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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished / Film

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Films — Animated
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint is ostracized in the town because his inventions always fail spectacularly, which is a shame, since most of the things he invented were made with the intent of helping people out. Even when he invents something that does end up working, saves the town from a depression, and gets him the love and respect he always wanted, it still manages to Go Horribly Wrong in the end, threatening to destroy the whole world.
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  • In Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, Mickey foils Pete's attempt to con a poor family into buying a poorly-made 10-foot Christmas tree. Pete is anything but pleased at him and proceeds to take the money he would have gotten for the tree out of Mickey's paycheck, leaving Mickey broke, before literally throwing him off of the lot. Of course, Pete quickly suffers Laser-Guided Karma when he stupidly puts his lit cigar in his back pocket with the money, which burns his butt and leads him to run into the pots of flammable glue he used to make the 10-footers, sending flaming shrapnel down on the lot and burning it to the ground.
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible stops a suicidal man from jumping off a building but accidentally injures the guy in the process. The dude "repays" the favor by suing him. This, and a buck of other lawsuits from people injured in the process of being saved, leads to a registration act that forces all superheroes into hiding. The actual person responsible for their injuries, Bomb Voyage, ends up getting away with it scot-free, since it was his bomb that resulted in the railroad tracks they were on being destroyed and forcing Mr. Incredible, who was trying to save Buddy Pine from being blown to smithereens by that bomb, to stop the train from falling over the gap caused by the explosion.
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  • The Secret Life of Pets: Max tries to reunite Duke with his previous owner — only to discover he died, and a new family has bought his house and moved in.
    Duke: Why did you bring me here, Max?
    Max: Wait a minute. This is my fault? You know, I was trying to help you!
    Duke: You were trying to get rid of me!
    Max: Yeah, you know what, Duke? I don't need this. Um... See you later.
  • In A Christmas Carol (1997) Ebenezer Scrooge believes in this philosophy, outlining it in one of the songs and to the Ghost of Christmas Present, who he believes saved him from falling so she could annoy him further.
  • Toy Story 3: Woody and Buzz go out of their way to save Lotso from getting shredded at the dump. What do they earn from this? Lotso leaves them to get burnt to death in the incinerator. However, the toys do get saved at the last minute by the Aliens, and Lotso gets his just desserts fair and square (he gets tied to a garbage truck and now has to deal with getting dirt and bugs onto him for the rest of his life until he eventually rots away and gets thrown away again).

Films — Live-Action

  • In Another Time, Another Place, suspicion falls on the Italian POWs when one of the local girls is raped. Janie goes to the military to provide Luigi with an alibi to exonerate him, but she finds that he'll be charged anyway for "association with a civilian female" for having a consensual relationship with her.
  • Byzantium: Poor Noel. He takes in an apparently desperate mother and child and ends up dead for his trouble.
  • In the wuxia Come Drink With Me., Lao Kung, then his kung-fu master's star pupil, recognized a poor boy's potential and prevailed on his master to take him as a student. The result ? The boy excelled him and became the master' star pupil and Lao Kung, mad with envy, murdered his master and framed the star pupil.
  • Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy is not a very friendly place:
    • In Batman Begins, when Bruce Wayne went out of his way to save his mentor, he learns later he was Genocidal Knight Templar Ra's Al Ghul, and that in doing so he nearly destroys Gotham. And in fact, it is revealed that this is exactly the sort of work the League of Shadows (i.e. the clan of ninjas Bruce had been training under) had been doing for centuries, including sacking Rome and spreading the Black Plague.
    • In The Dark Knight Sal Maroni explains to Batman that nobody will tell him where The Joker is because Batman has "rules," while the Joker does not. In a choice between the two, it's healthier to make Batman mad to avoid pissing off the Joker than it would be the other way around.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane became Talia's protector and helped her escape. This selfless action on his part resulted in several prisoners exacting revenge on him by beating him within an inch of his life, forcing him to don an anesthetic mask. And later he was banished from the League of Shadows because of his relationship with Talia.
  • The plot of Dead Calm begins when an Australian couple, John and Rae Ingram, rescue a man, Hughie, in a dinghy, fleeing a slowly sinking yacht and certain death. He "repays" them by overpowering Rae and sailing away while John investigates Hughie's stricken yacht.
  • The plot of Dragonheart is kicked off when Draco agrees to give half his heart to save the dying prince...who then grows up terrorizing the kingdom and can't be killed unless Draco himself dies. To twist the knife on poor Draco, he ends up being the Last of His Kind directly because of the deed, since Bowen blames his heart for "corrupting" the already evil prince and vows to wipe out all dragons in retaliation.
  • The Elite Squad: Matias trying to get Romerito spectacles. The student he told spilled the beans to the drug dealers and when Neto volunteered to help him pass them to the boy he gets fatally shot.
  • In Escape to Witch Mountain, Tia saves a man's life. That man, Lucas Deranian, turns out to be an employee of Aristotle Bolt, a billionaire searching for supernatural powers to exploit. Bolt sends Deranian to pose as Tony and Tia's uncle, bringing them to his isolated mansion.
  • In Ex Machina, Caleb helps Ava escape but, without a second thought, she leaves him behind to die a slow, agonizing death in the compound.
  • In Face/Off: Castor Troy, wearing Sean Archer's face, defends Jamie from a date-rapist and gives her a switchblade to use against further attackers. In the end, he tries to take her hostage..... and she uses the knife on him in the exact way he taught her.
  • In A Fistful of Dollars the Man With No Name manipulates the Mob War in San Miguel with ease; the only time he messes up and gets himself in real trouble is when he stops focusing on making money for a second and decides to free a woman the Rojo brothers were holding captive. This act tips off the Rojos that he's not on their side, leading them to ambush, capture, and torture him.
  • In the French comedy La folie des grandeurs, Blaze saves King Charles II's life and exposes the plot against the throne (among other good deeds) but is still sold into slavery
  • This is a recurring theme of The 400 Blows. When Antoine's grades falter, he commits himself fully to completing a writing assignment...and gets accused of plagiarism. Likewise, near the end of the film, he steals a typewriter and gets arrested for it. The kicker? He's not arrested during the actual theft; he's arrested after he feels guilty and tries to return it.
  • In a brief moment at the beginning of The Fugitive, Richard Kimble's friend Charles Nichols returns his keys to him and thanks him for lending him his car. Not until the end of the movie does Gerard realize and tell Richard that Nichols used the keys to let the one-armed man into Kimble's home. Kimble laughs bitterly at this, realizing that his wife would still be alive had he not done something as common as loaning his friend his car.
    • Kimble agreeing to assist a fellow surgeon with a difficult operation saves his life—because he would otherwise have arrived home with his wife and likely been murdered along with her—leaving him accused of being his wife's killer.
    • Near the beginning, an escape attempt by another inmate on the bus transporting prisoners leads to it crashing onto train tracks, and leaves one of the police officers seriously injured from a shiv. Right as a train approaches. Abandoned by both of the other survivors, Kimble pushes the injured officer out of the window and barely escapes himself before the train collides with the wreck. Later, Kimble exits the hospital - after sneaking in to treat his wounds - only to walk past said officer being brought in on a stretcher, who immediately recognizes him. He diverts attention from himself long enough to leave, but not long enough to prevent a chase with the police. Had Kimble left the officer to die, he would have made a clean getaway.
  • Georgia Rule gets outright literal in here: Mormon Harlan gets to Georgia's house to fetch her grand-daughter Rachel (who performed oral sex on him on a canoe) to convince her to get his actual girlfriend together with him to release him for his sins. When Rachel yells at him that it wasn't a big deal, but just a blowjob, and Georgia comes into the scene in a severely shocked manner, Rachel just responses that "no good deed goes unpunished".
  • Quoted word-for-word on the poster of The Green Inferno.
  • In the Halloween (2007) remake, Ismael, the only security guard in the institution who ever showed Michael Myers compassion and stopped the others from bullying him, is given an over-the-top and painful death. The poor guard's final words are a tearful, "I was good to you, Mikey!"
  • In Halloween II (2009), the daughter of one of the rednecks who beat down Michael for trespassing pleads with them to leave him alone, and at least apologizes when they leave him for dead. Dead just the same.
  • Contrary to how people reacted in the first film, in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Hellboy and his friends save the city from a giant forest god. He also goes out of his way to protect a tiny baby the whole time. The baby's mother thanks him by yanking her child away in fear and people boo and throw a rock at Hellboy. This only reinforces Prince Nuada's belief that humans are selfish, dumb ingrates.
  • The Human Condition: Kaji's altruistic acts often do his peers more harm than good.
  • In In Time, Will's mother dies as a direct consequence of giving Will enough money for lunch.
  • Eddie Carr from The Lost World: Jurassic Park tries to save Ian, Sarah, and Nick and gets eaten by two Tyrannosaurus Rexes for his trouble.
  • In Kill the Messenger, based off the Dark Alliance articles by Gary Webb, has this happen to Webb, who exposes the CIA supporting and aiding the drug trade to fund the Contras, only to find himself scrutinized for claims he never made and having interviewed unsavory individuals connected to the drug trade. This isn’t helped by the people scrutinizing him asking the CIA for information, apparently ignorant to the fact that the CIA would have the most reason to lie about it. To add to it, the CIA continuously harass him; at one point, a CIA agent hides behind his car and when Webb fires a warning shot into the air and scares the agent off, use it as an excuse to search his home and scrutinize him some more. His editors, allies, and other colleagues also turn on him for the sake of looking good and have him Reassigned to Antarctica the second things look bad, forcing him to live in a crappy motel, where his beloved Cool Bike gets stolen. In the final scene, Webb calls the reporters who ruined his life out, pointing out that investigative journalism is supposed to be about exposing the truth, and that the reason he was subject to so much scrutiny was simply because he revealed something they didn’t want to hear.
  • A Kitten For Hitler features a young boy traveling to Germany to deliver a kitten to Adolf Hitler for Christmas in hope that it will change his heart. While Hitler is glad about his gift, after he notices the boy's swastika shaped birthmark and star of David necklace, he has the boy skinned alive and turned into a lampshade.
  • In the classic Juvenile Delinquent film Kitten with a Whip, businessman and budding local politician David Stratton comes home from a business dinner to find troubled runaway Jodie squatting in his house. Both trying to quietly get rid of a potential scandal and genuinely wanting to help, he lets her get cleaned up, gives her clothes and money, and sends her on her way. Jodie repays this kindness by coming back with a bunch of her delinquent friends, who hold David hostage in his own house while they party and pillage. As the night goes on things escalate, eventually leading to violence and flight to Mexico.
  • The family from the farm in Logan. You invite the people that helped you with the car to dinner in your house with your family, only to get yourself and them murdered by a clone of the guy who helped you fix your water supply.
  • Mean Girls: Mrs. Norbury is concerned by Cady's declining grades, which she knows is a result of Cady pretending to be less intelligent than she really is, just to get the attention of a boy. While trying to motivate Cady, Mrs. Norbury tells her she's a "pusher" and intends to push Cady to fulfill her potential. All this does is cause Cady to twist her words later, telling the Plastics that Mrs. Norbury is probably a "drug pusher." They get her to write that in their notebook, which is later distributed to the school, causing Mrs. Norbury to be arrested on suspicion of drug dealing.
  • Happens in the end of the Mexican film Un Mundo Maravilloso, but not to the protagonist: The main character (a homeless hobo), having crossed the Despair Event Horizon because he believed his wife was dead (she wasn't, as he happily finds out soon after), wanders into a middle class neighborhood during a storm. A middle class family upon seeing him from the inside of their house, immediately out of kindness offers him shelter and gives him clothes, blankets and food. How does he repay them? Near the end of the film after deciding that "Better a day as a rich than a lifetime of poverty!" he, with the help of his family and buddies, invades and takes over that very same middle class house, killing its owners.
  • No Country for Old Men. Llewelyn Moss would have gotten away with stealing the drug cash if he hadn't gone back to give water to a dying man.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    Elizabeth: Pirate or no, this man saved my life!
    Norrington: One good deed is not enough to redeem a man of a lifetime of wickedness.
    Jack: Though it seems enough to condemn him.
    • Dead Man's Chest: Will and Elizabeth are sentenced to death for helping Jack escape.
    • On Stranger Tides:
      • Syrena rescuing Philip indirectly leads to her being captured and tortured by Blackbeard.
      • And, of course, all of Philip's attempts to be humane and/or kind to Syrena lead to him being tortured by Blackbeard as well. Oh, and making Syrena think he betrayed her, to boot.
  • The Purge: Letting a man on the run take refuge in your house is a good deed, no question. But when the psychopathic gang chasing after him decide to invade your home....
  • In Saving Private Ryan, Captain John Miller's decision to spare Steamboat Willie comes back to bite him in the ass later on, when the latter kills him.
  • While Villain Protagonist Tony from Scarface (1983) was already on a downward spiral thanks to Getting High on Their Own Supply, it's his refusal to kill children and his killing of Sosa's hitman who was going to do that which seals his fate.
  • A particularly nasty example in Serendipity where Jonathan's fiancee buys him a book because she's seen him looking at copies of that book dozens of times. Unbeknownst to her, he was only looking to see if it was the copy in which a former love-interest wrote her name and phone number. The copy she buys him turns out to be that copy, and he jilts her at the altar to pursue the other woman now that he knows her name. In other words, his fiancee ends up heartbroken and humiliated as a direct result of her buying him a book she had reason to believe was the perfect gift for him!
  • In Silver Linings Playbook Tiffany's husband, after coming home from buying her lingerie to spice up their relationship, helps a motorist who's broken down. He's struck and killed by a passing vehicle.
  • Mrs. Armfeldt in Smiles of a Summer Night takes this view. "Beware of good deeds. They cost far too much."
  • In Snake Eyes, Nicolas Cage plays a sleazy corrupt cop who suddenly finds his conscience when he uncovers and subsequently tries to prevent a plot to assassinate a political whistleblower. He succeeds, and in the epilogue he is initially hailed as a hero, but winds up going to jail after the extra publicity shines a light on his shady past.
  • Stargirl: Stargirl rushed over to see if he's okay when a player on a rival team playing her school's was hurt. Then she goes off with him in the ambulance. Everyone from her school views this as a betrayal since she's their good luck charm, keeping moral up. Without her, they lost. Later it turns out that her giving a bike to Hillari's little brother was innocently insensitive as they'd given this away after he was hurt while riding.
  • In Star Wars, Obi-Wan's decision to train Anakin against the will of the Jedi Council, to fulfill Qui-Gon's Last Request. Thanks to his training, Anakin is able to slaughter all but a few of the Jedi in the Galaxy and become Darth Vader. Ultimately, he does kill the Emperor and "bring balance to the Force," but only after many years of a war that was almost entirely caused by Obi-Wan's kindness.
  • Stuart Saves His Family: Stuart is the eternal Nice Guy, but every time he tries to help his family, it goes wrong because his family is extremely dysfunctional. His Character Development is learning the first person he needs to help is himself.
  • Swordsmen: Xu Baijiu has this as his motivation. He once caught a kid stealing from his parents, but let him go without telling anyone. He got poisoned for his trouble.
  • In X-Men: Apocalypse, Magneto is trying to live a quiet life under an assumed identity with his wife and daughter. However, when he uses his powers to save a factory worker from dying in a work accident, someone in the factory spots this and reports him to the police, which ultimately results in the deaths of his family. This ends up being the main reason Magneto ends up joining Apocalypse.


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