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. Or 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. Or maybe the avenger planned a device for them, only to end up trapped themselves by their own device. Or maybe Laser-Guided Karma or Divine Intervention got them first. 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.
Beware of potential unmarked spoilers.
- 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.
- 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.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: After Kira is defeated by getting run over by an ambulance, Hayato, who lost his father at Kira's hands, is upset that the man was not properly punished instead. Although he does not know it, when Kira is dragged to the afterlife, it is mentioned he probably won't have any peace there, so in a way, Hayato still gets what he wants, making it a subversion.
- 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: 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Star Wars: In 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Light Novel, Purple Haze Feedback, we find out that the character Sheila E. infiltrated the Passione gang in order to get revenge on Illuso, who killed her sister. During the events of part 5, Pannacotta Fugo kills Illuso before Sheila can do it. Sheila takes this quite well: considering how Fugo's Stand, Purple Haze, inflicts an extremely gruesome and painful death to its victims via being eaten alive by a virus, she finds it to be a fitting end for such an evil man.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 vengeances 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.
- Happens midway through the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Coulson empties his gun into Daniel Whitehall right in front of Cal Johnson, who wants to kill Whitehall himself for what he did to his wife.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 one of 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 [[spoiler: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.
- Stargate SG-1: Teal'c was after the Goauld Chronos for most of the first seasons, until his revenge was denied by a robotic copy of himself who killed him instead. Unsurprisingly for the character, he was perfectly satisfied with the result.
- John Winchester spends nearly thirty years hunting and killing monsters, searching for the entity that murdered his wife, Mary. At the end of season 1, he finally finds out that it was the demon Azazel. John gathers as much intel as he can, finds a gun capable of killing a demon, and gathers his sons as back up. Then the entire family is involved in a terrible car crash, and John's oldest, Dean, receives life threatening wounds. He's not expected to live. Desperate, John makes a demon deal with Azazel, exchanging his life and the only weapon capable of killing Azazel. After nearly 30 years of seeking revenge, not only does John not get his revenge, he has to willingly give his life and soul to the very thing he sought to kill.
- Cole Trenton of season 10 has wanted revenge on Dean Winchester since witnessing Dean killing Cole's father ten years earlier. He finally formulates a plan to exact revenge only to be thwarted and frustrated at every turn. He kidnaps Dean's brother Sam with the intent of using him as emotional leverage, but Dean is currently a demon and tells Cole to kill Sam. Then Cole finds Dean and attacks him, but demonic Dean is unkillable and hands Cole his ass on a platter. So Cole finds out everything he can about demons, but by the time he catches up with the Winchesters again, Dean is no longer a demon and demonic interrogation tactics such as holy water are useless. Finally, Cole inserts himself into a case the brothers are working, thinking to prove the Winchesters are murderous psychopaths only to find out that monsters are real and his dad was likely the literal monster Dean said he was.
- 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 Devil May Cry 3, 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.
- In Fire Emblem Blazing Blade, Lyn's parents and her clan was 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.
- 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.
- 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 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Gargoyles 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).