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Villain Fixing / Literature

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Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! in literature.

  • In A Brother's Price, a woman refuses to give her consent to the Arranged Marriage her sisters are very keen on, until she hears that a family she considers to be villainous has also made an offer for the man. That immediately causes her to change her opinion. As he is a real sweetheart, this ends up fixing things for her, too. The same family's prior villainous actions actually put the reluctant bride and her family in a much better position to foil the Big Bad family's scheme. See the entry for the book for more (potentially spoiler) details.
  • Some of Agatha Christie's stories involve this:
    • In Evil Under the Sun, the murder of the adulterous Arlena greatly improves the situation for her widower Kenneth and his daughter Linda.
    • In Death on the Nile, the curious choice of words used by a blackmailing witness (who is then murdered) is what reveals the solution to Poirot.
      • Also, the final murder victim was in a sense standing in the way of Rosalie's freedom.
  • In The Curse of Chalion, Chancellor dy Jironal stabs and kills the protagonist, dy Cazaril. His death allows the Lady of Spring to undo the curse and fix the realm.
  • Discworld: In Lords and Ladies, the Elf Queen has Magrat on the ropes and proceeds to hit her with the full force of elfin glamour, making Magrat feel absolutely worthless and completely stripping away her ego... exposing the iron-hard core of will at the heart of every witch, even a soppy one like Magrat. Cue the Queen getting her ass kicked.
  • Even Count Dracula did this:
    • In Stoker's novel, he forced Mina Harker to drink his blood to form a Psychic Link between them that he could use for Mind Control and to spy on the rest of the heroes through her so he could see whatever they were planning against him next. Unfortunately for him, the link worked both ways, allowing Mina to warn the others when he was coming their way and figure out where he was hiding or heading during the climactic Stern Chase. He gives the heroes a ticket to his mind that he can't revoke even when he eventually tries to do so.
    • Ironically, many later versions of this story have picked up the weird trope that Mina and Dracula had some kind of love between them; in the original Mina loathed the monster and was probably second only to van Helsing in importance in bringing about his downfall.
  • The Draka: after the Final War nearly destroys the eco-system, the Draka respond by invoking strict environmental standards to ensure stability. Nature preserves are created from entire continents and the population levels are kept low.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In book 5, Death Masks, Harry Dresden is in a Duel to the Death with Paolo Ortega, Warlord of the Red Court of Vampires who has already killed half a dozen wizards. The duel is a test of willpowers where the one with the stronger willpower will send a magic rock that kills anything it touches into the other. Harry likely would have lost in honest combat, but Ortega attempted to force Harry to give up by threatening Harry with the fact that if Ortega died in the duel his feudal retainers had been sworn to hunt down Harry and kill him, as well as all his friends and loved ones. This statement, which went directly against their agreement to not seek retribution in the aftermath of the duel, gave Harry the motivation to turn the tide of the duel against Ortega. Ortega breaks the deal again when he flees, seeing that he's going to lose, and then Harry's mentor drops a satellite on Ortega's headquarters after hearing about it.
    • Nicodemus Archleone makes a few such blunders:
      • Forcing Harry into picking up Lasciel's coin in Death Masks, which only results in him having the power of a Fallen angel to draw on — saving his life on many occasions — and resisting the temptation to become a Denarian until Lasciel's Shadow makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save Harry, ridding him of the burden. This allows Harry to get the drop on Nicodemus himself in Small Favor, and also causes the archangel Uriel to gift him with Soulfire to replace the Hellfire he gave up.
      • Nicodemus also provokes Murphy into shattering Fidelaccius, the Sword of Faith, in Skin Game. Only to find that it's more powerful than ever after Waldo Butters's faith — in Star Wars — converts the hilt into a lightsaber.
  • In Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South, Afrikaaners use Time Travel to help the Confederates win The American Civil War, hoping to build a strong white supremacist nation that they can ally with in the future. Though their plans are impeded by Robert E. Lee, who wins the presidency of the Confederacy on a platform of gradual slave emancipation, there are still enough Pro-Slavery Confederate citizens and congressmen to defeat any sort of government action to actually end slavery, and there is even talk amongst some states of seceding from the Confederacy and starting their own nation (again) to preserve slavery indefinitely. However, the AWB then launches an assassination attempt against Lee on his inauguration day, which slaughters dozens of civilians and many ranking members of the government, which unites the entire country behind Lee and gives him the political clout to ram through his gradual emancipation bill.
  • Harry Potter, in chronological order, starting with book four:
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire The Mole, in order to surreptitiously abduct Harry from the school, plants him in the Triwizard Tournament and then oversees his victory by giving hints. One of those hints drives Harry to master a specific spell that he otherwise failed at, and then he uses this spell to escape from Voldemort in the finale. Even better, in the interest of presumably staying in character while impersonating Mad-Eye Moody, he insists that Harry is able to completely resist the Imperius curse after he witnesses him doing so better than his classmates. Guess what he also does successfully in the aforementioned finale. (Mildly justified in that he was utterly insane.)
    • Voldemort takes it up to a whole new level in the aforementioned finale of Goblet of Fire. He takes Harry's blood so that he too can have Lily Potter's protection. By doing this, he winds up tethering his own life to Harry's, almost ensuring Harry's survival. Dumbledore smiles triumphantly when he learns this, knowing what will happen.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort stops dueling with Dumbledore to take possession of Harry's body, using it to both mock Albus and torture the boy. Doing this opens Voldemort up to the feelings of grief Harry is experiencing over Sirius, causing him so much pain he's forced to flee the battle. He also lingers just long enough for the Ministery officials to arrive, see him and be forced to admit his return which they'd previously denied.
    • Dolores Umbridge gets an honorable mention. In the fifth book, she passes a decree that ''bans'' The Quibbler (which had an interview with Harry about Voldemort's return) and states that any student caught with it will be expelled. As Hermione gleefully points out, the ban ensures everyone will read it! And they do, which makes people believe Harry and not the Ministry!
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the heroes spend most of the story in vain searches for the Big Bad's Soul Jars. At one point they are captured by the villains and, long story short, one of the villains suspects that they might've sneaked into her bank vault. She freaks out so much that her dreadful master might find out about it, and spends so much effort torturing the heroes just to find out whether they did or did not, it gives Harry an inspiration for a leap of logic, and he correctly deduces that the Soul Jar must be in the vault.
    • Then, after the Big Bad realizes the heroes have been seeking out his Soul Jars, he has the Death Eaters who are already within Hogwarts stationed inside the common room of a House he believes Harry might visit, in the hopes of nabbing him there. Harry does go there, but he's not alone, with the results being that, not only do the Death Eaters stationed there end up tied up and left there for the duration of the night while the final battle takes place, but Harry, through this incident, knows for sure what he should be targeting next.
    • The Soul Jars are particularly difficult to destroy, and wouldn't you know it, Harry &co find themselves without the means to do so when they find one. But what's this? An incredibly minor Mook (though he is a recurring character) just summoned Fiend Fyre? A previously unmentioned, uncontrollable fire that destroys everything in its path, horcruxes included? Phew. Lucky break.
    • More directly, later in the same book, the Big Bad "kills" Harry himself... only not only did he also destroy another of his own Soul Jars in the process, his brazen act of vanity in an earlier book allows Harry to survive anyway. A two-for-one deal!
    • And then Big Bad does this AGAIN. In order to... make an example out of a rebellious youngster, it seems, he summons the Sorting Hat, puts it on the kid's head and sets it on fire, but the Hat, as had already been shown, can provide the weapon needed to kill his last Soul Jar.
    • And in general, his decree that no one was to kill Harry. Thus his minions' hands were basically tied when dealing with Harry, even though he and his friends would frequently run into those minions.
    • In a non-Voldermort related note, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them retroactively gave the Dursleys this treatment with the introduction of Obscurials. Obscurials are young wizards who repressed their power which developed into a powerful dark creatures called Obscurus. The Dursleys' fervent denials of Harry's nature, which made Harry miserable for his entire childhood, also kept him in the dark about his power all his life. As Harry didn't believe in magic, he didn't try to suppress, thus not developing an Obscurus.
  • From Honor Harrington:
    • A cataclysmic attack by the Big Bad on the Manticoran home system ends up breaking five years of diplomatic gridlock between Manticore and Haven by spurring President Eloise Pritchart of the Republic of Haven to take a good chunk of her Cabinet and sail straight to Manticore itself, whereupon she sits down at the table with Queen Elizabeth III, clears up roughly a decade of diplomatic misunderstanding between them, offers a peace treaty, and then proposes a military alliance. Elizabeth takes her up on it. Awesome ensues for Tom Theisman and Honor Harrington (who get to team up on the command deck), Sonja Hemphill and Shannon Foraker (who head out to Haven's technological playground and get busy), the Manticoran and Havenite navies (who get to take the results of their Lensman Arms Race and go play), and Elizabeth and Eloise themselves (who get to mastermind it all)—but not for the Big Bad, who is oh so very screwed in an infinite variety of ways. And he knows it.
    • They do it twice: by deciding to euthanize the "genetically defective" daughter of one of their top researchers, they inspire his Heel–Face Turn as well as another member of the Mesan Alignment who does a Heroic Sacrifice allowing the escape from Mesa of the scientist with the best pair of superspies Manticore and Haven have. They then show up just in time to bring their information to the aforementioned summit meeting, which gives Manticore, Haven, Grayson and their allies the how of the attack, and more importantly, the why. Centuries of an Ancient Conspiracy are blown apart as the new allies promptly make sure everyone knows Mesa's secret.
  • Humanx Commonwealth: At the climax of Flinx in Flux, the Animal Wrongs Group that has been hunting Flinx down in order to "make him normal" shows up just in time to accidentally rescue him from the Big Bad who wishes to experiment upon him instead. As a double example, Flinx finds that the sedation method that the Big Bad used on him has also woken a new form of his empathic powers, which he subsequently uses to defeat both groups of antagonists.
  • In Kill Decision, Odin reluctantly wanted to recruit Mordecai, but Mordecai initially wanted nothing to do with Odin's quest. Then the villains repay him for tipping them off about Odin and Linda by trying to have him killed too, which drives him into Odin's arms.
  • In Kris Longknife: Audacious, Vicky Peterwald's amateurish attempts to have Kris assassinated not only fail miserably, but inadvertently lead to her uncovering and bloodily defeating the Peterwald bloc's attempt to overthrow New Eden's government (the group of would-be assassins that kidnapped Kris's great-grandmother Ruth Tordon as bait store her in one of the same buildings where they're stockpiling heavy weapons for The Coup).
  • Land of Oz: In Ozma of Oz, Ozma and her entourage intended to convince the Nome King to release the royal family of Ev, whom the king has turned into ornaments that decorate his palace. The Nome King is too powerful for them to force him to comply, but he's willing to propose a contest - which he claims is easy, but actually overwhelmingly rigged in his favor. note  The heroes would have been trapped forever if not Billina gained an easy guide to recognizing a victim (and confirming the Nome King's true intentions, and that his power comes from his bejeweled belt) by overhearing the villain boasting of his "system" to a subordinate. (done by color; purple for the royal family, green for Oz natives, and solid gold for anyone made of inorganic material. She is able to free almost everyone easily.
  • In The Hunter's Blades Trilogy of The Legend of Drizzt, Gruumsh, patron god of orcs is a Chaotic Evil deity of slaughter and destruction who is convinced to empower the warlord Obould Many-Arrows, who claims he will lead the orcs to a path that will give them strength beyond anything they have ever had before. It turns out that Obould is a Visionary Villain who has recognized that orcs live such awful lives because their traditional lifestyle is self-defeating; he uses his status as Gruumsh's Chosen to found the first ever orcish homeland, forcing the other nations to recognize the Kingdom of Many-Arrows as legitimate. Decades later, although there are still "traditionalists" who complain, orcs have prospered in the kingdom by developing farming and trading. There is even enough peace between the nations that orcs and humans are voluntarily marrying each other.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Frodo ultimately fails in his quest to destroy the ring, as he succumbs to its influence. Gollum tries to take the ring at that moment, falling into the fires of Mt. Doom with the ring, and completing the quest.
    • In The Two Towers, Saruman sends his orcs out to capture Frodo and Sam and The Ring. Unfortunately they end up capturing Merry and Pippin and carry them to Fangorn forest where they escape, meet Treebeard and convince him and the Ents to rise up and destroy Saruman.
  • Zandramas, the Big Bad of The Malloreon, so much. The rules of the whole conflict is actually very simple, but also strictly enforced: each party has to get to The Place That Is No More, bring their child and their stone, and Cyradis the Seer makes the Choice. However, Zandramas is constantly setting traps and obstacles for them, in the hopes of delaying them and possibly kill one of them (which she assumes will let her win by default). Not only does this actually help them stay on her trail, but the constant cheating pisses Cyradis off, giving her a stronger bias towards the protagonists. When Zandramas' last trick results in the death of Cyradis' companion Toth, this results in Cyradis finally choosing the side of Light as the winners.
  • In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Evil Sorcerer Pryrates' attempt to pull a Faustian Rebellion on the freshly summoned Storm King at the climax of the story fails spectacularly, as one might expect. However, his attack and subsequent Karmic Death have the side-effects of weakening the Storm King at a critical moment and freeing two of the heroes from paralysis, leading directly to the Storm King's defeat.
  • Near the end of Les Misérables, Thenardier tries to blackmail Marius with the knowledge that his father-in-law Jean Valjean is a criminal. He produces an item (a scrap of cloth taken from a coat in the book, a ring in the musical) which he claims came from the body of a murder victim that Valjean was carrying through the sewers... which proves that the "dead body" was Marius himself and that Valjean saved him from certain death at the barricade. The knowledge enables Marius and Cosette to reconcile with Valjean shortly before the latter's death.
  • The murderous villain in Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes sends a gloating letter to the ex-cop protagonist hoping to provoke him into committing suicide. It instead snaps the target out of his downward spiral and probably saves him from shooting himself.
  • In The Night of Wishes, an evil sorceror and his witch aunt brew a potion on New Year's Eve which grants the opposite of any wish spoken aloud after a drink, gleefully intending to make a grand show of fixing the world in front of their unsuspecting pets, while actually wreaking havoc. Only those are onto them, find a loophole in the spell, and with a little outside supernatural help manage to destroy the reversing part of the potion without the villains noticing. The world's people are not gonna believe how much luck and prosperity they are going to have next year.
  • Nightside: In Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth]], Lilith sets out to destroy the Nightside and everyone in it, and raises all of the dead from the Necropolis as an army to carry out this purpose. All the Nightside's dead ... including John Taylor's father, who together with Walker and the Collector are the only ones capable of successfully banishing Lilith.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Big Bad, Kronos plans on overthrowing the gods, but needs a mortal host in order to escape Tartarus and eventually come back completely. He uses the fact that gods tend to ignore their children against them, finding someone with a grudge against the gods and using him as his host. Only problem is the person he picks has enough willpower to overcome Kronos' influence when Kronos attacks the girl he has a crush on. He ends up killing himself, taking Kronos down with him and scattering the Titan to dust. Not to mention that as a result, the gods promised to claim all their children, making the training camp for demigods even stronger then it was before. Good job bad guy.
  • In Gösta Knutsson's Peter No Tail, the antagonist, Måns, usually schemes for Peter to get in some kind of trouble, but either Måns or his helpers, Bill and Bull, screw it up most of the time, and not seldom, putting Måns in the trouble instead of Peter.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Plan of Attack, the Russians conduct nuclear sneak attacks on the US, supposedly to create nuclear parity. Our Military Maverick protagonist Patrick McLanahan for once obeys an explicit order of the POTUS to hold on a retaliatory strike against the Russians. When the Russians prove their continued hostile intentions by attempting a nuclear bombing of the base Pat had forward-deployed to, one that had no nuclear weapons, it shows them for the liars they are and gives him a casus belli.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine is so affronted by the idea of Mr. Darcy marrying Elizabeth Bennet that she confronts Elizabeth and tries to extract a promise from her not to accept Darcy's proposal. When Elizabeth refuses to promise any such thing, Lady Catherine has a similar confrontation with Mr. Darcy... which gives him reason to hope that he still has a chance with Elizabeth, since he's well aware from her emphatic refusal of his previous proposal that if Elizabeth still hated him she'd have no problem telling his aunt so. Had Lady Catherine not seen fit to get involved, each of them could have gone on indefinitely believing that any chance they had with the other was long gone. (The 1940 film hints that the was a deliberate move on her part.)
  • A minor version in Lin Carter's The Quest of Kadji: the Big Bad has captured one of the two young people who've independently sworn to destroy him, and taunts her that her sweetheart won't be able to act while she's his hostage. She gloomily says the boy is not in love with her. The villain can't resist sneering that, just like her, young Kadji is under a "no-fooling-around-until-you've-killed-the-bad-guy" vow, which is the only reason neither has made serious advances to the other. Yes, in an attempt to mock her, the villain has actually raised the girl's morale.
  • In The Riyria Revelations (specifically, Rise of Empire) Regent Saldur unknowingly sows the seeds of his own ultimate defeat by appointing Amilia as the new Imperial Secretary. Amilia's kind and compassionate care brings Modina out of her perpetual catatonia, giving her the strength to start throwing her weight around as Empress rather than just being a figurehead. Amilia also has the Empress moved to a new set of bedchambers, unknowingly putting her in a room with a window right below Saldur's office where she can listen in on all his secret meetings. After months and months of eavesdropping, Modina wound up learning every aspect of Saldur's secret plans and was duly prepared to foil them at a crucial moment. This not only saved both Modina and Amilia from Saldur's wrath but also turned the Empire from a powerful enemy of the protagonists to their most stalwart friend.
  • Safehold:
    • Vicar Zahspahr Clyntahn's actions throughout the series tend to do as much as help the Empire of Charis as it does to hurt it. A specific example occurs in How Firm a Foundation. The island Empire of Charis needs an ally in the mainland, the Republic of Siddarmark would be perfect, but they're right next to the Temple Lands, which are content to leave them be, and even let them get away with ignoring a Church-imposed trade embargo against Charis, so long as they don't act outright against the Temple Lands. Cue Clyntahn going behind his fellow Church Leaders' backs creating riots in Siddarmark forcing them to go independent and opening the door for Charis and Siddarmark to ally at the earliest opportunity.
    • An earlier example would be his assassination of Prince Hektor and his eldest son in By Heresies Distressed. Cayleb of Charis had spent the entire book conquering Hektor's princedom of Corisande with the knowledge that any surrender Hektor offered would only last until Hektor could backstab him. Clyntahn, knowing Hektor may be forced to surrender, left orders to have him killed and Cayleb blamed for the attack in that event. This succeeds and makes Charis' occupation of Corisande very difficult in the short term. In the long term, people realize that Clyntahn is a more likely suspect. More importantly, Hektor's surviving children realize this, seek asylum in Charis, befriend Cayleb and Sharleyan, and pledge Corisande to Charis' cause. Clyntahn's actions made Cayleb's job more difficult as intended, but ultimately replaced a ruler who would've betrayed Cayleb with rulers who were loyal to him.
    • During the land phase of the war, Clyntahn's insistence that the Army of God not give up any of the ground it took initially and his resistance to Allayn Maigwair's attempts to relieve a field commander who is also one of Clyntahn's favorites results in an incompetent commander in one part of the battlefield and leaves a competent commander woefully undersupplied and vulnerable because he's unable to pull back to a better position, ultimately resulting in the defeat of both forces.
  • Also in Sherlock Holmes:
    • In The Second Stain, the entrance of Edouard's murderous wife is the only thing that allowed Lady Hilda to recover the papers.
    • In The Beryl Coronet, the main crime in the story is what allowed the opportunity for Arthur to show courage and chivalry, effectively repairing his relationship with his father.
    • As Holmes himself notes, the presence of crime and villainy is what gives his life meaning and stops him from spending his days moping and taking cocaine.
    • In The Norwood Builder, the titular villain fakes his own death and frames the son of his enemy, fabricating a perfect set of clues that managed to fool even Holmes. Later, he decides to add one ultimate clue in form of a bloody fingerprint on a wall... after Holmes has already scanned every inch of the house, which leads to the discovery of the villain's hideout.
  • In Tanya Huff's Smoke and Shadows, the Shadowlord, an evil wizard from another world sends shadow minions, and later comes to Earth himself, in search of a wizard who escaped during his conquest of their world. He feared they would return to overthrow him. Ironically, the wizard in question was a bit of a coward and had no intention of ever going back or fighting the Shadowlord. Only the fact that they are now being actively pursued motivates them to take a stand.
  • This is Spenser and Baldwin Furnshill's chief method of solving crimes without evidence. Annoy people until they try to kill you, then find out who they worked for. Though Baldwin doesn't actually try to annoy people; usually the bad guy who falls into this trap hates him for his rank and title, or his loyalties and suspected beliefs, said series taking place in a particularly hectic time of English history. Spenser, on the other hand, is actively trying to invite this trope a lot of the time. A lot of his cases would have been a lot shorter (and unsolved) if the villains had been smart enough to just shut up and leave him alone.
  • In Starfire by Charles Sheffield, the detective protagonist figures out the murderer's identity, but has no proof. He draws the murderer out into the open by announcing he found a supposedly missing victim, and where he stored the corpse. The villain can't help but go check on the body, where they are confronted by detective. Even then the villain could have saved the situation by simply feigning ignorance and leaving. With the security cameras on, the detective could not exactly initiate violence. Villain solves his problem by drawing a weapon first—on camera. Detective is a much faster shot. Nice going!
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Zigzagged in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Lord Shadowspawn claims that Luke is the rightful heir to the Empire and plans to put him in that position; his top officers, the notable one being one Captain Klick, are old Jango Fett clones and therefore particularly obedient. Shadowspawn is actually a character, the man behind the curtain being Blackhole, an actual villain who also wants to take over Luke's body and identity. When his initial attempt to do so fails, he orders Klick and his men not to let anybody out of the place in question, only for Klick to kneel to Emperor Skywalker instead. However, Luke does not abuse his new position as much as one might expect, and Blackhole realizes at the same time that Leia's body would be even better. Late in the novel, when all Hell breaks loose, Luke finally promotes Klick to Air Marshal and, through him, has the Imperials work with the Republic forces. To his horror, Blackhole is able to control their mind and makes them run amok.
    • Nute Gunray kicks off the plot of Labyrinth of Evil when he returns to his home planet to retrieve some of his treasures, drawing the Republic there in an attempt to capture him. While he escapes, he leaves behind an item that confirms the existence of Darth Sidious, and contains a vital clue to the Sith Lord's whereabouts and identity.
  • The Stormlight Archive book 2, Words of Radiance: When Adolin ends up in a four on one duel, he tries to surrender within the first couple minutes, but Sadeas bribed the highjudge to ignore any such attempts so that he can be "punished". This gives Kaladin time to jump down and help Adolin fight, turning a Curb-Stomp Battle into a narrow victory. If they had just let him surrender, the Kholin family would have lost all their Shards, and Dalinar's plan would have completely failed.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, Garth's malicious plan to get Shan fired, by freeing the wolverines, saves Shan's life.
  • A Superman short story had the Weird Sisters come together to work a scheme to corrupt the legendary incorruptible Superman by manipulating him into a moment of weakness that will give them dominion over a shard of his soul which would let them further his corruption. Sacrificing much of their power they cast a spell to make it so Superman and Lois Lane never meet and become a couple in order to seduce Superman into selfishly asking for them to undo the spell, except the one who came up with the scheme at the climax in order to dig the knife in goes on about the perfect, happy life Lois now has resulting in Superman letting her go only caring about her happiness which breaks the spell restoring things to how they were. To add insult to injury it causes Superman to open up to Lois as he hadn't been willing to before (and they'd bickered about at the start of the story) so it improves their relationship.
  • The Swallows and Amazons book Great Northern? has a textbook example of this. The protagonists, while sailing through the Hebrides, encounter what they're pretty sure is a rare bird, but have to leave before they can verify it, and accidentally let its existence—but not location—slip to an egg-collector, Mr. Jemmerling. Captain Flint, their designated adult supervision, is going to make them leave before they can go back, leaving Jemmerling free rein to find the birds. Instead, Jemmerling tries to convince and then bribe Captain Flint to tell him where the birds are, and succeeds only in convincing him that they're worth going back to find.
  • In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Terminal, one character describes how gangs putting out hits on suspected rats leads to cons ratting out for real.
  • In Tides of Darkness, Lord Anduin Lothar's Number Two Turalyon (a paladin) has been having a Crisis of Faith, wondering why the Holy Light would create a race as evil as the orcs. During the climactic battle at Blackrock Spire, the orc Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer succeeds in killing Lothar in a Combat by Champion. Devastated, Turalyon can only collapse and watch as the orc shout in triumph and declare The Horde supreme. However, during his speech, Orgrim mentions that the orcs are not native to the world of Azeroth (having come from Draenor). His crisis resolved (i.e. the Holy Light did not create the orcs after all), Turalyon picks up Lothar's broken sword, while glowing with the Holy Light himself. He easily defeats the shocked Doomhammer and knocks him out, sending the Horde into a rout. Nice going, Orgrim, a casual slip of the tongue results in the orcs spending the next several decades in captivity.
  • Tortall Universe: In Protector of the Small, Joren tries to sabotage Kel by giving her weighted training lances. However, Kel soon starts using all weighted weapons for the same reasons pages and squires intentionally do — they help to build up strength and endurance, and using weighted weapons on top of the exercises she started when she failed with the lance quickly removes any disparity between her and the boys. When she does get a regular lance later on, it actually throws her off because she's so used to the weighted ones. This explanation for her bad performance quite impresses Lord Wyldon — another thing Joren did not want happening.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga: In Falling Free, the heroes at one point want to rescue someone from the villain. Since they're in outer space, they need the help of a spaceship pilot, and the only one they've got is not one of the heroes; he's helping them for pay, and is unwilling to risk himself on some harebrained rescue scheme. One nasty phone call from the villain later, and he's on the heroes' side. This is not the last time someone helps the heroes due to the villain's Jerkass tendencies.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Just like their opponents, the villains of Horus Heresy have problems with this:
    • Lorgar's attack on Calth is supposed to power up the Ruinstorm, destroying the Ultramarines and cutting them off from both helping the Imperium and getting help. Instead, the Ultramarines survive Calth and, thanks to Ruinstorm blocking ways in and out, they're safe from the civil war ravaging the rest of the galaxy and keep the Imperium together afterwards.
    • Istvaan III Massacre should purge any loyalist elements left in traitor Legions. Instead, it gives the loyalists incentive to escape and warn the Imperium that Horus is coming.
    • In Vulkan Lives, Konrad taunts Vulkan by giving him his teleporter-hammer and taunting him that he can't do anything anyway, as teleportation function is off. Vulkan proceeds to remind him that a hammer is also, well, a hammer, and cripples him with it. It also turns out that Curze did not, in fact, disable the teleporter and so Vulkan escapes.
    • The Alpha Legion blocking Jaghatai's fleet on Chondax. If they just let them go, the Khan would be on his merry way to slaughter the Space Wolves and join Horus. As it happened, he stays in system long enough for message from Dorn to arrive and explain what really happened. Given it's the Mind Screw: The Legion we're talking about, it might've been done on purpose.
  • The Wheel of Time: In A Crown of Swords, Moghedien freaks out upon catching sight of Nynaeve in Ebou Dar and loses character long enough to balefire the boat she had just gotten on. At that moment Moridin strokes her Soul Jar, causing her to involuntarily convulse and miss Nynaeve and only sink the boat. Nynaeve is trapped in the rapidly sinking wreckage, at which point the resulting despair causes her to permanently break free of the mental block that had been preventing her from channeling at-will since the beginning of the series.


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