used to be a sweet kid


(permanent link) added: 2009-11-13 16:51:22 sponsor: Unknown Troper @ 69.156.48.221 (last reply: 2009-12-10 16:05:55)

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Do We Have This One?? Am fairly certain we must, as it's not unusual: the idea is that a villain/other big(ish) bad used to be a nice person, or at least someone who would never do really horrible things, while a child, before exposed to whatever/whoever moved them past the Moral Event Horizon. May be invoked as part of a Freudian Excuse, failed or successful.

Often related to From Nobody to Nightmare, though the character may be of some prominence from an early age, or even from birth: Caligula, TropeNamer for The Caligula, was a minor celebrity even as a child, when he was apparently quite a sweet-natured creature, and only went malignly bonkers later. This subset of the trope can be particularly heart-breaking, as when a long-awaited Chosen One turns bad.

Proposed alternative title: Kid Heel Turn

Sometimes, the "used to be nice" stage may be revealed only retrospectively, usually by a third party, and the character himself/herself may treat the "sweet kid" stage as an Old Shame that undermines their villain cred.

Often the precursor to Break the Cutie and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.

Aversions will usually be notable here, given expectations that Children Are Innocent, or that there's at least some Ambiguous Innocence even when Kids Are Cruel, so people will tend to assume a Start of Darkness must have happened, and that there will be a Freudian Excuse that will explain (if not excuse) all. By extension, applies through subversion, inversion etc. where an Enfant Terrible, Creepy Child, or Axe Crazy junior initially manages to get past everyone's radar but is actually a little horror from the start. ("And he seemed like such a nice kid"). Often, it is not clear which a character fits under.

When played straight, tends towards Rousseau Was Right, as in Not Born Evil.

Rolling Updates, unless people turn out not to think it's tropable

Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Jotaro Kujo from Jojos Bizarre Adventure. First we see him in past as an little boy playing with mom and as an model student, and on the next page he's in cell, terrorizing fellow prisoners and telling his mother to shut up.
  • While he isn't exactly an Anti-Hero as we know him, Ichigo from Bleach was a clingy mummy's boy before said mummy was killed by a hollow, whereupon he became the Perpetual Frowner he is by the series starts. With the exception of when he's upset.
  • Roberto, The Dragon from Monster, is retrospectively revealed to have been a sweet kid (gave up his cup of hot chocolate to give it to a sick friend, liked to collect bugs, but would always let them go because he couldn't bring himself to kill them). Then the Orphanage of Fear really got to him - and as for the later character he shows in the story proper, let's just say "wouldn't hurt a fly" is not the phrase that leaps to mind.
  • Michio Yuki from OsamuTezuka's MW is a sweet-natured, rather shy kid till the age of nine when he gets, in short order, taken hostage, molested, and exposed to potentially lethal neurotoxins. After that, he goes a bit off the rails.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, one side story focusing on Sousuke and Kalinin's backstory showed that Sousuke was this. During his childhood, when he was rescued by Kalinin and they spent time together, Kalinin was shown to love Sousuke and grow so attached to "that sweet and gentle boy" to the point where he really wanted to adopt him as his own. Then, of course, they got separated, and the next time they meet, they met as enemies, with Sousuke becoming the Nietzsche Wannabe Stoic that we know today.

ComicBooks

Film

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