Created By: NoirGrimoirNovember 5, 2011 Last Edited By: NoirGrimoirOctober 30, 2015
Troped

Hero's Evil Predecessor

The guy who used to have the hero\'s job is evil and the hero has to deal with him.

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Trope
So The Hero has a spiffy office, title or position, probably with lots of cool benefits, like powers, technology or inside knowledge. He's been doing it for a while, so he's thinking he's pretty Bad Ass at this point.

Enter the hero's Evil Predecessor. This is the guy who had that cool office, title, position, what have you, along with all its perks, before the hero probably even heard about it, and he often shows up right when the hero thinks he's got this thing figured out.

He's more Bad Ass and more experienced and the only reason he doesn't have said job anymore is because somewhere along the way he Turned To The Dark Side. And what's more, now our Hero has to attempt to take him down, a guy that knows all his moves, probably better than he does, knows the hero's organization inside and out, and probably has a fearsome reputation to boot. This will not be easy, he's probably one of the most difficult villains the hero will ever face.

The Evil Predecessor is a common villainous archetype who often acts as the Evil Counterpart to The Hero. Along with sharing a position with the hero, automatically making them Not So Different, they tend to share certain abilities and powers the hero might have learned for his job as well, and what's more he tends to be way better at them. While some of these characters were evil to begin with or seduced to evil out of their own weakness, it's also very common for this character to be a Knight Templar or Wellintentioned Extremist who either didn't think his position allowed him to go far enough in whatever his office does (see also The Paragon Always Rebels), or he rebelled against his organization after finding out some terrible secret about them. Very often this character gives some kind of Join Me or Not So Different speech to The Hero, sympathizing with the hero based on having held the same position. Alternatively they may just think The Hero sucks at their job and doesn't even come close to equaling the Evil Predecessor in his day, and may dismiss him entirely.

Often involving the Evil Predecessor being A Pupil Of Mine Until He Turned To Evil to the hero's mentor, and the hero being the Mentors New Hope.

Often the Evil Predecessor is one of the more complex villain-roles, challenging The Hero to examine his own abilities, actions and morals and make his own decisions on right and wrong. For this reason the Hero's Evil Predecessor plot is good fodder for drama.

Compare Fallen Hero, which it often overlaps with. See also Psycho Prototype, for when the predecessor is also the prototype to an experiment. May be the result of Expose The Villain Get His Job. When the protagonist is the Evil Predecessor, then he might be a Rogue Protagonist. Compare also Redeeming Replacement when a new hero is put into an established villain's identity and power; in this trope it's the hero who's established first.

Doesn't actually have anything to do with a Predecessor Villain.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Sensui Shinobu from Yu Yu Hakusho, who was the Spirit World Detective before the main character Yusuke Urameshi took the job. Seeing humans committing evil deeds against the demons he was fighting against, he had a Face Heel Turn and started fighting for the demons instead.
  • Kugo Ginjo from Bleach who was the Substitute Shinigami before the hero Ichigo, and his Face Heel Turn prompted the anti-substitute law in Soul Society.
  • The Pretear anime. The Princess of Disaster is the previous Pretear, fallen to darkness, and it's suggested it may have also happened before and could happen to any Pretear.
  • Inverted in Rurouni Kenshin. The Big Bad Shishio was actually the successor to Kenshin and is definitely more evil than him (though Kenshin was more ruthless as a hitokiri).
  • In Dragonball Z, the Super Saiyan before the protagonist Goku was Bardock. Not a nice guy.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters, Meijin Kawaguchi II had a winning-at-all-costs attitude, which is why Julian MacKenzie dislikes Yuuki Tatsuya/Meijin Kawaguchi III for carrying on the name (although Yuuki says he did it to honor the first Meijin Kawaguchi).
  • In Fairy Tail, the leader of the dark guild Grimoire Heart, Hades, was formerly the guild master of the titular Fairy Tail guild, Pretch Gaebolg. His successor, Makarov, was shocked to learn the mentor he looked up to turned to the dark side and tried to defeat him.

Comic Books
  • Black Adam from Shazam was previously empowered by Shazam but turned evil, meaning Captain Marvel was recruited to replace him.
  • Sinestro in Green Lantern is the Evil Predecessor to either Hal Jordan (greatest Lantern) or Soranik Natu (Lantern of Sector 1417). Also, the Manhunters were basically robots that were built to police the galaxy before the Green Lantern Corps were founded. They decided to try to kill everyone.
  • The wearers of the Darkhawk armors were Space Pirates and quite evil. Darkhawk was basically the only good guy to wear one.
  • In The Authority, one of Doctor Jeroen Thornedike's predecessors, known only as the Renegade Doctor, was an Omnicidal Maniac. After Jeroen suffered a heroin overdose during a crisis, the Authority was forced to restore his predecessor's powers in order to fix the crisis. Luckily for them, in the intervening years, the Garden of Ancestral Memory had added "empathy with all living things" to the list of powers that came with the job, which overwhelmed the Renegade Doctor, distracting him long enough for the Authority to finally kill him.

Film
  • Speed: Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) to Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), a former member of the LAPD bomb squad, turned mad bomber. This becomes central to the plot as Payne not only uses his extensive knowledge of explosives and police procedure to stay two steps ahead of Jack and his friend, Harry. He tries to convince Jack that they're Not So Different. It doesn't work.
    Payne: (over the phone) "Why are they messing with me, Jack? Do they think I'm doing this for fun and games?"
    Jack: "Aren't you?"
    Payne: (offended) "Oh! That's not fair, Jack. You don't know how I feel. You don't even know me."
    Jack: (seething) "I know you want a shitload of money you didn't earn."
    Payne: (pissed) "Oh, I earned it. See, I was like you once. They gave me a medal too. A medal, a pinkslip, and a, 'sorry about your hand!!"
  • Madison in Charlies Angels Full Throttle. ZCE (at least I know she was a former angel but I need more context)
  • Kungfu Panda: Downplayed; Tai Lung, Master Shifu's former personal pupil was a talented kungfu fighter who trained since his early age, and Shifu thought he would take the legendary Dragon Scroll and become the legendary Dragon Warrior. Master Oogway didn't agree, though, leading to Tai Lung rebelling against the masters and then gets imprisoned for his troubles. Some years later, our hero Po is made the Dragon Warrior and then he's informed that he's fated to defeat Tai Lung, the former candidate for the scroll.
  • The Bad Guys from Night At The Museum are the three previous night guards of the museum before the protagonist Larry.

Live Action TV
  • Knight Rider: KARR, the predecessor of KITT. ZCE
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Gul Dukat, the main Big Bad of the series used to run DS9 before the Federation took over
  • There was an episode of Seven Days where the villain was a former test chrononaut, believed dead for years. Another has a man who wanted to be a chrononaut, and cracked after he learned he does not qualify. The problems started when he got out of madhouse early.
  • Windom Earle in Twin Peaks is Agent Cooper's former mentor, an FBI agent gone rogue, possibly possessed by evil spirits, and definitely murderous.
  • The protagonist in the first The Librarian Made For TV Movie was replacing the Big Bad.
  • Angel: In season five Angel & Co. are given the LA branch of the Evil Corporation Wolfram & Hart to run as they see fit. Their objective is to do good with this company that used to be in the evil business.
  • In an episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series David comes across a man who had been changed into a Hulk-like creature years and years ago, and had been cured. He has one vial of the cure left. However, the man (now an old man) desperately wants the power again in order to gain revenge on his enemies, so he reexposes himself to gamma radiation. The other man Hulks Out and David is forced to use the cure on the other man lest he start a killing spree.
  • In the 2007 version of Bionic Woman the Arc Villain is the previous bionic woman Sarah Corvus, who is trying to teach Jamie about how uncaring the Berkut Group is by attacking her and being generally evil.

Video Games
  • Saren the Big Bad in Mass Effect has his specter status revoked during the same meeting where Shepard is made a specter.
  • Ulysses in Fallout New Vegas is the original Sixth Courier. He's pretty darn evil, while your character may or may not be evil, depending on how you play.
  • Ares is the titular God Of War in the first game of the series. He's so bad that the other Greek gods recruit Kratos to kill him. When Kratos ultimately succeeds, his reward is to become Ares's replacement, though YMMV on how much of an improvement he is.
  • The Arbiter in the Halo series is a title given to a shamed Sangheili who becomes the Prophets' exclusive hitman. The Arbiter of Halo 2, set towards the end of the war, is a noble former commander who wants to atone for his errors and even is a bit of a Death Seeker. The previous Arbiter, seen in Halo Wars towards the beginning of the war, was a bloodthirsty General Ripper who was cruel to humans and his own soldiers alike, and who didn't care at all about repenting for his crimes.

Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • November 5, 2011
    Bisected8
    May be the result of Expose The Villain Get His Job.

  • November 5, 2011
    AndersK90
    Saren in Mass Effect has his specter status revoked during the same meeting where Shepard is made a specter.
  • November 5, 2011
    Irrisia
    The Pretear anime. The Princess of Disaster is the previous Pretear, fallen to darkness, and it's suggested it may have also happened before and could happen to any Pretear.

    (Example is already on Fallen Hero, but would probably more so go here.)
  • November 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Knight Rider: KARR, the predecessor of KITT.
  • November 5, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • Sinestro in Green Lantern is the Evil Predecessor to either Hal Jordan (greatest Lantern) or Soranik Natu (Lantern of Sector 1417).
  • November 5, 2011
    SKJAM
    And during Kyle Rayner's early career, Hal Jordan as Parallax was his Evil Predecessor.
  • November 5, 2011
    Maxaxle
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this kinda-sorta the plot of Just Cause 2? Given, the sides of Good and Evil are closer to "Works For U.S." and "Does Not Work For U.S.", but the point stands.
  • November 5, 2011
    dalek955
    See also Psycho Prototype. In fact, I think the KARR example should go there.
  • November 5, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^ don't know the game so I can't help you, but I've seen this show up in a lot of things so I wouldn't be surprised.
  • November 6, 2011
    Koveras
  • November 8, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
  • November 8, 2011
    Omeganian
    There was an episode of Seven Days where the villain was a former test chrononaut, believed dead for years. Another has a man who wanted to be a chrononaut, and cracked after he learned he does not qualify. The problems started when he got out of madhouse early.
  • November 25, 2011
    blueflame724
    Inverted in Rurouni Kenshin: The Big Bad Shishio was actually the successor to Kenshin and is definitely more evil than him (though Kenshin was more ruthless as a hitokiri).
  • November 26, 2011
    Omeganian
    Before the Green Lanterns, there were the Manhunters.
  • November 26, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^I think we need a little more context on that example.
  • November 27, 2011
    Omeganian
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhunters
  • November 27, 2011
    Bisected8
    The Manhunters were basically robots that were built to police the galaxy before the Green Lanturn Corps were founded. They decided to try to kill everyone.
  • November 27, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Windom Earle in Twin Peaks is Agent Cooper's former mentor, an FBI Agent gone rogue, possibly possessed by evil spirits, and definitely murderous.
  • December 24, 2011
    Cider
    We already have a page for this trope under the name of Redeeming Replacement. I'd say this would be a redirect for that one at most.
  • December 25, 2011
    oztrickster
    Redeeming Replacement deals strictly with people assuming a secret identity to restore the reputation of that secret identity, this doesn't involve the character trying to redeem the predecessor or being thought of as the same person as the previous holder of the job.
  • December 26, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Redeeming Replacement requires this, but this does not necessarily require a Redeeming Replacement. Also Redeeming Replacement is rather specific.
  • December 28, 2011
    aurora369
    Ulysses in Fallout New Vegas is the original Sixth Courier. He's pretty darn evil, while your character may or may not be evil, depending on how you play.
  • December 28, 2011
    FallenLegend
    before Goku the legendary super saiyan was bardock
  • December 28, 2011
    stupac85
    Ares is the titular God Of War in the first game of the series. He's so bad that the other Greek gods recruit Kratos to kill him. When Kratos ultimately succeeds, his reward is to become Ares's replacement, though YMMV on how much of an improvement he is.
  • December 28, 2011
    IonicGhost
    The protagonist in the first <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheLibrarian">The Librarian</a> movie was replacing the big bad.
  • January 9, 2012
    AaronHong
    Madison in Charlie's Angels Full Throttle.
  • January 10, 2012
    AP
    • The wearers of the Darkhawk armors were Space Pirates and quite evil. Darkhawk was basically the only good guy to wear one.
  • January 10, 2012
    Cider
    "Sometimes the character taking on this persona will speak of a desire to "redeem" that identity, especially if they are a child of the villainous wearer of the costume." sometimes. Exile Sabertooth and Subzero were not out to redeem anyone, they just happened to get the codename from meaner predecessors.

    If this trope does get launched I'm simply making "Redeeming Replacement" a redirect to it as there is not much difference.
  • January 10, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    So harsh buddy. One could say they refer to different characters making up one situation. I'd love to have some more input on this but keep it chill.
  • January 10, 2012
    MiinU

    Film

    • Speed: Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) to Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), a former member of the LAPD bomb squad, turned mad bomber. This becomes central to the plot as Payne not only uses his extensive knowledge of explosives and police procedure to stay two steps ahead of Jack and his friend, Harry. He tries to convince Jack that they're Not So Different. It doesn't work.
      Payne: (over the phone) "Why are they messing with me, Jack? Do they think I'm doing this for fun and games?"
      Jack: "Aren't you?"
      Payne: (offended) "Oh! That's not fair, Jack. You don't know how I feel. You don't even know me."
      Jack: (seething) "I know you want a shitload of money you didn't earn."
      Payne: (pissed) "Oh, I earned it. See, I was like you once. They gave me a medal too. A medal, a pinkslip, and a, 'sorry about your hand!!"
  • January 11, 2012
    Bisected8
  • January 11, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Angel: In season five Angel & Co. are given the LA branch of the Evil Corporation Wolfram & Hart to run as they see fit. Their objective is to do good with this company that used to be in the evil business.
  • January 12, 2012
    Synchronicity
  • January 19, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    I'll probably launch this over the weekend.
  • March 18, 2015
    DAN004
    Needs a better name, but sounds tropable enough.
  • March 19, 2015
    Laevatein
    In Gundam Build Fighters, Meijin Kawaguchi II had a winning-at-all-costs attitude, which is why Julian MacKenzie dislikes Yuuki tatsuya/Meijin Kawaguchi III for carrying on the name (although Yuuki says he did it to honor the first Meijin Kawaguchi.
  • March 19, 2015
    DAN004
    Hero'sEvilPredecessor should be the name.

    Well, anybody wanna grab this?
  • March 20, 2015
    Arivne

    Charlies Angels Full Throttle is a Zero Context Example and needs to explain how it's this trope.
  • March 20, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    • The Arbiter in the Halo series is a title given to a shamed Sangheili who becomes the Prophets' exclusive hitman. The Arbiter of Halo 2, set towards the end of the war, is a noble former commander who wants to atone for his errors and even is a bit of a Death Seeker. The previous Arbiter, seen in Halo Wars towards the beginning of the war, was a bloodthirsty General Ripper who was cruel to humans and his own soldiers alike, and who didn't care at all about repenting for his crimes.
  • March 20, 2015
    Trogdor
    The Bad Guys from Night At The Museum end up being the three previous night guards.
  • March 20, 2015
    partner555
    I'm not sure if this example counts but I'll that up to you:

    • In Fairy Tail, the leader of the dark guild Grimoire Heart, Hades, was formerly the guild master of the titular Fairy Tail guild, Pretch Gaebolg. His successor, Makarov, was shocked to learn the mentor he looked up to turned to the dark side and tried to defeat him.
  • April 26, 2015
    Rjinswand
    Comic Books
    • WITCH: The former holder of the Heart of Kandrakar (the artifact that the protagonist, Will Vandom, now wields), Nerissa, was corrupted by the power the Heart gave her and turned evil.
  • April 26, 2015
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Books
    • In The Authority, one of Doctor Jeroen Thornedike's predecessors, known only as the Renegade Doctor, was an Omnicidal Maniac. After Jeroen suffered a heroin overdose during a crisis, the Authority was forced to restore his predecessor's powers in order to fix the crisis. Luckily for them, in the intervening years, the Garden of Ancestral Memory had added "empathy with all living things" to the list of powers that came with the job, which overwhelmed the Renegade Doctor, distracting him long enough for the Authority to finally kill him.
  • April 26, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series David comes across a man who had been changed into a Hulk-like creature years and years ago, and had been cured. He has one vial of the cure left. However, the man (now an old man) desperately wants the power again in order to gain revenge on his enemies, so he reexposes himself to gamma radiation. The other man Hulks Out and David is forced to use the cure on the other man lest he start a killing spree.
  • October 29, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    Did this get launched yet?
  • October 29, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ The answer should be obvious, ain't it? :P

    Well, if you wanna launch this yourself I won't stop you.
  • October 29, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^Someone could have launched it under a different name or made something identical and launched that.

    Also, I'm not entirely sure how things have changed since the site got a bit of an update.

    I'm mostly just torn on whether Hero's Evil Predecessor is better as a character or a plot. Or both. If a plot, I think the description needs to be tweaked.
  • October 29, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ It is a plot, involving a certain character archetype. So it's both. :P
  • October 30, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    I think I'll launch it as Hero's Evil Predecessor but Hero's Evil Predecessor Plot will be a redirect. I'll do it tomorrow though, too late tonight. If anyone has something to say, do it before tomorrow afternoon, cuz it's a'launchin'!
  • October 30, 2015
    CrypticMirror
    I know several of the past Primes in the The Transformers IDW comics used to range from evil to Well Intentioned Extremist before Optimus stepped in, but I can't remember which ones. Does anyone more familiar with the Transformers mythos have the exact details, by any chance?
  • October 30, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In the 2007 version of Bionic Woman the Arc Villain is the previous bionic woman Sarah Corvus, who is trying to teach Jamie about how uncaring the Berkut Group is by attacking her and being generally evil.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable