No good deed goes unpunished
The phrase 'No good deed goes unpunished' is a sardonic commentary on the frequency with which acts of kindness backfire on those who offer them. In other words, those who help others are doomed to suffer as a result of their helpfulness.
It has been attributed to several luminaries, including Billy Wilder, writer Clare Booth Luce, American financier John P. Grier, banker Andrew W. Mellon, and Oscar Wilde. Although its actual origin has never been established, Dante Alighieri wrote a similar adage in his narrative poem The Divine Comedy: "amor sementa in voi d'ogne virtute/e d'ogni operazion che merta pene" ("love is the seed in you of every virtue/and of all acts deserving punishment"). In one form or another, the saying dates back to the 14th century, if not to antiquity, with a bitter disillusionment redolent of the Book of Job.
The phrase has been quoted by authors such as Brendan Gill in his 1950 novel The Trouble of One House. It is also featured prominently in the song No Good Deed, from the hit Broadway musical Wicked. A satirical poem by Franklin Pierce Adams with the title "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (So Shines a Good Deed in a Naughty World)" also exists.
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- Gill, Brendan (1950). The Trouble of One House. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. p. 28. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
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