A plot where an innocent person, usually a kid, is exploited by a crook. Regardless of whether the crook is brought to justice, the kid's innocence is gone forever with much regret by all involved.
Compare Harmful to Minors and Defiled Forever. See also Coming of Age Story.
Examples of Innocence Lost include:
- Double Subverted in the Harley Quinn series - the child in question was already pretty jaded, having been hunted by crooks her whole life, but hanging out with Harley she almost got her innocence and faith in the world back from being with her... until Harley's conscience fails and she cashes in the kid anyway. Ironically, after the villains take what they want from her (her eyes), the now blind girl has a feeling of peace for the world and a new lease on life (and nothing but pity for the crooks that used to come after her), while Harley is completely unable to look herself in the mirror.
- In L: Change the World, Maki watches her father kill himself violently in direct defiance of the threats of the bio-terrorists. This prompts her to want to murder them in revenge.
Live Action TV
- In Kung Fu, Caine remembers a time when he was tricked out of a precious scroll by a con man. Eventually, the con man is caught and the scroll is recovered, but Master Po and Caine have a disappointed conversation that ends with:
Caine: But Master, the scroll was returned!
- Subverted in Mork and Mindy when Mork is talked into freeing an escaped criminal who claims that he just needs to visit his sick mother and will return to turn himself back in afterward. Sure enough, Mork is arrested for freeing him and Mindy tells him that it is obvious that the crook took advantage of him and won't be back. In a genuinely moving moment, Mork tearfully agrees that he can't trust anyone again, until the crook suddenly returns as promised to turn himself in and get Mork released. With that, Mork's innocence is restored with his naive belief in the goodness of humanity vindicated.
- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick responded like this to getting mugged. He had tried to politely explain to the mugger how "this three hundred dollars is mine" and when that didn't work, he ended up losing his faith in humanity for the rest of the episode: "What kind of place is this where you can't wave handfuls of money around in the middle of the night?"
- This is referenced in the original Peter Pan; It's noted that every time Peter is exploited (e.g., by Captain Hook) or similar, he reacts with shock and the typical apparent sting of the loss of innocence, but he continues to fall prey to these tactics because he never will actually 'grow up' enough to lose this childish naïveté altogether. He also forgets traumatic events magically, so that he never matures via suffering.
- A subversion of this is a major plot point in the Amber trilogy in Dragonlance. To destroy the Beloved of Chemosh, they must be physically touched by an innocent child. The experience is so horrific, said child will lose their innocence, making dealing with them a Sadistic Choice for the good guys.
- The Alienist.
- Presumably happened to Ginny in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, but it's hard to tell since J. K. Rowling pulls an Any Torment You Can Walk Away From.
- The quest that starts the Dark Brotherhood questline in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is actually called "Innocence Lost". The innocent children in question get a double helping of this. Their innocence has already been shot to Oblivion by being orphaned and sent to the Honorhall Orphanage where Grelod the Kind makes their lives hell. Aventus Aretino flees the Orphanage and tries to contact the Dark Brotherhood through the Black Sacrament (using his own dead mother's remains) to kill Grelod. What's left of the orphans' innocence dies a nasty death when you kill Grelod, since you show them that Murder Is the Best Solution. Aventus even tells you that he wants to be an assassin like you when he grows up so he can "help" people too.
- Everyday Heroes, in the chapter entitled "VilAnon". Jane tells the story of her criminal past, how she was lured into a life of crime by easy money and the high-rolling lifestyle, how she was betrayed by her treacherous boss, and how she ended up in prison, with her best friend killed.
- The Season Two finale of Moral Orel is pretty much this, with Animal Motifs to symbolize it thrown in for good measure.
- Liberty's Kids has the main kid characters, particularly James Hiller, learn that things are actually not so black and white with The American Revolution.