|fitting retribution; just deserts|
An outcome in which virtue is rewarded and evil punished, often in an especially appropriate or ironic manner. For example, It was poetic justice for the known thief to go to jail for the one crime he didn't commit. [Early 1700s]
in literature, an outcome in which vice is punished and virtue rewarded, usually in a manner peculiarly or ironically appropriate. The term was coined by the English literary critic Thomas Rymer in the 17th century, when it was believed that a work of literature should uphold moral principles and instruct the reader in correct moral behaviour.
Learn more about poetic justice with a free trial on Britannica.com.