Created By: MrInitialMan on March 5, 2011 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on July 11, 2011
Nuked

Came Home Wrong

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Trope
The Army has trained this soldier to Rape, Pillage, and Burn, and the soldier has learned very well. But now the war is over, and the soldier comes home--but he hasn't changed: he's still the brutal monster the army wanted. Only now, he's attacking his own people.

Can lead to Unfortunate Implications, when it seems EVERY veteran is a killer, or at least severely maladjusted. This was particularly common for depictions of Vietnam veterans, as well as those from the Gulf War.

Can be related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, although it probably shouldn't be.

Up for Grabs

Examples

Anime

  • In one episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Bateau is tracking down a former American GI he served with who's become a serial killer who kills his victims in the same manner he was ordered to do to civillians in the war (leaving everyone worried about the effect this might have on Bateau). Bateau informs him his "war ended long ago" and arrests him instead of killing him. Then calls out the CIA agents who were hoping he would.
  • IIRC, a lot of the villains in Rurouni Kenshin. There was one in particular, Udo Jin-e, who became a murderer because he was addicted to the slaughter of the revolution.

Film

Live-Action TV

Real Life

  • Japanese Imperial soldier Kodaira Yoshio. Notorious in China for participating in the Rape Of Nanking during World War II, notorious in Japan as a serial rapist/killer afterwards. The Japanese authorities did not want to admit where he got his murderous tendancies.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • March 6, 2011
    Koveras
    Regardless of the fact that the name Kodaira Yoshio doesn't tell me anything at all, I think this is already covered, at least, partly under Standard Redshirt Procedure.
  • March 6, 2011
    Bisected8
    Not really. This trope seems to be about soldiers who continue fighting when they get back home (typically because they're either a Complete Monster or Traumatised depending on how it's played).

  • March 6, 2011
    Koveras
    Then see also Stranger In A Familiar Land. I still think this YKTTW should be renamed...
  • March 6, 2011
    Sackett
  • March 6, 2011
    Meeble
  • March 6, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    @Meeble: Your title is far better than mine.
  • March 6, 2011
    peccantis
  • March 6, 2011
    Unknown Troper
  • March 6, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    IIRC, a lot of the villains in Rurouni Kenshin. There was one in particular, Udō Jin-e, who became a murderer because he was addicted to the slaughter of the revolution.
  • March 6, 2011
    bbofun
    Can lead to Unfortunate Implications, when it seems EVERY veteran is a killer, or at least severely maladjusted. This was particularly common for depictions of Vietnam veterans, as well as those from the Gulf War.

    Can be related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, although it probably shouldn't be.
  • March 6, 2011
    YouKeepUsingThatWord
    In Mother Courage and her Children, her son Eilif is congratulated for his bravery in war but is arrested and executed during a time of peace.
  • March 7, 2011
    Bisected8
    Another vote for Came Home Wrong.
  • March 7, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    Fourthing Came Home Wrong.
  • March 7, 2011
    Fanra
    The Army has pursued the tactic Rape Pillage And Burn, and this soldier has been in the thick of it for several years. The war is over, and the soldier comes home--but he hasn't changed: he's still the brutal monster the army wanted. Only now, he's attacking his own people.

    In various stories, mostly science fiction, it isn't that the soldier is a monster, it's that s/he is so finely tuned for combat that they can't adjust. In order to survive the futuristic fast paced combat, they are trained (or programmed) to react without thinking to any possible "threat". Unprogramming someone is usually not completely possible. In the Star Trek example, it was just deemed too expensive.

    In a more realistic vein, which is really Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

    • The latest Doonesbury arc has Ray, having served many tours in Iraq / Afghanistan, can't adjust to life back in the USA. B.D. bails him out of jail after he punches a trucker for "looking at him funny".
  • March 7, 2011
    Tiiba
    I don't like "came home wrong". It doesn't really tell me what is "wrong".
  • March 8, 2011
    Bisected8
    That's because there's no specific "wrong" thing. As with Came Back Wrong the person in question just isn't as they were before.
  • March 9, 2011
    cathstuart
    That Jodie Foster Movie, Sommersby, hinges on how her husband comes back from the Civil War - but changed.

    As for title, how about Same But Different? Same But Changed? Altered Somehow?. I'm not sure if these are already trope names, or similar to existing trope names, or seem a bit too much like Sci-Fi - 'alien substitution' titles. Maybe they should be?

    But anyway, WHY isn't this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Cause that's what you're describing.
  • March 9, 2011
    Arivne
    Sixthing Came Home Wrong.
  • March 9, 2011
    Bisected8
    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness linked to traumatic events which has been known to affect military personal. This is a trope, in fiction, where a former soldier becomes a villain when they get back.

    Claiming they're both the same is an insult to both writers and real life sufferers.
  • March 9, 2011
    bbofun
    Which is why it's written as "Can be related... but probably shouldn't be". My point was that PTSD is sometimes used as the "reason" this happens in fiction, although it is, indeed, an insult to actual sufferers.

    Bad writers use it. Good writers don't.
  • March 13, 2011
    cathstuart
    Fair enough... so why is Rambo in here? I didn't see the word "villain" in the trope description, only "killer" - is John Rambo a villain or a killer? And I would never suggest PTSD = killer, but you don't know me so just take it as read.

    By "killing", I was reminded of so many stories of guys coming back from the recent wars unable to cope in civilian life, some killing themselves, or more rarely loved ones, and/or committing suicide by cop. I wasn't saying they are villains. You said "killing their own people".

    Maybe either make the trope description more explicit in its 'villainy' or bad guy' aspect. Or take Rambo out...

  • March 21, 2011
    bbofun
    The trope description says exactly nothing about "villainy". Because this isn't about villainy, although the person who Came Home Wrong (and I like that title, too) may be the villain of the piece. He can also be the hero, or, in the case of Rambo (in the original), somewhere between.
  • March 21, 2011
    BlackDragon
    It's probably been Retconned a few times, but when Bullseye first appeared in Daredevil, he was a Vietnam veteran who wound up enjoying war a bit TOO much... and he discovered his talent for throwing object with absolute accuracy when he ran out of ammo during an engagement, and survived by throwing his rifle (with bayonet) at an attacking Viet-cong. After the war, he basically started taking jobs as a hitman, and working freelance as a blackmailer, just so he'd have an excuse to keep killing.

    In Dead Rising, one of the Psychopaths you fight is an old man who fought in Vietnam - when the Zombie Apocalypse happened, and his granddaughter wound up a victim of the zombie hordes, the screams caused him to 'flash back' to the war. By the time you catch up with him, he's got skinned people hanging by their feet from the roof of his hideout in a hardware-store. When you approach, he accuses you of being 'cong' and attacks you with a machete and hand-grenades. A bit of a delayed reaction, but still...
  • March 21, 2011
    dotchan
    • Ultimately subverted in Silent Hill Homecoming. Alex was never in the Army, his PTSD comes from something else entirely.
  • March 22, 2011
    Fanra
    In The Deer Hunter, Mike is shocked when after the men get home he finds Nick in a club playing Russian Roulette, which they were forced to play as prisoners of war.
  • March 25, 2011
    cathstuart
    @bbofun: I know the trope description says nothing about 'villainy'. I was responding to @Bisected8 in the post above you, which if you read it says:

    "This is a trope, in fiction, where a former soldier becomes a villain when they get back."

    I was pointing out that it SAID NOTHING about 'villainy' in the trope description, and that I am insulting writers and PTSD sufferers (how do you know I'm neither?) by saying villainy and PTSD are the same thing.

    But I don't want to argue about your or Bisected8's definition of the trope, or misunderstanding of my posts.

    Where is Mr Initial Man, and why doesn't he give a shit?

  • March 25, 2011
    cathstuart
    I mean, "I am being told I am insulting writers and PTSD sufferers". By @Bisected8. I so don't care anymore, and I stared out very interested in this trope idea. Sorry, Mr Initial Man.
  • March 25, 2011
    Arivne
    .
  • July 11, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    Actually, I haven't been around here for a while.

    But while "soldier comes home and becomes a villian" is much of what the trope describes, it is distinct from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can be a cause, so can a soldier's training.
  • July 11, 2011
    callsignecho
    This seems like it's covered by Stranger In A Familiar Land.
  • July 11, 2011
    Octagon8
    Contrast Shell Shocked Veteran. I'm not sure whether this snowclone is okay... it doesn't really have anything to do with Came Back Wrong...
  • July 11, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    It's definately related to Stranger In A Familar Land and Shell Shocked Veteran. However... I think some of the examples need to be pruned and the trope more narrowly defined: This is when a soldier comes home and is a Complete Monster. Not just psychologically scarred, but psycho.
  • July 11, 2011
    Vyctorian
    As much as I like Came Home Wrong, If it is launched with that title it will end up at TRS within a week.
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