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They Died Because of You

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"Your sister?! She returned from the mountain, weak and cold! She said that you froze her heart! I tried to save her, but it was too late! Her skin was ice! Her hair turned white! Your sister is dead! Because of you!"
Prince Hans, Frozen (2013)

One of the most devastating Awful Truths a character can receive.

"You caused the death of your friend/parent/mentor."

Often a Wham Line, there is no more reliable way to send a heroic character spiralling into grief than to reveal that they were responsible for the death of someone close to them. The surprise element is the important part here; the character has hitherto been living perfectly happily and innocently, completely oblivious to what they've done. Common consolations include telling the character that obviously, it's not their fault if they weren't even aware of the damage they were causing, but this is often of little comfort to the stunned recipient.

Telling someone this with the direct intention of hurting them is one of the cruelest things any character can do. Doubly so if they're telling Blatant Lies.

Subtrope of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero sometimes. See also Survivor's Guilt, You Should Have Died Instead, and Failure-to-Save Murder, all of which can also be present.

This is a subtrope of The Reveal. Not to mention a Death Trope. Expect MASSIVE spoilers!!!


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Aldnoah.Zero, Wide-Eyed Idealist Asseylum Vers Allusia, crown princess of the Vers Empire of Mars, comes to Earth to promote reconciliation between the two planets. However, the royal convoy is bombed - by a Martian faction, no less - which the Orbital Knights of Mars immediately seize as the cause for a devastating, planet-wide invasion. Asseylum, unbeknownst to both factions, survives the attempt but is consumed by guilt.
  • In Btooom!, Ryouta applies this trope to himself when he realizes Taira's death was largely because he seemingly ignored other people's thoughts and feelings, as well as doing whatever he wanted to do. As a result, his friend started going insane due to his injuries, which ultimately led him to attack both Ryouta and Himiko when he starts to hallucinate about his family and meeting them again.
  • In episode 16 of Code Geass, Mao calls out Suzaku for the death of his own father, Genbu Kururugi.
    • In episode 12, Shirley does this unintentionally when she tells Lelouch that her father died during the previous episode in a landslide which Lelouch (in his alter-ego Zero) triggered in order to gain an advantage against the Britannian forces. Made more painful to Lelouch when Shirley asks how the Black Knights can call themselves protectors of the innocent when they kill people like her father, who was always a kind, loving, and gentle man through and through.
  • In episode 3 of Cross Ange, Ange gets this from her squadmates for getting her captain and two fellow new cadets killed.
  • A particularly brutal version of this trope occurs in Landlock. When Agahali confronts Zanark about whether or not he has been lying to her about being her father all these years, he first mocks her for not realising sooner. He then reminds her that she burnt an entire village of innocent people to the ground under his orders and, as an added cherry on top of that particularly vile cake, unknowingly but deliberately murdered her real father with her own sword and her own hands. Suffice to say, she does not take it well. Thank goodness she figured it out before she did the same to her brother and sister. The latter is quite forgiving, the former not so much.
  • Though it wasn't intentionally directed at her, Claire Cruz in episode 4 of The Pilot's Love Song is able to piece together the events that Kal-el tells her about his past to realize that as her alter ego, Nina Viento, she was indirectly responsible for causing the overthrow of his royal family during a rebellion a few years earlier, and subsequently their deaths. She's shocked enough by this to be uneasy around him for the rest of the episode, and partly into the next one as well.

     Fan Works 
  • in the Emergency! fic Lost and Found, John's captor torments him this way. Roy was his original target, but John begged to be taken instead, to spare Roy. Roy is shot but survives. However, John's captor lies and says Roy died and suffered and would have lived if not for John's actions.
  • In Marie D. Suesse and the Mystery New Pirate Age!, Monkey D. Madelyn, by wishing for Luffy to be delayed in the race for Raftel so Trafalgar Law could become King of the Pirates, inadvertently sets off a series of events resulting in the deaths of all the Straw Hat Pirates and virtually all of the Heart Pirates. Toward the end of the fic, when Madelyn admits that she made "mistakes," Law angrily lays into her, listing the names of everyone who died because of her and saying that it's all her fault.
  • In Necessary to Win, this is said practically word for word by Teru, to Saki, regarding their adopted sibling, who perished in a tankery accident while Teru saved Saki. On the other hand, someone close to the speaker doubts whether she actually truly believes this.

     Films — Animated 
  • This happens in Frozen (2013) when Hans tells Elsa she killed her sister to get her to cross the Despair Event Horizon so that he can finish her off. Anna's not dead yet at that point (Hans only thinks she is), but she does freeze to solid ice a few moments later as a result of the freezing curse Elsa (accidentally) put on her. She is then saved by the act of love she performs to save her sister.
  • The Lion King:
    • In The Lion King (1994), right after killing Mufasa, Scar tells Simba that he's responsible for Mufasa's "accidental" death. Much later, rescinding his lie was one of his last mistakes.
    • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. After watching Nuka try to climb an unstable log dam after Simba and subsequently fall to his death, Zira turns on Kovu, claws him across the eye, and snarls, "Nuka is dead because of you. [...] You've killed your own brother!"

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Not directly said, per se, but it seems in 28 Weeks Later that the kids realized that they were a tiny bit responsible for the events that tossed the big pile of fecal matter into the air circulation device, leading to the death of just about everybody but them.
  • Into the Storm (2014): Allison blames Pete for Jacob's death. Though Daryl blames himself because he talked Jacob into staying.
  • In the big battle scene in the middle of Kagemusha one of the retainers points at a number of corpses of young Takeda samurai and tells Kagemusha (impersonating Shingen Takeda): "These men died to defend you."
  • In Memento, the main character eventually finds out from Tommy that his wife was a diabetic and that the story he made up about "Sammy Jenkis" killing his wife by giving her too much insulin was actually a self-protecting projection of what he did.
  • Shutter Island: Leonardo DiCaprio's character's family is dead because he ignored his wife's mental illness and when she murdered his kids he killed her then "imagined" that he was looking for his family's real killer. It's implied this truth is so horrible that the second time he realized it he chose to get a lobotomy instead of living with what he's done.
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith:
    Darth Vader: Where is Padmé? Is she safe? Is she alright?
    Darth Sideous: It seems in your anger, you killed her.

  • The Adventures of Pinocchio: The Fairy somehow wrote on a tombstone that she died of pain after being abandoned by Pinocchio in order to guilt-trip him.
  • Harry Potter pulls this a number of different times.
    • It happens twice regarding Harry's parents; first when Harry discovers that Peter Pettigrew sold them out and second when he learns that Snape told Voldemort about the prophecy in the first place, not counting when Harry yells it at Sirius falsely believing him to be the traitor.
    • When Sirius is killed, Harry blames himself for causing Sirius to put himself in danger and not listening to Hermione and forgetting Snape, Dumbledore for not explaining stuff to Harry and keeping Sirius cooped up, Snape for not being especially helpful and mocking Sirius about being useless, and Kreacher for locking Sirius in his room and lying.
    • At the end of the series, Harry blames himself for everybody's deaths as they did, essentially, die in his name.

     Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100 Clarke is very troubled to learn that Finn massacred a village because he was trying to find her, and that said massacre will likely lead to his execution. She feels so responsible that she tries offering herself up to be killed in his place.
    Lexa: But Finn is guilty.
    Clarke: No! He did it for me. (almost sobbing) He did it for me.
    Lexa: Then he dies for you.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Karen Page's crusade in season 1 to expose Wilson Fisk is in part because she blames herself for the death of Daniel Fisher, the Union Allied coworker that Fisk tried to have her framed. While Karen's guilt is somewhat alleviated by learning from Fisher's widow that he had been planning on blowing the whistle on the same stuff Karen had been about to expose, she is motivated further.
      Karen Page: They killed him...because of me.
    • After an attempted poisoning of Vanessa, Fisk feels that simply being near him is why she ended up that way. Wesley has to reassure him that this isn't the case.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the "Trial of a Time Lord" arc, the Valeyard not only blames the Sixth Doctor for Peri's apparent death but outright accuses him of routinely getting his companions killed. However, though companions have been placed in life-threatening situations throughout the series, the number that had actually died at that point can be counted on the fingers of one hand. What's more, unless you believe the scenes shown towards the end of "Mindwarp" were not faked, only one of those companions, Adric, was a series regular.
    • Attempted by Rose in "Dalek" against the titular Dalek. Doesn't work, because, well, it's a Dalek.
      Rose: They're all dead because of you!
  • In the next to last episode of Forever (2014), Henry Morgan is horrified to learn that his wife of forty years, Abigail, first crashed a car she was driving and then slit her own throat to get away from Adam, another immortal, in order to protect Henry from him. Her last words were an attempt to convince Adam there was no other immortal, even as her actions convinced him otherwise.
  • In Season 3 of The Last Kingdom, Haesten tries to get Aethelflaed to surrender to him by preying on her guilt over how many people have died protecting her over the course of the series. It nearly works until Uhtred snaps Aethelflaed out of it.
    Haesten: Aethelflaed! How many more men and women must die to save your bony arse?!
  • In The Mentalist serial killer Red John leaves Patrick Jane a note on his bedroom door making it quite clear that his wife and daughter are dead directly because Jane said unflattering things about Red John on national TV. Patrick's resulting guilt puts him in a Heroic BSoD that takes six months in a mental hospital to break out of, then on a years-long crusade for revenge.
  • The Punisher (2017): William Rawlins and Billy Russo give variants of this to Frank Castle concerning the death of his family.
  • Supernatural loved this trope. Just a few examples:
    • Sam not only learns that his mother died protecting him from the Yellow-Eyed Demon, he learns that his girlfriend Jess was killed because the demons didn't want Sam to pursue a normal life with her.
    • Dean is outright tormented that his father gave up his life so Dean could live. He winds up doing the same thing for Sam, which torments Sam in turn.
    • The ghost of Meg Masters torments Dean, asking him why he didn't attempt an exorcism when she was possessed by a demon.
    • Crowley needles an already guilt-ridden Dean about Kevin's death, even pointing out that Crowley had warned Kevin that people in the Winchesters' circle don't have long life spans.
    • A teenage Claire Novak reminds Castiel that her father Jimmy died because he said yes to being Castiel's vessel.

     Video Games 
  • In certain missions during the various Call of Duty games, especially the ones that rely heavily on stealth, if you attract unwanted attention, say by shooting at a platoon of enemy soldiers instead of letting them pass you by undetected, you'll probably get a Non Standard Game Over, either by you getting killed by the overwhelming firepower, or your ally gets killed in the event you somehow manage to outfight/outrun them. The game makes sure to tell you what caused their death.
  • In Dragon Age II, Merrill's Act III personal quest ends with this. Anders and Fenris remind her cruelly of this.
  • In Final Fantasy II, if you go back to Altair and speak to Hilda after getting Gordon in your party the first time, there is special dialogue between the two, where Hilda is infuriated with Gordon, saying that his cowardice caused Josef's death. To elaborate, they needed to get inside Kasuon Keep for a special torch, and the only way of entrance is either with a certain bell or the voice of a member of the royal family. On the mission to get the bell, the party encounters Borghen on the way out, and Josef pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save them from a boulder trap; the implication is that this all could have been avoided if Gordon had helped them.
  • In Ghost of Tsushima, the protagonist, samurai warrior Jin Sakai and his blacksmith friend Taka are both taken prisoner by Khotun Khan, leader of the Mongol army invading Tsushima. After Jin refuses an offer to join Khotun, the latter tells Taka to kill Jin in exchange for his freedom. Instead, Taka attacks Khotun and is swiftly overpowered and killed. Afterwards, Khotun hisses at Jin "Your friend died for you", insinuating that Jin encouraging Taka to be bolder got him killed.
  • Downplayed in Golden Sun: When Ivan learns his employer Hammet is being held for ransom in Lunpa, he beats himself up over it (if Ivan hadn't lost the Shaman's Rod entrusted to him, Hammet would have left earlier before the bridge leading back to Kalay was destroyed, forcing him to take shelter in Lunpa and be taken prisoner there).
  • Jade Empire: The night before your traitorous Master Li's army besieges Dirge in the sixth chapter, he appears in your dream to sic three of your dead classmates on you in the burning school of Two Rivers. Regardless of whatever you claim their deaths didn't bother you or say that you would have saved them if you could have, Master Li taunts you by saying that he masterminded their deaths to give you the incentive to act in accordance with his masterplan, so you are in a way responsible for their deaths.
    Master Li: Do you remember your fellow students? They certainly remember you. They remember how you left them to die. [...] They died so there would be nothing holding you back. Their deaths ensured that you were properly motivated; without you, they would still be alive!
  • Certain game-over conditions in Night Trap cause the Mission Control commander to blame the player for the deaths of the heroine and the other victims.
  • In Warcraft III, Furion says this to Illidan: "At no heed to the cost? Because of you, Tyrande is dead!" (Kael informs them a few seconds later that they Never Found the Body.)

     Visual Novels 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Miles Edgeworth believes that he (accidentally) killed his father, Gregory Edgeworth, by throwing a gun that went off and hit him. When his former mentor, Manfred von Karma, decides to get rid of him by framing him for murder, he times it near the anniversary of that incident to reopen Edgeworth's emotional wounds, hoping he'll confess to it. (It works — and then spectacularly backfires on von Karma, who was the real murderer).
    • In the third case of the second game, a variant of this happens when Regina is forced to face the fact that her Deadly Prank was why Bat went into a coma.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Godot tells Phoenix that he was responsible for Mia Fey's death and that he himself could have prevented it. In this case, Godot is wrong, and he knows it; he's actually projecting his own guilt for failing to protect Mia onto Phoenix (despite Godot being in a coma at the time of Mia's death).
    • In Dual Destinies, Edgeworth himself suggests that Athena Cykes could have accidentally killed her mother. It's left somewhat ambiguous whether he himself believed it to be true or just figured someone had to be brave enough to put it on the table for Phoenix and co. to disprove.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Saionji tells Kuzuryuu that because he played the game that was Monokuma's "motive," he caused the deaths of Saionji's best friend, and Kuzuryuu's childhood friend and bodyguard; the latter killed the former while believing herself to be carrying out his will, and was executed for it. Kuzuryuu agrees, then attempts Seppuku as penance.
  • Zigzagged with the protagonist of Double Homework... with a line that he himself gives. He says that he killed twelve people by starting the avalanche, and itís first hinted at and later confirmed that two of those twelve were his parents. And the press reinforces this by calling him a mass murderer. No wonder heís so depressed at the beginning of the story.
  • In Sickness, If Sara is killed in your route, Suoh's Sickness will make sure to remind him that it was him that left her all alone while he was out trying to have fun with Misa.
  • In VA-11 HALL-A, when Gaby shows up in Chapter 2, she tells Jill that Jill's ex-girlfriend Lenore died because of a nanomachine rejection disease that gave Lenore a heart attack. While Gaby doesn't outright accuse Jill of murder, the fact that Jill broke up with Lenore just a few days before she died means that Gaby believes that Lenore and Jill's break-up contributed to her death. However, Jill staunchly refuses that she had anything to do with Lenore dying, saying that only now did she even learn that Lenore was sick. Either way, Gaby calls Jill an idiot and leaves, prompting Jill to go into a Heroic BSoD because she Never Got to Say Goodbye.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Delivered as the Wham Line to a devastating, defensive rant by Rey to Annie about why Annie's mother Surma died and no Psychopomp came for her: as an Uneven Hybrid with a fire elemental, Surma's spirit slowly transferred into Annie after her birth, until there was "nothing left to take" to the afterlife. Since everyone except Annie knew that this would happen when Surma had a child, it's more accurate that Surma died as a direct consequence of her own informed actions, but Annie is not in a position to appreciate the nuance.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the vampire possessing Durkon's body taunts Roy with the memory of his baby brother's death as part of a Mind Rape-enhanced Breaking Speech, telling him to give up because he always fails the people he tries to protect. Instead, it alerts Roy that the vampire isn't really Durkon and gives him the Unstoppable Rage to deliver a beatdown.
    "I was... ten years old..."
  • Sluggy Freelance: Bun-bun uses this in a Breaking Speech against Calix in "Oceans Unmoving — Double Cross". Calix first accuses Bun-bun of doing something to cause Calix's people to lose a battle on a Space Pirate ship and be captured and possibly killed, but Bun-bun counters that he did nothing and it was Calix's own fault for expecting a bunch of primitive villagers to be able to captain a high-tech ship.
  • In Universal Compass, Two's sadness parallel tells her she died because Two died. This trope has the potential to happen to every character because the empty parallel and emotional parallel's lives are linked.

     Western Animation 
  • BoJack Horseman: BoJack is actually the first to blame himself for the death of Sarah Lynn after encouraging her to go on a six-week-long bender with him. He shares how big the funeral was and how everyone was thinking that it was bound to happen, "but it wasn't." However, in season five, he begins playing the victim in many situations. Diane calls him out, possibly acting as the show-writers Leaning on the Fourth Wall to make the viewers realize his actions have been inexcusable. She goes on a long rant about how he's begun painting himself as the "main character of the Sarah Lynn story" which visibly hurts him.
  • From the end of Episode XCVI to the end of Episode XCVII, Samurai Jack believes he is responsible for the death of mind-controlled alien children. The Omen even lampshades this trope to try to get Jack to commit seppuku. The trope is subverted in both ways in that the children are alive and Ashi tells Jack so.
  • Though never told outright, the titular character of Steven Universe fears that the Crystal Gems hold the death of his mother and their leader Rose Quartz against him, since she sacrificed her physical form to give birth to him.


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The legendary tragic love story is summed up in three angry words.

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