battle cry named for an enemy atrocity; a call for revenge in war.
  • Restrained Revenge: Settling for a much lesser (often petty) token revenge to show that you have "forgiven" them.
  • Reunion Revenge: Someone uses a Class Reunion as a means of getting back at the people who wronged him or her back in school.
  • Revenge Against Men: A woman seeks to avenge herself against men in general or a particular man who has done her wrong.
  • Revenge Before Reason: When someone pursues revenge over more sensible goals, often leading to ruin.
  • Revenge by Proxy: When a villain targets an innocent connected to the person he wants revenge on, just to make the person suffer for what he did to a person connected to them.
  • Revenge Fic: Fan Fic where the author is out to kill a character he or she hates or make his or her life a living hell.
  • Revenge Is a Dish Best Served: Getting back at someone by secretly feeding them something disgusting, but non-harmful.
  • Revenge Myopia: Seeking retribution against someone who may have acted in self-defense, or on behalf of someone is less than innocent.
  • Revenge of the Nerd: A unbelievably hot woman seduces the guy who made fun of her in school as a nerdy wallflower, then rejects and humiliates him.
  • RevengeSVP: When someone isn't invited to a party, the snubbed one seeks revenge.
  • Revenge Through Corruption: Villain does Revenge by Proxy or Sins of Our Fathers through corrupting the enemy's loved one(s) — i.e., an engineered Face–Heel Turn or Face–Monster Turn.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Revenge that dispenses with Machiavellian plotting and goes straight for the violence.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Children are punished for what their parents have done.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Someone receives the same bad treatment that they showed/were going to show others.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: The character gives up on trying to be good and decides to do unto others as has been done unto him.
  • This Means War!: In order to avenge their loved ones who were killed or the fact that they got pushed around too much, a character declares war against the other character before proceeding to kick their ass and get revenge for said loved ones.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: A character who's devoted his/her life to vengeance finds out that it doesn't give the hoped-for satisfaction.
  • Vengeful Ghost: A character that suffers a violent or unfair death, will come back as a ghost to get revenge.
  • Vengeful Widow: A woman who goes on a spree of vengeance after losing a husband or other loved one.
  • Villain-by-Proxy Fallacy: When someone goes after not only a crime's perpetrator, but those who supplied the perpetrator or were otherwise marginally connected to it, whether or not the people involved had anything to do with the actual crime or not.
  • Voodoo Doll: A character sticks pins into a doll fashioned after their enemy.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: When a character becomes a villain to get revenge on those who have treated them as a Butt-Monkey or The Chew Toy.
  • Woman Scorned: She's been done wrong by her significant other, and she's going to make him/her PAY.
  • You Killed My Father: If a character's father has been killed, it will be that character who kills the one responsible for said death.