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Unwitting Instigator of Doom

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"In a situation that's already a powderkeg, one doesn't ignore the man handing out matchbooks."

Someone unintentionally plays a small and/or unlikely but crucial role in some horrible development (usually this action serves as the catalyst). It may be a simple and perfectly rational observation, but it still counts as Tempting Fate.

An Unwitting Instigator of Doom can be basically complicit with the villain, but in that case, they're generally seeing only a small portion of the picture. If they're being specifically manipulated but do not realize, they're an Unwitting Pawn. Other times, they're simply blundering in like a wrench in some particularly highly valued machine, so it can be caused by The Load or The Millstone. They may also end up as the Idiot Houdini. In other cases, more in the know characters will chew them out for bumbling in and screwing things up, trusting them little better than they would a traitor.

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Compare Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! for when the heroes cause doom, and Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds for a different type of unwilling doom bringer. Also compare Chekhov's Gunman, in which a seemingly insignificant character becomes more important later on. See also Interrupted Cooldown Hug, Endangering News Broadcast, Tragic Mistake, and Small Role, Big Impact.


Examples:

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    Music 
  • Nena's song "99 Luftballons" (and its English version "99 Red Balloons") tells a story of a young couple who release 99 balloons to celebrate their love. The balloons are picked up by military radar and trigger a war that levels the city.
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    Professional Gaming 
  • In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, perhaps the biggest example (although doom is a bit overstated) is "The Great Northern Betrayal" and the fallout that resulted from it. After bombing out of ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018 12th-14th at the hands of eventual winners Cloud9, Astralis had planned to stay together as a team after their disappointing performance...and then Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye left the team for fellow Danish squad North in sudden and shocking fashion. This led to Astralis signing Emil "Magisk" Reif, and this in turn led to the Danes flat out destroying the opposition all throughout 2018, winning the next Major at FACEIT London, and winning the $1 million prize of Intel Grand Slam Season 1 (by winning four Dreamhack/ESL events). Overall, they had won 10 championships across the year. And to start off 2019, they won the IEM Katowice Major, cementing themselves as the best team of all-time. While Kjaerbye himself would find some decent success with North, even upsetting Astralis at Dreamhack Masters Stockholm 2018, and is most likely content staying with the team, Astralis probably would not have had this level of success with him had he stayed.
  • Dota 2: Again, doom being a bit overstated, in the hours following ESL One Birmingham, OG's Tal "Fly" Aizik and Gustav "s4" Magnusson departed the team for Evil Geniuses. Left in pieces, the organization had to forfeit their slot for the China Supermajor, the last Major before The International 2018. The two remaining players Johan "N0tail" Sundstein (who was best friends with Fly, so this sudden decision devastated him a lot), Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka and coach Sebastien "Ceb/7ckngMad" Debs went to look for players to reassemble the team, resulting in Ceb recruiting Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen as their midlaner, and Anathan "ana" Pham returning to the team following a year-long absence from professional Dota 2, this time as their carry. N0tail returned to his signature hard support role, while Ceb, after years of coaching, returned to active play as their offlaner. No one could've predicted the run they had at the tournament, running through the entire Upper Bracket (after a successful group stage performance) all the way to the Grand Finals culminating in an amazing best of 5 series against PSG.LGD, winning the damn tournament after only being assembled for just three months. Many thought that their run was a fluke. They were wrong. Come the following year's International, despite a rough season beforehand, OG, with the same roster, absolutely destroyed the competition, losing only 5 games in total from the group stage to the Grand Finals, crushing Team Liquid 3-1, not only becoming the first-ever two-time TI winners, but also back-to-back TI winners, having successfully defended their title. OG have now cemented themselves as the greatest Dota 2 team of all time, and it all started with the leaving of two key players. That being said, everyone clearly saw that both teams ultimately benefited from it as a whole. EG have returned to form as one of the best teams in the world. OG have become immortalized in esports history.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tommy Dreamer and Johnny Gunn defeated Tony Stetson and Johnny Hot Body for the NWA ECW Tag Team Titles at ECW November To Remember 93, November 13th, 1993. Johnny Gunn didn't make it to the December 4th event. Shane Douglas substituted and turned on Dreamer, costing them the belts to Kevin Sullivan and The Tazmaniac, leading to Shane renaming himself "The Franchise" and becoming the colossal Jerkass the world would come to know and hate.
  • In an interview, Jim Cornette said he was the first one in a booking meeting to suggest (jokingly) a double cross on Bret Hart in Montreal. However in his version, Bret would have faced Ken Shamrock instead.
  • In a similar situation, Tony Schiavone has taken credit for jokingly suggesting that WCW put their World Heavyweight championship on David Arquette.
  • The signing of Kurt Angle can be pointed to an indirect source to all of TNA's current issues thanks to two things it caused. The most direct one was bringing in his then-wife Karen into the promotion. After she filed for divorce and they separated, she started dating Jeff Jarrett — Dixie Carter found out, freaked, stripped Jarrett of all booking power and sent him home. Since most wrestlers saw Jarrett as the real boss, this allowed her to insert herself into a position of power backstage (she was only supposed to write the checks). The other one is the precedent it set; despite being by far and away the best signing TNA has ever made (with Christian and Sting being relative close seconds), Kurt's arrival allowed a floodgate of older wrestlers that entered the promotion and soaked up the spotlight from the younger talent people wanted to see. Eventually, this led to bringing in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, who took that same problem along with all the other ones that made TNA WCW-lite, and dialed them Up to Eleven, ushering in the Dork Age that the company is still trying to recover from to this day.
  • Chris Hero was kicked out of Chikara in 2007 and all relating to him was scrubbed clean from view, but his actions continued to have an effect on the promotion regardless. It was his acquisition of the Eye Of Tyr from Dr. Cube of Kaiju Big Battel that allowed for UltraMantis Black's Order Of The Neo Solar Temple to gain power and Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes after them, and Delirious taking up the ways of a rudo after that, and the rest of Incoherence going bad after that. The effects of manipulations also led to the rise of STIGMA in his absence.
  • Paige accidentally bumped into Summer Rae after winning a match. This act of disrespect caused the ring announcer to snap and attack Paige, thereby establishing herself as the new top heel Diva on NXT.
  • Summer Rae later became one herself. She corrupted Sasha Banks in order to get an ally for herself and form the Beautiful Fierce Females. Little did she know that Sasha would become an even more effective villain than her - and eventually the NXT Women's Champion. Everything Sasha did as The Boss stems from that one "Reason You Suck" Speech. And for good measure, Ric Flair's daughter Charlotte, who they brought into the group early on as a stab against Bayley, has also advanced much father than Summer since then. As of summer 2016, Summer Rae essentially helped create the history behind the main feud for the WWE Women's Championship, and herself has nothing to show for it.
  • ECW's November 23, 1996 event was supposed to have featured The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa) vs. D-Von Dudley and Axl Rotten, but Axl no-showed. A 17-year-old kid named Eric Kulas offered his services, lying about his age and about having been "trained" by Killer Kowalski. Cue the Mass Transit Incident. Axl likely had no clue what harm would come from his no-showing that night.

    Sports 
  • Fred Merkle was a baseball player for the Giants back in the early twentieth century. In the bottom of the ninth inning in a game against the Cubs, there were two outs and the score was tied, and Merkle was on first base (someone else was on third). Another player scored, scoring a game-winning run, but in the excitement Merkle never actually stepped on second base. Thus, a player for the Cubs stepped on second base and called Merkle out, thus nullifying the run. As this game was played before electric lighting, the game was declared a tie. Thus, the Giants and Cubs ended the season tied for first place, requiring a rematch to determine who would go on to win the pennant. The Cubs won. The sheer amount of hatred directed at Merkle's one mistake was astounding, especially considering that he was far from the only person who cost the Giants the pennant. It wasn't excitement that kept Merkle from stepping on second; the fans stormed the field, and he ran for the clubhouse for his own safety. The game was called a tie after the Cubs player somehow made the play in that mess because they couldn't clear the field. It should also be noted that, since this behavior by the fans was quite common back then, such a force out had never before been enforced under those conditions. All of this really makes Merkle one of the worst cases of Mis-blamed in sports history.
  • Steve Bartman. As the story goes, the Chicago Cubs were on their way to their first World Series since 1945 when hapless fan Bartman interfered with a foul ball, costing the team a precious out. What gets overlooked is that after the incident, Chicago still led 3-0 with one out in the 8th inning, and could have easily won the game if not for a bout of spectacular incompetence: a wild pitch, an error on an easy ground ball that could have ended the inning, two intentional walks that backfired to the tune of four runs allowed, and other hard hits. The tense 3-0 game became an 8-3 laugher. Oh, and that was only Game 6 of a seven-game series; the Cubs could have still made the World Series by winning Game 7, at home, with their best pitcher going. That didn't work out either.
  • Similarly, Bill Buckner's epic error in 1986. History notes that the Red Sox had the Mets down to their final out, and three times down to a final strike that would have brought Boston a long-awaited championship. Buckner's famous gaffe was made possible only by three consecutive singles, a wild pitch, and pitcher Bob Stanley failing to recognize that baserunner Ray Knight had strayed so far from second base he could have been picked off easily. And, like the above example, this loss only tied the series at 3-3; the stunned team could have regrouped and won the next day, but did not. Furthermore, the game was tied (due to the wild pitch mentioned above) when Buckner made the game-ending error. Had he made the play, the game would have continued another inning, making this another case of Mis-blamed.
  • In the bottom of the ninth inning of game six of the 1985 World Series, umpire Don Denkinger called Kansas City Royals baserunner Jorge Orta safe on a close play at first base. ABC's replay showed that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell managed to get to first base and took the toss from first baseman Jack Clark at the base before Orta reached it. Cardinals fans will blame this call for costing them the championship and Denkinger was hounded by them for years. However, Orta was the first batter of the inning. The Royals eventually loaded the bases and it was the fourth batter of the inning, pinch-hitter Dane Iorg, who got the hit that scored two runs to give Kansas City a 2-1 victory. The Cardinals could have still won the series the next night in game seven, but were still unhinged by the events of the previous night and the Royals won 11-0, claiming their firstnote  World Series title. It didn't help that the Cardinals had won the first two games of the series in Kansas City and held a 3-1 lead in the series after five games, making the Royals the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 series deficit after losing the first two games at home. Oh, and Orta wasn't even on base when the winning run was scored...he was thrown out at third on a poorly-executed bunt play.note 
  • For all the flack Lebron James got for the Miami Heat losing the 2011 NBA Championship. it may have been Dwayne Wade that started the collapse. Miami looked to have a 2-0 lead over Dallas when Wade hit a three-pointer to put them up by 15 in the fourth - and he chose to taunt the Mavericks by posing in front of their bench. Dallas mounted a furious rally to win that game, posted another comeback in Game Four and ultimately took the trophy right from under the anointed Heat's collective noses.
  • From the American point of view, an unidentified member of the Illinois Highway Patrol who escorted the Northern Irish World Champion golfer Rory McIlroy to the final day of the Ryder Cup; McIlroy was instrumental in Europe's comeback from 6-10 to retain the cup 14.5-13.5.
  • During a game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots in 2001, Jets linebacker Mo Lewis crushed scrambling QB Drew Bledsoe (So hard was the hit that Bledsoe nearly died from internal injuries). And with Bledsoe done for the day, in came a 6th round picked named Tom Brady. The man widely considered these days as one of the best to ever toss a pigskin. All thanks to Mo Lewis.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Lamar, a barbarian sentry from Judgment who sees Jeska knocking Kamahl's friend Balthor unconscious, and, believing she's killed him, rushes to tell Kamahl, who attacks Jeska in a fit of rage, mortally wounding her. This leads to the Cabal finding Jeska and saving her life by transforming her into Phage the Untouchable, kicking off the apocalyptic events of the entire Onslaught Cycle. Which, as it turns out, led to the fabric of existence being marred so much that temporal rifts began opening across all of the Multiverse (at various points in spacetime, no less); these rifts were revealed to be the causes of some key events that led to the Kamigawa and Mirrodin blocks, and finally culminated in permanently warping the very nature of all Planeswalkers Sparks both currently held and from that point forward. Because one private didn't check the body, the Multiverse was forever changed.
  • In the backstory to Warhammer Fantasy, the ancient Dwarf Empire was destroyed by a series of earthquakes that tore through the World's Edge Mountains. The dwarfs refer to it as the Time of Woe, as the dwarfholds were isolated and uncounted dwarfs died in cave-ins, fissures opening beneath their feet or entire sections of holds falling apart. The cause? On the other side of the Great Sea, a Slann Mage-Priest called Quex had realized the planet's continents had become slightly misaligned compared to the design documents left behind by the Precursors, and decided the time was right to re-align them.

    Theatre 
  • As Captain Henry Wirz testifies during the climax of The Andersonville Trial, General Sherman's march through and destruction of Atlanta only exacerbated the problems at Andersonville.
  • Brand has Gerd, a Cloud Cuckoolander who crosses paths with the main character time and again, prompting his choices for the worse. At the end of the play, she is the one who fires the shot to loosen the lavine that buries the entire community completely (and everybody in it). Justified because she is obsessed by the thought of getting a shot at "the bad priest on the black peak". Whatever that is.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Hilariously subverted by De Guiche: he is a villain who unwittingly derails his own plans. In Act I Scene IV, he utters a simple Dare to Be Badass to De Valvert, a small but crucial gesture that sets events in motion that result in the derailment of his own plan to marry Roxane to De Valvert so de Guiche could bully her to be his mistress.
  • In Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, the scatty Lady Markby brings a friend to a party, appearing in two scenes in the first act, and never appears onstage again. Said friend turns out to know their host's dirty secret, thus causing the events of the entire play.
  • Into the Woods: After all the fairytale events, one of the consequences is that the widow of the giant Jack killed comes down seeking revenge against Jack. However, it's during the song "Your Fault" that the other characters learn that they were all indirectly responsible — the Baker was the one who gave Jack the magic beans in exchange for Milky-White, his wife attempted to give Cinderella an extra bean in exchange for her golden slipper, which she promptly threw away (it was this second beanstalk that the giant's widow climbed down), Red Riding Hood dared Jack to get the harp, which was the point where the giant became aware of Jack stealing their stuff, and the Witch was the one who raised the beans in the first place. All the other characters ultimately agree to blame the Witch for the whole thingjust because she's a witch and therefore an easy target — despite her being by far the least involved.
  • Miss Saigon: Ellen. Had she not reacted so badly to the idea of taking Tam, Kim might not have felt it necessary to kill herself in order to ensure that they would.
  • The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples: Romeo's servant Balthasar in Romeo and Juliet, when he brings his message to Romeo telling him of Juliet's death. Sadly, the friar's letter telling him that the death was faked does not get through — so there are two Swiss Messengers, the one who delivers the wrong news, and the one who doesn't realize how important the real news is, and fails to deliver it. Actually seems to have achieved some degree of Pop-Cultural Osmosis, which runs counter to the norm for an author so prone to "Common Knowledge".
  • Sweeney Todd would never have gone on his murder spree as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street had Anthony not barged into his shop, with Judge Turpin right there in the damned room, in order to inform Sweeney of his plans to elope with Johanna, bombing both that plan and Sweeney's plan to kill Turpin straight to hell and making everything worse.
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    Toys 
  • Literally everything that happened in BIONICLE can be traced back to two characters' actions: Annona, who amplified the Great Beings' pre-existing compulsion to create, which eventually led to the Great Spirit Robot; and the Energized Protodermis Entity, who let the Core War happen and caused Spherus Magna to shatter. While it's debatable exactly how much of this was "unwitting", it's doubtful either of them foresaw just how much of an impact their actions would have.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The games have one (although it's more attributed to the series being a Long Runner more than anything): Tsukasa Oyashiki/Katherine Hall is indirectly responsible for the DL-6 incident, and therefore the events of the series as a whole, thanks to inadvertently hiding the IS-7 victim's body. This was due to the fact that she stole and hid some sherbet sculptures made by the victim (a famous sculptor whose works her adoptive father enjoyed) in order to prevent his final works from being destroyed, not realizing that the killer hid the body among them until well after the fact. Because of that, she's responsible for the forgery of evidence and Manfred von Karma's single black spot on his beloved perfect record, which caused him to murder Gregory Edgeworth and adopt Miles out of revenge. Even worse, the DL-6 Incident led to the Feys losing their reputation, causing Morgan's husband to leave her and Dahlia to grow up to become a serial killer. Poor Katherine's got a lot of blood on her hands and probably doesn't even realize it.
    • Jake Marshall is one for Case 1-5. He approaches Bruce Goodman, asking him to re-open SL-9, but Goodman refuses. Marshall then steals Goodman's ID to retrieve the evidence himself, prompting Goodman to have to enter the evidence room with Police Chief Damon Gant in order to complete the transferal. Not realizing he was with Neil Marshall's true killer, Goodman changes his mind and suggests reopening the case, and is killed on the spot before being transported to the underground parking lot. Marshall thus, either by stealing Goodman's ID or planting a seed of doubt in Goodman, indirectly caused Goodman's death.
  • Ryousuke Katayama of Corpse Party is a weird example, in that it's not exactly his fault. In Tenjin Elementary School, he loses his leg in a trap and bleeds to death. His friend Ohkawa, however, insists that he's still alive and needs to get to a hospital. In an attempt to "help" him realize the truth, Kizami pushes his body down the stairs. This works about as well as you'd expect. Ohkawa calls Kizami a murderer, which causes Kizami to have an "epiphany": It doesn't matter whether it's the school that kills you or him.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
      • In the third chapter, Kiyotaka asks Makoto to take him to see Alter Ego, because Taka's best friend, Mondo, killed Alter Ego's creator, Chihiro, something Taka felt very guilty about being unable to stop. Makoto obliges, despite the fact that Kyoko doesn't want anyone near Alter Ego unless absolutely necessary, and the conversation with Alter Ego results in Taka taking on Mondo's spirit and becoming obsessed with "Alter Ego." He then feuds with Hifumi, who lusts after Alter Ego, and Celeste uses that feud to play the two against each other, resulting in Hifumi killing Taka, Celeste killing Hifumi and Celeste being executed once she's discovered as the culprit. The anime had Makoto avert this trope, since Taka was with everyone else when they first found Alter Ego, so Makoto played no role in Taka's conversation with Alter Ego or resulting breakdown.
      • If you get to the end of Chihiro's Free Time Events, Chihiro will ask Makoto for the name of a "strong guy." Mondo is the only correct answer, and he ends up murdering Chihiro when they meet up in Chapter 2, so it's possible that Makoto played a role in that by recommending Mondo.
    • Super Danganronpa 2: Fuyuhiko plays a video game set up by Monokuma, which reveal details about his sister's murder and how Mahiru is connected to it. He attempts to confront her on the matter, but this leads to Peko killing Mahiru under the misguided belief that it was according to her master's will.
    • New Danganronpa V 3: When the cast try out a virtual reality program, Himiko has to remind herself that her right hand is the one she holds her chopsticks in when inserting two wires into the headset. Gonta turns out to be left-handed, so after hearing her, he gets the wires mixed up and is unable to remember anything that happened in the simulation, including his murdering Miu.
  • There are two of them in Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Ooishi, whose Inspector Javert tendencies provoke the events of the Spirited Away and Atonement chapters.
    • Oryou, whose actions and policies are directly responsible for Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening or indirectly responsible for many of the other chapters via the treatment of the Hojo siblings and in provoking Ooishi above.
  • During Hanako's route in the Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo Misha decides to teasingly question her and Hisao about their relationship. As a result of this question Hisao is forced into a situation where he had to tell Hanako about the surprise birthday party that he and Lily were planning for her. This just happens to cause Hanako to have a SEVERE panic attack in the middle of the following class, which is so serious that she has to be taken back to her room. In Misha's defense she truly didn't know that Hanako's birthday had such terrible memories associated with it, is genuinely sorry for the consequences, and apologizes to Hanako as soon as she can talk to her.
  • School Days:
    • Sekai seduces Makoto because of her own unrequited feelings for him, despite actually hooking him up with another girl, Kotonoha. This action itself, in the anime continuity, is what leads to Makoto developing a sex addiction, cheating on Sekai with Otome, and then Otome with every other girl in his class, Kotonoha becoming a Yandere, and well the nice boat.
    • Otome and Makoto might be even worse ones in some routes. It's depending on Makoto pulling one or another action that Otome will or not tell Makoto's best friend Taisuke that girls like forceful dudes during sex — which will lead him to rape his crush Kotonoha, under the very stupid belief that the poor girl's barely whispered "no, don't..." are actually a part of the "protest pretend" kink. note .
    • Also, Nanami, Hikari and Otome's Girl Posse can become the trope, when they horribly bully Kotonoha to keep her away from Makoto and make sure Sekai gets him. This can either lead to Makoto completely cutting Sekai off his life before choosing Kotonoha since he thinks she's the one instigating the bullying that Koto has been a victim of note  or to Kotonoha breaking down so badly for said harrassment that she murders Sekai in broad daylight. In either way, their support to one girl over the other makes things MUCH worse for the one they wanted to "help".
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair:
    • To begin with, there's Rie, who holds the party at the resort, giving the killer a place to kill the victims without anyone calling for help.
    • Rie's best friend Runa also counts. She insists that Rie invite Hiro and his girlfriend Momoko, despite the fact that Runa had been in love with the former, simply because she did not want to leave their friends out. She also proposed doing a matching cosplay with Runa, genuinely hoping to befriend her despite their difficulties in the past. After carrying out her plan of killing Hiro, Momoko uses the rope wrapped around her kimono to hang herself.
    • Momoko's best friend Kamen is probably the one who had the greatest indirect contribution to the murders. After Hiro tried hitting on her, she spoke with Momoko, and tried to convince her to dump Hiro, but Momoko jumped to the conclusion that Kamen wanted to steal Hiro away from her (not knowing that Kamen was in love with her). Hiro, undeterred, kept sending messages to Kamen's phone, and Momoko apparently got a look at the phone while Kamen was using the bathroom. Momoko then concluded that Hiro was cheating on her with Kamen, and planned on killing him and herself, while framing Kamen for the deaths.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Battler Ushiromiya of all people, who drives Sayo Yasuda to orchestrate the murders by unwittingly breaking a promise to take them away from Rokkenjima. Battler didn't come back for it because of very serious family issues (depicted below), but unfortunately, the already broken Sayo took this very, very badly.
    • Furthermore, if that's the case, then Rudolf and Kyrie are also responsible. Had they not married too soon after the death of Battler's beloved mother for the teenage Battler's taste, he would have not broken ties with his paternal family. Therefore, he would've showed up in Rokkenjima sooner and/or more frequently and, as the Guile Hero he is, he would've found a way to help poor Sayo deal with their crappy situation, promise or not.
    • There's also Natsuhi, who is largely responsible for Sayo Yasuda's issues in the first place. Sayo was pretty much forcibly given to her by Kinzo as a baby to raise after she couldn't give birth to an heir, which the very traditional Natsuhi saw as a reminder of her "failure" as a woman. One day, out of anger and resentment out of having to raise a child that wasn't her own, Natsuhi completely lost it and pushed a servant holding the baby off a cliff. The servant died but the baby survived, though with injuries that damaged their sexual organs, leading to Sayo having major gender/body issues later in life, which would not exactly help with their increasingly unstable mental state. An alternate continuity shows that, had Natsuhi not snapped the way she did, Sayo would grow into the far more stable Lion Ushiromiya.
  • In Zero Time Dilemma, Zero mentions a story of how a snail caused 6 deaths by just being where it was. A woman heavily hinted to be Eric's mother used a different way than usual because a snail was on the usual one. This caused her to meet a young Serial Killer, who turns out to be Mira, and get killed. An innocent man later revealed to be Akane's father was caught and sentenced to death, which lead to his wife to commit suicide. The man was going to catch a taxi but he couldn't, and the taxi driver took a surgeon going to operate a kid. The taxi had an accident and both the driver and the surgeon died. Since the kid never received his surgery, he died as well. Life is simply unfair

    Web Animation 
  • In Death Battle, He-Man ended up as this during his fight against Lion-O. He just wanted to fend off Lion-O, but in doing so, he crushed the Eye of Thundera, which kept the Thunderan race alive.
  • Llamas with Hats: In episode 7, Paul severs all ties with the series' Ax-Crazy Villain Protagonist Carl, as any sane person would and should. However, it turns out that Paul's friendship was the only thing keeping Carl a little bit sane (a very, very little bit), and without Paul around, Carl ends up destroying all life on Earth.
  • In Red vs. Blue:
    • It's revealed in season 10 that Carolina's pride was responsible for nearly everything bad that happened to the Freelancers—her original AI was Sigma, but she gave him up to Maine. Sigma and Maine went on to become the Meta and kill several other Freelancers. When she finally did get an AI, she took two: the ones that were originally meant for Wash and South. South's jealousy due to her brother North getting an AI and her not led to South leaving North to die and shooting Wash in the back, and her own death at Wash's hands later. Wash, on the other hand, did get an AI... Epsilon. Which led to him going insane and plotting to take down the Director of Project Freelancer for his crimes. All because of pride.
    • There's the Director's obsession with his dead love, Allison. When the Alpha AI, copied from the Director's mind, was created, the Beta AI (based on the Director's memories of Allison) naturally fragmented from it. This inspired the Director to torture the Alpha into making more fragments, the ones mentioned above, to figure out a way to "get her right".
    • There is also the Sleeveless Insurrectionist Soldier, who shot Agent Maine in the throat several times, rendering him mute. This gave Carolina an excuse to give her A.I. Sigma away so that Maine could have an alternate way to speak. This contributed into forever turning him into the Meta.
    • Season 14 ultimately reveals that everything happened because Agent Florida tripped over a wire and broke it. Originally, had something happened to him, other Freelancers were to show up and take his place, starting with Agent California. However, by damaging the wire, the list of Freelancers were replaced by five other names, starting with Caboose. Thus, because of a damaged wire, Agent Florida would kick off a series of events that would lead to the destruction of the Freelancer Project.

    Webcomics 
  • In Freefall, Florence has suspicions that Maxwell Post might be this when she learns that he is the spiritual advisor to the sapient robot population. So far, his efforts have been among the least of her worries.
  • One El Goonish Shive storyline featured a rampaging boar which was enchanted to grow to an enormous size. Said enchantment is heavily implied to have come from Rhoda, who was unwittingly given a magic mark and unknowingly used it on the boar while in a state of panic.
  • Virtually everyone in Homestuck; the single good character who doesn't manage this is Nepetanote .
    • Tavros deserves special mention. At one point he attempts to save a young Jade from accidentally shooting herself by taking psychic control of her dog, Becquerel, and deflecting the shot at her grandfather (whom he believed was a hostile intruder), killing him. He then points out that Becquerel would have saved her even if he hadn't done anything (in a way that would not have killed Grandpa Harley) and that he only interfered so he could feel a little better about himself. Even when she points out that killing her grandfather was not appreciated, he still thinks he made the right choice.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Nick and Ki's arrival in Domain by way of interdimensional travel disrupts the balance between the animal- and human-dominated worlds to the point at which the other two humans living on the animal side Lindesfarne and Danielle are forced to leave lest the world suffer instinct loss. Luckily, Catherine and Nigel do it instead.
  • In Kid Radd, two Moderators are given a large sum of money in order to hire an assassin to kill Radd, as Captain QB can't be directly implicated in illegal activities and needs to use a proxy. They reason that it can't be hard to kill someone in jail (as Radd is being imprisoned for illegally entering other games), and hire Kobayashi the discount ninja so that they can pocket the rest of the money. Radd survives the assassination attempt and Kobayashi becomes a recurring character who later meets up with Gnarl and, while training together, stumbles upon Chimera Point, the keystone to Crystal's plans, which eventually results in her finding it too.
  • Several characters in minus take actions that, unbeknownst to them, lead to The End of the World as We Know It. First, a mysterious man pretty much "breaks" minus by stuffing her into a briefcase. She is freed, but becomes a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. In an attempt to cure her, the green-haired girl throws a rock at minus's head, causing her to shatter. Because she is now a ghost, minus starts to spend more time with her ghost friends than her live ones. Which leads to the biggest example of this trope in the comic: the red-haired ghost asks minus to bring her back to life, because she has some Unfinished Business with certain humans that the readers don't get to see. minus agrees. Unfortunately, once the other ghosts find out, they demand that minus revive them too. She does, only for the sheer influx of bodies on Earth to suffocate every living thing on the planet, including those who were just revived. And that is why you should never ask anything of an omnipotent being, ever.
  • In Nobody Scores! this is frequently the role of Jane Doe. This for example.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Miko Miyazaki, having already lost her Paladin abilities through the unwarranted execution of of Lord Shojo, ends up destroying the Sapphire Gate, having once again misinterpreted what the gods wanted of her. Had she not been so hasty in doing this, the ghost of Soon Kim could have permanently ended the threat of Xykon and Redcloak, who, themselves, were aiming for the gate, anyway.
    • Right-Eye had the idea to recruit Xykon. If not for that one moment, Xykon never would have learned about the Snarl, probably never would have had the brains to become a lich on his own and would have continued his life of petty evil until he died and went to the Lower Planes without ever becoming the apocalyptic threat he is today.
    • When Vaarsuvius went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and cast Familicide, killing every creature related to the Ancient Black Dragon, they didn't have any intentions beyond protecting their own family (and maybe enjoying the wildly Disproportionate Retribution way too much). Unfortunately for them, and also the world, the Draketooth family guarding one of the Gates has a Meaningful Name, and Familicide wiped out every last one of them, leaving the Gate completely unprotected.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Reynir's older brother Bjarni to his Little Stowaway situation. While growing up, Reynir was told by his parents that only people who are The Immune can travel internationally, while those who are not, such as himself, aren't allowed to do so. This, combined with having The Immune Designer Babies as siblings, gave him a quite bad case of Small Town Boredom. Reynir eventually told Bjarni about it, and it goaded Bjarni into telling him that the international travel ban on non-immunes had actually been lifted a long time ago, and that their parents just didn't want an Empty Nest. Bjarni also mentioned that while military ships don't take non-immunes onboard, some merchant ships do. The merchant ship Reynir ended up on turned out to not have a license to let people disembark at its destination and its captain got blackmailed into making a detour to deliver food to the crew exploring an area with a high risk of The Plague. All Reynir noticed about the latter situation was that the ship stopped moving and that crates big enough to fit a person were being taken out of the supply room.
  • Schlock Mercenary: The Toughs accept a contract to deliver some food to what is referred to, in-story, as an 'UNS charity project'... Credomar. Due to the ship's AI interfering with a fuel delivery (which, in its defence, could have looked like an attack on the station if you squint right), unrest in the station boils up quickly and leads to the station having several new holes in the side. It's a space station floating in the vacuum of space. Of course the fact that one of their own 'build-a-bot' projects takes the opportunity to take charge, save everyone it could, become King, and inadvertently throwing a wrench in the UNS's plans to take over through other means (mainly by influencing the rebellion had it happened when expected, along with using the Toughs to "prop up a pro-annexation group" without actually telling them this) was the icing on the cake.

    Web Original 
  • Trouble in Dino Attack RPG, being a mutant lizard who was adopted and trained by a member of the team trying to eradicate his kind, was the first to spark the tension between realist and idealist members of the team. Technically speaking he is responsible both for the campaigns by both Kotua and Cam O'Cozy, both of whom tried to commit genocide against idealist agents.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared:
    • Red Guy is heavily implied to be this in the fifth episode. At the beginning of the episode, Duck Guy and Yellow Guy note that something's "missing", unaware that it's their friend Red Guy. Near the beginning of the episode, a phone rings, and when Duck Guy answers, he's suddenly in an operating room, watching himself on the television, with a mysterious voice saying "you have to know right from wrong". This seems to lead him to realize that the lesson would go wrong somehow and try to escape, for which he is Eaten Alive. The end credits imply that the call was made by Red Guy, who somehow escaped from the lessons and was trying to help his friends escape, and hearing Red Guy's voice was what made Duck Guy realize what was going on. If it weren't for Red Guy, Duck Guy would probably still be alive, and Yellow Guy wouldn't be completely alone.
    • The sixth video takes this further by implying that Red Guy is somehow inadvertently causing the "Groundhog Day" Loop the puppets are trapped in.
  • Noob:
    • In late Season 4, Kary commits the Innocently Insensitive act of choosing to check out an in-game event over finishing her (in-game) wedding to Arthéon, who was taking it much more serously than she was. Arthéon was so furious that he went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Even after he calmed down, he still had a much more cynical view of everyone and everything he knew than before. This became a really bad thing because Arthéon eventually got a job that enabled him to impact the game's plot and the story has reached a point where he will be responsible for the game world's destruction unless his former guildmates stop him.
    • In late Season 5, Roxana keeps Saphir from doing a quest that impacts the game story and may have the side a effect of making Saphir's guild outrank Roxana's once it's done. The reason the quest could have been singlehandedly enough to significantly uprank Saphir's guild? It would bring a big blow to the Big Bad if accomplished, help make him stronger if failed.
  • In SCP Foundation, SCP-1867 ("A Gentleman") is Lord Blackwood, an adventurous seaslug who appears in many other works telling about his adventurous times. If the accounts are correct, Lord Blackwood may have just been the one that inspired SCP-319's maker to try and travel to another universe, and gave him the means to attempt it. A short read of that particular file lets us know that attempt essentially doomed this universe.
  • The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles: Tim Tebow unintentionally destroys Canadian football. Unknown to him, the rest of the league can't start the 2014 playoffs until they get the results from his game against the REDBLACKS. But with Tebow leading the Argos' offense, and with the utterly bizarre rules of "bound-for-street" play, the game lasts over a decade—while every other team can't do anything but wait.
  • In Worm, the Undersider's local Smart Girl, Tattletale, normally isn't this, but a character flaw of hers is to start throwing everything her Sherlock Scan superpower picks up everywhere when she panics. This doesn't really hurt anyone...with the rather glaring exception of cluing Panacea into her family history...which sets off the time bomb of issues that is her adopted family, and ends with Panacea's incarceration and her sister becoming a miserable pile of immobile flesh.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Swiss Messenger, Fatal Bystander

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SpongeBob SquarePants

Patrick accuses SpongeBob of throwing out his trash because they contain "precious memories", causing him to start hoarding for the episode.

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