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What the Hell, Hero?

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Except Fighter.note  He's a casualty.note 

"You think I am a monster, but you're no different from me, Drake. How many men have you killed? How many, just today?"

When characters In-Universe call out one or possibly more of the heroes for doing something clearly unheroic, if not outright heinous.

Occasionally, an author will drop some black into their otherwise flawlessly good guy hero... and have others, particularly The Heart (and especially The McCoy), notice. This can add guilt and remorse to a character as they feel shame for their evil actions, and legitimately have to fight to restore their name, undo the harm, or simply live with the guilt and shame of it. In this case, you can expect to hear some variation of "Haven't you done enough already?" More extremely, it can be the first step towards Anti-Hero-dom or a full-blown Face–Heel Turn. A Redemption Quest is usually considered the most noble or morally good way to respond to this.

The opposite of Protagonist-Centered Morality; contrast also Designated Hero and Hero Insurance. See also What Is Evil? and "Not So Different" Remark for when a villain is the one pointing this out, or acting as though there's something to point out to mess with the hero. (A variation is when the villain will praise the hero, which the hero will find profoundly humiliating.)

If the player is given no choice in their decision due to Railroading or multiple choices they can make all end with terrible consequences, and the player is then called out for their actions, they are Blamed for Being Railroaded.

Almost never applies to those Powers That Be who have an Omniscient Morality License, although characters who Rage Against the Heavens might attempt it. Likewise, villains tend to be immune to this thanks to their It's All About Me attitude (or, at best, Moral Myopia), though a Heel Realisation might clue them in, perhaps leading to a Villainous BSoD. (This trope doesn't really apply to villains who are just doing it For the Evulz.) A villain may also be in the receiving end from another villain that remembers that Even Evil Has Standards. Those pesky Trickster Mentors may also find themselves on the receiving end of Rage Against the Mentor.

Some video games offer dialogue trees or something similar that might allow your character to call someone out for their horrible behavior, which can be immensely satisfying. If your character is the one being called out, it's What the Hell, Player? My God, What Have I Done? may be a self-inflicted version. Can come right off the heels of a Sadistic Choice foisted on the player in a video game. The hero may attempt to invoke I Did What I Had to Do as their justification, though this does not always succeed. Of course, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and one should beware of their own Moral Myopia leading to The Complainer Is Always Wrong. Results may vary against the Sociopathic Hero or The Unfettered; beware you don't get a Shut Up, Kirk! or Hannibal Lecture in response. Et Tu, Brute? may also counts as this when a hero does not make a full Face–Heel Turn, but gets called out for nearly betraying their allies. If it's a child calling out a parent or vice versa, it's Calling the Old Man Out or Calling the Young Man Out. Can overlap with "The Reason You Suck" Speech if a character points out a hero's flaws in very long detail in the most brutal way possible. Can also overlap with Cowardice Callout if the hero is being called out on shortcomings that are rooted in fear or a lack of well-placed courage. A character verbally chastising the hero may realize they were too hard on them if they feel uncomfortable in chewing out the hero. The hero may lash out at the reproof if they Can't Take Criticism.

Of course, the critics aren't necessarily infallible themselves. There may be times when those making the criticism may not be aware of extenuating factors for the heroes. Sometimes, those making a What The Hell Hero statement can get one in return- an Anti-Hero may call The Hero out on being too inflexible to do what is necessary, while the hero may respond that their critic's methods are little better than those of the villains.

Important note: This article is exclusively about scenes where the hero is called on their morally ambiguous or directly evil actions by characters in the story. If the Designated Hero is a Jerkass (or worse), but no one calls them on it in the series, then take your example to Designated Hero. Good-intended mistakes fall under Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Reviewers can call out this in their reviews, but they themselves are not engaging in What the Hell, Hero? as they are not part of the series being criticized. A skit still has to be based on events in the series; not something they make up so they can do the criticizing themselves.

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    Fairy Tales 
  • In Russian fairy tale "The Soldier And Death", the soldier imprisons Death in a magic bag to avert his own demise. Hence, everybody keep getting older and sicker, and nobody can die and go to Heaven. The soldier is called out by an elderly woman (who was ready to pass away when he bagged Death) by putting hundreds of thousands of people through a unending suffering.
    "What an old hag," said the soldier to himself. "It was time for her to die a many years ago."
    "Yes," says the old crone, with her toothless gums numbling and grumbling over her words. "Long ago it was time for me to die. When you shut up Death in the sack I had only an hour left to live. I had done with the world, and the world had done with me, and I would have been glad to be at peace. Long ago my place in heaven was made ready, and it is empty to this day for I cannot die. You, soldier, have sinned before God and before man. You have sinned a sin that God will not forgive. I am not the only soul in the world who is tortured as I am. Mine is not the only place that is growing dusty in heaven. Hundreds and thousands of us who should have died drag on in misery about the world. And but for you we should now be resting in peace."
    The soldier began to think. And he thought of all the other old men and women he had kept from the rest that God had made ready for them. "There is no doubt about it," thinks he; "I had better let Death loose again. No matter if I am the first of whom she makes an end. I have sinned many sins, not counting this one. Better go to the other world now and bear my punishment while I am strong, for when I am very old it will come worse to me to be tortured."

Alternative Title(s): What The Hell Hero Speech


Dewey keeping secrets

While Dewey had good intentions, Huey and Louie still call out his selfishness for keeping secrets about their mom.

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