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The Farmer and the Viper

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Perhaps they want a pet snake?note 

"One winter a Farmer found a Viper frozen and numb with cold, and out of pity picked it up and placed it in his bosom. The Viper was no sooner revived by the warmth than it turned upon its benefactor and inflicted a fatal bite upon him; and as the poor man lay dying, he cried, 'I have only got what I deserved, for taking compassion on so villainous a creature.'"

Kindness is thrown away upon evil.

This Hard Truth Aesop is much like Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: a display of friendship, trust, and love won't always bring about redemption; sometimes a bad person is simply bad, and they won't stop being that way just because you were kind to them — in fact, they may very well betray you in any number of fashions, repaying the good turn you've done for them with evil. It's in the nature of a snake to bite, after all.

Correctly discerning the irredeemable from the redeemable is tricky, of course, and expect characters to argue over whether this trope even applies. After all, in Real Life, this belief is used to justify ignoring people in need, especially if they have ever done anything vaguely "bad". In fact, characters believing in this trope too passionately often create unsympathetic to outright villainous characters - anything from uncaring zealots to psychotic serial murderers who believe they are purging society of its permanently corrupted evil dregs since there is no hope for redemption for them.

Compare Morality Chain, where the Samaritan does somehow manage to restrain their ward's wickedness. Turn the Other Cheek is probably the Samaritan's mindset. The receiver may turn out to be Always Chaotic Evil, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. When combined with Save the Villain, this is sometimes used to set up a Disney Villain Death. Compare Bad Samaritan, when it is the caregiver, not the care-receiver, who is evil. Also, compare Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like. Plays with the traditional belief of Sacred Hospitality. If such an act makes a character give up on redeeming the villain, it's Beyond Redemption.

Common occupational hazard of a would-be Redeemer.

Inverse of Good Samaritan and Androcles' Lion. See also Befriending the Enemy, Naïve Animal Lover, Save the Villain, Taking You with Me, Take My Hand!, Prisoner's Dilemma, Ungrateful Bastard, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, Horrible Judge of Character. Compare Pacifism Backfire (while this is "Hospitality Backfire") and the False Innocence Trick where a captured villain pretends to be harmless. See also They Were Holding You Back for a common justification for how the viper is really "helping."

Also called the "Scorpion Dilemma" or "The Scorpion and The Frog" after a similar Fable (popularized in Orson Welles's Mr. Arkadin), this story contains the additional Aesop that a venomous creature can't help but give in to its nature, even when doing so will lead directly to its own death. See also Orc Raised by Elves.

(Also, at risk of pointing out the obvious, don't take Aesop's Fables as a good guide to real-life snakes, who do not run around envenomating people out of a general desire to do evil. Venom is precious and expensive, so real snakes save it for if they think they're really under threat.)


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an episode of ARIA the NATURAL, Akari spots a woman who is dressed like she's just gotten back from a funeral. She is then told a ghost story about a woman in black who asks for transport, then spirits her gondolier away. That night, the woman in black asks Akari for a ride to a graveyard. Akari takes her (This is notably not the only example of Too Dumb to Live, because the anime consistently encourages naivety). Akari goes on her way, but the woman, in a weird subversion, grabs her hand and tries to spirit her away, specifically because she was impressed with Akari's kindness. The anime implies this to be a bad thing but never makes it really clear. Cait Sith saves her, though, so we never find out.
  • In The Demon Girl Next Door, Momo decides to use some of her already-diminished magical power to give her mortal enemy Lilith a controllable body just to make her happy. How does Lilith repay such a kind act? By immediately plotting to force Momo to make more. Unfortunately for her, Momo was clever enough to put in a back-door.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Dorabian Nights has Doraemon and the gang meeting Sinbad the sailor, and Abdil, a thief who plots to steal Sinbad's magic palace for himself. Several years ago, Sinbad had rescued Abdil from the desert and treated Abdil like a guest in his palace, only to expel Abdil after finding out he's a slaver. In the present, Doraemon and gang, looking for Shizuka who's lost in the Arabian Desert with their new ally Sinbad, eventually find her... as a captive of Abdil, leading to Sinbad scolding Abdil for still dabbling in the Human Trafficking business. Rather than arresting Abdil, however, Sinbad is decent enough to give Abdil sacks of water and food before telling him to leave the desert and never come back. So Abdil repays Sinbad by convincing the thief Cassim to help him steal Sinbad's palace and artifacts, have Sinbad and everyone else sealed in a dungeon, and later as the heroes escaped, releasing hordes and hordes of vampire bats to kill everyone. Sinbad lampshades it to the gang by saying "I should've left Abdil alone in the desert instead of saving him."
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z:
      • During the fight with Raditz, Goku grabs Raditz's tail to give Piccolo an opening to kill him with the Special Beam Cannon. Raditz begs Goku for mercy, promising to leave Earth if Goku does so; over Piccolo's protests, Goku grants Raditz's mercy... and Raditz promptly knocks Goku down and ruthlessly breaks his ribs, all while rubbing in his face how stupid it was of him to fall for it. When Gohan critically injures Raditz and Goku has him restrained so Piccolo can finish him off, Raditz tries the same trick again; unfortunately for him, Goku isn't dumb enough to fall for the same ploy twice.
      • When Frieza is bisected by his own attack and begs Goku for help, Goku, after some debate, transfers a portion of his energy to Frieza to at least allow him to escape Namek's explosion (mostly out of Cruel Mercy). Frieza responds by openly mocking Goku and then — unable to accept his defeat — uses that very energy for one last-ditch attack; by this point, Goku has lost all patience with Frieza and blows him away.
    • Dragon Ball Super:
      • During the Future Trunks Saga, Gowasu did his best to help Zamasu, guide him to become a proper Supreme Kai, and get him to overcome his hatred of mortals. How does Zamasu repay him? By trying to murder him so he can become a full Supreme Kai, use the Time Rings, and enact a plan to wipe out all mortal life. Beerus is rightfully disgusted, sees Zamasu's actions as an In-Universe Moral Event Horizon, and personally kills Zamasu when he makes his move.
      • Gowasu suffers it a second time in the manga when he gives Goku Black a Last-Second Chance. Black seems willing to accept his offer and takes his hand... and then immediately runs Gowasu through with his Laser Blade, openly calling him an idiot for thinking he could be swayed, especially since Black has already killed two different incarnations of Gowasu for the sake of his plans.
      • Later on in the manga, Moro, who at this point in the story has rampaged across the universe and drained the life energy of countless beings, has been thoroughly defeated by Goku and is reduced to begging for his life. In exchange for a senzu bean to restore his energy and heal his wounds, Moro promises to submit to the Galactic Patrol and return to prison for the rest of his days. After being healed, he immediately tries to attack Goku once again and declares he has no intention of stopping his rampage.
  • The myth of the frog and scorpion is heavily discussed during the second half of Edens Bowy. The plot involves The Hero and The Rival being two of the only God Hunters in existence, two Floating Continents warring heavily to get their hands on the Hero, protected by an Angelic Macguffin Super Person who is responsible for said Hero's realization of his true nature. Much agonizing and angsting were had to contemplate inevitability of one's role; namely, must the hero surrender to his nature to kill his Love Interest when she's an Angel, even though she's responsible for his survival so far? The resolution to this is... complicated.
    • Interestingly, during the Where Are They Now epilogue, said rival now earns his keep by telling the tale of the scorpion and the frog, with his own twist at the end.
  • In Fist of the North Star, Jagi's backstory has him almost being killed by Kenshiro, who changes his mind at the last second and spares him. Instead of repenting, it just made Jagi even worse, and he receives no mercy the next time they meet.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), the disgraced and homeless Yoki is taken in by a group of Ishbalan refugees. He promptly betrays them by selling out the Serial Killer and fellow Ishbalan Scar to a bunch of bounty-hunters with the intent to split the bounty. The refugees don't take the idea of Yoki ratting out one of their own well and promptly give him a beat-down. Averted in Brotherhood and the manga, where while he does still betray Scar to bounty-hunters, the bounty-hunters are significantly more reasonable and don’t try to harm any of the refugees, and when Scar spares his life he legitimately does all he can to help from that point forward (which admittedly isn’t that much, due to Yoki being a Non-Action Guy).
    • Also Scar himself, after he kills Winry's parents after they give him life-saving medical treatment. To his credit, it was a bit accidental but still, he managed to kill both. ...depending on the source material. In the first anime, it was Mustang being forced to do his job.
    • In the later chapters, the chimera Zampano, one of Edward's allies that Ed previously spared in battle, sneaks off and contacts the Military high command to rat them out. It's all a Batman Gambit though, planned to draw one of the Homunculi to them so they can spring an ambush.
  • Invoked in Goblin Slayer; because this world's goblins are absolutely incapable of moral behavior, but possessed of enough base cunning to lie and feign otherwise, this invariably happens if someone is foolish enough to show a goblin mercy. These goblins become "Wanderers", roaming the land and migrating from nest to nest, teaching other goblins the various tactics that they saw used against themselves or their first nest — whilst many of them starve to death, those that survive make other goblin nests more dangerous, and often mature into more powerful forms themselves. This is especially true of goblin infants, who are seemingly born with the awareness of this tactic ingrained in them. Oh, and a Wanderer will always try to strike back at the person who showed them mercy the moment their guard is down, if they can. Our first exposure to a Goblin Lord is one who immediately attacked and murdered the adventurer that spared his life, and kept on doing just that, preying on the noble sentiments of adventurers. This is one of the reasons why the titular protagonist adheres to the exterminate-them-all philosophy; he knows that goblins cannot be redeemed.
  • Gundam:
    • Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. After defeating Ali Al-Saachez, destroying his Gundam Arche, and cornering him in a hallway, Lockon Stratos gives the man who killed his family one last chance at redemption. True to form, Ali whips out a gun while Lockon's back is turned...and is shot dead before he can pull the trigger.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: poor, poor Shinn. The only way to save Stella was to send her back to Neo, the only one who has the medical equipment to save her. He promised to keep her far from battlefields. What happens next? Neo puts her into the cockpit of the Destroy. Then Kira has to kill her to stop the destruction of Berlin.
      • Yzak and Deerka are a curious example. Chairman Durandal saved them during their trial for war crimes. But in the last episodes, they side with Lacus. So, here we have a Villain with Good Publicity saving some anti-heroes, and they bite him back by siding with the true good guys.
  • Done during the third season of Hell Girl. A teacher saves a quiet and shy acting girl student from being bullied. Afterwards, the girl's grandmother spends the episode trying to get the teacher fired, out of what appears to be jealousy. Turns out the little girl was lying to her grandmother and claiming that it was the teacher who was bullying her. When the teacher confronts the girl after finding this out, the quiet girl just smiles and claims because it's fun.
  • Sets up the plot in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, with George Joestar and his son Jonathan as the Farmers and Dio Brando as the Viper. George and Jonathan's kindness costs them their lives, leads to countless other deaths, and nearly causes the end of the universe. Contrast to Speedwagon who was in a similar situation but when Jonathan spares him he becomes a lifelong (and beyond) friend and ally to the Joestar family.
  • In Kino's Journey, Kino saves some stranded traders. It then turns out they trade human slaves and are looking to recuperate their losses.
  • In Megalo Box Nanbu is likened to a scorpion, with the implication that Nanbu is the sort of person who continues to betray and selfishly use others for his own ends. The whole story gets told in episode 10, after The Reveal that Nanbu's plan was to get Joe into Megalonia and then fix one of his matches to make money.
  • Johan Liebert from Monster kills his foster parents — many pairs thereof. Anyone who ever does anything remotely decent or nice for him ends up as the farmer to Johan's viper, but Tenma, the one who saved his life in the first place, gets the very worst of it through the horrible things that Johan does to others in order to "repay" him.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Before he met his adoptive brothers, Albert once helped out a thief by paying for the food he stole and gave him silverware so he wouldn't need to steal again. A while later, Albert learned the thief used the silverware to buy a weapon and went to rob a bank, resulting in the death of many people, which nearly drove Albert to suicide.
  • In Okane ga Nai, Ayase saves Kanou, only to end up 4 years later as Kanou's love slave.
  • One Piece:
    • Kaya's family takes in an apparently down-and-out man and makes him their butler. He is secretly the pirate Captain Kuro, who develops a long-term plan; kill the entire family, steal their fortune, and retire on it.
    • Done likely by accident with Aokiji and Robin: Aokiji lets her live in spite of his order from the World Government, but, in spite of his warning to keep out of trouble, she's currently part of a crew whose leader declared war on the World Government. Of course, the fact she had a bounty on her made it rather difficult to keep a low profile, even if she wanted to (and it's shown in flashbacks she did try to, multiple times), and Luffy proved to be the only person both friendly and powerful enough to protect her from the government agents hunting her down.
    • Don Krieg and his crew were starving after their fleet was destroyed by Dracule Mihawk. Sanji fed them over everyone else's protests. Don Krieg "thanked" him by attacking him the moment he felt satiated and declared his intent to claim the floating restaurant as his new flagship. Sanji likely knew this would be the outcome, but having nearly starved to death once himself, wouldn't wish such a fate on anyone. Gin, Krieg’s own subordinate, also didn’t intend for this to happen and didn’t suspect he’d try to take the Baratie.
    • In the Fishman Island arc, Robin references this trope; when Jimbei asks her to free the slaves Hammond is using for his Slave Tank, Robin is disgusted by what Hammond is doing but expresses concern that the freed slaves will attack both her allies and enemies, hating Fishman Island after what they've been through. Jimbei says that they can simply fight them off if this happens and that he can't stand Hody's men acting like the Celestial Dragons any longer, persuading Robin to free the slaves, who help the Straw Hats against the New Fishman Pirates.
    • Still in the Fishman Island arc, a flashback gives us a variation, in that kindness isn't repaid with evil, but still with unkindness. After the pirate Fisher Tiger brought the little ex-slave girl Koala back to her home, he was ambushed by Marine soldiers, who knew he would be coming. The reason being that Koala's hometown sold Tiger out to the Marines, in exchange for not taking Koala back to the nobles who enslaved her (though the latter didn't know about it); a decision possibly made easier by the fact that Tiger was a fishman. Sure, it's not kind of them to do that, but considering their reasons, it can't be called "evil", and it's pretty hard to blame them.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, when the Team Rocket trio got stuck in a cave with Brock and a scientist, they agreed to help each other to get out. When they found an opening they immediately went back into stealing Pikachu.
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica: After Mami helps Kirika find a plushie she holds dear in some bushes, Kirika does thank her properly by treating her to a crepe. However, in the name of her love for Oriko, whom she is helping to kill other magical girls, it isn't long before she attempts to kill Mami.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: The starving, lonesome little kid Enishi almost dies in the streets of a foreign country (China) until a rich Japanese family saves him, even going as far as letting him stay for however long he needs, no questions asked about his obviously painful circumstances. He slaughters them and takes all their money purely because he was jealous of how happy they were. However, since Enishi wasn't irredeemable nor did he simply see the family as mere pawns to be used (normally the viper is the viper because they have no feelings for anyone and Enishi did it because of his jealousy not because it's a defining character trait), the trope is downplayed.
  • Subverted in an episode of Samurai Pizza Cats. Bad Bird is about to fall off a cliff, and Speedy grabs him by the arm just before he falls. Bad Bird asks why he's helping him since he's an enemy. Speedy realizes he's right and lets him fall. This is especially interesting because Bad Bird ends up being redeemed at the end of the series.
  • Shinzo: This happens quite a lot; when Yakumo shows kindness towards a villain, you can bet they'll try to kill her anyway. Even regular Enterrans will betray her kindness in a second; Yakumo saves an Enterran child, but once the villagers find out she's human, they try to burn her.
  • In Tsukigasa, a group of robbers save Kuroe's life and have him stay on as their doctor. Five years later he ends up stealing their special maps, running off, giving them to his former friend who is a samurai so they can be tracked down, and personally killing the two that hunt him down. All because they were going to rob his Love Interest.
  • Vinland Saga: An English farmer and her daughter take pity on a young boy who stumbles into their cottage, feeding and delousing him and sheltering him from the soldiers who are looking for a Viking spy and are killing all strangers on sight. In return, the boy burns down the village's dock, signaling the Vikings nearby to come take the village, which they do. Said boy is the protagonist.

    Comic Books 
  • Arawn: A farmer couple provides shelter for a wandering stranger in exchange for work. The stranger repays the kindness by killing the man in his sleep, raping his wife right next to his body, and would have sacrificed their children if the woman didn't free herself in time and killed the bastard.
  • Occurs in a horrifying manner in the 52 miniseries set in the year after Infinite Crisis. Osiris, the brother-in-law of Black Adam, the (sort of) Evil Counterpart of Captain Marvel, takes in a lonely anthropomorphic crocodile as a pet/family member whom he names Sobek. For most of the series, Sobek is depicted as a cowardly yet friendly fellow with a huge appetite. He is actually one of the Four Horsemen of Apokolips, Eldritch Abominations that hail from Apokolips and given bodies by the Mad Scientists that also star in 52. "Sobek" is actually Yurrd the Unknown, Lord of Hunger. Sobek is a Big Eater because his hunger can only be satisfied with the flesh of a Marvel. He manages to trick Osiris into depowering himself while Osiris is guilt-ridden after accidentally killing an attacker. Sobek eats Osiris alive; the depiction in the comics is rather horrific. When confronted with this by Isis, Osiris' sister and wife of Black Adam, what is the traitor's response?
    Isis: How could you do this? We treated you like family. We loved you.
    "Sobek": What use is love to a reptile? My blood is cold!
  • In a Batman Detective comics storyline, the Joker gets hit by a truck after trying to kill Robin. He gets taken in by a magician who came to Gotham to study its "fascinating" criminal element. The Joker repays his kindness by teaching him some tricks of the trade. Then the Joker garrotes him and steals his identity to facilitate (oddly enough) a Batman Gambit to get Batman into one of his more clever deathtraps, not that it works. It's the Goddamned Batman. The Joker even refers to the "Farmer and the Viper" story while recapping his scheme to Batman.
  • The Batman & Robin Adventures features this in an issue called "Dagger's Tale". The title character is relating to when he followed this to a young hotheaded inmate, revealing how when he attempted to break out of prison with an Ax-Crazy partner it went horribly wrong and said crazy partner decided their partnership wasn't working out. Batman saves Dagger at the last minute. He's astonished for a second ("You-You saved me?!" "I save everyone."), but after remembering that Batman had previously gotten him captured in the first place decided to pay him back by attempting to stab him in the back, only to be punched out by the Dark Knight. After finishing things, he urges the inmate to not make a stupid mistake as he did and just serve his time out.
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, while traveling the Midnight Road, Egg and Jack ask for directions from a demon woman tied to a tree. Despite Egg's warnings, Jack takes pity on her and tries to be nice, and is nearly killed for his trouble.
  • This is the Superhero Origin of Freddy Freeman aka Captain Marvel Junior before he became Captain Marvel after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Freddy and his grandfather were fishing in a lake when Captain Nazi is thrown into it by Captain Marvel in the middle of their battle. Freddy and his grandfather help rescue Captain Nazi, who repays them by killing the grandfather and crippling Freddy. Captain Marvel shares the power of Shazam with Freddy to save him, turning him into Captain Marvel Junior.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In Don Rosa's The Life And Times Of Scrooge Mcduck, Scrooge encounters an unnamed South Afrikaner ( who later turns out to be a younger Flintheart Glomgold) after the mining camp he had been a part of left him for dead for his numerous acts of thievery by tying him to a water buffalo. Scrooge saves his life and even shares his camp with him. The Afrikaner repays him by stealing all his supplies in the middle of the night and leaves him stranded in the wastelands. It's even lampshaded with Scrooge calling the Afrikaner a viper; he had experience dealing with unapologetic crooks, but this kind of betrayal genuinely infuriated him.
    • Used in the "Scrooge McDuck" story The Horseradish Treasure (September 1953) by Carl Barks. Scrooge and the nephews are trapped at sea with their enemy Chisel McSue. When Chisel seems about to drown, Scrooge contemplates whether he should let him die or not. Against his better judgment, Scrooge rescues Chisel. Shortly after, Chisel attempts to murder Scrooge... by drowning him.
  • In Frank Miller's Holy Terror, Amina is a Muslim exchange student who is shown kindness by a young person named Jaye, who invites her to a party. Amina turns out to be an Islamic terrorist and suicide bomber.
  • The idea of The Power of Love failing to redeem is featured in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, when Devi asks Johnny on a date. All seems to be going well at first until Johnny realises that he's found someone who actually makes him feel happy. He then tries to murder her, the one person who ever showed him any kindness in order to "immortalise the moment." This goes to show how completely fucked up his mind is, as well as kill the idea of any more romance in the series. Devi gets away though.
  • The Mighty Thor: No matter how many times Thor tries to reach out to or forgive Loki, sooner or later Loki will stab him in the back. Or at least until the 00s, where Loki's character shifts so he's no longer out to deliberately hurt Thor. Loki does it again in Journey into Mystery, going so far as to lampshade it. While he keeps reassuring Thor of his good intentions, reciting him the first verses of The Scorpion and the Frog, he still betrays him while telling "I'm no scorpion... for I am Loki!"
  • A comic serial on the Tales of King Arthur had the Frog and Scorpion tale being told to justify an Enemy Mine situation...up to the point where the frog swims across the river with the scorpion on its back. Later on, the person telling the tale privately reveals the Downer Ending and jokes dryly that the story is a lot better without it.
  • The Question recites a version of this parable to himself after he is attacked by a biker who he just saved from a fire.
  • Robin (1993): Tim tries to give Damian a second chance after their first meeting consists of Damian trying to blow him up and, though he never truly gives Damian his trust, Damian never truly stops trying to kill him, continuing sabotaging his equipment in potentially fatal ways long after he's mostly adapted to life outside the League of Assassins. Jason, on the other hand, betrays Tim thoroughly. After Tim helps Jason escape from Arkham and gives him access to the Batcave to view his portion of Bruce’s video will, Jason seems to be ready to uphold their unspoken truce but later has a complete breakdown over the message Bruce left him and nearly succeeds in killing Tim.
  • A variation on the tale itself comes in the Academy Comics' Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween special, where after going with an Away team against the wishes of his wife Lisa, Rick Hunter explains his actions with the story, basically telling her that he's always gonna be a little headstrong and willing to take risks. Lisa teases her husband by saying: "So the moral of the story is you're a lying snake, huh?"
  • The Sandman (1989): Loki's urge to punish Morpheus because Morpheus helped him escape his eternal torment. Odin even cites this Aesop when pointing out to Morpheus how it is in Loki's nature to repay kindness with malice and ingratitude. Turns out to be an Invoked Trope on Morpheus's part; Loki's actions are all part of Morpheus's plan.
  • Deadshot references the frog and scorpion version in Secret Six after apparently betraying the team. Averted in that he was actually trying to protect the rest of his friends.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Snively switches sides between the Freedom Fighters and Robotnik/Eggman frequently, usually for his own safety and benefit. It had gotten to the point where his sister, Hope, disowns him when his use of the trope leads to Knothole being destroyed and nearly led to the Freedom Fighters killed.
    • The original Freedom Fighters group that fought Robotnik prior to the modern heroes were betrayed by one of their own: a Mobian snake named Trey Scales. His excuse for turning on them was that it was "totally in his nature" to be a traitor due to being a snake. However, Trey failed to take into account that backstabbing was Robotnik's nature as well and he was roboticised alongside his former comrades.
  • A recurring theme throughout Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) is that Sonic's tendency to be kind towards his enemies often has long-term consequences. His insistence on showing mercy to Eggman and Metal Sonic led to the Metal Virus nearly destroying the world. When he and Tails decided to send the Deadly Six back to their home planet rather than punish them for their crimes, their leader Zavok mocked them by promising that he would repay Sonic's compassion with violence and misery. Sonic is occasionally shown to be more than somewhat troubled by this and he has been repeatedly criticized by his friends for his leniency, but he also refuses to compromise his morals out of fear.
  • In Sonic the Comic, Super Sonic was actually Sonic's Superpowered Evil Side. During one story they got split apart, and Super Sonic lost both his power and his memory, becoming far more mellow, and befriending a magician called Ebony, who helped him get back on his feet. At the end of the series, Ebony and Super Sonic showed up at the final battle against Chaos, Super Sonic dying as a result of losing his power. Super Sonic absorbed the energy from Chaos, restoring his power... and his former Omnicidal Maniac personality. Fortunately, unlike most examples of this trope, he didn't kill Ebony. But she was forced to merge the two Sonics back together to stop Super's rampage.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: In issue 19, Triple-Zero tells Aphra they're ultimately not that different, and for all she claims shock and disgust at his actions, she also uses and hurts people, especially those who helped her, because she likes it.
    • One Star Wars Legends one-shot comic focused on a Sith master and apprentice in the Rule of Two era. After the apprentice kills an abusive slaver (passing it off as not tolerating being insulted when the slaver assumed he was his master's property, but clearly being more upset about his abusing the slave girl) and frees his slave, he seems rather more concerned than Sith are supposed to about anyone, and once it's clear to the two she's force sensitive the apprentice requests she be allowed to come. The master reminds his apprentice of the rule of two within earshot of the girl... who promptly shoves the apprentice off a building to his death and joins the Sith with a smile on her face.
    • In the Star Wars: Age of Resistance comic featuring General Hux, Hux finds himself marooned on a strange planet after his shuttle was sabotaged, where he meets an old Alderaan guard named Bylsma who had taken refuge on the planet there since the destruction of his homeworld. Hux manages to convince Bylsma to let him use his communication device contact his friends and get help. Once "help" arrives, Hux has his Stormtroopers kill Bylsma's animal companions, then leaves the planet without Bylsma, all the while stating his intention to use the planet as a target practice for his Starkiller Base.
  • Superman:
    • In Two for the Death of One, Lord Satanis is cast out of Hell and into a medieval town after a long battle. Being on the brink of death, he is found and nursed back to health by the townsfolk whom he kills as punishment for seeing him weak. Extra points for summoning poisonous snakes to do the work.
      Lord Satanis: Like the gullible fools they are, the people of this village nursed me back to health when they should have killed me as the agent of the Anti-God that I had sworn to become. Only these fools had seen me weak and helpless, and so I paid them back for their kindness... by summoning forth the great poisonous serpents which were mine to control.
    • The Death of Superman (1961): When Lex Luthor finds a cure for cancer and announces his intention to turn over a new leaf, Superman decides to give him one chance and vouch for him. Lex Luthor is released from jail, befriends Superman, and when he is ready, Luthor reveals it was just a ploy to lull Superman into a false sense of security and kill him.
      Lois Lane: Luthor would never have been released from prison if Superman hadn't gone to bat for him! He repaid Superman's kindness, by killing him!
    • In Way of the World, Supergirl breaks a mad scientist called Alphonse Luzano out of jail, hoping he will be grateful enough to help her save an ill child's life. Luzano repays Supergirl by using the lab she provided him with to give himself powers, and then attacking her.
  • Played back and forth in a comic for Transformers: Animated where Ratchet is shown helping a Decepticon suffering from "Cosmic Rust", a disease some Decepticons released in the middle of a battle. Ratchet does it on the grounds that while the commanders knew the score for doing such a thing, it's no reason to abandon a soldier. Then it turns out the guy was the one that made the disease, and infects Ratchet with it after being cured. However in the process, they made a cure for the disease that Ratchet was able to take back, and he'll probably be able to save plenty of Autobots if they can manage to replicate it.
  • Usagi Yojimbo also makes use of the "Farmer and the Viper" story when a hapless fisherman rescues Jei-san after the latter was stabbed in the stomach and tossed off a cliff into a raging river and fails to notice Jei's Milky White Eyes, ominous voice, and the mysterious chill that follows him. Jei even tells the story to the fisherman right before Jei kills him with his bare hands.

    Fan Works 


  • In the Batman and Harry Potter crossover Ace Of Spades, Harry becomes obsessed with Jim Gorden due to how he treated him nicely while he was in Arkham. Later, Jim adopts Harry into his family, and is rewarded for the gesture by Harry and his son Jimmy working with the Joker to murder Jim's wife and daughter.
  • Avatar: Legend of Diamond Tiara: Twilight forgives Trixie for everything she's done, offering her a chance at redemption. Trixie's response is to strike while Twilight's guard is down, then mock her as she lies dying before her.
  • The novelized fanwork The Myth of Link & Zelda: Breath of the Wild at one point has Paya and Link traveling together through the Blatchery Plain, and they rescue a woman from a Bokoblin attack, but they're too late to save the man she's with, implied to be her husband. Paya realizes too late that the wounds on the dead man are from a slit throat, not from being clubbed to death. The woman they saved is actually a Yiga Clan Footsoldier, and she quickly attempts to kill Link and Paya. Link puts a stop to that very quickly, but that betrayal really leaves an impact on Paya.
  • Death Note Equestria: When the thief who killed Angel Bunny is released on parole, Fluttershy offers him some sympathy and kindness. Once his parole is over, however, he breaks into another house... and this time, he kills a little filly.
  • The very first lesson Littlepip learns in Fallout: Equestria. Upon leaving the stable, she's captured by slavers alongside a stallion named Monterey Jack, and she helps him escape. As soon as they're in the clear, he turns his guns on the weaker Littlepip and demands her supplies. Much later, they meet again, and this time Monterey pays back for his crime with such Disproportionate Retribution Littlepip begins to regret even pursuing this vengeance.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: The Mage released Nerissa with the hopes of redeeming her, only for Nerissa to murder her and steal her identity.
  • Harry Potter and the Mystic Force: When he turns upon Harry in the Dark Wish world, Voldemort simply says "Frog and the Scorpion," implicitly chiding Harry for being willing to trust him in the first place.
  • Marvel Gems Universe: After learning that Steven was forced to hand the corrupted Gems over to Titus and Holly Blue, Rocket berates him for falling into this trap, as he's already dealt with people who treated him kindly only to stab him in the back later.
  • Discussed in My Little Balladeer: Twilight notes that Thorne could have earned the wealth and renown he desires through his knowledge and skills, wondering why he's so keen on doing terrible things. Applejack replies that "For some skunks, it's just plain fun ta get what they want by hurtin' somepony else."
  • Point Me at the Skyrim: Antares spares Raven's life, even though she's clearly a remorseless murderer and rapist of a bandit, and Raven attempts to clobber her as soon as Victoria turns her back on her.
    Antares: Fucking why?!
    Raven: You let your guard down. I had to give it a shot.
    Antares: I held back. I gave you a second chance and saved you from giant spiders. From being executed even!
    Raven: Ya. Thanks.
    Antares: Fuck you.
  • A Spartan in Westeros: In one Omake, Master Chief tells Sansa about "The Frog and the Scorpion", warning her that Joffery will never come around and start caring about her. Not beyond how much power he holds over her, or how much he can hurt her, anyway.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: In Season 3, Ahsoka saves an Imperial Guardsman who she found trapped inside of a wrecked Imperial Knight that had a jammed access hatch. Upon being freed, the Guardsman initially seems grateful and thankful towards his rescuer... until he sees what Ahsoka looks like and realizes she isn't a human. Even though Ahsoka points out that she literally just rescued him, he doesn't hesitate to pull out his sidearm and try dumping his entire magazine into her while screaming at her to die.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

  • The Fire Chapters: After helping a little girl, Zuko finds himself being chased by soldiers. Seeing where he's hidden, the girl yells that she's found "the man with the scar"... and points the opposite way, sending his pursuers off in the wrong direction.
  • Fractures: The Chaunli interlude has the titular innkeeper taking in an injured man, letting him stay for free while nursing him back to health. Unfortunately, his kindness is repaid by the man (revealed to be Admiral Zhao) stabbing him in the throat with a knife after he overhears the admiral plotting to restore Ozai's firebending.

Death Note

Dragon Ball

  • In Honor Trip, Cell finds out the hard way that you shouldn't try and forgive somebody who has been literally programmed to be an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • What If Krillin Became a Saiyan?: Krillin teams up with Vegeta after the Saiyan Prince comes to him insisting that they have to work together to deal with the Ginyu Force. After they've taken down Ginyu and two other members, with Krillin being seriously injured in the process, Vegeta steals the Senzu Beans and kidnaps Dende, abandoning him with no source of healing or other backup to deal with the wrath of the two remaining members.

Fire Emblem

  • An Eagle Among Lions: Discussed in Chapter 59: Kronya recounts the tale of the "Scorpion and the Frog" to Ingrid, stating that the reason why she's following Dedue's orders despite not being able to stand them is "Because I'm a scorpion, and it's simply in my nature to sting." She then turns this into a "Not So Different" Remark:
    Kronya: You think I don't have anything in common with a girl who just instinctively capitulates whenever someone tells her that their needs come before hers? Face it, Ingry — you may be a dirty, primitive human, but you and I were built the same. We're both a pair of scorpions. Look on the bright side. At least you're not a frog.

Gravity Falls

  • run:gifocalypse:
    • Mabel starts pitying Professor Sonia after learning that Sonia believes she's not "perfect enough" to play music in public. So she encourages her, eventually giving Sonia the confidence... to try "playing music" by capturing the main gang and shipping them to .GIFfany. This sends Mabel into a Heroic BSoD over the betrayal, as she was more familiar with the other copies acting like Card-Carrying Villains.
    • Subverted with Professor Dian, who comes off as even more pathetic and self-battering than Sonia, but ultimately turns out to be one of the nicest copies.
    • Ultimately played with regarding Soos' attempt to redeem .GIFfany herself. While he offers her a place at the Mystery Shack as her secondary home and she gets a job working there alongside Melody, it turns out that she's still trying to win him back. While she's no longer nearly as violent as before, and clearly did learn something, she remains quite selfish.

Judge Dredd

  • Early on in the Fan Film Judge Minty, Minty tries to grant mercy to a member of the Kovaks gang who opened fire on him (which carries an instant death sentence in the Dredd universe), only to get shot for his trouble. He doesn't make the same mistake at the end of the film.

The Legend of Zelda

  • Occurs in one of the fairy tales told in Once Upon a Fairy Tale. A mortal finds his way to the realm of the fairies searching for a stolen treasure and the fairy queen takes pity on him, helping her extensively in his search and showing him the wonders of their world. The guest repays the queen by killing her with the intent of taking over as ruler. It's later revealed that this is Sheik's rewriting of her mother, the wicked queen, entered the world of the Twili and killed the then-queen, Midna, who had tried to use their meeting as an attempt to reconcile their peoples.

Let the Right One In

  • A Darker Take: Maggan is a compassionate woman who takes in Oskar and Eli out of pity, only to learn the hard way how a newly-turned vampire is likely to repay such kindness. A sadly similar situation plays out with the mother in Sweet Kids.

Love Hina

  • For His Own Sake: Granny Hina eventually realizes — far too late — that Naru is so self-absorbed that she will unhesitatingly stab anyone in the back if she thinks it will benefit her. Including her own family, and the woman who did so much to enable her for so long.


  • My Craft: While being chased by Nephrait, Cobb turns around and saves her from being killed by a horde of Zombie Pigmen. She repays him by knocking him out and sending him to The Pit.

Miraculous Ladybug:

  • In BURN THE WITCH, Lila rewards Marinette's efforts to protect her from Witch Hunter and the mob by complaining, snarking, and attempting to throw her under the bus and get her lynched as an 'accomplice' in order to distract the mob. That last bit backfires, however, as it only serves to alert the mob to her position, and adds the betrayal to Witch Hunter's list of her crimes.
  • Feralnette AU: Amelie formed several informal contracts with her best friend Emelie as a way of maintaining their connection despite Gabriel being a Control Freak. After Emelie mysteriously disappeared, Gabriel started exploiting those contracts, aiming to line his own pockets at Amelie's expense while trying to destroy her business. And he combined this all with a healthy helping of emotional extortion:
    Felix: (quoting Gabriel) "The least you can do for your 'sister' is aid her family. You wouldn't hurt Adrien by hurting my own business, would you?"
  • The Karma of Lies: Highlighted as one of Adrien's Fatal Flaws; even when he knows that somebody is acting cruelly, he dismisses their behavior so long as it doesn't personally affect him. This comes back to bite him hard several times over.
    • With Lila, he firmly believes that he's safe from her scheming since he already knows that she's a liar... and a bad one at that. Or so he thinks; Lila uses his underestimation of him to lure him into a false sense of security, setting a trap that he wanders right into... in fact, she's astounded upon seeing that he doesn't think twice about entering his bank account passwords right in front of her.
    • After learning that his own father was Hawkmoth all along, Adrien begins defending his Archnemesis Dad by insisting nobody was really hurt by his reign of terror, since Ladybug's Miraculous Cure repaired all the physical damage done... provided, of course, that she was able to win the fight and purify the akumatizing butterfly. Not only does this turn public opinion against both of his identities (Adrien for being the son of a supervillain and Chat Noir for defending Hawkmoth), Gabriel has no problem blaming Adrien for the failure of his schemes. Including the fact that the only "emergency account" Adrien had access to was a secret, hidden account that Gabriel intended to use for more evil, with him angrily lashing out at his son upon learning Adrien accidentally handed Lila the opportunity to clean it out.
    • When he goes after Mayura, he offers her a hand up after seeing that she's Nathalie. She rewards this gesture by swiping the Black Cat Ring right off his finger, which gets misinterpreted by the media as him willingly handing over the Ring.
    • Adrien also finds himself hard-pressed to convince anyone of the truth. Not only is the truth not helping his case by revealing his self-centered attitude, others naturally question Who Would Be Stupid Enough? to lower their guard so much around somebody they knew to be untrustworthy?
  • Prince Charming: Discussed by Adrien after Marinette breaks his curse and he realizes that he can never be with the girl he loves.
    Adrien: Thank you for this gift, Misfortune. My compliments to you, you really know how to turn a wish into a double-edged sword.
    Plagg: Hm. You say that as if I did it on purpose. I did not grant your wish with malice.
    Adrien: I know. It’s your nature. You can’t help it, just like I can’t help enslaving those around me.
  • In this what-if scenario where Felix is one of Marinette and Adrien's classmates, Adrien desperately tries to avoid exposing Lila as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing even as Felix verbally backs him into a corner. When Alya misinterprets matters and thinks Adrien misled Marinette to think she was a liar, Lila leaps at the chance to play the victim at his expense. Felix isn't surprised by this; Adrien very much is.

My Hero Academia

  • Cain:
    • Katsuki repeatedly rewards Izuku's efforts to reach out to him with vehemence and violence. For instance, at one point Katsuki breaks his own fingers while trying to punch Izuku. Izuku offers him a hand up, asking if he's okay; Katsuki interprets this as mocking, grabs his hand, and uses his Quirk to heat up the sprinkler water on Izuku's skin.
    • This also applies to his relationship with All Might. While Katsuki doesn't make the best first impression upon Toshinori, especially when he threatens to reveal his secret unless he lets him join their training sessions at the beach, he still sincerely tries to teach him what it truly means to be a hero. But Katsuki repays his efforts with Malicious Slander, trying to convince Inko that Toshinori's a predator abusing her son so that he can have All Might all to himself.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

  • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum: All of PHL!Trixie's efforts to help Focus Ray result in the good guys being betrayed and hurt. Ultimately, she's forced to kill him.
  • Fools And Drunks: Gladstone repays all the kindness and compassion Ruby Gift shows him by helping the other residents of Sunney Towne Kill the Cutie.
  • In Sympathy for the Siren, Fluttershy finds Sonata Dusk alone and helpless in an alleyway, feels sorry for her and gives her a home, and befriends her. But when she goes to sleep, she wakes to find Sonata gone. Where'd she go? Well, it turns out that this was just her plan to get the Dazzlings' powers back using the ritual sacrifice of Fluttershy's animal friends, and she also plans on making Fluttershy her pet. She succeeds, too.


  • Blackkat's Reverse: Kakashi finds Kurama Uzumaki, a homeless but skilled Shell-Shocked Veteran presumably from the dead village Uzushio, who helped him rescue the daimyo's daughter from bandits. Kakashi takes Kurama back to Konoha to reward him for his help and help him land back on his feet. Kurama ends up kidnapping Naruto, the young son of Kakashi's late sensei. But Kurama is actually a Peggy Sue trying to rewrite the past who kidnapped Naruto because he couldn't stand to see the child version of his Only Friend be ignored, abused and kept ignorant of his heritage.
  • Déjà vu no Jutsu: Homura is spared from being executed alongside Danzo since he wasn't truly involved with ROOT. He then decides to get revenge upon Natsumi by lying to the Kurama clan, falsely informing them that she shares their bloodline. The Kurama then kidnap her with the intent of forcing her to become a mind-broken broodmare.
  • The Kakashi Way: Hiruzen was well aware of Danzo's ambitions, as well as his jealousy over him being named the third Hokage. He also knew that Danzo had a hand in causing the Uchiha Massacre, yet kept him around, trusting that Danzo's devotion to protecting Konoha would outweigh his worse aspects. He comes to regret this after a time-displaced Sasuke attacks Danzo and exposes the depths of his treachery, starting with ripping off his arm filled with stolen Sharingan. Then they discover the private records Danzo kept detailing all of his schemes, including all the people he'd targeted to hurt their loved ones.
  • The Moon Cries in Reverse: Jiraiya learns that Team Ten, here consisting of Naruto, Sakura and Shikamaru, has been systematically abused due to Anko, Ibiki and Hiruzen's irrational fear that Shikamaru's intelligence could make him the next Orochimaru. Jiraiya attempts to prevent this from becoming a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. After Team Ten betrays Konoha anyway during the Crush attempt, Jiraiya reflects upon the story, wondering "Is this like that story about a man saving a snake, only to be bitten for his kindness? For expecting a reward from the wicked?"

One Piece

  • In New Game Plus, Luffy's Breaking Speech to Garp involves forcing him to face the fact that he simply cannot trust the Marines not to stab him in the back simply for being the son of a revolutionary.
    Luffy: I'm not saying it would happen right away. It might take weeks; it might take months. Hell, it might be years. But sooner or later, they'll start to think it. That I'm a sleeper agent. Or that I'm leaking information. Or that my goddamn blood is just dirty. And it wouldn't matter if I was the Commander-in-Chief when it happened. They would kill me without a second thought, 'for the good of the world'. And there wouldn't be anything I could do to defend myself. For my sin, is existing.
    Garp: No, no, they wouldn't do that!
    Luffy: Baterilla! Based on the rumor of a rumor, Marines spent over a year scouring the island for a sign, any at all, of a child of the Pirate King. Pregnant women were kidnapped to be put through blood tests. Infants were put through the most invasive, comprehensive battery of exams available. Any who resisted were executed. And if they had found such a child, he would have been murdered in his cradle. In the womb. This is how much stock the Government puts in a person's bloodline. Do you deny it?


  • For The Mission: Ian/Nate invokes this after revealing to the rest of Wigglytuff's Guild that he's Grovyle's partner, as part of a Zero-Approval Gambit to help everyone see that returning the Time Gears didn't restore time to those areas.

Rosario + Vampire


  • Abyssal Infinitum: In Liar's Gambit, Sarah decides to betray the man who saved her life, giving her shelter and a job, as part of a desperate bid to make it to Vale before the Fall of Beacon.

Touhou Project

The Twilight Saga

  • For You, I Will: When Embry imprints on a seemingly nice and accepting girl named Melanie, the rest of the Quileute pack are nothing but kind towards her. Then it turns out the Melanie is a sociopath, who quickly takes advantage of the fact Embry can't say no to any of her demands. In the end, when the Quileutes finally start wising up to Melanie's true nature and plan on doing something about it, she orders Embry to kill them all.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "The Death of Koschei the Deathless": Ivan finds the evil sorcerer Koschei trapped in a dungeon and begging for some water. Ivan takes pity on him and gives him three buckets of water, whereupon Koschei becomes completely recovered, snaps his chains, and kidnaps Ivan's wife.
  • In "Little Otik", one childless couple finds and adopts one strange baby monster who ends up eating them whole.
  • Joseph Jacobs' "Yallery Brown" (link). The main character releases a small spirit trapped under a stone, and the creature puts a bad luck curse on him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Doctor DeSoto: The titular mouse dentist takes a chance to treat a fox's toothache when the fox begs him for help, and the very grateful fox plans to eat him anyway. Dr. DeSoto finishes the job out of professional pride and survives by gluing the fox's mouth shut on the way out, having no illusions about the fox's intentions.
  • Frozen (2013): From the moment they meet, Anna shows Prince Hans nothing but kindness and love, and even considers him her One True Love. In fact, both share their similar backgrounds of older siblings ignoring them and even quickly agree to a Fourth-Date Marriage despite meeting each other on the same day, something which they get called on. It doesn't stop his plot to seize control of Arendelle by faking his romance with Anna and doesn't soften his attitude towards her — in fact, when he reveals histrue colors, he cruelly mocks her for quickly agreeing to marry him "just like that," which made his plan easier than expected. It briefly left her despondent, but Anna realizes there are others (Olaf and Kristoff) who still care for her. Hans has been confirmed to be a "frozen-hearted" man and a subversion of the classical Prince Charming Disney is known for. Also, Hans is later revealed to be Anna's Evil Counterpart, Foil, and Shadow Archetype, as while she manages to reconcile with Elsa after 13 years of separation and retains her optimism, he remains bitter against his 12 brothers and makes it clear to Anna that he will never reconcile with them.
  • Kung Fu Panda 3 has this in the villain's backstory. Kai and Master Oogway were old friends who went into battle together as warlords of Ancient China. Oogway was injured in battle and Kai carried him for days looking for help. They came across a village of pandas who saved Oogway's life using chi techniques the world had never seen before. Kai's reaction to them helping his friend, for sharing their secret arts out of the goodness of their hearts? Try and kill them all and steal their power for himself. Thankfully, Oogway stopped him, but he managed to come back from the dead hundreds of years later to menace China for the "betrayal" from Oogway.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: During the first stage of the Duplo Invasion, Emmet built a LEGO heart that he gave to the Duplo aliens as a peace-offering...only to have them smash it, swallow the pieces, and then start destroying the city. Turns out that the aliens actually were trying to make peace in the only way they knew how, because Bianca thought a game based on breaking things was the only one Finn would enjoy.
  • The Lion King (1994): Mufasa learns the hard way that being nice to an Obviously Evil sibling, who was scheming right behind his back, isn't going to change his heart. And not even entirely behind his back. Scar all but announces on the day of Simba's presentation that he hates the new cub, wants the throne, that Mufasa should beware of him, and that he won't attempt to seize it by challenging him directly.
  • In Toy Story 3, Buzz and Woody risk their lives to save Lotso from the dump shredder, even though he had previously tried to kill them. Then, at the dump incinerator a few minutes later, it's Lotso's turn to repay the favor. Instead, he leaves Buzz, Woody, and all the toys to burn to death. Unfortunately for Lotso, karma makes sure he pays for the act by a garbage man, who finds him and attaches him to the grille of his truck.
  • Zootopia: Subverted. While it appears at first that Nick Wilde is the traditional sly, untrustworthy fox when he takes advantage of Judy Hopps' naivete to pull her into his pawpsicle hustle and later delivers a solid Break Them by Talking speech to her, over the course of the film, it's revealed that Nick was originally as idealistic as Judy until a childhood trauma caused him to live up to the stereotype that society had about foxes. His character development arc reveals that his kind and idealistic side still exists, it was just buried and Judy's faith in him helps that resurface. At the end Nick abandons his con-mammal ways and joins Judy as a police officer in the ZPD.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 1917, Blake rescuing a German from a burning plane only results in his own death.
  • Barbarian: Tess goes against Andre's advice to save herself and returns to the house in an effort to rescue AJ. He repays her by accidentally shooting her and then intentionally throwing her off a water tower.
  • Batman Forever: There's a scene where Robin saves Two-Face from falling to certain death and he gets rewarded by having a gun pointed at his face and used as a hostage.
    Two-Face: The Bat's taught you well. Noble. (pulls his gun) Stupid, but noble.
  • The Crying Game: When a British soldier is taken hostage by Irish Republican Army terrorists, he tells his guard the story of the Scorpion and the Frog, using it in reverse to suggest that his guard is not a killer and cannot escape his nature as a good man.
  • The Devil's Carnival, which overtly bases chapters of the story on Aesop's Fables, uses the Scorpion and the Frog story in several ways. First, one of the female leads dies during a fight with her abusive boyfriend. Once in Hell, she comes across a hoodlum locked in jail and kindly returns his knife so he can use it to pick the lock and get free. Once freed he convinces her to take part in his "knife-throwing act", where he sings a song mocking her before throwing a dagger into her heart. Finally, the story is summarized in a second, innuendo-heavy song about a trusting young frog falling for the "prick" of a scorpion's tail.
  • Dogman: In spite of the fact that Simone's death would solve a lot of Marcello's problems, Marcello won't take a side on the discussion of whether to have the brutal bully killed. Soon afterward, Marcello can't help but save Simone's life twice. The next time we see them together, however, Simone abuses Marcello worse than ever before.
  • Dragonheart began when Prince Ainen's life was saved after he was given half a dragon's heart. He recovered but he turned into a tyrant. Years later his mother told him saving him was the worst mistake she ever made.
  • Eastern Condors have the titular commandoes taking on various Vietcong during the base escape, and one of the managed to pin down a random young Vietcong, only to realize in horror that is a Child Soldier, barely 7 years of age. The commando decides to let the child go, and the child (a Tyke Bomb who's seen playing Russian Roulette with some captured prisoners early on) repays his kindness by pulling out a concealed knife and stabbing the commando fatally in the guts.
  • In the film Flesh And Bone 1993, a starved and abused boy is discovered by a kind family. They take him into their home for the night to care for. When they go to sleep, the boy lets in his father (James Caan), who then proceeds to kill the whole family before robbing the house. This is a ploy the father and son had repeated many times before and since, till the boy was able to live on his own.
  • Gamera vs. Barugon: During their treasure-hunting expedition, Onodera gets caught in quicksand, but his life is saved by Keisuke and Kawajiri. Onodera repays their kindness by intentionally causing a cave-in and leaving them for dead once they find the treasure, so he won't have to share the spoils.
  • GoldenEye: 007 once considered 006/Alec Trevelyan his best friend and comrade-in-arms, and even mourned his supposed death during their mission to destroy the Arkhangelsk chemical weapons facility in Russia. But when Trevelyan reveals that he not only survived the explosion but is also the true Big Bad, Bond's reaction changes to one of raw anger and shock. Trevelyan even laces his Breaking Speeches to 007 with derision, pointing out his Fatal Flaw for women, whether he has any qualms killing people, his loyalty to England, and even his skills as an agent. Near the end, Trevelyan even tries to kill Bond near the climax.
  • The documentary Grizzly Man concerns a real-life case of this: Animal activist Timothy Treadwell was pretty much in love with bears; he insisted and believed that he was protecting the bears from humans and believed that he had a strong bond with the predators to a point of pacifism towards them. His pacifism towards them led to the deaths of him and his girlfriend when he refused to set up security measures in his camp, allowing an aggressive grizzly to enter it and kill them.
  • Halloween:
    • In the opening scene of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Michael is nursed back to health by a hermit after falling down a mineshaft and being shot repeatedly by local authorities. Then, a year later, he wakes up from a coma and murders the hermit.
    • In the 2007 remake, when Michael escapes the institution, the only security guard who showed him compassion and kindness throughout his fifteen-year incarceration is given an extremely brutal and over-the-top murder: tossed around like a ragdoll, head dunked in sink four times, and finally head squashed by thrown TV. In contrast, the other guards, most of whom bullied and demeaned him, are typically stabbed or neck snapped.
  • A Zig-Zagging Trope in the 2000 live-action adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Here, the Grinch is a green-furred baby who is persecuted throughout his childhood and finally driven out of Whoville and up to the isolation of Mount Crumpet, where he grows to maturity. Cindy Lou Who becomes convinced that the Grinch is not completely evil and urges the townspeople to include him in their Christmas festivities. Not only are the Whos unreceptive to this idea at first, but the Grinch himself has become so misanthropic that he does not want to be treated kindly anymore. Cindy at length gets both sides to change their minds, and the Grinch is made the guest of honor at the Whoville Christmas festival - a position he does not enjoy. Even so, the Whos shower him with kindness and the Grinch grudgingly plays along... until the time of the gift exchange comes and he is awarded a "gag gift" of a razor - an object that was a Trauma Button for him because as a boy he had been mocked by the other children for his green whiskers, and when he tried to shave them off he succeeded only in cutting himself and getting mocked for that (led by the very person who would later gift him the razor, no less); this was the final injustice that drove the Grinch to flee from civilization. His temper boiling over, the Grinch lectures all the Whos about their hypocritical attitude toward Christmas before setting fire to the Christmas tree in the town square and fleeing the scene. But when he discovers that the Whos had a spare tree to continue the festivities, he becomes even more filled with hatred and finally embarks on his mission to steal all the townspeople's presents.
  • The Shaw Brothers film, The Iron Buddha, has this as the backstory of it's Villain Protagonist, Xiao Tian-zhun, a former rapist and murderer who after being captured red-handed by a martial arts master, pleads that he will turn over a new leaf if he was accepted as a student. The benevolent master complies. Three years later, Xiao Tian-zhun had graduated from the Master's school as one of the top students, at which point he reveals he never have any intentions to reform whatsoever, deliberately hunting down his former schoolmates, killing all of them, then maiming his master and raping the master's daughter while said master is Forced to Watch, before delivering a Death of a Thousand Cuts by hacking his former master at least 40 times to death.
  • The British humor film Keeping Mum has what might be considered a (on the whole) well-meaning (though definitely not good) snake. Grace, the new housekeeper (who happens to be an elderly released murderess) becomes genuinely grateful that the family she has moved in with is happy and grateful she's come, particularly Walter (aka. Mr. Bean). Compounded with her being Gloria's mother, she decides to help the family and goes about being a decidedly murderous Mary Poppins to the Goodfellow family. First killing a dog that kept Gloria up, then the owner when he snooped, and finally Gloria's peeping tom paramour because he was causing Gloria to destabilize the family. All in all, she did the family a world of good, however she may well have unlocked her daughter's murderous side.
  • In The Lone Ranger Tonto's backstory involves him finding and rescuing Cole and Cavendish from the desert. After being nursed back to health, they proceeded to slaughter his tribe to keep the silver mine a secret.
  • In The Coen Brothers film Miller's Crossing, Tom is supposed to take Bernie into the woods and kill him for grifting the wrong mobster, but Bernie's constant pleading and weeping convinces Tom to take pity on him and lets him go. Shortly thereafter, Bernie shows up at Tom's home and proceeds to blackmail him by threatening to walk around in public and expose the fact that Tom lied about killing him. While pleading, Bernie even makes the argument that he shouldn't have to die for grifting, because "I see an angle, I take it," somewhat paraphrasing the Scorpion's excuse, "It's my nature." Tom doesn't repeat his mistake.
  • In the backstory of MirrorMask, the Queen of Light took in the Evil Princess, who repaid her kindness by stealing the charm that kept the Queen and the realm alive.
  • Subverted in Natural Born Killers where an old Native American takes in Mickey and Mallory, who unbeknownst to him are brutal Serial Killers. While the old man recites the Scorpion and The Frog variant of the story, Mickey shoots him accidentally after waking up from a nightmare, and Mallory gets pissed at him for killing a Nice Guy who did nothing to earn their wrath.
  • In The Patriot (2000), the rebels (who've had great success ambushing British convoys) agree to stop slaughtering surrendering British soldiers. The first time they try out this new honourable approach, they promptly get counter-ambushed by the British troops and killed or captured almost to a man. They swiftly go back to killing any redcoat on sight.
  • In Prayer Of The Rollerboys, Griffin saves the life of an old friend's second-in-command, which earns him entry into the friends' gang. The rescued rollerboy thanks Griffin by spending the rest of the film trying to turn the gang leader against him. Even lampshaded during the film itself.
  • Shenandoah: A Dangerous Deserter arrives on the farm and impales James with a sword seconds after James generously tells him he's welcome to all the water he can drink and carry.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home has two examples, both revolving around the Green Goblin.
    • Aunt May convinces Peter to not go through with sending the supervillains back home without curing them, which would condemn them to die, after she meets Norman Osborn. Green Goblin(admittedly distinct from Norman) thanks her by killing her in order to drive Peter to villainy.
    • Raimi-verse Peter saves Green Goblin's life by stopping an enraged MCU Peter from impaling him on his own glider. Green Goblin immediately and literally stabs him in the back.
  • At the beginning of The Stepfather III, a rejected medical doctor gives the titular character face change surgery, only for the Stepfather to kill him after the surgery was done and after he stayed rent-free in the doctor's house until he was healed.
  • Superman II: Near the end, Superman asks Lex Luthor to help him trick Zod, Ursa, and Nod into depowering themselves by getting him into a chamber that would take away their powers. Lex immediately informs Zod to get back into his good graces, despite Zod having turned on him earlier, and Zod promises to give him the Shiny New Australia he was asking for all along, Superman is forced into the chamber instead. Unfortunately for Lex and Zod, Superman counted on Lex doing exactly that, knowing that Lex was a Smug Snake with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder who couldn't help himself, and had rigged the chamber so that it worked in reverse- Superman was protected while inside the chamber, but Zod and his minions lost their powers because they weren't, leaving Superman the only one with powers again.
  • In The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Abu, while stranded on a deserted beach, discovers a bottle. Opening the bottle, he unleashes a huge genie, who because of his imprisonment grew to hate those who lived free and swore to kill his liberator. Abu tricked the genie into returning to his bottle and threatened to toss him into the sea. The genie was then able to regain his freedom by granting Abu three wishes.
  • True Legend (2010): The movie's Big Bad is the adoptive half-brother of The Hero but was treated with love and respect by the adoptive father like a biological son. When The Hero has a chance of promotion, he relinquishes his position as governor for his half-brother to make amends for their fathers' wars in the past. Refusing to let go of a grudge, he proceeds to kill his adoptive father, arrange for his adoptive family to be massacred, and tries to kill The Hero for daring to show any compassion towards him.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes: Caesar spares a small group of the Colonel's soldiers early in the film in a bid for peace. Not only is there no attempt at peace, one of the soldiers he spared ends up shooting him in the final battle, which ultimately proves to be a fatal injury.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class: Charles Xavier believed that he could help the emotionally damaged Erik Lehnsherr find some measure of peace and happiness by offering the latter friendship and a home, but Erik repays Charles' kindness with betrayal, abandonment, and a permanent (if accidental) spinal cord injury.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: 1973 Magneto's sole contribution to the venture is to derail things the moment he sees a chance to advance his cause at the expense of everyone else. As the endings of First Class and X2 show, this is something of a habit for him.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: It all comes back to Erik in the end, when in the third movie, having gone into hiding and adopted a civilian lifestyle as a steel mill worker, Erik had to secretly use his powers once to save a co-worker from getting crushed to death. His co-workers repay him by reporting Erik to the authorities and exposing him as a mutant, resulting in a team of police officers sent to arrest Erik accidentally killing Erik's wife and daughter in the process.

  • Animorphs:
    • It's revealed that a case of this is what turned the Yeerks into the Galactic Conquerors they are. On an expedition to the Yeerk homeworld, the Andalite Prince Seerow felt sorry for the Yeerks, who were fully sentient, but limited by the need for their hosts and Kandrona rays. Thus, he gave them access to Andalite technology and taught them writing, science, astronomy, and even how to build their own portable Kandrona generators. The Yeerks thanked Seerow by betraying him, escaping into space, and enslaving multiple races and civilizations to use as host bodies. It's because of this that the Andalites created a law, aptly titled "Seerow's Kindness," that expressly forbade any Andalites from sharing their technology and secrets with non-Andalites.
    • Of course, the series takes the view that the Andalites learned the wrong lesson from Seerow's mistake. The Animorphs are only able to fight back against the Yeerks because an Andalite illegally gave them morphing technology, the Hork-bajir could have been protected from the Yeerks if the Andalites were more willing to arm them, and the Taxxons are ultimately convinced to turn on the Yeerks by giving them morphing technology — a deal that the Andalites almost ruin by rejecting it out of hand. To some extent this even occurs with some of the Yeerks themselves, as Cassie letting them acquire the morphing cube causes many Yeerks to desert the army as they no longer need to capture hosts when they can morph a body of their own.
  • In Ava XOX, a children's book targeted towards middle-grade audiences, the main character Ava often reads Aesop's fables and is disturbed by this one, noting that its moral, which seems to be that "no good deed goes unpunished," is actually the opposite of another Aesop's fable, The Lion and the Mouse.
  • The Calf Of The November Cloud: Konyek and Parmet are taking care of their families' cattle when the herd is attacked by a lion. Konyek attempts to protect his father's animals whereas his cousin runs away. Later, when telling their family the incident, Konyek leaves Parmet's cowardice out, despite knowing that his cousin hates him since he doesn't wish Parmet to be humiliated and mocked by their tribe. Even so, Parmet kept hating Konyek, and he abandoned his cousin the next time that Konyek was badly injured while protecting his livestock.
  • In the The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids Copper-Colored Cupids short story The Resurrection of the Wellsians, the alchemist Mandragora revives six hibernating Martians, only for them to (try to) kill him as soon as it suits them.
    Mandragora: Have pity! I gave you life!
    Wellsian: You did give us life. And see how we repay you. Now, Master, we give you death!
  • The Death Gate Cycle uses this as a subversion of Love Redeems.
  • The Doctor Who book Autumn Mist, set during the Second World War, has one at the end. Garcia, a young medic who has assisted the Doctor throughout the adventure, decides to treat injured soldiers on both sides because he just wants to save lives. The first German he treats uses his dying strength to stab him with his bayonet, killing him.
  • The Dresden Files discusses and invokes this trope interestingly by proposing that, just like an evil nature simply doesn't go away, you can also count on a good person to do the right thing even when it's against their best interest. In Summer Knight the protagonist gets himself beholden to Queen Mab, the wicked ruler of the Winter Court of the Fae, and they agree to settle his debt by him performing three tasks for her, albeit while retaining the right to veto any one task on principle. After Mab gives him his first assignment and turns to leave, Harry incredulously asks her what makes her believe he will accept it and she tells him the story of the "Fox and Scorpion" and assures him "You will accept this case, wizard. It is what you are. It is your nature." By the end of the book, she's proved completely correct; in the process of fulfilling his task, he discovers a much larger plot, one that any rational person would admit it's way above his weight class for him to get involved, but Harry — being Harry — couldn't help himself but go beyond what he was obligated to do and try to save the day. Just like Mab expected him to.
  • The villain Achilles from the Ender's Shadow series has a pathological need to kill anyone who has ever seen him helpless — including but not limited to a girl who lifted him from low-ranking thug to leader of a prosperous gang, a nun who got him off the streets entirely and enrolled him in a good school, and a doctor who dared use anesthesia to help fix his bad leg.
  • An interesting inversion takes place in The Executioner. One-Man Army Mack Bolan sets off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge when his family dies in a murder/suicide indirectly caused by Mafia loan sharks. A faction of the New York Mafia Commission, pointing out that their own organisation was created when former enemies made peace, suggest offering Bolan a deal in which he would now work for them. A rival faction is opposed, with one mob boss who's missing several fingers mentioning a pet alligator he tried to raise as an allegory. Although an undercover Fed urges Bolan to take the deal he rejects it, saying he can't let the Mafia even think that they've won.
  • In The Faerie Queene, Sir Guyon releases Occasion and Furor at Pyrrochles' request, but as soon as he does, Furor starts to savagely beat Pyrrochles and Ocassion encourages everyone to get more and more violent. Guyon tries to intervene and capture Furor and Ocassion, but the wise Palmer advises him that Pyrrochles would only release the two captors again and that his pity is in vain. Allegorically, this represents the need to completely avoid moments of temptation and anger, since engaging with them only leads to more pain.
  • Aristophanes quotes Aeschylus in The Frogs as saying: "Best not to rear a lion's cub in the City, but if you do, its ways must then be served."
  • There's a variant with an interesting twist in a chapter header in the Girl Genius novelization Agatha H. and the Clockwork PrincessEmperor Scientist Baron Wulfenbach takes in vipers all the freaking time, as most of his enemies are crazy and/or evil and he wants some vague semblance of peace. In truth, he was wearing armor under his coat, and announced that the snake construct that was trying to change its nature and didn't bite him would be permitted to live.
    One day the Baron was out a-walking, when by the side of the road, he found two injured constructs.
    They possessed the faces and torsos of beautiful women and the bodies of deadly serpents.
    "Help us, kind sir," the creatures begged.
    "Of course," said the Baron. He took them to his castle, and patiently nursed them back to health.
    And when they were both once again sleek and strong, the first one bit him with her deadly, poisonous fangs.
    "Why did you do that?" screamed the second construct. "He helped us!"
    The first construct shrugged. "He shouldn't be surprised. He knew we were monsters when he took us in."
    "But we don't have to act like monsters," said the second. "I have chosen not to!"
    "And that," said the Baron to the second construct as he revealed the armor beneath his clothing and drew forth his terrible sword, "Is why you will live."
  • Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi: Xiao Xingchen saves an injured man's life. Unfortunately, the injured man is Xue Yang. When he recovers, he tricks Xiao Xingchen into murdering people, including his own best friend. After Xiao Xingchen finds out, he's so horrified he kills himself.
  • In the fourth book of Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Simon the brown fish owl saves Kludd from death by drowning/having his face melt, nursing him back to health. As a pilgrim from the Glauxian brothers, it's his duty to help those in need, and he helps this murderous owl out of compassion, even catching mice and voles while he's used to catching mostly fish. Sadly, the very ungrateful Kludd murders Simon as soon as he's well enough to leave.
  • Discussed in the novel Hannibal. Barney, Hannibal Lecter's primary handler during his incarceration at the asylum, defies any notion that he fraternized with Lecter. According to Barney, Lecter is nobody's friend. Lecter was civil with Barney, genuinely thanked him for treating him decently, and sent him a generous tip after his escape. Despite that, Barney had no delusions regarding Lecter's nature—at the end of the book, when he spots Lecter and Starling at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, he hauls ass out of town that very same night, knowing full well that Lecter wouldn't hesitate to kill him in order to ensure his freedom. Jack Crawford gives Clarice Starling a similar warning after Lecter's escape. In the end, Clarice decides to rescue Lecter from being tortured to death, and in return Lecter brainwashes her with hypnosis and drugs in an attempt to reprogram her with the personality of his dead sister. Clarice is able to resist total Loss of Identity but still ends up with memories removed and a radical change in personality.
  • Maps in a Mirror: Orson Scott Card used something similar in his story "The Princess and the Bear". Having attempted to redeem the Evil Prince, the princess gives up on him and lets the Bear kill him. It ought to be mentioned that the prince and the princess follow the standard cycle of an abusive relationship.
  • Referenced in ''Mara, Daughter of the Nile". "I plucked a lily from the gutter and it has turned into a viper in my hands." From Sheftu's perspective, he aided a fugitive slave girl and gave her a purpose and a future (and also fell in love with her)—only for her to turn around and betray him to the Queen. (Mara's side of the story is a little different).
  • Market of Monsters starts with Nita deciding to risk her mother's wrath and free her captive Fabricio rather than let her mother slowly kill him and sell his body parts on the titular market. She gets him out of the house, gives him her phone, and puts him on a bus to safety. Fabricio uses her phone to out her as an unnatural and sell her location to black market traffickers, leading to her capture and a living nightmare that lasts almost the entire first book.
  • Les Misérables:
    • Jean Valjean is taken in by the priest when no one else will after being paroled following nineteen terrible years in prison. Valjean assaults the priest and steals his silver in the night, but while escaping, he is caught by the police as a suspicious character. The priest tells the police that he gave Valjean the silver and lets him go. This second act of kindness actually changes Valjean's nature, as he strives to be good in return for this following act of compassion. It's shown that being put in prison had thoroughly corrupted him in the first place. His crime was stealing bread to feed his sister's children, for which he got five years, with the sentence extended for every time he escaped.
    • This trope is ultimately the reason Javert chooses to commit suicide. Valjean is a wanted criminal, so legally the only thing to do would be arresting him (something which Valjean has promised, by that point, not to fight). Thing is, Valjean also just saved Javert's life at the barricades, so Javert cannot, in good conscience, betray him like that. The only solution Javier can think of is to remove himself from the problem by killing himself.
  • If any lesson is to be taken from Otherland, it's this: never date anyone whose last name is Dread. And who likes to be addressed as "More Dread." And whose idea of romancing you is setting a priest on fire for your amusement...
  • Redwall:
    • Veil Sixclaw repaid the Abbeydwellers for saving him by attempting to poison one of them. Then again, they may have saved his life but even before he attempted to kill them they always treated him as if he was going to anyway. His foster-mother Bryony, the only one who trusted him, considered this as a Freudian Excuse, but it didn't help. Worse yet, even at the end of the book and his life, he himself feels like he is evil or just born bad, even though he saved Bryony, sacrificing himself to do that. It's also notable for being one of the few books where Redwallians are portrayed in a less-than-sterling light. They're good in themselves here, but their actions toward Veil are ambiguous at best, just as he is ambiguously good or evil. Bryony also seems very uncertain about him even afterward, and both seem to think she should have let him go long before.
    • This trope also applies to Chickenhound of Redwall, who is kindly taken in by the Abbeydwellers after they find him lying muddy, bloody, and unconscious in the middle of the road. He repays the gesture by stealing a bunch of random trinkets and killing Methuselah, although in his defense the latter was mostly an accident. About the only thing he does do that's him being nice to the Redwallers is tell them about Cluny's plans to tunnel into the Abbey, which turns out to be incredibly useful, but wasn't entirely altruistic on his part.
    • Any vermin Redwallers ever take in or help fit this trope. Salamandastron has Dingeye and Thura, who eventually kill Brother Hal and then flee the Abbey, stealing Martin the Warrior's sword and infecting the place with Dryditch Fever in the process. Hal's death was accidental and the Dryditch Fever was inadvertent, but the sword stealing was their decision, albeit while in a state of panic. The Bellmaker has the Redwallers take in two wandering corsairs, a captain and his Minion with an F in Evil. The captain ends up killing Mother Mellus and stealing a trophy cup, but the trope is inverted when the minion ends up killing ''him'' and returning the cup to the Redwallers, whereupon he becomes a good friend of theirs and is allowed back to the Abbey for visits.
  • The Regeneration Trilogy: In The Eye In The Door, the "viper" character tells this fable to the "farmer" character in order to explain his actions.
  • Combined with Ungrateful Townsfolk in Reincarnated As A Virus, the protagonist experiences this first hand from the entire world! Having done many charitable deeds without asking for a reward, Moss is given [The Saint] title, but the moment he's in trouble, framed by the gods for crimes he didn't commit, everyone from the lowest commoner to the king of his nation angrily agrees with the accusation, with no-onscreen evidence, condemn and execute him, then riot and loot his home for everything of value, destroying everything else, but it doesn't end there. In the afterlife, even the gods refuse to heed his side of the story, save the god of Life who is literally ripped apart before his eyes, and when he finds himself being judged by the god of death, even death mocks him as an unrepentant liar and, unable to banish him to oblivion, shoves his consciousness into a virus to force him to atone for unleashing plagues, the charge of which he's falsely convicted.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, Tal asks Nakor how he can swear an oath to serve the evil Duke Kaspar, who wiped out his people, as part of a ploy by the good guys to spy on him. Nakor tells him the "scorpion and the frog" version of the story and explains that he won't have to break his oath to Kaspar, because it's in Kaspar's nature to betray him first, which would render Tal's oath void. Sure enough, Kaspar turns on Tal and sends him to rot in The Alcatraz, leaving him free to enact his revenge.
  • Secret Histories: Penny strikes up a romance with the immortal Serial Killer Mr. Stab in the belief that he can be redeemed, even though everyone, including Mr. Stab himself, warns her that he can't. He stabs her to death, though it's ambiguous whether it's by choice or he's genuinely compelled to murder by the pact that fuels his immortality.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • A young Catelyn Tully saved her friend and admirer Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish from being killed by Brandon Stark in a duel for her hand. Years later, he would repay her by betraying her husband Ned Stark and causing his death as well as her own. It is, however, implied her plea for Littlefinger's life came off as belittling to his character.
    • House Hollard was all but wiped out by The Mad King had it not been for Ser Barristan Selmy's plea to spare a young Dontos. Years later, Dontos would help Sansa Stark escape to the Vale, only to be killed by Petyr Baelish, who said he was going to sell her out to the Lannisters once the money to pay him off had been spent.
    • The Tyrells had been opponents of the Baratheons during Robert's Rebellion but bent the knee when the Targaryens fell. They weren't punished (but they weren't allowed at court), and Renly was even fostered at Highgarden. They repaid the Baratheons by corrupting Renly into trying to take the throne, leading to his death. They then allied with the Lannisters to defeat Stannis Baratheon at Blackwater Bay.
    • House Bolton, (whose standard is a man being flayed alive), has apparently been the Viper for the Starks and the North in general for generations with it surviving by keeping its more heinous acts mostly quiet and relegated to mere rumor. By the time of the War of the Five Kings, the current head Roose Bolton is given a prominent command by Robb Stark, and immediately starts sabotaging his allies by sacrificing more loyal soldiers in battles and making secret overtures to their Lannister enemies. It all culminates in the Red Wedding that sees Roose Bolton conspire to murder Robb and several heads of Northern Houses, in order to gain control of the North with the Lannisters' blessing. Though notably, later in the series, this earns House Bolton the hatred of all the North who no longer tolerate them and are ready to kill them off for good.
    • Roose Bolton's legitimate son, Domeric, was ecstatic upon finding out that he had a half-brother, not caring that he was a bastard, and decided to visit him so they could form a relationship. Unfortunately, said half-brother was Ramsay Snow, who quickly killed Domeric so he could take his place as heir to the Boltons.
    • Daenerys Targaryen saves Mirri Maz Duur from being raped by Drogo's khalasar after the destruction of the village. Mirri repays this by tricking her into making a deal that kills off her unborn son in exchange for resurrecting her dying husband into a vegetative state. When Daenerys demands answers for this, Mirri says that she had experienced horrors during her village's destruction and wanted to take revenge against Drogo and anyone associated with him. Daenerys saving her doesn't change the fact that she is his wife, meaning she is a prime target.
    • Catelyn fears that Jon Snow is going to be this, thinking that a noble upbringing, instead of that of a bastard, would go to his head, leading him to take over his legitimate siblings' inheritance as a Stark. Fortunately, Jon inherits his father's honor and has nothing but respect for all of his siblings. He even refuses to become the Lord of Winterfell after his brothers have all (seemingly) died because his sister Sansa is still alive.
  • Spinning Silver: When a human family found one of the Staryk Fair Folk badly wounded and nursed him back to health, he immediately murdered them all, dying in the process. It's later explained as Deliberate Values Dissonance: the Staryk are bound to repay all debts, so saving one's life without negotiating a price beforehand is effectively claiming them as an eternal slave, a Fate Worse than Death for them.
  • In Esprit de Corpse 5.13 in Twig a soldier takes pity on the Lambs (Sy, Mary, and Gordon) and doesn't kill them when he has the chance and instead takes them to a doctor to be healed despite likely having direct orders to do so. How do the Lambs reward such kindness? The moment Sy's confirmed okay the Lambs murder him, the doctor, and another soldier in the room before making a break for it.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles, Claudia hunts by posing as a lost waif, then draining any good Samaritan who tries to help her. Lestat also plays the viper in The Tale of the Body Thief when, while trapped in the body of an impoverished human, he rapes a waitress who feeds him.
  • Warrior Cats: ThunderClan decides to be compassionate to Brokenstar on account of his becoming blind and being the son of their medicine cat by taking him in as an elder, despite the fact that he's a murderous and insane cat who tried to raid their camp several times and caused the deaths of quite a few of their number. He thanks the Clan by conspiring with Tigerclaw to kill their leader Bluestar (which fails), after which his mother decides he's irredeemable and kills him herself.
  • Who Is The Prey: At the start of the story, He Yan stops to help someone she thinks is in danger, only to end up nearly being raped and killed. She kills her attacker in self-defense.
  • In the second book in The Wolf Chronicles, Kaala has a chance to kill DavRian, the human who's been nothing but trouble and a danger to the wolves for the whole book: he'd fallen down a hill and gotten pinned by debris on the edge of a cliff, and all Kaala would need to do is push him and Make It Look Like an Accident. When the opportunity is offered, she refuses because it would go against the Promise and it's just wrong. He repays her by killing TaLi's grandmother and framing the wolves for it.
  • In Wuthering Heights Nelly Dean comes close to invoking this when she says that Heathcliff was "harbored by a good man to his bane," implying that Mr. Earnshaw inadvertently ruined his family by taking pity on a homeless orphan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of 24, a neighbor helps a character played by Kal Penn from being attacked by people who target him for his race, unfairly assuming he's a terrorist. Later, it turns out that he actually is, and he kidnaps the neighbor and his family.
  • Angel:
    • In "Disharmony", even after finding out that Harmony has become a vampire, Cordelia insists on giving her a fair chance, blowing off Angel's warnings that Harmony will eventually turn on her. He's proven right when Harmony betrays the team to the vampire cult she was supposed to be helping them investigate.
    • In the season 3 episode "Offspring", Angel's sire/ex-lover Darla shows up at the hotel, visibly pregnant. Seeing Darla's pain over her pregnancy, Cordelia throws Angel out of her room and tries to comfort her, to which Darla responds by covering Cordelia's mouth so she can't scream and bite her neck. Cordelia is only saved by Angel making a Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind. After Darla's escape, Cordelia apologizes to Angel, remarking that she let Darla's condition cloud her better judgment and forgot that pregnant or not, Darla is still a dangerous vampire.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week Bad to the Bone is an adolescent version of all those Film Noir capers featuring a (mostly) good man and an evil woman. A teenage girl wants her rich boyfriend dead so that she can get all his money, so she lies to her brother that the boyfriend is abusing her. The brother shoots the boyfriend dead in an alley, and soon afterward both brother and sister are arrested on suspicion of the murder. The brother makes clear early on that he is willing to take all the blame for the murder in order to save his sister from life imprisonment, or possibly even execution. The sister repays him by making bail and disappearing two weeks before the trial even begins, leaving her brother to stew in his jail cell while she's living the high life with various other gullible boy toys. (Even then, the brother refuses to testify against his sister at his trial, and it takes him until almost the end of the movie before he realizes what a patsy he's been.) At one point we see the bad girl telling her "life story" to one of the rich male companions she's snagged (she's concocted a Multiple-Choice Past to go with the false identity she's assumed), and she says that she had a brother once, but he died!
  • Better Call Saul: After surviving an assassination attempt by a group of hired mercenaries, Lalo stumbles into the home of a nearby civilian couple, who had been his friends for years, who help patch up his wounds and offer him breakfast. Lalo then kills them both, the husband to use as a body double so that the people who wanted him dead will think they were successful (with Lalo burning the body to disguise discrepancies in their appearance and ensuring their dental records are the same), and the wife just to eliminate any witnesses to his survival.
  • In Being Human, after the resurrected, amnesiac villain Herrick gets his memories back, he considers killing Nina as revenge on George for killing him, then he changes his mind as she was the only one of the main characters who showed him any kindness while he was in their care. Just when it looks like this trope is going to be subverted, however, he decides "But then everyone would think I was going soft" and stabs her. She's pregnant, by the way.
  • The Bill: An elderly bank robber is caught in the act, and when asked why he'd risk the long prison sentence at his age relates the story. The episode ends with him saying "I'm a scorpion." (i.e. It's my nature).
  • Breaking Bad:
    • In the opening of "Mandala", Combo is on a street corner trying to sell some of the sky-blue meth, when he senses two rival drug dealers watching him are likely about to start some trouble. A little kid on a bicycle is circling around Combo as he's calling Skinny Pete for back up, and he warns the kid to get out of the area. Then, it turns out the kid was actually an underling of the two drug dealers staring him down and shoots Combo to death.
    • In "Half Measures", Mike relays a story to Walt from back when he was a cop. There was a repeated case involving an horribly abusive alcoholic who would beat his wife senseless every time he got drunk. The wife was terrified of him and always refused to press charges, but Mike eventually got sick of the whole situation, drove the scumbag out into the desert, held a gun to his mouth, made a show of force as though he was going to kill him, and warned him never to touch her again or he wouldn't be so merciful next time. The man screamed and cried and crapped his pants, swearing he was never going to hit her again, but of course he almost immediately recants upon being released and beats his wife to death only two weeks later, and with incredible brutality at that. Mike interpreted the experience as a personal lesson: he should've done a "full measure" instead of just doing a "half measure".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy goes out of her way to be kind and welcoming to Faith, and even tries to help her after her Start of Darkness... and Faith thanks her by repeatedly trying to kill her or simply ruin her life. By the Angel episode "Sanctuary", Buffy is finally sick of it, refuses to accept Faith's Heel Realization, and fully intends to send her to prison.
  • In the Cold Case episode "The Badlands", a young man let's his junkie brother into the restaurant where he works after hours when the latter shows up begging for something to eat, despite the argument they had earlier that evening. He promptly tries to rob the place and when his brother and the owners angrily confront him, he kills them all.
  • Creeped Out has an episode in which two boys befriend an alien who has crash-landed on earth and try to help him return home; only to find he was actually sent there as a scout for an invasion. The alien points out that he never claimed to be a harmless kid (they just assumed he was), and the closing narration implies the boys should have known better than to blindly trust him.
  • The Daleks in Doctor Who. If someone holds a Dalek's life in their hands, the Dalek will always beg for mercy. As soon as you give them the chance though, they'll exterminate you without a second thought.
  • Elementary: Sherlock takes in Cassie Lenue, a teenage con artist, and tries to help her change her ways. She responds by trying to blackmail a suspect in the murder that he was helping her investigate out of two million dollars. She was actually trying to help catch the murderer. She blackmailed the suspect to bait him into a trap.
  • Firefly:
    • In the pilot episode, after he accidentally shoots Kaylee, Lawrence Dobson is protected from Mal and Jayne's retribution by Shepherd Book. When Dobson makes his escape, the very first thing he does is attack Shepherd Book and beat him unconscious in a fit of rage.
    • "The Train Job" has the moment when Mal spares one of Niska's goons and hands him the money they were paid for the job they didn't do. Instead, the guy threatens him so Mal kicks him into a turbine.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Played with Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Daxos is taken in by the city-state of Qarth (which is usually closed to outsiders) and proceeds to work his way up to a position of leadership- at which point, he has the other leaders killed and declares himself king. However, Daxos attributes his treachery to his love of Qarth- he agrees with the slain leaders that it is a great city but feels that it will grow stagnant if allowed to continue to be isolated from the rest of the world under their leadership.
    • Played straight in "Breaker of Chains". Arya and the Hound are given food and shelter by a kindly farmer and his daughter, who tells the Hound that he has silver to pay him to stay as a laborer and protector should he choose. Instead, the Hound robs the man the next day. When a furious Arya calls him out on this, he replies that kindly weak folk like them won't survive the winter, so there's no point in letting them keep the money when he can use it. In a nice Dramatic Irony, the Hound is later seriously injured and is robbed of the silver by Arya.
    • After quelling the rebellion of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran Martell gives them a second chance, which they promptly use to kill Myrcella Baratheon, Prince Trystane's fiancée. And then they turn on him too.
    • Unlike in the books, Cat becomes aware of Petyr's involvement in Ned's death and wishes she had let Brandon kill him years ago.
  • In an episode of The George Lopez Show, George finds himself desperately wanting praise from his particularly ungrateful mother, Benny. When his wife Angie suggests renovating her run-down bathroom might get him that elusive "thank you," he throws himself into it full-force, fixing up her bathroom until it's showroom-new. Benny walks into the room, looks around, and... tells George the hook on the back of the door for her robe is too high. Later, when Angie is telling George not to be mad at her, he says he's not, saying you can't be mad at the scorpion for stinging you, it's in their nature. Instead, he's mad at Angie, who told him to pick up the scorpion in the first place.
  • In one episode of Gilligan's Island, a hardened criminal came to the island and proceeded to kidnap Mrs. Howell, then Ginger, and then Mary Ann, demanding a ransom for their return each time. (This was one of the few times that chest full of cash Mr. Howell had brought proved useful.) When Mary Ann was released, she told the others that he told her he planned to do the same to the other four, and then start over again, so the Professor set a trap for the criminal, and it worked. As the castaways held the criminal in a makeshift cell while the Professor worked on his ship, Ginger felt sorry for him and asked if she could speak to him, remembering how she once acted in a movie about how a psychiatrist helped a criminal reform. Eventually, the others consented (except the Professor, who had his doubts) and Ginger's amateur therapy seemed to work; for a while, he seemed remorseful and willing to help. Unfortunately, it was an act; at the party they had before they planned to leave, the guy proceeded to steal their jewelry and then escape on his own. That's when Ginger realized that that's how the movie ended.
  • In the The Golden Girls episode "Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket?", the girls go to a homeless shelter to find a jacket with a winning lottery ticket in the pocket. Blanche catches a young man staring at her purse and snaps at him. He claims he just wanted some gum. She apologizes and they end up having a nice chat, but at the end of the conversation, he warns her to keep an eye on her purse—"I didn't want any gum", revealing that despite having grown to like her, he might very well still steal from her.
  • On Gotham, Alfred's army mate Reggie Payne shows up at Wayne Manor on a rainy night. Alfred lets him in and Bruce further extends his hospitality. Having him around puts Alfred on edge and before he leaves he steals files on behalf of the corrupt Wayne Enterprises board and stabs Alfred nearly to death.
  • Grimm: Monroe is captured by an underground gladiator ring. He pulls a nail out of an angry gladiator, much like the Androcles myth. Unfortunately, the gladiator is too far gone to remember anything but pain and violence.
  • Heroes: Due to Sylar's Heel–Face Revolving Door, he's frequently pitied by others who believe that he's turning good, only for him to later reaffirm his villainy and betray them.
  • Two episodes of Highlander: The Series featured an 800-year-old immortal named Kenneth, who is trapped in the body of a 10-year-old boy (Immortals stop aging whenever they are "killed" for the first time). Kenneth's standard procedure is to pretend to be a helpless immortal child who only recently found out he was immortal, and when he's taken in, he waits for an opportune time and kills his protector from behind, stealing their power.
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Scorpion and the Toad", Barney takes newly single Marshall to bars, including one called The Scorpion and the Toad. But every time Marshall gets a girl interested, Barney charms her away and goes home with her instead. Later subverted when it was revealed that Barney flew to San Francisco to convince Lily to get back together with Marshal, so he was actually sabotaging Marshal's attempts at dating so they would reconcile.
  • On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert a snake decries the stereotype of the dangerous viper (only a small percentage of snakes are deadly to humans) and laments he has yet to find a woman that is as affectionate towards snakes as the one in the poem being read on stage.
    Snake: Where are all these ladies that love to kiss snakes? I have not found one!
  • Kamen Rider Outsiders: In episode 4, Tachibana/Kamen Rider Garren immediately obliterates the Ark by unlocking King Form when the alternate Yuto Sakurai/Kamen Rider Zein hesitates after listening to Brain's pleas. With the Ark rendered off the grid, the Zein Driver possesses Yuto, with Zein using Yuto as its mouthpiece as it reveals its true nature to its now-former allies.
  • On LazyTown, oftentimes when Sportacus rescues Robbie Rotten, Robbie's next act is to try to do something else to screw over Sportacus.
  • The Longest Day in Chang'an: Jiao Sui pulls Po Yan out of the river. Po Yan repays him by robbing and killing him.
  • In an episode of MacGyver (1985), the female antagonist is hanging from a ledge. MacGyver is all Take My Hand!, but the woman stabs him, causing him to drop her to her death. Pete tells MacGyver the tale of "The Scorpion and The Frog" to calm him when he questions why she would do that.
  • Discussed in the Masters of Horror episode "Pick Me Up". Near the end, Wheeler (a Serial Killer truck driver) relays to Walker (a Serial Killer hitchhiker) and their mutual victim Stacia the story in the form of a snake and a blonde woman. Walker already knows the punchline because he's heard the "scorpion and the frog" version. The point Wheeler makes is that he knows full well that he picked up another serial killer and expects him to show his true nature. The subversion, of course, is that he's also a serial killer, so it would essentially be a scorpion helping another scorpion.
  • Midnight Caller: Jack's father J. J. tells the story, with himself as the scorpion and Jack as the frog, to explain that it's in his nature to gamble even when it hurts himself and everyone around him.
  • Midsomer Murders, "The House in the Woods": The murderer's twin brother loves him and shields him from justice in the belief that he can't help himself, even to the extent of Taking the Heat. In return, the murderer tries to garrotte him as soon as he stops being a useful scapegoat.
  • In the Millennium episode "Somehow Satan Got Behind Me", a demon starts a relationship with a stripper, who accepts him even though he eventually reveals his true form to her. Just when the demon looks like he's going to make a love confession, he instead dumps her in a humiliating fashion so she's Driven to Suicide and he can claim her soul. He then expresses his contempt for the Puny Earthlings who need to form such connections out of physical and emotional need.
  • Motive: Discussed in "The Scorpion and the Frog" (as might be guessed from the title). Paula wonders what could have happened to make the murderer the way she was. Angie replies that she doesn't think anything happened, it was just her nature; like the fable of the scorpion and the frog. Some people are just born bad.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl where Earl and Randy go back to their old high school to get their GEDs, they encounter some of their old teachers who have become resentful of their jobs because of three students who go out of their way to make their lives a living hell. The teachers make Earl a deal: if he can convince them to stop their pranking, they will give him and Randy a refresher course so they can get their GEDs. The kids, of course, behave horribly towards Earl and Randy, but then the girl of the trio asks Earl for help on an assignment, Earl happily stays with her after class to help. When he leaves the school, he learns that it was just a ruse to give her two friends a chance to vandalize Earl's car.
  • The Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation episode "Enemy of My Enemy" has Splinter discover that the Turtles' nemesis the Shredder has become a derelict ever since his defeat in the Five-Episode Pilot "East Meets West". While the Turtles don't like the idea, they are forced by Splinter to help out Oroku Saki and try to rehabilitate him. In the end, the Shredder shows no gratitude and presumably gets back to being one of their enemies.
  • In the Northern Exposure episode "Gotta Sing", Shelly performs a jazzy version of Al Wilson's "The Snake" while warning Maggie that you cannot and should not expect unpleasant, mean people to not be unpleasant and mean.
  • Once Upon a Time.
    • Snow refused to execute the deposed Regina instead of giving her a Secret Test of Character which she failed. Regina was cursed to never be able to harm anyone in the Enchanted Forest, but Rumpelstiltskin manipulates her into casting the Dark Curse.
    • Snow's father Leopold set free a genie (Sydney). The genie's love for Regina would later cause him to kill Leopold.
  • In Oz, Said's efforts to help his fellow inmates frequently end with them either manipulating him or blowing the opportunities he secures for them.
  • In the backstory of Power Rangers Time Force, Big Bad Ransik was rescued and given life-saving medical attention by Dr. Ferricks. He responds to this kindness by setting the doctor's lab on fire and leaving him to die. This makes things rather awkward for the series' later attempts to sell him as a Magneto-esque Anti-Villain.
  • Invoked in the Chinese TV adaptation of The Prince of Tennis, where Hai Tang (whose nickname on the court is "Viper") recounts this story as the reason why his teammates shouldn't get too friendly with Long Ma.
  • An episode of Scrubs has J.D. pull a splinter from the Janitor's toe, and even bring up the parallel to Androcles' Lion (with the Janitor saying the story ends with the lion killing and eating the mouse anyway). The Janitor makes a show of offering unwanted payback and finishes off by pointing out that J.D. could have just asked for him to stop messing with him (and steals his stethoscope when he tries to).
  • The scorpion variant was referenced by Kevin when dealing with a lawyer who was being particularly feisty on Shark Tank.
  • Invoked (more or less) in the Smallville episode, "Prodigal". After Lex tracks down his half-brother Lucas, hoping for an ally against his father, Lionel tells him the story of the frog and the scorpion.
    Lionel: "Why did you do it?" the dying frog asked him. And the scorpion replied, "Because it is my nature."
  • Sneaky Pete: When con artist Marius is trying to get Julia to trust him for real, she references the frog and scorpion version. Marius says that he wishes people would stop quoting this story at him and consider that the scorpion wouldn't be dumb enough to drown himself.
  • Stargate SG-1 season 8: Replicator Carter approaches the SGC and Carter in particular with a sob story about how poorly Fifth is treating her and asks for their help in stopping him, but warns that he's developed an immunity to the Disruptor and offers to help them overcome that immunity. They were rightfully wary, but in the end, Carter couldn't help but aid her Replicator clone. There never was a Disruptor immunity, the whole thing was a ploy to study the Disruptor in order to develop one. With the immunity in hand Replicarter lured Fifth into range of the Alpha Site where he was killed by a Disruptor Satellite so that she could take sole control of all Replicators, which she would subsequently make immune to the only real threat.
  • Star Trek:
  • Supernatural:
    • In the "Pilot" episode, a ghost is killing men who see her hitchhiking and pick her up. The trope is averted because her victims have an ulterior motive — she is smoking hot and the drivers are hoping the pickup turns into a hookup and she seeks them out to punish them for trying to cheat on their significant others.
    • Later in the season, Meg, a frequent hitchhiker who it turns out is a victim of Demonic Possession, is shown killing men who pick her up and using their blood to communicate with other demons.
    • Eve uses a similar technique in Season 6 with a nice and very unfortunate truck driver.
  • The Umbrella Academy:
    • Resident Cloud Cuckoolander Klaus attempts to tell the frog-and-scorpion version of the classic fable, but gets distracted partway through and winds up telling a shaggy frog version instead. He concludes that the moral of the story is "Don't Negotiate With Terrorists".
    Alison: What the hell was the point of that story?
    • In season 3 Klaus discovers the alternate timeline version of his abusive adoptive father Reginald Hargreeves is being drugged into helplessness and taken advantage of by the Sparrow Academy and helps him get out from under their control. Unfortunately, this version of Hargreeves turns out to be at least as bad as the one he knew and repays him by murdering his brother Luther and trying to sacrifice all of them to rewrite the universe to his advantage.
  • The Untamed: Like in the novel, the Yi City arc. Xiao Xingchen saves Xue Yang, Xue Yang tricks him into murdering people, and Xingchen commits suicide when he learns the truth.
  • The Walking Dead (2010): In "Always Accountable", Daryl is attacked by a small group of survivors, led by a man named Dwight, who tie him up and rob him. He manages to escape and take his things back, only to realize that one of them was diabetic and he had inadvertently stolen her insulin. He goes to return it and finds them being threatened by another group, that they had mistakenly believed Daryl to be part of. Daryl helps fight them off and eventually offers to let them join the community of survivors he's part of. They rob him again.
  • On The Wire, Avon could have spared himself trouble by killing String for having D'Angelo murdered instead of covering it up for their friendship's sake. String later betrays him to the police.
  • Alluded to in the You're the Worst episode aptly titled "You Knew It Was a Snake". Paul, having finally grown a spine, calls Lindsay out on being so selfish, immature, petty and an all-around terrible wife, to which Lindsay can only sadly but simply retort "You knew it was a snake when you picked it up", pointing out that Paul let his shallow attraction to her blind him to her many glaring flaws and the fact that she just simply was not "wife material" and he has no one to blame but himself for his own misery.

  • Al Wilson's "The Snake" is a variation of the trope-naming story set to music. A "tender-hearted woman" finds a "poor half-frozen snake", and takes it home with her and warms it up, but is bitten in much the manner of the farmer.
    "I saved you," cried the woman, "and you bit me, but why?
    You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm gonna die."
    "Oh, shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin,
    "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."
  • In ASP's "Die kleine Ballade vom schwarzen Schmetterling", the Black Butterfly twice says "Kann nichts dafür, ich bin doch nur ein wildes Tier" (It's not my fault, I'm just a wild animal) in order to excuse torturing (and maybe killing) the protagonist.
  • The song "The Snake" by Mediaeval Baebes is sung in Old Spanish and matches this trope almost completely with the difference being that the snake starts growing dangerously big and when the farmer tries to kick it out of his house, it squeezes him to death instead of stinging him. The lyrics apparently come from a fable from El Libro de Buen Amor (The Good Book of Love) by Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita from the 14th century AD/CE.
  • Megadeth's song "The Scorpion" alludes to "The Frog and the Scorpion" in the refrain. The lyrics are otherwise more about a figurative scorpion rather than a literal one.
  • Given a Perspective Flip in Nick Cave's song "Fable of the Brown Ape", where the snake is portrayed as a victim rather than a threat.
  • In the old Scottish folk song "The Fair Flower of Northumberland", in Northumberland (just south of Scotland), a prisoner from Scotland is locked up. The chief magistrate's 15-year-old daughter unlocks him after he promises to marry her "and make [her] a lady of high degree." Once they're in Scotland, he displays nothing but contempt for her— beginning with "Get down from that horse, you're a brazen-faced whore."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Scorpion and the Frog, an ancient African & European fable commonly misattributed to Aesop is equally if not more popular than the trope namer but also deals in how evil is ultimately unconsciously self-destructive. Sometimes the moral is slightly more digestible.
  • A variation involves the Lion and the Unicorn. The two were enemies, but the Unicorn agreed to let the Lion borrow its horn. The Lion then ambushed the Unicorn and stabbed it with the horn. When the Unicorn asked why the Lion did this, the Lion responded by asking why the Unicorn trusted its worst enemy in the first place.
    • The Lion and the Unicorn are respectively the heraldic supporters for England and Scotland, by the by. It's probably best not to elaborate on this point.
  • A version of the story from the American South comes from the collection that became Song of the South. In it, Brer Possum helps Brer Snake out of one jam after another, only to be told at the last, "Well, you knowed I was a snake when you put me in your pocket!"
  • A Zen parable tells of two monks who were washing their bowls at a river. One monk saw a drowning scorpion and saved it, only to be stung — again and again. The other monk asks why his brother keeps saving a creature whose nature is to harm, and the first monk replies that his nature is to help.
  • In addition to the Trope Namer, Aesop also told a fable in which a wolf starts hanging around a shepherd's flock but doesn't seem to be causing any trouble and in fact helps manage the flock. The shepherd then makes the mistake of leaving the flock in the wolf's care, and you can guess how that works out. This is where we get the phrase "once a wolf, always a wolf."
  • In India there is the story of "The Tiger and the Farmer". The gist is that a farmer was traveling on a road when he saw a tiger in a cage, the tiger promised that if the farmer opened it, he would flee into the jungle. The farmer was suspicious but let the tiger go, only for the tiger, who blamed the predicament on the farmer for trusting a hungry predator, to try and eat the farmer. Just then a wise man came upon the scene and asked what happened. When they told him, the wise man insisted that the tiger was too big to fit in the cage, the tiger got inside to prove he could fit, the wise man locked the cage, and he and the farmer left the tiger to his fate.
  • Japanese mythology has a kind of Youkai called the Konaki-jiji, which normally looks like an ordinary baby and poses as a baby someone abandoned. As soon as someone tries to pick it up, it grows really big and crushes them. In the stories, Konaki-jiji doesn't even gain anything from this, so it's just crushing people For the Evulz.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Many times, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would act friendly to somebody else only to kick them in the gut and then stun them for the hell of it. Sometimes, he even lampshaded it by saying "DTA! Don't trust anybody!" right after.
  • Happens again and again whenever the heel is a Dirty Coward. You can bet farthings to fritters that as soon as the face has overpowered the heel, he'll be on his knees crying: "Nooo! Noooooo!" Any face who is not savvy enough to just hit the guy anyway after that will be deservedly punished with a thumb to the eye or an even more painful indignity. (If Ric Flair is the heel, the odds of this not happening are nil.)
  • Jake The Snake once referenced the Aesop in a story as well, demonstrating that the concept has been in the ring for decades. However, in his version, the man asked the snake why he betrayed him as he lay dying, and the snake spoke "Oh, come on. You knew I was a snake the day you found me."
  • A rare example of a Heel doing this to another Heel:
    • During the build to ECW Barely Legal, April 13, 1997, a masked man who was believed to be Rick Rude was threatening "The Franchise" Shane Douglas and promised to unmask if Douglas successfully defended his ECW World Television Championship against Pitbull #2 (w/Pitbull #1) at the PPV. Douglas won his match, and what was believed to be Rude's voice came over the sound system, saying that he'd take his mask off, but Douglas has to "give up the girl" (Francine) or he'd give Douglas "the ass-kicking of a lifetime." The masked man then walked out in Rude's trademark robe. Shane pushed Francine toward him. The masked man kissed Francine, who, believing it was Rude, appeared to pass out in delight. Then, one of Douglas's riot guards took off his helmet, revealing himself to be Rick Rude. The masked man unmasked and took off his robe, revealing, instead, Douglas's Triple Threat ally "Bulldozer" Brian Lee, who then choke-slammed Douglas. Douglas, Chris Candido, and a clearly disgusted Francine ran off, vowing revenge.
    • After a few more months of making trouble for Douglas for his own amusement (including pulling up Francine's dress to reveal her panties during Douglas's match with Chris Chetti at Buffalo Invasion on May 17th), he surprisingly turned on Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman in a six-man-tag against Rob Van Dam, Sabu and Jerry Lawler at Heatwave on July 19th, giving the Triple Threat hand sign. Douglas defeated ECW World Heavyweight Champion Sabu and Terry Funk in a three-way-dance to win the title at ECW's second PPV, Hardcore Heaven, on August 17th. This led to Rude becoming a manager for the Triple Threat (now, Douglas, Candido, and Bam Bam Bigelow, w/Francine) and handpicking opponents for him, as thanks for Douglas giving Rude one night with Francine. Douglas defeated Al Snow, Balls Mahoney, and Phil LaFon. Then came the October 16th show at the Elk's Lodge in Queens, NY. Rude told Douglas that he had found him an opponent who "ran roughshod over the WWF." Douglas asked, "You got me the Boy Toy?"note  Then, "Welcome to the Jungle" started playing, with Douglas doing a great Eye Take, as BAM BAM BIGELOW was revealed to be Douglas's opponent, meaning that Rude had tricked Douglas TWICE in SIX MONTHS.
  • In Ring of Honor, CM Punk started as a heel, turned face, and was receiving massive cheers by the time he won the ROH World Heavyweight Champion, at which point he made a promo referencing Aesop's story and declared "I'm still a snake, you idiots!", declaring that he was going to take the title belt with him to WWE, and signing his WWE contract on the ROH title belt. Of course, as an indie darling and a good performer, he was face for over a year (and not just with indie fans) since hitting WWE...and then he assaulted fan favorite Jeff Hardy and stole his title after Jeff had been champion for about five minutes.
    • As part of a Continuity Nod, he did basically the same thing in WWE. This time, with a very interesting result.
  • Edge did something similar in 2010. Returning from injury during the Royal Rumble, he came back to a huge ovation as he won the match and went into Wrestlemania as the challenger for the World Heavyweight Champion. After coming up short too many times and then getting traded to Raw, Edge revealed his true nature in a rant, going on about how switching shows ruined his opportunity to be the top face of Smackdown.
  • Torrie Wilson fell victim to this in a match where she teamed with Sable against Dawn Marie and Nidia (w/Jamie Noble) on the May 1 (taped April 29), 2003 WWE SmackDown. Torrie started for her team, and the heels worked over her leg...and that was pretty much the entire match, as Sable stepped off of the apron and started walking away from the ring, deliberately avoiding Torrie's attempt at a tag. Torrie eventually submitted to Dawn Marie's single-leg crab and could only lie there on the mat in pain visibly saying over and over, "You bitch!"

  • In a 2014 episode of The Now Show, John Finnemore updates "The Frog and the Scorpion" as "The Business Secretary and the Hedge Fund Managers", with the moral that hedge fund managers (who are definitely not scorpions) can't be expected not to manipulate shares of public services to maximise their profits if they have the opportunity to because that's their job, and it should be the job of the government not to give them the opportunity if doing so would be bad for the country, instead of just trusting they won't. It's also mentioned that the hedge fund managers aren't vindictive, just uncaring; rather than trusting a scorpion not to sting, it's more like trusting a fire not to burn.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech:
    • ComStar Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht relates the Scorpion and the Frog version to Primus Myndo Waterly as a warning that her attempt to play the Clans and Inner Sphere against each other with the intent to usurp both of them will only lead to ComStar's ruin. Myndo completely misses the point, and names her supposed masterstroke to bring the Great Houses and Clans to their knees "Operation Scorpion." It fails miserably, and does indeed leave Myndo's successor as Primus working overtime to keep ComStar relevant, despite the shattering victory of the ComGuards over the Clans at the Battle of Tukayyid.
    • ** Count Nicholas Fisk is this in the later Fed-Com Civil War timeline. Despite supporting Katherine Steiner-Davion, who at this point has lapsed into full tyranny, and participated in a couple of war crimes himself, Fisk is pardoned by the victorious Victor Steiner-Davion and allowed to remain Count of Odessa. Later, Fisk actually caught working with the fanatical Word of Blake splinter faction despite being spared worse punishments earlier. Adam Steiner, now Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth, is both too Genre Savvy and too cranky to tolerate the shenanigans of the Fisk family and strips the entire line of their noble titles and assets, nipping further potential betrayals in the bud.
  • In the game Legend of the Five Rings, the classic story of the frog and the scorpion is told, but when the frog asks the scorpion why he doomed them both:
    Frog: Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?
    Scorpion: Little frog, I can swim.
    • In fact, "I can swim." is literally the family motto of the Bayushi, the primary Scorpion Clan family.
    • Specifically, Bayushi smiled after he heard the story, telling Shinsei that he understood the meaning of the story. His eyes revealed that he didn't really have enlightenment. So Shinsei hit him in the mouth. Bayushi then covered his mouth, because it was what had lied. The Scorpion Clan wear masks in memory of the event, and to make it easier to lie. It's hard to believe that a spymaster and the man that taught an Empire to deceive somehow couldn't stop smiling.
  • Defied in Princess: The Hopeful: A Mender Princess' first Oath states they are supposed to heal and help anyone who requests it, regardless of who that person is, but it also points out they are allowed to take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones should this trope be a possibility. After all, just because you must help everyone doesn't mean you have to be stupid about it.
  • The Imperium of Man loves this fable, since their state religion is founded on Absolute Xenophobia.
    • The Tau, meanwhile, are xenophiles, so they tend to be more willing to coexist with aliens (including humans). Sometimes, such as with the Kroot, it mostly kind of works. Other times, not so much; for example, the human population of Kronos rewarded the Tau for their public works projects and Ork control efforts by siding en masse with Lukas Alexander's Imperial Guard. If the Tau win the Dark Crusade campaign, it's implied that a covert sterilization program is deployed to make sure they don't pull it twice, which is certainly a harsh option, but given that in the reverse circumstances the Imperium would have either scoured the planet from orbit or put most of them to the torch it's hard to view it as too over-the-top.

    Video Games 
  • Likely in any game with multiple factions but a Gang Up on the Human mentality. If you run into a battle to save one group it's far more likely that everyone will immediately start ignoring each other and focus entirely on destroying you.
  • In Age of Wonders the Keepers attempt to raise some goblins to be good. The Cult of Storms has no trouble convincing the goblins to riot and help kill the Keepers' leader.
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: Mid-way through the game, Basim tells Eivor a version of the scorpion and the frog story. In it, the scorpion and frog both get across the river, no harm done. Then the scorpion goes and kills someone else just because it can. At the end of the game, Basim attempts to kill Eivor and Sigurd out of desire for revenge against who they were in a past life, a fact Eivor isn't aware of, so they have absolutely no idea why their former ally has suddenly gone very insane.
  • Avencast: Rise of the Mage: The Player Character has to release the demon Kulkurazzz from centuries of imprisonment in a top-secret lab in order to breach a magical barrier. However pleasant he is to the demon, the next time it meets him, it takes Revenge by Proxy on him — never mind that he wasn't responsible for its imprisonment and had no way of knowing about it — and leaves him for dead.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: This is a core part of Arkham's backstory; he took pity on the insane man who murdered his family and tried to cure him. The killer pretended to be cured and then murdered the nearest secretary he could get his hands on. Arkham lost faith in humanity from that point, along with his sanity.
    • In Batman: Arkham City, Batman saves a Two-Face thug from being lowered into a vat of molten steel by Joker Thugs. Once the thug is offscreen (invisible to the player, even if within Batman's line of sight), he attacks Batman.
  • This trope is debated in Breath of Fire III in regards to the Nue. While Bunyan tasks Rei with killing it, Ryu and Teepo catch up and lend a hand, only for the trio to find it clutching a cave behind it in its death throes; looking inside reveals that it had cubs, all of whom are also dead. The resulting debate shows that Bunyan is fully aware of this trope, and expects the Nue cubs to do the same thing all over again next time if they were alive.
    Rei: Hold on! This thing was attacking the village just so it could feed its cubs... and you had us kill her?!
    Bunyan: If you knew that it had cubs... would you have let it live?
  • In Chapter 1 of Deltarune, Defeating the King either by fighting or simply stalling him out leads to the King collapsing to the floor, exhausted, while giving a speech about how he wasn't always such a bad person. Ralsei, the party's White Mage, takes pity upon him and heals him, which the King uses as an opportunity to hit the party with a surprise attack that nearly results in their death, only being saved by the King becoming incapacitated, either by his former minions, or Ralsei putting him to sleep. Either way, Ralsei apologizes to the team for trying to help a person who had no plans on cooperating.
  • In Demon's Souls If you save Yurt the Silent Chief he will follow you back to your home base and gradually kill every single NPC (making the game MUCH harder) before making an attempt on your life. Alternatively, if you meet Mestopholies (Yurt's accomplice) she will hire you to kill all the NPCs, and after your mission is complete, she then tries to kill you. This is because both are deadly assassins tasked by the Order of the Soul with the sole purpose of killing anyone aware of the ways of the Soul Arts in Boletaria in order to keep it secret.
  • In Dragalia Lost, this happened during the Monster Hunter: Primal Crisis crossover event. The Dyrenell Empire is ransacking a village when the Fatalis pops in and slaughters the Empire soldiers. Just as the villagers are ready to prepare a feast for their savior, it turns on the villagers and slaughters everyone except for one child who's left to tell the tale to the party.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Sten was left for dead when the darkspawn massacred his squad. When he came to, he found that he had lost his sword (without which he could never go home again) and slaughtered the villagers who picked him up and nursed him back to health in a blind rage. He follows the player as his own Redemption Quest because of this.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • Sometimes when fighting Bandits they'll crouch down and proclaim they yield and beg for their lives. So okay, you spare them... two seconds later they get a second wind and try to kill you again. And no, they are not ever scripted to "yield permanently".
    • In the Dragonborn DLC, one of the bosses you have to defeat, Ildari Sarothril, is a mage apprentice who served as a test subject for her master, who abandoned her after thinking she had died in the experiment. When you track her back, you find out she had since been found and nursed back to health by a group of miners. Having turned insane from the experiment, she repaid their kindness by killing most of them out of paranoia and turning the others into test subjects.
    • Another one involving bandits- there's a cave to the north where a bandit group was slaughtered by hagravens. One bandit was captured instead, and begs you to free him. But if he is freed, he tries to kill you anyway.
  • In Fable, the Fallen Hero and bandit leader Twinblade begs the Hero of Oakvale for his life if defeated in combat, and sends a squad of assassins after the Hero if shown mercy.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier can horribly screw over both of the people involved in saving their life after they were shot in the head and left for dead, first by joining up with the Powder Gangers to destroy Doc Mitchell's hometown of Goodsprings, then by blowing up an army of Victor's securitron "brothers" and murdering his creator, Mr. House. The Courier could also be the victim of this trope in an event that was cut from the game: If the Courier saves Benny from Caesar (this is after Benny tried to kill The Courier twice) Benny was originally supposed to ambush The Courier afterwards.
  • Heavy Rain. During the ending showdown with the Origami Killer, it is entirely possible that the fight will end up on a tall structure, and properly dodged or countered attack will leave the killer hanging by his fingertips over a deadly drop. The killer will humbly ask for your aid, and you have the option of pulling him to safety or letting him fall. Should you choose the former, the killer will give you a sincere-sounding word of thanks before immediately resuming his attempts to kill you. Even the most Genre Blind player would see this outcome a mile away, but the killer is so Faux Affably Evil that most players are tempted to at least take a chance on saving him.
  • I Became a Dog: In ending 3. Julia helps you get rid of Tomy, but you decide to lock her up in prison again so all the food can be yours.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Ansem the Wise took Terra-Xehanort in and gave him a home when he found him amnesiac on the streets. Terra-Xehanort thanks him by manipulating his other apprentices into helping him follow his plans, stealing Ansem's identity, and destroying Radiant Garden.
  • A variation: Knights of the Old Republic, Jolee Bindo, having lived as a hermit on Kashyyyk for twenty years, helps the player character out and then follows you off-world. For a good while, he claims that his reasoning is that he'd finally gotten sick of the planet, he wanted to see the stars again. But as he gets to know you he tells you a parable about a young man who one day finds a snake in his village. He follows the snake, helping it away from the village and into a great desert. Without food or water to be seen, the snake bites the young man. The snake then asked why the man followed him, and the man replies; "Did I follow you? I thought I was leading you away from everyone else!" Considering that the player character is Darth Revan, that parable might or might not apply to you. At any rate, this particular snake can choose whether or not to bite.
  • At the beginning of The Last of Us Part II, Joel and Tommy rescue a girl named Abby from a horde of Infected. She repays them by luring them into an ambush and fatally introducing Joel to the business end of a golf club.
  • This is Kira's ending in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. She uses the life energy granted to her by the Elder Gods to bring back Kobra, her old Black Dragon teammate who died in battle, and who was a pretty big Jerkass when he was alive. Kobra repays the favour by killing her, calling her weak and saying that she should have left him dead. The other way around is the same too, in Kobra's ending, he also had the Elder Gods revive Kira, who proceeds to kill him with a kiss of death.
  • Part of Nox's history includes a warrior named Jandor growing tired of the massive war he was a part of, and eventually refusing to kill a young girl who's the last of the Northern Mages and their "cursed blood legacy", instead handing her over to be cared for by a tribe of ogres. The girl's name: Hecubah, the Big Bad of the game who's trying to Take Over the World.
  • This happens twice in Octopath Traveler, both times in Alfyn's Chapter 3.
    • Alfyn meets a badly injured man named Miguel and treats his wounds, continuing even when he hears rumors that the man is a thief and murderer (on the condition that Miguel gives up his criminal life). Miguel "thanks" him by kidnapping a small boy for ransom and mocking Alfyn's bleeding heart, all without a shred of remorse.
    • When the dust settles, the cynical apothecary Ogen recounts this happening to him in his backstory; he took a wanted criminal into his home and healed his wounds, only for the man to murder his wife.
  • In Persona 5, the protagonist is charged with assault and put on probation for the crime of trying to save a woman from a drunken molester. Said woman ended up testifying against him instead in court, kickstarting the events of the story. Justified in that the drunkard was a politician whose kind of power she would fear only naturally, especially since it's implied that he could scapegoat her for some of his illegal dealings. That said, Yusuke is rather appalled at the woman's actions after hearing the story.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction: Upon discovering his heritage as a Cragmite, Emperor Tachyon immediately got to work on wiping out the entire Lombax race (the ones who raised him from a hatchling, in spite of what he was) and coercing the Drophyds into helping him take over the galaxy and bring about the return of said Cragmites. Ratchet rightfully calls him on it:
    Ratchet: The Lombaxes raised you! How could you do this to them?
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Penelope is captured twice, by General Tsao and Captain LeFwee, and the Cooper Gang drop whatever they were doing to save her. She responds by betraying them to Cyrill Le Paradox, pulls Bentley into a fake relationship to get at his "potential", intends to erase the Cooper family from history out of pure spite, and destroy Murray's van with him in it. The gang respond by leaving her in 1301 to die, furious that they've befriended such a sociopathic monster who ruined their lives.
  • A good chunk of Tales of Xillia relies on this trope, so much so that it's barely even a spoiler. Jude forgives Alvin for betraying the party about four or five times, despite the fact that one of these times almost directly causes Milla's death. And of course, he just keeps on betraying you, and every time it gets worse. He's not really evil, though - he's just in possession of a Dark and Troubled Past.
  • In the Tekken series, zombie cyborg former Interpol agent Bryan Fury is saved by Dr. Boskonovich and installed with a perpetual generator. Bryan's thanks is to trash the lab and kill members of the Manji clan, who were led by Dr. B's close friend Yoshimitsu.
  • In Touhou Project, there was a man named Iwakasa that saved a young girl while he was on a mission to destroy a dangerous artefact. The girl tagged along with him on his mission but after some events on Mount Fuji he was killed by the girl on the descent and she took the artefact for herself. The artefact was the Hourai Elixir and the girl was Fujiwara no Mokou.
  • Undertale: On a No Mercy route, some monsters still try to show you kindness despite you trying to kill literally everyone. Perhaps most notable is Toriel, who invites you into her home and treats you with love... only for you to murder her and all the inhabitants of the Ruins. Inverted during the final battle with Sans, where he, at one point, offers to spare the player, only to kill them once they try- justified in that they were clearly beyond helping, and they had already killed Papyrus, so Sans wasn't going to even consider letting them get away with it.
  • In Venus Blood -Frontier-, Loki flees to the mortal world in a battered skyship totally devoid of image he deliberately orchestrated so he could claim to the Spring Valkyrie, protector of that world, that he and his demon friends were just refugees wanting to live in peace. The Valkyrie could crush him, and they both know that, but she gives him the benefit of the doubt. Within months Loki's recruited an army and set out to conquer everything she holds dear.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: This forms a big part of Amalthus's backstory and Start of Darkness. While he always had a deeply-rooted feeling of misanthropy stemming from the childhood trauma of fleeing for his life from enemy soldiers, his mother pushing him off a hill to help him escape and dying at their hands, and him proceeding to smash their sleeping heads in with a rock on finding her corpse, it was only amplified by growing up and witnessing further acts of people taking advantage of or being cruel to each other. One of his major breaking points was when he took pity on a wounded soldier and helped heal his wounds, only to later discover that same man robbing a home. By the time he intervened, the man had already killed the mother in the house and was about to kill her infant. In a cold fury he then kills the man, only able to then cradle the crying infant and wonder to himself if this world is hell and if it's somehow all part of The Architect's "grand design". This leads him to climbing the World Tree to seek out answers, and what he finds out or rather, what he interprets as an answer just sends him downhill.

  • Subverted in Bob and George, in the Mega Man 3 storyline, everyone is telling Dr. Light he's an idiot for trusting Dr. Wily. As expected, Dr. Wily betrays them and steals Gamma and the power crystals, only for Gamma to fail as Dr. Light had the power crystals replaced with faulty ones, and Dr. Light saying he wasn't stupid and took precautions.
    Dr. Light: Just because I gave Dr. Wily the benefit of the doubt doesn't mean I didn't have a back-up plan.
  • Bob the Angry Flower tells it as it is.
  • In Drowtales, Ven'nedia accepts the highly demon tainted Creepy Child Kharla'ggen into their "clan" (a loose conglomerate of tainted drow seeking mutual protection and understanding) to try and help her adapt to her condition and live a normal life. She and her daughter treat her like family and even normalize her enough that, while still incurable, she settles down. Then their clan is attacked and nearly destroyed, and she kills all the invaders singlehandedly. When rival Sene'kha proposes using Kharla'ggen as a figurehead leader she is opposed, and when voted down tries to run away with her daughter Kiel'ndia ... only to have Kharla'ggen turn her into a living puppet, put on display over their main entrance to scare enemies (and allies).
  • Freefall has this happen to Sam in this strip.
  • Another frog-and-scorpion version shows up in a Sunday special of Kevin & Kell where the scorpion subverts the tale and lampshades this by saying the story doesn't take into account ethics, moral compasses and free will firmly fitting the scorpion on the nurture side of the Nature Versus Nurture debate.
  • The parable is used as the basis of a weapon's backstory in Keychain of Creation. This is Exalted, even the swords have cool histories and vendettas. And since the Farmer here is called "The King of the Uncloaked Steel," it should come as no surprise that he basically finds eventual betrayal to simply be a bonus to their relationship. And they also fall in love, with the eventual betrayal still staying the same. They're just weird, crazy people/Exalted/Snake-swords.
  • The Scorpion and the Frog parable above inspired Vriska Serket in Homestuck (or rather, she inspired it), as her motif is arachnids and has a self-destructively malicious nature. Appropriately enough, she dies (again) by trusting her worst enemy, Terezi, not to kill her when her back is turned. Terezi, having foreseen the consequences, stabs her in the back.
  • The parable was implicitly referenced in this Penny Arcade strip (appropriately titled "Parabolic") about a developer and a games journalist, with the journalist represented by an actual scorpion. True to the trope, the developer makes the mistake of trusting the journalist in an unguarded moment and tells them the truth about their game, and is betrayed in response.
  • The frog-and-scorpion version shows up in-story in Sinfest, found in a book by Fuchsia, who doesn't like it. Fortunately, Criminy refutes it.
  • Used as a motif in a side adventure in Sluggy Freelance.
  • Wonderlab: This is the backstory of the Servant of Wrath. She used to be a Magical Girl named the "Magical Girl of Courage", and she made friends with the Hermit of the Azure Forest, who was an enemy of her homeworld. The Hermit used this friendship to take advantage of her, and destroyed her homeworld. The Magical Girl of Courage was so filled with guilt over what she had done that she transformed into the Servant of Wrath.

    Web Original 
  • In Twig, Sylvester, a Child Soldier Human Weapon created by an Academy of Evil which is fighting against a rebellion, is trapped by advancing elite rebellion troops who use a new agony inducing bullet to drive Academy warbeasts mad with pain. Sylvester is captured but spared due to an enemy soldier seeing him as a child in pain, and is taken to a medical tent, where he and his companions receive treatment, but they promptly kill the medic and the soldier before going on to attack the rebellion forces from the rear using their own incendiaries.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has the Magic Man, who teaches us all an important lesson about not giving sugar to jerks.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • While Aang, Sifu Thou Shalt Not Kill, consistently saves Zuko, Sokka, who's spent his whole life in a war, asks why they should help him in the first season finale, given that all the previous times they've saved him or shown mercy he's tried to capture Aang. This is brought to a head when Katara bonds with him over their (supposedly) dead mothers and offers to try healing his scar... only to face him battling alongside his sister in a battle that temporarily cost Aang his life.
    • In the third season Aang was ultimately proven right, though - he needed a firebending teacher at the exact same time Zuko did his Heel–Face Turn.
    • In a less extreme example, during Zuko's exile in the Earth Kingdom, a woman and her mother take him and Iroh in for dinner. As they leave, Zuko steals their Ostrich Horse.
    • Also, in "Imprisoned", Haru uses his Earthbending to save an old man from a cave-in. Later that night, the old man rats him out to the Fire Nation and gets him arrested.
    • In "Zuko Alone", Zuko has a brief stay with a poor farm family after covering for their son and driving off some extortionist Earth Kingdom soldiers. In the end, after the boy is taken hostage by the soldiers (admittedly in part because of a keepsake Zuko gave him), Zuko fights them to save him from conscription. Unfortunately for Zuko, a combination of his firebending in battle and his own declaration of his identity sees him shunned by everyone in town, even the boy who saw him like a hero not 3 minutes ago.
    • In Season 3 of The Legend of Korra, the heroes meet an orphan named Kai, who claims that his parents were killed fighting a gang of bandits. The law enforcement officers chasing him say that he actually was adopted by a wealthy family, and "thanked" them for their kindness by clearing them out of all their valuables and making a run for it. Kai ultimately proves to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold following some Character Development in later episodes — he notes he probably deserves the suspicion he received up to the final episode of the season.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Killer Croc escapes while escorted by train to prison, Batman in hot pursuit. They fall off a cliff and are knocked out. Croc wakes up in a secluded home owned by former circus performers. It's Croc's perfect chance to start a new life. Naturally, Croc claims Batman is evil to get their help in capturing him. Then Croc captures everyone and plans to kill them and run off with their retirement money. When he's eventually foiled, he does seem a little regretful as he's taken away.
    Eddie Deacon/Billy: (the seal boy) Why Croc? Why'd you turn on us like that? We could've helped you, we could've done something.
    Killer Croc: You said you could be yourself out here, remember? I guess that's what I was doing. Being myself.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • Batman saves Ian Peek's life from a vengeful mobster whom Peek exposed as being a police informant. Peek repaid him by sneaking a camera into the Batmobile, finding out Batman's secret identity, and planning to expose him and Bruce to the world just to further his already lucrative career.
    • Terry feels guilty that his former friend Charlie went to jail for a few years while he only got juvie for a few months just because he was underage at the time, so he pulls some strings and sets Charlie up with a job at Bruce Wayne's company, to Bruce's reluctance. Charlie repays him by stealing from the company for a rival corporation, which had been his goal all along. It later happens again in a Sequel Episode after Charlie expresses remorse for his criminal ways and is depressed at being turned into a hideous monster. Terry promises him leniency with the police and finding a way to cure him if Charlie turns himself, but it turns out it was all a ploy by Charlie to get his criminal associates caught so he could take over his operation, and in the end tries to kill Terry to tie up a loose end.
  • In one episode of Evil Con Carne, the title character and Cod Commando are marooned together on an island, and Hector successfully uses this trick on Cod three times in the same episode. (The fourth time he tries it when success is vital to escaping, Cod wises up, and leaves him behind.)
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Lois finds out she has a brother (voiced by Robert Downey Jr.) who was put in a sanitarium by her parents after a traumatic event and kept a family secret. Lois, assuming her awful parents were just being awful again, brings her brother home to live with her. It turns out he's a dangerous psychotic who kills fat people. He goes on a killing spree that ends with him trying to kill Peter.
    • This was also the point of the episode where Peter befriends OJ Simpson. The Griffins come to the conclusion the OJ is really an O.K. guy who deserves the benefit of the doubt, only for him to stab a woman in plain view of everyone and go running off on a mad killing spree.
  • In the oft-disputed third season of Gargoyles, a common tactic the villains used was having someone pretend to be in danger in order to lure the heroes into a trap.
  • An aversion in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!. Under attack by seemingly mutated pumpkin monsters, Velma is forced to free The Scarecrow, citing The Scorpion Dilemma as she does so. Scarecrow doesn't stab Mystery Incorporated in the back, and instead helps fight a mutual foe.
  • In Infinity Train book 3, episode "The New Apex". After Grace saves Simon's lifenote , he kicks her off the train. Fortunately, she's saved by the origami birds she had helped earlier, while Simon ends up getting the life sucked out of him by a Ghom because she was too far away to save him again.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy agrees to care for a weavil he believes to have injured, despite Beezy's warnings that weavils are Always Chaotic Evil. Indeed, the weavils take full advantage of him, slowly transforming him into one of them.
  • King of the Hill: In Season 8, Episode 13 "Cheer Factor", when Peggy replaces Jo Rita as cheerleading coach, Peggy offers her the job of assistant coach out of kindness and goodwill. Jo Rita repays Peggy by undermining her and getting her fired to get the job as cheerleading coach back.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: After Kipo saves Jamack from being eaten by the Newton Wolves, he catches her to sell her to Scarlamagne. Ultimately averted, though, as her continued empathy and respect cause him to change his mind.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness averts this to some extent in the 'Po Picks A Pocket' episode, wherein Po is initially tricked into being kidnapped by a group of adorable, seemingly-innocent child thieves, even as young as toddlers. During Po's imprisonment, the kids attempt to justify this by explaining that they have no other option besides this, due to being held captive by their thieving leader. Po offers to break them out of their situation, and leads them back to the Jade Palace, where they appear to be settling in just fine... that is until they trick Po again, by imprisoning him in the Palace's dungeon so that the leader thief can steal a precious ruby. It isn't until Po points out they cannot split a single ruby between each other for profit, that the kids turn on their leader once again, now having completed the aversion of the trope.
  • In The Lion Guard episode "The Kupatana Celebration", the viper (in this case, a pack of thieving jackals) enjoys the good life for a time but is then beaten up and exiled again when the farmer catches on to what it's been doing behind his back. It turns out that hurting someone who is both big enough and close enough to easily hurt you back is not a great survival policy.
  • In the Mega Man: Fully Charged episode "Enemy of My Enemy", Fire Man and Namagem are locked in a grudge match. Mega Man ultimately teams up with the former to stop the latter, and as Fire Man prepares to finish Namagem off while he's weakened, Mega Man convinces him to spare him. Namagem repays Fire Man for this with a heavily-damaging charged blast to the back while his guard is down, then makes his getaway while Mega Man is occupied with Fire Man's well-being, leading Mega Man to stop him by any means necessary the next time they meet.
  • An episode of Mickey Mouse Works involved Mickey rescuing Pete from the cold and warming him up inside the mouse's cabin. Being the greedy prick he is, Pete reveals he only pretended to be freezing to death as he and his cousin take over Mickey's cabin. Of course, being a cartoon about Disney's beloved mascot, Mickey not only managed to turn the two against each other but, in the end, tricked the criminal dimwits into turning themselves in to the police.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "Fugitive Flowers", the Flories repay Posey's pity and kindness by destroying her garden and attempting to destroy Dream Valley.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • "Griffon the Brush Off": Pinkie Pie declares that she'll have to do something about Rainbow Dash's False Friend Gilda. We're led to believe this involves provoking Gilda with party pranks until she loses her temper and Rainbow can see how bad she is, but it turns out Rainbow herself set up the pranks and it was only chance that Gilda ran into all of them; Pinkie's plan was simply to throw a party for her in the hopes that it would get her to lighten up. Needless to say, it fails miserably, but at least Rainbow does learn Gilda's true nature and kicks her to the curb. Four seasons later, it ends up subverted when Gilda reappears and gets her redemption.
      • "The Hearth's Warming Club": In an in-universe fairytale told by Smolder, a cunning dragoness is taken in by the kindly old Dragon Lord and responds by exploiting his kindness to usurp and banish him. Because dragons believe that Might Makes Right, this is considered a happy ending.
  • The Owl House:
    • In "Follies at the Coven Day Parade", Luz tries to help Kikimora deal with some family issues despite Eda rightfully pointing out that she can't be trusted. While Kiki is initially willing to go along with their Faked Kidnapping plan, she turns on them the second she's given the false promise of a promotion and tries to kill Luz as a gift to Belos. In Luz's defense, she was clearly projecting her own familial problems that she was having at the time onto Kikimora and all of her past attempts at helping her enemies had worked out pretty well for her.
    • In "Elsewhere and Elsewhen", Luz and Lilith travel back in time to help Philip Wittebane find the Collector, in the hope that he can teach them how to make a new portal to the human realm. When they get there however, they discover that Philip only took them along to use them as a sacrifice in order to distract the Stonesleeper guarding the Collector's chamber. Not only does Philip not show any remorse afterwards, he offers them information on the portal in exchange for using them as bait again, and goes on a furious tirade against all witches when Lilith quite understandably breaks his nose.
    • After his plans come to fruition in "King's Tide", Belos no longer needs any of his underlings, no matter how much they've dedicated to his cause.
      • When Kikimora delivers Hunter, the runaway Golden Guard (actually Luz in disguise) to him and tries to bargain for Hunter's position as Belos's right hand, Belos tells her very politely how much he values her contributions.
        Belos: Have you has my right hand? I'd sooner cut off my whole arm.
        Kikimora: But... I just want to help!
        Belos: You want to help? (picks Kikimora up with magic and shoves her out the door) Go find a hole to wither away in.
      • The Collector, the one who gave Belos the Draining Spell and taught him all the powerful magic he knows now, did so only because Belos promised to free them from their imprisonment in the Inbetween. As soon as the Draining Spell starts to actually work however, Belos goes back on his promise, citing the fact that he doesn't want the Collector giving said powerful magic to anyone else. When the Collector begins to scream in rage, Belos picks up the mirror they use to communicate with the outside world, and throws it down a pit.
    • After the Collector pulls a Heel–Face Turn in "Watching and Dreaming", Belos takes over the Titan's heart, subsequently burying the Isles in corrosive Meat Moss and forming a gigantic Kaiju body with a Breath Weapon that spreads even more corruption. The Collector, having learned a lesson about kindness and forgiveness, tries to put this into practice on Belos, telling him they forgive him and hugging his face. As soon as they turn their back and start flying back down to Luz, King and Eda, Belos tries to shoot them In the Back, which only fails because Luz flies in to take the bullet for them.
  • A skit on Robot Chicken referenced the famous Scorpion and the Frog story. The skit lampshades how insanely nonsensical and Stupid Evil someone would have to be to act like the scorpion. This time, the Frog catches the scorpion just before it stings him and is not happy with him.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "The Old Man and the Lisa", Lisa makes it her goal to help Burns rebuild his lost fortune in a socially responsible way. He takes to her teachings with zeal but in his efforts to follow her instructions, he creates a recycling plant that strips mines ocean life into an all-purpose slurry. It ends with the memorable scene of Lisa running house to house begging people not to recycle!
    • It then happens again, many seasons down the road, when Burns is brain-damaged and has lost his memory. Most of the Springfieldians take advantage of this to get revenge on him for everything he did to them. Lisa takes pity on him and ends up restoring him to his former evil self, with the added lesson that hatred is the only thing keeping him alive.
    • "Pokey Mom" has Marge take an interest in reforming Jack Crowley, a prisoner convicted of armed robbery (voiced by Michael Keaton) by encouraging his casual interest in art. The warden agrees to let Marge take Jack into her home and help him find a job as a mural painter. When Marge hears that Principal Skinner wants a mural painted for Springfield Elementary, she suggests Jack for the task. But Skinner forces him to paint a treacly, cutesy scene instead of what he actually wanted to paint - and then, to add insult to injury, Skinner has Jack take all the blame when the mural proves unpopular. Jack has to be restrained from physically assaulting the principal, and soon afterward the mural is burned down. Marge finds Jack hiding in the playground and accuses him of going back to a life of crime; Jack lies that he's innocent, prompting Marge to believe him and to help him escape. Marge's reward for this is seeing Jack pour gasoline on Skinner's car and light that on fire in full view of everyone, laughing diabolically. Jack is quickly arrested and finally confesses to indeed starting the school fire, but not the car fire, leaving Marge disgusted.
    • In "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily", Homer and Marge lose custody of the kids, who are adopted by the Flanders. They show Rod and Todd an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon where Scratchy adopts Itchy only to be killed. The dying Scratchy asks Itchy "Why?"
    • The "Night of the Dolphin" Treehouse of Horror segment has Lisa removing bottle rings from a dolphin, with the dolphin then biting her.
  • The Smurfs (1981) episode "All Creatures Great And Smurf" has the adult Nat Smurf getting his fellow Smurfs to help get Azrael's paw out of a bear trap by bringing him into the village. At first, Azrael seems grateful, but upon hearing his master Gargamel calling out for him, he reverts back to his own evil nature and is almost ready to tear Nat Smurf to shreds when he gets chased off into the forest by a larger creature. Nat Smurf mistakes this situation for an Androcles' Lion.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Jellyfish Jam", Spongebob offers to take in a jellyfish that seems to have bonded with him. Said jellyfish then invites its kin to party in Spongebob's house, responding violently whenever he or someone else protests.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In the episode "Message Received", it seems like all Steven's efforts to befriend Peridot and make her see the beauty of Earth were in vain, as it seems she still intends to betray them and contact Yellow Diamond. Garnet tells Steven that some people aren't worthy of being patient with. As it turns out, Peridot does not betray them, nor did she ever intend to. Her plan (which could have been articulated better) was to convince Yellow Diamond of the Earth's value. Unfortunately, Yellow Diamond turns out to not be the person Peridot thought she was. As a result, Peridot defects to the Crystal Gems entirely.
    • The episode "Bubbled" has Steven floating in space with a Ruby Soldier he calls Eyeball. After her gem gets cracked—which can be fatal—Steven pulls Eyeball into his protective bubble and uses his powers to fix her gem. Using that healing power makes Eyeball realize Steven really does have Rose Quartz's gem, as he'd been trying to tell her, so Eyeball pulls a knife and tries to carve Steven's gem out so she can be a hero for capturing Rose Quartz.
    • In the episode "Room for Ruby", the character Navy crashed in front of Steven's house from space, begging for forgiveness and asking to join the Crystal Gems, claiming the other Rubies were mean to her. Steven and Peridot let her join with no hesitation, while Lapis has suspicions. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Lapis is right, when Navy steals her ship and reveals she enjoyed deceiving the Gems because she wanted to see their faces once she revealed her true motives.
  • The episode "Action Figures" of Superman: The Animated Series featured a couple of kids sheltering an amnesiac Metallo, who they think is a good robot who can be like Superman. In the beginning, he does do good and helps save the kids and trucker, but as more of his memories return he reverts to his evil persona. In "gratitude" for helping him, he tries to kidnap the kids and leave the volcanic island their parents are researching. When one of the children tries to appeal to goodness, he replies "Steel Man? Steel Man is dead! And so are you, Superman!" Lois Lane later consoles the children with "He was good, when he was with you. Now all the goodness in him is buried, along with the rest of him".
  • One episode of Taz-Mania has a well-meaning man attempt to take care of a wounded Taz, only for Taz to hurt him with each attempt. Every time, he jovially dismisses Taz's attacks by saying that he was a Tazmanian Devil, and it was in his nature, until the man, having reached his limit, demands to know why Taz has been so vicious to him when he's shown Taz nothing but kindness. Taz responds, "Well, I am a Tasmanian Devil. It's in my nature." The kindly man returns to his jovial state, saying Taz was absolutely right.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Referenced by name in one of the Fast Forward episodes. After saving his Psycho Ranger counterpart from danger and while helping nurse him back to health, Leo tells him (and the audience) the "Frog and Scorpion" version of the fable. However, the episode deconstructs the dynamic in two different ways; first, Leo isn't stupid, and fully anticipates Dark Leo's betrayal. The second is that, while Dark Leo does betray the turtles, he still develops as a result of Leo's lesson and starts treating his brothers better at the end of the episode (much to their bewilderment).
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Hamato Yuta took Oroku Saki in as a baby and raised him as his own son, despite him being of the Foot Clan and the son of his sworn enemy. How does Shredder thank him for doing so once he finds out his true heritage? By destroying/corrupting the Hamato Clan and spending nearly two decades of his life trying to kill Hamato Yoshi, his adoptive brother.
  • Total Drama:
    • In Total Drama World Tour, the show's resident backstabbers, Heather and Alejandro, recognize each other for what they are and agree to work together. Despite knowing Heather has betrayed everyone else who allied with her (including him in a previous episode), Alejandro continues to trust her... a mistake which singlehandedly loses him the game.
      Heather: Boys are okay, but a million dollars is way better.
    • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race MacArthur saves Josee from drowning. Pretty much as soon as they're back on land, Josee trips her up so she and Jacques can get ahead.
  • In one episode of The Transformers, Cyclonus and Scourge crash on a previously undiscovered planet. The unarmed and pacifistic residents (a faction of Autobots who fled Cybertron's endless wars) repair and refuel the two Decepticons... and are promptly repaid by Cyclonus and Scourge shoving them around, busting into their communications center, and calling the rest of the Decepticons in to conquer and enslave the planet.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series:
    • Early on, when Sabretooth winds on at the X-Mansion's doorstep, Professor Xavier takes him in and attempts to help him overcome his bestial urges, with Wolverine being the only objector. It goes about as well as you can expect: when Jubilee attempts to help him out with his hospital restraints so they won't be too uncomfortable, Sabretooth breaks loose and attacks her, forcing Wolvie to fight him off, which also results in him getting injured in the process.
    • Fully subverted in an episode with Juggernaut, so it ends up being more akin to Androcles' Lion. The X-Men help Juggernaut as he's convalescent, and when he wakes up Wolverine gets ready for a fight. Instead, Juggernaut leaves, saying he doesn't feel like it today.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Scorpion Dilemma, Frog And The Scorpion, The Scorpion And The Frog, Farmer And The Viper



Despite how harsh and cruel both his life and the world of Alrest can be, Amalthus dedicated himself to spreading kindness and help others. However, after helping a soldier heal from the wounds of war, he finds the same man having murdered an innocent family to loot from them, and furiously revokes his former kindness, and begins to question what the god he worships intended and if humanity deserves any kindness.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheFarmerAndTheViper

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