Created By: DrakeClawfang on April 2, 2013 Last Edited By: DrakeClawfang on April 30, 2018

Denied Redemption

an evil character is considered redeemed by others, but cannot come to accept it

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"I tried to destroy you! My hand isn't fit to touch yours."

Evil is something many characters get caught up in. Evil Feels Good and you might go over the Moral Event Horizon. Many come to a Heel Realization and perform a Heel–Face Turn to fight for the side of good, likely being The Atoner and wanting to redeem themselves for their crimes.

Then, there's this character. He has redeemed himself in the eyes of the heroes, his sins have been forgiven and he is welcome again. There may even be some truly forgiving characters who insist he never needed forgiveness, he just had to turn back from evil. But he will have none of it. The sins he has committed and the people he's harmed, he's done too much to simply let go of it. He denies his own redemption.

This character may still be The Atoner, trying to do enough so in their own eyes they are eventually redeemed. Or they may be of the opinion that they can never be redeemed. Either way, expect a lot of self-hatred and disgust, and they may become The Aloner, refusing to work alongside the heroes but still aiding them from afar, unable to face them. Despair Event Horizon may be an issue if the character was a hero who turned evil and now has realized how far they've gone.

In extreme cases, the character may realize they are evil and have committed many crimes, but will continue being evil anyway because they see no chance for redemption and will not even try. In this case, this is also a Redemption Failure. There is still a chance for them though, if they come to see there is hope for redemption and it is not too late to change their ways.

Not to be confused with Redemption Rejection, when a character is offered the chance to reform and refuses it. Inverted form of Reformed, but Rejected, which deals with a reformed character still being rejected by the heroes -- in this trope, he is reformed but rejects himself.


Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy
    • Gabranth in Final Fantasy XII at the very end of the game. With everything else of value stripped from him, he has nothing else to fight for but his hatred of his brother Basch, and thus continues to act as an antagonist until Basch convinces him to find his pride again and aid them in defeating Vayne. Gabranth does help, but is fatally wounded during the fight.
    • The spin-off Dissidia: Final Fantasy
      • Gabranth is fully this trope, staying in a purgatory dimension instead of returning to World B because he finds no hope in the Vicious Cycle of war going on their ending.
      • Golbez refuses Cecil's offers to join him and the heroes. He's not evil at all and Cecil knows this, but Golbez considers himself unfitting to serve the light.
  • Riku has shades in Kingdom Hearts II, unable to face Sora and own up to his evil deeds in the first game, while he combats the forces of darkness on his own. That he delved so deep into the powers of darkness he's taken on the form of the former Big Bad Ansem is also a big factor. He becomes an Anti-Hero Atoner at the end of the game and in 3D, though still harboring doubts.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • April 2, 2013
    Subtrope of Redemption Failure?
  • April 3, 2013
    Hmmm... two possible Real Life examples.

    • i) The night before he died (lynched by angry Italians furious he'd dragged their country into ruin and destruction) Benito Mussolini had a long conversation with a priest. The priest did not break the sanctity of the confessional, but he spoke in general terms about the general discussion he had with the former dictator. He was satisfied Mussolini had - belatedly, and for the first time in his life - displayed humility and deep and genuine sorrow for his actions and the devastation he had brought upon his country. Although this still did not prevent him from being summarily lynched the next day and hung upside-down by his ankles from a girder.
    • ii) "Great Beast" Aleistar Crowley, a man notorious in his life for his excesses, his ego, and his conviction he was destined to be a saviour of mankind, a man who rode roughshod over the feelings of others, destroyed lives, and spent his way through several fortunes, died penniless and forgotten in a bedsit in Hastings in 1949. A young boy taken to see him in those dwindling days recalls a kindly old man who took a genuine interest in him as almost a godfather or favourite uncle. With no preconceived notions or awareness of Crowley's notoreity, the young man later recollected somebody who seemed desperate to try and live a normal everyday blameless life, who desperately needed normal family contact and the usual supporting mechanisms of everyday life. For the former Great Beast and black magician, this is probably more remarkable than anything else he is claimed to have done. And for a man who claimed to have penetrated a long way into the occult and the hidden, and who in theory should have had a better idea of the world beyond death, his last words are telling: "I am perplexed".
  • April 3, 2013
    Added a Namespace and corrected some incorrect Example Indentation in the OP examples.
  • April 3, 2013
    Redemption Failure sounds related to the third case, I suppose.
  • April 4, 2013
    Current title sounds like Heel Face Door Slam.

    Cant Get Enough Redemption maybe?
  • April 5, 2013
    I'm not sure I see how the two can be confused, they deal with very different ideas and have very different names.
  • April 10, 2013
    ^This name sounds like someone else denied them the chance at redemption. (By killing them, for instance.) Cant Get Enough Redemption (or something similar) sounds more clearly like it's a "personal issue."

    • In Violinist Of Hameln, Hameln's sister Sizer has this issue after her Face Heel Turn. She did freely mass-murder innocents in Chestra's service, so she has a lot to make up for, but even after her heroics have made everyone else accept her, she still angsts about it until Raiel's Love Redeems her late in the series.
  • April 10, 2013
    Also contrast with Heel Face Door Slam, in which a character's redemption is denied by events of the story, often leading to their death.
  • April 10, 2013
  • April 10, 2013
  • April 11, 2013
    Seconding Self Denied Redemption. It makes it clear what the trope is about.
  • February 4, 2018
  • April 30, 2018
    Would also love Self Denied Redemption.

    The fourth paragraph refers to the trope Trapped In Villainy.

    Also related: someone who feels they have crossed a Moral Event Horizon may feel that they're no longer worthy of being good.