My God, What Have I Done?

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Ivan the Terrible, having just murdered his son in the heat of the moment.

"The awful daring of a moment's surrender
which an age of prudence can never retract."

A misguided character comes to realize that his actions have caused incredible damage, physical pain, emotional pain, or even loss of life. What usually follows is the character uttering some variation on the trope title, optionally accompanied by Tears of Remorse and/or a Thousand-Yard Stare.

The character, usually an Anti-Villain or Tragic Hero, comes to this realization after the damage has been done. Sometimes this damage is irreparable; a loved one may be killed in the crossfire, for instance. The character may also discover too late that that which he longs to destroy and that which he wants to protect are, in fact, one and the same.

Usually delivered dramatically, sometimes, well, over-the-top. A villain might utter this line if they're about to take the Last Second Chance. Or a hero after being freed from The Virus, being Brainwashed and Crazy, or a Super-Powered Evil Side.

Sometimes followed by Must Make Amends.

Compare These Hands Have Killed, which can occur even the first time the character has killed, even justifiably.

See also Screaming At Squick.

Often the result if the protagonist becomes an Unwitting Pawn. Sometimes combined with Heroic BSOD; common with Villainous BSOD. Can be a self-inflicted What the Hell, Hero?. Contrast I Did What I Had to Do, Be All My Sins Remembered, and I Regret Nothing. Compare It's All My Fault, Heel Realization and Kick the Morality Pet. See also Out, Damned Spot!, Being Evil Sucks, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, and Sympathetic Murder Backstory. May be the result of an all too successful Pygmalion Plot to Teach Him Anger.

Examples of My God, What Have I Done? include:

Anime and Manga

  • Sayaka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica has this reaction when she makes Madoka cry after she yells at her for not using her latent power to fight witches. Unfortunately, this realization helps push her towards the Despair Event Horizon and she becomes a witch.
  • Robin Mask suffers from this when he thinks he's killed Kinnikuman during their fight in the 20th Choujin Olympics. Once his Unstoppable Rage wears off, he realizes that he was taking the fight too seriously. While he's lamenting, Kinnikuman puts him in a finishing hold, winning the match.
  • Dragonball Z: Vegeta has this twice, once when he allowed Perfect Cell to reach his perfect form, and again when he allowed Majin Buu to resurrect.
    • Gohan had this too, thanks to his cockiness.
    • A short while before the above example[context?], Goku had one of these moments on his own when Piccolo reminded him that Gohan was partially human, didn't share Goku's lust for battle, and thus didn't find any pleasure at all in getting curbstomped by Cell while his father simply looked on from a distance.
  • In the OVA of Angel Sanctuary, Katan says this while looking down at his hands in horror after accidentally killing Sara, when he was actually aiming for Setsuna.
  • Magical Project S: Misao Amano (as her evil Magical Girl alter ego Pixy Misa) was unwittingly the city and almost killed her only friend Sammy and her parents, to the point of running away due to guilt. The twist is that what she did was really her repressed aspects and not brainwashing.
  • Guld Bowman in Macross Plus gets a simultaneous double helping of this when he finally overcomes his Trauma-Induced Amnesia in the middle of a Macross Missile Massacre which he believes has killed Isamu Dyson, the person he had blamed for the trauma. Actually caused by his own attempted rape of Myung, a memory he had suppressed until that moment.
  • Sasuke in Naruto after finding out that the brother he spent years trying to kill and finally succeeding did everything to protect him and Konoha and the Council ordered him to do it in the first place.
    • Somewhat averted[please verify] as instead of vowing to honor his brother's sacrifice and give up killing or investigate the veracity of Madara's claims, Sasuke decides to go after Konoha and the elders responsible for ordering the death of his clan. Danzou even calls him out on this and tells him that he's wasting Itachi's sacrifice by attacking everyone and everything in anger.
    • In the third Naruto film Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom the baddie Ishidate accidentally turns his employer--and more importantly, paymaster--to stone.
    • Sakura has this reaction when she realises what the promise she got out of Naruto did to him.[context?]
  • Digimon Adventure 02: It's discovered that Big Bad Ken Ichijouji, definitely an Evil Overlord with a 0% Approval Rating, never knew Digimon were sentient, thinking the Digital World to be a very, very realistic video game. He gives this line once he finds out he's done real harm, and makes a Heel Face Turn.
  • Yamaki of Digimon Tamers yells this under the dramatic and appropriately messed-up sky created by his program Juggernaut, an attempt to purge digital life from reality that instead results in a massive and highly dangerous breach between the worlds. This leads to him being fired, and after a good sulk, he begins his Heel Face Turn.
    • Blood Knight: Beelzemon spends a good deal of time wandering the Digital World listlessly, thinking back over his actions after he kills Leomon and is later saved by Leomon's Tamer, Jeri. He's so disgusted by himself that he completely loses the will to fight and even to live, not even trying to fight back while a group of Chrysalismon beat him half to death. He (somewhat) snaps out of it when he finds out that Renamon and Rika risked their lives to find him and has a Heel Face Turn.
  • Shinji Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion has a Heroic BSOD after he is forced to kill the angel Kaworu.
    • And another one after his EVA nearly kills Toji Suzuhara due to his inability to fight. This haunts him to a greater degree in the manga since he, rather the dummy plug, actually kills Toji.
  • Renton from Eureka Seven does this after he goes berserk and tears an army of enemy LFO's to shreds, not realizing they were actual people. He loses his lunch over the debacle.
  • Lelouch from Code Geass has a Delayed Reaction when the memory of his murder of his half-brother Clovis from the previous episode causes him to vomit.
    • Suzaku also has one of these when he realizes he's Jumping Off the Slippery Slope by trying to drug Kallen to get information out of her. Followed by Nina Einstein, once she witnesses the horrendous results of her FLEJIYA nuke.
    • Lelouch has another one when he loses control of Geass and Euphemia gets hit with his off-the-cuff command to kill all Japanese people.
      • Earlier in the series, he gets a similar expression upon being informed that his love interest's father was among the casualties of his latest battle. Although this isn't as objectively big as the aforementioned incident, it shook Lelouch rather badly and forced him to personally face the consequences of his actions and orders.
    • Darlton gets one of these after his hypnosis wears off and he realizes he just saved Zero by shooting Cornelia in the back.
  • Mikoto from My-HiME breaks down when she realizes she was responsible for killing her best friend Mai's brother Takumi... and her own grandfather.
    • Shizuru also gets a slightly more understated one after her resurrection in the Grand Finale, crying openly over the fact she'd forced her lesbian crush into a Taking You with Me situation because she'd gone out of control. Not as severe as some, but given Shizuru's graceful serenity over the entire series to that point, seeing her outright crying and apologizing through the tears had impact.
    • Yukino after she is blackmailed into trying to kill Mai. Even after the almost victim later thanks her for helping her find Takumi, she still feels quite guilty.
    • In Mai-Otome 0 Sifr, Elliot has this reaction after trying to kill Sifr on Una's orders, thus resulting in Lena being forced to block an attack, leaving her open to M9, and Lena is eventually defeated after overloading her gem. After seeing her in tears over it, her companions forgive her, although Sifr asks if everyone, having withheld information from her all along, wants her dead.
  • The protagonist from Tsukihime goes through this in every route, after he regains control/consciousness from whatever insanity/inversion/dream-turned-reality he just went through, all of which generally involve him causing bloodshed and death.
  • Gyoubu Kasumi from Basilisk, after Tenzen grabs a flautist boy and throws him into the middle of their fight, causing Gyoubu to accidentally kill the boy's father when the old man tries to save his son.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, season 4. Yami in a big way after that Raphael duel. In an attempt to win, he plays the Seal of Orichalcos, and when he loses, Yugi offers his soul instead.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Judai's mind is stuck on this trope for the first several episodes after becoming acquainted with his Super-Powered Evil Side.
  • Tony in Toward the Terra after he accidentally kills Matsuka, a fellow Mu, while attempting to assassinate the antagonist. Complete with enough angst to last the rest of the series.
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade has Chrono do this after his Unstoppable Rage in volume 5. He's so distraught he can't even quite get out the words: "Oh, no. Have I done? Ro...sette!"
  • In Papuwa, Kotaro says exactly this when he remembers that he destroyed the first Papuwa Island.
  • Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam shortly after accidentally killing Lalah Sune.
  • Kan'u Unchou in Ikki Tousen Great Guardians after realizing that for a short time she was flanderized into a Psycho Lesbian towards her liege Ryuubi. Then, she tried to kill herself as an atonement, which prompts Ryuubi to slap her silly and tells her to get a hold of herself.
  • Happens quite often in Detective Conan, probably the most memorable one being a case of a murdered rock star who was poisoned during a little get together. When it's revealed that one of the band mates, who happened to be an jilted ex-girlfriend of his, was the murderer. One of her friends points out that the singer still loved her and reveals so through a postcard with song on the back dedicated to her. The woman breaks down at once she realizes her own foolish action.
    • While the girlfriend breaks down crying and screaming Conan gives the memorable quote 'When people build walls around their hearts all that can come out of it is pain and suffering.' It might have nothing to do with the trope but it was in the same episode.
  • Doctor Marcoh from Fullmetal Alchemist. Now that he's gone and made the damn Philosopher's Stone already, he feels horrible about it. With good reason. Also, most of the protagonists in the Ishbal arc of the manga. War suddenly doesn't seem so great anymore.
    • Edward Elric, in an attempt to bring his mother back to life, ends up losing his arm and leg and nearly bleeds to death, his brother's body is completely destroyed and he ends up as a soul in a suit of armor, and then he realizes all he managed to do was create a writhing mass of nightmare fuel instead of his mother. He really could have used some therapy.
    • When Ed kills Greed, the first time he intentionally killed someone.
      • When Greed kills his only surviving True Companion after being Mind Wiped in the manga. Big No ensues.
    • Roy after killing Winry's parents.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, several of the characters have these moments. Keichi has two regarding the same horrific event.
  • Android Kikaider: The Animation (not to be confused with the live-action ancestor of the "Power Rangers.") In the first episode, Jiro (the android) helps some kids get their toy airplane out of a tree by pushing the tree over. (He was in his "human" form at the time, and the kids thought they were enlisting his help to climb the tree.) After the the kids run away, any humor in this moment gets a kick in the nuts when Jiro realizes there was a bird's nest in the tree, and the eggs in it have been destroyed. In the English dub, he utters the trope verbatim.
  • In the manga Pokémon Special, Ruby does this when he realizes he was a huge Jerkass to his Feebas after she loses a Contest and caused her to run away. He only partly realized that on his own at best, and it takes a tongue-lashing from Wallace before it finally gets through to him completely.
  • Meanwhile, in the Pokémon anime, we have the end result of Dragonite's Unstoppable Rage in the episode "Great Bowls of Fire", where he flies down to the ground, picks up a burnt flower, and starts crying.
  • In the Asatte no Houkou manga, Amino has this reaction when he finally realizes his actions hurt Karada.
  • Shown in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. While not actually said out loud, it is spoken perfectly clear by the look on C!Syaoran's face when he looks down at what's left of his loved one, C!Sakura, who he accidentally impaled.
    • Fai during the Infinity arc is forced to kill Sakura thanks to his first curse. He then proceeds to lose control of his magic, tear up the arena around him, and nearly commits suicide. It gets worse.
  • Bleach: Hitsugaya has this when he and the others attack Aizen and believe that they succeeded, only for the illusion to drop and reveal that Hitsugaya has quite literally stabbed Hinamori in the back.
    • Kira has this reaction after he learns the truth about Aizen's plot, including that his friend Hinamori is in critical condition. He presumably was merely following Ichimaru's orders, and noted that he promised that Hinamori wouldn't get hurt.
    • Urahara in the "Turn Back The Pendulum Arc" when he realizes that he sent Hiyori into a dangerous situation all alone.
    • Don Kanonji when he learns that he had been turning ghosts into Hollows when he thought his exorcism technique had been sending them to Heaven.
    • And Ichigo when he finds that he stabbed Uryu while possessed by a Hollow. Of course, this is cut short when he finds that Ulquiorra is dying as well.
  • Bisco Hatori's Millennium Snow has the vampire male protagonist, do this after he grazes Chiyuiki's neck with his fangs, meaning she will have to live for a thousand years with him also counts as a What the Hell, Hero? moment, as Satsuki promptly tries to kick his ass afterward.
  • In the OVA of Angel Sanctuary, Katan says this after he accidentally kills Sara.
  • Mayo Sakaki in the 3rd Fushigi Yuugi OVA. When she realizes that her behavior is destroying the universe (and herself), and that love and obsession aren't the same after talking with Houki, she is Driven to Suicide and attempts to drown herself, believing herself to be beyond redemption.
  • A Certain Magical Index. After crossing the Moral Event Horizon and getting defeated by Touma, Accelerator notices that his selfish ideals to get his own peace have twisted his mind and taken more than 10,000 innocent people's lives. He tries to redeem himself by saving people for first time in his life but... BANG! he gets a bullet in the brain. He survived but at the cost of his powers.
    • In the novel, Last Order claims that Accelerator never liked the killing of 10,000 sisters experiment in the first place and the reason why he acts so cruel to them is to discourage the remaining sisters from going after him.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2, Strohiem has this reaction once the "Ultimate Life Form" (Satanna) escapes from what he thought was an inescapable cell, and proceeds to start slaughtering every single Nazi in the base.
  • In the final episode of Tenshi ni Narumon, after Silky sets their wings on fire, Mikael snaps out of his madness and when Raphael appears before him and confronts him with what his actions have led to, Mikael breaks into tears, expresses his remorse over what he has done and pleads his teacher to rescue everyone. When Raphael disappears, Mikael just resigns to the worst.
  • In the movie version of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Precia gets one over how she had treated Fate when she remembered that Alicia had always wanted a little sister. Unfortunately, by the time she remembers this, it's too late to apologize or make amends.
  • Van Argeno from Blood+ when he witnesses the results of his research turn members of the public into Chiropterans.
    • Mai, when she snaps out of the Orichalcos' control.
  • In Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru had one of these moments in the Underworld upon realizing that his beloved Rin was dead as a result of his quest to strengthen Tenseiga. "She can't be saved?...What's the point of it now? Tenseiga...just for something like this, (Rin) I let you die...To obtain this in exchange for Rin's life - it means nothing." She got better.
  • Keito Nichi in Star Driver when she realizes that by trying to manipulate and backstab Head, she has actually doomed Sugata to either death or eternity as Head's slave. She was trying to make it so he could rule the world out of her love for him.
  • In Monster, after seeing all of the death and despair caused by Johan Liebert, Franz Bonaparta breaks down completely, feeling guilt for being the man who made Johan into the monster that he is.
  • In Tsukigasa, Azuma, upon having a drunken illusion of his Love Interest, Kuroe, being his rapist uncle, cuts Kuroe's arm off. He goes into Heroic BSOD mode almost immediately over it.
  • Windaria: Alan when he realizes the magnitude of what he's done by flooding Lunaria and how many lives he destroyed.

Comic Books

  • Uncanny X-Men #150 gives Magneto a moment of this when he nearly kills Kitty Pryde in anger; he realizes he's become just like the Nazis that killed his family, and—for a span of almost a decade's worth of issues, at least—reconsiders his villainous career.
    • In Astonishing X Men, the team is attacked by one of the giant Sentinels that murdered the population of Genosha. Kitty defeats it by kicking it up to full sentience. Suddenly capable of comprehending what mass murder is, with a machine's ability to actually evaluate all those deaths individually rather than just as a vague statistic, it suffers a Villainous BSOD and flies away in horrified remorse.
  • In his origin in Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man has a classic one - Tears of Remorse and all - when he recognizes the burglar who murdered his uncle as the criminal he allowed to escape a page earlier.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Norman Osborn accidentally kills his son while in his crazy goblin form. When he changes back he has one of these and asks a nearby SHIELD Agent to kill him.
  • JLA #15, the final issue of "Rock of Ages": In a Crowning Moment of Awesome, in order to stop The Joker, who has the title reality-warping artifact, from wreaking colossal global havoc, the Martian Manhunter uses his telepathic powers to make the Joker temporarily sane. The Joker says "What have I been doing with my life?... I've been insane... Oh my god. What have I done?" It doesn't last.
  • The Old Man Logan storyline in the Wolverine comic is set in an alternate Marvel future in which the villains teamed up and successfully annihilated nearly all the superheroes. In a flashback, we see how the X-Men were done in: Wolverine and Jubilee are doing monitor duty when dozens of supervillains break in, intent on killing everybody. Wolverine meets all of them with deadly force in the inimitable Wolverine style. Just after he offs the last one -- Bullseye -- he turns into a dying Jubilee. Mysterio had set up an illusion, and Wolverine has just murdered all the X-Men, along with the mutant schoolchildren and staff.
  • This is Magog's reaction in Kingdom Come after he accidentally causes the destruction of Kansas.
  • It's Science With Dr Radium contained an "Ask Dr Radium" section on the fan mail page. One reader wrote in, asking "My God, What have I done?" Dr. Radium replied, "Um, you haven't given me much to go on. All I can tell you is that I've alerted the authorities, and hopefully they'll arrive soon."
  • Main character Matty Roth has this reaction in DMZ when he orders his private security force to chase and kill a group of soldiers who just gave him a crippling beatdown, (despite pleas not to do this) and he hears that his security people killed a group of Innocent Bystanders instead.
  • In Runaways, though in a very light manner: after Chase nearly gets Killed Off for Real because of drowning, when the team storms the Marine Vivarium, and Molly and Karolina argue about which way was correct to resurrect him. Fortunately, Gert followed Molly's advice, leaving Karolina pondering about what she nearly caused. Though that lasts about 2 seconds (Angst? What Angst? ?).
  • During Final Crisis, when Superman and Mandrakk have their first battle, Zillo Valla tries to give Supes advice from the sidelines. Mandrakk kills her to shut her up, then realizes in horror who she was: his former lover. However, after a second of grief, he blames Superman for his mistake and keeps attacking.
  • Prickly City: Electing Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse, to the Senate.


  • In the first issue of Crystar Crystal Warrior. when Moltar has been manipulated into stabbing his brother Crystar and (wrongly) believes he has killed him, he cries "WHAT HAVE I DONE?" A few scenes later, when his actions lead to him and his followers being turned into monsters (as they will remain for the rest of the series), he has a single Beat Panel of blank horror as it all sinks in... and then composes himself and loudly embraces this fate, for the benefit of his followers if nothing else. Moltar remains a rather reluctant Big Bad through the whole series' run, deeply unhappy about what his actions have made him.
  • In Invincible, the titular character reacts this way after accepting An Offer You Can't Refuse, even though it was the only way to avoid an Earthshattering Kaboom. So when he says the trope's title out loud, the character making the offer responds "You have saved the lives of every living thing on this planet".

Fan Works

  • Katara has one of these in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic The Chong Sheng Trilogy, after going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge when Jet is tortured and murdered in cold blood right in front of her. She uses said cold blood to literally rip apart anyone wearing Fire Nation armor, even the ones surrendering or running for their lives. It results in a Heroic BSOD that nearly drives her to suicide.
  • In a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic Blast to the Past, Princess Elise managed to prevent the Metarex from changing the past, (without Eggman, they'd have no competition, and most likely none of the events of the Sonic games would have never happened) but latter finds out - much to her shock and disgust - that she was the one caused the events that started it all, something that was just as bad when Sonic was killed because of "That damned demon within her." Silver and Blaze managed to convince her that Sonic played an important factor in everyone's lives, almost the same way that Eilse convinced him.
  • In the Axis Powers Hetalia doujinshi Besame Mucho, Spain gets one of these (quoting the trope name included) when standing in front of a destroyed house in a village his army just slaugtered. He is passing by when he sees a dead child's arm peeking out of a pile of wreck, and it makes him remember about Romano. Something was in my eye when he says that they just killed people, who were the same as him or little Romano. His companion's answer? "You are wrong. You are not human.". Tear Jerker, indeed.
  • Also in Axis Powers Hetalia, this is lampshaded by an authoress in the notes of the first chapter of her intense FACE bondage-dominance foursome. Repeat, the /first/ chapter.
  • This shows up in two different ways in the Neon Genesis Evangelion post-Third Impact fanfic Scar Tissue:
    • Asuka, who has been physically and sexually brutalizing Shinji for months, has minor moments of this whenever her temper finally abates, then has a massive moment of this coupled with Villainous Breakdown when she finally beats Shinji badly enough to nearly kill him. The fic starts after this moment; when it's not filling in backstory, it's detailing her attempts to atone for her actions.
    • Shinji, on the other hand, blames himself for everything Asuka has done to him, seeing his actions during the canon story (especially the hospital scene in End of Evangelion) as so unforgivable that he can justify her abuse as karmic retribution.
  • In yet another Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction 'Let me be Your Savior' Romano/Lovino has one after stumbling across his brother (Italy/Feliciano) after Romano/Lovino had violently raped him crying, and it finally hits him that what he's been doing is wrong. This scene is a nice breakthrough, seeing as Romano/Lovino had seemed to cross Moral Event Horizon before.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic After The Gala shows this as Fluttershy's reaction to her explosive display of anger at the Gala. She's outright horrified by what she did and left a sobbing wreck. Her friends console her, though, and manage to get her out of her Heroic BSOD both by their forgiveness and Celestia revealing everyone was ok and it wasn't entirely her fault (the animals were rather wild to begin with and Celestia apologises for not warning her beforehand).
    • A similar thing occurs in chapter 10 of Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. Fluttershy saved Cloud Kicker's life, but believes her actions partially led Razor's death. She utters the actual quote (without the "My God" part) and until her friends comfort her later on, along with Princess Celestia stating that Razor died in the explosion caused by The Burning Talon's overheating, she is reduced to crying and blaming herself.
  • Past Sins: Celestia has several lines of this during Luna's What the Hell, Hero? speech.

"I do not need to be told the heinous nature of my actions!"

Films -- Animated

  • Brother Bear: Kenai has this feeling when he realizes that the bear he killed was Koda's mother. When he tells Koda about what happened, Koda doesn't take it well.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, after being blown out of the sky for impersonating Santa Claus, Jack laments "What have I done?" at the start of the song "Poor Jack".
    • The second half of the song subverts the trope, as Jack revels in the fun he's had trying to run Christmas, though he still intends to set things right.
  • King Triton says this almost world for word in The Little Mermaid, when he believes his argument with Ariel and destroying her human artifacts led to her running away.
  • In Toy Story, Slinky says this when he and the other toys see Woody and Buzz riding toward the moving truck and realize Woody was telling the truth.

Rex: "Great, now I have guilt."

  • In Hoodwinked the wolf utters this phrase after giving coffee to his hyperactive squirrel partner so that he can run quickly and tell the police that the rabbit is the villain.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Stoick gets one of these after he disowns Hiccup for fraternizing with a dragon, and when he realizes that Hiccup was telling the truth about the Green Death and he's just doomed everyone with him.
  • Cellach, in The Secret of Kells. As the sacking of Kells begins, it begins to get through to the Abbot that, despite all his preparation, things aren't going to work out. And what follows is a massive slaughter that basically makes the rest of his life one really prolonged version of this trope.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Conan O'Brien turns in Terrence and Phillip to Mothers Against Canada. When Terrence and Phillip remind Conan that he laughed at their movie and that he's "A very bad man" for betraying them, Conan shouts "What have I done?" and tosses himself out a window.
  • Sintel: The main character has spent years searching for her missing friend, a baby dragon, and killing the adult dragon that kidnapped it. Sadly, more years had passed than she realized, and she ends up killing her now adult dragon friend by mistake.

Films -- Live-Action

  • In Braveheart, Robert the Bruce goes through this after he sees the look of despair on William Wallace's face when Wallace sees that the Bruce betrayed him at the Battle of Falkirk. It doesn't sit well with him, and he vows later never to be on the wrong side (meaning the English) again.
  • Anakin Skywalker says this (minus the "My God") after watching Palpatine kill Mace Windu, which he was only able to do because Skywalker had just cut off the Jedi Master's hand, causing him to lose the lightsaber he'd been using to block Palpatine's lightning.
  • You can still win with the classics. In the climactic scene of The Bridge on the River Kwai (seven Oscars!), Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) realizes that he has been collaborating with the enemy to build a bridge out of sheer egotism. His final words as he dies and the bridge blows up are "What have I done?" The last line of the film, by the only surviving major character, answers the question: "Madness!!! Madness!!!"
  • Fred in the The Flintstones movie, when he realises he's laid off every last one of his friends.
  • X-Men III: The Last Stand features Magneto saying the line, when he finds himself on the other side of the Mutants Vs. Humans war he's been pushing for and Phoenix finally goes crazy and starts killing people.
  • In the film version of Silent Hill Daliha, played as a much more sympathetic character than in the games, says this word for word. minus the "my god" part, when she gives up Alessa to her psycho sister, Christabella to be "cleansed."
  • In The Fourth Protocol the traitor Berenson utters this when he realizes that the 'South African' to whom he has been passing NATO secrets is really a Soviet agent. SIS chief Sir Nigel Irvine (Ian Richardson) quietly responds "You've betrayed your country."
  • Home Alone: Kevin's mom, when she realizes she left Kevin at home while the family left for Paris.
    • "What kind of a mother am I?"
  • V for Vendetta: this phrase is written in the diary of Dr. Diana Stanton, who had tested the effects of experimental biological weapons on cultural minorities in a post-apocalyptic Britain. She realizes the error of her ways when confronted with an escaped test subject and the destruction of her work. For his part, V knows she feels this way and gives her some mercy by killing her with a painless poison compared the gruesome Karmic Deaths he arranged for others. The actual line may or may not appear in the original graphic novel.

Delia Surridge: [V gives her a rose] Are you going to kill me now?
V: I killed you 10 minutes ago. [shows her hypodermic needle] While you slept.
Delia Surridge: Is there any pain?
V: No.
Delia Surridge: Thank you. Is it meaningless to apologize?
V: Never.
Delia Surridge: I'm so sorry. [dies]

    • Similar. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and realizes V is there, she says "Oh thank God. Thank God." and breaks into tears.
  • In Memphis Belle, tail gunner Clay Busby agrees to let co-pilot Luke Sinclair log some time on the gun so he can try and shoot down a German fighter of his own. Later during the approach to Bremen, Luke gets his chance and scores a kill. At first, he whoops with elation ... until the downed Me-109 crashes into the rookie-crewed bomber Mother and Country. All Luke can do is scream in horror, wide-eyed, as he watches the two halves of Mother and Country tumble earthward. He remains in a Heroic BSOD for some time after.
  • This page is not complete without reference to Darth Vader's Big No upon thinking he killed his wife.
    • Which From a Certain Point of View, he did...
    • He also said "What have I done?" right after saving Darth Sidious and killing Mace Windu. In both cases, it is followed not by any effort to Must Make Amends but instead by Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
    • Matt Stover's Novelization wisely leaves out the Big No, adds a fleeting moment of Never My Fault, and rather than throwing a tantrum has him immediately try to kill Sidious—but he's lost so much of his power that he can only destroy droids and equipment, he can't even touch Sidious—and in the end he doesn't want to, because now this is all he has left. The only person who will understand, and forgive, and gather him up.
    • He also seems to have an unspoken moment before he finally decides he Must Make Amends and intervenes to prevent Darth Sidious from killing his son in Return of the Jedi, redeeming himself in the process.
  • In The Mummy 1999, at the first sign of Imhotep's resurrection; a spontaneous plague of locusts; the Egyptologists says, "What have we done?" as he's covered with the damn things.
  • This happens on two different occasions in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. At the beginning of the movie, Arnie - the mentally challenged young man - kills a grasshopper by beheading it, and then cries to Gilbert about it. Later on in the movie, Gilbert loses his cool - leading him to slap Arnie around, after being so protective of him.
  • Gene Wilder gets one in Young Frankenstein. On the DVD commentary, Brooks says this was to keep the film in the structure of classic Yiddish theater, where act two always ends with either "What have I done?" or "She's pregnant!"
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney gets one of these—in musical form—after he discovers that the beggar woman he killed was his wife Lucy.
  • Hilariously subverted in A Dog's Breakfast. Patrick wants to kill his future brother-in-law, Ryan. Ryan offers to help him chop wood by holding the wood steady for him. Patrick lifts his axe up, clearly intending to render Ryan in two. We cut to a shot of the woods just as we hear a dull thunk, complete with blood curdling scream. We then cut back to Patrick's face who whispers: "What have I done?".....only to watch him collapse in pain as we realise that he's actually hit himself in the leg with the axe's handle by accident.
  • Planet of the Apes has a "What have you done?" moment: "So we finally, really did it. YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! AH, DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Nathan says this after confessing that his daughter is not sick, rather he has been poisoning her in order to keep her from ever leaving him.
  • In TMNT (2007), during Raphael's fight with Leonardo, he manages to break Leonardo's swords, and then pin Leonardo down to the ground, and then, he realizes what he's doing, and runs off, only to come back to save Leonardo from the Stone Generals, but fails miserably.
  • In Fluke, after Fluke attacks Jeff whilst the latter is driving, causing them to crash, he finally recovers his memories, and realises that when he was alive as a man he'd been quite the Jerkass to Jeff, and it wasn't Jeff's fault that Fluke/Tom had died. This later fuels Fluke's I Want My Beloved to Be Happy stance.
  • General Hein in Final Fantasy the Spirits Within, after letting the aggressive, nigh-invulnerable Phantoms into a large human population center. It doesn't make him join the heroes, though.
  • The Operative at the end of Serenity.
  • In A Christmas Story, Ralphie's parents are reduced to tears after finding out that the cause of Ralphie's blindness is from soap poisoning. (Earlier in the movie, Ralphie had been punished for swearing, and had his mouth washed out by Lifebuoy soap.) Of course, this is all Ralphie's daydream.
  • Event Horizon. Baby Bear is released from his trance just as the airlock is about to open. His reaction upon realizing where he is is upsetting, to say the least.
  • The Mist. The protagonist shoots his son, two elderly people and the heroine after realizing that they have nowhere left to run, but runs out of bullets before he can off himself. After getting out of the car to let the creatures kill him, the military then comes from behind and cleans out the mist, effectively ending the whole ordeal. Had they waited a minute longer, there would've been no need for them to die. Oops.
  • Avatar. The look on Selfridge's face as he watches the destruction of Hometree shows that he finally realizes what an asshole he is. Despite this, he still doesn't make a Heel Face Turn.
  • After his Batman Gambit is pulled off succesfully, and the title character of Fresh ends up with what he wanted for himself and his sister, he goes to meet his father, and just starts crying uncontrollably. Understandable, since although most weren't nice people, he just got about 10 people killed as part of the gambit. And he is 12 years old...
  • A variation occurred in Kung Fu Hustle, where Sing tried to steal from the Cute Mute ice cream lady, only to realize that she was the little girl he tried to save when he was a kid. Then he ran away from her, ashamed at what he was trying to become.
  • Star Trek III: The Search For Spock plays with the trope with James T. Kirk saying the words after ordering the original Enterprise to self-destruct, and watching it burn up in the Genesis Planet's atmosphere. YMMV as it whether it actually follows the trope.

Kirk: My god, Bones. What have I done?
Bones: What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.

    • Given what his ship means to just about everyone in Starfleet, and especially to Kirk himself, it's easy to argue yes. He's destroyed the one thing apart from his immediate crew that he actually loves.
    • Hilariously twisted around here by combining Kirk's lament with Too Dumb to Live.
  • Terminator 2 does this (but doesn't say it) to Sarah Connor. After spending the majority of the movie as a fundamentally screwed-up person, she tries to murder a man, not because of anything he's done, but based on what he will do in the future. Everything from her attitude during the "hunt" to the weapon she uses is eerily terrifyingly similar to the T-800's targeting of her in the original film. It's only when she's holding the gun to his head, in front of his terrified, sobbing wife and son, that she starts to realize exactly what her fear of the future has done to her.
  • Wall Street: Bud Fox's father is the union manager for an airport which Gordon Gekko intends to buy, using Bud's help to seal the deal. Bud has one of these moments after realizing that Gekko is in fact going to fire the workers he said he would let stay.
  • In Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler, having turned down a request by a Jew to accept two of her relatives for not being skilled manufacturers and yelling to Itzhak Stern about how popular his factory is becoming as a "haven", calms down, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a slip reading "Perlman"—the very same name attached to those he had just turned down. He reads the name, realizing his mistake, and has Stern make sure the two are brought to the factory, presumably to start training in manufacturing before becoming full-fledged workers.
  • Verbatim in The Rock after Goodspeed and Mason pull General Hummel out of the mess with Frye and Darrow. Hummel relents using the trope word for word before telling Goodspeed the location of the last rocket ("Lower lighthouse!").
  • In the made-for-tv Elvis Meets Nixon, it's 1970, and Elvis has snuck out of Graceland, out on his own for the first time in over a decade. He has fond memories of LA's Sunset Strip, but when he gets there he's appalled to find it overrun with hippies and head shops where his records are back in the 'golden oldies' section. A hippie recognizes Elvis and excitedly tells how he changed his life - in an irony worthy of The Twilight Zone, he points out that Elvis's spirit of rebellion created the counterculture. Elvis is horrified.
  • Peter in Spider Man after he hits Mary Jane in his symbiote induced rage.


  • In the final book of the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon uses a non-verbal spell in order to defeat Galbatorix. Galbatorix holds both Eragon and his half-brother Murthag captured, using magic, and prevents them from using the ancient language. The spell Eragon then uses literarly makes Galbatorix realise what he has done, by telepathicly giving him the viewpoint of the situation that Eragon sees.
    • During the darker part of his lifetime Galbatorix destroyed the entire order of Dragonriders. He has killed every last dragon except for Shruikan (his own) and three dragoneggs and later revealed Glaedr, an Elderdragon hidden by the elves... He gets killed in the third book though. He conquered Alagaësia and formed his evil empire, although that's not as bad as the fact that he almost whiped out an entire species.
  • Probably the earliest ever variation is Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, to himself: "Wretch, what hast thou done?"
  • Cassie has one of these way too many times to count in Animorphs. "The Departure" is one, where she comes down hard on herself after tearing out the throat of a Hork-Bajir controller.
    • Tobias has a few of them in his first few weeks as a hawk, when he's getting used to having to hunt to survive.
    • Also, Ax, in the aftermath of his threat to bomb the Yeerk Pool in "The Deception".
    • And Erek, after he uses the Chee crystal to reprogram himself and goes Badass Automaton to thrash a bunch of controllers and save the team.
  • The Stand by Stephen King: Harold, after he leaves Boulder post-explosion and crashes in the middle of the desert.
    • Nadine too, after she's pregnant with Flagg's baby-she has one so hard that she throws herself out of a high-rise window to kill herself and the baby.
  • Charles Dickens wasn't averse to this sort of twist. In Great Expectations, the malignant Miss Havisham gives us the following line: '"O!" she cried, despairingly. "What have I done! What have I done!"'
  • The Assassins of Tamurin: This is Lale's reaction after she kills her would-be mugger/rapist. What stresses her out is that she didn't kill him simply in self-defense but because she was excited to put her training to the test.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Boromir's moment, when he realizes how badly he screwed up by attempting to take the Ring from Frodo, leads directly to his Redemption Equals Death.
    • The Steward's family is big on these moments. Denethor has another when his younger son, Faramir, is brought back dying after being wounded in a pointless battle which Denethor sent him into.
  • This trope also turns up in Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Turin has this reaction after he kills Beleg and Brandir. He kills himself after the second one. His father Hurin has a similar reaction when he realises his attempts to avenge his family have only helped Morgoth. He too kills himself. Maedhros has one when his attempt to get the Silmarils from King Dior leads to the deaths of Dior's two young sons, and he and his brother Maglor have an epic one later when they realise that all the evil they committed in the pursuit of the Silmarils was for nothing because, after all the evils they've committed in search of the Silmarils, the holy jewels burn them.. Maedhros then kills himself while Maglor spends the rest of time Wandering the Earth singing laments.
  • Jo Walton's Ha'penny: Inspector Carmichael, after saving Hitler's life.
  • In Flag in Exile, Honor Harrington is attacked by an assassin who sees her as a corrupting agent of Satan... but the beloved leader of his church takes the bullet for her. Horrified, he drops the gun and falls to his knees: "My God, my God--what have You let me do?"
  • Amuro Ray again in the Mobile Suit Gundam novel; this is however repeated later by the greenhorn Zeon pilot and Char's wingman, Lt. (jg) Leroy Gilliam after one-shotting the Gundam and killing Amuro in a case of (just at that point) friendly fire from his Rick Dom.
  • The end of Ender's Game sees Ender discovering that the simulations he and his team mates had run in Command School weren't simulations but ansible transmissions: the ships he sacrificed to win had contained real, living soldiers, as had the enemy ships he annihilated, and by destroying what he thought was a simulation of the enemy home planet, he had actually done just that and committed xenocide without knowing it.
    • The buggers get this too in the backstory when they, a hive minded species that places no value on the mindless drones used to fight wars, discovered that each and every human being they killed during their two wars with humanity was as much an individual as the bugger queens.
  • In the book of Daniel, chapter 6, Darius, having taken over Babylon, is convinced to sign a decree that no one should petition any god or man other than the king for the next thirty days would be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel, who was the unspoken (at least to the king) target of the decree, heard about it, but continued to pray without making an attempt to hide it. The phrase is not recorded to have been said (it may have been "My gods," for all we know), but it does say he was "sore displeased with himself", and he tried to figure out a loophole or something until the architects of the decree reminded him that he couldn't change what he signed into law. (Of course, the lions end up not harming Daniel at all, and the king even said before they closed up the den that that would be the turnout, but the idea stands.)
  • Arguably Judas Iscariot's reaction after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He later hung himself or threw himself off a cliff out of guilt.
    • Judas really shouldn't beat himself up. After all, without the crucifixion there'd be no resurrection, and do you think Jesus didn't know that?
      • Peter betrayed Jesus too In a different way. However Judas never came back to seek forgiveness.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Sanguinius, Arkio's first words (after "Brother") when he is Dying as Yourself. He is deeply moved by Rafen's Manly Tears, and while quite certain of his own damnation, begs Rafen's forgiveness.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy In Flames, after Aximand kills Torgaddon, he sobs, asks what they did, and speaks of how they had been their brothers. Abaddon (who merely thinks Was It Really Worth It?) thinks he needs to be watched.
    • In Graham McNeill's Fulgrim, Fulgrim's first words after he killed Ferrus Manus, were "Throne save me, what have I done?". His sword lets him realize the depths of his crime, and that his view of Ferrus Manus had been formed by spiteful misinterpretation of his deeds.
  • In Moby Dick, Ahab has a moment like this when the Pequod sinks with Starbuck aboard. Starbuck was a good man, the only man on the ship who never let himself be sucked into Ahab's mad quest or Cult of Personality, and therefore the only one who manifestly did not deserve such a horrible fate. Ahab himself dies moments afterward.
  • In The Dark Elf Trilogy (the second book, Exile), Drizzt ponders on this when he starts to realize that living on the run all the time, constantly paranoid, has caused him to start to lose his humanity, especially after cutting off his sister's fingers and nearly killing his brother; however, it isn't until Gwehywvar looks him in the eye that he starts to realize it and tries to find ways to regain said humanity... or elfmanity.
  • In Death Star, MCPO Tenn Graneet, chief gunner for the superlaser, is hit with the enormity of what he has done, and when he is called to fire on Yavin 4, desperately stalls for time.

Graneet: Stand by. Stand by.

  • The Dale Brown novel Act of War has Kelsey quite distraught after she realises that she had unwittingly ordered Carl Bolton to his death.
    • Edge of Battle has a US Army Humongous Mecha mobbed by rioters at a detention camp for illegal immigrants ("Jumping the shark"? Your Mileage May Vary) and reflexively responding with predictably horrific results. When he comes back to his senses the mecha's pilot calmly and methodically climbs down from his vehicle, picks up the first available firearm and puts a bullet through his head.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, after Harry, panicking and about to be Crucio-ed by Draco, unwittingly tries out his new "Sectumsempra" spell for the first time in the bathroom. The result is Draco being slashed to bits. Whoops.
    • Also Severus Snape, after he realizes his actions have inadvertently sentenced a woman he loves to death. Whoops again.
    • And in the film version of Goblet of Fire, when Harry doesn't resurface from the Hogwarts Lake for a minute or so after being given his underwater breathing apparatus (Gillyweed), Neville gasps, "Oh my God- I've killed Harry Potter!" Harry then promptly does a spectacular backflip out of the water, making everybody know he's quite alright.
    • Ginny Weasley's attempt to destroy Riddle's diary in Chamber of Secrets was (probably) a reaction to this trope. In any case, she was in full mode of this trope after being saved by Harry at the end. Poor Ginny. It must be... devastating doesn't even describe it... for an eleven-year-old to realize her actions have very nearly caused the deaths of half her friends and her crush. Maybe that's why she was so sympathetic to Harry after the "Sectumsempra" incident.
    • Ariana's death - possibly at his own hands - was this for Dumbledore.
  • In Cry Mercy, the third volume of Toni Andrews's "Mercy Hollings" series, the title character confronts her adoptive parents in order to seek answers about her mysterious origins and troubled childhood. Throughout the series, she has expressed a great deal of anger towards her adoptive parents for dissolving the adoption and giving her back as a ward of the state at the age of twelve, which led her to spend her teenage years in a series of unhappy foster homes. She believes they abandoned her because they couldn't deal with the fact that she was a psychic with the power of Compelling Voice. However, her former adoptive mother reveals that although her adoptive parents feared her powers and found her difficult to deal with, they cared about her and didn't intend to give her up until she used her Compelling Voice power to make them do so by telling them "Get out of my life and leave me alone!" in a fit of adolescent rebellion. She had repressed the memories of what had really happened, and realizes later that she is at least partly responsible for the problems that have made her miserable all her life. Mercy has another moment like this later on when trying to get an armed gunman to put down his weapon and release his hostage. She does not have perfect control of her power, and when he fails to respond at first she loses her temper and thinks, "Goddammit, why don't you just blow your own brains out?!". Her anger makes her powers kick in and she has the man's death on her conscience, although she saves the hostage.
  • Warrior Cats: Lionblaze does this a lot in the latter half of Power of Three, usually after he loses control of himself, or during one of his homicidal Nightmare Dreams.
  • The Poisonwood Bible: Nathan, after Ruth May dies unbaptized due to his desire for a dramatic conversion of the village.
  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim strikes a little girl for not listening to him when he told her to close the door. It turns out she couldn't listen at all. She was deaf.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Rand has one when he almost kills his father during a heated argument in The Gathering Storm. Quite a few of his friends have been telling him in book after book that he's going too far in his actions and losing it, but it doesn't sink in until this confrontation.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Helion tells Phaethon his origin: he had been a character in a scenario who destroyed a planet. His My God, What Have I Done? reaction caused him to brood over questions of existence, and the brooding caused him to become a self-aware personality, no longer just a character.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, the hero tortures one of the villain's mooks to try to get information from another. He slackens off without getting everything he wanted, realizing that she didn't know anything and that he was invoking What Measure Is a Mook?. That thought horrifies him -- just because they were two paintings who came to life, and whom the villain had sent to kill him didn't mean torturing them was all right. In the end, the villain is killed, but the hero tells the mooks that if they stay out of his way, he won't bother them.
  • Appears near the end of Jean De Florette for Papet. He discovers that Jean, the man who he had ruined in the first part of the duology, was actually his son. Florette hadn't rejected him, as he thought, but was pregnant and had tried to move on when he didn't respond to her letter (a letter he obviously never received). Watching the look on Papet's face when this fact sinks in will quickly show the viewer why this movie launched Yves Montand to worldwide critical acclaim.
    • Actually this comes at the end of Manon Des Sources, if you want to be picky. The ending of Jean De Florette is more The Bad Guy Wins.
  • "Almighty God! Enough! Enough!"
  • CS Lewis observed that Jane Austen loves to have characters suffer a dramatic, emotionally devastating disillusionment where they realize how blind and misguided they've been about a certain topic:
    • Northanger Abbey: Catherine Moreland experiences this trope when she realizes This Is Reality, and she's been foolish to view the world and people through the lens of Gothic fiction.
    • Sense and Sensibility: Marianne experiences this trope when she regrets the excess of Emo Wangst that almost killed her.
    • Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth's turn comes when she reads Mr. Darcy's letter and realizes how flawed her judgment of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham has been and that she herself is guilty in this area of the pride and vanity she so abhors.
    • Mansfield Park: Sir Thomas (the heroine's uncle) deeply regrets how he raised his daughters to be spoiled, vain, Brainless Beauties and what a stern, cold father he was when he sees the effects such an education has had on them.
    • Emma: Emma is horrified over the mischief and pain her matchmaking efforts cause.
    • Persuasion provides a subversion (in the correct use of the term): Near the beginning, Anne looks back with regret on breaking her engagement to Captain Wentworth, but the book ends with her realizing she was wrong and deciding I Regret Nothing. Captain Wentworth himself plays it straight when he realizes what a mistake he made never coming back to ask Anne to marry him again after he began to make his fortune.
  • Non-lethal/non-romantic example: A widower-turned-priest in the Brother Cadfael series spent an entire novel trying to marry off his daughter to a man she didn't even like, because he thought that having her around would hinder his advancement in the clergy. Eventually she runs off to Dublin with a Danish youth to escape the Arranged Marriage; hearing this, her father contentedly proclaims that he'll never see her again ... and then pauses, and says it again in tones of grief, as the belated realization that he'd loved and will miss her hits home.
  • Susan's aunt from Wizard And Glass may have died of this trope, as it's speculated that her fatal heart attack occurs when she comes out of her enraged trance and realizes that she's just gotten her innocent, and pregnant, niece burned at the stake.
  • In Over the Wine Dark Sea Sostratos tells Menedemos a story of a Pancrationist(one of the nastiest combat sports invented) in Athens who kills his opponent (a very easy thing to do in Pancration) and goes mad with rage because of it.
  • In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, Fenise asks "What have I done?" as she realizes why she won't kill Thalric.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda leads a boat that is pursuing hers on a route that ends with his crashing and dying. In Prospero In Hell, she learns he wasn't an enemy. Nearly has Tears of Remorse.
  • Discworld: Carrot has one of these moments in Men at Arms. He spends the night with Angua, and wakes to find a large wolf in the room (she's a werewolf). She runs away, and shortly after Carrot finds out exactly what just happened, he realizes that the first thing he did when he saw "the wolf" was reach for his sword.
  • Jean Valjean of Les Misérables has a Heroic Blue Screen of Death based on this trope after he robbed a child. The robbing happened right after his encounter with Bishop Myriel, who gave him a second chance at freedom after Valjean betrayed the Bishop's trust and robbed from him. The combination of these two events cause a guilt trip several pages long.
  • Tsion Ben-Judah's reaction in in the Left Behind book Desecration when he realizes he has given away the location of where the Israeli Jews would flee to according to what the Book of Revelation says about the matter (the deserted city of Petra), fearing that he has messed up God's plan. He gets some reassurance from one of the Tribulation Force members that God may have intended for Tsion to let slip the location of where the Jews would flee to in order to lure Nicolae Carpathia's forces into a trap God has set up for them, which is all according to the Word of God.
  • In Septimus Heap, Marcia has this reaction after she accidentally Banishes Alther to the Darke Halls in Darke.
  • Elizabeth Bathory goes through this in Count and Countess when she realizes bathing in blood is not curing her epilepsy, and she has been killing young girls for no reason at all.
  • Stephen Fry's The Stars' Tennis Balls has its vengeance-obsessed hero break free of his island prison and return to Britain to pursue a drawn-out violent campaign against those whom he sees responsible. After various horrific killings, he looks forward to reuniting with his college sweetheart. But she knows what he's done. The close of the book has him voluntarily returning to the prison he escaped, in all likelihood to stay there until he dies.
  • The concentration camp commander in The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas. Losing your son because of his naivete in regards to the camp you commanded can't be a good experience for anyone.
  • Rick Deckard, the protagonist of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, is a Bounty Hunter tasked with killing androids who are posing as humans. He gets one of these moments midway through the book, after eliminating an android who had been working as an opera singer, and had earlier moved him with a song. He is ashamed that he has destroyed something beautiful and, on another level, worried about what this newfound empathy for his prey says about him.
  • John realizes too late that leading his people to war was entirely the wrong thing to do in A Dirge for Prester John. They are unable to grasp the concept of war, or even the death that accompanies it, and treat it almost like a kind of game. This ends tragically.

Live-Action TV

  • Cheers. Carla once asked Frasier: "When you and Lilith wake up in the morning, which one of you is the first to scream, 'My God, what have I done?!'"
    • In another episode, this is essentially Fraiser's reaction upon fully realizing that he has successfully launched Woody Boyd's political career. (Cue visions of atomic fireballs.)
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Faith does this twice. First when she accidentally kills Alan Finch, screaming repeatedly "I didn't know!", and when she remembers what she did to Wesley and Buffy.
    • This is also plainly evident in Willow's expression in "Once More With Feeling" when Buffy lets the Scoobies know that when they brought her back to life they pulled her out of Heaven.
    • Spike after the Attempted Rape in "Seeing Red". In a rather disturbing take on the trope, he seemed almost as distressed about his inability to go through with the act as he was by the fact he attempted it at all.

Spike: "What have I done? ... Why didn't I do it?"

    • Angel after the gypsy curse personifies this trope. Without a soul he was a Complete Monster, and he now believes he has to atone for what he has done.
  • On the Angel end is Gunn's epic version of this after his part in Fred's death.'
    • And Wes's equally epic one after he went literally Ax Crazy in "Billy". He was under a spell, but it didn't matter, he still hated himself.
    • Wes also had one after he shot what he thought was his father in "Lineage".
  • Face's expression after he pushes Murdock to the ground during their fight in Family Reunion borders on this. It's kind of a combination "What did I just do?" and confusion over the fact that Murdock doesn't seem the least bit angry with him for doing it.
  • Arrested Development uses a variation of this, "I've made a huge mistake". The phrase is used for comedic value, though. It was first said by GOB in "Key Decisions", and used by various characters afterwards, although it does remain primarily GOB's catchphrase, as he uses it at some point in most episodes.
  • In Babylon 5, Londo has several moments of serious regret as his schemes to restore Centauri power and glory play out... though that doesn't prevent him from going through with them until matters reach the point where Centauri Prime itself is at risk of annihilation.
    • The most heartbreaking instance may be when G'kar, his longtime nemesis, accepts an official apology from the Centauri Emperor for crimes committed against the Narns and approaches Londo in good spirits, extending a tentative hand of friendship. The problem: Londo made a deal with the Shadows only hours before that would result in another Narn-Centauri war. The look on Londo's face as he realizes his mistake is Tear Jerking.
    • Londo gets a lot of these moments. In the same episode, when the Centauri Emperor is on his deathbed, Londo tells him how the Centauri have attacked a Narn colony, kicking off a terrible war to further the Centauri's expansionist ambitions. The dying Emperor whispers his last words to Londo. Londo tells the other Centauri present that the Emperor told him that he would want them to continue, and to "carry my people back to the stars". But what did he really say?

Londo: He said... That we are both damned.

    • Another instance of this happening to Londo (Seeing a pattern?) made it into latter season's credits, with Londo watching the orbital bombardment of the Narn Homeworld with outlawed Mass Drivers
    • Also in that show is Delenn upon watching Dukhat die after being attacked by Earth Alliance warships orders their immediate destruction. "NO MERCY!" When she calmed down she was horrified to learn that her actions had started a full-scale war.
    • Lennier had been struggling with his Subordinate Excuse for five seasons and finally gets his chance when Sheridan is accidentally trapped in a room filling with poisonous gas. He walks away, only to realize what he's doing moments later and runs back to help Sheridan, only to find him rescued by others.
    • In the second season finale, Captain Sheridan gets one after he orders the station's defense grid to open fire on a Centauri cruiser in self-defense, resulting in the cruiser's swift destruction. Definitely justified, in that every action he had taken had been with the intent of protecting lives, rather than taking them, only for him to be backed up against the wall and only left with the one option. He has a similar reaction midway through the third season when he does the same thing... to an Earth Alliance destroyer.
  • iCarly: Freddie utters this line as a group (What have WE done?) when the gang realized that bringing back Marta made Lewbert's life even worse.
    • Carly went into a breakdown of repentance in iChristmas when her wish turned her life into one she did not want.
    • Freddie again evokes a variation of this trope in the extended version of iSaved Your Life. After his break-up with Carly, his face changes expression while in the elevator and asks himself in regret, "What did I do?" Cue a zoom out of the Bushwell building as Freddie yells "WHAT DID I DO?!"
  • The Carpenter has one in the Syfy miniseries Alice, right after breaking through his memory block and remembering his past life as Alice's father, then realizing it's a problem that he's spent the last ten years of his life sucking emotion juice out of people. Redemption Equals Death
  • A 'My God, what have YOU done' moment happens at the end of the Peacekeeper Wars in Farscape. For four years people have been chasing John Crichton, killing, raping and attacking him and his friends for his wormhole knowledge, and he finally gives in and builds the thing to protect his wife and newborn child, and it turns out that wormhole weapons he's been telling everyone are horrific, galaxy destroying weapons that no one should ever have under any circumstances are actually just as bad as he always said they were. When he turns it on, even those most desperate to have them realise just how bad it is.
    • A quote is in order.

(The wormhole weapon has been fired, and threatens to consume the entire universe.)
Crichton: Here's how it lays out. Are you listening Stahleek? Grayza? Wormhole weapons do not make peace. Wormhole weapons do not even make war. They make total destruction, annihilation, Armageddon. People make peace."
Chiana: Crichton, can you stop it?
Crichton: I don't know, Pip. Maybe it eats the whole galaxy, a monumental black hole, a giant whirling headstone marking the spot where we all used to live and play and slaughter the innocent.
Scorpius: (softly) This is insane, Crichton.
(John lets out a choked laugh.)
Crichton: God! Four years on and you're finally getting that!

    • A far more literal example is when Crichton has been forced to kill Aeryn while possessed by the Neural Clone. In this case, Crichton really does say "My God, what have I done?"
  • Jerry Seinfeld, after he gets engaged to Jeanie Steinem, a woman exactly like him...

I think I may have made a big mistake! All of the sudden I realized what the problem is! I can't be with someone like me! I hate myself!

  • In the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Gaeta, during the mutiny on Galactica in season 4. After Gaeta helps Zarek take over Galactica, Gaeta insists on giving Admiral Adama a court-martial for conspiring with the Rebel Cylons. But when Zarek has the Quorum of Twelve gunned down for refusing to recognize him as President over Laura Roslin, Gaeta has a bit of a revelation while looking over their dead bodies.
    • Don't forget Caprica Six, who realizes after her first resurrection that the Destruction of the Colonies was a huge mistake, and spends the rest of the series trying to make up for it.
    • And Sharon (Boomer) who has a change of heart when she sees the experiments being done on Athena's daughter.
    • And Baltar, when he learns that he gave the Cylons information that helped them to kill billions of people.
    • Let's not forget the original My God, What Have I Done? moment, when Boomer finally 'regains consciousness' and sees the aftermath of her actions in the Season 1 finale. And the thematic continuation, the Season 4 premiere has Tigh experience a sort of 'waking nightmare' where he imagines the consequences of not owning up to the horrible truth of what he believes himself to be -- killing Adama -- and is horrified by the thought.
  • Doctor Who:

"There should have been another way."

    • The Ninth Doctor had one of these in "The Parting of the Ways", when he forcibly sends Rose back to her own time in the TARDIS to protect her from the Daleks, only for her to absorb the power of the Time Vortex itself to get back and save him. He is truly distraught as it threatens to burn up her mind: "The power's gonna kill you, and it's my fault!" He sacrifices his Ninth life to save hers.
      • The Ninth Doctor also had one of these in the previous episode, Bad Wolf, where he looks down on a ruined Earth, populated by people who do nothing but watch horrific game shows and realises that it all happened due to his actions earlier in the series.
    • The Tenth Doctor had one in "The Waters of Mars". The Doctor saves people whose deaths will trigger the Golden Age of space exploration. He realises the impact of his interference when the key survivor realises what has happened and kills herself. The Doctor is subsequently horror-struck and has a massive Heel Realization.
    • The Eleventh Doctor had one in "The God Complex". A beast attacks his friends, and the Doctor thinks that it feeds on fear, so he tells them to focus on their faith. More people die much more rapidly after that, and Amy, his companion, is particularly affected. The Doctor realises that the monster doesn't feed on fear, but on faith. Since Amy basically sees him as a God, it's his love for him that will kill her. He breaks her faith with a Zero-Approval Gambit and unceremoniously drops her off at her house, planning to never speak to her again.
  • Parodied on Chappelle's Show: after one of the "Moments in the Life of Little Jon", Chappelle goes off on a tangent about the rapper's song "Get Low", which contains the lyrics "Aw skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet!" He said the following:

Chappelle: I'm like, you can't say skeet on the radio! You know what's so dope about skeet? White people don't know what it means yet. When they figure it out, they'll be like My God, what have we DONE?!

  • Curtis from sci-fi drama Misfits can sporadically turn back time and re-play certain events from his past whenever he has one of these moments. Of course, it doesn't always work out for the best.
  • Kat from Power Rangers, when Rita's spell over her broke and she realized everything that she'd done to Kimberly.
    • In the first season Tommy has one immediately after Rita's spell is broken. It is probably Justified because he should be going into shock.
  • On Glee, when Sue goes into a deep depression, Will has a silent version of this, after a mild What the Hell, Hero? from Kurt.
  • In the 1998 Merlin series, Arthur has this reaction after Merlin calls him out for sleeping with Lady Marie, who was actually his half-sister. In the novelizations, this was taken up to full-blown Heroic BSOD that lasted for years.
  • In the Merlin series, Arthur goes into this trope after killing a captured rival king in "His Father's Son".
    • Later in the series Guinevere is given an enchanted bracelet that rekindles her feelings for Lancelot and leads her to make-out with him on the eve of her wedding to Arthur. They're caught, and the trope is played out in a truly heart-rending manner. Since Gwen never discovers that she was enchanted, she honestly has no idea why she betrayed Arthur - she didn't want to, and she can't understand why she did. The question: "what have I done?" is taken quite literally.
  • Michael from Prison Break wonders this for having (indirectly) lead to several deaths.
  • In an episode of Strong Medicine, a boy comes into the hospital after having a police officer use a Taser on him (They later find out that the only reason he reacted so badly was because of mercury poisoning.) Lu then spends the entire episode going into an Ideological Screed against the female cop. Later on, another boy comes into the ER, with the same cop. She mentioned that she was chasing him and reached for her Taser, but hesitated. Lu began to praise her (and herself) for this, but then the cop mentioned that, because she hesitated, the boy ran out into traffic and got hit by a car. It was especially notable because Lu was a textbook Jerk Sue and Canon Sue, so seeing her beliefs backfire was unique.
  • In Lost, Jack has this reaction after finally escaping from the island.
    • "We have to go back!"
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Torres utters this exact line when she realizes the race of robots she is helping were responsible for the extinction of their creators.
  • In The Closer, after several episodes of not feeling any remorse for facilitating a Vigilante Execution the previous season and not taking the victim's family's lawsuit against the department seriously, Brenda finally breaks down sobbing "What Have I Done?" at the end of season 7 episode 5, after everyone in her unit, plus Chief Pope, Commander Taylor, and her husband are all subpoenaed.
  • On the third-season finale of The Big Bang Theory, Howard and Raj make an account for Sheldon on an online dating site. Sheldon gets matched with Amy Farrah Fowler, who is almost exactly like him. Howard's reaction when he sees the two together: "Good God, what have we done?"
  • Forever Knight's Nick Knight has several of these over the course of the series, many in the flashbacks where he's struggling between needing to feed to survive and not wanting to kill.
  • Brass had one on CSI "Genetic Disorder", after spending the entire ep assuming Doc's wife really had cheated on him.
  • Duncan on Highlander after he killed Richie in a demon-induced haze
  • In Season 4 of Heroes, Samuel has this reaction after murdering his brother, Joseph. He may or may not quote this trope by name, as Robert Knepper's well-done emotional performance makes it unclear whether he's saying "What have I done", or if he's begging Joseph to "Hold on".
  • In the Charmed episode "We're Off to See the Wizard", Phoebe utters this almost verbatim after using pyrokinesis—an upper-level demonic power—on Cole's new personal assistant.
  • In Mash, Father Mulcahey once impulsively punched out an unruly patient who hit him first during triage, when any delays in the selection process can cost lives. While the rest of the staff agree he was entitled, Father Mulcahey was kicking himself for some time afterward.
    • Hawkeye has this in the episode "Fallen Idol." He sends Radar to Seoul to "sew a few wild oats", and Radar subsequently gets wounded by enemy fire en route.
    • In the episode "O.R.", Frank Burns complains out loud about the difficulty he's having removing a wounded GI's kidney. On a hunch, Trapper goes over to look at the patient's x-ray...and shows Frank that the guy only has one kidney. While Frank's borderline incompetence in surgery was usually Played for Laughs on the show, in this instance he's shown to be genuinely shaken at the realization that he could have killed the man through his carelessness.


Freeman: "Oh no, this is not good! This is a bad experiment! We are bad people! Why did we usher forth the green apocalypse!?"

  • In Clear Skies 3, Hausmann does this during the final battle and surrenders rather than see more of his people killed.


  • Relient K's "Deathbed" lampshades this. The narrator is on his deathbed and recounting his life and all the mistakes he made. Including a shot-gun wedding, a love-less marriage that ended in divorce, a few kids that are implied to not see him much after said divorce, and a drinking problem that nearly kills him at one point. At the end Jesus appears to take the narrator to heaven because he repented heavily in his last few years.

You cried "wolf" / the tears they soaked your fur / the blood dripped from your fangs. / You said "What have I done?"

Reese Roper: You may notice that we are not rock stars, because you will hear these mess-ups and you will say to yourself, "My God, what have I done? What have I done?!" Oh, yes, you will.

  • "The Ballad Of You Know Who" by Richard Swift deserves mention, for using this phrase as the entire chorus of the song.
  • "Once In A Lifetime" by Talking Heads quotes the trope-naming phrase verbatim.
  • Iron Maiden's "Killers" contains the line "Oh god help me what have I done?". As the song points out "his blood lust defies all his needs", meaning that killing people is what turns him on. Even though he regrets it, he can't stop doing it.
  • Iron Savior, of (unsurprisingly,) Iron Savior has one of these, touched on in a few songs. "I've Been To Hell";

Out of control in this deadly machine
Innocent victims are haunting my dreams

    • and "Made of Metal";

Built and designed to obey, to keep Man alive
Oh I have failed... Now they struggle to survive

  • This is basically how the Handlebars video ends.
  • "Father of Death" by The Protomen.
    • The crowd murmurs this a couple of times in "Hope Rides Alone", although it seems to boil down to an Ignored Epiphany.
  • Filk Song singer Julia Ecklar's "Fallen Angel", repeats a variation of the phrase ("My God, is this the end?") while mourning the destruction of the original Enterprise in Star Trek III.
  • Similar to the "Handlebars" mention above: Zero Sum, the final song on Nine Inch Nails' album "Year Zero" is basically one last humble apology from humanity to everyone who was hurt by the dystopian government that was allowed to come into power in the first place. All while the world quietly ends in the background.

Shame on us
For all we have done
And all we ever were
Just zeroes and ones...

  • Criminally Insane by Slayer.

Disapprobation, but what have I done
I have yet only just begun
To take your fuckin' lives!

  • "Evaporated" by Ben Folds Five uses this line as the last line of the chorus - though it's never actually revealed what the singer actually has done.
  • Forgive Durden's musical, Razia's Shadow: A Musical uses this trope in a near-verbatim manner at the conclusion of "Toba the Tura," when Ahrima comes to grips with his sin of destroying the lamps.

What have I done?
Please make me your son
What have I become?
Destroyed all I love!

    • Also in Razia's Shadow, Pallis' reaction to stabbing Adakias, thus causing his brother's death. While having been aware of what he intended to do, his reaction is full of regret; "Brother, what have I done? My blade has pierced your side. This was never my intent, oh god, please stay alive!" And then "Please don't let your tired heart stop beating. You're bleeding. Just keep breathing!"
  • In the song "The Flame" by Chimera, the lasts lines are "Oh God…What Have I Done"
  • The protagonist of Genesis' "One for the Vine" becomes the murderous conquerer he (as a lowly foot soldier) had deserted at the beginning of the song. No, not just a very similar figure - the exact same one.
  • Child Ballad 54, "The Cherry-Tree Carol",

"Oh, what have I done, Lord?

  • The Iced Earth song "Gettysburg(1863)-High Water Mark" features an example in the form of Robert E. Lee lamenting the Confederate army's loss at the battle, due to his plan.

I look across this blood soaked land
All this blood is on my hands
God forgive me, please forgive me
It's all my fault, the blood is on my hands!

  • In the song "In the Glass" by OK Go, the protagonist immediately regrets his decision to become his reflection.

But oh, what have I done? What have I done?
My God, what have I done?

  • Tarby wrote a 20 minute My Little Pony song based on the fanfic that shall not be named. Pinkie Pie goes through this after the first murder.
  • Though you'll never hear these words in The Wall, the songs "Hey You" and "Stop" serve this purpose. In the first instance, he realizes exactly what he's done by completing the wall; in the second, he's horrified by what he's turned into.
    • The Final Cut also features this line: "What have we done? Maggie [Thatcher], what have we done? What have we done to England?"


  • In Arthur Miller's All My Sons, protagonist Joe Keller knowingly sold defective aircraft parts to the Army during WWII, leading to the deaths of several pilots, but escaped punishment by pinning it on his partner. He'd succeeded in rationalizing it away by persuading himself that he did it for his family, but those rationalizations start to collapse in Act II when his younger son (who'd been a captain in the war) finds out and reacts in horror. He still manages to vociferously defend himself in Act III, however, until his son's fiancée produces a letter showing that his older son, presumed missing in the war, actually killed himself out of shame when Keller was initially accused. He says he'll go with his son to the police station, goes inside (offstage) to get his coat, and we hear a gun fire.
  • The Wizard of Oz has one at the end of Act 2 in Wicked when Glinda confronts him with the fact that the Wicked Witch he has successfully ordered murdered was actually his daughter.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Sweeney Todd has one towards the end of the show upon realising he's just unknowingly killed his wife.
  • In Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas comes to this realization after he has given Jesus up to the high priests and seen him brutally flogged.
  • Oedipus Rex, when Oedipus realizes he...did exactly what fate expected him to do. Which makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • Antigone, when Creon has condemned his niece to death and driven her to suicide, which causes his son to commit suicide, which causes his wife to commit suicide. This is made worse by the fact that he had already gone back on his decision to kill her before he knew of her death.
  • In The Trachiniae, after Deianira sees the effect of her "love potion" (a centaur's hydra-poisoned blood, actually) on the scrap of cloth she used to smear Herakles' garment with, she starts to realize what is really going on and begins freaking out. When her son Hyllus arrives to blame her for killing dear old dad in the most painful way possible, she really loses it.
  • Jean Valjean's soliloquy after being saved by the Bishop in the musical adaptation of Les Misérables begins with almost exactly this line. "What have I done, sweet Jesus what have I done? Become a thief in the night, become a dog on the run? Have I fallen so far, and is the hour so late, that nothing remains but the cry of my hate?" Valjean goes on to explain that after a lifetime of being convinced that he was worthless and the world pitiless, he has met a man who is truly good and selfless, and robbed him, to receive no punishment.
    • A rather more poignant example comes from Javert's life being saved by Valjean. The cognitive dissonance of being saved by a person he previously thought to be a felon, and a cold-blooded criminal, is too much for him to live with.

Video Games

  • Link from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He pulls the Master Sword out of its pedestal, not knowing Ganondorf was using him to get into the Sacred Realm. Especially hits home when you visit what used to be Hyrule Castle. Link's expression can only be, "Oh my God, I did this."
  • Alexandra Roivas from Eternal Darkness, at the end of the game. After you defeat Pious Augustus, Alexandra finally realizes the ancient god she just released has the power to destroy all of humanity. Shocked, she kneels and says "What have I done!?". The Ancient God is then turned into Sealed Evil in a Can by Edward Roivas' spirit, after replacing two of the runes in the super-mega-huge spellcasting device. Except not really, because it's revealed through one hell of a Mind Screw that Mantorok has orchestrated events so that in three different iterations of reality a different Ancient was summoned each time, essentially meaning that all three were killed at the same time; not being subjected to the same rules of time and existence as us lowly mortals this could easily happen. Of course leaving Mantorok to fester for eternity, plotting his eventual escape.
  • Richter Belmont screams this once he's freed from being Brainwashed and Crazy, since he's inadvertently helped resurrect Dracula once again.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, Dominico is said to be a descendant of one of the seven sages that sealed Rhapthorne away, and indeed, he appears to be a target of the possessed Jessica. However, it turns out that the ACTUAL descendant is Dominico's assistant David (who was Rhapthorne's real target), who Dominico had treated like absolute crap for no reason at all, and Dominico himself was a descendant of the sage's servant. When David is killed by Rhapthorne, who has now possessed Dominico's dog, Sir Leopold, Dominico discovered it had been his duty to protect David, and pulls this trope when he realized he failed that duty miserably.
  • Arguably, Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV.
  • In the 'good' ending of the demon path in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, Gig gets the evil slapped out of him and reverts to his prior personality... With the first thing that strikes him is all the gruesome things he has been doing in the meantime.
  • Taro Namatame in Persona 4 goes through this after being told that he was endangering lives by throwing people into the TVs rather than saving them as he thought. Of course that is if you didn't choose to throw HIM into the TV as an unfair version of the Karmic Death.
  • Kratos, the protagonist of God of War, demonstrates this trope upon killing his wife and child while destroying a village; this motivates him to turn against his former master Ares. Whether or not he actually learns from the experience and becomes a better person for it is a matter of debate.
    • Happens again in God of War II. At the end when you're stabbing Zeus you accidently kill Athena. Kratos is distraught by this. Happens again in God of War III when Kratos gets so fucking pissed at Zeus he lets go of Pandora whom he was trying to save from getting destroyed from the flame.
  • Neku Sakuraba from The World Ends With You, when he realizes that not only was Megumi Kitaniji trying to redeem Shibuya from a the fate of Sodom and Gemorrah, defeating him has effectively doomed everyone to die.
  • Cecil and Kain, after unintentionally helping to destroy the village of Mist, in Final Fantasy IV.
  • Subverted with another "What have YOU done" in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, when Lucien Lachance reveals that you've been killing the wrong people.
  • Happens at the very first event of Fahrenheit (2005 video game), the main character, after coming to his sense, realized that he is holding a knife, blood dripping from his clothes, and a dead man lying right next to his feet, stabbed many wounds to the chest.
  • This is a subtext of the game Shadow of the Colossus. Any time the protagonist kills one of the Colossi the death scene is dramatic and sad to drive home the fact that you are the one invading and killing, and the Colossi were living their lives peacefully, bothering no one. Many people felt exactly My God, What Have I Done? after they killed the thirteenth Colossus, specifically: a majestic creature that doesn't attack, can barely defend itself, and doesn't even approach the player in any way.
  • Similar to Shadow of the Colossus, Far Cry 2 seems to be designed to eat away at the player until they realise just how many people they're butchering and what a monster they are, resulting in a My God, What am I doing? moment.
  • Kastor in Age of Mythology, after blindly following Krios's hidden plan of releasing the Titans.
  • Oichi from Sengoku Basara, after being driven insane by her husband's death and her brother Nobunaga's evil ways, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, killing her brother and all his subordinates. Afterwards, she briefly comes to her senses, realizes what she has done and bursts into tears... only to die when the roof caves in on her.
  • In the Ulduar raid of World of Warcraft, Algalon the Observer is sent by the Titans to "re-originate" the planet (read: destroy all organic life) in the event the corruption from the Old Gods got too severe - actually triggered by your earlier murder of one of the Titans' corrupted overseers. However, if your raid manages to defeat him, he has one of these moments, in which he laments just coldly following his orders without considering the lives of the people he was destroying.
  • In a more humorous example, in The Nameless Mod, Despot says this when he tells the player that he left Ghandaiah in charge instead of the far more competent King Kashue.
  • In Jet Force Gemini, King Jeff heads to planet Tawfret to give some more of his people the good news that Mizar's defeat may be at hand... only to see them getting rounded up into slave ships by Mizar's soldiers. He lets his emotions run out of control, and the resulting magical asskicking becomes decidedly not awesome when it zombifies the entire planet and most of the soldiers on it.
  • Charles Barkley's feelings toward the chaos dunk he performed that killed thousands if not millions and led to the genocide of b-ballers in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden.
  • The Paragon Caridin in Dragon Age Origins sacrificed Dwarves to create Golems on the Anvil of the Void. He initially justified this with the increasingly desperate war against the Darkspawn and that he only used volunteers (who were unaware of the sheer agony involved). But when the King (the only one in Dwarven society whose opinion trumps a Paragon's) Jumped Off the Slippery Slope and sent casteless, criminals, and his political rivals to the Anvil and Caridin protested, the King had Caridin turned into a Golem by his own apprentices on the very Anvil he created. After experiencing the "hammer's blow" himself Caridin realized he had done something unforgivable and dedicated himself to ensuring that the Anvil could never be used again.
    • Can also happen with the Paragon Branka, who led everyone in her house to horrible deaths in the Deep Roads on her mad quest for the Anvil of the Void, and allowed the Darkspawn to rape some of the women and turn them into Broodmothers. If the Warden sides with her during the initial dialogue with Caridin, which leads to being forced to kill him, in the conversation with her after the fight she can be persuaded to see the Anvil for the abomination it is, and to see all of the pain, suffering, and damage her maniacal desire for it has caused. If successful, it will cause her being so overcome with guilt that it drives her to commit suicide by leaping into the lava.
  • Adrienne in Phantasmagoria didn't actually say the line, but her "What have I done?" moment happened when she realized that Don's possession was the direct result of her opening Carno's Magic Book and releasing the Demon at the beginning of the game. Oops.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Mordin Solus was left guilt-ridden by his work in updating the Genophage to ensure that the Krogans maintain the same rate of reproduction. While he felt that what he did was necessary, it didn't mean he had to like it and forced himself to make anual trips to check on it since he felt that simply walking away would be wrong. In order to better atone, he became a doctor/borderline vigilante in the Omega space station.
    • Subverted, however: he says repeatedly that he would choose to do the same thing, and that he doesn't regret what he did. He felt it was necessary; however, he chooses to always remind himself of the price paid. But it's played straight in Mass Effect 3, where he comes to fully regret working on the genophage and decides to help cure it.
    • Two other Salarians involved in the project, Maelon Heplorn from the second game and Padok Wiks from the third, both eventually come to the conclusion that their work was unethical. Unfortunately, the former ends up falling even further down the slippery slope when he tries to reverse his handiwork.
    • Gavin Archer from the "Project Overlord" DLC eventually has this reaction to the experiments he did on his brother, to the point where he ends up quitting Cerberus because of it.
    • In Mass Effect 3, if you can make the Illusive Man realize that he's being indoctrinated by the Reapers, he'll shoot himself in the head.
    • Miranda Lawson is an interesting variation as her's is more, "My god, what did I ALMOST do?" Her hatred of her father comes from the fact that he tried to control her and her sister, make them slaves to do whatever he wanted them to do. She almost did this to Shepard, when she attempted to plant a control chip into his/her brain while bringing him/her back to life. By Mass Effect 3, she realizes this and feels unbearable guilt, telling Shepard how sorry she is for even considering it.
  • A close variant of this phrase serves as the opening tagline of Dark Fall: The Journal.
  • Amazed no one has mentioned Zero's epic meltdown in Mega Man X 4 after his defeat of Iris. "What am I fighting foooooooor?!?!?!"
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Emerald, Maxie and/or Archie (depending on your version) come(s) to realize what he's brought upon the land when they use the Blue or Red Orb to awaken Groudon or Kyogre, respectively, as their intense sunlight or rain begins to spread throughout Hoenn (storywise, anyway, as weather effects were not seen in the overworld of places such as Littleroot Town during the Weather Trio crisis).
  • Admiral DuGalle, after he is tricked by Lt. Duran into killing his old friend Vice-Admiral Stukov, who reveals that Duran is a traitor with his dying words. DuGalle's guilt over this later leads him to commit suicide after the Zerg have obliterated the UED forces.
  • In World of Warcraft Cataclysm, Garrosh Hellscream has this reaction after realizing that Magatha Grimtotem had poisoned his blade, and that by killing Cairne, he played right into her plans.
  • Super Metroid even has a few of these moments. After fighting a big Metroid, it runs off in shame once it realizes Samus is it's adoptive mother from the start of the game.
    • Happens again the Crocomire, who suffers a nasty death hardly fitting it that can only make the player feel sorry for it. (It spends a good 10 seconds having its skin melted off in acid). Honestly, even the game designers felt the moment was worth a What the Hell, Hero?.
  • In Assassin's Creed 2, some of the lieutenants of Savonarola have this reaction after Ezio fatally wounds them.
  • Ryoji does this while explaining the Fall to S.E.E.S. in Persona 3, although in his case it's less "My God What Have I Done" than "My God What Am I Going To Do?"
  • Star Ocean 4: In the past Earth, Edge hands an energy source equal in power to a doomsday device to Earth military so they can prevent the future disaster which befalls Earth. This backfires.
  • Terra from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep has this reaction after trying to stop Master Eraqus killing Ven, and taking it too far. Eraqus does it too when he calms down.. Then Xehanort finishes him off.
  • At the end of Etna Mode in DisgaeaAfternoonOfDarkness, Etna recovers the memories that Maederas stole from her, and the very first one that returns is her promise to King Kricheveskoy, the only person she's ever trusted and looked up to, to protect his son Laharl. This being Etna Mode, Etna's already killed Laharl. A Not-So-Heroic BSOD ensues.
  • Anders has this reaction in Dragon Age II right after he blows up the Chantry and sparks open conflict between Mages and Templars if he is a full rival. After the most recent patch, he can even be convinced to side with the Templars after realizing that he has pretty much become a true abomination to help mitigate the damage to Kirkwall.
  • In Tactics Ogre, some of the leaders' death quotes might invoke this to the player. You kill a person who seems to just be a named Mook...then an optional battle (If you wanna recruit one of the characters) has a woman who wants revenge because you killed her husband. After you beat her, she reveals she's pregnant. Another person laments that he won't be able to get medicine for his sick daughter.
    • The PSP version also has a wizard who fights you in chapter two who wants revenge on Denam. What for? A boss you fought in chapter one was his twin brother.
  • Raiden has a massive My God, What Have I Done? moment in Mortal Kombat 9, after he accidentally fries Liu Kang to death in self defense.
  • King Volechek in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has this moment. When he realizes the ancient tower he got the heroes to reactivate was really going to cause an eclipse that summoned hoards of monsters on half of the globe. Did we mention his kingdom was in the middle of it?
    • And in the game before that, The Lost Age, The Final Boss the heroes killed turns out to be Isaac's father and Felix and Jenna's parents. This causes Jenna to have a complete emotional breakdown, knowing that not only her parents are going to die soon, but she was the one who did the horrible deed. To be fair, the Wise One did this trick to test the resolve of the heroes and the Golden Sun event winds up reviving the parents. Even then, Jenna is still shaken up by the whole ordeal.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Yggdrasil has a BSOD of the none-heroic variety when Martel asks him this very question.
  • Also, in Tales of the Abyss, when Luke realizes he's been tricked into murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Pretty much the rest of the game is affected by this moment.
  • A pretty common tradition in the Tales series it seems, as Tales of Vesperia has Estelle do this after driving Belius mad by healing her. It takes another character's self-muliation to drive her back into reality.
  • In Catherine, girlfriend Katherine suffers from this after the incident on day 8, frozen in place screaming.
  • Lara Croft in Tomb Raider Anniversary has this moment when she is forced to kill Larson, who held her at gunpoint. It was Lara's first human kill in her whole life.
  • Tyrann in NieR goes through this in Endings C & D over his possession and corruption of Kaine. It motivates him to do a Heroic Sacrifice for her.
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues, it's possible to get Evilutionary Biologist Dr. Borous to feel intense guilt over his brutal experimentation of his loyal dog Gabe after you bring him his food dish. Of course, he quickly forces himself to suppress the feeling and goes back to his obsession with Science!

Visual Novels

  • Part of the meltdown of Acro in Ace Attorney. You don't actually see the moment onscreen but the aftereffects are obvious during his breakdown. In attempting to murder Regina he accidentally killed her father, to whom Acro and his brother owed everything. As Sympathetic Murderers go he's high on the list.
  • Archer from Fate Stay Night as revealed in UBW route. He is trying to kill Shirou, himself from past, because he wants to prevent him making a pact with world to protect people, because it'll only make him one who kills some to save many.
  • One of the extended bad endings in the PlayStation 2 version of School Days has Kotonoha murder Sekai in cold blood and then offer herself to Makoto, who was watching. Makoto's horrified reaction causes Kotonoha to realize what she has done, and she breaks down in tears.


Tertaladrol: We're going to be sent to the dung mines of Guanolon IV, aren't we...

  • During the Great Outdoor Fight arc of Achewood, Ray is attacked by country-western singer Cody Travis, and retaliates by ripping his face off. In the following strip, he looks at his blood-soaked hands and vomits.
  • In Ask Axe Cop 15 after Axe Cop mistakenly kills a good guy.
  • Done (to a degree) in response to Internet Backlash about Sixx drugging Laura without her knowledge in Collar 6.
  • Bob and George After confessing. So to speak
  • The Sacrifice comic for the video game Left 4 Dead shows Zoey having this moment when she realizes what she did back home after the infection spread. While Zoey was visiting her parents at home, a common infected wanders into the room and attacks Zoey's mother, infecting her. Shortly after, her mother turns and attacks her father, forcing him to kill her. Believing that she is infected, Zoey's father asks her to kill him so that he won't turn. It isn't until 2 weeks later after she and her other survivor friends get taken by the military that she learns that her father wasn't going to turn at all, due to having a gene that makes them a carrier but immune, which she has inherited as well.
  • Sinfest's Monique learned that she may be responsible, in part, for the damnation of a million men.
  • Dominic Deegan: What have I done?
  • In Eight Bit Theater, White Mage has a moment of this trope after attempting to become evil
  • In Strays, when Feral realized he was trying to choke Meela. (He had pushed her out of the bed earlier. With this, he goes and sleeps in the corner.)
  • Pibgorn Pib. . . What have I done? (Why, lost Pib in the upper atmosphere when you need her help to save the earth.)
  • Vriska in Homestuck goes through this when she realizes that her actions have resulted in the deaths of most, if not all, of the people she ever considered friends.
  • Happens in Sluggy Freelance in a subtle manner when Torg realizes that he messed up the security computer systems and released a bunch of bad stuff. Torg was inside the No-Fun lab and blew up their server. This causes a bio-weapon mutagen to be released. This may or may not cause turn the entire dimension into a hell like realm full of demon like creatures
    • Occurs again later when Riff says that future Torg will do bad stuff like cause the Research and Development War or turn this dimension into hell. More like "what will I have done", but still.
  • In American Barbarian, Rich realizes what his pursuit of revenge did.
  • Panthera's Jason has developed a tendency to slip into this. To be fair to him, he talked his boss into giving his little sister the same shapeshifting powers he has himself... only for things to take a sudden turn for the worst when Ari reveals that he's the very man they have been trying to hunt down and attempts to kill them. The one who kills him off is Onca/Taylor, who utterly freaked out four days earlier at the very idea that her big brother might have killed a person. Ten days after that, they find out that some of the world's leading scientists have no idea how they're still alive and they're going to wither and die in less than thirty years. Cut to the North Korea story arc, where Gyeoknoho comes pretty damn close to finishing his sister off partially because this time, Jason has no idea how he's supposed to come up with a plan to eliminate it. Is it any wonder that Jason is skirting the edge of Heroic BSOD right now?
  • Part 1 of the Penny Arcade story arc Ripped From Today's Headlines has Tycho feeling bad for accidentally killing his wife.

Web Originals

She flew back, bounced on the roof once, went over the side of the building bonelessly. Yelped when she hit the pavement in the alley. Yelped like a wounded puppy.

  • Oran from Broken Saints says this after he attacks his childhood friend Hassan in a cabin fever-induced madness.
  • This has a tendency to crop up in Survival of the Fittest, usually when a 'hero' character kills somebody. An example of this is Julie Mikan after killing Owen Fontaine, going into a Heroic BSOD simultaneously at the relisation that she has actually ended somebody's life.
  • Slightly subverted in the Gaia Online plot: 247 says the line after killing 013, but before he knows the full consequences of his action.
    • Played a bit more straight when the Jerkass Corrupt Corporate Executive William F. Drink finally sees the mass chaos for himself and realizes he should have listened to his son all those years ago about the chemical byproduct that trapped the ghosts in their graves and drove them insane.
  • In Dragonball Z Abridged, Dr. Briefs yells "WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE??" after Goku blasts himself into space on a ship Dr. Briefs built.
    • King Kai gets one too, after realizing that sending Goku home has resulted in him being all alone again. When Bubbles, Gregory and Bojack try to comfort him, he tells them to shut up.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Villain Protagonist Dr. Horrible has one of these moments as he kneels over the body of his would-be Love Interest, Penny, the innocent victim of his exploding Death Ray. The closing song, "Everything You Ever", is both a celebration of his triumphant victory and a dirge for his lost hope.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is pretty broken up about shooting his childhood icon, Mary Poppins, when she didn't explain all the Plot Holes in Quest for Camelot.
    • He looked crushed in Kickassia right after he accidentally shoots Santa Christ.
  • She'd never admit it verbally, but The Nostalgia Chick draped her dead BFF's Star Trek shirt over a nearby chair in guilty memorial of the Kirk vs. Picard fight that got her killed.
  • Avatar: The Abridged Series- When Sokka rails against the Inventor, saying he's a traitor TO SCIENCE! because he is responsible for all of the "Steampunk Nonsense" in the Avatar world, the Inventor tries to defend his claim, saying that steampunk stuff could work and runs on scientific principles. Sokka cuts him off again, mentioning steam-powered jetskis. This leads to the Inventor having a Heroic BSOD while saying the trope word for word at the "horror" he has perpetrated against the world.
  • Ayla from the Whateley Universe has a bad case of this when after fighting a demon and being taken away, held and questioned by the anti-mutant police, he discovers that the MCO really do send mutants away to be dissected, studied and killed. Given that Ayla used to be Trevor Goodkind, a member of one of the world's richest and most powerful families, and that in some years he donated more to the MCO than some countries, he was indirectly sponsoring the murder of innocents. While a lot of his friends tell him that it's not his fault and he couldn't have known, the principal tells him that even though sponsoring a legal organisation isn't illegal, by her estimate, the MCO are guilty of 90% of the disappearances, and what happened to the other 10% of the children is probably even worse.
  • Played for Laughs in the "Cake" segment of the first asdfmovie.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Angry Beavers, Norbert delivers this line in a neutral, almost bored, tone.
  • One of the best known examples is in the Looney Tunes short, "What's Opera, Doc?" where Elmer Fudd, after spending the whole short exhorting in Wagnerian time that he would "Kill the Wabbit!", laments what he's done after he does it. (He also does this in some other shorts, but this was the most recognizable instance.)
    • The World of Warcraft Fan Vid Red Snapper starts in a short parody of this, with the line (sung): "What have I done? I've killed a wabbit......" (spoken) "Oh, well."
    • This goes back to the very first Bugs short, "A Wild Hare", in which he shoots at Bugs and then Bugs plays dead, causing Elmer to break down in tears and call himself a murderer.
    • Which asks the question of why does Elmer even go hunting?
      • It could be that Bugs' "death" scene is played out with so much gusto and pathos that Elmer is left feeling ultimately guilty.
    • The dog in "Hare Ribbin'" does this after he takes a bite of the rigged "rabbit sandwich" Bugs makes for him and Bugs plays out his "death" scene.
    • Bugs himself zig-zags this in "Hare Force" as he almost takes the Gremlin's mallet to a blockbuster bomb.
  • Parodied in Futurama, in one of the "Anthology of Interest" episodes, wherein Leela kills the professor by pushing him into a pit of man-eating anteaters:

Professor: Ohhh, you've killed me! You've killed me!
Leela: Oh God, what have I done?
Professor: I just told you; you've killed me!

    • Also played straight after framing Fry in destroying a bottle-ship in the episode "30% Iron Chef":
  • Sad violin solo* Zoidberg: What have I DOOONE!!!
    • And when Leela has to hunt penguins due to severe overpopulation. After firing into a crowd of penguins, she freaks out. But it turns out she only shot Bender.
    • The Movie/Miniseries "Bender's Big Score", when Bender kills Fry under the control of an evil computer virus. It screws him up that he manages to regret it rather emotionally despite the virus's effects.
    • Happens again in the second installment "Bender's Game", where Leela sort of kills an Eldritch Abomination incarnation of Zoidberg under the belief he is an evil monster, only to learn he is not and swears off violence for a portion of the film.
    • Played with again in "Jurassic Bark", after Bender throws the fossiled dog into a lava pit:

Bender: Oh, what have I done?
Zoidberg: You didn't do anything, don't beat yourself up.

  • Dragon Booster: While it did not happen in show due to cancellation, fans on the offical forum all agreed that they exlicity did not want Moordryd's obviously-going-to-happen Heel Face Turn to include a situation where he said "What have I done" in any way shape or form. Since the series was Screwed by the Network, we'll never know, but he seemed to be shaping up to be able to do without it.
  • In the episode "Fatherklok" of Metalocalypse, Skwisgaar says this after pushing his stepfather in a fit of rage and causing him to hit a coffee table - it breaks underneath him, and he groans in agony as he looks at the shards of glass embedded in his hand.
  • Family Guy takes a peg from Arrested Development, after Stewie sends away a babysitter who possibly could've been his soulmate.
    • Played for laughs in "The Kiss Seen Around the World" where Chris says this almost word-for-word after saying "poo".
  • Memorably subverted twice in Gargoyles first by Demona and later by John Canmore.

"What have I...what have they done to you?!"

    • Talon gets this after becoming an Unwitting Pawn to Xanatos.
    • Xanatos himself has such a moment when he realizes in horror what he unleashed in creating Thailog from his Machiavellian smarts and Goliath's brawn.
  • Subverted in the pilot episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. After the Rabbot that he personally built escapes and goes on a rampage, Dr. Weird dramatically exclaims "What has science done?!" Also played straight by Frylock in the episode "Super Birthday Snake". (And yes, this is the source of the internet-popular quote, "What Has Science Done?!")
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Simpsons Tall Tales". In a retelling of the Johnny Appleseed story, Homer realizes he singlehandedly hunted the buffalo (their main food source) to extinction:

Homer: What have I done? What have I done???
Bart: Dad! Look! There's still two left!
Whip Pan over to two buffaloes who are promptly shot dead
Homer: (holding a still smoking shotgun): What have I done? What have I done???

    • Also parodied in "Homer's Odyssey", when he steals and breaks open Bart's piggy bank for beer money:

Homer: Oh no! What have I done? I smashed open my little boy's piggy bank, and for what? A few measly cents, not even enough to buy one beer. Wait a minute, lemme count and make sure... not even close.

    • Parodied again.

Homer: What have I done?! What am I doing?! What will I do?!

  • Sheen in the Jimmy Neutron episode "Sheen's Brain" after he nearly kills Jimmy and Carl.
    • Another example (although not word-for-word) is when Jimmy himself (accidentally) becomes a hall monitor in "Hall Monster". He goes...a little OTT, to say the least. As in, locking people IN CAGES in detention, OTT.
  • In one episode of Pinky and The Brain, the Brain starts to realize that he has a problem when he goes a little crazy and accidentally pushes Pinky off of the table (or whatever it is that they're on):

Brain: What have I done? Pinky! Are you all right?
Pinky: Uh huh. Narf! But I'm afraid my secret playhouse will never be the same... (he had landed on top of it.)
Brain: Oh, it's all my fault. This obsession with taking over the world is causing me to hurt the ones I... tolerate.

    • This event prompts Brain to go to an organization called Megalomaniacs Anonymous in an attempt to get over his obsession with world domination. In a subversion, he decides in the end to return to his quest, since it's actually "a mission of mercy"—if he ruled the world, it would be a better place for everyone.
      • This ties in with a subdued, implied Mind Screw of the series: the title song only promised that "one is a genius, the other insane" but never stated which was which.
  • An episode of Batman: The Animated Series features a robot clone of Batman that seeks to kill Batman and take his place. Once he (apparently) succeeds at this, he goes through an existential crisis since the real Batman wouldn't kill anyone. He cries out "What have I done? I've taken a life!" and proceeds to smash the console evil supercomputer HARDAC was attempting to use in its evil ploy, both stopping the program and electrocuting himself, prompting the real Batman (who was hiding on a conveniently placed cliff crag) to wonder if his robot duplicate actually had a soul.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, when the League's Kill Sat not-all-so-accidentally fires upon Cadmus HQ, Superman rounds up the founding members and questions: "What have we done?" Doubly subverted, though: First, they tell him that they haven't done anything, since someone else hijacked their main computer. However, he replies that it was their choice to keep the orbital cannon, therefore all of them must take the responsibility.
  • Appears to be this in the episode "A Dumb Wish" in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy with Mandy when she accidentally wishes everyone on Earth away into oblivion ...but then she gives an devilish smirk and goes home to watch TV.
  • Zummi says this in the Grand Finale of Gummi Bears, after his carelessness results in Duke Igthorn capturing most of the Gummis, learning the secret of Gummiberry Juice, and taking over Dunwhyn Castle.
  • In Space Ghost Coast to Coast, one episode deals with a pledge drive that's not going very well. Frustrated, Space Ghost orders the audience to give him money, or he'll shoot Brak. Brak starts crying, and Space Ghost feels ashamed of what he's doing. Brak calms down and tells him that "it's okay", which Space Ghost cheerfully takes as permission to shoot him.
    • In another episode, Space Ghost takes revenge on Zorak for thrashing his apartment by blasting him so many times he ceases to exist (or so he thinks). When he realizes that he actually killed him, Space Ghost shouts "Heaven help me, what have I done?!" before casually following up with "Oh well" and continuing the show without him.
  • In the South Park episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes," one of the creators of Wall-Mart exclaims, "Jesus, what did we do?!" and then shoots himself. And then craps his pants.
    • The mayor of South Park also utters this after surveying the Hippie Music Jam Fest that she signed the permit for in "Die, Hippie, Die."
    • The sellers of Ritalin use this exact phrase (well, in plural form) when they learn that by prescribing it to everyone, they now have a town full of children who like Phil Collins.
  • Edd says "Oh dear, what have I done?!" in "Pain in the Ed" after accidentally destroying Ed's violin while trying to save it from Eddy. It even sends him into a tear-filled Heroic BSOD.
  • Possible villainous use in Avatar: The Last Airbender, when Ozai accidentally fixed Aang's chakra flow with an Improbability Drive rock. You know that as Aang was kicking his can all over the place, Ozai was just thinking "What the hell did I do?!"
    • Aang's got your beard!
    • Zuko had an extended one for the first half of the third season. His hasty actions at Ba Sing Se started to seem less heroic and more despicable, culminating in his goodbye speech to Ozai during the invasion.
  • Dark Heart says this in Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation after discovering that, in a fit of blind rage, he's mortally wounded his only friend, Christie.

Dark Heart: What...have I... done?

  • In one episode of the 2010 Pound Puppies, Niblet gets one of these when he sees that his angry outburst at his hyperactive little sister caused her to hitch a ride with McLeish's dog-hating mother.
  • On The Critic, Eleanore Sherman utters this when she finally sees firsthand the humiliating affect her book, The Fat Little Pig, has on Jay's life.
  • Rugrats plays with this. Chucky says this when he's told to release a balloon holding Angelica's doll. Suzie said it was Angelica who released it as punishment. Phil and Lil, well...

Phil: I thought Chuckie let go of the balloon.
Lil: No, Angelica let go of the balloon. You just weren't paying attention.
Phil: Oh.

SpongeBob: What kind of monsters are we?...

  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle has this reaction after her insane attempt to create a friendship problem via an Apple of Discord goes horribly, horribly, right.
    • In "Sisterhooves Social", Rarity totally loses it with her sister after an entire day of getting on one another's nerves (including when Sweetiebelle makes a picture out of the rare gems Rarity had been saving for a dress for an important client), resulting in a huge argument which makes both swear that they wished they were only children and storming off. Later on she's tidying up and looks at the picture again, shown for the first time to be a picture of the two nuzzling inside a shining blue heart. Rarity’s reaction is almost word for word.
    • "Secret of My Excess": Spike doesn't come right out and say it, but the emotion is conveyed by his reaction to seeing Ponyville devastated, and his own giant footprints.
    • Happens in Hearth's Warming Eve when Clover the Clever (Twilight), Smart Cookie (Applejack), and Privite Pansy(Fluttershy) discover that the blizzard that destroyed their homeland and is now threatening Equestria is caused by Windigos, winter spirits that have been feeding off of the hatred between the three tribes of ponies, meaning their pointless hatred for one another was the cause of everything that has happened.
    • In Baby Cakes, despite being only a month old, the Cake Twins are smart enough to realize they've gone too far when they realize they've made Pinkie cry.
    • The entire town of Ponyville gets one in The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, when their support of the Flim Flam brothers almost causes the Apple family to lose their entire livelihood.
    • Fluttershy gets one in Putting Your Hoof Down after being a huge bitch to Pinkie Pie and Rarity, due to taking her assertiveness lessons from Iron Will.
    • Twilight has one in A Canterlot Wedding when everyone calls her out on calling Cadence evil. The twist is that it wasn't really Cadence at all, but an imposter posing as her.
  • A comedic version happens in Animaniacs short 'Temporary Insanity', twice to Mr. Plotz. The first time is when he realizes that instead of calling a temp agency, he's called the Warners and told them he needs help in the office while his secretary is out sick. The second time is when he agrees to the Warners helping him out. Needless to say, his fears do not go unwarranted.
  • In an episode of the Krazy Kat animated series, Krazy is Born Lucky, and Ignatz is jealous and wants her luck for himself. Then he comes up with the perfect solution—he'll give her some Cement Shoes, get her to sign her luck away to him, then dump her underwater. Only after he's already done this does he have this reaction and dive underwater to save her.

"I must have been insane!"

  • In the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe episode "The Problem With Power", Skeletor tricks He-Man into believing he's killed an innocent bystander (really a minion who was Faking the Dead) with his carelessness. In the Heroic BSOD that follows, He-Man retires. Fortunately, Orko finds out about the trick, and tells He-Man.
  • During a Halloween episode of Hey Arnold!, the kids go trick-or-treating disguised as aliens. Unfortunately, a War of the Worlds-style radio broadcast convinces the adults that it's an actual alien invasion, who then form a lynch mob out to get the kids. (It doesn't help that they accidentally used exterior latex paint instead of facepaint, which doesn't rub off.) At the climax, Bob Pataki grabs Helga by the neck and starts choking her, only to realize his mistake when it starts raining and the paint finally washes away.

"I almost killed my own daughter. I'm a monster!"

    • Arnold felt this when he blinds Helga on April Fool's Day.
  • Madagascar. Kind of a "My God, What Did I Almost Do?" moment with Alex after he almost kills Marty, who is luckily saved by Maurice dropping a coconut on Alex's head, which then leads up to Alex saying, "Oh no. What have I done?" and then realizing he's too dangerous to be around his friends, including Marty and deciding to leave for their own safety.

Real Life

  • The page image is of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible holding the body of his son, the Tsarevich (heir apparent) Ivan. The Tsar decided that his son's his pregnant wife was too immoderately dressed (or something), and the younger Ivan jumped in to defend her; in a fit of rage, the Tsar proceeded to beat down on his son with his scepter. Heavily. But when Tsar Ivan realized that his son was almost dead, he started kissing him and trying to stop the bleeding, crying, "May I be damned! I've killed my son! I've killed my son!". His son regained consciousness long enough to deliver some Tear Jerker last words, and then remained comatose until dying a few days later—during which his father remained awake for long hours praying constantly for a miracle.
  • Captain Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, watched the city of Hiroshima disappear in an atomic blast. Some members of the crew would claim that Lewis was at first caught up in the moment and yelled, "My God, would you look at that sonofabitch go!", but after he calmed down, Lewis wrote in his log, "My God, what have we done?" (The rest of the crew maintained that they did what they had to do).
    • As he watched the first atomic test ever at the Trinity site:
A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent [...] I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, Scientific Director, Manhattan Project
    • Likewise:
Now we are all sons of bitches.
Kenneth Bainbridge, Trinity Test Director, Manhattan Project
    • On the topic of WW 2, the Marines having arrived on Okinawa, experienced no resistance from the Japanese. This had the marines extremely on edge, especially the first night since the Japanese were infamous for night attacks (especially of the Banzai Charge nature). Unfortunately that night, a convoy of Okinawan civilians were fleeing the Japanese. The Marines thinking it was a Banzai Charge... This trope was the reaction of the Marines.
  • Ashoka the Great, emperor of India in the 3rd century BC, is said to have uttered this line after a bloody military campaign and then converted to Buddhism and never waged war again.
  • Alfred Nobel developed dynamite in order to make the nitroglycerin used for mining, quarrying and construction safer to use. Instead it became widely employed as a weapon, to the point that a paper mistakenly published his obituary on the occasion of his brother Ludvig's death, with the title "The merchant of death is dead". His personal fortune at the time of his death was approximately 250 million dollars in today's money. He bequeathed 0.5% to his family, and the rest to the newly founded Nobel foundation. He also specified that race and nationality was not to be a factor in choosing recipients, which caused a major stir at the time. (The prize committee made good on this specification relatively quickly, giving the Literature Prize to Indian Rabindranath Tagore in 1914.)
  • Sociologist Robert Putnam was so horrified by the results of a study he performed that among other things suggested that racially diverse societies caused individuals to become more isolated that he almost didn't publish it. He did eventually. When criticized about witholding his findings he explained that he was terrified his work would be used by racist organizations to justify their hatred.
  • When the hysteria died down following the Salem witch trials, the people of Salem went straight to Psalm 51.
  • A classic sports example of this happened when Lawrence Taylor gruesomely (but inadvertently) broke Joe Theismann's leg. As soon as it happened, Taylor—known then as a vicious defensive player and a bit of a trash-talker—immediately and frantically called to the sidelines for the medical staff to come and help Theismann, knowing that he'd inflicted an exceptionally serious injury. Indeed, it ended Theismann's career.
  • A rather literal example is HMS Beagle captain Robert FitzRoy, who was a fundamentalist Christian creationist. He regretted being part of the Beagle expedition that led to Darwin publishing On The Origin Of Species, thereby indirectly contributing to the development of the theory of evolution, which contradicted The Bible's account of creation (though now it's thought to be one valid interpretation by some, including the Vatican). It may have contributed to the depression and anxiety later in life that ultimately led to him committing suicide.
  • A common reaction by people when they kill someone, especially the first time. The degree of trauma depends on a number of factors, such as group participation (squads, teams, etc), range (greater distance = more detachment), emotions and weapons used.
  • Stephen King had one of these after he found out about the number of school shootings that had been linked to his novel Rage, in which a high school student snaps after being expelled from school, takes out a pistol, and then kills multiple people as well as hold several students hostage and is portrayed as a Sympathetic Murderer. Investigation of students who had started shootings in their schools revealed that several of them had copies of Rage in their possession. Stephen King then requested that Rage be taken out of print in an attempt to make up for it.
  • The story goes that General Launcelot Kiggell, Chief of General Staff in the British Army in World War One, saw the conditions at Passchendaele at the end of the battle, cried "My God, did we really send men to fight in that?" and burst into tears. Now considered to be anecdotal, as the higher-ups knew damn well what the conditions were but had legitimate military reasons for continuing. (Whether those reasons constituted justification for continuing is a matter for debate.)
  • Many raiders who run in on people in their homes threatening the occupants and getting them to tell said raiders, for example, the password to the home safe, will hate having to do this to parents of kids (particularly if the kids are seeing the whole ordeal). There have even been cases in which robbers have turned themselves in due to their guilty conscience about how they traumatized a poor kid haunting them. Some raiders will even try and comfort the kids, if they have to.
  • A Real Life self-styled Evil Debt Collector quit the industry after he discovered that a woman he'd tried to collect from died in 9/11.
  • Often experienced after a binge drinking session, especially with some of the more foul tasting beverages.
  • The reaction was this Montana police officer had when he shot and killed a passenger during altercation. It was after he was forced to use deadly force when he learned the guy he killed wasn't unarmed, causing the officer to break down in tears.
  • Became a meme targeted at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie after he dropped out of the race for President of the United States and endorsed Donald Trump as the Republican candidate in late February 2016. Christie had spent nearly his whole campaign castigating Trump as utterly unsuited for office, and the barely-concealed look of shock and dismay on his face during the rant Trump delivered while accepting the endorsement spawned dozens of meme pics like this one. Given that the Trump endorsement may well have destroyed his political future, they may be right on the money.
    • Four years later, Christie ran a long-shot campaign to become President based on being the only candidate in his party who wasn't supporting Trump's re-election bid.