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A character plays a small and/or unlikely but crucial role in some horrible development. The character being put on task, meanwhile, only serves to bumble in and botch the hero's hopes of a surefire victory, and worse, quite possibly deprive the story of its Happy Ending, all the while often remaining oblivious to the overall implications of the situation and their role in it. Their actions have no real necessity in elevating the drama, often taking it to Beyond the Impossible levels, making them a walking Diabolus Ex Machina.

A more temperate soul may simply wish that person were Put on a Bus prior to the critical moment, assuming that this character may have acted out of idiocy rather than malice, and that their presence and actions at that moment were their only errors. The audience, fully aware of the For Want of a Nail implications, will hate this character nearly as much as, if not even moreso than, the people who could more accurately be called responsible for whatever happened - and very often, as much as the character hates themself for it.. This hatred can be understandable, in that the antagonist more directly responsible in the development is playing their role in the story, for the sake of Rising Conflict.

An Unwitting Instigator of Doom can be basically complicit with the villain, but in that case, they're generally seeing only a small portion of the picture. If they're being specifically manipulated but does not realize, s/he's an Unwitting Pawn. Other times, they're simply blundering in like a wrench in some particularly highly valued machine. Do not expect the levels of venom to differ between the scenarios. Will be seen as The Scrappy by some fans. If worse comes to worse, they may also end up as the Idiot Houdini. Expect no shortage of Fix Fics or Revenge Fics on account of this character. Often causes A Tragedy of Impulsiveness to occur.

Compare Nice Job Breaking It, Hero and Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds. See also Interrupted Cooldown Hug.

Examples of Unwitting Instigator of Doom include:

Anime & Manga

  • To say that the Dragon Ball franchise has a lot of these would be an Understatement:
    • In Dragon Ball, Emperor Pilaf releases Demon King Piccolo, who promptly proceeds to have many of the world's leading martial artists killed (including Krillin, Master Roshi and Chiaotzu) and then takes over the world. Pilaf hopes to be greatly rewarded by Piccolo, only for him and his lackeys to be deemed expendable and thrown off of Piccolo's airship. Nice job nearly dooming the world, you blue dwarf.
      • However, as a result of releasing Demon King Piccolo, Pilaf also ensured that Goku would grow up to be a warrior trained by Kami himself, and thus be powerful enough to put up a fight against all the increasingly-stronger Big Bads that came to Earth afterwards, up to and including Beerus, the God of Destruction. So, uh... thanks for indirectly saving the Earth, Pilaf?
    • Remember how, in Dragon Ball Z, Majin Buu's evil half got unleashed, exterminated the entire human race, killed off half of the Z-Fighters and then finally blew up Earth? It all happened because of two crazed gunmen in an episode aptly titled "The Evil of Men", where they shoot Bee (Buu's pet puppy) and Mr. Satan (Buu's new best friend who was in the process of rehabilitating him). As a consequence, Buu snapped, released Evil Buu, who then proceeded to absorb him and transformed into Super Buu; the rest of the Buu Saga is the entire universe paying the ultimate price for what those two guys did.
    • Goku letting Vegeta train first in the Room of Spirit and Time. When Vegeta leaves to fight Semi-Perfect Cell, he becomes so confident in his newfound power that he allows Cell to absorb Android 18 in order to massage his own ego. This act of sheer stupidity ends up leading to the creation of Perfect Cell and results in the deaths of Android 16, King Kai, Goku and Future Trunks - two of whom end up being Killed Off for Real.
    • While Goku, by his own admission, could have killed off Majin Buu whilst in his Super Saiyan 3 form, he deliberately chose not to because he wanted to give Trunks and Goten a chance to do so and because he didn't want the next generation of Z-Fighters to think they could just depend on him all the time. While Goku does have somewhat of a point, his inaction still led to the creation of Super Buu, who ends up killing off most of the Z-Fighters.
    • When Super Buu enters the Room of Spirit and Time to fight with Gotenks, the fused Saiyan deliberately downplays his power, even verbally stating that Buu is overwhelming him. This causes Piccolo to blow up the entrance in an effort to trap Buu forever, at which the horrified Gotenks reveals he was faking all along. For the icing on the cake, Buu promptly uses his ability to scream open dimensional doorways to escape, and by the time Gotenks is able to replicate the feat, Buu has already murdered everyone on Kami's Lookout. Because of this, none of the Z-Fighters trust Gotenks as a useful fighter ever again.
    • Old Pilaf's at it again in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, where he and his gang help bring Frieza back to life. This not only results in him gaining a new transformation that vastly outclasses Super Saiyan, but also leads to Earth being destroyed again.
    • Dragon Ball GT: As revealed during the Shadow Dragons Saga, the Dragon Balls produce negative energy for each wish granted, which is stored in the balls for it to dissipate harmlessly over 100 years; in fact, the Dragon Balls scatter after every use because it's expected to take years to find one through conventional methods, thus allowing them to disperse the negative energy harmlessly. Unfortunately, that countermeasure was rendered completely useless when Bulma invented the Dragon Radar, allowing the Z-Fighters to find the Dragon Balls very quickly and summon Shenron numerous times, eventually leading to the birth of the Shadow Dragons.
  • In season 2 of Code Geass, Schneizel makes a case to the Black Knights to surrender their leader Zero, who he reveals is his long-lost half-brother, Lelouch vi Britannia. While not without their doubts towards their leader based on some of his actions, they, at least counting the likes of Tamaki and Diethard, remain wary and skeptical towards Schneizel, who is rightfully suspected to be just as easily tricking them with the evidence and testimonies that he is presenting. Not more than a few moments later does Ohgi come along with his still secret love interest Villetta, a Britannian spy, with some additional cursory yet suspicious evidence the latter provided that leads everyone else amongst the Black Knights present into deciding to turn on Lelouch without giving any chance of there being a case made in his favor.
  • Misa Amane from Death Note does this twice, to the severe detriment of both sides. Once, it's as a Poisonous Friend to Kira, giving L physical evidence in the case, and the other time, it's out of Mad Love to same, endangering her own life to the point that her shinigami has to intervene. For a fervent Kira supporter, she's really a bit of a loose cannon: she never seems to fully appreciate her role in either disaster.
    • Sachiko asks her children to bring their father a change of clothes, and Sayu is reluctant to take the task. When Light volunteers, he ends up running into Naomi, learning about how close she is to figuring out an important part of how he kills people, and silencing her before she can reach L.
  • Aoba Yamashiro. Don't know him? He's a recurring background ninja in Naruto who was probably never formally introduced, databooks aside. Why is his name so well-known in some parts of the Naruto community? A single careless sentence out of Aoba's mouth revealed Itachi's whereabouts and goals to Sasuke. Following that, Sasuke tried to beat up Itachi, was soundly defeated, and pondered why Itachi would be interested in Naruto. Sure, Sasuke wasn't particularly stable before, but this huge blow to Sasuke's self-esteem was the catalyst for the event that would finally send Sasuke over to The Dark Side.
  • In an early Pokémon episode, Ash is right on the verge of capturing a Weedle, when he is rudely interrupted by a samurai, who challenges him to a Pokémon match. During said match, which is a Mirror Match between their two Metapod taking Harden commands, the Weedle manages to escape back into its tree and alert a swarm of Beedrills, who proceed to capture Ash's Metapod. In one of the series' earliest Broken Aesops, Ash is forced to learn a lesson about not making excuses about not finishing what he started, even though it was the fault of the samurai, who berates him for all of this, that Ash wasn't able to finish in first place, all because he didn't have the courtesy to wait until Ash was done.
  • Hitomi Shizuki of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. There's this friend of hers, Sayaka, who likes Kyousuke, who lost the use of his arm in an accident. Through a Deal with the Devil, Sayaka becomes a Magical Girl and heals Kyousuke's arm. Hitomi, who has no idea about this, also loves Kyousuke and decides to confess to him, but not before offering Sayaka the first shot. Sayaka doesn't act on the offer, because she just found out that magical girls are liches, so she sees herself as unworthy of Kyousuke's love. Her depression only worsens when she sees Hitomi confess to Kyousuke, and because of the nature of the aforementioned Deal with the Devil she becomes what she fights. A third party, Kyouko, self-destructs to Mercy Kill Sayaka. In short: Because of one confession, two girls died. Now, poor Hitomi did the best she could with what next to none information she had and there's also how other girls would've gone after Kyousuke behind Sayaka's back and without anything resembling respect for her feelings (while Hitomi acknowledged them and actually told Sayaka to go for it first), yet the fans still hate her. At least she isn't an Idiot Houdini, according to her and Sayaka's teacher Kazuko: After they found Sayaka's lifeless body, and after her funeral, Kazuko tells Madoka's mom Junko that Hitomi feels responsible in some way, and Word of God all but shouts that a wavy-haired girl seen sobbing her heart out in Sayaka's funeral is poor Hitomi. Cue the Fridge Horror when you realize that, due to both having been Locked Out of the Loop and the lack of info regarding her death in general, it's a sure thing that poor Hitomi believes she unknowingly drove poor Sayaka to suicide).
    • Some may consider Madoka to be one. Had she not tossed away Sayaka's Soul Gem, she wouldn't pass out/go all corpse-like and Kyubey wouldn't have spilled the beans, thus giving Sayaka that state of mind that she's no longer human. Although to be fair, her mother also falls into this line for giving her that idea. But really, Kyouko is to blame: had she not challenged Sayaka to fight, the already emotionally-unstable Madoka wouldn't had flipped her shit and tossed the Soul Gem to stop the eventual fight.
  • In Bleach, Uryu's use of hollow bait to start a hollow hunting contest with Ichigo has the unintended side effect of also drawing the attention of the Soul Society, enabling them to track Rukia down.
  • Sekai of School Days seduces Makoto because of her own unrequited feelings for him, despite actually hooking him up with another girl, Kotonoha. This action itself is what leads to Makoto developing a sex addiction, cheating on Sekai with Otome, and then Otome with every other girl in his class, Kotonoha becoming a Yandere, and well the nice boat.
    • In the original game, this also happens - but one can control Makoto's action and make sure things won't be as bad. Or make them even worse
  • In Bakuman。, one factor that contributed to Detective Trap losing popularity and being cancelled is two other similar manga - Phantom Thief Cheater and Detective Gosuke Akechi - both of which were submitted while Mashiro was in the hospital and on hiatus, and debuted after Mashiro's release.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. The pilots of Evangelion Transport Neopan 400, the American Weather Bureau and the technician at Airbase Ekta 64 are never named, are never spoken of again, but ALL are responsible for the entire Bardiel Incident and Cerebus Syndrome the show developed towards the latter half. This might not seem obvious at first, so here's the chain of events: Due to the unnamed characters deciding to fly through an odd-looking cloud, Bardiel manages to corrupt Evangelion Unit-03 on its way over to Tokyo-3. This leads to Shinji crippling his best friend for life, resulting in his resignation from NERV. Because he resigned and Unit-00 was damaged in the battle, Asuka has to fight Zeruel alone (which ends badly and results in her sync ratio collapsing). Shinji is also absorbed and Unit-01 awakens. This leads to Asuka getting mind-raped into a coma, with Shinji unable to assist due to the freeze on the awakened unit. Due to the above events, Rei is forced to go out alone against Armisael, resulting in her being blown to pieces and Gendo replacing her with a soulless clone. This causes Shinji to go into mental freefall, only to be assisted by Kaworu... whom he has to kill as he's actually the 17th Angel. Cue Shinji having a Heroic BSOD, as his new friend/prospect-Gay Option is dead, his maybe-Love Interest is in a coma and Rei is back to being an emotionless pawn in Gendo's plans. All of this leads to Asuka being forced to fight the MP-EVA series without support, resulting in her Cruel and Unusual Death. Shinji's mind breaks at this, and Third Impact is triggered, resulting in almost all life on Earth being destroyed. The result of not going around the suspicious-looking cloud: The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Takehiko Henmi from Oniisama e.... How so? Six years before the story started, he visited his best friend Takashi Ichinomiya's house and befriended his little sister Fukiko, who unbeknownst to Takehiko got a huge Precocious Crush on him. During these days they spent lots of time together, and she made him promise that he'd attend her birthday party and hear her play the violin. However, Real Life interfered: Takehiko couldn't get to the Ichinomiya mansion in time and Fukiko was completely crushed, since she had practised very hard and also did whatever she could to be the best for him. In any other series, Fukiko would've eventually gotten over it... but in this one, she became a Yandere over him, and that brought LOOOOTS of Wangst and drama for everyone else.
  • Satoshi Oginome from Mawaru Penguindrum. Had his estranged daughter Ringo not seen him with his girlfriend and her daughter, she would've likely not sped up her "Project M" to bring her family back together via the Attempted Rape of her crush, with all that happened later.
  • Inverted with Isumi in Hikaru no Go. If he hadn't insisted on playing Hikaru, Hikaru would never have discovered that Sai is still present in his Go, would not have started playing again, would not have become the "second genius" and, therefore, would have caused the thousand-year plan of the god of Go to fail.
  • In Digimon Savers pretty much every bad thing can be blamed on one villain, the Final Boss is just reacting to events. Drasil is such a self righteous blowhard that many people hated it just as much as the guy responsible for everything though, especially since much drama could have been avoided if Drasil had bothered to get off its throne years ago.
  • Sailor Moon apparently pulls a Face Heel Turn toward the end of the first anime's first season, but as it turns out she only joined the Dark Kingdom as The Mole so she could rescue Tuxedo Mask from its clutches. And then Kunzite had to blow her cover...
  • Medaka Box: Onigase, and by extension, the Public Morals Committee. Their antagonism towards the Student Council ends up getting Medaka and the other members dragged into the Flask Plan. In addition, Medaka's defeat of Unzen makes her an ideal candidate for the project and thus a target.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As, Suzuka serves as one. She, not knowing about the Wolkenritter’s true nature or activities despite having met them as well as Hayate, plans to pay Hayate a surprise visit along with Arisa, Nanoha and Fate on Christmas Eve in Hayate’s. Nanoha and Fate, seeing the Wolkenritter with Hayate, then realize that Hayate is the true master of the Book of Darkness that they are searching for, and are forced into a confrontation with the Wolkenritter, who wish to prevent Hayate from being exposed. Things quickly get worse from there.
  • In Mai-Otome Sifr, a cat wandering out on the hotel balcony leads to Sifr trying to retrieve it, and falling and having to be rescued by Lena, who berates her for going outside and risking being discovered. It's revealed that one of the poolgoers was an undercover Schwarz agent, and that night, a large Schwarz force attacks, succeeding in kidnapping Sifr with help from M9.
  • Michiru Saotome from Getter Robo Armaggedon. She's infected with The Virus, which is pretty much a death sentence, and chooses to commit suicide via screwing up with a test flight before it takes over and subjects her to a Fate Worse Than Death. While such a situation is really bad and one can undestand the person's reasons, there are even worse things about it: her father, Dr. Saotome, mistakenly believed that the Getter pilots were to blame, leading to him falling into insanity and becoming a Mad Scientist... which is followed by his murder, Ryoma's imprisonment, Saotome being Back From the Dead and completely Ax Crazy, and the invasion. Needless to say, It Got Worse. (Not to mention her sibling Genki, who witnessed Michiru's death in first row, is horribly traumatised to the point of becoming a Creepy Child).
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Heinkel manages to corner Pride, only for some residents of the nearby slums to come by with sources of light. This enables Pride to set fire to the brush nearby, regain use of his shadow powers and severely wound Heinkel.
  • Kalos Eidos from Kaleido Star believes himself to be one of these. Ten years ago, he asked a famous acrobat and close friend of his's named Aaron if he truly was up to performing the very dangerous Fantastic Maneuver, a very risky acrobatic trick that had caused more than one death... and few afterwards, Aaron failed to do it and died. This is the reason why, a decade later, Aaron's son and former Kaleido Stage Ace Yuri is pissed off at Kalos enough to try buying out the Stage as revenge... and Kalos does nothing to stop him since he thinks it's his punishment for, in his view, letting Aaron die.
  • Several of these show up in Fruits Basket:
    • While Akito Sohma's father Akira had the best intentions at heart, in an attempt to cheer up a saddened Akito, he told her that she was a special child who was destined and born to be loved. After his death and due to her mother Ren's abuse, Akito ended up clinging to Akira's words and twisted them into one of the reasons why she treats the Cursed Sohmas the way she does - they're all destined to be by her side forever, so she's entitled to do anything to keep them from leaving. And when Kureno's curse disappeared, things started going From Bad to Worse. . .
    • The aforementioned Ren Sohma also has a place in the trope. She once asked a young Rin if she and her family actually were as happy as they seemed, leading Rin to ask similar things to her parents and to them cracking and abusing her onwards.
    • Kureno Sohma became one later. The also aforementioned Rin saw him talking to Tohru from a distance (during the time he told her that Akito was a girl) and noticed that Tohru was crying. Since Rin has a Big Sister Instinct for Tohru, she decided to look for Kureno and confront him on making Tohru cry. . . and THAT was when Ren caught her and convinced her to be her accomplice in her plans to steal Akito's treasure. . . leading to her being caught, having her hair cut off, and being locked up in the Cat's Room by the absolutely enraged Akito. . . To be fair the guy sincerely had no idea about Rin seeing him and Tohru, and later he finds out about Rin being "captured" and releases her.
    • The biggest one, however, is the original God. He was a kind yet lonely man who simply wanted to live forever and for his animal friends to stay with him through eternity. . . but when he made an immortality elixir for that, one of said animal friends (the Cat) disagreed, this sparked quite the fight between them, and thus the Hereditary Curse of the Sohma clan was born.

Comic Books

  • In Volume 5 of Scott Pilgrim, Stephen Stills tells Knives that before Scott broke up with her, he had already started dating Ramona. Knives then tells Ramona, leading her to break up with Scott.
  • Inverted in the Tintin story The Secret of the Unicorn with the pickpocket who had been stealing everyone's wallets. He ended up stealing the Bird brothers' wallets which contained their parchments, this lead them to think that Tintin stole their wallets. They ended up kidnapping Tintin, and after a long chain of events, they got captured. Tintin got the last two parchments from the pickpocket and ended up finding Red Rackam's treasure. If it wasn't for the pickpocket stealing peoples' wallets, who knows whether or not Tintin would've gotten those parchments.

Films — Animation

  • Buddy Pine in The Incredibles accidentally ruins an act of heroism by Bob "Mr. Incredible" Parr by getting in the way, leading to a lot of frivolous lawsuits, a Super Registration Act and the newly-married Mr. and Mrs. Incredible being forced into hiding. And then he has the audacity to say he got the short end of the stick.
    • In fairness to Buddy, the initial lawsuit which paved way for all the others didn't have anything to do with him. Mr. Incredible prevented a man from committing suicide, injuring him the process. The man sued. Buddy's well-intentioned interference in the Bomb Voyage incident and the resulting damage didn't help matters, though.
    • Of course, it's subverted by the fact that he did become a villain who (offscreen) killed countless ex-superheroes just to test out his killer robot, so some of the hatred is probably intentional...
  • He's not the first Pixar character to fit this trope, though — that ship sailed for good when P.T. Flea from A Bug's Life got Flik and the circus bugs ostracized by the colony and then later in the film incinerated a fake bird, thinking it was the real deal.
  • Hot Rod acted particularly useless, bordering on The Load levels during the fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron in Transformers: The Movie. He promptly got himself taken hostage by Megatron, resulting in Optimus's death. And his reward for being such a useless pile of slag? He got the Matrix of Leadership and turned into Rodimus Prime.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Sifu's goose messenger to Tai Lung's prison gives him both the means to escape and the motivation to do so.
    • In his defense, he was only told to tell the guards to be extra careful. The commander in charge of the prison was so boastful about the prison, he showed the messenger how powerful it was and ended the whole thing by patting the goose on the shoulder and letting loose one of his feathers. In other words, while he tried to deliver the message, the commander just ignored it.
  • The whole events of the entire plot of How To Train Your Dragon 2 can be blamed on the unknown dragons that brutally ripped off Drago Bludvist's arm, burned his entire village, killed his family and left him as the only survivor with basically nothing all when he was just a child which very likely traumatized him. This caused Drago to grow up into an insane madman determined to rise up to the top to control and break the will of every single dragon into an army so he can control other people. If Drago's village was simply left alone or it suffered far less brutal casualties from dragons then Drago would have probably grown up into a much better and nicer person. He would have never gotten the desire to build a dragon army and the events of the second movie would never have happened as Hiccup finding out about him building an army is what kicks off the plot and Toothless would have never been mind controlled by Drago's abused Bewilderbeast which results in Stoick getting killed by a plasma shot from the Night Fury that was directed at Hiccup.

Films — Live Action

  • Star Wars:
    • A villainous example: in A New Hope, the Star Destroyer officer who orders his subordinate not to fire on the escape pod containing C-3PO and R2-D2, thus ensuring that Luke Skywalker gets Princess Leia's message and brings about the end of the Empire. If this nameless officer had not been so frugal with laser ammo, The Dark Side would surely have triumphed.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, a wampa prevents Luke from discovering an Imperial probe droid when he decides he would make a nice dinner for his wife. This would have given the rebels more time to evacuate…Han Solo discovers it anyway but it would have made their lives easier.
    • In Attack of the Clones, the one thing that Jar Jar actually does in the movie, other than stand in the background, is to make a motion in the Senate to grant Palpatine emergency powers. Yes, that Palpatine. Jar Jar was already so despised at this point that the reaction was mostly along the lines of "He was the cause of all the evil in the universe? I knew it!" Some people suggest that this role was deliberately given to Jar Jar in response to his poor reception by fans. Now fans have an in-story reason to hate him. Though most people pity him for being the Unwitting Pawn.
      • In all fairness, the entire galaxy is comprised of unwitting pawns who played right into Palpatine's masterplan. Even Padme, who disagrees with some of Palpatine's claiming greater executive powers and continuing the Clone Wars, didn't realize where he was going until late Episode 3, and was the one who arranged the Vote of No Confidence on Chancellor Valorum, allowing Palpatine to take power in the first place. It should be noted that she did that at Palpatine's suggestion, though.
    • The main cast in The Last Jedi. They had good intentions but their Indy Ploy was resulted in their high command's very good plan being exposed to the First Order and the Resistance being reduced to a Suspiciously Small Army.
  • In the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, his blind manservant Duncan gallops into Sherwood Forest in order to tell his master that Marian has been captured by the Sheriff; only for the bad guys to follow him straight to the outlaws' hideaway and start to massacre everyone there. Beyond getting ushered about by either Robin or Marian, it's the only thing he ever does in the movie.
  • In Wrong Turn 4 Bloody Beginnings, a prequel to the Wrong Turn series, one of the characters beg someone not to kill the inbreeds. They spare their life, but in return are responsible for nearly every single death in the films.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, at least in the film version, Faramir is one. He is prepared to shoot and kill Smeagol for entering the Forbidden Pool and seemingly allows Frodo to call him out of the pool, but immediately captures him upon his exit. Smeagol thinks Frodo lied to him and, enraged by this apparent betrayal, regresses into his Gollum persona and starts plotting his and Sam's deaths for the sake of retrieving the Ring.
    • In retrospect, this being a bad thing depends on Frodo's willpower stat at higher levels of health, stamina, and morale. At the end of the journey, Frodo gives in; it's somewhat pathetic, but considering his unholy journey to hell-on-earth barefoot and starved, every step in the volcanolands seems like a miracle, so it's no wonder that he puts on the ring where it's influence is the most powerful and turns invisible - to everyone except Gollum. Who accidentally destroys himself and the ring. So if Frodo could have had more willpower without Gollum's spider-venom backstabs, then yes he did lose a finger for Faramir's paranoia.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Wanda "Scarlet Witch" Maximoff in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Hellbent on revenge on Tony for what she sees as a slight against her, she Mind Rapes him into creating Ultron. In that film alone, Ultron turns on the Avengers, rips a capital city out of her country and kills her brother. And simply beyond that, the long term consequences of Ultron's actions led to Captain America: Civil War and all of that film's horrible consequences.
    • Thor furiously regards Loki as one in Thor: Ragnarok. Loki's usurping Asgard's throne in Thor: The Dark World and his hedonistic approach to governing led to Asgard being entirely unprepared for Hela when Odin's death freed her, outright saying that it took two days for Loki to doom Asgard. And when they're forced to destroy Asgard to defeat Hela, Thanos quickly takes advantage of the power vacuum.


  • In the former trope-naming incident, from the Sherlock Holmes story The Final Problem, a Swiss messenger in Moriarty's employ catches up to Holmes and Watson with a message saying that an Englishwoman at the hotel they're staying at is on the verge of death and wants to see an English doctor. Watson obediently returns to the hotel, unknowingly leaving Holmes to face Moriarty alone at the edge of Reichenbach Falls, apparently leading to both of them falling to their death. It is, however, implied that Holmes knew all along what was going down but saw no reason to put Watson at further risk.
    • Plus it's all but shouted that the messenger was one of Moriarty's agents, not an innocent pawn.
  • Catelyn Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire. Twice, but releasing valuable prisoner Jaime Lannister in an attempt to get her daughters back from the Lannisters is more cited than kidnapping Tyrion Lannister, believing him responsible for the attempted murder of her son on the word of her Unlucky Childhood Friend Petyr Baelish, Despite the fact that the Tyrion incident was the casus belli of the civil war that has made the entire world turn to shit ever since.
    • Fans often cite the release of Jaime as a crucial step leading up to the Red Wedding, but there are parts of the text suggesting that said wedding was already being planned before it happened. Both Lord Twin Lannister and the Stark's treacherous ally Lord Roose Bolton appear to be planning something around the time of his release.
    • The irony of Catelyn is that, in most other fantasy worlds, she and Ned would be the most sympathetic characters in the entire story, and the clear virtuous protagonists of the piece. In the Crapsack World that they live in, though, they are either directly or indirectly the cause of something like 90% of the tragedy that follows.
    • Also Sansa Stark with the whole Lady affair, or running off to Cersei when she did. Forgiven by many only because of what happened to her after that.
    • When she was a girl, Lysa Tully was in love with her father's ward Petyr Baelish, who was light-years below her in social status so a marriage was impossible. Also, he was in love with her older sister Catelyn. So one night after watching Petyr dance with Cat and get very drunk after Cat wouldn't kiss him, Lysa crept into Petyr's bed in the dark and had sex with him. She told him she loved him and wanted to marry him, while letting him think she was Cat. Shortly after this, Cat's engagement to Brandon Stark was announced and (understandably from his point of view) Petyr challenged him. Short scrawny 15-year-old Petyr nearly died fighting tall strong 20-year-old Brandon and was promptly thrown out for this and for getting Lysa pregnant. This humiliation was Petyr's Start of Darkness, turning him into the villain responsible for the entire civil war - with Lysa manipulated into lighting the first fuse. Well done, Lysa!
  • Harry Potter: Bertha Jorkins in Book 4. Doesn't appear 'on-screen', doesn't have any speaking roles, dies long before Book 4, but is absolutely crucial in giving The Big Bad the capacity to put together his plot - she worked for the Ministry's Sports Department, so knew about the Triwizard Tournement. She then went on holiday to Albania, where Voldemort was lying low with Wormtail. She happened to bump into Wormtail and recognised him, and was subjected to lots of tortures and mindfuck to make her a source of information to Voldemort. It didn't help that she had coincidentally discovered Barty Crouch Jr.'s existence, either.
    • Marietta Edgecombe revealed the existence of Dumbledore's Army, thus leading to Dumbledore having to flee Hogwarts and Umbridge taking over. This also indirectly led to Sirius's death, because had Dumbledore remained at Hogwarts, when Harry had that dream about Sirius being captured by the Death Eaters, he would have gone to him, instead of playing into Voldemort's hands
      • However, there are actually plenty of others who all contributed indirectly to Sirius' death: Dumbledore for not being more forthcoming about why Harry had to take Occlumency lessons, Snape for refusing to teach Occlumency after Harry peeked into his worst memory, Harry for not being better at learning Occlumency, even Sirius himself for his contemptuous treatment of Kreacher. And bigger than any of these others would be Cornelius Fudge and Umbridge for why everything had to be so damn circumspect in the first place.
  • In Battle Royale, just as Shinji is about to pull off his plan to escape the Program, a fellow student (Keita Iijima) shows up, oblivious to what's going on, and accidentally ruins the entire plan, getting everyone involved killed. It should be noted that he wasn't one of the dangerous ones who was participating in the Program; he was just an idiot. However, Shinji's own mistrust of Keita (due to a prior incident) leads Keita to panic, and Shinji accidentally shoots him to death. The noise attracts Kazuo Kiriyama, who is definitely participating.
  • "Papa" Monzano in Cat's Cradle inadvertently brings about the end of all life on Earth through committing suicide by ingesting a volatile particle of exponentially-spreading ice. He was on the verge of dying from illness already.
    • May not have been unintentional though. He knew exactly what the little crystal could do and even uttered the Bokonist phrase for committing suicide, "Now I destroy the world…" Consider also that the whole thing is largely a parable about the insanity of nuclear arms proliferation and the dangers of what happens when a truly irrational madman gets his hands on a weapon of mass destruction.
      • A more accurate example from the book would probably be whoever failed to perform proper maintenance on the fighter plane which crashed into the side of the castle.
  • Lucy's mother in Dracula is partly responsible for killing Lucy by opening the window and removing the garlic so that Dracula can get into the room.
  • In The Wise Man's Fear, The Cbaeth creates these by acting as a malicious oracle or saving peoples' lives.
  • Jacob in The Red Tent demands an outrageous bride price for his daughter (after a sarcastic comment by Joseph) due of a combination of greed and Overprotective Dad factor... then his sons murder Dinah's True Love, and all the other Shechemite men. Jacob calls said sons out on it and dies full of regrets.
  • Curley's wife from Of Mice and Men wanted to have a friendly conversation with Lennie, despite George's orders to Lennie to stay away from her. She eventually took advantage of Lennie's foundness of soft things, and offered Lennie to touch her hair; this soon lead up to Curley's wife getting scared and beginning screaming, which in turn made Lennie scared that George would hear her and squezed her hair tighter. Guess who winds up his or her neck broken. The death of Curley's wife quickly lead up to the novel becoming a Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story.
  • Inverted in the Star Wars novel Death Star. Two utterly trivial characters from the first film (the guard who says, "Close the blast doors!" too late, and the gunner who says "Stand by... stand by....") turn out to have chosen to let Han Solo and Chewie get away, and chosen not to fire on Yavin, because they'd started to have doubts about the Empire. If not for them, the Rebellion would have been crushed.
  • In Death: This trope has happened a few times. Vengeance In Death had a brilliant plan to catch the murderer ruined by a robot poodle that caused a chain reaction of events that caused the cops to reveal themselves and for the murderer to spot them and run for it. New York To Dallas contains two instances of this. The first one had a brilliant plan to catch the murderer's partner ruined by a dog that caused a kid to almost get run over by a car, a cop having to save the boy's life and reveal himself as cop, causing the murderer's partner to spot them and run for it. That instance got subverted by the partner getting caught despite a chase anyway. The second instance had the cops closing in on the murderer, only for the murderer to get away. How? The murderer was out shopping when he overheard a conversation between staff member and a stock boy about cops. The staff member recognized an undercover cop working in the area and he was just telling the stock boy about how this cop came to a criminology class and how cool he is. The murderer naturally chose to run for it. Clearly these minor characters would not get a lot of sympathy from readers.
  • In Halo Contact Harvest, negotiations between Humanity and the Covenant are taking a nasty direction (the Brutes demanded the Earth and everything on it, humans said no). A frightened Grunt attacks a Marine, an act that triggers the entire Human-Covenant War and everything connected to it. The Halos, the Forerunners, the Flood, the Spartans like Master Chief — it's possible none of them would have been discovered or created if that Grunt had been less impulsive.
  • Ciaphas Cain has his own personal version of this trope in Toren Divas who manages to be both his best and most hated friend. The best example is in the starship at the start of Death or Glory: while Cain and Jurgen struggle to get out of a room where the hull has been breached, Divas' attempts at being over-dramatic knock some guardsmen off balance as they hold open the emergency doors, trapping Cain and Jurgen and forcing them to get into a lifepod, making planetfall deep in ork-held territory. This sets off the whole plot, though as that involved Cain and Jurgen's flight to safety snowballing into liberating the planet, the people of Perlia would probably have thanked him.

Live Action TV

  • Wesley in Buffy the Vampire Slayer revealed that Faith accidentally killed someone. The rest of the team is already on-board with helping her deal with her issues and giving her the support and acceptance she needs in order to not fall to the dark side. Wesley's response on the other hand is to call in some goons and try to ship her to England to be locked away forever. By the end of the episode, she doesn't trust any of them, resents all of them (because she thinks they want her to just be like Buffy), and has taken a job as the Big Bad's number two.
      • Fortunately, when almost the exact same situation comes up again on Angel, he has learned enough to actually trust the protagonist and go with his plan. This time it leads to Faith turning herself in and beginning her path to some measure of redemption.
  • In murder mystery Harpers Island, nine-year-old Madison is kidnapped by the Ax Crazy Big Bad, John Wakefield. When rescued, she goes along with the lies Wakefield told her to tell the others — specifically that it was the Sheriff who kidnapped her. Even though she knew that Wakefield was evil. This gets several people killed and Madison became The Scrappy.
  • Due to a lot of Time Travel and Anachronic Order being involved, the Blue Senturion in Power Rangers Turbo is often accused of being this, the negative result being Zordon's death. He'd come back in time a thousand years to warn of a massive war a year later — but the villains intercepted him, took the message, then wiped it from his memory, resulting in the evil side of the war being way more prepared than the good guys.
    • Of course, time travel being what it is, no one really knows how different the end result would have been.
  • Power Rangers RPM: To escape from the research facility she spent most of her pre-series life confined to, Doctor K decided to release a sentient computer virus her captors had her design for them. She intended to keep it to the facility's computers, but two guards caught her before she could finish installing the firewall, ignoring all her protests. Cue the destruction of human civilization outside of Corinth City. In Power Rangers.
  • In the BBC's Robin Hood the titular character is trying to make a tentative alliance with Isabella Thornton, the new Sheriff of Nottingham (and his ex-girlfriend, plus Guy de Gisborne's sister) despite the grumblings of the other outlaws. His reasoning is sound, and after striking a deal with her he asks Little John to escort her safely home. For no reason whatsoever, John decides to tell Isabella that Robin "has eyes for Kate" (a fellow outlaw). This achieves nothing except pissing Isabella off and leading her to doubt that she has any kind of power over Robin; she turns on him at the next available opportunity which leads directly to two outlaws' deaths. Nice job antagonising the valuable ally, John.
  • Degrassi the Next Generation gives us Paige Michalchuk, who gets her friend Terri drunk before a dance and ends up with the guy Terri wanted instead. Later on, Terri thinks she'll never find a man and ends up with abusive boyfriend Rick. Later, Rick comes back and Paige gets to be an inversion of this trope, albeit ultimately subverted because someone else pisses Rick off enough that he starts shooting people.
  • In the second season of Criminal Minds, the team was trying to bring in a delusional war veteran who is panicking because the construction sounds like the war zone. Now, they find him and have swat surround the suspect as they coaxed him to surrender. They tell these construction men nearby in plain view of the drama to stop working until they are done, but naturally the men resume construction before the suspect is apprehended. This causes the suspect to panic and he runs towards a kid on a bike, forcing a swat marksman to shoot him. The construction crew couldn’t have waited 30 minutes for the damn police, swat, and FBI to finish?
  • Octavia in Rome may have been indirectly responsible for the deaths of Julius Caesar and Vorenus' wife. Octavian told her about Vorenus' wife's affair in which he told was supposed to be a secret. For no reason whatsoever, Octavia told Servilla this. When Caesar's enemies planned to assassinate him, this information became crucial and was used to drive Vorenus (who was supposed to guard Caesar) away, leaving Caesar as a sitting duck. Meanwhile, Vorenus confronted his wife and she ended up killing herself out of honor.
  • While everyone in Doctor Who agrees that the Daleks would have eventually left Skaro, the Doctor feels that his stupid act of exploring the Dalek City was what made them so eager to leave and exterminate other planets.


  • Zeroth Law of Trope Examples: Romeo's servant Balthasar in Romeo and Juliet, when he brings his message to Romeo telling him of Juliet's death. Sadly, the friar's letter telling him that the death was faked does not get through - so there are of these, the one who delivers the wrong news, and the one who doesn't realize how important the real news is, and fails to deliver it. Actually seems to have achieved some degree of Popcultural Osmosis, which runs counter to the norm for an author so prone to Everybody Knows That.
  • In Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, the scatty Lady Markby brings a friend to a party, appearing in two scenes in the first act, and never appears onstage again. Said friend turns out to know their host's dirty secret, thus causing the events of the entire play.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Hilarously subverted by De Guiche: he is a villain who unwittingly derails his own plans: At Act I Scene IV, he utters a simple Dare to Be Badass to De Valvert, a small but crucial gesture that sets events that result in the derailment of his own plan to marry Roxane with De Valvert so de Guiche could bully her to be his mistress.

Video Games

  • In Dragon Quest IX, during a pre-game flashback, Serena's father is responsible for Corvus' Start of Darkness by showing up at the worst possible moment lying to the guards that Serena tricked Corvus into drinking a sleeping potion in order to have him sold out to the Gittingham Empire in exchange for their village's safety. Despite Serena's pleas that she gave him the potion to keep him from fighting the soldiers alone and possibly getting hurt, Corvus feels that he has been betrayed, and in spite of fulfilling his end of the bargain, Serena's father, and Serena herself, who he was trying to protect, are both still murdered by the soldiers for their trouble, and Corvus is locked up for 300 years. When he is finally freed near the end of the game, he intends to destroy humanity in light of the perceived betrayal he suffered which has led him to believe that Humans Are Bastards. Thanks for nothing, old man.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a slight case of this in Joker. Shepard dies at the start of the game specifically because Joker refused to leave the Normandy when it was going down in flames. Shepard was forced to pull off a Heroic Sacrifice for him. Despite this, Joker is still a popular character, but it did earn him some haters.
    • Shepard wasn't under any obligation to save Joker, so it's really his/her own fault being too sentimental about his/her crew.
      • S/he got better...
      • When you become captain of a ship, you take responsibility for her as well as anyone onboard. It's a long-time naval tradition, and it likely persisted in the Space Navy. What kind of a captain abandons a crewmember? Besides, Shepard probably thought Joker couldn't make it on his own due to his disability. And Joker's a friend. Throw in the fact that Joker kept the badly-damaged Normandy flying for long enough for the rest of the surviving crew to abandon ship, and you realise that Shepard gave his/her life to save the guy that saved everyone else.
  • The Ace Attorney games have one (although it's more attributed to the series being a Long Runner more than anything): Tsukasa Oyashiki/Katherine Hall is indirectly responsible for the DL-6 incident, thanks to inadvertently hiding the IS-7 victim's body. This was due to the fact that she was trying to prevent the destruction of some ice statues made by the victim, and didn't even know the killer hid the body there. Because of that, she's responsible for the forgery of evidence and Manfred von Karma's black spot on his perfect record.
    • And to really make things worse, the DL-6 Incident lead to the Feys losing their reputation, causing Morgan's husband to leave her and Dahlia to grow up to become a serial killer. Poor Tsukasa/Katherine's got a lot of blood on her hands.
    • Jake Marshall can be considered one for Case 1-5. He approaches Bruce Goodman, asking him to re-open SL-9, but Goodman refuses. Marshall then steals Goodman's ID to retrieve the evidence himself, prompting Goodman to have to enter the evidence room with Police Chief Damon Gant in order to complete the transferal. Not realizing he was with Neil Marshall's true killer, Goodman changes his mind and suggests reopening the case, and is killed on the spot before being transported to the underground parking lot. Marshall thus, either by stealing Goodman's ID or planting a seed of doubt in Goodman, indirectly caused Goodman's death.
  • Final Fantasy X: So Yuna and her friends have uncovered the truth about Maester Seymour, and are getting ready to send his ass to the Farplane, when Trommel intervenes and interrupts the ritual. It Gets Worse when, Trommel, after being confronted with Seymour's wrongdoing destroys the sphere of Seymour's father warning about his son's Start of Darkness, with the excuse that "the Guado deal with Guado affairs." Needless to say, with this action, Yuna and company are forced into hostile terms with not just the Guado, but the entirety of Spira as well, and the unsent Seymour goes on to attack the party several times, proving to be a deadly recurring villain. The decision does later cause trouble for the Guado when Seymour nearly wipes out the Ronso, leading to the near retaliatory genocide of the Guado in the sequel.
  • In the "Invasion of the Firelands" quest chain in World of Warcraft, the players can become one in a rare instance in which they cause disaster without being an Unwitting Pawn. Shortly before the attack on the Firelands is about to begin, Hamuul asks the player to investigate a Druid of the Flame nearby. The Druid of the Flame, Leyara, attacks the player and Hamuul, badly burning Hamuul and preventing the protectors of Hyjal from going on the offensive until the player gets enough Marks of the World Tree to unlock the next phase of daily quests.
  • Ryousuke Katayama of Corpse Party is a weird example, in that it's not exactly his fault. In Tenjin Elementary School, he loses his leg in a trap and bleeds to death. His friend Ohkawa, however, insists that he's still alive and needs to get to a hospital. In an attempt to "help" him realize the truth, Kizami pushes his body down the stairs. This works about as well as you'd expect. Ohkawa calls Kizami a murderer, which causes Kizami to have an "epiphany": It doesn't matter whether it's the school that kills you or him. Ultimately, Kizami punches out Touko's front tooth, kills Ohkawa, Fukuroi, and Mitsuki, stabs his childhood friend Kurosaki and kicks him into a pit, then brutally murders him when he finds out he survived, and tries to kill a girl he'd been trying to help find her brother before finally being killed by the zombie guy that's been running around.
  • During Hanako's route in the Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo Misha decides to teasingly question her and Hisao about their realtionship as a result of this queston Hisao is forced into a situation where he forced to tell Hanako about the suprise birthday party that he and Lily were planning for her. This just happens to cause Hanako to have a panic attack. To be fair, she truly didn't know that birthdays are a Trigger for Hanako and not only she's horrified when she breaks down, but apologizes as soon as she can and means it with all of her heart.
  • In Bastion The Manipulative Bastard who seduced and betrayed Zia indirectly caused The Calamity by driving Zia's father into sabotaging it and getting the Mancers panicked enough to set it off.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni:
    • Two very active "active parts" in this horror tale are Kinzo Ushiromiya and his daughter-in-law Natsuhi. The first raped his illegitimate daughter Beatrice Ushiromiya, who he kept locked away from the world, and had a child with her. Then, the second was "given" the infant to raise since she and her husband couldn't have a kid of their own, but she saw it as an insult to her worth as a woman, and at some point she snapped and pushed a servant that was taking care of the poor baby off a cliff. The servant died, and while the kid survived they suffered severe injuries and especially to their sexual organs, and from then on was raised as a servant - and became Sayo Yasuda aka Shannon aka Beatrice.
    • Rudolf and Kyrie Ushiromiya could be said to have kept the whole "horror tale" going, too. Because had they not married too soon for Battler's taste, he wouldn't have broken off with his paternal family... and therefore he would've been there for the aforementioned Sayo/Yasu and found a way to help them deal with their terrible life, which would've probably kept them from snapping and going the Kill 'Em All way...
    • A good part of Rosa and Maria's HORRIBLE issues can be traced to Maria's birth father abandoning Rosa when she was still pregnant, under the promise of finding a job that would get them out of the gigantic debt they were in due to a co-loan they signed. The trauma coming from this and Rosa's own past where she was intensely bullied by her own family, plus the stress of being a single mother in a country that heavily discriminates unwed moms, led Rosa to crack and become a gigantic Troubled Abuser towards Maria.
  • In Tekken 7, the late Kazumi Mishima is revealed to have been one. First: the Devil Gene comes from her. Second: under the orders of her people, Kazumi directly tried to kill Heihachi despite her love for him, and ended up dead for it. Third: when Heihachi killed her in self-defense, near all his remaining goodness (which was already dwindling) was gone, and soon everything in the story started going to shit. As seen in the Story Mode, she's very unhappy about her part on all of this.
  • In Rumbling Hearts (Kimi ga nozomu eien), Mitsuki wants a birthday present from Takayuki and convinces him to buy her a ring while he's on the way to a date with Mitsuki's best friend Haruka. Takayuki is late for said date... but as Haruka waits for him in the spot, she's hit by a car and falls into a coma, and Takayuki mentally collapses over this. Unsurprisingly, poor Mitsuki feels HORRIBLY guilty about it.

Web Comics

  • In Kid Radd, two Moderators are given a large sum of money in order to hire an assassin to kill Radd, as Captain QB can't be directly implicated in illegal activities and needs to use a proxy. They reason that it can't be hard to kill someone in jail (as Radd is being imprisoned for illegally entering other games)), and hire Kobayashi the discount ninja so that they can pocket the rest of the money. Radd survives the assassination attempt and Kobayashi becomes a recurring character who later meets up with Gnarl and, while training together, stumbles upon Chimera Point, the keystone to Crystal's plans, which eventually results in her finding it too.
  • In the Jack Chick tract Fatal Decision, Brutus, an orderly on the brink of being fired for rudeness to patients, makes hints that John shouldn't trust Dr. Bowers, leading to John destroying the vaccine and dying of his disease.
    • The devils often invoke this trope, choosing someone who has an incidental relationship to the person whose soul they want to claim. In "The Assignment" they succeed in convincing Charles Bishop's subordinate's wife to badger him out of witnessing to his boss. They try to distract Cathy with a boy, only for it to fail when he proves to be a Jerkass, and try to have the previously mentioned subordinate call Bishop with a sales proposition, only for the angels to thwart this attempt twice. Charles ultimately dies in his sins, making the first example a successful one.
  • In Kevin and Kell, Nick and Ki's arrival in Domain by way of interdimensional travel disrupts the balance between the animal- and human-dominated worlds to the point at which the other two humans living on the animal side Lindesfarne and Danielle are forced to leave lest the world suffer instinct loss. Luckily, Catherine and Nigel do it instead.
  • Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick, having already lost her Paladin abilities through the unwarranted execution of of Lord Shojo, ends up destroying the Sapphire Gate, having once again misinterpreted what the gods wanted of her. Had she not been so hasty in doing this, the ghost of Soon Kim could have permanently ended the threat of Xykon and Redcloak, who, themselves, were aiming for the gate, anyway.

Western Animation

  • On a similar note as the Power Rangers RPM example above, Project Carthage in Code Lyoko, since XANA, the Big Bad of the show, was created to stop Project Carthage.
  • A strange example of a fictional character ending up being one for the real-life events. The Ren and Stimpy Show had the minor character George Liquor getting brutally beaten up by Ren in the episode "Man's Best Friend". Said scene was later one of the reasons for creator John Kricfalusi's firing.
  • The Earth King informed Azula (disguised as a Kyoshi Warrior) of the invasion of the Fire Nation,cue next season where the invasion force finds all royalty in hiding.
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time interferes with Finn's attempt to destroy the Lich from reaching the Well of Power and reaching his full power by pestering Finn and Jake in an attempt to gain their blessing to wed Princess Bubblegum. As a result, the Lich, having regained his full power by the time Finn and Jake finally reach him, ends up jobbing Finn destroying the Gauntlet, the one weapon able to destroy him outright, forcing Finn to find an alternative. It doesn't stop there, though. The Ice King, who apologizes for having just kidnapped the Princess, accidentally drops her into the Well, which, in the subsequent episode, has the effect of melting her. She is saved, but is possessed by the spirit of the Lich. After being frozen with help from the Ice King, she shatters, requiring medical attention to be put back together. Part of Bubblegum is missing though, causing her to come back as a 13-year old, which later results in Earl of Lemongrab assuming the throne, if only for an episode.
  • Kova in Voltron: Legendary Defender is the ultimate example of this trope. He was once a simple cat who grew old before his mistress, a scientist named Lady Honerva treated him with Quintessence as a way to help him out. Once his youth was restored, Honerva threw herself into her Quintessence Experiments and eventually became Haggar.
  • While the lion's share of the blame for nearly destroying Etheria in Season 3 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is Catra's, and she'd already been pushed to shakier mental ground by Adora defecting to the Rebellion, it was Shadow Weaver, who'd brought Catra up with the belief that she was Always Second Best to Adora, also joining the Rebels that broke Catra to win by any means necessary. And beyond that, the cataclysmic energy burst released attracted Horde Prime to Etheria's location. Nice one Shadow Weaver.
  • In the non-canon American Dad! episode "The Two Hundred", Roger, somehow, dropping his sunglasses in a particle accelerator led to the end of the world. He apologizes for it at any rate.
  • As Homer Simpson himself lampshades in "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly", he's the one who drove Maude out of her seat, ensuring she'd be standing up to be struck by an ultimately lethal barrage of t-shirts, which he provoked to fire where he was before bending down, that sent her plummeting from the top row of a NASCAR stadium and was also the one who parked in the ambulance spot preventing any chance of resuscitation.

Real Life

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a vivid dream, got up and started writing it down as the epic poem Kubla Khan, but then there was a knock at the door, and a man from the nearby town of Porlock kept him talking just long enough to forget all about the dream and he never finished it. The Person from Porlock is now literary shorthand for an unwanted visitor...
    • Though some have theorized that Coleridge never intended to finish the poem (or that it was finished already), and he made up the story of the visitor just to mess with people.
      • It doesn't help that, Coleridge was a heavy opiate user, the "dream" was something more of a "drug-induced vision," and the man from Porlock may or may not have actually been there. (cue images of a poet standing on his doorstep talking to nobody while hazy visions of Kublai Khan's utopia dissipate into the aether).
      • Of course, some think it was a guy named Dirk Gently.
      • Or Jack Constantine.
  • Andy Dick. At a 1997 Christmas party, he reintroduced Brynn Omdahl, wife of Phil Hartman to cocaine, leading to his death.
  • Floyd Wells. He told fellow cons Perry Smith and Richard Hickock that a farmer he worked for named Herb Clutter kept a safe hidden with plenty of cash inside. As it turned out, there was no safe. It was this false info that led Smith and Hickock to massacre Mr. Clutter and his family, the basis for Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.
  • A rare inversion in Stanislav Petrov. While monitoring a satellite for the Soviet early warning system of a nuclear attack, he received a report of five inbound ICBMs. He decided it didn't make sense for a US first strike to be composed of only five nukes, and logged it as a technical error. Had he not been so cautious, World War III surely would have erupted.
  • The failure of the Jay Leno Show on primetime had this effect on Conan O'Brien's tenure as host of The Tonight Show, as it damaged local 11pm newscast ratings, as well as Conan himself, leading NBC to move Jay and his show back to his old 11:35 spot, and pushing Conan just past midnight. Conan, not wanting to tarnish the legacy of the Tonight Show, wanted no part of the agreement, and was subsequently evicted from the show, with Jay back as host.
  • Senator Stephen Douglas, the man responsible for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Originally, his intentions had simply been to get a railroad to California built, which would start in Chicago, Illinois (his home state). To do this, he proposed splitting the remaining unorganized chunk of the Louisiana Territory into the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Pro-slavery Southerners slipped in a part saying that the legality of slavery in each territory would be decided by the voters there. Nebraska banned slavery without much fuss, but pro-slavery advocates from Missouri flooded into Kansas to support slavery, and the rest is history. Douglas himself has been branded pro-slavery for years afterward following the fallout, with historians often leaving out that it was the South that suggested the decision of slavery by popular sovereignty and that Douglas himself wanted to build a railroad to California, obviously having no idea that the first planned transcontinental railroad would cause the biggest schism ever to hit the United States over completely unrelated circumstances.
  • In 2007, Adult Swim launched a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie featuring battery-powered LED placards resembling the Mooninite characters being placed in numerous places around the US. However in Boston, police officials mistakenly thought that the LEDs were bombs, and treated the whole event as such. This event would turn out to known as the Boston Bomb Scare, which lead to legal implications being placed on Turner Broadcasting, the internet to make mock "Never Forget" memes, and forced then-current Cartoon Network head Jim Samples to step down. It wouldn’t be long after until fans began to realize that Cartoon Network would not be the same since the incident. Not because of any legal incidents, but because Sample’s replacement, Stuart Snyder, has since become the instigator of the channel’s infamous Network Decay with the increase of live-action sitcoms and reality shows on the channel.
  • Donald Trump, the former reality show star and also former President of the United States, did this when Sergey Lavrov (the Russian Foreign Minister) and Sergey Kislyak (the Russian Ambassador to the United States) visited the White House. During the visit, Trump disclosed classified counter-terrorism information originating from Israel (via a Mossad spy working undercover inside ISIL) to Lavrov and Kislyak. The compromised information not only blew the spy's cover, it also indirectly caused the terrorist bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena two weeks later, resulting in the deaths of 22 people, most of them children.


  • Fred Merkle. Had This Wiki existed one hundred years ago, no further explanation would have been needed. Basically, Merkle was a baseball player for the Giants back in the early twentieth century. In the bottom of the ninth inning in a game against the Cubs, there were two outs and the score was tied, and Merkle was on first base (someone else was on third). Another player scored, scoring a game-winning run, but in the excitement Merkle never actually stepped on second base. Thus, a player for the Cubs stepped on second base and called Merkle out, thus nullifying the run. As this game was played before electric lighting, the game was declared a tie. Thus, the Giants and Cubs ended the season tied for first place, requiring a rematch to determine who would go on to win the pennant. The Cubs won. The sheer amount of hatred directed at Merkle's one mistake was astounding, especially considering that he was far from the only person who cost the Giants the pennant.
    • It wasn't excitement that kept Merkle from stepping on second; the fans stormed the field, and he ran for the clubhouse for his own safety. The game was called a tie after the Cubs player somehow made the play in that mess because they couldn't clear the field. It should also be noted that, since this behavior by the fans was quite common back then, such a force out had never before been enforced under those conditions. All of this really makes Merkle one of the worst cases of Mis Blamed in sports history.
  • Steve Bartman. As the story goes, the Chicago Cubs were on their way to their first World Series since 1945 when hapless fan Bartman interfered with a foul ball, costing the team a precious out. What gets overlooked is that after the incident, Chicago still led 3-0 with one out in the 8th inning, and could have easily won the game if not for a bout of spectacular incompetence: a wild pitch, an error on an easy ground ball that could have ended the inning, two intentional walks that backfired to the tune of four runs allowed, and other hard hits. The tense 3-0 game became an 8-3 laugher. Oh, and that was only Game 6 of a seven-game series; the Cubs could have still made the World Series by winning Game 7, at home, with their best pitcher going. That didn't work out either.
  • Similarly, Bill Buckner's epic error in 1986. History little notes that the Red Sox had the Mets down to their final out, and three times down to a final strike that would have brought Boston a long-awaited championship. Buckner's famous gaffe was made possible only by three consecutive singles, a wild pitch, and pitcher Bob Stanley failing to recognize that baserunner Ray Knight had strayed so far from second base he could have been picked off easily. And, like the above example, this loss only tied the series at 3-3; the stunned team could have regrouped and won the next day, but did not.
  • In the bottom of the ninth inning of game six of the 1985 World Series, umpire Don Denkinger called Kansas City Royals baserunner Joge Orta safe on a close play at first base. ABC's replay showed that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell managed to get to first base and took the toss from first baseman Jack Clark at the base before Orta reached it. Cardinals fans will blame this call for costing them the championship and Denkinger was hounded by them for years. However, Orta was the first batter of the inning. The Royals eventually loaded the bases and it was the fourth batter of the inning, pinch-hitter Dane Iorg, who got the hit that scored two runs to give Kansas City a 2-1 victory. The Cardinals could have still won the series the next night in game seven, but were still unhinged by the events of the previous night and the Royals won 11-0, claiming the only World Series title the team has ever won. It didn't help that the Cardinals had won the first two games of the series in Kansas City and held a 3-1 lead in the series after five games, making the Royals the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 series deficit after losing the first two games at home. Oh, and Orta wasn't even on base when the winning run was scored...he was thrown out at third on a poorly-executed bunt play.
  • For all the flack Lebron James got for the Miami Heat losing the 2011 NBA Championship. it may have been Dwayne Wade that started the collapse. Miami looked to have a 2-0 lead over Dallas when Wade hit a three-pointer to put them up by 15 in the fourth - and he chose to taunt the Mavericks by posing in front of their bench. Dallas mounted a furious rally to win that game, posted another comeback in Game Four and ultimately took the trophy right from under the anointed Heat's collective noses.