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From YKTTW

fleb: Cut the Elrond quote. It is short, but not much fun, or intentionally related to the trope.

"Nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so."
— Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring


Kerrah: Anyone else feel the touch of Flanderization upon this article? It's starting to list every story ever that contains a Face-Heel Turn. The Dark Knight is a good example of these needless examples that have nothing to do with the original meaning of the trope.

LATER ADDITION: I cut most of the "non-prequel story where somebody becomes evil" examples. Don't crucify me.

fleb: A thousand laurels all around for that. Now to be more controversial than thou, I killed off all three quotes. They just weren't adding anything, and they kept multiplying over time.
Mike: How come you're so evil?
Pearl: I'm filled with hate. I don't know if that helps.

"He made me hurry my experiment! Now I must hide my face from all mankind... But he will pay. Oh, how he will pay!"
Dr. Doom Begins.

"Back when he was just a man, before the world shook to the thunder of his guns, there was yet some good in his heart: and that was the tragedy."


Kenb215: Cut non-examples. I added a note to clarify what the examples should be. What I removed:
  • Gatekeepers makes great effort to show the origins of the Big Bad/Dragon, and remind the heroes of the story that the same can, and most likely will, happen to them
  • This is an enormous part of Lucy's story in Elfen Lied.
  • In the anime Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, the series' final arc 'Festival Accompanying' initiates with two episodes, the second called 'Writhing', which detail a Start of Darkness. The third to fifth ("beginning of the end", "plot" and "final piece") are used to display the escalation of the person's evil and involvement in the events preceding the time where the anime normally starts (the next/sixth being appropriately titled 'beginning'.
  • The episode "It Was A Small Wish" and the prelude of the episode "Lightning" from the second and third seasons of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. These revealed the histories and borderline heroic goals of some of the sympathetic villains in the series, portraying them as Anti Villains.
  • Amazingly, the creators of Pokemon actually produced individual Start Of Darkness episodes for Jessie, James and Meowth (though "Start of Dimness" might be more appropriate. They are Team Rocket, after all). Jessie's backstory in particular was kinda heartbreaking, actually.

    • Also notable is Tirant, who got this during his second major arc, detailing his former past as a child sidekick to his parents.
    • Almost all the major villains in Gold Digger get this treatment, in fact. In some cases, they were just jerks to begin with, but the number of villains given absolutely no motivation at all beyond being there to be villains probably tops out in the single digits. Given this is a series with Loads and Loads of Characters, this is a serious accomplishment
Actually, his is a Double Subversion combined with an Inversion;
  • Every one of the Extremists has a sympathetic backstory in Lord Havok and the Extremists, but three stand out. Lord Havok himself was violently rejected by his father, the Czar of Russia, for his physical deformities, and teased unceasingly into his adult life. When he discovered his father had killed his mother for harboring him, he returned to the Motherland to have his revenge by utterly annihilating Russia. "You see, father, I can take, too."
    • The Gorgon was a nerdy scientist in an Ugly Guy, Hot Wife situation with occasional lapses in memory. He suspected his wife of having an affair, and the next thing he knew, he was lying in a pool of her blood; he had dissociative identity disorder. He killed her in a fit of rage without even knowing it. The man he had thought she was sleeping with was secretly gay. He lost everything for nothing.
    • Dr. Diehard was a nonviolent political protester lobbying for mutant rights. Until the government put his people in camps, his children were killed, and his students abandoned him. That's around the time he met Lord Havok and gained an entirely new perspective on his powers.

  • The film of ''Return of the King'' opens with a flashback to Gollum's life when he was a normal hobbit and depicts his Start of Darkness and dehumanization through the Ring.

  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson subverts this hard. For the first 90% of the book or so, the reader is led to believe (through fragments of an ancient text) that the Big Bad was a legendary hero who became corrupted by the dark side and transformed into a despotic, immortal, all-powerful dictator with A God Am I pretentions. At the end, though, it's revealed that the prophesied hero was actually betrayed and murdered by one of his jealous companions, who then allied himself with the evil force to become the Lord Ruler. The author has said that the book started out with the premise "What if the Legendary Hero lost to the Dark Lord?", evolved into "What if the Legendary Hero became the Dark Lord?", and shifted from there to "What if Frodo was murdered by Sam, who then became the Dark Lord?"
  • Though not a prequel, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Dumbledore and Harry explore Voldemort's past, giving Harry and the reader insight into just how someone could come to be as terrible as Voldemort is. Although he's a pretty Creepy Child from the start.

  • The two parter The Summoning of Thunder in Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future tells of the fall of Lyman Taggart and his transformation into the mechanized Lord Dread.
  • Hiro time-traveled to 17th century Japan and witnessed this of Adam Monroe in Heroes
    • Witnessed it? He arguably caused it.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fool for Love" tells the story of Spike's fall from love-struck fop to badass killer (and then sets him up to complete the circle).

  • In Live A Live, Oersted's chapter is actually a Start of Darkness story. But this fact isn't revealed until almost the end of the chapter - before which point it's not even clear that the game has a Big Bad - so the players can watch Oersted's transformation from The Messiah into the game's Big Bad, Demon Lord Odio, with all the attendant emotional impact it's meant to have, untainted by them expecting it.
  • In a somewhat unusual example, there is an alternate story path in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters that kicks off if the hero decides to play along with Gig during the opening of the game. The co-operating duo then proceed to become an Omnicidal Big Bad with gusto that completely changes the events of the story.
  • How is it that Star Control II was not yet mentioned? It has an awesome example of a good villain backstory. This troper can't do it justice, but fortunately, some good soul recorded the antagonists speaking for themselves: Kohr-Ah and Kzer-Za.

  • A chapter of The Wotch shows how Melleck Xaos devolved from The Worlock into The Dark Lord.
  • Near the climax of the "That Which Redeems" story arc, Sluggy Freelance spent a week doing a flashback storyline called "The Fall" that detailed how the demons came to rule the Dimension of Pain, how Horribus became a Demon Lord, and how Mosp became a silent, remorseful demon.
    • The epilogue of this storyline also features the Start of Darkness of Pzyke a former lackey, as he replaces Horribus as the new Demon Lord, becoming Pzykosis.

Web Original
  • The whole run of Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a Start of Darkness for the title character.

  • A somewhat milder example is the episode "Help" of Moral Orel, explaining how parents Clay and Bloberta met and why Clay is an alcoholic and a horrible human being in the first place as well as explaining why Bloberta is something of a Broken Bird and Stepford Smiler.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, one of the most heartbreaking parts of it is the story of Tai Lung and how he grew from being an adorable leopard kitten lovingly raised by Master Shifu to becoming a proud martial artist; so proud that he goes into a murderous rampage when Master Oogway refused to dub him Dragon Warrior and Shifu could not bring himself to stop him.
    • The fact the snow leopard's relationship with his former master has both subtle and overt Oedipus Rex undertones only makes the story all the more tragic.


Twin Bird: I'm sorry, how is The Dark Knight not an example? If it were in a vacuum, it would be, but Dent is definitely best known as a villain.