This Family-Unfriendly 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 him—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 creates unsympathetic-to-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.
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' Mr. Arkadin). Not to be confused with "The Farmer and the Cowman." See also Orc Raised by Elves.
- 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.
- 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. 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 for the sake of his plans.
- 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.
- In the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime, 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.
- Also Scar himself, after he kills Winry's parents after they give him lifesaving 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 homonculi to them so they can spring an ambush.
- 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. Contrasts to Speedwagon who was in a similar situation but when Jonathan spares him he becomes a life long (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.
- In Okane Ga Nai, Ayase saves Kanou, only to end up 4 years later as Kanou's love slave.
- In 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In 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.
- 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 Kill 'Em All philosophy; he knows that goblins cannot be redeemed.
- 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.
- Batman and Joker's relationship is this trope. Batman's refusal to kill Joker because If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him is repaid by Joker's literally killing of thousands of victims.
- 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.
- 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.
- Robin: 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 Bruces 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. To which Lisa says: "So the moral of the story is you're a lying snake, huh?"
- Played back in 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.
- 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.
- In The Sandman, 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.
- Loki does it again in Journey into Mystery, going so far 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!"
- The Question recites a version of this parable to himself after he is attacked by a biker who he just saved from a fire.
- 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.
- In Sonic the Comic, Super Sonic was actually Sonic's Super-Powered 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.
- 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 a 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 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 wildebeast. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Arawn, a farmer couple provides shelter for a wandering strange 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.
- 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 Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, after a nuclear bomb goes off,
Kyosuke Higuchi"Yotsuba" is killed in a nuclear bomb blast and asks Dark to save him with his Life Note. Dark does and Yotsuba immediately tries to kill him for his master L.
- In A Cure for Love, after having Watari killed Light feels a bit uncomfortable later when he remembers how Watari saved his life.
- Point of Succession: Unlike all the other doctors Light refused to be intimidated by B and would not give up on him and so B comes to transfer his obsession to Light...
- In the Batman and Harry Potter crossover Ace of Spades because Jim Gordon was nice to Harry while he was in Arkham Asylum Harry becomes obsessed with him. Later Jim Gordon adopts Harry into his family. As a result, his wife and daughter are killed and it's revealed that not only Harry but also Gordon's son Jimmy were working with the Joker all along.
- 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.
- 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 animal friends and she also plans on making Fluttershy her pet. She succeeds, too.
- 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.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act IV:
- Even after finding out that Falla was a Jerkass who murdered her own father and sister and caused the extinction of her entire species sans herself and Luna, Kyouko tries to reach out to her and reform her. It seems to work, and Luna eventually restores Falla's lost chrono magic to give her a chance. As it turns out, Falla was faking a HeelFace Turn to trick Luna into doing exactly that, and as soon as she does so, Falla bifurcates Luna and proceeds to rub in Tsukune and the others' faces how stupid they were to believe that her attempts to reform were ever anything but an act.
- Kyouko gets hit with this especially hard; as stated above, she tried to show the original Falla kindness and reach out to her, only for Evil!Falla to use her as an Unwitting Pawn in her scheme. When she's brought back for a brief period in Act V, Evil!Falla takes great delight in rubbing in Kyouko's face how she just used her before trying to kill her. This ends up biting her in the ass; after everything else that's happened, Kyouko hits her Rage Breaking Point and attacks Evil!Falla, later finishing her off by beating her to death with a baseball bat.
- Reverse: Kakashi finds Kurama Uzumaki, a homeless but skilled Shell-Shocked Veteran presumably from the dead village Uzushio, who helped him rescue the daimyos 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 Kakashis late sensei. But Kurama is actually a Peggy Sue trying to rewrite the past who kidnapped Naruto because he couldnt stand to see the child version of his Only Friend be ignored, abused and ignorant of his heritage.
- 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 'Em All.
- 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. Its your nature. You cant help it, just like I cant help enslaving those around me.
- The Lion King: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In The Patriot, 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 the film Flesh And Bone, 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. But 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 carrying Unfortunate Implications 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; 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 present.
- 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 Corey Haim B-Movie Prayer for the Rollerboys, Corey plays a homeless teen taking care of his little brother. He runs into an old friend who now runs a powerful rollerblade gang. During the film, Corey saves the life of the old friend's dragon which earns him entry into the gang. The dragon thanks him by spending the rest of the film trying to turn Corey's old friend against him. Even lampshaded during the film itself.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 did.
- Batman Forever had the one where Robin saved 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.
- Near the end of Superman II, 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.
- 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.
- The Crying Game: When a British soldier is taken hostage by an 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.
- 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 Andalite 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.
- The Death Gate Cycle uses this as a subversion of Love Redeems.
- 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.
- Orson Scott Card used something similar in his story "The Princess and the Bear", collected in Maps in a Mirror. Having attempted to redeem the Evil Prince, the princess gives up on him and lets the Bear kill him. If this sounds like a Family-Unfriendly Aesop, it ought to be mentioned that the prince and the princess follow the standard cycle of an abusive relationship.
- 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 ...
- 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.
- 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."
- 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 Dry Ditch Fever in the process. Hal's death was accidental and the Dry Ditch 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Invoked and eventually subverted in BattleTech's Blood of Kerensky novels. Anastasius Focht, the commander of Com Star's military mentions a variation of the fable to the Primus, suspecting her of trying to politicize his upcoming battle with the Clans and attempting to warn her that her penchant for double-dealing could defeat the treaty he was negotiating with them. She promptly plans to betray the Clans and the Inner Sphere at the same time, even calling the operation Scorpion, but the plan fails due to a Mole in the First Circuit and is assassinated for her betrayal.
- 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).
- Given an interesting twist in a chapter header in Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess - Baron Wulfenbach 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- A Song of Ice and Fire.
- A young Catelyn Tully saved her friend and admirer Paetyr Baelish from being killed by Brandon Stark in a duel for her hand. Years later he would repay her betraying her husband Ned Stark and cause his death as well as her own. It is however implied her plea for Paetyr'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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Heroes: Due to Sylar's HeelFace 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.
- 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 biting 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.
- 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 kill her.
- 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.
- Star Trek: In the two-part Star Trek: Voyager episode "Scorpion", Captain Janeway plans a temporary alliance with the Borg in order to combat Species 8472. When she asks for Chakotay's personal opinion, he relates the parable of "The Scorpion and The Frog" mentioned in the page quotes, though with a fox in place of the frog. Oddly, the story as told is more tragic than the normal telling, with the scorpion apologizing for being unable to help its nature, when the Borg would have no such compunctions.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Deja Q", Q actually uses this against the crew when he's turned mortal by the continuum, choosing a human form and going to them for help, assuming that their values and willingness to forgive "almost any offense" will mean they are willing to protect him from the variety of less-moral creatures he has tormented in the past, and who are willing to take advantage of his newfound humanity. He's not entirely right in this assumption, but right enough for subverting this trope in "Viper part" too, when Data's sacrifice moved Q into an attempt to save the ship at the cost of his own life.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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
- 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).
- On LazyTown, oftentimes when Sportacus rescues Robbie Rotten, Robbie's next act is to try to do something else to screw over Sportacus.
- The scorpion variant was referenced by Kevin when dealing with a lawyer who was being particularly feisty on Shark Tank.
- Game of Thrones:
- Played with Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Daxos was 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Firefly had the moment when Mal spares one of Niska's goons and hands him the money they were paid for the job the didn't do. Instead, the guy threatens him so Mal kicks him into a turbine.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- The Walking Dead: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stargate SG-1 season 8: Replicarter 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- The story of Yallery Brown.
- 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 the cage, he would flee into the jungle. The farmer was suspicious, but let the tiger go, only for the tiger to try and eat the farmer, who blamed the predicament on the farmer for trusting a hungry predator. Just then a wise man came upon the scene, and asked what happened, when they told him what happened, the wise man asked if 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 locked in his cage.
- 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.
- 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' riot guards took off his helmet, revealing himself to be Rick Rude. The masked man unmasked and took off his robe, revealing, instead, Douglas' 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' 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' 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 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.
- 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:
- 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 sterilisation 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. They captured one- but if he is freed, he tries to kill you.
- In Touhou 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.
- 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 trope is debated in Breath Of Fire 3 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?
- 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 your home and treats you with love... only for you to murder her and all the inhabitants of the Ruins.
- 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 Fable I, 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 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 in court. The drunken man was a politician who used his power to pressure her into framing the protagonist, kickstarting the events of the story.
- 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.
- In VenusBlood: Frontier, Loki flees to the mortal world in a battered skyship totally devoid of weapons...an 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Drowtales, Ven'nedia accepts the highly demon tainted Creepy Child Kharla'ggen into their "clan" (at that point more a group 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).
- Bob the Angry Flower tells it as it is.
- 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.
- Freefall has this happen to Sam in this strip.
- 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.
- Used as a motif in a side adventure in Sluggy Freelance.
- Variant in Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess, a novelization of Girl Genius; Emperor Scientist Klaus 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. He just takes precautions first.
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."
- 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.
- Another frog-and-scorpion version shows up in a Sunday special of Kevin & Kell where the scorpion subverts the tale and lampshades 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 vs. Nurture debate.
- 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.
- 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 HeelFace 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.
- The Simpsons
- 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 strip 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.
- An earlier episode had 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 a plot to burn down the school is uncovered. 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 one episode, 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 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".
- 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 into the police.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Griffon the Brush Off," Pinkie Pie declares that she'll have to do something about Rainbow Dash's Poisonous 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.
- In the My Little Pony 'n Friends serial "Fugitive Flowers", the Flories repay Posey's pity and kindness by destroying her garden and attempting to destroy Dream Valley.
- The Smurfs 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Early on in X-Men, 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.
- Adventure Time has the Magic Man, who teaches us all an important lesson about not giving sugar to jerks.
- 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 imprisoning, 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.
- 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.
- In Total Drama 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.
- 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.
- In the 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.