No good deed goes unpunished

What does “No good deed goes unpunished” mean? Is it petty?

It’s ironic. It’s twisting the saying “No good deed goes unrewarded.”, which obviously has the sort of karmic notion that if you do good, good things will happen to you. Obviously, that’s not always the case, hence, “No good deed goes unpunished”. It’s used to refer to when you go out of your way to help someone and that leads to negative consequences for you.

Right. It is when someone does a good thing overall and suffers for it.

Here is one real-life recent example of it.

Man Turns in Found Bank Bag Containing $17,000, Gets Fined $500.. That one isn’t a perfect example because he did lie a little on the details but that is it basically.

One of the traditional examples of this is whistleblowing. Those who uncover and make public significant immoral actions of various organizations are often punished for it, by loss of employment, blacklisting, and so on.

It’s a restatement of “life isn’t fair.”

Well, no, it’s not. As others before you stated, it means that you will suffer negative consequences for being altruistic.

It’s when you find a bankbag in a parking lot on a college campus, decide to do the right thing and turn it in, have to wait for the police there, they take 45 minutes to show up, which makes you late for your Circuits II class, which makes your asshole professor refuse to accept your homework because “he doesn’t accept late work, no exceptions.” Then a year later you go to claim it, and the police “lost” it somehow, and tell you there is no recourse.

TL;DR, Find lost money, turn it in, get a B in a class.

It’s proverbial in Arab culture, known as the “reward of Sinnimar” after an Arabic folktale about an architect who built the greatest palace in history for a king who requested it and promised a great reward for it. Then the king was so pleased with the result he had the architect put to death. So it’s proverbial for good deeds earning punishment in return.

If you’re Wicked, it means $2,000,000 a week.

That’s interesting. A similar legend exists of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. (According to the legend, the architect was blinded instead of being put to death.)

People have a very innocent view of whistleblowing. While there are a few genuine whistleblowers, the majority do it to get revenge on an employer for real or perceived slights.

I have known two cases of whistleblowing. In both cases, the employee was on suspension, pending an enquiry which would lead to him being sacked for serious misbehaviour. To get revenge, each of them filed whistleblowing reports about their employers.

In one dreadful case, the employee was being fired for a serious breach of industry regulations. (I don’t want to be more specific about a real case.) So, he reported his company for HIS OWN breach of regulations. The media reported him as a worthy whistleblower being victimised by his employers, when he was actually victimising them.


It’s a jokey way of saying that sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t pay off.

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean “Altruism is bad, therefore you should be a selfish shit because everybody else is.” Unless that’s how you choose to interpret it.

And in a fair world, this wouldn’t happen.

I was reminded of this phrase in the thread about stepping into the middle of a domestic dispute, as posters point out that sometimes both the abuser and victim will turn on you.

The saying is more narrow than “life isn’t fair,” however. It focuses on the specific case of doing good and being punished for it. It’s also unfair to do evil and be rewarded for it. Your characterization doesn’t really fit.