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Vengeance Denied

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"I have been denied everything... Even my REVENGE!"
Goliath, Gargoyles

The Roaring Rampage of Revenge is a tried and true storytelling device. Someone has done something wrong to the protagonist: such as murdering one or both of his parents, harming his children, hurting or killing one of his closest friends, his wise and fatherly mentor figure, and/or a loyal subordinate at his command, or even just kicking his dog... but the expected revenge scene never comes.

Maybe someone else who had the same beef killed the offender instead. Or maybe someone else killed them for completely unrelated reasons. Maybe a Conflict Killer arrived so that the revenge has to be put to the back burner. Maybe the avenger is foiled again by the avengee or their associates. Maybe the plans for revenge have been foiled by a Spanner in the Works. Maybe the avenger planned a device for them, only to end up trapped themselves by their own device. Maybe Laser-Guided Karma or Divine Intervention got them first. Maybe the target of their revenge ended up passing away due to natural causes, meaning they died in a peaceful, dignified and merciful matter as opposed to being killed horribly by their hands all while they begged for mercy. Or worst of all, the well-deserving target of revenge may even have managed to escape any retribution or justice for their actions. In any case, the avenger will either feel emptiness, disappointment, further rage, or relief because of this.

Compare and contrast this trope with Anti-Climax, Redemption Rejection, Spared, but Not Forgiven, Revenge Is Not Justice, and Kill Steal.

Beware of potential unmarked spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the second volume of the manga adaptation of Afro Samurai, Justice had already died by the time Afro got to him, preventing him from getting proper revenge. This also happens in the game, but Afro instead works through his issues by battling a mental version of Justice, granting him peace even if he couldn't get vengeance.
  • In the Bleach light novel Can't Fear Your Own World, Tokinada has spent most of his life being an unrepentant asshole who saw it as his purpose to be as evil as possible, earning him the enmity of such people as Tousen, Hisagi and Ginjo. Ultimately, however, he dies at the hands of a nameless assassin whose family was slaughtered at his command. Tokinada not only finds it hysterical and dies without regretting any of his countless acts of evil, he also dies satisfied that Hisagi and Ginjo won't be able to get their revenge by killing him anymore. Then again, Hisagi did ruin most of his plan simply by connecting the dots and influencing the right people to turn against him, and Ginjo gave him a sound thrashing during their fight after learning that he was the one responsible for turning Soul Society against him years ago, so chances are they are both satisfied with the result.
  • Chainsaw Man: Throughout the series, Aki is one of many devil hunters out to slay the the Gun Devil for killing his family. After Public Safety collect enough of its pieces to find its location, Aki asks to join the mission to hunt it. Then they let him know the Awful Truth; the Gun Devil was incapacitated by an unknown force after its major attack and the worlds' governments took as much of its body as possible. The mission was never to kill the Gun Devil, but claim its power for Japan. Then things go From Bad to Worse, as Aki is coerced and then mind controlled into fighting the Gun Devil anyway, killed by it, and has his corpse taken over and used for a killing spree until Denji puts him down.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta had spent the majority of his life wishing to obtain revenge on the tyrant Frieza for murdering his father and enslaving him. Instead Goku defeats Frieza and Frieza is killed by Vegeta's son, Trunks. This prevents him from getting the proper revenge he'd wanted, Vegeta remains bitter about it for several years. He does, however, get some major catharsis after Frieza returns in Dragon Ball Super, where Vegeta uses his newest Super Mode to thoroughly curbstomp Frieza.
  • Franken Fran: After finding out that her good friend was gang-raped multiple times and eventually murdered, Veronica wants to get revenge on the culprits, but is forbidden to do so by Gavrill, after having just provided Veronica with their names. Note that Gavrill easily Curb Stomped the other earlier in the story, making her able to enforce this. However, Veronica finds she doesn't need to get revenge, after it is revealed that her friend pulled a Thanatos Gambit, wherein she gave herself a lethal STD that gives male genitalia a very bad time. They all died horribly anyway.
  • Enforced in Fullmetal Alchemist. Roy gets very into avenging Hughes by slowly burning Envy to death — so much so his allies insist someone else kill Envy so it will be done for the sake of the mission, not just revenge. Riza in particular holds a gun to his head, threatening to kill Roy and then herself. He eventually concedes their point, and that a human could overcome their own hatred drives Envy so up the wall, they kill themself on the spot.
    Roy: [despondent] Suicide? You cruel bastard.
  • In Getter Robo, the surviving members of the Getter Team prepare to finish off Emperor Gore, the antagonist of the first half, and avenge the deaths of everyone he killed (which includes Musashi, who heroically sacrificed himself). Then Gore is killed by a monster of the rival Hyaki Empire, abruptly and in about as undignified a fashion as possible, right in the middle of his final charge. The Getter Team, in anger, decide to switch revenge targets to the Hyaki Empire, realizing they're even worse than Gore was.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Uvogin from the Phantom Troupe explicitly admits that he enjoys it when people the Spiders have wronged come looking for revenge, only for him to crush them like insects. Defied by Kurapika, who specifically developed his Nen abilities with the express purpose of killing the Phantom Troupe to the last man in retribution for their slaughter of the Kurta Clan, and goes out of his way to test them on Uvogin first before moving on to the rest. Among his repertoire is the ability to force Zetsu on his target — in other words, to forcibly shut down their Nen. The reason Kurapika goes after Uvogin first is because he is both the physically strongest member of the Troupe and an Enhancer who uses Nen to supplement his physical strength. Without Nen, Uvogin is forced to try and break free from Kurapika's chains with his physical strength alone, which is overpowered by the restrictions Kurapika placed upon himself; this allows Kurapika to conclude that, if Uvogin couldn't break free, then the rest of the Spiders will fall just as easily. Uvogin is rendered utterly helpless before long as Kurapika denies his denial of his vengeance.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: At the climax of the Shibuya Incident, Kenjaku absorbs Mahito in order to steal his Idle Transfiguration technique; he does this in front of Yuji, who was rearing up to kill the Disaster Curse and avenge all the countless people who died at Mahito's hands.
  • Nena Trinity had a grudge to settle with Ali al-Saachez in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 for the deaths of her 2 brothers. However, she was eventually killed by Louise who ironically had just as much vengeance against her for causing her family's death. Nena's vengeance could have gone unopposed had she not made an enemy of Louise.
  • In the Fishman Island arc of One Piece, King Neptune reluctantly refrains from avenging the murder of Queen Otohime because it would perpetuate the Cycle of Revenge she dedicated her life to ending.
  • Pokémon: The Series: There are actually multiple occasions where Team Rocket are harassed or cheated by a Jerkass Pokemon with little to no provocation. Of course, since their choice of retaliation is always to try and capture them and hand them over to Giovanni, Ash's team are obligated to stop them and blast them off.
  • Vinland Saga: Thorfinn spends most of the first 18 years of his life attempting to get honorable revenge on the man who killed his father. It's pretty much the only thing that gives him the motivation to keep going in life. And then he can only watch as said man is killed by another person. With the only thing in his life that gave him meaning snatched away right in front of his eyes, he basically loses all motivation to live and it takes a few years in slavery before he finds new purpose.

    Comic Books 
  • Happens every time Batman has the chance to get revenge on Joe Chill for the death of his parents. In Batman: Year Two, the Reaper kills Chill before Batman can. In Batman Begins, Chill is killed by one of Carmine Falcone's men in order to keep Chill from testifying against Falcone. In other versions of the story, Batman's Rogues Gallery kill Chill when they realize Chill created their worst enemy.
  • In Justice League: Cry for Justice, Green Arrow kills Prometheus after Prometheus kills Lian Harper, the daughter of Roy Harper. Roy later chews out Oliver for this in Rise of Arsenal.
  • Before Giganta can take revenge on Deathstroke for ordering the death of Ryan Choi, The New 52 happens and the subsequent reboots makes everyone forget the whole ordeal (and brings Ryan back to life).
  • Sara: Vera swears to get revenge upon the elite sniper who took out her sniping partner, Darya, but gets beaten to the punch by the title character.
  • In Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, Felicia Hardy was revealed to have become the Black Cat in hopes of getting revenge on the young man who raped her. Said rapist died in a drunk-driving accident before she could get her hands on him.
  • In Teen Titans, Donna Troy prevents Starfire from executing the man who killed her fiancé, saying they would turn him over to the proper authorities. The killer escaped and was murdered by other villains.

    Fan Works 
  • The Dark Shard: Enemy of the Light: Hera nearly kills Sean; before he has a chance to pay them back for this, S.H.I.E.L.D. works out a peace treaty with the Olympians, leaving him grumbling and complaining about being denied the chance to get revenge.
  • In Eight Count, a Boxing AU wherein fights are supposed to be scripted much like Professional Wrestling, the original storyline planned for that season was going to culminate in a championship rematch between Kate and Dinah, with Dinah set to "get her revenge" upon her rival for past slights. However, Harley and Steph wind up derailing that storyline.
  • In An Extraordinary Journey, Athena intends to use a Clone Army to wipe out the Wraith, but is stopped by the Atlantis Council from putting her plans into action.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: Jade wants to kill Phobos for killing Uncle, but is prevented from doing so by the realpolitik of the Rebellion's post-victory plans. And then he dies of his injuries before she can get at him, which only fuels her grief and rage further.
  • The Karma of Lies: Adrien assumed that Lila would never be able to trick him, since he already knew she was a liar. When she pulled one over on him anyway, he vows to track her down and make her pay... right after he regains the regard of Paris by taking down Mayura by himself. Unfortunately for him, his plans completely backfire, leaving Lila completely out of his reach.
    • Recursive Fanfic Karma Overbalance, however, lets him get his revenge when Lila returns to Paris and foolishly attempts to recruit him into her own scheme.
    • In another Recursive Fanfiction to The Karma of Lies, Karmic Backlash, Marinette is the one swearing vengeance on Lila when her Paranoia Gambit from the original story backfires and Lila steals the Miraculous Box, but one major obstacle gets in her way: the Humiliation Conga she suffers when Karma decides to knock her off the high horse she climbed on between The Karma of Lies and this story. Lila suffers a voiding of her Karma Houdini Warranty, but the one who does it is another girl Lila bullies in her next school, all the way to getting framed and sentenced for assault and who kills Lila in retaliation. This act of Offscreen Karma is presented as a minor footnote to spice up a little extra Irony in Marinette's downfall.
  • In Offspring, Link's son Murdoch wants to avenge his mother Mipha's death, but his family realizes it's a Suicide Mission and won't let him.
  • RWBY: Aqua's Mission: Ren feels this way after Sephiroth kills the Nuckelavee, solely because it happened to be in their way.
  • The Scorpion and the Frog: Sasuke is robbed of the chance to make Danzo pay for how he orchestrated the Uchiha Massacre after his target gets assassinated by Tatsuma instead.
  • In The Seven Misfortunes of Lady Fortune, Adrien is desperate to have his revenge upon the people who tried to kill Marinette. His father commits suicide before he can learns about his part, while the other two men involved fall victim to a Mutual Kill right in front of him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Thor's main goal is to kill Thanos to avenge the deaths of his brother, his friend and his people. However, Thanos survives Thor's attack and teleports away after performing his Badass Fingersnap, leaving Thor in shock.
  • In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne attempts to murder his parents' killer, Joe Chill, but Chill is assassinated by one of Carmine Falcone's men first.
  • In Batman Forever, Dick Grayson wants revenge on Two-Face for the deaths of his parents and brother. Batman ultimately causes Two-Face's death, because he understands how Dick feels and doesn't want the young man to end up like himself.
  • In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Yusuf is bound to avenge his mother's ensorcellment by Corvus Lestrange by killing the one person he showed affection for, his son, whom he believes Credence to be. But, it turns out that Leta switched Credence for the younger Lestrange as a baby while on a ship to America, and Corvus's son drowned when the ship sank in a storm.
  • Gangs of New York: After a whole film of building up to a climactic duel between Amsterdam Vallon and Bill the Butcher (who murdered Vallon's father years earlier), complete with a massive gang war, the United States Army effectively kills the conflict by arriving to deal with the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 (which had been building up as the B-Plot), shelling the streets with artillery and sending troops with orders to Take No Prisoners. To Amsterdam's eternal regret, Bill ends up fatally wounded by shrapnel and he ends up giving him a Mercy Kill.
  • In the James Bond film, Goldfinger, when Auric Goldfinger has one of his minions, Jill Masterson, get painted-gold-to death (for the 'crime' of having sex with James Bond), her sister, Tilly Masterson, vows revenge and goes on a mission to kill Goldfinger. However, Tilly's in over her head and gets herself killed.
  • In Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Mace Windu kills Boba Fett's (for lack of a better word) father, Jango Fett. Before the young Boba can get his revenge, Windu is killed by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith.

  • The Belgariad:
    • Inside Rak Cthol, the Companions end up finding a runaway slave named Taiba, who by prophecy, is the sole survivor of the Marag race. She carried nothing but a rusted knife with her in hopes of finding and killing Cthuchik for raping her and sacrificing her children, but got lost in the process until that point. When the Companions come back, Taiba insists on going back to Ctuchik, but they tell her that Cthuchik was obliterated out of existence, and the fact that Rak Cthol is collapsing. She breaks down initially, but out of gratitude, she joins the Companions.
    • Emperor Zakath of Mallorea, for much of his life, had his eyes bent on vengeance, only for it to be thwarted twice. The first was against King Taur Urgas of Cthol Murgos for forcing him to kill the love of his life after being tricked into thinking that she was a traitor, only for King Cho-Hag of Algaria to thwart it by killing Taur Urgas at Thull Mardu. The second was when Zakath took his revenge against the entirety of Cthol Murgos and against Taur Urgas' last remaining son Urgit, only for it to be halted by prophetic intervention (revealed to him that Urgit is not the son of Taur Urgas) and the fact that his empire is infested by demons.
  • The Bible: When the Israelites take possession of the Promised Land, God instructs them to declare a few sanctuary cities. Someone who accidentally kills someone else could flee to one of these cities and be protected from vengeance. Key word is accidentally; murderers get no sanctuary.
  • In Down And Out In Purgatory by Tim Powers, the protagonist spends years plotting the death of the man who murdered the love of his life, only for the man to die of natural causes. This is where the story begins; the protagonist refuses to let this stop him, and pursues his quarry into the afterlife.
  • Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series made it his life's mission to take down Bellatrix Lestrange when word broke that she had escaped from Azkaban. Unfortunately, the one time they actually met in combat, she wiped the floor with him. He never got a second chance to go for her, because during the last battle, Bellatrix attempts to kill Ginny Weasley, which causes Molly Weasley to step in and kill Bellatrix.
  • Serafina Pekkala from His Dark Materials has to renounce her revenge promises on Marisa Coulter and to break the arrow she set aside for her after learning she and Lord Asriel jumped in a bottomless void while trapping Metatron.
  • In Lauren Groff's The Monsters Of Templeton, many characters have been wronged by Marmaduke Temple, and three of them are angry enough to kill him. And all three try to do it on the same night. One succeeds; the other two back off, but don't seem too perturbed at being beaten to the punch.
  • The Pledge: The titular promise is done by the protagonist detective to avenge the death of a little girl at the hands of a Serial Killer to her parents. After a long time figuring out the man's tactics he sets up what he thinks is a fool-proof trap.... and the man never arrives. And the detective spends many years afterwards waiting for him, having destroyed his career and relationship with everybody he ever cared about once the fact he used the daughter of a woman he befriended as bait. Turns out that the serial killer was going to fall into the trap, but some random idiot driver hit his car and killed him instantly — a fact that is told to the other detective in charge of the case by the wife of the killer, as a Deathbed Confession. The story ends with the detective that made the pledge, now so addled from senility that he can't really think of more than maintaining his vigilance of the trap, refusing to accept that it was All for Nothing.
  • Redwall:
    • In Mariel of Redwall, every character claims dibs on the sea rat captain Gabool the Wild (including the hare who only joins in because everyone's doing it, volunteering to beat Gabool over the head with his instrument before everyone else has a go). In the end no one kills Gabool as he falls into his own scorpion pit.
    • In Triss, Trisscar pursues Kurda after cutting Kurda's sword in half, intent on finishing her off. Kurda ends up tripping and impaling herself on her own sword. Trisscar feels cheated of her revenge, until her friends point out that it wouldn't have been much revenge to murder a disarmed beast.
    • In Rakkety Tam, the Redwallers realize the insane wolverine Gulo the Savage will take a dim view on learning his brother is already dead (Askor had stolen the Walking Stone from Gulo and fled south but was killed when a tree fell on him, Gulo is certain he's hiding in the abbey) and take it out on the Redwallers, so Tam claims he killed Askor and duels Gulo (also hard for Gulo to swallow, as wolverines are the single most murderous species ever seen in the Redwall verse, but he sees no other way the squirrel could have taken the Walking Stone).
    • In Mattimeo, Mathias and Orlando both swear vengeance against Slagar for kidnapping their children. However, when they both catch up to him, Slagar, in a desperate bid to run away, trips and falls into an old well, breaking his neck. Interestingly, both concede this was a good thing: this way, neither of them resent the other for inflicting this trope on them.
  • The Saga of the People of Laxardal: Thorleik Hoskuldsson gets into a quarrel with Eldgrim because Thorleik is unwilling to sell him his best stud of horses, leading to Eldgrim insulting Thorleik. Later, Eldgrim attempts to steal the horses but is held up by Thorleik's uncle and neighbour, Hrut. The encounter ends with Hrut killing Eldgrim, thinking he is doing his nephew a favour; however hearing the news Thorleik is furious, as he believes Hrut has purposefully humiliated him by depriving him of the possibility to kill Eldgrim himself. His conviction that Hrut has offended him is so strong that he tries to avenge himself on Hrut, leading to a serious feud between uncle and nephew.
  • Space Wolf: Ragnar intends to kill Strybjorn to avenge his father, whom Strybjorn killed in an attack on Ragnar's clan's settlement where they both died (at each other's hands) and were revived by the Space Wolves as cadets for the Space Marine chapter. Senior Space Wolves tell Ragnar that his old life and its vengeance are over and that Strybjorn is his comrade in arms now. The two men eventually become Fire-Forged Friends while fighting their way out of a Thousand Sons enclave on Fenris and Ragnar's quest for vengeance is forgotten.
  • StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga: Rosemary Dahl spends the second and third books prepared to kill her ex Ethan Stewart, a crime boss, for trying to betray her and Jake Ramsey to the Terran Dominion. Instead, protoss Executor Selendis kills him during the final battle before Rosemary can reach him.
    Rosemary: What the hell do you think you're doing!
    Selendis: Protecting you.
    Rosemary: Protecting me? You robbed me of my kill! He was all but dead! I didn't need protecting from anything!
    Selendis: I did not protect you from what Kerrigan left of Ethan Stewart. I protected you from slaughtering out of hate. We are warriors, you and I. We must sometimes take lives. But we should do it because it is necessary. Not because we enjoy it. It is my fervent hope that after this moment, you will never again have to slay with hatred in your heart.
  • Happens a few times in Warrior Cats:
    • Darkstripe spent the last few books of the first arc wanting to kill Firestar, all because he'd ruined Tigerstar's plans. However, just as he was about to get his revenge, he was killed by Graystripe.
    • Played With in the case of Ashfur. All of his attempts at getting revenge on Squirrelflight for breaking up with him had failed; In trying to kill her father, the plan was ruined by Brambleclaw deciding to save him. In trying to kill her kits, he was stopped when she admitted they weren't her kits at all. In trying to reveal this fact at the Gathering to all four Clans, he was killed by Hollyleaf. However, this act lead to Hollyleaf's Sanity Slippage, and in the end she revealed the truth regardless, technically succeeding in Ashfur's revenge for him.
    • Breezepelt wanted to kill his half-siblings out of anger for their very existence and for being the winners of Crowfeather's Parental Favoritism. His attempt to kill Jayfeather (and Poppyfrost) was stopped by Honeyfern. An attempt to hurt Leafpool, Crowfeather's original mate and the mother of his half-siblings, was stopped by Crowfeather himself. Finally, he was stopped yet again by Crowfeather when he tried to kill Lionblaze in the battle with the Dark Forest.
  • After barely escaping Alfheim with their lives, Wulfrik leaves Broendulf behind in Wisborg, with the understanding between them that they fight over their love Hjordis after Wulfrik has killed the wizard responsible for their current predicament. But once Wulfrik returns, Broendulf has been caught and tortured so that he's in no state to fight. Wulfrik just stabs him through the head, angry that he's been denied vengeance against him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cal Johnson from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spent decades obsessing over revenge on HYDRA commander Whitehall, for the sake of his wife who was dissected and mutilated at their hands. Cal goes so far as to enter into an Enemy Mine with Whitehall, just to look for the perfect opportunity to enact his vengeance. That moment finally arrives midway through season 2, as Cal reveals his goals and confronts Whitehall... only for Coulson to come in and nonchalantly shoot Whitehall. Cal is outraged at Coulson, both for not getting to kill Whitehall personally and because he died so quickly, which exacerbates his existing grudge against SHIELD.
    Cal: What did you DO?!
    Coulson: (Unsure) You're welcome?
  • In Angel, Fred wanted revenge on her former teacher for condemning her to a hell dimension. Before she could kill him, however, her boyfriend Gunn kills him so she wouldn't be a murderer. Unfortunately, Fred ended up resenting him for it and as a result, she broke up with him.
  • In Criminal Minds episode "The Crimson King" newcomer Luke Alvez has a personal grudge against the title character because he killed his partner. When the BAU finds him, his mind has been shattered by mental torture from Mr. Scratch to the point where he can't remember who he is, thus denying Alvez the chance to kill him or even make a satisfying arrest.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Arya Stark intends to kill King Joffrey Baratheon to avenge her father Lord Eddard Stark (among other things), whom Joffrey had beheaded as a traitor in the first season. In the second episode of Season Four, Joffrey instead chokes to death on a piece of pie at his wedding feast, having been poisoned by Littlefinger and Lady Olenna Tyrell (a Blood Magic curse by Stannis Baratheon may or may not have also contributed).
      • Arya also wants to kill Joffrey's mother Cersei for enabling his rise to power and also playing a part in many other actions taken against House Stark. However, she loses her chance to do so in the penultimate episode of the series when Daenerys Targaryen snaps and decides to burn King's Landing down, indirectly killing Cersei in the process as the damaged Red Keep collapses on her.
    • After the Lannisters took over Highgarden, the Tyrells' main castle, in Episode 3 of Season 7, Jaime Lannister faces Olenna Tyrell and offers her a Mercy Death by giving poison to drink so that she wouldn't suffer a cruel execution from his sister, Cersei, who is already Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Olenna drinks the poison right away and tells Jaime that she is responsible for Joffrey's death, which denies Cersei any sort of vengeance against her. In the next episode, Cersei is completely pissed off with the news and blames Jaime for being too merciful.
  • Gotham: When Jerome Valeska is brought Back from the Dead in season 3 after having been cryogenically frozen, he declares his first order of business will be to kill Theo Galavan, the Villain with Good Publicity who stabbed him in the back to make himself appear a hero. Lee informs him that Galavan was already killed off, resurrected, and then killed again, prompting Jerome to sigh and ask her who beat him to it.
  • Highlander: One friend of Duncan's saw his wife murdered by another immortal. He was last seen leaving to confront him and is believed to have died in a duel against him, but it's later revealed he was killed by Richie like 50ft from the villain due to a contrived coincidence: Richie's bike just happened to break down in front of the villain's plain-looking lair, and while Richie was busy repairing it, Duncan's other friend mistook him for an evil henchman and duel to the death ensued.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: After centuries spent on hunting down Sauron, Galadriel gets her revenge denied the moment she learns he was slain by Adar, an Uruk, some long time ago. How true this is becomes muddled when it turns out her human companion Halbrand is Sauron, though Adar did apparently betray and try to kill him in some capacity.
  • Sons of Anarchy:
    • In season 1, Club President Clay orders Tig to kill fellow member Opie, mistakenly believing Opie to be a federal informant. Tig accidentally kills Opie's wife Donna instead when she is driving Opie's truck late at night instead of her own car. Clay and Tig conspire to make the club believe that a rival faction of black gang members committed the murder. However, Jax finds out through police informants that Clay was actually targeting Opie, Jax's best friend, but unfortunately doesn't have enough definitive proof to get the club's permission to kill Clay or Tig. For several seasons, Jax, Opie, and Opie's dad, Piney, know what Clay and Tig did, but club rules state that they themselves will be killed if they enact revenge outside of club procedures. In season 3, Opie murders the ATF agent that intentionally mislead Clay into believing he was a rat, but his resentment against Clay is stoked even higher when Clay murders Piney in season 4, after Piney discovers hard evidence that Clay murdered John Teller, Jax's biological father. Still constrained by club rules, Opie dies in a prison fight before he can exact revenge on Clay or Tig for Donna or Piney's murders. Clay is, however, eventually murdered by Jax.
    • Damion Pope goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the Sons after Tig accidentally kills his daughter while performing a drive-by on local gang members who he believed had attempted to kill Clay (Clay lied). He forces Tig to watch as he burns one of Tig's daughters alive, gets the Sons locked up for his daughter's murder, and will only have them released if they voluntarily sacrifice the life of one of their members (Opie volunteers). Upon their release, it is agreed that Jax has a limited amount of time to handle business according to Pope's specification, and at the end of that time, he expects Tig to be handed over to be murdered. Still stinging from Opie's death, Jax manipulates it so that Tig ends up getting to murder Pope and blame Clay, denying Pope the satisfaction of killing his daughter's killer.
  • The Sopranos: After Tony B murders Phil's brother (as retaliation for whacking a close friend), Phil swears brutal and gruesome vengeance, no matter what the others say to dissuade him, and he begins targeting Tony S's men until he's given Tony B's secret hiding place. Given little other recourse, Tony S tracks down his cousin and delivers a swift Mercy Kill, sparing him a far worse death if Phil had found him. However, upon being shown Tony B is dead, Phil is even angrier he didn't get the chance to torture and kill his brother's murderer.
  • Supernatural:

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Anaksha: Female Assassin. After the horrific death of Zara at the hands of Vincent St. Claire, Vincent was seemingly gunned down in a driveby, denying Anaksha any chance to avenge her. But come the final act of the game, it turns out that Vincent faked his death and rose to the top of Santa Lina's underworld, placing him directly in Anaksha's sights for the remainder of the game as she starts taking steps to destroy his operations and put him down for good.
  • In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack takes steps to avert this after the Vault Hunters help his tortured daughter Angel commit suicide. Fully aware that everyone else on Pandora is after the Vault Hunters due to the massive bounty on them, Jack rescinds the bounty and warns anyone that would kill the Vault Hunters that if they do so, he'll hunt them down and torture them to death for denying him his revenge. At the end of the game, Jack is denied his revenge as the Vault Hunters defeat him and destroy the Warrior, leaving him to have a complete mental breakdown right before he's killed.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, after V's Death by Origin Story they're denied the opportunity to get revenge on their killer, Fat Bastard Dexter Deshawn, by Corporate Samurai Takemura getting to him first. When discussing it with Panam who's on her own Roaring Rampage of Revenge they can either express bitterness or apathy towards the situation.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, demon hunter Lady swears revenge against her father Arkham for sacrificing her mother to demons in a bid to become a god. When she later finds Dante standing over her father's corpse, she wrongly assumes he killed him and attacks him for interfering in her vengeance. Subverted later in the game; Arkham was Faking the Dead, and Lady gets to kill him after all.
    Lady: This was my father, my family. This was all supposed to end by my hand!
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: While Etna does get her revenge on Maderas for stealing her memories in the canon story, Maderas is killed by Vulcanus in "Etna Mode", leaving her desire to torture him unfulfilled. In response, Etna decides to take Vulcanus down after seeing him as being no different from Maderas.
  • An interesting version is found in Dragon Age II. After the end of the first act, in which Hawke, Varric, and two of their friends are trapped and left for dead by Varric's backstabbing brother Bartrand, Varric spends the next few years determined to make him pay for this. (It's even more pronounced if one of those other two friends was Hawke's younger sibling, who either dies or becomes a Grey Warden as a result.) However, when he finally gets his chance, it's not nearly as satisfying as he expected: Bartrand has gone completely mad due to the influence of a cursed Plot Coupon, and Varric either has to have him committed to an asylum or else put him out of his misery. No matter which route he takes, he's visibly crushed by it.
  • Fable II: This can happen in the final battle against Lucien, who killed your sister and dog earlier and made your life miserable. Upon reaching him, he starts giving a monologue which you can stop by shooting him. If you wait for him to finish, however, Reaver will shoot him and acknowledge taking your revenge away.
    Reaver: I thought he'd never shut up. Oh I'm sorry. Were you wanting to kill him?
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • If you kill Cook-Cook (a sadistic rapist) then tell Betsy (one of his previous victims) that he's dead, she'll initially be disappointed and tell you that she had several elaborate revenge fantasies that she won't have the chance to enact anymore, though she'll also give you a small sum of money for a job well done.
    • During Cass' companion quest, Cass discovers that two rival businesses sabotaged her caravan and put her out of business, and demands that you help her track down and murder the culprits. If you wish, you can resolve the quest peacefully by finding evidence of the conspiracy and passing it to a representative of the NCR, who warns you not to interfere in the justice system by hurting the guilty parties. If you choose this option, Cass initially feels robbed of vengeance, but eventually warms to the idea that the slow grind of the NCR's legal procedures will mess her enemies up worse than bullets ever could. Depending on the your ending, they may also be assassinated by the Gun Runners under an obvious cover story.
    • When Yes Man reveals that he's the one that orchestrated the theft of the Platinum Chip, you can reveal to him that you're the Courier that Benny shot in the head. While he does feel bad about it and offers to let you destroy his current body he also states that as an AI he'll simply upload himself to another Securitron when that happens and apologizes for how it'll be impossible to truly enact proper vengeance.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Lyn's parents and her clan were massacred by the Taliver Bandits and wanted to avenge them. However, it is revealed through support conversation with Wallace that he destroyed the Bandits himself, which angered her. Wallace explained that he did her a favor of destroying the Taliver Bandits so that she doesn't become consumed with hatred and disgracing her grandfather's and her parent's names.
  • It depends on the continuity but Rock Howard from Garou: Mark of the Wolves can fall into this. His Archnemesis Dad, series arch-villain Geese Howard, abandoned him and his mother when he was young then refused to come to their aid when Rock's mother grew ill. As such Rock has ever since harbored a need to make his father suffer but the events of Real Bout: Fatal Fury ensured he would never get his chance, as Geese chose to throw himself off Geese Tower instead of lose to Terry Bogard. Terry at least recognized this and took Rock on as a protege so he could teach the boy to move on and not let a failure to get revenge become his whole existence. In continuities where Geese is still alive when Rock is a young man, however, this does not apply and Rock is able to express his hatred directly to his father.
  • God of War:
  • The House of the Dead: OVERKILL: Before Isaac can avenge his father by killing Papa Caesar, Warden Darling kills him instead, and mocks Isaac over the missed opportunity.
  • In Jade Empire, Sky seeks vengeance on Gao the Greater for running the slave ring that killed his daughter. By the time he reaches Gao, he's already dead by your hands.
    Sky: Dead already. Damn it all. I wanted nothing more than to watch this man die.
  • In Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, this is a major part of one of the main villain's backstory, specifically Masataka Ebina. It's revealed that he's actually Masumi Arakawa's offspring with the daughter of the Hikawa Clan's boss and wanted vengeance against him and the Yakuza after Arakawa wiped out the clan, leaving him and his mother to live in squalor until she died while he was in middle school. While he originally became a cop out of a desire to bring him down, his death in the previous game which he had nothing to do with means that he never truly got vengeance, driving him instead to become a Yakuza himself to destroy organized crime from inside.
  • Two squadmates in Mass Effect 2, Garrus and Zaeed, have loyalty missions centered on taking revenge on men who have ruined their lives. On both occasions you can deny your squadmate a chance at killing their target. While Garrus is ultimately okay with that, trusting you on every decision you make, Zaeed will be absolutely furious if you choose to save the trapped workers instead of pursuing his rival; you will need a high paragon score to earn his loyalty in that case.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Liquid Snake hates his "father" Big Boss, because he believes he chose him to be the inferior of his two cloned "sons". Part of his grudge against Solid Snake is that he killed Big Boss before him.
    Liquid: You stole my chance for revenge! Now I'll finish the work that father began! I will surpass him... I will destroy him!
  • Monark: The massacre that Subaru Ikariya unleashes on the first-year class was meant to culminate with him getting revenge on Hidefumi and Yasunori, the ringleaders of the bullying against him. Yasunori snaps and kills Hidefumi, thinking it will earn Subaru's forgiveness and get him to let him leave the building, but it instead makes things much worse. To say Subaru is angry at Yasunori for the Kill Steal is an understatement, and it's implied that the death he dies offscreen is gruesome. Worse, having been denied his vengeance, Subaru decides he'll make up for it by just killing everybody in the building, but he's stopped by The Protagonist and Kokoro before he can kill anyone else.
  • Northgard: In Rig's story, after finally cornering Hagen, Hagen is killed by his second-in-command who has abandoned him as a lost cause. Rig is only dissuaded from killing the second-in-command because she points out that Hagen was a mercenary: Someone else had paid him to kill Rig's father. Rig accepts her logic and swears undying revenge on Hagen's employer instead.
  • In Octopath Traveler II, Heig wants revenge on Glacis for having wiped out his former hunting crew. Ochette captures Glacis before Heig can get his vengeance, prompting him to believe that he may as well just die on the mountain since he has nothing left to live for. Fortunately, Ochette drags him back down the mountain to safety, and Heig admits he knew his desire to get back at Glacis was wrong.
  • Michelle Chang's original motivation in the Tekken series was to avenge her father by taking on Heihachi. She doesn't get the honor of defeating him (that went to Kazuya), but in a subversion, she isn't bitter about this, and goes home satisfied knowing that Heihachi got his ass kicked.
  • In World of Warcraft, Sylvanas Windrunner's shot at payback against Arthas for destroying her hometown, killing her and turning her into one of his banshee thralls, leaving her as an undead, fails not just once, but three times. When she has Arthas paralyzed by a venomous arrow and is ready to do to him as he did to her, Kel'Thuzad kills off Sylvanas's fellow banshees and forces her to flee. Later, when she faces him in the final showdown after he has become the Lich King, he overwhelms her and forces her to retreat on his own, as she realizes she'll need an army even bigger than the Horde. She never gets another shot, as Tirion Fordring and his army finish Arthas once and for all.

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Invoked in the Grand Finale. Objectively, the biggest villain in the story turns out to be King Radical, but the Doctor comically considers his Arch-Enemy to be to be a "birdosaurus" that's been annoying him a number of times, and that's the enemy he has ecstatic fantasies about killing. When he has finally foiled King Radical's Evil Plan for good, Radical sets up a highly elaborate scheme of revenge against the Doctor, tormenting him again and again. And then Radical shows up for the Final Battle riding the birdosaurus. Which he then kills.
    "Woo! Hope you'd never swore you'd kill him yourself! Because you have just been robbed of that! Ha ha!"
  • One Cyanide and Happiness strip shows a Warden giving a death row inmate his last meal, one peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The Warden chastises the prisoner on the monstrosity of his crime, and how the Warden will enjoy executing him. The prisoner says that it's not gonna happen, as he gleefully reveals his peanut allergy, goes into shock, and dies. The Warden can only rage as he could not carry the execution out.
  • Darths & Droids:
    • Boba Fett is the son of Darth Maul (instead of Jango), so in this version of The Empire Strikes Back, he's hunting Obi-wan Kenobi in order to avenge his father's death. He's completely unaware that Darth Vader already killed Obi-wan. When he finally does learn that Obi-wan's already dead, he has a mental breakdown—then falls into the Sarlacc pit and gets eaten.
    • In their version of Rogue One, Jyn Erso hates her father Galen and is trying to kill him, not rescue him. She sees Director Krennic attack Galen, then a squadron of X-Wings bombs the spot they're standing, and Jyn's immediate reaction is "No! I wanted to kill him!"
  • The Order of the Stick,
    • Malack is quite vocal in his intentions to kill Nale for murdering his family, and deeply resents being forced by Nale's father to work with Nale towards a common goal. Knowing that he's in danger as soon as he outlives his usefulness, Nale plans an ambush and kills Malack first.
      Nale: I don't know what's more insulting — that you thought you'd just be able to snuff me when this was over, or that you thought I wouldn't see it coming.
    • Eugene Greenhilt, father of Roy, made a Blood Oath of Vengeance against Xykon for killing his master. He lost interest and died of old age before the beginning of the story, but not before telling his son to do it in his stead. It becomes more important to him posthumously, since the oath keeps him Barred from the Afterlife while it's outstanding.

    Western Animation 
  • During the DuckTales (2017) episode, "The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!", Scrooge McDuck has an unexplained hatred of explorer George Mallardy. It is later revealed that the reason for this is that Scrooge was abandoned on a prior trek up the mountain by Mallardy, who cut the rope holding them together after Scrooge refused to lighten his load. However, due to the magical nature of the mountain, Mallardy got lost on the way up and died on the mountain. Huey even points out that the mountain saved Scrooge the effort of trying to get revenge on Mallardy.
  • Gargoyles:
    • The pilot episode had Goliath and the remaining survivors of his mostly-massacred clan seek revenge on the men they believe to be responsible, only for them to fall off a cliff and die, thus denying Goliath his opportunity to personally kill them himself (see the page quote).
    • In a franchise that is so full of examples, it is notable that the only person who gets to execute a fulfilling revenge and walk away is a Cloud Cuckoolander minor character who tosses a banana cream pie in Goliath's face.
  • In The Legend of Vox Machina, Percy had a personal grudge against Lord Sylas Briarwood over the latter murdering his family. Unfortunately, when Keyleth ends up being the one to kill Briarwood, Percy is left furious. Not helping it is the fact that he had made a Demonic Posession vengenance pact with Orthax that would now be left unfulilled.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006): One of the major sub-plots of the second season is Superman-X's obsession with finding and destroying Imperiex, a Conqueror from the Future Superman was designed to destroy. In the final two episodes of the season, Brainiac takes over Brainiac-5 and kills Imperiex within ten seconds of doing so, establishing himself as the true Big Bad. Superman-X is understandably not happy that his mission came to naught.
  • The Simpsons: In "Moaning Lisa", Homer Simpson gets close to finally beating Bart at a boxing game, and then Marge shuts down the game right at the very nanosecond before Homer's character knocks out Bart's, followed by Bart deciding to quit playing the game ever again to maintain his unbroken streak. Homer can only languish at all of this.


Video Example(s):


Evil Steve

In another universe, there's a Steve that's traveling the multiverse to kill other Steves to collect their Steveness. Unfortunately for him, he accidentally gets taken out by Principal Lewis in his car.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilDoppelganger

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