Nothing is more satisfying than watching a Jerkass or a Card-Carrying Villain on the receiving end of Laser-Guided Karma. Most of the time, it's handed to them by The Hero, who did it with every intention of making the bad guy pay for his crimes and mistreatment of others.
But what if the All-Loving Hero doesn't mean to make the bad guy suffer? What if they're too much of a Nice Guy to understand true evil of the soul? What if the hero is actually trying to help or befriend the villain, but his attempts go awry and have the opposite effect, actually giving the bad guy his just desserts without really meaning to?
The Unintentionally Karmic is the type of Stupid Good or Innocently Insensitive character who attempts to befriend and please a character who acts mean out of the misguided belief that the bad guy has a Hidden Heart of Gold, and they can bring it out through The Power of Friendship. However, the actions of Unintentionally Karmic are just as misguided and naive as their beliefs, and it almost always ends in disaster for the bad guy, making the Unintentionally Karmic Lethally Stupid as well. So instead of being punished directly for their misdeeds and bad behavior, the jerk character ends up suffering consequences for someone else dropping the Idiot Ball.
Basically, the Unintentionally Karmic is a living, walking, talking Karma Houdini Warranty, whose actions to please or reach out to a bad guy always backfires horribly on the very person they were trying to help, delivering misfortune that while maybe not directly connected to the villainous misdeeds of the bad guys, is still very much deserved. And no matter how many times they mess things up for their "friends" or how many times they are told they are not appreciated by the bad guys, they keep Comically Missing the Point and go right back to their accidental torment, because Status Quo Is God.
And since whatever the Unintentionally Karmic did was done with pure intentions, and because whatever bad luck they brought was well-deserved by the ones it struck, they themselves usually emerge unscathed from the fires they start, as their good deeds only go wrong on the bad guys and almost always end well for other good characters, so no one worthwhile is complaining.
Sometimes, their targets will try to dissuade the UK character from trying to get close to them, to get them to change their wicked ways, or even try to shatter their optimistic views on the world. But the UK typically has Incorruptible Pure Pureness that is invulnerable to any sort of negativity.
The Unintentionally Karmic comes in many different shapes and forms. They can be The Ditz, The Klutz, the Manchild, the Idiot Hero, the Loon with a Heart of Gold, the Kindhearted Simpleton, the Bumbling Sidekick, Captain Oblivious, the Cloud Cuckoo Lander, The Pollyanna, and the Wide-Eyed Idealist, or, for a group, Gullible Lemmings.
The Unintentionally Karmic is the natural enemy of the Karmic Butt-Monkey and/or the Asshole Victim, who is almost always the main target of their ill-fated attempts at kindness and friendship. The villain can also be The Chew Toy if their karma is especially comedic.
This trope is an inversion of The Farmer and the Viper, where the kindness of the good one bites the good one, not the evil one, in the butt, while with the Unintentionally Karmic, it's the other way around. Compare Beware the Nice Ones and Beware the Silly Ones, when the nice and silly ones deliver karma when showing their bad sides, unlike when they are nice but still ruin things, or Karmic Trickster, where the good guys humiliated or frustrated the bad guys with the intention to do so. Compare Kick the Son of a Bitch for when someone did intend to be mean, not realising the recipient was mean too, or Pay Evil unto Evil, where someone will give a bad person their just desserts in a very deliberate, dark and often poetic fashion.
- Osomatsu-san: The Matsuno brothers will sometimes cause trouble for selfish con artist Iyami without even trying to.
- Baby's Day Out: A baby boy escapes the three bumbling criminals who kidnap him and lead them into a wild goose chase where he pursues adventure and innocently does things that result in Amusing Injuries.
- Dumb and Dumber:
- Harry and Lloyd innocently prank kidnapper Mental by putting chili peppers in his food, not knowing of his stomach ulcer. When the hot peppers trigger his ulcer, the duo mistakes the rat poison pills Mental planned to slip them for his medication and give them to him, accidentally killing him.
- In the prequel, the two, in high school, misinterpret a tape of their corrupt principal admitting he created a special needs class specifically to steal grant money for a Hawaiian vacation, and attempt to honor and thank him for starting the Special Needs class by making a float with a giant statue of him and playing the tape of him admitting his scam at the Thanksgiving Parade in front of their schoolmates, their families, and school board representatives.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Lovable dork Rowley often serves as this to his Toxic Friend Influence Greg by inadvertently embarrassing him with his childish interests and behaviors in public.
- Curtain: Hastings unwittingly causes a poisoning attempt to backfire on the perpetrator when he swings around a rotating bookcase-table, swapping the two coffee-cups on it, one being Mrs Franklin's and the other being a poisoned one she prepared for her husband, which results in her drinking her own poison and dying.
- Cursed Princess Club: Lorena becomes this to Suzanna Winchester once they meet. Suzanna is a smug, haughty fencer who lords her undefeated status over others and is deeply attracted to Prince Lance, and is furious to hear that he has become engaged to Lorena. She tries to show Lorena up and steal Lance, but all her attempts fail. What's more, Lorena is under the impression that "Suzie" is her friend, and often embarrasses her with affection, and unwittingly flaunting Lance in Suzanna's face when she brings him to cheer her on.
- Camp Lazlo: The titular Bean Scout does double duty both to rude, cankerous abusive Scoutmaster Lumpus and to sadistic, egotistical Barbaric Bully and fellow camper Edward.
- In the backstory of Coco, a backstage hand is distracted by the performance of Ernesto de la Cruz, and accidentally moves a lever that drops a giant bell on the latter, crushing him to death. This serves as karmic justice for murdering Hector, although the karmic justice for stealing Hector's credit and legacy is yet to come.
- General Skarr's Karma Houdini Warranty from Evil Con Carne gets worse when he transfers to The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. After retiring from villainy, he moves in next door to the extremely dimwitted and destructive Billy, who drives him up the wall with his antics, even more so than Grim sometimes.
- The Ghost and Molly McGee: The ever-optimistic and extroverted Molly McGee cannot be scared away by slobby and gluttonous Scratch's attempts to frighten her out of the house, and in fact only irritates him with her never-ending positivity and misguided notion that they are friends.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes: Jimmy is literally the only cheerful person in the appropriately named Miseryville, much to the chagrin of the town's tyrannical dictator Lucius, whose missions to spread misery always end in failure and humiliation thanks to Jimmy always befriending everyone and trying to have fun.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Griffin the Brushoff", Pinkie Pie meets Rainbow Dash's childhood friend Gilda, who pushes Pinkie away and acts completely hostile toward her. At first, Pinkie is very upset but tries to brush off Gilda's hostility as her being jealous. When she witnesses Gilda bullying Fluttershy though, Pinkie Pie takes action by throwing Gilda a party in hopes of softening her up and becoming actual friends with her. Instead, Gilda becomes hostile toward everyone at the party after falling into too many pranks set by Rainbow Dash that Pinkie unknowingly leads her into and reaching a Rage-Breaking Point which results in Rainbow Dash breaking her friendship with Gilda. Subverted in Gilda's next appearance where Pinkie not only manages to befriend Gilda, but also helps her mend her friendship with Rainbow.
- Phineas and Ferb: The titular brothers build wild inventions in their backyard and Candace always tries to bust them for no other reason than to have vindication. However, Phineas and Ferb sometimes try to good-naturedly rope her into their fun, which occasionally directly ruins Candace's plans, upsetting her.
- Rocko's Modern Life: Rocko and his best friend and housemate Heffer often unintentionally annoy or cause problems for their Cranky Neighbor, Ed Bighead. Ed's wife, Bev, on the other hand, is quite fond of Rocko.
- Even though they don't like Angelica most of the time, the eponymous Rugrats rarely intend to get payback at her for her lying and manipulations of their innocent minds. This doesn't prevent their actions from causing comeuppance for her, anyway.
- This trope is played even straighter with later additions to the baby gang, Dil and Kimi. The former is a newborn baby while the latter is The Pollyanna. Both are extroverted and bubblier towards Angelica than she would like, as their innocence and eagerness to have fun often come at her own expense.
- Once or twice, they are unintentionally karmic even for others outside Angelica. In "Grandpa's Bad Bug", Grandpa Lou pretends to have caught a bug so that he'll be able to take a nap. The kids think there is an actual insect inside him. Their attempts to get rid of it (i.e. pinching his uvula with pliers) inconvenience Lou greatly, and when they put "good bugs" on his bed to drive out the bad one, he worries that karma's after him, so he finally admits to Didi and Stu that he lied.
- On at least a handful of occasions, the babies' antics unwittingly entangle with those of criminals working in the same area, foiling their schemes via what is usually just an innocent adventure. For instance, Tommy and Chuckie causing havoc in a bank while searching for candy unintentionally sets off alarms and foils two crooks' attempted heist. Or their wandering in a bowling alley accidentally busting Grandpa's rival as a cheat.
- The Simpsons: In "Homer Badman", while Homer is endlessly hounded by the media for alleged sexual harassment after grabbing a piece of candy that was stuck to the babysitter's butt, it can also be seen as Laser-Guided Karma; the candy wouldn't have been stuck there if Homer hadn't stolen it in the first place.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- The titular dimwitted yellow sponge and his even more dimwitted pink starfish friend were this in the beginning to their grouchy Narcissist neighbor Squidward Tentacles, whose suffering at the hands of their stupidity and backlash at their attempts to help or have fun were supposed to be cosmic retribution for his overblown ego and Irrational Hatred of his town and everyone in it. But as the series progressed and Flanderization kicked in, SpongeBob and Patrick's antics and idiocy became overblown to the point where Squidward went from Karmic Butt-Monkey to Jerkass Woobie.
- Squidward himself becomes this to SpongeBob via Swapped Roles in "Breath of Fresh Squidward" when he gets a personality change from being electrocuted and gives SpongeBob A Taste Of His Own Medicine by infuriating him with the same clingy treatment and upstaging him.
- In Total Drama Island's Final Three, Heather gets a lot of much-owed comeuppance from the eliminated contestants she bullied and manipulated, as they were asked to describe the worst dares one could be forced to do as part of the big challenge. Of course, none of them knew that Heather would get the full brunt of it as Gwen and Owen teamed up to avoid most dares. The creame de la creame is the final dare that gets Heather eliminated — it comes from Lindsey, Heathers former Beta Bitch who Heather used and manipulated throughout the season and who Heather threw under the bus to save herself from elimination. Her dare is to let Chef shave their head. Heather kicks the electric razor away at the last minute, rejecting the dare, only for the razor to fall on her head and shave her hair off anyway, meaning she is now bald and eliminated.
- Unikitty!: Princess Unikitty gets on Master Frown's nerves even when she's trying to be nice to him and help cheer him up.
- Wander over Yonder: Wander is so pure and believing in people that he thinks that even the Big Bad planet-enslaving Lord Hater can become good with some help. Sadly, all his attempts to help Lord Hater open up and have fun only serve to annoy him and indirectly foil all his evil plans.