It's Personal

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Nothing more personal than a shark on a vendetta!

Now Halloween is over. No more tricks. No more bombs. No more webbing. No more masks! You were right earlier. This has never been about Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. It has always been about Peter Parker and Norman Osborn. Tonight we will settle this face-to-face. As men!

The protagonist catches bad guys for a living (usually at a rate of about one a week), but this time, the bad guy has decided that he doesn't like the protagonist. Instead of doing what any sensible psychopath would do and simply toss a grenade in the character's window, the psychopath takes creepy photos of the character's kids, abducts the character's wife, kicks the character's dog, and above all, leaves calling cards and clues to ensure that eventually he'll get caught. The bad guy (often a Big Bad) knows about the protagonist's Fatal Flaw and is more than willing to exploit it.

The Stuffed Into the Fridge and Friendly Target tropes are invariably a setup for this.

Usually eventually leads to Not So Different. For a more specific form of this, see You Killed My Father. Often enough, This Means War. When done to their home or base, the hero will usually take a moment and Watch Troy Burn.

The Disposable Woman is a character who exists only to make It's Personal happen. When it gets personal, characters insist they must work alone.

One common variant is to order/trick allies aside to set up an one-on-one duel without interference. This can be risky but the avenger wouldn't risk anyone else getting hurt/someone stealing his precious right to do that particular kill himself!

If a character has this as his primary motivation rather than as part of another quest, then he's Not in This For Your Revolution.

Contrast when it's Nothing Personal, or at least they claim it's not.

Examples of It's Personal include:

Anime and Manga

  • Soukou no Strain; as if her beloved older brother killing her whole school didn't already give Sara Werec this complex, he goes and offs Carris too, just after exposing her true identity. True, he did have a bit of a suicide wish...
  • The final arc of Rurouni Kenshin has Kenshin fighting Enishi Yukishiro, his brother-in-law because Kenshin accidentally killed Tomoe Yukishiro, Enishi's sister, and Kenshin's first wife. Enishi makes it clear that this is personal, by sending Kenshin into a "living hell" by defeating him and killing Kenshin's lover Kaoru, though he actually only kidnaps her.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Amuro Ray and Char Aznable become mortal enemies after the tragic death of Lalah, who has been so dear to both of them.
  • In Gundam Seed Destiny, Shinn Asuka wants Kira Yamato dead after Kira kills Shinn's love, Stella, only to save the mass from further tragedies she is causing.
  • This seems to run a lot in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Dark Action Girl in training Louise Halevy wants a piece of the Celestial Being for what she thought to be massacring her whole family and crippling her. Meanwhile, many people want a piece of Ali Al-Saachez for several reasons:
    • Setsuna F. Seiei wants him dead for manipulating him to kill his own parents and becoming a purposeless child soldier.
    • Lockon Stratos wants him dead for being responsible for the death of his entire family save his twin brother. He fails, unfortunatley, which sets the motivation for the next guy.
    • Tieria Erde wants him dead for killing Lockon, his partner and first love.
    • Nena Trinity wants him dead for killing her brothers. Ironically, she's the one who actually killed Louise's family.
    • And Ali's eventual killer? Lyle Dylandy, the twin brother of the original Lockon Stratos who now took his name. In an aversion of this trope, he didn't exactly kill Ali because he killed his brother. In fact, he offered him one last chance at redemption, which Ali promptly refused.
  • In Gundam AGE, one of Grodek Ainoa's reasons for hijacking the battleship Diva is to avenge the death of his wife and daughter, who have been murdered by the Ax Crazy Unknown Enemies.
    • Flit and Desil, after Yurin's death which led to Desil's humiliated defeat in the 1st Generation.
  • In Mazinger Z, Dr. Hell got Kouji's grandfather assassinated. After his grandfather died, Kouji swore he WOULD find the responsibles and WOULD make them pay. That is one of his motivations to piloting Mazinger-Z and fighting Hell. Moreover he has stated he does not want nobody else loses his/her families cause the ambition of Hell.
    • In the sequel, Great Mazinger, fighting the Mykene became personal to Tetsuya after Professor Kabuto, his adoptive father died to save him.. And in the Gosaku Ota manga version, he wanted Marquiss Yanus dead after she tore Misato in half to his face.
    • And in the other sequel, UFO Robo Grendizer, the version manga of Duke Fleed hated Commander Barendos after he dropped his little siblings from a height from three kilometers in front of him. The sole sight or mention of him press HARD Duke's Berserk Button.
  • Despite already hunting him for the nine-tailed fox, Pain happened to make things very personal for Naruto when he killed Jiraiya, forced Kakashi into a Heroic Sacrifice, and destroyed the Leaf Village. After injuring and potentially killing Naruto's toad allies, his stabbing Hinata after she told Naruto she loved him is enough to force Naruto into his six-tailed state.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Toguro capitalizes on this trope in order to get Yusuke to fight him at his full strength. He does this by first killing Genkai before the finals, and then during his fight with Yusuke, seemingly kills Kuwabara, but he had only pretended to. Ironically, 50 years ago, a demon named Kairen had killed all his students and forced him to come to the Dark Tournament, which precipitated his Start of Darkness.
  • In Monster, Eva is only linked to Johan by her connection to Tenma. But when Martin dies, Eva decides she's going to go after him herself.
  • Sonic X: Seeing his friends attacked, injured and imprisoned by the Metarex in the episode Testing Time gives us the first appearance of Dark Sonic in animated Sonic continuity. And also show us a side of Sonic that we've really never seen in full swing before - namely the part of him that you do not, under any circumstances, piss off.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Do NOT mess with Yugi (or Tea, for that matter). Yami WILL kill you. For that matter, don't screw with Mokuba. it's a great way to get Kaiba pissed off.
  • The Demon Arc in Mahou Sensei Negima turned out to be very personal indeed for Negi when Wilhelm revealed to him that he was the demon that petrified his hometown. Cue Negi blindly charging, and having to be pulled out of the line of fire by Kotaro.
    • Also, Fate Averruncus. Initially, to Negi, it was just a really powerful evil guy that had to go down, but it was personal for Fate because Negi managed to hit him. Subsequent encounters made it personal for Negi as well.
    • Happened again with Negi to Governor General Kurt Godell after learning Godell was one of many responsible for the destruction of his hometown. It gets pretty intense after Negi literally turns into a demon. Even got to the point that Shrinking Violet Nodoka couldn't use her mind reading book to tell what was going on inside Negi's head save for three sentences "Make them atone. Don't Forgive. Kill them all."
    • In chapter 301, Dynamis breaks out of his Stoic facade. In a Crowning Moment of Funny, he laments the fall of the organization's power from boasting an army of thousands to relying on a few relatively weak little girls and that they were forced to play dead to survive. Dynamis blames this Villain Decay on Takamichi and Godel, and really really really wants to make them pay.
  • Terrorist group in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha that threatens the safety of The Multiverse? Pretty bad, but saving worlds and stopping such threats are part of Nanoha's job description. Terrorist group that kidnapped the Mysterious Waif that Nanoha had taken in as her daughter? Okay, now it's personal.
  • In Bleach, Zommari Leroux, on the verge of defeat against Byakuya, rants about Soul Reapers persecuting Hollows and declaring that they have no right to judge them merely for eating humans. Byakuya then cuts him down, replying that his actions had nothing to do with Soul Reaper duties, but for Zommari's trying to kill his sister Rukia.
    • Another example is when Isshin drops the bumbling dad act and shows he's a Captain class shinigami in order to save Kon (in Ichigo's body) and take out Grand Fisher, the Hollow who killed his beloved wife. Even while Grand Fisher taunts him, he remains calm, and finally slices him in half, killing him.
    • Aizen already made it very personal for Hitsugaya after brutally stabbing Momo Hinamori, Aizen's previous lieutenant and Hitsugaya's childhood friend/prospective love interest, when the former defected from the Soul Society, but when Aizen tricked Hitsugaya into impaling Hinamori in chapter 392... talk about cranking the "It's Personal" meter up to astronomical proportions.
    • This is explicitly the only reason Ichigo will fight at full strength. Unless someone he cares about is in immediate danger, he'll either refuse to or be unable to summon the necessary power. He'll still try to fight, but only out of a sense of duty(Punch Clock Hero?), and it never ends with Ichigo winning.
    • The Vizard coming to fight alongside the Shinigami against Aizen. And though he never comes out and says it, judging from the way Shinji loses his cool momentarily with Aizen after he's released his shikai, I get the feeling that what Gin did to Hiyori has made it even more personal for Shinji than it already was.
    • Shunsui wasn't really taking his fight with Stark seriously but when Wonderweiss attacked Ukitake and injured him, all bets were off.
    • Ishida's battle with Mayuri is probably the most epic case of this in the series.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, it's revealed that Gauron and Sousuke initially had nothing against each other. And then Gauron decided to attack the Guerilla village Sousuke had been living in, mass slaughtering all the citizens while Sousuke and Kalinin were out. Not to mention how, after that, he decided to accept a job from the KGB to go after Sousuke and Kalinin and kill them. After all that... it became personal.
  • In Knights, Mist is especially driven to stop the Corrupt Church and their witch-hunts after seeing his own mother burned at the stake, and at his father's hands.
  • Anti-Villain example: In Eureka Seven, Ray and Charles Beams fight against Gekkostate not merely because the military pays them to (though that is a factor), but also because of a grudge against Eureka, whom they believe is to blame for Ray's infertility.
  • Fang of the Sun Dougram has a minor plotline about two Humongous Mecha pilots going AWOL to avenge the deaths of their comrades. When command orders them to retreat, the older one cuts off the radio saying that this is personal.
  • The very first episode of A Certain Scientific Railgun has Saten trying to be Badass Normal by stopping an escaping bank robber. Unfortunately for her, she's just a teenage girl while her target is an adult man. Fortunately for her however, Mikoto witnesses the bad guy kicking into Saten. Cue Mikoto showing why is her nickname "the Railgun" despite the fact that as a Badass Bystander, she has no real reason to join the fray.
  • A Certain Magical Index: "Stiyl, I'm gonna go punch Fiamma. While I'm gone, you take care of Index."
  • A lot of major characters in Inuyasha have it in for Big Bad Naraku, who has a huge list of wrongdoings including, but not limited to: tricking Inuyasha and Kikyo into thinking they had betrayed one another after he kills Kikyo; cursing Miroku's family; murdering Sango's family and destroying her village (and framing Inuyasha for it); using Sesshomaru several times to kill Inuyasha before trying to absorb him and kidnapping Rin (but it's Kagura's death that was the last straw and he starts going after Naraku to try to avenge her); and killing Koga's pack (which he once again frames Inuyasha for).
  • In one episode of Detective Conan, the murder takes place at a reunion of Kogoro's old high school Judo club, with both the victim and killer being members (and therefore longtime friends). Kogoro's anger over the situation and resolve to see it through to the end convinces Conan to let him have this one, though he does help out by subtly nudging Kogoro in the right direction.
  • This was Tubby's attitude in Episode 6 of the Little Lulu anime, after Lulu had gotten him into trouble, leading to him to invoke this line in the English version;

Tubby: Lulu's played her last dirty trick on me! This time, I'm just really fed up! This time, the worm is gonna turn!

  • This is Crocodile's main motivation throughout the Whitebeard War in One Piece.

Comic Books

  • The presence of this trope is what distinguishes a superhero's Arch Enemy from his or her most dangerous enemy. The two are rarely one and the same.
  • The Punisher MAX series had one story arc that involved a vengeful mob boss trying to get revenge on Frank Castle - and he started by unearthing the bodies of Frank's deceased wife and children and urinating on their bones. Frank wasn't very happy about this. The arc ended with Frank dragging the man out into the woods and shooting him in the stomach, then leaving him to die a long, inevitable death.
    • Before this he kills fifty eight mobsters in one night and vows to continue until the police bury his family, tortures the assassin said mobster hired and is saved from a suicide strike on mobster by hot sex crazed Punisher fan lady. On the plus side? Crime rate went down.
    • Which gets a "Fuck you Johnathan" as the mayor's reply, after another aide suggests they hope he just stops.
    • Another hot sex crazed Punisher fan lady shows up, going to far as to take his clothes and seek out revenge on those who wronged her, before beating one of them to death, naked, in front of Castle. Compared to Jenny, O'Brian is perfectly sane.
    • All the psycho ladies love the Punisher (I remember a Christmas special where a female assassin tried to kill Castle because she ahd a crush on him). Good think Frank himself isn't sane enough to mind.
  • At one point in Preacher (Comic Book), Allfather D'aronique explains to Jesse Custer why he changed his plans from exploiting the word to killing him:

Allfather D'aronique: You killed her, Custer. You killed my Aunt Marie!
Jesse: Grandma.

  • In the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comic, Mammoth Mogul told Sonic that he now understands he can never defeat Sonic. He is content to outlive Sonic and make sure that Sonic never knows peace until the day he dies.
  • The newest Spider Woman comic series revolve around Spider Woman (Jessica Drew) coping at her new life after she has been rescued from the Skrulls after 2 years in captivity, the Skrull Queen posing as her, and now she got an even worse reputation than what she got in the first place. Needless to say, she came to hate Skrulls, and when she found a Skrull posing as Spider-Man, trying to trick her again, boy, is she pissed off like hell.
  • Johnny Alpha in Strontium Dog has a couple of these, notably against Nelson Kreelman in "Portrait of a Mutant"/"Wanted", and Max Bubba in "Rage".
  • Played for laughs in issue #4 of The Awesome Slapstick. When the Neutron Bum is rampaging through Manhattan, Steve Harmon flatly refuses to get involved (he was waiting in line for a concert). He leaps into action only after the Bum attacks the Tower Records building.
  • In Superman: Red Son, Lex Luthor was originally hired to kill Superman (here a champion of the Soviet Union) by the US Government and just saw it as another problem to solve with his genius intellect. But he decides to devote his entire life to the task shortly after Superman defeats a Bizarro duplicate he created. But he later reveals that wasn't the problem- the thing that drove him over the edge was that Bizarro managed to beat him in chess, implying that he, and by extension the original Superman, was more intelligent then he was.
  • Spider-Man has so many villains that fit this mold, he can sometimes seem as though he isn't actually doing any superhero work but is rather trying to survive the next villain who wants to get even:
    • The original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, started off trying to take control of the New York underworld but by his second appearance, he was dedicated completely to killing Spider-Man. See quote for this trope. It's only been during the recent Dark Reign crossover that he has begun to do other villainous things besides messing with Peter Parker.
    • The same goes for the second Green Goblin, Norman's son Harry. He went into villainy just to kill Spider-Man as revenge for his father's "death". It doesn't help that he was always going through a Heel Face Revolving Door so he never really wanted to do anything evil when he wasn't after Spidey's blood.
    • The first Venom was Eddie Brock who was also only after Spider-Man and not only had no aspirations for further villainy, but he was something of a Heroic Sociopath. Once he agreed to a truce with Spider-Man, he became an Anti-Hero.
    • The Jackal was also mostly interested in Spider-Man and was the villain responsible for kick starting the Clone Saga... apparently For the Evulz.
    • Kraven the Hunter was hired to captured Spidey one time and failed, resulting in him becoming obbessed with Peter Parker to the point where he was Driven to Suicide.
      • Over the years, his wife and three children all took turns trying to kill Spidey in revenge.
    • The Mad Scientist Spencer Smythe was likewise hired to build spider-slayer robots. He was driven to insanity and financial ruin due to building wave after wave of robots designed to kill Spider-Man, only for them to be busted into pieces. Eventually, he died of old age.
      • His son then took up his mantle during a single story arc where he built an entire robot army of spider-slayers which, as expected, were destroyed by Spidey. He even turned himself into a cyborg in order to beat Spidey one-on-one. He lost.
  • Marvel supervillain Jackie Dio, aka Underworld, asserts that while the mutilation of one of his friends by Hammerhead may have been "just business," it was personal to him, and shoots Hammerhead for it.


  • The popularity of the phrase possibly originates from Jaws The Revenge's tagline: "This time...It's personal." Given that the film came out in 1987, the concept is probably substantially older.
    • It was the driving plot point in most, if not all of the action films of the 80s and early 90s. It was particularly Egregious in martial arts films revolving around a tournament (Bloodsport, Kickboxer, The Karate Kid, The Best of the Best). It's not enough motivation for the hero to just compete with honour in a competition. Nope, his main rival has to have killed his brother, molested his girlfriend and kicked his dog too. Cop movies were bad too—in every Lethal Weapon movie, the villains threaten Murtaugh's family, and in the second film we learn the villains have not only killed Riggs' current squeeze, but also killed his wife previous to the events of the first movie.
    • Parodied in Back to The Future, when Marty sees an ad for Jaws 19 with the tagline "This time it's really really personal!"
  • The 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie adds this to the relationship between Batman and the Joker—it is revealed that the Joker was the man responsible for murdering Bruce Wayne's parents.
    • Subverted, however, in Batman Begins: Bruce plans to murder Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents, but is denied the chance when a crime boss' assassin kills him instead to prevent Chill from testifying against him. Ironically, being denied this chance for personal closure is partly what leads Bruce to the path that will result in his becoming Batman.
    • Played straight in The Dark Knight, however, when Joker kills Rachel Dawes and drives Harvey Dent insane. Also inverted, however- Joker is actually trying to make Batman think It's Personal and act as such, trying to push him over the edge and actually kill him. More broadly, he is personal in symbolising everything that Batman is opposed to, and intentionally threatening the (mostly) crime-free city he had dedicated his life to.
  • The James Bond film Licence to Kill exemplifies this trope. The slimy villain, Franz Sanchez, throws Felix Leiter (Bond's best pal) to the sharks. Bond is naturally pissed, and subsequently blows up windows, laboratories and trailer trucks to get to Sanchez.
    • As bad as almost killing Felix by shark is, the real Moral Event Horizon was that the gang also raped and killed Felix's wife... on the night of their honeymoon!
  • This is one reason why The Ring 2 was less successful than the first: Samara's wrath was horrifying in the original precisely because it was impersonal. Not only was she out to kill people who had never done anything to her, she was out to kill anyone who watched the video, regardless of whether they had done anything wrong ever. In the sequel, however, she targets Rachel and Aiden specifically, and the feeling of "it could happen to you," so powerful in the first film, was accordingly defenestrated.
  • Quantum of Solace has this at its heart. Cars crash, boats explode and planes fall as the two protagonists battle their way to get revenge.
  • Star Wars:

Vader: "Obi Wan never told you what happenned to your father."
Luke: "He told me enough. He told me you killed him."
Vader: "No. you father."

Saint Clair: "Please understand... it was all business. It wasn't personal."
Bryan: "It was all personal to me." (shoots him with every round in his pistol)

  • The whole reason Tom Sawyer wants to join the League in the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is because the Phantom killed his Secret Service partner, who was also his childhood friend. He never actually comes out and says this was Huckleberry Finn, but it's pretty well implied. Unfortunately, the scene in which Tom explains this to the League was cut from the film and only appears in the DVD extras.
    • The novelization has him outright confirming that it was Huck Finn he was out to avenge.
  • There's a craptacular film called Diplomatic Immunity which has this as its' premise, as the daughter of a (I think) retired army dude is killed during rough sex by the douchebag son of some foreign diplomat, and gets away with it because, well see title. May be the only film to feature 'death by exploding camera.'
  • When his wife is accidentally killed by a crooked cop firing off his Thompson in Legends of the Fall, Tristan and his father-in-law seek out retribution together. While Tristan kills the mobsters that had forced the confrontation, the older man waits with a powerful rifle on a hilltop near the police officer's patrol route. The first bullet doesn't kill him, nor, in all likelihood, was it meant to.
  • This was introduced in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Return of the King, where what finally causes Aragorn to accept his destiny is Elrond telling him that his lover Arwen will die if Sauron is victorious.
  • Even Godzilla can take things personally:
    • The conflict in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah becomes personal after the latter brutally tortures Godzilla Junior to death, then attacks Godzilla while he is grieving.
    • Matches between Godzilla and his Arch Enemy King Ghidorah often come off this way; in Scott Ciencein's novelisation, Godzilla vs. The Space Monster this is made explicit, as Ghidorah's gleeful enjoyment of what he does, mockery of his opponents, and unprovoked attack on Monster Island really piss the big guy off. By the end of the novel (and the later films in the franchise), it's personal on Ghidorah's side as well, given the damage Godzilla has done to him.
  • In Sunset, it becomes personal for Wyatt earp after Christina is murdered.
    • In Tombstone, another movie about Wyatt Earp, it becomes increasingly personal as the film goes on and the Cowboys keep killing people connected to him. This culminates in the death of Wyatt's brother, at which point he declares "I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin' it!"
  • Nothing is personal in Live Free or Die Hard, at least not until the bad guys make the huge mistake of kidnapping Mcclane's daughter. Of course, this was in response to Mcclane killing the Big Bad's girlfriend Mai after which Gabriel said "You want to make it personal? Fine. It's personal." Still, it was a very very bad idea on Gabriel's part, and he paid the price eventually. Don't fuck with Mcclane's family.
  • Loki in The Avengers somehow manages to give every single member of the Avengers a personal reason to take him and his army down:

Nick Fury: They needed the push.


  • Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, God promises to punish all who harmed and will harm his children
    • An infamous and brutal example in Genesis 34. Shechem, prince of Shechem, rapes Jacob's daughter Dinah, and then has the audacity to ask for her hand in marriage. Dinah's brothers say sure, but first you and the entire male population of Shechem have to be circumcised in accordance with their tradition (keep in mind that at this time, the "kingdom" of Shechem was probably a small city-state with a few hundred people). Shechem and the males agree, and are circumcised. With the newly circumcised men too sore to do anything, two of Jacob's sons, Levi and Simeon (and probably a number of servants and retainers Jacob's family, making it the size of a small tribe), enter Shechem and kill all the men, enslaved the women and children, and looted the town.
  • A dramatic literary subversion, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Men at Arms:

"He killed Angua. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"Yes. But personal isn't the same as important."

    • In a later book, Jingo, Carrot decides to go to have a nap while pursuing Angua's kidnappers by boat, on the basis that if he stayed awake fretting about her, he would be useless when they caught up to them.
    • Partially subverted in Terry Pratchett's Thud!. The baddies and the Summoning Dark try to get the main character Vimes to make it personal multiple times. Whether they succeed is subject to discussion (though it does seem so in the end).
  • Harry's conclusion of Dumbledore's reasoning for Harry's position as The Unchosen One. He doesn't really have to do it, but of course Voldemort killed his parents.
  • In Shadows of the Empire, crime lord Prince Xizor would hate Vader anyway, since they're more or less rivals for power under the Emperor. But Xizor has a special hatred for Vader and wants to kill his son, because there was a hazard lab on Xizor's homeworld, a flesh-eating bacteria escaped, and Vader had the site - and the city around it, including Xizor's family - "sterilized" (ie. incinerated) from orbit. Xizor erased all record of this, but Vader's spies find out about this near the end of the novel.
  • Based on the previews, it looks like this is what the next Dresden Files book will be. For the first 11 books of the series, Harry fought vampires, necromancers, werewolves, faeries and God knows what else because it was his job and because he helps the helpless. According to Wikipedia and Jim Butcher's own Web site, though, this next book will be different. (Which is implied by the name, Changes, which is itself a change from the Idiosyncratic Episode Naming of the rest of the series.) The first line of the book:

I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, "They've taken our daughter."

    • And it was. It was spectacular. Fuck with Harry Dresden's family, and he will be willing to sell his soul to get back at you. Not that he does, but it's close.
  • Subverted in The Acts of Caine. For the main bad guy (the Blind God) and his minions, everything is impersonal, and that anonymous hunger is their defining trait. There are lots of side characters (Raithe, Kierendal, Orbek, Avery Shanks) with personal grudges against the main character, since Caine has a tendency to ruin people's lives. But the protagonist himself doesn't count, despite the horrible things done to his family and friends, not because he doesn't take their vengeance personally, but because he takes every single fight personally. Something as trivial as getting drunk and shouting at him is enough to get your jaw broken, minimum.
  • From "The Immortals" quartet If you mess with Daine's friends, she will kill you( at one point she sics zombie dinosaurs on the house/city of the guy who "killed" her teacher and this is assuming her other friends, which include every animal ever don't get you first.and Heaven won't help you.
  • The 39 Clues: Amy and Dan don't just want to beat Isabel in the clue hunt, they want to do it because she murdered their parents.
  • In the Animorphs novel The Andalite Chronicles, Visser 32 (the future Visser Three), promises Elfangor that he will kill Elfangor for all of the crap Elfangor has put him through, and that he would make it personal. Very personal. Visser Three kept his word in the first book of the main series when he turned into a horrible monster and ate Elfangor alive.
    • I'd count Marco and Jake in on this too, when the Yeerks went after their families. Marco, in particular, battled his way through half the Yeerk Pool with the rest of the group helping him, to save his mother. He also took on several hork-bajir and human controllers singlehandedly to save his father, although Rachel showed up for backup partway through.
    • Don't forget David and Rachel. After two books with no interaction, Rachel swears to kill David after he almost kills Tobias. David in turn makes Rachel his number one target after she jams a fork into his ear and threatens to kill his parents.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The first 7 books have almost all the members of the Vigilantes wronged in some way. Naturally, it is quite personal for them. Some of the books after that have the Vigilantes taking action, because one of their friends or loved ones is in trouble.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Shadows of Steel, being told that Hal Briggs is with the group he is being asked to help convinces Pat to come out of "early retirement" where more nebulous appeals fail.
  • In Who Cut the Cheese? by Stilton Jarlsberg, envy inspires Ho to continue the search for the next depot in hopes of murdering the rat in the sports car.

Live-Action TV

  • CSI usually starts or ends a season with an "It's Personal" episode.
    • When the investigators fly off the handle, they sometimes violate some of the suspects' rights with their outbursts (Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle are especially guilty of this) or some of the ways they try to obtain evidence. As just one example, getting a suspect to give a urine sample through saying it's required by law, when it actually isn't, sounds like grounds to have the evidence thrown out of court, given that it was obtained under false pretenses, or was coerced.
    • In early seasons, even if there weren't a direct relationship between the investigators and the criminals, the nature of the crime would often make the investigator take it personally themselves. For instance: domestic abuse, or overall violence towards women? Sara would sympathize. Broken marriages, or mothers (especially the working kind)? Catherine. Damaged childhoods? Nicky. Grissom himself explicitly stated that drug dealers and people who harm children make him furious.
      • "You prey on innocent children, and you think we came all the way out here to bust you for posession, you dumb punk?!"
  • CSI: Miami, by contrast, features such episodes all the time. And when it's not threatening the characters, it's arresting the characters. It's so frequent, you'd think the whole place would get shut down by Internal Affairs just on...(cue dramatic sunglasses removal) general principles.
  • Same thing with CSI: NY, many seasons start or end with personal eps, though they can come at any time. It's in between CSI and CSI Miami, basically.
    • The end of the Shane Casey case is a good example, it got seriously personal for both Danny and Lindsay.
  • iCarly: Trying to take down is one thing.. hurting Carly herself will get your ass kicked by Sam.
  • For a series that is mostly plot, not character driven, Law and Order and its various versions did this relatively often:
    • Law and Order, It's Personal episodes give us rare glimpses into the characters' home lives/personal histories (Logan confronts the priest who abused him in childhood, Logan tracks down his partner's killer, Briscoe tracks down his daughter's killer).
    • And Jack literally breaking all the rules to make sure Alexandra Borgia's killers are punished.
    • Law and Order Special Victims Unit's Det. Olivia Benson is searching continuously for her mother's rapist/Benson's biological father. While only one SVU episode dealt with investigating Ma Benson's rape, this Backstory was touched on in any episode involving pregnancy from a rape and at other times as well. Det. Benson has also been stalked by perpetrators at least three times in six seasons. On the other hand, her partner, Elliot Stabler, has his buttons pushed by any crime involving children (which is roughly every episode that doesn't involve a rape—and, for that matter, not a few which do). The series itself could be said to be made up almost entirely of It's Personal episodes, with each investigator having buttons that make them consider the case personal. (Why let someone work on a case they are clearly biased towards? No one ever plants evidence in this world, I guess...)
      • Benson took it to the extreme when someone who was convicted because of her testimony and was later cleared by DNA evidence eight years later started actually killing people. Other people she had brought in and testified against. She took it so personally that she said she would accept responsibility for the man's crimes. He committed Suicide by Cop before the situation was resolved.
    • Law and Order: Criminal Intent did it too, with Goren and Eames finally solving the murder of Eames' late husband and also with the illness and death of Goren's mother.
    • As did Law and Order UK, with the team basically going all-out to bring Alesha's rapist to justice and later doing the same regarding Matt's killer.
  • Happens with some frequency in ER—from the very first episode, Carol Hathaway was treated for a suicide attempt and by the time the final episode aired, nearly two-thirds of the characters having been in the ER for one reason or another, and not all surviving.
  • This is the entire character description for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel villain Angelus. And, for that matter, his Nemesis, Holtz.
    • Also, Oz references the line as a suggestion after some failed quipping during sans-Buffy patrolling at the beginning of Season 3.

Oz: If I may suggest: "This time it's personal." I mean, there's a reason why it's a classic.

    • Much of the criticism with Buffy's handling of Faith boils down to this. It's not enough for her to become The Dragon and get off on killing, she has to shoot Angel with a crossbow that poisons and slowly kills him to make Buffy seriously risk falling to The Dark Side and breaking her Thou Shalt Not Kill rule.
  • Having Amy and Melody their daughter kidnapped, The Last Centurion on Doctor Who takes it very personally. The Doctor, too; he does not like it when he's attacked "through the people [he] loves!"
    • It's possible that "The Idiot's Lantern" went this way after the Wire fed on Rose, since the Doctor says upon finding out:

The Doctor: There's not a force on the planet that can stop me now!

The Doctor: You just killed someone I like, that is not a safe place to stand!

  • Used as a Story Arc in Profiler and season one of Millennium.
  • After distinguishing itself in the beginning by not having episodes of this type, Without a Trace has since had at least three.
  • 24 features this in pretty much every series. Over six hellish days, Jack has had to deal with people he's already killed, his former partner, his former mistress, his mentor and his own family. He seems to have accepted this as standard practice, though- he gets quite upset early on when his wife is murdered, but when his best friends are killed in Series 5 he barely even blinks.
  • Alex Mahona and Wyatt in Prison Break.. And it's not the cool kind.
  • Common on NCIS, which contains quite a few examples of members of the team being either targeted for or accused of murder, in addition to the fact that Gibbs especially takes his ties to both the Navy and the Marine Corps seriously.
  • If there is an episode of The X-Files that involves anything relating to Samantha Mulder, it's probably this trope.
    • A more subtle example is in Season 3's "Revelations," where Scully, investigating a case of a young boy with stigmata, is forced to confront the gulf between her Catholic faith and the scientific procedures she must follow as a federal agent.
      • There are quite a few episodes in which Scully deals with her faith, and the slow losing of it. Others include "Redux II", "All Souls", "Biogenesis" and its sequels, and all of the things surrounding Wiliam's conception and birth.
      • Also, involving either Mulder or William in a conpsiracy is a good way to bump the episode up to a "it's personal" for Scully.
    • Eventually, the "it's personal" thinking shifts from something involving Samantha to events involving Scully. In "Redux", he tells Scully he can't let his crusade rest because they gave her cancer:

Mulder: "There are those who can be trusted. What I need to know is who among them is not. I will not allow this treason to prosper, not if they've done this to you."

  • In the third episode of Sherlock: Strap random people to bombs, and Sherlock won't mind too much, because caring about them won't help save them. Strap John to a bomb, and he will freak the fuck out.
  • Used twice in the pilot to Leverage. Dubenich gets Nate to take on the job because the company they're targeting is ensured by Nate's old company, who refused to pay for the procedure that could have saved his son. When Dubenich turns on Nate and the team, Nate strikes back because he used his son's death as emotional blackmail.
    • For the rest of the team, it was personal mainly because they hadn't gotten paid. In later episodes, though, Eliot's old girlfriend's barn is burned down, which pisses him off about both the girlfriend and the horses, and Parker gets obsessed with a job dealing with mistreated orphans, because she was one herself.
    • At the end of the first season, Nate targets the man who is the head of his old insurance company. In season two, there are also several versions of this, they target a hacker who tried to kill Sophie and a psychic who brought back bad memories for Parker among several others.
  • Played with on Little Mosque on the Prairie when Reverend Magee beats Baber in a Koran quiz and the two of them have a fight over it: on accepting a rematch, Magee declares that this time it's personal, but Baber points out it was personal for him the first time, too. "Seriously, my feelings were hurt."
  • In Lost, The Others tend to see the survivors of the plane crash as interlopers on their island, and take a somewhat detached attitude to them, but their decisions, particularly abducting Walt, end up being personal for the survivors, especially when Sawyer executes Tom after he surrenders "for taking the kid off the raft".
    • Ben's feud with Widmore suddenly becomes personal when Alex is killed by Widmore's Psycho for Hire.
    • In the final season, the battle between the few remaining Candidates and The Big Bad becomes this after he causes the deaths of Sayid, Jin and Sun in one fell swoop.
  • In a pivotal scene in Firefly, Mal and his tormentor are struggling near the edge of a Malevolent Architecture pit when Mal's allies arrive. It is played straight at first: Jayne raises his gun to shoot the tormentor, but is stopped by Zoe. "Jayne. This is something the Captain has to do for himself." Then they invert it. Mal: "No! No it's not!" Zoe: "Oh." The ensemble promptly riddle the tormentor with bullets.
    • Played straight when Mal discovers Jayne betrayed Simon and River to the Alliance

Mal: To turn on any of my crew, you turn on me!

  • In Life, Crews has pretty much taken the Roman situation to an It's Personal level after finding out that his partner's been abducted, probably by Roman, who has shown an increasing interest in her.
  • Although on Stargate SG-1, the team seems to take it personal every time one of the main characters is hurt/threatened/kidnapped/killed/whatever, the conflict with the Goa'uld were personal for both Daniel (because of what happened to his wife) and Teal'c (because of his history as Apophis' First Prime). The team actually gets called on taking things too personally a few times, but they generally shrug it off.
    • Jack also tends to take it somewhat personally when Skaara is involved, a holdover from The Movie, where Skaara is the Abydonian Jack interacts with the most and becomes rather protective of, possibly reminding him of his recently-dead son whom he was still mourning heavily. And Sam, of course, when her father/Selmac is involved.
  • Fundamental to the show The Mentalist, where the titular mentalist, Patrick Jane, is only helping the California Bureau of Investigation because they're his best shot at catching Red John, the Serial Killer who murdered Jane's wife and daughter. Also the reason why, at the start of the second season, the CBI has taken the Red John case away from the team Jane works with, because the team head was also losing her detachment from the case and indulging Jane's recklessness too much.
  • Referenced by a Reeves and Mortimer-written advert for TV Licencing, featuring the spoof show Detective In A Wheelbarrow- "I'm in a wheelbarrow- and this time, it's personal!"
  • Arrested Development:

Gob: Let me ask you something. Is this a business decision, or is it personal? 'Cause if it's business I'll go away happily. But if it's personal, I'll go away... but I won't be happy.
Michael: It's personal.

  • Season one of The Wire - Omar and his crew have ripped off one too many Barksdale stash-houses, so Avon places a bounty on the three of them. One of them, John Bailey, is found dead, having been shot 39 times with three different guns. The other, Omar's boyfriend Brandon, suffered two broken arms and several broken fingers, several knife wounds, cigarette burns, and one of his eyes was gouged out. It's unsurprising that Omar takes this personally and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Barksdale gang. Later, Omar and Stringer discuss the issue quite plainly.

Stringer Bell: But y'all was fucking with my stash. Anything after that -- part of the game
Omar: Maybe, but you see, y'all went past that with Brandon.
Stringer Bell: What happened to your boy was business. But how that shit happened -- you got a right to take that to heart.

  • Criminal Minds has had quite a few where the case directly related to one of the team, and some where it didn't but one of the team identified with one or more of the people involved.
    • In one specific episode, Morgan is accused of murder. It's immediately personal for the rest of the team, who are still allowed to investigate it despite their connection to him.
  • In Babylon 5, a major catalyst of why Londo Mollari really becomes so belligerent against the Narns is their invasion of Ragesh 3 in the episode, "Midnight On The Firing Line." In that episode, Londo's nephew, who had been assigned there to keep him safe, was among the capture and he was tortured and forced to cooperate in their propaganda, and the Centauri Republic was too weak to respond. So, Londo blames G'Kar in particular for these events, even after Commander Sheridan manages to undo the Narn's aggression, and later sees Mr. Morden's offers to assist him partially as a chance to prevent further such incidents against his loved ones.
  • In Angel Angelus got annoyed with the vampire hunter Holtz, so he decided to go murder his wife and infant son, turn his daughter into a vampire, and leave her there so Holtz would have to kill her. Holtz responded by time traveling two hundred years into the future, stealing Angel's own son, and raising him to hate his father.
  • Bones does this somewhat frequently. When someone threatens either Booth or Bones, it becomes quite personal for the other.
    • The Gravedigger and Harold Epps are the most guilty of invoking this. The Gravedigger kidnapped Bones and Hodgins in one episode and Booth in another. Epps poisoned Cam, tried to blow up Zack, and used Booth's son as a clue, all in the same episode. Making it personal was pretty much his M.O.
  • A variation of sorts in Merlin. Due to his father's anti-magical stance, Prince Arthur has witnessed dozens, possibly hundreds of people being put to death for the crime of witchcraft. Throughout it all he has remained stoic, and when arguing for clemency for various people (Mordred, Gaius, Merlin) he does so in a calm and reasonable manner. But when Uther accuses Guinevere of being a witch and ordering her to be burnt at the stake? Arthur almost tears down the throne room, three armed guards, and his own father to get to her...
    • Merlin is a fairly calm person, generally speaking, but if you dare to threaten someone he cares about, he will hurt you.

Professional Wrestling

  • Hulk Hogan has been involved in numerous examples of the trope, with perhaps the most important being Andre the Giant ripping off his crucifix during a Piper's Pit segment, as part of the lead-up to Wrestlemania III. The feud continued to become more and more personal as Hogan felt that Andre, who had sided with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in a Face Heel Turn out of nowhere after being out of the ring for some time, had betrayed him by doing so.
  • Kane entered the WWF (now WWE) in 1997 with the purpose of destroying The Undertaker, who he believed had murdered their parents.
  • Partially Subverted in the feud between Randy Orton and John Cena in the last several years. Orton made things personal with Cena when he attacked Cena's father on multiple occasions. Cena returned the favor in recent years as he constantly got in Orton's way and drove the character to a near-obsession with getting Cena out of his life, and just when it seemed he was going to do so at Bragging Rights, Kofi Kingston prevented Orton from getting the victory. Which then caused a feud between Randy and Kofi.

Video Games

  • In Metroid, Samus hunts the Space Pirates not only because it's her job, but because they attacked the colony where she lived massacred everyone there, with their commander, Ridley, killing her mother before her very eyes, and later eating her corpse. Samus was three.
  • Final Fantasy X's Auron is the stoic, quiet, all-knowing, Badass Longcoat of the group, never losing his cool or raising his voice. He doesn't have to - his reputation and obvious awesomeness compels everyone else to fear and respect him. The one and only time we see any passion from him is when he and the heroes confront Yunalesca... who, when he last saw her, calmly explained how his friends' deaths were meaningless, then killed him. Yes, he has a bit of a grudge there.
  • Vent and Aile of Mega Man ZX lost their mother to a Maverick raid on Area H ten years ago, and the lack of intervention on Slither Inc's part gave them a reason to hate the company. The truth behind it gives them a reason to search for Model W...and that's to destroy it.
    • While we are on the subject of Mega Man, this is why Omega-Xis steals the Andromeda Key in the first Mega Man Star Force game. His reason behind stealing the item is so that King Cepheus can't use it to blow up anymore planets, like he did to Omega-Xis's home planet.
  • Max Payne is ALL about this, which gets Lampshaded by Max in more than one Private Eye Monologue.
  • It's a common enough multiplayer game trick to have allies beat all the mooks on the way to some huge big bad monster, but that monster you must defeat alone (so you get to win a quest at a lower level than would be doable alone, get powerful and untradable monster drops, or make a memorable revenge video against some enemy gang). Bonus points if both gangs are into roleplaying enough to stand aside while 2 people duel it out without interference.
  • In StarCraft, Raynor, Zeratul, Mengsk and Artanis have all sworn revenge against Kerrigan for her general Not-So-Magnificent Bastardry.
  • Guild Wars warrior Devona has this battle quote:

Forget duty! This is personal!

  • In The World Ends With You, Neku starts to distrust Joshua after he finds out that Joshua shot him. At the end of the chapter, Neku goes totally berserk on Sho Minamimoto after it's revealed that the image Neku discovered was incomplete and Minamimoto shot him instead of Joshua. Although, even THAT image was incomplete. Joshua really did kill him. Neku gets another "It's Personal" moment while facing Kitaniji, who possesses Shiki and the rest of Shibuya.
  • In Shadow Hearts: From The New World, Ricardo signs on with Johnny after his lover, Edna, is given the Kiss of Malice by Lady and turned into a conduit for monsters. He's forced to kill Edna himself to free her, and follows Johnny to make sure the one who turned his beloved into a monster dies.
  • Reversed in Metal Gear Solid 3, with the villain declaring It's Personal on the hero. Volgin already intended to kill the CIA operative who had infiltrated his base. But after he found out what Snake did to Major Raikov...

The Boss: Are you going to kill him?
Volgin: Of course. But first, I will make him pay for hurting Ivan.

    • It is then played straight with Snake whose mission had always been to kill Volgin but after the torture he went through by his hand Snake becomes motivated to get a little payback which he succeeds in doing by humiliating Volgin in hand to hand combat. Then after a long battle with Volgin in the Shagohad Snake witnesses Volgin have a villainous breakdown over how Snake has ruined his plans and dies a karmic death by lightning before he can attack Snake again.
  • American McGee's Alice: The Mad Hatter trampled your friend the White Rabbit into the ground, causing Alice to break down... and when the Queen of Hearts slaughtered the Cheshire Cat, you knew Alice was going to break her into pieces.
    • The game's sequel takes this Up To Eleven with Dr. Angus Bumby. It's revealed that not only he murdered the title character's parents and her sister, but he's also involved in a human trafficking ring. And yet, despite this, Angus Bumby remains Obliviously Evil.
  • In the first Mercenaries, the player character was going after General Song for the One Hundred Million Dollar bounty on his head. In the sequel, Ramon Solano hires you to rescue General Carmona, a friend of his. Carmona then launches a coup, and Solano is installed as the President of Venezuela. Rather than pay the merc and let them be on their way, Solano tries to have them executed. People trying to kill them? That's something Jennifer, Chris, and Mattias are used to. Getting screwed out of a paycheck? It's Personal now.
    • You forgot the part where the merc you're controlling got shot in the ass. To quote Chris:

"Yeah! No one shoots him in the ass and gets away with it!"

  • Persona 4 is filled with them.
  • In The Godfather game, you as Aldo Trapani already had a personal stake in attacking the other families as the Don of the Barzinis killed your father Johnny. After Tattaglia goons abduct and kill Frankie Malone, though, you'll definitely have it in for them. The game Hangs a Lampshade by naming this particular mission "Now It's Personal".
  • In Battalion Wars II, Marshall Nova comes to have this attitude when Ubel takes command and invades his country. To recap: Ubel killed his father, wired the national monument he was buried at to explode, and in general devastated the Tundran Territories in a way unprecedented throughout history. The Alliance of Nations reformed solely to say "AW HELL NAW" to that behavior, because goddamn.
  • The entire reason Link goes out on the Great Sea in The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker is because his little sister was kidnapped by the Helmaroc King, a minion of Ganon. Which makes his fight against the bird nearly half-way through the game all the more epic.
  • In the first Mass Effect, Saren makes it personel for Shepard and the Normandy crew when Shepard is forced to leave Ashley or Kaiden behind on Virmire.
    • In Mass Effect 2, things get personal right from the get-go: the Collectors attack and destroy the Normandy, kill twenty-one crewmembers, including First Officer Pressley, and kill Shepard. Later on they attack the Normandy SR-2 and kidnap the entire crew, save for Joker and the squad members. And of course, it gets even more personel if Shepard loses squad members during the suicide mission.
    • In Mass Effect 3, it's personal from the very beginning when Earth is attacked, but even more so when Shepard finally gets to kill Kai Leng, who had previously attacked both Thane and Miranda.

Shepard: That was for Thane/Miranda, you son of a bitch!

  • In the viral advertising website for BioShock (series) 2, Mark Meltzer was devoted to finding out more about the recent kidnappings of six and seven year old girls around the North Atlantic, namely, who, why and where to. He eventually estimated where the next kidnapping was due to be and went there with his family. His family included a seven year old girl. The kidnapper, a Big Sister, obviously recognised Mark as a threat and kidnapped his daughter. He then put his search into finding out where the girls had gone to in full motion after that, until eventually he found where the girls had been taken...Rapture. In the game however, he unfortunately is caught by Sofia Lamb, the Big Bad who kidnapped the girls in the first place and is made into a Big Daddy for his daughter Cindy (now a Little Sister), something you discover only after you kill Mark.
  • The Knights of the Old Republic duology have a luggage shuttle of these. Carth going after Saul Karath for the destruction of Carth's homeworld, the death of his wife, and letting his son fall into the hands of the Sith. Juhani and Xor getting into a scrap because Xor killed Juhani's dad, then later tried to buy her as a sex slave (for a T-rated game, they sure got a lot of crap to sail under the radar...). Canderous wanting to kill Jagi for insulting his honor in the first game, then being tricked by Kreia in the second because he needed to find out why Revan abandoned him. In the second game, Bao-Dur also joined the Republic forces and created the horrific Mass Shadow Generator to make the Mandalorians pay for what they did to his homeworld. Atris's hostility towards the Exile has shades of it. You can also state this as a motive for either PC. Strangely, most of these revenge motives get inverted or subverted in some way.
  • From the same family, you also get a couple of these in Jade Empire. Sky's got a "thing" about slavers...having your five-year old daughter run through by a group of them would kinda do that. There's also "The Serpent" running the Imperial City arena that Black Whirlwind has an axe to grind with...literally. And it certainly goes there with your PC and "Master" Sun Li - he killed your people, spent your entire life grooming you as a Unwitting Pawn, then killed you after all.
  • Ellis is pissed that the Zombie Apocalypse made him miss Jimmy Gibbs's appearance at the mall.

Ellis: Aw, shit, we missed him? You know what, that's the last straw. These zombies have just made themselves an enemy.

Ellis: Aw, c'mon Coach, that biker guy seemed nice.
Coach: He's probably stolen the Jimmy Gibbs Jr. by now.
Ellis: He is a dead man.

    • Of course, whenever one of the survivors ends up dead, some of the remarks the others make lean more towards this.

Bill: *concerning Zoey's death* One of those sick sons of bitches just sealed all of their death warrants.

  • Supplementary materials reveal that while Final Fantasy VII Big Bad Sephiroth had grand ambitions of godhood, it was his very personal hatred of Cloud that gave him the strength to maintain his identity in the Lifestream. Being killed by an unremarkable grunt was apparently too much for Sephiroth's ego.
  • Hellen Gravely develops a grudge against Luigi in Luigi's Mansion 3, much like King Boo does earlier. However, there's a Moral Myopia going on, such as her being angry with Luigi for capturing her staff when she herself helped King Boo capture all his friends.
  • CJ's reasoning behind taking on Big Smoke alone at the end of San Andreas.

CJ: Smoke played me. Tenpenny played me.

  • This is what motivates Lu Bu's relentless pursuit of Nezha in Warriors Orochi 3. After soundly thrashing Lu Bu by himself, the Mystic turns and casually kills Diao Chan right in front of him.

Web Comics

Doc: Rayner, you killed my mentor, and you kidnaped my sidekick. I met Death himself last night, and he's going to follow me all the way to your house. You made it personal.

    • Played with later when the Doc is facing down Rayner and tries to remember the cool thing he said about meeting Death earlier, but can't get the phrasing right, so he just gets down to kicking his ass instead.
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • The arc with mob assassin. After being beaten up by officer Tod (former mob enforcer) he finished the hit (or so he thought) and returned for some payback. Later Oasis stabbed him in a particularly unpleasant way and he landed in a hospital. His Private Eye Monologue comment? "This was personal to her. I understand completely."
    • Subverted when Torg is all set to kill Lord Horribus for killing Alt-Zoe. But, at the last second, he decides saving the world is more important, and settles for knocking Horribus down a steep hill instead. And it's revealed he wasn't exactly trying to "make him pay" -- he wanted to make up for failing to keep her safe as he had promised.
  • In The Dreamland Chronicles, Nicodemus to Alex, for the scar
  • In DMFA, Kria points out that Dan's rivalry with Dark Pegasus is not that personal, but that his hatred for Regina definitely is.
  • Even though the trope isn't played straight by any means, it's said in these pages of Homestuck we get one from Doc Scratch after Spades Slick breaks Vriska's God Tier clock, leaving it stuck on 'Just':

Doc Scratch: Slick, I can tolerate many things from a guest. Curt manners. Egregious womanizing. Murdering the help. Casual arson. Even atrocious candy bowl etiquette. But it is the desecration of a priceless timepiece where I must draw the line. I'm afraid I must now insist that you take your beating quite personally.

Web Original

  • Doctor Horrible's rivalry with Captain Hammer is more or less a fact of life for the both of them, with the Doctor trying to take down Hammer with nonlethal means, and getting thoroughly pounded on every time by the Captain. However, when Hammer announces to Horrible that he's going to sleep with Penny "just because you want her," it gets personal. The normally pacifistic Doctor upgrades his Stun Ray to a Death Ray, and makes his intentions quite clear with his next song:

It's a brand new day, and the sun is high
All the birds are singing that you're gonna die!

Western Animation

  • Spoofed in the Kids Next Door episode "Operation DODGEBALL", where the self-proclaimed "Dodgeball Wizard" lures Numbuh 4 into a dodgeball match by kidnapping his family. After finding the ransom note, Numbuh 4 dramatically declares "This time, it's personal!". When Numbuh 2 points out neither of them have ever met this Dodgeball Wizard, Numbuh 4 responds he just wanted to use that line.
    • Kinda used straight in "FOUNTAIN" when it's revealed that Numbuh 5 always pursues the Delightful Children, because she can never forgive them for what they did to Numbuh 1 (make him bald).
  • An episode of The Simpsons has recurring character Sideshow Bob attempting to rig the election for Mayor of Springfield by including the names of dead people and animals as those who voted for him. When Lisa's cat Snowball appears on the list, she angrily declares that "now It's Personal!" Bart points out, with some irritation, that "he did try to kill me, you know."
    • Another episode has Alec Baldwin use this line (in reference to Homer). When Kim Basinger and Ron Howard just look at him, Alec says, "What? He has our underwear!"
    • Another episode subverts with little subtlety - in an episode of Police Chief Wiggum becoming determined to be a good cop (for the episode, of course), he realizes evidence for a case which involves a food. He tells the other cops that they're going to the Kwik-E-Mart. Lou says with exasperation "Chief, you already sent us there two times today.", to which Wiggum answers "Yeah, but this time, its not personal."
    • Plus, another episode parodies this. Marge and Homer invite Apu and his wife to come to dinner, but Apu responds "No no, you hosted our wedding! We will have YOU over for dinner. Yes.... it is payback time, and this time It is Personal." (dramatic music)
  • Parodied in an episode of Futurama, when giant alien brains are trying to gather all knowledge in the universe.

Fry: So they're trying to learn things? The bastards!
Nibblonians: Yes. Then, once it has collected all data in the universe it will open its protective shell, so as to scan itself.
Fry: I'm as mad as I've ever been!
Nibblonians: Then, it will destroy the universe, so no new information can come about.
Fry: Now it's personal.

    • Also spoofed in "Möbius Dick": "It's not personal, that whale ate my delivery. This time, it's business!"
  • Subverted in Batman Beyond. Terry believes his relationship with Season One Big Bad Blight is personal. Blight is ignorant of this.

Blight: [being stalked from the shadows by Batman] Who are you?!
Batman: [unseen, pauses] You really want to know?
Blight: Yes!
Batman: [enters] You Killed My Father.
[Slight pause]
Blight: Do you have the slightest idea how little that narrows it down?

    • Then again, Blight was turned into a "walking meltdown" thanks to a fight with Batman, and Batman kept foiling his various Evil Plans, to the point where Blight visably lost his temper at even the mention of Batman's name. So in a way it was personal for Blight too...just for completely different reasons.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Car Alarm", the tweebs supe up Kim's Cool Car after Motor Ed blows outruns them. Emphasized by the shifty camera angle and the fact that they actually say "This time its personal!"
    • Kim herself claims that it's way personal when Ron is kidnapped. And after everything that happens to her in So the Drama, can you blame her for wailing on Drakken and damn near cold bloodedly killing Shego?
  • The fighting that goes on between The Powerpuff Girls and Mojo Jojo is taken to a new level when it revealed early on (and mentioned several times afterward) that Mojo could actually be considered the girls' true father, since he was directly responsible for their creation.
  • In Megas XLR, Coop often lists several offenses (or perceived offenses) as to why he's going to kick the badguy(s)'s ass(s), usually ending with a personal grievance. So, for Coop, nearly every fight is personal. Heaven forbid someone should spill his slushy or scratch his paint...
    • In one episode, Kiva does this.
    • The leader of the Glorft also takes their defeats personally and often vows revenge on Coop, even to the point of resigning himself and his crew to being trapped in the past by ordering the destruction of MEGAS (and thus, also its time drive).
  • While the Queen of the Crowns is a very big threat to Earth in Galaxy Rangers, making a Slaverlord of Zach's wife pushed it into this territory. Fanon will state that the feeling is very much mutual - Zach's been an equal pain in her side, and the only sentient being to have escaped her Psychocrypt.
  • In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Storm Shadow has made it his life's goal to kill Snake Eyes, because he believes SE betrayed the clan and killed his uncle, the Hard Master.
    • And earlier in the series, after Major Bludd loses an eye, he makes it clear to Baroness that the next time she needs him for the Joes he'll handle them for free.
  • Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic does this by breaking apart the mane cast's friendship, breaking and Mind Raping them, driving everyone they care about insane, and turning their homeland into a World Gone Mad. By the end, they're reasonably ticked off at him. This is most clear with Fluttershy, who furiously calls him "THAT...BIG...DUMB...MEANIE!!!" at one point. For Fluttershy, that's pretty much the meanest thing she's ever (willingly) said about anyone.
  • Subverted in Tarzan when Tarzan fights with Sabor. He doesn't know that Sabor had killed his parents or Kerchek and Kala's son, so the fight between them has more meaning than he realizes.
  • In Transformers Prime, Arcee's rivalry with Airachnid is personal since Airachnid had tortured Arcee and killed her partner Tailgate to get her to speak.
    • Later, Arcee and Starscream after she finds out that Starscream killed Cliffjumper.
    • Wheeljack has a grudge against Dreadwing for killing his friend Seaspray.
    • Miko specifically lists this as a reason in "Nemesis Prime" for Agent Fowler to go after Silas after the latter had tried to kill Fowler earlier in the episode.