Created By: nachosanchez on March 21, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 12, 2014

Bad Guy Turned Preacher

A life of crime didn\'t work out, so he decides that he has been chosen by God to preach!

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This guy has been doing evil and or immoral crap his whole life, and for the most part he's gotten away with it. He's more than okay with the occasional murder (or in some rare cases, genocide) so long as he gets what he wants.

But then, one day, something big happens to him. Usually he survives some sort of a murder or assassination attempt. Instead of simply developing a new respect for life and just changing his ways, he flies over to the complete other side of the spectrum, believing that his salvation came at the hands of none other than God himself. Because of this, the (usually self-important) person becomes a preacher or a "messenger of god", undoubtedly gaining devoted followers. The movement typically begins on the fringes of society before moving in as word of the "prophet" spreads.

Examples

Live-Action TV
  • Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) who, after indirectly causing the almost complete annihilation of the human race and subsequently just being kind of a dick, becomes the leader of a fairly fanatical religious sect.
  • Boyd Crowder on Justified (for a time). Boyd finds religion after taking a bullet to the chest from Raylan Givens and, upon his release begins to gain followers. Mostly made up of ex-convicts and wanted men, his followers are incredibly devoted to him.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • March 21, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    Live Action TV
    • Shepherd Book of Firefly, oh so much.

    Real Life
    • Serial killer David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam."
  • March 21, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    A common theme in several westerns, including Pale Rider and The Quick And The Dead.
  • March 21, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Trope Codifier has gotta be Night Of The Hunter. Though actually it's a fraud.
  • March 21, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    Does this include honest and even humble religious conversions, or just the ones who try to become prophets of their own?
  • March 21, 2012
    zarpaulus
    @Dragonmouth: you need to specify that Book wasn't confirmed as a retired bad guy until that one comic.
  • March 21, 2012
    Alvin
    In one of the Lord Peter Wimsey short stories, Wimsey catches a safecracker named Rumm. In one of the novels, he turns up, seriously refrmed and a preacher.
  • March 21, 2012
    Jordan
    Yeah, this can definitely include both bad guys and good guys, and for either, is a good way to justify Badass Preacher. Although, I wonder whether this might be covered (the good guy version at least) under Heel Faith Turn

    • Two examples from The Decameron:
      • The very first story involves a guy who is more or less a comically portrayed Complete Monster (he's an Amoral Attorney, a murderer, a forger, a perjurer, a Depraved Bisexual...) tricks a priest who gives him last confession into thinking he's extremely holy and ends up having miracles attributed to him post-death and is sainted.
      • The second story of the fourth day tells of a similarly vile career criminal who pretends to have had a religious conversion and starts to pass himself off as a monk, and in this guise seduces a woman by tricking her into thinking he's the angel Gabriel.

    On the good guy side of things:

    • In The Replacements, one of the football players is a former thug who has become a minister. He's currently a spiritual man who tries to practice pacifism, but Beware The Nice Ones is definitely in play.
    • Dexter has the character Brother Sam, a supposedly Reformed Criminal who is now very religious and helps find jobs for other ex convicts. Dexter doesn't think he's legitimate, but he turns out to be sincere.
    • Not precisely criminal, but in A Song Of Ice And Fire, there is Septon Meribald, one of the only Good Shepherd priests in the series. Meribald started out as a common soldier who raped and pillaged, but ended the war broke and with all of his friends dead. Also, in the past, he used his position/knowledge of scripture to con young women into sleeping with him. After a nervous breakdown, he had a Heel Faith Turn and now walks the land barefoot as penance, doing good deeds along the way.
  • March 22, 2012
    TheChainMan
    Renault in Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. Not that you would know if you didn't go out of your way to get his backstory.
  • March 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Bekhesh on Farscape was a brutal Tavlek mercenary until he found religion. He briefly returned to his old ways, though, in order to help out the crew for cash, calling himself "The Holy Warrior of Taru."
    "It's easier to reform when you're rich."
    Bekhesh, Tavlek mercenary/Disciple of Taru
  • March 22, 2012
    Koveras
  • March 22, 2012
    AgProv
    Music:-Poppa Was A Rolling Stone (by the Temptations), where the kids are confronted with the truth about their reprobate parent.

    "Hey Mama, is it true what they say,

    that Papa never worked a day in his life?

    And Mama, bad talk going around town saying that Papa had three outside children and another wife.

    And that ain't right.

    Heard some talk about Papa doing some store front preaching;

    Talking about saving souls and all the time leeching.

    Dealing in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord."

    The father in Cher's Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves is also not above a little Bible-bashing as well as selling snake-oil remedies.... She was born in the wagon of a travelling show/her momma used to dance for the money they'd throw; Papa would do whatever he could/Preach a little Gospel;Sell a coupla bottles of Doctor Good... Dad in the Temptations song remains a bastard with a veneer of religion. Dad in Cher's C&W anthem remains a man living on the fringes and the edges, prepared to cut corners to live although despised as a gipsy, but genuinely committed to his family.

  • March 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: Bart briefly becomes a Faith Healer/Revival Meeting preacher after meeting another one who had turned from sin to the Holy Spirit.
  • February 11, 2014
    XFllo
    bumping
  • February 11, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Zigzagged with the main character in Robert Duvall's 1997 pet project The Apostle. When successful Texas minister Eulis "Sonny" Dewey learns that his neglected wife has taken a lover, Dewey cracks the lover's head with a bat, and becomes a fugitive. Later, in rural Louisiana, Dewey rechristens himself as "the apostle E. F." and founds a small but earnest minstry that catches on and grows steadily.
  • February 11, 2014
    acrobox
    My Name Is Earl: One of the people on Earl's list is a preacher Earl had stolen the organ of, who had been a bad man before turning to the Lord. The preacher forgives Earl; but then it comes to light that Earl had trespassed against him more than either of them realized. After each revelation the preacher finds it harder and harder to forgive. Eventually the preacher reverts to his former ways, until he realizes that one of Earl's shenanagans (shooting out his tail light) had kept him from being shot in a gun deal gone bad, at which point he forgives Earl and goes back to being a preacher again.
  • February 11, 2014
    acrobox
  • February 11, 2014
    Koveras
    My question about how this is different from Heel Faith Turn still stands.
  • February 11, 2014
    acrobox
    Oh yeah, I dont think it is either. Nevermind. This is The Same But More Specific.
  • February 12, 2014
    DAN004
    This is a subtrope if it's common enough.
  • February 12, 2014
    Arivne
    • Formatted Examples section.
    • Namespaced and italicized work names.
    • Deleted blank lines between examples.
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