Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance.

Vengeance. You do not get much of it in real life, and the little you do get is cold, late, and adds up otherwise as having been a really bad idea. So you look for it in fiction. Where you find out that, seven times in ten, Revenge was a really bad idea for your surrogate, too. The other three times ... well, hey, somebody had to get some, sooner or later. That, and the girl. And a pony. With a jetpack.

Revenge in its basic form is essentially Paying Evil Unto Evil. Someone has done something seriously bad to another person or someone that person loves, and for some reason, there is no justice to be had for the crime, so the character sets out to exact their own kind of justice upon the person or people responsible. Although, some characters may not care for justice or "getting even", but want the satisfaction that comes only from Disproportionate Retribution. This can be compounded when the harm is slight, like not getting invited to a party. Avenging a death may be regarded as Due to the Dead—and the ghost may agree.

An avenger has several options when pursuing his or her vendetta. He or she can devise a Machiavellian plan, maneuvering things (and occasionally people) in place until the time of final vengeance is at hand, which is the route taken by many classical revenge tales. Often the avenger takes steps to ruin the other guy's life in some manner before the final act, which may or may not end with the other guy's death. Another option, often chosen by action heroes or the more bloodthirsty avengers, is the Roaring Rampage of Revenge, where the avenger dispenses with this and goes straight for the bloodshed, hunting down everyone who had anything to do with the crime in question and eliminating them one by one, often in a Gotta Kill Them All fashion, until they reach the Big Bad behind it all and take final vengeance. (Possibly mutilating the corpse.)

Kill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand, Forgiveness, and Defeat Means Friendship may stop this vendetta. Finding the person and discovering they have become The Atoner can snatch it away from you. On the other, if they try to buy you off, they may still be fair game. May also invoke The Only One Allowed to Defeat You; if your enemy is defeated by someone else, how can you avenge yourself?

Sometimes, the person seeking revenge is doing out of a subconscious sense of guilt and responsibility, or to cover up some other emotion like Survivors Guilt (which often explains any Death Seeker behavior). Sometimes they've placed Revenge Before Reason. Bringing this out into the open can produce an interesting effect.

The character often finds that completing the revenge will leave his life feeling flat and empty. Revenge wasn't satisfying, or now that it's over, he doesn't know what to do with himself. Sometimes, during the course of the pursuit of revenge, the avenger becomes just as bad as, if not worse than, the one who committed the initial awful deed to begin with. And sometimes, revenge doesn't end with the person who committed the crime -- other people connected to the original villain may well decide to pursue vengeance against the original avenger, which may very well lead to a Cycle of Revenge.

Being that revenge is one of the darker character motivations, villains, being a rather unforgiving lot, will often choose to take vengeance on those who have, in their eyes, wronged them, even if the "wrong" in question was something legitimately justified, such as stopping a villain's original evil plan and putting him behind bars or stopping an associate of his, which resulted in the associate's death. Villains in general are more likely to engage in Disproportionate Retribution than many heroes, and don't usually care about what happens to innocents that get swept up in the mess—some such villains deliberately target innocents who are connected to the person they want revenge on, just to make the person suffer all the more. Others target anyone who has anything to do with a certain organization responsible for what led them on this rampage, regardless of whether or not those people were actually involved in the crime in question, or take it out on the descendants of those who wronged them to start with. Others, particularly those of a Humans Are the Real Monsters world-view, will broaden their vendetta to cover more and more people until the vendetta essentially covers all humanity. This can be tempered, or even overridden, if the character keeps it up; killing the man who killed your father can be noble if he continues to slaughter people wherever he goes, and your Revenge can be viewed as the icing on the cake. Villains can often be seen drawing on The Power of Hate in order to get their revenge as well.

On the other hand, Revenge can also appear lighter in shade. If the provocation was extreme, and still more if the character is reacting quickly to circumstance, without time to think—as in The Dog Bites Back—the effect can be mostly sympathetic. It can also be softened by the character's being partly motivated by the knowledge that the villain will go on committing such crime, and by taking care to ensure that only the guilty suffer, and suffer no more than they deserve.

For the 2011 American television series, see Revenge.

Examples of Revenge include:

Anime and Manga

  • The fulcrum around which Gun X Sword turns is Van's hunt to avenge the death of his bride by killing the Claw. Over the series, the other protagonists obtain reasons to want the same thing. Unusually for anime, the desire to obtain revenge is portrayed in a largely positive light.
  • Mikagami Tokiya in Flame of Recca at first starts out as an avatar of vengeance whose purpose in life is to take revenge in the name of his dead big sister. Over time, however, he starts learning that walking the path of revenge will lead to his doom, so he eventually wises up and lets go of his vengeful life, fighting less suicidally and somehow became stronger.
  • Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho. He was cast out of his birthplace by his own people, simply for being male, while they held his mother back as she pleaded for his life. While Hiei's feelings on his mother are unclear, his primary motivation early in life was to kill every ice maiden in the Glacial Village and burn the place right out of the sky and into the ground.
  • Makina in Shikabane Hime claims that she doesn't care about Heaven, and is only staying undead so she can find the person who killed her family.
  • Revenge and how it turns on itself is a major theme in Naruto, where it is presented as a crippling obsession (but only if your name is Uchiha. If your name happens to be Nara, it's a right of passage and your revenge is just and right) It starts with Sasuke, but ultimately turns out to be a stupidly deep family connection all the way back to the clan's founder, Madara Uchiha, and is the driving force of the plot as a whole, responsible even for the Kyuubi attack in the prologue.
    • It should be noted that Sasuke has taken revenge to entirely new and terrifying heights. And if the target of his revenge is removed; fear not! He'll just find something new to point his vengeance at.
  • Also a major plot of Berserk, as Guts seeks revenge on his former commander Griffith and the Apostles for the events of the Eclipse that led to the deaths of the Band of the Hawk and robbed his lover Casca of her sanity.
  • This explains the entirety of Kaname Tousen's actions - from joining Soul Society to his defection with Aizen.
  • In Code Geass, revenge against Britannia - and in particular his father, the Emperor - is one of Lelouch's main motivations.
  • In the 7th OVA of Hellsing a wounded Seras exacts revenge against Zorin Blitz for killing Bernadotte.
  • The basic point of Weiss Kreuz - to destroy Complete Monster with brutally demonic retribution. Fujimiya Ran especially desires revenge against Takatori Reiji for the murder of his family in the first 15 episodes of Kapital.
  • This is the main motive of Theif King Bakura (and by extent, Yami Bakura) of Yu-Gi-Oh!, who desires revenge for the massacer of Kul Elna.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, Char's motive for moving up the ranks of the Zeon military is to put himself in a position to kill off the Zabi family, who were responsible for his father's death. He personally suceeds in killing two of the five (the others die from familial/political infighting or in combat). After achieving this, he instead switches his focus to following his father's ideals... and takes them a bit too far.
  • Gundam Seed Destiny protagonist Shinn Asuka lives for revenge. First he wants revenge on the Earth Alliance for attacking Orb and killing his family, and also on Orb (more specifically the Athha family) for getting into a fight with them in the first place. Then he wants revenge on Kira after Stella's death...
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Setsuna F. Seiei and Neil Dylandy (the first Lockon Stratos) both desire revenge against Ali Al-Saachez for the death of their families.
    • Louise Halevy actually achieves her revenge against the woman who murdered her family... but after initially laughing and being happy about it, her laughter slowly breaks down into tears of pain and despair because nothing's really changed: her family is still dead.
  • In Gundam AGE, both Grodek Ainoa and Flit Asuno desire revenge against the Unknown Enemies, who are responsible for killing their families.
    • Flit's revenge case got turned Up to Eleven following the brutal murder of Yurin L'Ciel. The second generation Flit is shown to have become nearly as nasty toward the UE as they are toward Earth, hating everything about them and openly stating that his life's goal is to see them annihilated.
  • Pretty much the entire reason both Scar and Mustang are in the story of Fullmetal Alchemist. Scar is killing State Alchemists as revenge for the loss of his family, his home and his country during the Ishval Massacre; Mustang, while he starts out merely as a Supporting Leader to the Elric brothers and still acts in that capacity for most of the plot, has finding the murderer of his closest friend, Maes Hughes, as one of his highest agendas before foiling Father's plot takes center stage. When he does find the murderer - the homunculus, Envy - a Curb Stomp Battle so epically one-sided occurred that it took all the other cast had in them, Scar included, to stop him from going off the deep end.
  • Pretty much the main reason everybody in Inuyasha teams up, at first. Shippo wants revenge on The Thunder Brothers for killing his father, so he joins Inuyasha. Miroku wants revenge (and also to break his curse) on Naraku for killing his father indirectly/ giving him a Wind Tunnel in the first place, so he teams up with Inuyasha. Sango wants revenge on Naraku for killing her father, her people, her, and her little brother Kohaku and then using Kohaku as a puppet, so she joins Inuyasha. Inuyasha wants revenge on Naraku for killing Kikyo, so he leads this group. And Kagome... is just kind of there.
  • Gankutsuou, being The Count of Monte Cristo IN SPACE!, is naturally about this trope.

Comic Books

  • Revenge is more or less the driving force of Xadhoom's life in the Disney series Paperinik New Adventures. As the Last Of Her Kind after an alien race destroyed her home planet, she's dedicated her life to wiping out every last one of them. Said aliens are now threatening Earth, so she becomes an ally to the main character - Donald Duck's superhero alter ego - but her obsession is implied to be rather unhealthy.
  • The entire reason for Doctor Doom's supervillainy is the fact that he blames Reed Richards for every single thing that has ever happened to him, starting with his disfigurement, and wants nothing more than to cause him as much pain as possible in revenge. This actually makes them quite different from many other pairs of Arch Enemies: for example, Lex Luthor and the Joker are the nemeses of the respective heroes because they start out as being a certain way and, due to their differences with the hero, grow to hate them and eventually focus on them. Doom, on the other hand, is a supervillain who branches out to become an enemy of just about every single Marvel superhero out there, but every single thing he does can be eventually traced back to his hatred of Reed Richards.
  • Among Spider-Man's foes, few are as obsessed with revenge against people who wronged them like one of his oldest: Adrian Toomes, the Vulture. The whole reason he became the Vulture was to seek revenge against Gregory Bestman, his embezzling business partner who had robbed him blind. Since then, his schemes have revolved around revenge against people who have cheated or wronged him in some way, including Spider-Man himself, the Vegas crime boss Morris "the Snake" Diamond (who stole his blueprints for a special plastic compound), another mobster named Mr. Morgan (who hired the Hitman to kill Spidey before Toomes could do so), and especially crooks who steal or copy his blueprints to try to duplicate his equipment, e.g. "Blackie" Drago and the Vulturions. Not coincidentally, Toomes is currently the only man to call himself the Vulture.
  • Adaptations tend to show otherwise, but in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, this was Splinter's biggest motivation at first, training his proteges with the intent of gaining revenge against Oroko Saki (aka, the Shredder) for the murder of Splinter's owner Himato Yoshi. The Turtles themselves were at most A Lighter Shade of Gray in that version.

Eastern Animation

  • In Firing Range, the motivation of the inventor is revenge against the ones who gave his son a posthumous medal after leading him to his death. He gets it by causing the tank to kill them.


Shredder: Choose the best man from those that remain to follow the reporter. She's the key to finding the creatures that did this to me.
Tatsu: Yes, master! Next, master, we rebuild the Foot?
Shredder: No. There is only one thing next... revenge!

  • The thousand-year plan of the Sith in Star Wars, which Sidious finally brings to fruition.

Darth Maul: At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.

    • Although it's been obscured by time and the numerous other tropes it's spawned, the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father in The Empire Strikes Back had originally played as a subversion of Revenge. Critics of SW:ANH were so convinced that the sequels would conform to a simple Luke-avenges-his-dad story, they dissed Lucas for being trite, never suspecting how The Reveal would overturn those expectations.
    • The EU materials taking place around the time of The Phantom Menace imply that Viceroy Gunray's main motivation for having the Trade Federation blockade Naboo was out of revenge against Senator Palpatine because it was thanks to him and his bill that several members of the Trade Federation's leading races were assassinated (the only reason why the Nemoidians survived is because Sidious sabotaged the ship to prevent them from taking off for the summit). In the film itself, it was believed to be out of greed.
  • Essentially the entire plot of Falling Down. One man's revenge (albeit a bit excessive) against all the little annoyances in the world, be it arriving five minutes too late to get breakfast at a fast food restaurant, which is met with drawing a machine gun and accidentally firing it into the ceiling, needless construction, which is met with a rocket launcher, or price gouging, which is met with vandalism and price slashing via bat.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is about a barber who seeks revenge against the corrupt judge who sent him away for fifteen years on a false charge and then raped his wife Lucy. Though his primary target is Judge Turpin and the Beadle because of their role in what happened to her, he ends up killing a lot more people along the way.
  • A popular plot in action movies in general, though most tend toward the Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Also popular with Spaghetti Westerns, such as For A Few Dollars More, the second of the Dollars trilogy, which has Lee Van Cleef in the avenger role as Colonel Mortimer, who is out to kill El Indio for raping his sister after gunning down her lover.
  • Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy is three unconnected stories about vengeance. It includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:

The Fallen: Revenge... is MINE!!

  • Alec Trevelyan of the James Bond movie GoldenEye wanted revenge against the British government for the betrayal of the Lienz Cossacks, which included his family, who believed that they were under British protection near the end of WWII, only to be sent back to Stalin who promptly had them all shot. The fact that he was also doing so to make himself a pile of money off the destruction of London using a nuclear satellite that used an electromagnetic pulse weapon was just the icing on the cake.
  • Will Plunkett in Plunkett and Macleane swears revenge on General Chance for the death of his partner.
  • In The Bone Collector, the villain's murders turn out to be an elaborate scheme to get revenge on one of the two cop protagonists, whose mistakes caused the villain to be wrongly imprisoned.
    • "Mistake" is debatable, since he was jailed for planting false evidence on criminals he was insistent were guilty. How correct he was is never explored, though of course in his point of view his theories were "flawless", and he had been jailed for working for a greater good, his duration in there being traumatic (which ironically mirrored the people he framed, one even commiting suicide).
  • The Joshuu Sasori series of films centre on the (anti)heroine's struggle for revenge and the trouble it causes.
  • The Princess Bride: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
  • Taxi Driver has a long shot in which the camera pans back over all the corpses Travis Bickle left in the wake of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The reason for this: how satisfying would a story about revenge be if we didn't get to linger over the results a bit?


  • The Warhammer 40,000 novels are quite fond of revenge as a motive and a plot, which is hardly surprising, given the setting.
    • In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Malleus, Eisenhorn vows revenge on those responsible for the atrocity that cripples Ravenor. In Hereticus, it is invoked; Medea passionately desires revenge on the man who killed her father. In time, she realizes that this was displaced desire that she could have known her father, who died a month before her birth.
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Gaunt's Backstory includes his killing the general whose cowardly abandonment of the field of battle killed Gaunt's father and the men with him. Later, this general's son attacks Gaunt, for his father's death and the dishonor it brought on the family.
      • Revenge, and an inter-regimental feud, is also used to mask the real conflict of the novel.
    • In William King's Space Wolf novel Space Wolf, the Grimskulls sought revenge on the Thunderskulls who had captured their settlement, enslaving their women and children. They went off, licking their wounds, and were lucky enough to find another settlement which they could overrun, killing the men and enslaving the women and children, which they regard as a god rewarding their perseverance with a prize. They returned for Revenge on the Thunderskulls. When Ragnar Thunderskull and Strybjorn Grimskull are taken to become Space Wolves, their enmity continues. At one point, Ragnar is tempted with the prospect of killing Strybjorn; the Marines gravely observe that they have never had an aspirant come so close to failure without failing before. When Strybjorn saves his life in battle, and falls beneath an attack, Ragnar realizes his desire was wrong. He insists the others with them go on to Bring News Back, so he can tend Strybjorn's wounds and bring him out safely.
      • In Wolfblade, Ragnar is warned that foiling Cezare's plot means that he will seek revenge on him.

"Let him," said Ragnar.
"Spoken like a true son of Fenris," said Haeger with almost paternal fondness.

    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, at the end, Vaanes is convinced that Uriel's convincing him to join the attack on the fortress, which killed many of his band, was deeply wronging him, and so allows himself to be persuaded to join the forces of Chaos, for Revenge.
    • In Graham McNeill's Storm of Iron, Larana Utorian's suffering at the hands of the Chaos forces and desire for Revenge are what lets the daemon tempt her into allowing it in.
    • In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when hunting a traitor, Horus comes upon corpses still wearing the remnants of their Imperial uniforms. He wonders if they remained loyal and promises to avenge them. Later, when Horus is felled by his wounds, Loken is determined to avenge him on the forces responsible.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, the desire for Revenge after a massacre drives the bulk of the novel.
    • In James Swallow's Deus Sanguinius, after Rafen's duel with Arkio ends with his killing him, Mephiston urges him into the fight with the Chaos forces that had tainted him—he should avenge him. And in the end, the thwarted daemon plots revenge on Rafen.
    • In Chris Roberson's Blood Ravens novel Dawn Of War II, when Phaeton hears that the tyrannids have killed his mother, he declares he will kill them all; the Space Marine tells him to let them do the fighting for now, but perhaps he might be a Blood Raven one day, whereupon his younger brother is also eager to be one so he can fight.
    • In Steve Parker's Gunheads, Wulfe's Backstory includes an incident where a medic jumped to save him from a wound that would have killed him. A few days later, the medic was captured by orks and tortured to death. Wulfe thinks that he's still trying to avenge him.
    • In Chris Roberson's Imperial Fists novel Sons of Dorn, Zatori wants revenge on Jean-Robec for killing his master (partly because he should have been protecting his back), and Taloc wants revenge on Zatori for killing his father. A long-term undercurrent, since the Imperial Fists will stop them if they try, and they fear the punishment.
    • In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, the title hunt is motivated by revenge.
  • Averted in A.J. Quinell's Snap Shot, where the revenge of the protagonist is only mentioned in a flashback, a few parragraphs long, and without details. After telling that he performed his revenge, the protagonist also admits it didn't make him feel any better nor helped him to overcome his psychological trauma.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book, Mowgli takes Revenge on the village for how they treated his adoptive parents. He persuades Hathi to help because of the revenge Hathi took on another village—that one involving killing men.
  • Moby Dick, surely. Captain Ahab is basically a walking piece of revenge on a stick. (Literally - he has a wooden leg.)
    • A pegleg, yes. It is, however, made from the jawbone of a whale.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo is a defining example of revenge as plot.
  • A driving force for Ax in Animorphs. In Andalite culture, the brother or son must avenge the victim's death, and Ax takes the vow to kill Visser Three for the death of Elfangor. Technically, that would have included Tobias, as Elfangor's son, as well, but it isn't mentioned as much by the time that's revealed.
  • Revenge tragedies were quite common in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, with perhaps the best known of such being Shakespeare's Hamlet, which has its title character seeking vengeance for his father against his uncle, who murdered him to take the throne. Seeing as how it's a tragedy, though, it doesn't exactly end well for the prince of Denmark.
    • Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy (1606) is this, to a T. The anti-hero's name, Vindice, literally means 'Revenge'. In fact, it can be seen as a parody of the entire genre (and Hamlet in particular), which was in its heyday when this was first performed.
  • Edgar Allan Poe wrote a few revenge stories. In Hop-Frog a deformed dwarf jester burns the king and seven ministers to death at a masquerade for striking his beloved and splashing wine in her face. In The Cask of Amontillado, a man lures his friend into a cellar with the promise of fine wine, only to bury him alive, claiming revenge for vague injuries. Both people get away scot-free.
  • Revenge is pretty much the Hat of the Camorri in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence series. The Grey King's sole motivation is revenge against Capa Barsavi and the nobility of Camorr. Locke sets himself against the Grey King in order to avenge Nazca, Bug, and the Sanzas. And in the course of Locke's revenge, he pisses off the Bondsmagi...
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods of Mars, during the Gladiator Revolt, the women slaves in the stands start to take revenge.

In all parts of the structure the female slaves were falling upon their masters with whatever weapon came first to hand. A dagger snatched from the harness of her mistress was waved aloft by some fair slave, its shimmering blade crimson with the lifeblood of its owner; swords plucked from the bodies of the dead about them; heavy ornaments which could be turned into bludgeons--such were the implements with which these fair women wreaked the long-pent vengeance which at best could but partially recompense them for the unspeakable cruelties and indignities which their black masters had heaped upon them. And those who could find no other weapons used their strong fingers and their gleaming teeth.

  • In Terry Pratchett's Thud!, the Summoning Dark is "an invisible and very powerful quasidemonic thing of pure vengeance."
  • A Lannister always pays his debts. So if you help a Lannister, you're sure to be recompensed for your trouble. But if you cross a Lannister...Things might end differently. Such as, say, in a privy. With a crossbow.
  • In Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow, the hero learns that a band of men are hunting down those responsible for his father's death. At the end, he insists they refrain from killing one intended victim—who, he knows, did lure his father to the place of his death but was unaware that he would be killed.
  • In Robert E Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in The Moonlight" Sergius is out to get his revenge as soon as he sees Conan.
    • Another Conan story, The Scarlet Citadel, had one of Tsotha's slaves try to kill an imprisoned King Conan for killing his brother back in his pirate days as "Amra the Lion." He is killed with one strike by Satha, the big fucking snake that Tsotha keeps down there, before he can actually go through with revenge.
  • Fenise's motive in Dragonfly Falling.
  • Andre-Louis' motive in Scaramouche.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo tells Smaug that it was for revenge that the dwarves had come to Lonely Mountain:

Bilbo: Surely you realize that your success has made you some bitter enemies.

  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, von Horn tries to cover his tracks by telling Number Thirteen that he is a soulless creature, less than a beast, and that Professor Maxon made him such, and inciting him until he resolves to kill the professor.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Mae's motivation.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Freckles sneaked off from a man and his son who had abused him and stole his clothing, and confesses to wanting to meet them again before he dies.
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, Geary contemplates rigging a wrecked ship to explode on the aliens' going on board, but rejects it as a sterile revenge.

Live Action TV

  • Veronica Mars is a revenge addict. When she starts to run short on targets for personal revenge she looks for other people to get revenge for.
  • A major theme on Lost. Sawyer's desire to avenge his parents carries through the first three seasons. In the fourth, we learn of Ben's desire to kill Penny in revenge for Alex's death. Charlie, Shannon, Sayid, and Sun have also sought revenge for loved ones at various times.
  • Happens occasionally on 24, especially when a terrorist is about to get immunity while a victim wants revenge. In Season 3, Kim notes that the death of Nina Myers, who killed her mother, does not bring her closure in any way, even though she wanted her dead for a long time. In Season 7, Olivia Taylor becomes angry that Jonas Hodges, the man responsible for her brother's death, is going to be placed in witness protection, so she orders a hit on him, calling it off too late. During that season, Tony Almeida's desire for revenge for his wife and unborn son drives him to plan on tracking down and killing the head of the conspiracy.
  • The final episode of The Shadow Line sees Gatehouse tracking down and killing his superiors in Counterpoint because they sent an assassin to kill him in his hospital bed.
  • In the Doctor Who serial The Mutants, Varan decides to turn on the Overlords as soon as he realizes he's been played for a fool—forget his people!
  • Angel: 250-ish years before series 3, Angelus and Darla had not only killed Holtz's wife and three children but turned his youngest daughter into a vampire just to leave him a message, forcing him to kill her himself. Holtz initially went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, taking out 378 vampires in 9 years as he relentlessly hunted the pair across the whole of Europe. At times, he'd actually catch Angelus but never Darla and engage in torture just to see what would be left if he beat the demon out of the man. Angelus always escaped and the hunt would continue. Eventually, a demon told Holtz that if he didn't agree to travel 200+ years into the future he'd lose his chance to destroy Angelus and Darla forever. Holtz agreed in return for the promise that he'd show no mercy. When Holtz realised Angel now had a soul and Darla had killed herself to save her son, his plans changed to do to Angel what Angelus had done to him - take away the family he loved. He stole Connor, raised him in a Hell dimension before sending him back to Angel full of hate and groomed to kill his own father, having set up his own death to make it look like Angel had killed him just to make sure Connor would kill Angel in a You Killed My Adopted Father fury. Bear in mind Holtz was supposed to be a good guy.
    • Holtz was never a "good" guy (at least not as we saw him on screen, maybe before his family was killed). He's basically an Anti-Villain with heroic traits like courage and determination, who has descended past the point where he cared whether his goal was still noble, becoming consumed by revenge. He considers himself a monster (made by monsters) and lives only for revenge and hate. After raising Connor, he tells Angel that he has let that hatred go and learned to live on paternal love instead. But even this is a lie, he sacrifices his life and his adopted son's happiness (and mental stability) for a final chance at revenge on what's left of the demon that took his family (namely, Angel).
  • Revenge features this.


  • Ween's song Buenos Tardes Amigo is a revenge song being sung to the man who killed the narrator's brother. The twist is that the narrator was actually the killer himself, probably due to jealousy, and is framing the listener to keep anyone else from knowing the truth.
  • Revenge is one of Doctor Steel's prime motivations.
  • Pretty much the entire point of Coheed and Cambria's No World For Tomorrow album. In particular: Gravemakers and Gunslingers, Justice in Murder, and The End Complete.

"Cause God knows I ain't now stoppin' 'til you breathe none!"

  • Avenged Sevenfold has the song "Strength of the World". It reads as the story of someone who's family was killed by outlaws.

"I want it. I need it! Revenge is dripping from my teeth!"

  • Kate Bush's "The Wedding List"; a pregnant bride kills the murderer of her husband and commits suicide.
  • Leslie Fish's "Furies".
  • Sound Horizon's Märchen album revolves around the spirits of seven women (all but one from the Fairy Tales of The Brothers Grimm) being granted a chance at revenge against the people who wronged them by a strange ghost who goes by the name Märchen. The seventh woman, Elisabeth, rejects this offer, content that her first and only love März has finally fulfilled his promise to return to her, even if only in death. It is this that leads Märchen to remember the man he used to be: März himself.

Myth and Religion

  • Achilles' chief motivation for leaving the Greek army during the Trojan War, the initiating action of the plot of Homer's The Iliad, is vengeance against the Greek commander Agamemnon for taking his trophy wench. His withdrawal from the fighting (and the subsequent plea to Zeus to give victories to the Trojan cause in Achilles's absence made at his behest by his mother) leads to his cousin's demise.
  • The Bible contains some examples:
    • Levi and Shimon wipe out the town of Shechem in retribution for the prince of Shechem's rape of their sister Dinah.
    • The Israelites swear vengeance against the Amalekites for their attack against Israelite women, children, and elderly as the Israelites were leaving Egypt.
  • The Bible also contains notable aversions, being that Forgiveness is a key biblical virtue:
    • Esau forgives and reconciles with Jacob, abandoning his plans for revenge.
    • God marks Cain to shield him from any retribution for the murder of Abel his brother.
    • God commands the Israelites that they are never to take revenge on the Egyptians at any time after the Exodus, because, regardless of the wrongs the Egyptians had inflicted on the Israelites, they had also been the Israelites' hosts at first; the implication is that the Egyptians had suffered enough from the plagues, a hard point to contest.
    • God also instituted laws among the Israelites to suppress the practice of blood feuds which were common in the ancient world: most notably, the concept of the city of refuge for the manslaughterer.
  • The Talmud: A man invited his friend Kamtza to a feast, but his servant accidentally invited Bar Kamtza, a mortal enemy. Bar Kamtza thought that the other man wanted to make peace, and so came to the party, where he was ordered away. Trying to save himself from humiliation, he offered to pay, first for his own portion, then for two, and eventually for the entire party, but the host refused to listen and kicked Bar Kamtza out. Bar Kamtza therefore hatched a plot which ended in the enemy king coming to Jerusalem, the Temple being destroyed, and the Jews being sent into exile.
  • In the Epic of Gilgamesh, when King Gilgamesh rejects the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, she sends the Bull of Heaven to terrorize his whole city. Gilgamesh and his only friend, Enkidu, eventually slay the Bull and save the city of Uruk, but the gods retaliate by giving Enkidu a fatal illness.

Newspaper Comics

  • For the entire run of FoxTrot, Jason's favorite weapon while antagonizing Paige has been a suction-dart gun. In a 2012 strip, however, Paige got even and then some. When he tries it, she quickly pulls out a bow with suction-tipped arrows, and he runs screaming. In the last panel, Jason tells Peter, "I don't like the effect The Hunger Games has had on our sister."[1]

Video Games

  • The entire premise of the Crusader series of games—and naturally, when you start wreaking such havoc, the bad guys get in on the act.
  • Both Kael'thas and the generic Blood Mage from Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne have a sound pack distressingly but understandably focused on pronouncements of vengeance.

"My blood cries out for the vengeance of my people's blood, which can only be repaid with twice as much blood! Or maybe three times as much blood! Like, if you went to hell and it was full of blood, and that blood was on fire, and it was raining blood, then maybe THAT would be enough blood. But, uh... probably not."

  • Tasha in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, her character theme is actually titled "Goddess of Revenge".
    • Tasha's love of revenge is lampshaded in one of the War Room segments, she claims "My hobbies include professing my love for the Lazurian Army and vowing revenge."
  • While Ryu Hayabusa's final goal in the Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden is to reclaim the Dark Dragon Blade stolen from his village, it's obvious in a number of cut scenes that he's hellbent on killing Doku, the Greater Fiend responsible for destroying the village. The chapter of the game in which Ryu finally kills Doku is titled "Vengeful Spirit".
  • Kivan's motivation in Baldur's Gate. Not surprising considering his mate was tortured to death by one of the villains.
    • Jon Irenicus in the sequel. "Once, my thirst for power was everything. Now, I hunger only for revenge. And I... will... HAVE IT!"
      • Also, Minsc and Jaheira start out hellbent on beating Irenicus to death with a potato masher for the whole "killing the person they cared about most" thing. If you keep them in the party, eventually they do get to help take him out, and there is much awesome. Even the potato masher fits, if you accept a +5 potato masher known as Crom Faeyr, the Hammer of Thunderbolts.
  • From the same family, Carth Onasi wants to pound his treasonous ex-commander into paste for betraying the Republic and bombing Telos. Sky wanted to kick Gao the Greater into orbit over the death of his little girl at the hands of Gao's slavers. Even though you kill Gao before he does, Sky's pretty understanding about it, and just extends his vendetta to anyone dealing in slaves.
  • Jak's main motivation in the second Jak and Daxter game is getting revenge on Baron Praxis for two years of Dark Eco experimentation. a far more sinister plot eventually reveals itself, and he ends up focusing more on saving the city.
  • In Mass Effect, Dr. Liara T'Soni went on a two year long quest to destroy the Shadow Broker after he tried to sell Shepard's body to the Collectors. Depending on your choices, this might also fit under Violently Protective Girlfriend.
    • Zaeed wants revenge on Vido for shooting him in the head twenty years ago, Garrus wants vengeance on Sidonis for betraying him and his team, Kasumi gets payback on Hock for torturing her boyfriend to death, Thane got revenge on the men who killed his wife in his Backstory and Jack has a serious vendetta against Cerberus for experimenting on her as a child. It's really easier to list which members of the Mass Effect 2 squad don't want some form of revenge. Including Shepard him/herself if you take the Renegade route, which gives us the quote, "The Collectors are about to find out what happens when you piss me off."
  • Persona 3 gives us Ken, a kid with a vendetta against his mom's murderer, Shinjiro, who accidentally killed Ken's mom from losing control of his power and has become The Atoner for it. When confronted on the anniversary of the mother's death, they get interrupted by Strega and Shinjiro sacrifices himself to protect Ken, denying him his revenge. Note that Ken is of the Justice Acrana.
  • The motivation of the original heroine of Phantasy Star, Alis. Lassic's men murdered her brother in front of her, so she's going to bring him down.
  • In God of War, this is the primary motivation for Kratos. His quest for revenge against the Gods is what causes him to become a One-Man Apocalypse.
  • This was one of the reasons James Tobin murdered Zack in In the 1st Degree. Tobin found out that his girlfriend Ruby had a one-night stand with Zack. Tobin was so jealous and furious that he decided that Zack had to pay for this with his life.
  • When Geese Howard killed Jeff Bogard, Jeff's sons became martial artists to eventually kill him back.
  • Asura from Asura's Wrath is basically the embodiment of vengeance and all related tropes!
  • Calypso of Twisted Metal is primarily a Jackass Literal Genie... but if you win the tournament and then wish for revenge on someone, nine times out of ten, he'll give you what you want without any manipulation. Something about it seems to strike a chord with him.
  • Yars' Revenge, of course, but you have to read the instruction booklet to find out exactly why.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • In Epic Tales this is Shadow Hawk's motivation for being a superhero. Or so he claims. His best friend Diana thinks he just doing it for the thrills, although this is only mentioned once. Also the revenge thing seems to have been glossed over in the two most recent stories.
  • UltraJMan's I Wanna Be the Guy fangame, I Wanna See You Suffer, was created with pure, unadultered raging vengeance aimed at all those people who talked him into making a Let's Play of the I Wanna Be The Guy fangame, I Wanna Be the Fangame, as the driving spark of creativity...

Western Animation

  • The show Dan Vs. revolves entirely around this concept, exacted by a hilariously paranoid, quick-tempered Dan and his drag-along best friend Chris. His targets include cookie ninja, the wolfman, and the entire country of Canada.
  • Stripperella. Spoofed in "Beauty and the Obese", where Mad Doctor Cesarean's motive for making supermodels fat is because beautiful women have spurned him all his life. And because his mother was a model who ran off when he was five. And because his promising career as a model was ruined when he became horribly disfigured in a modeling accident. Oh, and his grandparents were killed by models. He hates heights too, but you can't harm heights.
  • Gargoyles major theme is how "revenge is a sucker's game" and never accomplishes anything except spreading the need for revenge. Oddly, the only character who has a firm grasp of this in the beginning is the Affably Evil Big Bad David Xanatos, which is why he wins so often.
  • In The Venture Brothers after his defeat Phantom Limb renames himself Revenge, collects a gang of inanimate objects, and goes on a campaign against The Guild (Not that one).
  • An anthology episode of The Simpsons had revenge as its theme.
  • Roger of American Dad often parodies this of the Disproportionate Retribution order. In "The One That Got Away" for example he discovers a stranger has been using his credit account and in retaliation proceeds to destroy his life in every manner possible this causes complications when the culprit in fact turns out to be a split personality of Roger obliviously created. In turn his victim sets an assassin on him. Naturally Hilarity Ensues.
  • Sealab 2021 wanted to do a Christmas Special, but for various reasons swapped Christianity for the made-up religion of Alvisism, based around a violent, Wild West messiah. Whereas Christmas is about family and giving, Alvistide is about drinking and revenge.

Capt. Murphey: "Vengeance is mine!" quoth Alvis. And then he shot him, right in the face!

  • If it isn't capturing them to make them into gold or to eat them (or, as in the movie, to make himself the most powerful wizard in the world), Gargamel's main motivation to go after The Smurfs is this.
  • Angela Anaconda would often combine this with Mr. Imagination; the show frequently showed Angela's "revenge fantasy" sequences where she inflicted rather horrid fates upon those who wronged her, usually Nanette. The infamous "The Substitute" is a good example, where Angela actually visits a restaurant that cooks and serves her Nanette and her brothers.
  1. In case anyone hasn't seen The Hunger Games, the heroine's Weapon of Choice is a bow and arrows.