So Commander KillEmAll is a bad guy. A really bad guy. Why is he so bad? Because He says so, and he would know right. [[KickTheDog He kicks puppies]], [[WouldHurtAChild drop kicks babies]], and isn't afraid of any KnightInShiningArmor. He's no HarmlessVillain. He's a potential BigBad...........

Except he's not. And when a situation comes up where he proves it, nobody is more surprised than he is. That's right. You're actually a good guy.

Whereas HeelRealization is where a character finally realizes he is, in fact, the villain of the story, Face Realization is the opposite. It's distinct from YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre, in that the character realizes it on his own, without anyone needing to tell him, because he proves it with an indisputable act of goodness and heroism.

Why was it so hard for him to see this? Maybe he spent so much time [[JerkassFacade pretending to be a not-so-nice guy]] [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold and hiding that golden heart of his]] that he started to [[BelievingTheirOwnLies believe it himself]], or perhaps after [[ReformedButRejected after being turned down by the heroes]] [[ThenLetMeBeEvil he decides to embrace villainy]] but finds that [[IfYoureSoEvilEatThisKitten kitten eating doesn't suit him]] no matter how pissed he is at the hero. In other cases, GoodFeelsGood can creep up on you -- but sometimes it takes a while to sink in past the pretense that it's all a front.

Whatever the case, now that he knows what kind of man he truly is, there's no way he'll remain one of the black hats. [[GoodIsNotNice Being nice may be optional]], but now he's one of the good guys.

See WhatYouAreInTheDark for when this happens privately, and YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre for when this comes from an outside influence. The obvious end result is a HeelFaceTurn.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Vegeta in ''DragonBallZ'' was a murderous, egotistical, power hungry bastard, but after getting married and raising a family, he found it hard to go back to his more villainous (and in his opinion more powerful) self. He had to cut a deal with a evil wizard to make himself evil again, and even then, he was still too good. It finally sinks in that he is no longer the villain he used to be when, after asking the Namek Dragon to restore every person on earth who was killed by Majin Buu except the evil ones, he is brought back to life along with them.
* ''Manga/AngelDensetsu'':
** PlayedForLaughs with Ikyno, who realizes that rather than 'accidentally' beating up thugs, she is to her surprise, [[http://www.mangafox.com/manga/angel_densetsu/v14/c071/28.html "a lot nicer of a person than [she] thought".]]
** This also happened with Yuji toward the end of the story. One of his old delinquent friends notes that his delinquent activities with Kitano involve things like studying and community service [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything and no actual delinquent activities at all.]] Yuji finally realizes that Kitano isn't really a delinquent and that he no longer is one either, and it doesn't bother him.
* Played with by Evangeline in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima''. She insists that she is a BigBad no matter how much evidence is presented that would disprove it. It may be that she just doesn't want to admit it out loud. That and she's powerful enough that few characters can call her on it, with the exception of Albireo, who relentlessly [[{{Troll}} trolls]] her.
* ''Anime/NadiaTheSecretOfBlueWater'': Grandis and her two henchmen: Hanson and Sanson. They initially serve as the antagonists, constantly in pursuit of Nadia and her gem. Despite this, it doesn't take long to see they're a Quirky Miniboss Squad, rather than an actual threat. So it came as little surprise to anyone (but themselves) when they [[HeelFaceTurn turn over a new leaf]] upon joining the Nautilus crew. Due largely in part to Grandis falling head over heels for Nemo.
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''{{Thunderbolts}}'', a series about a group of supervillains posing as a superhero team as part of a scheme by their leader Baron Zemo, most of the team have this realization sooner or later. When Zemo reveals their secret, most of them turn against him. Atlas at first thinks himself still loyal, but when Zemo goes to kill Jolt, he revolts.
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[[folder:Film]]
* General Hummel in ''Film/TheRock'' eventually finds himself unable to go through with his plot to blast San Francisco with a deadly toxin. Of course, his (former) co-conspirators don't quite see things his way, and [[RedemptionEqualsDeath you know what happens then...]]
* Played with in ''Literature/NightWatch''. [[spoiler:Arina]] at some point realizes that she is doing mainly good deeds instead of ChaoticNeutral, so she [[spoiler: changes alignments.]]
* In addition to being one long HeelFaceTurn, the movie ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}'' could be seen as this for the titular character. When push comes to shove, he actually ends up being a better hero than a villain.
* ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe'' is all about a supposed EvilGenius gradually realizing that he's actually a good guy.
* In ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', in the very last moment of his life, Darth Vader says to Luke, "You were right about me." While his DeathEqualsRedemption move doesn't exactly scrub away his countless KickTheDog acts, on the whole, his tragic life actually produced many good things, culminating in the destruction of the Sith.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Igor}}''. The BeleagueredAssistant Igor of the MadScientist realizes there's more to being evil in their setting where BadIsGoodAndGoodIsBad.
* In ''Film/KamenRiderTheFirst'', the movie remake of the original series, [[TheRival Hayato Ichimonji]] is constantly telling [[TheHero TakeshiHongou]] that [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou he and only he will beat Hongou]]. Then he will take the girl and return to Dai-Shocker. That is until the climax of the Film when [[StormingTheCastle they raid the Dai-Shocker]] together to [[AlwaysSaveTheGirl rescue the reporter girl]]. During the fight, [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere Hayato tries to run]], but when he sees Hongou continuing to fight, [[ChangedMyMindKid he comes back]], leading to this conversation:
-->'''Hayato:''' I didn't know. So I'm really a good guy.
-->'''Hongou:''' Yeah. That's what I said.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* This seems to be used regularly in works by Creator/DavidGemmell. He would often have a character who because of a tough life thought of himself as a mean bastard who only did things for selfish reason. The character would join the protagonist(s) because it seemed to benefit him. However, at the end he would find that he really is a good person though it often preceded a HeroicSacrifice.
** ''Morningstar'' had the titular character constantly proclaim that he was only doing things to get rich or to save his life. It's only after he becomes a legendary hero revered by a nation that he realizes that he did all of these things because he is a good person.
** ''Waylander'' has a scene where a known liar, thief and murderer is scanned by a pair of telepathic villains who deem him no threat to their evil plans and proceed on their way. The idea that these mooks would consider him as morally irredeemable as themselves offends him so much that he performs a HeroicSacrifice just to prove that there is some good in him.
* In the book series ''Literature/SistersGrimm'', Puck is often seen shouting that he is " a villain of the worst kind", and playing pranks... but when it comes right down to it, he's one of the most heroic characters, to the point of nearly getting killed to save Sabrina's life- more than once! When other characters point out how heroic he is, he flips out and sulks for a while, then tries to prove how evil he is with a prank or two. and then the cycle repeats.
* Jherek from ''[[TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms Threat From The Sea]]'' trilogy was a hard case. Tried long and hard to convince everyone starting from himself that as a pirate's runaway son he can't possibly be any good, before being forced to admit the painfully obvious (for everyone else) fact that he's a paladin and when he happens to heal someone with a touch, it's not because of some cheap amulet.
* In ''Discworld/GoingPostal'', Moist imagines, at the end, running off and returning to his con-man life. Instead, he lets Adorabelle hold his hand, and he tells himself that it's enough to be able to tell himself that he can leave at any time.
* ''Literature/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'': Realizing that stealing all the Who's presents did not stop them from celebrating Christmas, the Grinch realizes that "Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." In both [[WesternAnimation/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas the animated special]] and [[Film/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas the live-action film]], the realization comes as he tries to stop the sled with all the presents from going over the cliff.
* One of Dumbledore's running schemes in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince'' is to save Draco Malfoy by convincing him that he doesn't belong with the Death Eaters. At the moment of truth, when Draco has Dumbledore dead to rights...he can't bring himself to do it. The moment Harry saw Draco lower his wand, Harry stopped seeing him as a hated rival and started pitying him. Though Draco doesn't quite manage a HeelFaceTurn in the next book, [[HazyFeelTurn he's extremely unhappy with all of the torture and murder happening around him]]. [[spoiler: The same applies to his parents. Once they get him back they basically go neutral although Narcissa was never all that evil to start with.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess'', Joxer comes from a long line of warlords and tries his best to be evil, but he just can't do it. He's the WhiteSheep of the family, and quite embarrassed about it.
* In ''Series/BreakingBad'', Jesse Pinkman comes to accept that he is the "bad guy" and from then on tries to invoke several KickTheDog moments such as selling meth to a support group. Come the end of that season; he is emotionally exploited into murdering another person as a scheme of Walter White, as a result Jesse breaks down into tears in the act and spends most of the next season in a HeroicBSOD.
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[[folder:Visual Novel]]
* Rin Tohsaka in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' is constantly trying to be a typical magus (many of whom aren't that nice) while belittling Shirou for trying to be a hero. But is every route, she realizes that that just not the person she is. Most tellingly, in Heavens Feel, where she can't bring herself to kill [[spoiler: her sister Sakura, who has become an EldritchAbomination who's been (at first unknowingly) killing everyone around her.]] [[HypocrisyNod She acknowledges that she no longer has any right to berate Shirou afterwards.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''[[WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983 He-Man]] and [[WesternAnimation/SheRaPrincessOfPower She-Ra]] Christmas Special'', Skeletor makes a slow HeelFaceTurn thanks to the charms of a robotic puppy and two children. When it comes time to deliver the children to Horde Prime, he instead attacks Horde Prime, and exclaims "I don't know what's come over me!"
* During the second "Boiling Rock" episode of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', [[spoiler:Mai]] pulls a YouShallNotPass to save [[spoiler:Zuko]]. After being captured, she prepares to face Azula's wrath. Which is when [[spoiler:Ty Lee surprises everyone, including herself, by blocking Azula's chi to prevent her from killing Mai]].
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'': [=SpongeBob=] and Patrick try to reform Mermaid Man's archnemesis Man-Ray, who is prevented from doing evil by a [[RestrainingBolt tickling belt]]. After many tests which Man-Ray fails, the belt goes haywire and Man-Ray begs to be freed, even saying "Please", which for [=SpongeBob=] is good enough to consider him rehabilitated. Man-Ray immediately packs all the weapons he can find and goes to the nearest bank with the intention of robbing it. However, he finds that every time he tries, he just breaks out in laughter. Realizing that "the urge to do bad is gone", he gives up being evil for good. (Or at least [[NegativeContinuity until his next appearance]].)
[[/folder]]
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