Follow TV Tropes

Following

Ungrateful Bastard / Literature

Go To

  • Lampshaded in A Brother's Price: Princess Odelia is saved from certain death by the Whistler family. She promptly plans to fake unconsciousness in order to steal a kiss from the son of the family. As this culture highly values male chastity, this is Serious Business, and other characters point out she's being an ungrateful bastard. Her sister Ren is even worse. Jerin enjoys it, but still ... bad manners.
    • To a lesser extent, the Whistler grandmothers, who kidnapped Prince Alannon, and married him only after they were knighted for their role in winning the civil war ... by the very same government that wondered where Alannon was. (Somewhat justified, as Prince Alannon was part of the losing part of the royal family, and being returned to his relatives might not have been good for his health.)
  • Ward of Hurog saves a lot of people, so some of this is bound to happen, but he is heartbroken when it turns out that his own brother, whom he talked out of suicide and got to a safe place, didn't trust him and thought he intended to kill a relative for Klingon Promotion. There is also the slave girl they "rescue" who turns out to have worked for the enemy all along. She shows no remorse.
    • Another candidate for the title of most ungrateful bastard is king Jakoven. He kills the son of a man who once saved his ass in battle.
    • Advertisement:
    • There is also Landislaw, whose big brother Garranon works his ass off to ensure his safety - Landislaw has nothing better to do than get himself into trouble.
  • The Jedi in the EU are consistently feared by the Galaxy. While this fear is warranted (the Jedi have had multiple civil wars, singular Jedi who go dark can wreck a galaxy, they have special powers), for a few examples, during the Vong War, a large portion of the New Republic felt that the best thing to do would be to appease the Vong by giving them the Jedi. As of this post, the New Republic (Galactic Alliance) is more fearful of the Jedi than the remnants of the Empire. Despite saving the Galaxy again and again, the Jedi just can't seem to catch a break. In fairness to the Galaxy, Sidious ran a massive anti-Jedi propaganda campaign over twenty-three years, and Luke Skywalker mishandled Caridagate. Yes, Kyp Durron conquered his inner demons in the end, but announcing his investiture gave the pro-Order-66 crowd a huge propaganda victory.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Anne McCaffrey's To Ride Pegasus, early on the Talents provide a warning that saves the life of, among others, a Senator who's arguing vehemently to deny them legal protection—even though it also risks the life of their strongest defender. Undaunted, the Senator not only accuses them of perpetrating a hoax but also insists that real psychics would have known better.
  • Steve from the The Saga of Darren Shan. Darren saves him by sacrificing most of his humanity after an accident. And how does Steve repay him, by becoming a vampire slayer and vowing to kill him. All because he thought Darren stole his original dream of becoming a vampire.
  • Jennifer the Jerk Is Missing. The title character is rude and insulting to her rescuers when she's found. "I like you better tied up and muffled," one of her rescuers says.
    Jennifer: Oh, yuck! Malcolm Wylie, what are you doing here? I was hoping to be rescued by some handsome cop or maybe a federal agent or something.
  • Advertisement:
  • Palicrovol in Hart's Hope, so much so that the book consists of a plea by another character for him not to kill Orem. It doesn't help that he contributed to the problem by raping the Big Bad, Beauty, when she was a child. So once Orem frees him and his closest friends — including the narrator — from their various curses, at the cost of Orem's beloved son, Palicrovol sets out to kill him due to Orem's time as Beauty's second-string consort. Discovering that Orem is his son (by a different woman) only prompts him to add incest to his list of charges.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Pool of the Black Ones, Conan the Barbarian is rescued from the sea by a pirate ship. As soon as they make land, he goes to murder the captain so he can take over.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, the amnesiac Phaethon hears himself denounced as ungrateful and later learns that he is suing to have his father declared dead after his father had died to save him and been revived from a noumenal recording. Still later, he recovers his memory. He learns that his dying father had asked him to do something and pledged him monetary support so he could do it; he was suing to get the money to carry out his father's Last Request.
  • In Warrior Cats, Brokenstar plots with Tigerstar to take over Thunderclan, even though the same clan gave him shelter when he was blinded and saved him from being murdered by two other clans. Even his own clanmates don't treat him with the same kindness as Thunderclan.
    • Tigerclaw's Fury shows Jaggedtooth tearing out a claw to make Runningnose believe that Tigerclaw is to be the new ShadowClan leader. When Tigerclaw finds out, he makes Blackfoot the deputy instead of Jaggedtooth, claiming that he doesn't owe the latter anything.
  • Harry Potter:
    • No matter how many time Harry saves his school, the students of Hogwarts will still turn against him on a moment's notice on the strength of lies purported by the government.
    • Meanwhile, Harry never shows any gratitude to Snape for saving his life in the first book, or for attempting to save him and his friends from Sirius Black (at the time believed to be a mass murderer), or for saving their life again in Order of the Phoenix. Snape's a dick to Harry, but you'd think saving his life would merit at least a "thank you" from a kid whose defining characteristic is love. Then again it is justified since Harry's animosity has everything to do with Snape treating him like crap for no good reason. In the case of Sirius Black, Harry knew that Sirius was innocent by that time and didn't think that Snape's motivation was altruistic but merely revenge against his old enemy. Subverted when Harry gives Snape his due after he learns the truth by petitioning that Snape be awarded an Order of Merlin (posthumously) and naming one of his sons after him (Albus Severus Potter).
    • Draco Malfoy. Ron even lampshades it:
      "And that's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two-faced bastard!"
    • Dolores Umbridge, who shows no gratitude whatsoever to Dumbledore after he saves her from a pack of centaurs.
    • And averted with Dudley who starts treating Harry a whole lot nicer after Harry saves him from a Dementor attack, as he fully realizes that he likely wouldn't have survived the event without his help. Unlike his parents especially Vernon who still think that Harry owes them for keeping him around as a maltreated servant.
  • Chickenhound later known as Slagar the Cruel in Redwall, who crosses the Moral Event Horizon by stealing from the Redwallers and killing Methuselah even after they nurse him back to health.
  • Anyone who has read Stephen King's Everything's Eventual will know that Diane, the character from the short story Lunch at the Gotham Cafe, is definitely this trope. You would think, that even after her husband just saved her life from a psychotic waiter, even after treating him very coldly, and demanding a divorce, would at least warrant a "thank you" from her!
  • In Robin Jarvis' Deptford Histories book Thomas, Mulligan pulls the unconscious Dimlon out of the sea, saving his life. What happens when he comes to? It turns out he is in fact Dahrem Ruhar, an adept of the Scale, who is intent on killing Mulligan.
  • Discworld heroes often get this, especially the ones who saved the world from certain destruction, because people become a lot less certain about how certain it was. In particular, we're told in Eric that there was some talk of building a statue of Rincewind after he saved the world from the Dungeon Dimensions (again) in Sourcery, but as the wizards became more determined to pretend it never happened (since they were the ones who started a magical war and opened the rift in the first place) this became a commemorative plaque, then a commendation on the roll of honour, and finally an official reprimand for being improperly dressed.
    • In The Fifth Elephant Vimes tackles the King of the Dwarves out of the way of a falling chandelier, and is promptly imprisoned because laying hands on the king is a crime. Vimes, of course, points out how stupid this is, but the (only) defense is "It's the law".
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The protagonists, of all people, are these! Payback has Mark Lane save Julia's life, and instead of being grateful, Charles Martin sends three men with presidential gold shields to intimidate Mark, and the three men perform a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Mark's friend Jack Emery. In that book Deja Vu, almost all the men working with the Vigilantes up and leave, and Charles has to explain to the ladies that their men risk their lives, careers and reputations on a daily basis for them, and they have never shown any sort of gratitude for their men! Unfortunately, the ladies do not take that to heart, because the men successfully find the ladies' target, point out his location, and the women respond to this by performing a No Holds Barred Beatdown on their target in front of their men, without even allowing the men to have a piece of him! Ungrateful Bitches!
  • In Animorphs, new recruit and Sixth Ranger David is none too grateful to the team for saving his life, even threatening to walk off and try figuring out what to do on his own when they try to tell him what bird to acquire. Seeing as how the David trilogy never shows his side of the story, it's unclear if he's really just plain ungrateful or if he's holding a grudge against the Animorphs for leaving his parents behind to get infested (and in Ax's case, for chopping off his dad's finger).
  • In The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes book The Best Is Yet To Come, when an old friend of Abby's mother named Laurie comes over to visit for the summer along with her daughter, Wynter, Laurie gets Abby to babysit Wynter for several hours a day. This doesn't seem so bad until we find out that Wynter is a huge spoiled brat and will only listen to Abby when she buys her candy, cookies, and various other sweets, forcing Abby to use up more and more of her own money to buy sweets to pacify Wynter. This goes on for several days until Laurie declares that she won't pay Abby at allnote  because she found chocolate in Wynter's sleeping bag that Abby gave to her. Granted, Abby's mother did eventually make Laurie pay up after arguing with her, but still...wow.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister is reviled by the realm for his betrayal of the Mad King, even by those waging war against him. Jaime considers the slaying of Aerys to be his finest act though, considering that Aerys was planning to engulf King's Landing in Wildfire to "burn them all". Jaime never told anyone that particular detail because no one would believe him, instead assuming he was making shit up to seem like more of a hero. It's not reasonable to call the commonfolk ungrateful when they have no idea that they should be.
    • Tyrion's trial for supposedly murdering Joffrey has him do this inwardly when the court is unabashedly a Kangaroo Court that will pronounce him guilty through half truths, outright lying, and paid witnesses, in addition to not allowing Tyrion to speak in his own defense. In the last book, Tyrion had saved King's Landing from being taken by Stannis and massacring everyone. Thanks to him, when Stannis otherwise would have overrun the city in short order due to a lack of any large armies near it, crappy defenses, and a poorly disciplined and inexperienced City Watch, Tyrion's gambits involving a massive chain and shipfulls of wildfire, in addition to putting more men in the City Watch, let King's Landing hold out long enough for The Cavalry to come riding in, but The Cavalry got all of the glory and Tyrion got nothing but the loss of half of his nose.
    • The Lannisters seem to get this a lot. Tywin was a very competent Hand of the King to Aerys, and kept the Seven Kingdoms stable even as Aerys became less so. Aerys felt no gratitude towards the man who had been a good friend and ally to him for much of his life, only envy. He snubbed Tywin at every turn — making lewd remarks about invoking lord's right with Tywin's new wife Joanna, taking Tywin's favorite son Jaime as one of the Kingsguard just to deprive Tywin of his preferred heir, and refusing Tywin's request to marry Rhaegar to Cersei. Aerys rubbed salt in the wound with that last one by claiming that Tywin was a mere servant, and kings don't marry their sons off to the daughters of their servants. That was the last straw for Tywin — he immediately retired from being the Hand of the King. Given all the crap Aerys threw his way, Tywin's later power play against him almost seems reasonable (the brutal sacking of King's Landing, not so much).
    • Gregor Clegane had the privilege of being knighted by Prince Rhaegar himself, a great honor. He had no compunctions against later murdering Rhaegar's children and raping and killing Rhaegar's wife.
    • Aemon the Dragonknight loyally served his brother Aegon the Unworthy as a Kingsguard and even sacrificed his own life saving Aegon. Aegon repaid his brother's loyalty and sacrifice by spreading rumors that Aemon and Aegon's wife had an affair and that Aegon's son Daeron was actually their bastard. There's a reason he's called the Unworthy.
    • After Robert's death, his brother Renly declares himself King with the support of the Tyrells, leapfrogging over Stannis' (his older brother) claim. When the two meet later (after Stannis also claims the crown on the basis that Robert's children are born of incest), Renly makes it obvious that he has no compuction about killing his brother if he won't give his claim up, stating he owes him no loyalty. The ungrateful part comes from when he was nine, a time where Stannis almost died of hunger trying to keep him alive during the Siege of Storm's End... which was held by the Tyrells.
    • King Aegon III spared Alicent Hightower at the end of the Dance of the Dragons, even though she'd been calling for her son, Aegon II, to slice III into tiny, tiny pieces, and had helped start the whole damn affair through her own desire for power. She shows absolutely no gratitude whatsoever, even telling her granddaughter, Aegon's wife, to slice his throat open. Did we mention both Aegon III and his wife were kids at that point? In fairness, Aegon's regents figured this out pretty quick, and felt it was a very sensible idea not to let the former queen anywhere near the king in case she tried to murder him.
    • King Daeron Targaryen tried to form a bond with his legitimized half-brother Daemon Blackfyre by paying for his wedding and giving him a keep and lands to call his own. Daemon repaid Daeron's kindness by trying to usurp him, starting a bloody civil war.
    • Theon Greyjoy is seen as this by the Starks and their supporters for turning on Robb by siding with his biological family the Greyjoys and taking Winterfell. Theon had been treated well as the Starks' "ward" and the Starks had more or less considered him one of the family. It is however pointed out that Theon was their hostage and thus his life was always being implicitly threatened while he was with them. A part of Theon always resented the notion that he should be grateful that they didn't make his life hell or kill him.
    • Daenerys stopped Mirri Maz Duur's rape from continuing and put her under her protection. When Daenerys begs her to use Blood Magic to save Khal Drogo after he falls ill, Mirri betrays her by leaving Drogo in a vegetative state. The ritual also took the life of Daenerys' unborn child in the process and rendered Daenerys infertile. Mirri points out that Daenerys saving her didn't even begin to make up for what had already happened to Mirri and her village, which Khal Drogo and his Dothraki had destroyed.
  • In Speak, Melinda befriends the new girl, Heather, goes with her to a model shoot to support her, and assists her in her first Martha Project in order to help her get into the popular Martha clique, only for Heather to ditch her completely in favor of the Marthas, due to Melinda's unpopularity. She pays dearly for it later when she's required by the Marthas to decorate the ballroom for the senior prom, and the other Marthas get sick and can't help her, leaving her on her own. She's left to beg Melinda for help, only to find out that Melinda's not interested.
  • The short story Boule De Suif follows a group of French residents fleeing to Le Havre. The title character, Elisabeth Rousset, nicknamed Boule De Suif, is a prostitute, and looked down upon by the other occupants of the coach, but she doesn't let that stop her from kindly sharing her food with them. Later, they are detained by a Prussian officer, and the rest of the party convince Boule De Suif to sleep with him, so that they may leave. She does so...and they repay her self-sacrifice by a) throwing a party without inviting her, and b) treating her with contempt when they are allowed to leave, and refusing to share their food with her, even though she's the reason they were even allowed to leave in the first place!
  • One of the most infamous events among The Wheel of Time fandom comes when Mat, a character who has yet to receive the massive power upgrades most of the cast manage to acquire, rescues Elayne and Nynaeve, two characters who are already insanely powerful, from a prison they had absolutely no chance of escaping. They proceed to berate him for daring to think they needed rescuing (they did) and offer no apology or gratitude until damn near forced to by Aviendha and Birgitte.
    • Minutes after Mat gets them out of their cell they physically restrain him with the One Power for pointing out that they should be trying to escape rather than attacking their now helpless former captor.
  • This happens to the protagonist during his first voyage in Gulliver's Travels. Despite the fact that he helps the Lilliputians by stealing the Blefuscudian fleet and crippling them, they're angry because he refuses to completely eradicate Blefuscu. Later, they convict Gulliver for "making water" in public, or urinating, despite the fact that he did it to put out a fire and saved hundreds of lives in the process, and he's sentenced to be blinded. Gulliver refuses to destroy the city for the same reason he wouldn't to that to their enemies, and with the help of one friendly Lilliputian, he is able to escape to Blefuscu, and they, of all people, are willing to help him find an abandoned boat that helps him find a ship with people his own size.
  • Although the large majority of the population of planet Grayson are convinced to look past Honor Harringtons more liberal mores and outsider status (they're pretty much Space Mormons, and Honor is comfortable with some things San Franciscans would feel uneasy about) the first time she personally fends off a coup of their leadership and saves their planet from orbital bombardment, villains for several later books are mined from those who weren't swayed and hate the social changes that followed.
  • Swedish writer Simona Ahrnstedt has a moment like this in her debut novel Överenskommelser. One of the villains, Edvard Löwenström, asks Seth (the male protagonist) for some money. Seth doesn't like Edvard at all, but as he happens to his best friend's brother-in-law and his love interest's cousin, he does give him some money. But how does Edvard thank Seth? By using the same money to separate him from Beatrice (the female protagonist)!
  • Kindling Ashes: Dragons aided Auland for generations against invaders and also helped them build the wall, but when it was finished, the Auland government turned its back on them.
  • The Jungle Book:
    • In "Mowgli's Brothers", Shere Khan very easily gets many of the wolf pack to turn against Akela and Mowgli, even though Akela was a wise and effective leader and Mowgli made himself very useful by leading prey to them and removing thorns and burrs from their paws and coats.
    • In "Letting In The Jungle", Messua's husband doesn't thank Mowgli for rescuing him and his wife from the villagers who wanted to burn them at the stake and only cares about how he's lost his money and status.
  • Niccolò Machiavelli makes an argument in favor of "ingratitude" in his Discourses on Livy—if it's the entire population of a free republic that's being ungrateful. Machiavelli points out that free peoples who reward their ambitious citizens who do genuinely heroic things in the republic's service with special rights or political power often end up not being free peoples much longer. He therefore praises the Romans for punishing men who went to possibly necessary extremes to protect or preserve Rome and its constitution, holding such men to account as if they hadn't done anything special and leaving them to take a pardon as a reward. When the Romans stopped doing this and started rewarding heroes with power, that was when the Republic became doomed.
  • In Wolf Hall, the Boleyn family towards Thomas Cromwell. He was the one who cut the knot to establish Henry as head of the Church and thus allowed him to annul his own marriage and marry Anne—before that they had just been minor nobles, mildly distinguished by Thomas Boleyn's ambassadorship and Mary being a former mistress. But they soon decided that they are responsible for Cromwell's rise, not the other way around. As soon as Cromwell shows he's not going to be a mindless Yes-Man, Anne declares him her enemy and the other Boleyns threaten to kill him when Henry is thought dead in a jousting mishap, and George Boleyn tries to turn Henry against Cromwell later.
  • In The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the not-actually-mad King Leopold isn't very grateful to Barney for all his efforts to restore him to the throne, quickly becoming obsessed with the idea that his supporters would have preferred Leopold to die and Barney to become king.
  • In Alexis Carew: Mutineer, Alexis is reassigned to Captain Neals, who is horribly sexist and free with the lash. Against her better judgement Alexis rescues him from Hanoverese captivity despite the fact he continuously tried to haze her into resigning, pulled a Uriah Gambit to get her killed or captured, and distracted her when she refused to beg forgiveness on bended knee and had her flogged. The moment the escapees are picked up by friendly forces, he orders her and the other crew arrested for mutiny. Fortunately the Court Martial goes in her favor.
  • Just because Nimander and his companions cared for Clip while he was in a coma in Malazan Book of the Fallen and did their level best to get his soul back out of the clutches of a god, doesn't mean he needs to thank them. He just seems annoyed that their detour took them so long.
  • Zeus is most definitely this in The Camp Half-Blood Series. At the end of The Lightning Thief, the guy can't even cough up a thank you to Percy and threatens to kill him if he travels in the sky again. At the end of The Last Olympian, he can barely eke out a thank you to Hades and Poseidon, agree to Percy's requests, and fails to fulfill all of them. At the end of The Blood of Olympus, Zeus says he is proud of Jason, and yet the moment Jason questions Zeus (when Zeus is wrong) Zeus is one step away from killing his own son.
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole: After being burned by Soren in The Rescue, Soren's Big Bad brother Kludd is nursed back to health by Simon, a brown fish owl who's from a pilgrimage of owls bound to help others in need. Simon's reward? Getting murdered by a very ungrateful and racist Kludd.
  • In The Tale of the Body Thief David Talbot is the only one of Lestat's friends willing to help him get his stolen body back. At the end of the novel Lestat "repays" David by turning him into a vampire against his will.
  • At the end of Vanguard from The Genesis Fleet series, Lieutenant Robert Geary and Sergeant-turned-Major Melee Darcy have just saved the nascent colony of Glenlyon from the much better equipped Scathans, seeking to conquer Glenlyon. How does the Glenlyon Council thank them for doing the impossible, getting hurt in the process, and losing many of their sailors/soldiers? Why, a pat on the back and an assignment to a third-rate posting in the new Glenlyon fleet and ground forces, respectively (with Melee demoted back to sergeant). Naturally, both tell the Council (well, most of them, there is one decent and grateful politician on the planet, actually) to go to hell and resign. Of course, this is par for the course with the author, who isn't of a high opinion of most politicians. Notably averted with the government of Kosatka, who are extremely grateful to Geary and his crew for saving their planet from a hostile destroyer and send a ship of their own to help Glenlyon in return.
  • Those who betray their benefactors are (if The Divine Comedy is to be trusted) in the lowest circle of hell, completely encased in the frozen lake and contorted horribly. The only ones beyond them are Satan, and Judas, Brutus, and Cassius, who Satan is grinding apart.
  • In the Soviet children's book Old Khottabych, two genies are found in ancient vessels, having been trapped there for centuries, if not millennia. Khottabych promises to faithfully serve his rescuer, while his bitter older brother decides to kill his.
  • Nim's Island: The author Alexandra got over her agoraphobia, travelled halfway across the world, and nearly drowned trying to rescue Nim, a child left alone on an island who had been corresponding with Alex by email...and Nim proceeds to berate her for not being the hero she pictured from Alex's books.
  • The Paper Bag Princess. Princess Elizabeth goes out of her way to rescue Prince Ronald from the dragon, but instead of thanking her, Ronald criticizes Elizabeth for coming to his rescue wearing nothing but a paper bag and then orders her to come back and rescue him when she looks like a "real princess."Is it any wonder that Elizabeth dumps Ronald on the spot?
  • Mercy Thompson
    • Mary Joe, a firefighter and member of the pack, really defines this trope. In Bone Crossed, Mary Joe was killed, and Mercy pleaded with a Fae to revive Mary Joe to life. The Fae does and Mary Joe was healed and brought back to life thanks to Mercy. So how does Mary Joe thank Mercy? In Silver Bourne, she tries to kill Mercy by blowing up her home, which almost got Adam killed instead and by joining a group in the Pack that was trying to overthrow Adam. All because Mary Joe was jealous that Mercy was chosen as Adam’s mate instead of her. Even Mercy brings up the fact she saved Mary Joe's life, but Mary Joe just brushes it off. This action has caused Mary Jo to become a near-universal scrappy for many readers.
    • Even the Pack as a whole is always this toward Mercy. No matter how many times Mercy has stood for the pack or put her body and life on the line, The Pack just refuse to accept her even as Adam’s wife. Often blaming her for their troubles or ridiculing her. It gets worse in Night Broken when most of the Pack actually takes Adam’s ex-wife, Christy’s side and actually show they prefer her over Mercy. While some members such as Ben, Warren and Honey are good to Mercy because they are either her friends or have enough respect for her, the rest rarely show Mercy any respect. The situation got so bad, that Adam finally addressed the issue in Fire Touched by threating to kill whoever disrespects Mercy aka his wife again.
    • Even Mercy was a bit of this toward Ben after Moon Called. Ben saved Mercy and Adam’s life at the climax of Moon Called, even took a few shots for them. Yet, Mercy still thought very low of him at the end of the book and the following Blood Bound. But it’s very heartwarmingly subverted in Iron Kissed when Ben stood up for Mercy and talked some sense into Adam over their feelings for each other. Mercy afterwards began to warm up to Ben, even personally requesting him to escort her. Since then, she trusts Ben as a loyal member of the pack.
    • Subverted with Zee in Iron Kissed. Zee is by no means ungrateful to Mercy for trying to prove his innocence for a murder he did not commit. However, he is upset at her because her involvement in his case only got her into deep trouble, and her eventual rape.
    Mercy: Are you still mad at me?
    Zee: I want you to know this. I would rather have died in that cell than have you suffer that madman's attack.


Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback