Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Go To

Basic Trope: The hero does something good, only to be "rewarded" with suffering.

  • Straight:
    • Marcy rescues a Damsel in Distress from a monster. Unfortunately, this grabs the attention of the monster's master, who decides to punish her for her defiance...
    • Bob saves a town from being sucked into a black hole, and everyone chews him out for not letting the police do their job.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Marcy rescues a Damsel in Distress and escorts her home... only to learn that the village was trying to sacrifice her to protect themselves, and they aren't too pleased with her interference. She's attacked and arrested, and they plan to sacrifice her instead. Before they get the chance, however, the monster attacks first — along with his master, looking for the one who defied him.
    • Advertisement:
    • Jim gives a homeless man a sandwich to eat. The homeless man eagerly accepts the sandwich, but has a severe allergic reaction to it and dies. The homeless man's brother, having recently heard of his poverty, comes to pick him up, only to find him dead at Jim's feet. Jim is arrested and sent to jail for life due to "killing" the homeless man.
    • Bob is despised for being the Chosen One to save humanity. Everyone is less concerned that humanity is in danger then they are about Bob being the only one who can save them.
  • Downplayed:
  • Justified:
    • Marcy had good intentions, but wasn't aware of the full situation before acting, and has to deal with the consequences.
    • "Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!!"
    • This is because good intentions does not help if it's accompanied by bad procedures. In regards to Downplayed #2: Police Brutality is a real problem, and if Marcy's been rewarded, then this opens up to further abuse, such as other police officers following suit and using excessive force against, say, petty thieves, for example. It also doesn't help when the terrorist/suspect dies before the prosecution can obtain evidence and determine what motivated/radicalised said terrorist, which leads to missed opportunities in preventing another potential terrorist attack.
    • If people start acknowledging one's good deeds,it may escalate into people being good for a reward, therefore it is better to punish the genuine do gooder in order to prevent such a mindset from growing.
    • Advertisement:
    • The people who yelled at Bob have family on the police staff, they wanted to watch their relatives get the glory and feel Bob is "Killstealing."
    • This setting is ruled by the dark god Horrificus, who specifically manipulates fate to punish anyone who tries to do the right thing.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted: Marcy is in turn rescued from the monster's master by the damsel she saved earlier.
  • Double Subverted: Although Marcy is rescued from the monster's master by the damsel, it turns out the damsel was just saving Marcy so she - actually a vampire - could drink Marcy's blood.
  • Parodied:
    • Marcy finds a little girl wandering around lost, tries to help her find her parents, and is promptly accused of trying to kidnap her and run out of town.
    • Acting with moral fiber is actually outlawed, and Marcy is pursued by the police for putting out a housefire, saving a person from a would-be murderer, and Helping Granny Cross the Street.
  • Zig Zagged: Marcy is captured by the monster's master, and rescued by the damsel. It turns out the damsel is a vampire who plans to drink Marcy's blood - but this is only because she's grateful, and wants to give Marcy vampiric powers to assist in her fight against evil. After Marcy convinces her that this isn't what she wants, she joins up with Marcy, and the two defeat the evil master together. However, this draws the attention of The Man Behind the Man...
  • Averted: Marcy rescues a Damsel in Distress from a monster. She is given a reward by the damsel's thankful father, and sets off to perform more heroism.
  • Enforced: The writers are building up the the audience's sympathy for Marcy by having her get punished for doing the right thing.
  • Lampshaded: "Karma is a total bitch, Marcy. You'll see what I mean soon enough."
  • Invoked: "We want the show to be realistic and everyone knows that people are Ungrateful Bastards in Real Life, no exceptions."
  • Exploited: Marcy, knowing that saving the Damsel in Distress from the monster will attract the attention of the monster's master, saves her anyway, so Marcy can set up a trap for when he comes to take revenge on her and end with him once and for all.
  • Defied:
    • "Well that's not being realistic. That's being fashionably cynical."
    • Marcy in turn is rescued... by the people the monsters were oppressing, having been inspired by her act of goodwill.
  • Discussed: "Marcy, doing something right attracts jealousy. Be careful when and how you do it. Sometimes not doing anything is the best thing to do."
  • Intended Audience Reaction: Oh, poor Marcy suffered for her simple act of kindness, the villagers must be horrible! Go, Marcy, go!
  • Conversed: "Why must people always go after the one who did the right thing?"
  • Deconstructed:
  • Reconstructed:
  • Played For Laughs: Marcy saves a kitten from a tree, only to realize that the tree is the cat's home, and gets rewarded by getting scratched in the face.
  • Played For Drama:

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished... No act of charity goes unresented.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: