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raven860's avatar

Can you attest the validity of this phrase "No Good deed goes un-punished"?

Asked by raven860 (2174points) December 4th, 2011

If you agree with the phrase “No good deed goes un-punished” please tell us why.

-A story/incident regarding it as an example would be well-appreciated.
-Why do you think things work that way? Why would a person react in that way to help? Logical fallacy much?

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21 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think that it is true at all.

Aster's avatar

It’s true. People do not want to give others credit for their charity towards them. So how they deal with this is to find fault with the person who helped them out no matter how much money was spent or how much effort was put into the gift. I see it all the time. My daughter was having a horrible time taking care of her son. Her son went to live with his friend’s family. My daughter quickly, as I had predicted she would, turned against this woman and ended up almost hating her. She just could not stand the idea of thanking this woman forever so she just decided the woman was a jerk or something after keeping her son in her small home for almost a year.

comity's avatar

I don’t agree with that statement, but , I do feel some people’s good deeds don’t always get them rewarded the way they would like. If you do a good deed because you want people to think highly of you, thank you, feel obligated to you, etc., those are not good reasons and you may feel punished if you don’t get those results . Your reward for the good deed is helping others who need help, humans, animals, whomever. That is the highest reward one could receive.

raven860's avatar

@comity I think the most common reason someone would feel that this statement is true is because they have helped people with poor & weak character who decided to try and prey on their helper even though the helper helped them fight the oppressor. I cam across the phrase when someone mentioned it in a statement regarding bullying (Specifically the situation when that person (the helper) helped the target escape bullying but in-turn the target kid helped the bully to try and attack the helper).

In my experience, the above happens^, but also is true about the opposite. I asked because I found myself in disagreement with the quote but now I think its true in particular instances but certainly not always.

SmashTheState's avatar

“It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can’t expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That’s morality, that’s religion. That’s art. That’s life.”Phil Ochs

And of course, Phil Ochs eventually hanged himself. The fact is, human beings are crass, selfish, stupid, short-sighted, perverse, self-pitying sadists who will punish anyone who tries to assist them. That there are those who, century after century, persist in helping a humanity which suffers under the weight of its own brutish idiocy only proves that there is neither justice nor pity in this Universe.

If you find yourself afflicted with the curse of altruism, you really haven’t any choice. Your life will be harsh and miserable, people will despise you, fear you, hate you, and do everything in their power to hurt you. You will likely die young, and your deeds will never be recognized or appreciated. But you’ll do them anyway because you’re an altruist, and this broken, sad, stupid species will stumble on for a few more generations as a result of your sacrifice, so that future generations of altruists will share your misery.

zensky's avatar

Several come to mind. Sadly, I revisit and re-examine this phrase all the time – and it’s usually the road to hell is paved with good intentions.


When I was about 12 years old, my brothers and I found a purse by the snowy roadside, near our house (it was winter). We brought it home and found well over a hundred dollars inside, along with the person’s ID (address, phone number). Our grandmother told us to call the middle-aged woman who lost the purse. Being the “goody goodies” we were, we immediately called her. That same evening, she came to pick up her purse, accompanied by her sister.

She grabbed the purse from my brother’s hand and blurted, “Oh my God, thank goodness you found it! Oh wow!” She didn’t even give us one penny as a reward! Not even a simple “thank-you”! And before she left, she told us “You better de-ice your sidewalk and shovel that snow. If I slipped on it, I or anyone else would have sued you!”

We couldn’t believe it. What an old battalack we thought. We did a good deed, and all we got was an admonishment. :(

Why did she react that way? She was a testy old cheap bitch.

cookieman's avatar

Seems cynical to me (and I’m pretty cynical), but then there’s @MRSHINYSHOES story – so sure…some people are terrible and appreciate nothing, but for the most part, I think kindness begets kindness.

wow, that was one heck of a run-on sentence.

comity's avatar

@SmashTheState Sad for you that you feel that way. At 75 years of age I’ve come to realize that most people are pretty nice, at least the ones that I’ve met. I guess your experiences have been less than positive. But, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is as you see it. We usually judge from personal experiences.

CaptainHarley's avatar

That’s just like saying that someone is lucky or unlucky. People are going to be able to interpret almost anything as “punishment,” so it’s pretty much just self-fulfilling prophecy.


@cprevite My brothers and I were only young kids. We thought we were doing something that was going to be well- appreciated, but we got scolded instead. And there was expensive jewelry inside her purse too——a diamond ring, trinkets, etc. My brothers and I now joke that we “shoudda just took the money and valuable stuff out and left the gum in there, and dumped the damn purse in an industrial waste bin.” (Though being a fat kid at the time, I would have loved the gum too.) Lol.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s not true for me.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ve got two perfect examples.
A mentally disabled person we know was suddenly hospitalized so we went to vist her. At the hospital she asked if I could take care of her dog. “The food is in the basement .”
I agreed, took her keys and went to her house. Remember she is diabled and has no car.
I went into the basement to get the food and it was loaded with aluminum pop cans. There was a pile of unrinsed, dirty cans, that she apparently had been tossing down the stairs. In NY there is 5 cent deposit on cans but you have to take them back to the store. They were filthy, with ants, flies, and maggots crawling around. GROSS! I got the dog food, fed the dog and let him out so he could enjoy the sunshine. I then went back to the basement and began to clean up the mess. Gag me! Sticky, dirty, bug infested yuk! I picked up all the cans, put them in my van and took them to the collection center to get the money for her. It came to about $15. The next day I returned to feed the dog and put the money on the kitchen table. When she returned, she started yelling at me. “You stole my cans!” “I want my cans back!” “You have to collect new ones for me!” She told the people at her church what a bad person I was and how I went to her house and stole her cans while she was laid up in the hospital.
You couldn’t pay me enough to touch those cans – let alone put those bug infested yuk in my car. I did it because I felt sorry for her.

Another time I made the mistake of helping her with her VCR. From that day on, I received multiple calls a day at all hours asking about the operation and how to record a particular show, or how to change the channel or… It was endless until I couldn’t take it any more. I finally stopped the harassment by pushing a pin into the antenna wire to kill it. She figured it was broken and stopped calling.
I found she is a bottomless pit. Every good deed comes back to bite you. Give her a gift and when it breaks it is your fault. If it runs out she expects you to replace it. If she loses it she expects you to buy her another one and drive her to get it.
I am much smarter now. I say “No”.


@worriedguy Those were great examples! You’re too good. ;)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s only true sometimes. Only when you want it to be true, to explain what’s happened.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES It really depends upon the person. I gladly help other people. It is a pleasure. But she is a total time, effort, and energy suck. Anything you do will either be misinterpreted or expected to be repeated on demand.
I know she got a raw deal in life. I know I have the ability to help. But, it is almost as if she’s makes requests just to bother people. If you give her a ride someplace once, she automatically expects to be taken there the following week, and the week after, and so it goes. I have found it best to refuse her right up front even if I can help easily. (I am not like that but in her case no good deed goes unpunished. )

Aster's avatar

My husband drove to an older lady friend’s home to fix her window for her. She yelled at him that he broke something and never thanked him. He seemed crushed by this and I don’t think we ever saw her again. Last we heard she was driving around everyday lost in a small, familiar town and the police picked her up. Then they called and asked if we’d come get her car and park it at our house. We did that, of course. Someone came and got the car and she was admitted to a nursing home. Then we moved away. I think that those who are “with it” mentally tend to say thank you, at least at first.

Paradox25's avatar

I think the statement no good deed goes unpunished does have some truth in it but this is relative to the types of people you’re around rather than the fault being with the action itself. Personally I’m one of those people that prefers to spontaneously help someone in a time of need as the situation randomly occurs, then get the hell out of there. So as a result I don’t give the phrase no good deed goes unpunished even the chance to come to reality when it comes to me since I’m usually long gone before I can “get punished”. LOL

cantfoolthewise's avatar

No good deed goes unpunished is so common in today world because some people think other people owe them something. The statement is so true because some people take your kindness for a weakness. I don’t go the extra mile at work because of the statement, because I have been burned trying to be nice. I learned to help people I know; if that person does not do as much for me as i do for them, I stop helping them. I use intuition too, if i feel a negative vibe I do not lend a hand for assistance, if it feels right I help.

cantfoolthewise's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES I know how you feel my coworker once found $500–700 instead of the person giving her reward, even though the person said thank you that was not enough. My coworker says if she finds money again she will just put it in her pocket. I feel the same way if a person is not my friend I am not returning their money finders keepers, losers weepers. I feel if a person goes the extra mile so should you I would have the person who found my $500–700 I would have gave them $50 at least, they could have keep it.

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