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[[quoteright:300:[[Franchise/StarWars http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_anakin04_3011.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300: From slave to slaughterer.]]
->''"He was always such a little man. This was finally something that made him feel big."''
-->-- '''Fox Mulder''', ''Series/TheXFiles'' ("[[Recap/TheXFilesS03E17Pusher Pusher]]")

A SisterTrope of StartOfDarkness that involves a ''non''-badass normal taking numerous [[TookALevelInBadass levels in badass]], whether instantly or over the course of a story, thus becoming essentially nothing but a giant walking, talking bucket of NightmareFuel.

Through a series of unlikely coincidences, or through [[NiceJobBreakingItHero accidental or unknowing actions]] on the part of the {{heroes}} themselves, or as a result of things which should never have happened -- and in most [[ForWantOfANail alternate timelines]] ''don't'' happen, but just barely by the skin of their teeth, ''do'' happen -- someone who might have stayed an insignificant nothing is transformed into a nightmare that grows and grows, absorbing the power to rend civilizations to dust and bring universes to their knees.

For some reason, it seems that From Nobody To Nightmare villains are ''always'' more powerful, terrifying, deadly, and threatening than your typical DiabolicalMastermind. This may owe itself to the shock value of the idea that anyone and anything could ''accidentally'' become the BigBad; it's much more comforting to believe that only long years of [[CardCarryingVillain Card Carrying Villainy]] could possibly breed that kind of person.
Compare the DiabolusExNihilo. If the character was already a bad guy previously but [[HarmlessVillain never a serious one]], it's NotSoHarmlessVillain. Heroic versions may still find themselves wondering "DudeWheresMyRespect". Frequently, the details of this process are uncovered in the villain's StartOfDarkness. Also see WhosLaughingNow and MalignantPlotTumor.

Note that being a villain is not necessarily a requirement for this trope, even though most who fit the trope are. Anyone who is feared or [[TheDreaded dreaded]] by someone (even if the "someone" in question is the cruel and tyrannical government that the heroes oppose) can qualify. In such a case, the inverse trope is VillainDecay.

* FromNobodyToNightmare/AnimeAndManga
* FromNobodyToNightmare/ComicBooks
* FromNobodyToNightmare/{{Film}}
* FromNobodyToNightmare/{{Literature}}
* FromNobodyToNightmare/LiveActionTV
* FromNobodyToNightmare/VideoGames
* FromNobodyToNightmare/WesternAnimation


[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In a Wander over Yonder fanfic, You Just Had to Destroy that Planet, Jōshō (a RealityWarper and main character) was just a married man living in said world making weapons for villains with his wife, Jihi. Said villains (except Lord Dominator) decide to raze his planet in search of a rumored ultimate weapon killing Jihi in the process. [[spoiler:Jōshō snapped and decided to actually bust out said weapon. With it, he slays the villains, breaks Wander with talking, and now traveling the multiverse as a villain who wants to see the world suffer. To add insult to injury, he gains Dominator as a girlfriend. And he's training her in his fighting style.]]
* In ''Fanfic/DungeonKeeperAmi'', the heroes view Ami in this light. She's actually more of an [[OutsideContextProblem outside context]] [[GuileHero stealth hero]]. However, subtle foreshadowing indicates that TheCorruption might become a problem at some future point, and cause [[spoiler: Empress]] Mercury to play it straight.
* This is pretty much the whole point of the {{WesternAnimation/Superfriends}} story ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4602078/1/Challenge_of_the_Super_Friends_The_End The End]]'', where the Legion of Doom become far, far more tormented, horrific and powerful beings than their previous laughably incompetent selves.
* [[Fanfic/PastSins Nyx]] is an intriguing variant... [[spoiler:she is forced to become [[BigBad Nightmare Moon]] in a physical sense, but doesn't really act evil at all, even though everypony expects her to.]]
* The ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'' has [[spoiler:Princess Gaia, a RealityWarping {{Mad God}}dess who [[WellIntentionedExtremist seeks to make the world a utopia]] [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans by brainwashing everypony into a state of perpetual happiness]] and [[FountainOfYouth turning everypony into foals]] (because they are happier that way, of course!) Just who did this powerful enemy use to be? ''[[BewareTheNiceOnes Fluttershy!]]'' The shy, timid little mare who wouldn't hurt a flea and is ''literally'' terrified of her own shadow!]]
** In the grand scheme of things, this is also what happened with Discord. ''Twice'', actually! [[spoiler: He was always a [[RealityWarper reality warping]] spirit, but of his entire race he was the weakest, and was slightly nicer than later in life. Then, in the Alicorn/Draconnequi war he both discovered his love of sadism and increased his power by ''eating his brother''. Then he was reborn on Equestria, with no memory of his past existence, and became an odd but ultimately kindhearted being. Then his original personality resurfaced, and he became the BigBad from canon.]]
** Film Critique (aka the Pegasus Despot) from "Gaiden: 7 Dreams/Nightmares". Before the [[ApocalypseHow/{{Class 2}} collapse of G2 society]], he was just some fat nerd. Afterwards, he got his hooves on the Blue Shard of the Rainbow of Light (Laughter), which not only gave him the ability to control ponies, but also to restore power to his city, which allowed him to become its EvilOverlord. Then [[ActionGirl Patch]] shows up and steals the Shard back from him, leaving him to his KarmicDeath at the hooves of his [[DoWithHimAsYouWill previously-brainwashed harem]], begging like the pathetic little nobody he was.
** [[BadFuture Dark World]] has another example similar to the first: [[spoiler: [[TheVoice The Nameless Passenger]], the mysterious entity manipulating Twilight and her friends, turns out to be her [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Nightmare self]], Nightmare Paradox. Twilight was never a nobody, but she was just an ordinary unicorn; the version of her that became Paradox is a KnightTemplar {{Mad God}}dess who's become a BiggerBad than ''Discord'', trapping him in a GroundhogDayLoop as an [[HeWhoFightsMonsters eternal torment]] and not caring at all for the ''billions'' of beings she manipulates and condemns to [[AndIMustScream non-existence]] in order to continue said loop.]]
** Chrysalis started out as [[spoiler: a little Zebra in a small village in the middle of nowhere, then became vampiric monster, draining everypony she could get dry of their love but still remaining little more than a local menace until she became]] a slave to [[PredecessorVillain Queen Cocoon]], considered so low on the pecking order she was only good for entertainment. By the end of her OriginsEpisode, she's [[KlingonPromotion killed off the Changeling Queen and taken over the hive]], becoming the BigBad level threat she's known as.
* In ''Fanfic/FalloutEquestria'', the [[MagicalSociety Ministry of Arcane Science]] was seeking a way to quickly end the war with the zebras by turning normal ponies into an army of [[PhysicalGod alicorn]] [[SuperSoldier super soldiers]]. Unfortunately, the [[FantasticNuke balefire spells]] hit the facility at the same moment the first test subject was lowered into the [[PsychoSerum Impelled Metamorphosis Potion]] vat, causing a pair of [[TwinTelepathy telepathic twins]] to also fall into the vat and [[FusionDance merge with her]]. The result was an EldritchAbomination that was capable of [[YouWillBeAssimilated transforming others into alicorns and absorbing their minds]], starting with [[spoiler:Twilight Sparkle]], her 'creator'. Who was the test subject? [[spoiler:A washed-up former illusionist named [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS1E6BoastBusters Trixie]].]]
* Five hundred years before the events of ''FanFic/MyLittleAlicorn'', Kuchen was originally the eccentric son of a pair of bakers. Then one day he [[CrashIntoHello literally landed on Celestia's back]], and impressed her enough with his knowledge that she made him her student. Over the years, he proved himself to be an excellent researcher, so the Princess had him research Alicorns [[spoiler: so she could find a way to bring Nightmare Moon back earlier and expel her from Luna without the Elements.]] And then a combination of a very bad judgment call on Celestia's part, and him discovering [[UnreliableNarrator Luna's journal]], eventually drives Kuchen to try and [[WellIntentionedExtremist better the pony race by]] [[EvilutionaryBiologist turning everypony into Alicorns.]] By the time Celestia finally stopped [[spoiler: and killed]] him, he had slaughtered entire villages, [[BodyHorror created the Seapony race]], [[spoiler: killed his best friend and used his skin as a blanket for his TomeOfEldritchLore]], and to top it off, [[spoiler: possessed his wife and children so that someday, he would be able to [[GrandTheftMe possess them and get revenge on Celestia.]]]]
* ''Fanfic/{{Equestrylvania}}'' has the CreepyMortician Dirt Nap. An outcast among ponies because of his special talent for burying the dead, he grows to hate the rest of Ponyville in turn. When he stumbles across Dracula's minions searching for one of his body parts, they sense the emptiness in Dirt Nap and offer him a purpose and a chance for revenge against those that scorned him. He accepts and becomes the host for the demon [[PlayingWithFire Aguni]], before proceeding to [[spoiler:burn down most of Ponyville]].
* In ''Fanfic/TheWizardInTheShadows'' Harry is technically already a nightmare - to the bad guys. He proceeds to become an even bigger nightmare. First, he's an eleven year old muggle raised kid. Then he becomes TheChosenOne and a general badass. After his unwilling long term stay in Middle-Earth, he's a KnifeNut, a MasterSwordsman and the terror of every bad guy short of Sauron himself - who is noted as being wary, though not in a personal sense, of what Harry is capable of - and has people speaking his name in tones of awe/fear from the tip of Northern Middle Earth to Far Harad.
** In the fic itself, he proceeds to ramp it up even further, wielding PhysicalGod level powers (though he was being powered up for those incidents) and is revealed to be a low level RealityWarper [[spoiler: he disregards the basic laws of magic. And yes, only his finite power levels and lack of comprehension of exactly how powerful this makes him stops him being a total GameBreaker.]]
* In ''[[Fanfic/YuGiOhTheThousandYearDoor Yu-Gi-Oh! The Thousand Year Door: Redux]]'', the Shadow Queen was originally a starving, penniless, malnourished beggar until a DealWithTheDevil made her a cruel tyrant and powerful dark sorceress with goals of world domination.
** The same could be said for [[TheDragon Lyrius]], who was simply a teenage boy and a resident of a city in the path of her demonic army, who would have been slaughtered just like everyone else had he not had the courage to stand up to her, thinking he had nothing to lose. She was in no danger, but [[TheForceIsStrongWithThisOne the display impressed her enough]] to offer him a [[WeCanRuleTogether place by her side]] which he accepted. He later became one of the most dreaded warriors of the Emperor of Shadow, and feared by the Queen's subjects almost as much as they feared her.
* Arguably the Oogakari from ''[[FanFic/YetAgain Yet again with a little extra help]]''. From what we've been shown through character profiles, before coming in contact with their [[PhysicalGod benefactress]] they were just plain old run of the mill mortals, who have since chosen the names Shadow, Waltz, Crypt, Scabbard, and Ghost, but now are credited as [[RealityWarper The Second Origin]], [[TheBerserker The Red Flood]], [[BloodKnight The Devil's Collection]], [[GadgeteerGenius The Legacy's Prophet]], and by far the worst [[PersonOfMassDestruction The]] [[BerserkButton God]] [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast of]] [[DuelToTheDeath None]] respectively. Mainly though they are a nightmare to all who know them, but more in a hilarious way rather than a scary one, [[BerserkButton mostly]].
* [[spoiler: Future Devastator]] in ''FanFic/TheMeasureOfATitan'' began as a chemical engineer in Gotham who barely understood how his powers worked. When [[spoiler: ComicBook/TheJoker murders his wife and blinds him]] he [[JerkassHasAPoint begins to obsess that repeatedly throwing crazy metahumans in jail doesn't solve the problem]] [[CardboardPrison as they easily break free.]] He goes up into the mountains for a few months, and when he returns he ''single-handedly levels Arkham Asylum and kills everyone inside''. He then goes on to become the most dangerous mercenary in the world, specializing in metahumans, and becomes capable of [[spoiler: single-handedly killing the Titans in a four-on-one-battle]].
* ''FanFic/TheRiseOfDarthVulcan'' has the titular character: Ted was originally just a common teenage {{Jerkass}}, until he [[GrailInTheGarbage found the Alicorn Amulet]] and was transported to Equestria. Now, he's an EvilSorcerer who can fight the Mane Six and the Princesses evenly, leads a [[EqualOpportunityEvil vast army]] of Diamond Dogs, [[spoiler: changelings]], Equestrian criminals and outcasts of every stripe, and minotaur mercenaries, and has declared himself the absolute ruler of the Everfree Forest.
** Artful Dodger, Vulcan's apprentice and one of his CoDragons, also counts. Before he met Vulcan, he was just another street urchin criminal. Now, after some [[TookALevelInBadass magically induced level-ups in badass]], he's one of the most dangerous beings in Vulcan's army, with a fearful reputation amongst them, and even has his own minions now.
* FanFic/PaganVengeance: Juvage was the son of a minor chieftain in Lithuania. By the end of the story he's leading a bloodthirsty Army of Thieves and Whores, killed [[spoiler:Genghis Khan]] in personal combat, defeated the Mongols, the Russians and the TeutonicKnights.
* Because of his utter lack of backstory, there are numerous stories that make [[TheDreaded King]] [[EvilOverlord Sombra]] this. One such example is [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/194310/the-umbra-king The Umbra King.]] In it, Sombra was little more then an ordinary unicorn who lived on the outskirts of The Crystal Empire. But when arctic timberwolves killed his family (they nearly killed him, too) he, desperate to live again, found [[ArtifactOfDoom The Nightmare Gem]] and merged with it, leading him to become the tyrant he is now.
* ''Fanfic/FriendshipIsMagicalGirls'': [[spoiler: Snails starts as one of ThoseTwoBadGuys to Sunset Shimmer in the Magic Arc, until she sacrifices him to Chrysalis to appease her. This leads to Snails being transformed into the Royal Drone Eskarrg, who acts as Chrysalis' [[TheDragon Dragon]] in the Loyalty Arc.]]
* [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/17890/fallout-equestria-starlight Fallout: Equestria: Starlight]] has the Sins, seven ponies (well four ponies, one zebra, one donkey ghoul, and one minotaur) who were transformed and given great power through dark magic. All of them qualify, but none more so then Sloth... ...Better known as [[spoiler: Cranky Doodle Donkey.]]
* ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11300816/7/Combined-Perspectives Combined Perspectives]]'', a fic prequel to ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'', depicts Pearl as a ShrinkingViolet of low rank, who was fleeing Homeworld authorities when [[RebelLeader Rose]] found her. [[LongLived Millennia]] later, she has become a MasterSwordswoman and experienced strategist who's defeated countless gems in battle.
* Suzaku Kururugi of ''FanFic/MyMirrorSwordAndShield'' was a OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent HappilyAdopted by Britannian scientists, Cecile and Lloyd and accidentally {{Time Travel}}s too far back in his attempt to prevent his adoptive father's death and ends up in the War of Ascension. Suzaku ends [[HiredForTheirLooks being hired as eye candy]] for [[EvilOverlord Emperor Lelouch]] and ends up being Emperor Lelouch's [[UndyingLoyalty loyal]] and [[TheDreaded feared]] [[TheDragon Dragon]], the White Death who can take down the Black Knights and the Knights of Round single-handedly. All to in sure the [[MakeWrongWhatOnceWentRight proper timeline]] and a peaceful future.
* Implied in "In Her Memory". Zentashin rose from slavery to become a powerful Sith Lord, only to watch his lover die. It's implied that he wades through a lot of corpses to see her death avenged.
* [[https://www.fimfiction.net/story/255512/we-are-what-we-are We Are What We Are]] has Starshot. Downplayed in that he ''was'' Starswirl's nephew, but he starts out as just another one of the Dazzlings victims. He's now the BigBad, and come chapter 46, and he's coming ''damn'' close to getting his revenge.
* Fanfic/ShinraHighSOLDIER has Julia Nakahamou, who starts her life as the daughter of a very poor family and spends years of her teenagehood being completely terrified of her parents and allowing them to abuse her in spite of her tremendous powers. Once she is drafted into the Shinra army however, she almost immediately becomes its amoral and arrogant Commander, with genocide and arbitrary executions (through torture) as her favorite solutions to problems.
* ''Fanfic/TheDifferenceOneManCanMake'' shows us Harry Potter landing in Westeros - [[GrimUpNorth North of the Wall]] - equipped with his wand, the clothes on his back and a travel bag. Less than five years later, he managed to gain authority over tens of thousands of Free Folk, founded two cities, threw the bases for an entire civilization and is known as the Witch-King-Beyond-the-Wall in the Seven Kingdoms and Essos.
* In ''Fanfic/AmbienceAFleetSymphony'', Franklin Roosevelt Kevinson, [[spoiler:the former admiral of the first-generation Shiratsuyu-class]], was originally just some two-bit lieutenant who got chosen to play the role he got. In chapter 293, [[spoiler:Sanford says that both he and Big]] made the mistake of thinking that Franklin would be just an indignant but ultimately powerless nobody once his part came to an end. Little did they expect that he would make his return as [[spoiler:a superhuman cyborg, admiral to the first American shipgirls and a major player in the coup against President Blackwood.]]
* In Fanfic/TheSagesDisciple, Crow is this to the rest of the 4th Holy Grail War participants as he literally appeared out of nowhere, leaving them with nothing to work with aside from what he lets them see. [[spoiler: He and his Servant Caster have really lived up to the nightmare part by disarming Gilgamesh of all of his weapons, a feat that left the King of Heroes catatonic for several hours.]]
* [[Anime/YuGiOh Joey Wheeler]] is shaping into a heroic example of this, at least from Kaiba's perspective. Thanks to his duel with [[VisualNovel/{{Danganronpa}} Celeste]], Joey has his hands on one of the most powerful cards in the game [[spoiler:The Wicked Dreadroot]] as well as several other powerful cards from his other duels in Battle City. It makes his spoils of war from canon look positively cute by comparison.
* ''Fanfic/PokemonResetBloodlines'' has a sidestory centered on Twenty Gyarados Bill, who is cited as the reason for the six active Pokémon limit. It depicts how he started as a simple crewman in a fishing boat who was always mocked by everyone for being useless, even given a Magikarp as a mock gift, being called as "the Magikarp of humans". Needless to say, [[AnalogyBackfire he took this comparison to heart]] [[MagikarpPower and decided that he would become]] [[TheDreaded the Gyarados of humans]] to get revenge on everyone who laughed at him, becoming the terror of coastal Johto.
* ''FanFic/EscapeFromTheMoon'': [[spoiler: Doa/Spliced Genome was just an independent biochemist researcher consultant before she became a war criminal with a death count in the billions.]]


* The Franchise/EvilliousChronicles's Duke Venomania, otherwise known as [[spoiler: Cherubim]], as expanded in LightNovel/TheLunacyOfDukeVenomania, the tie-in to the song of the same name. He's a [[spoiler: [[TheWoobie deformed guy who was locked in the basement because of this, and only two people actually cared about him]]...and then [[DespairEventHorizon the girl he loved rejected him.]]]] So he ''murdered his entire family, made a DealWithTheDevil, and [[RapeAsDrama raped]] [[ReallyGetsAround pretty much every character in that story arc]].'' Not to mention all of the murders and brainwashing he committed to keep it quiet.

* In Wagner's ''[[Theatre/DerRingDesNibelungen Ring Cycle]]'', Alberich is just a [[ExtravertedNerd lovesick dwarf]] until he gets hold of the Rheingold and makes a ring which makes him [[TookALevelInBadass a threat]] [[BigBad to the gods themselves]].

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/TripleH started off in Wrestling/{{WCW}} as just another long-haired meathead([[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness who wasn't even that meaty]]) with a silly WrestlingDoesntPay gimmick during a time when these gimmicks were a dime a dozen. He got squashed by [[Wrestling/UltimateWarrior The Ultimate Warrior]] during his first ''[=WrestleMania=]'' match, then the curtain call happened... But by 1997, he was randomly paired up with fellow long-haired [[Wrestling/TheKliq Kliq]] member Wrestling/ShawnMichaels to form Wrestling/DGenerationX. From there, he would go on to marry the boss's daughter both in storyline and in RealLife, win both world championships over a dozen times, and become one of ProfessionalWrestling's nastiest tyrants, earning himself monikers such as 'The King of Kings' and 'The Cerebral Assassin'.
* Wrestling/JimmyJacobs started his career off in Wrestling/RingOfHonor as a {{jobber}} in fuzzy boots, then as a lovesick emo-teen. Then he snapped, formed the viscous Age of the Fall stable. Since then he was a major player in the S.C.U.M faction and became the Big Bad in Wrestling/{{Chikara}} as the leader of the Flood (he was later revealed to be TheDragon).
* Wrestling/TheMiz. When he first appeared on television in the summer of 2006, it was merely as the obnoxious emcee for that year's Diva Search (which Wrestling/{{Layla}} El won, by the way). He eventually started wrestling, but almost everyone (except for Wrestling/MichaelCole, which Cole himself would [[LampshadeHanging Lampshade]] years later) thought of him as a joke who had only been offered a contract with WWE because he'd been on so many reality shows. (Outside of {{Kayfabe}}, of course, he'd been the second-place contestant on ''Tough Enough'', which did him no favors with the fans since the fan voted contest winner was unceremoniously booted from the WWE) He remained essentially a "curtain-jerker" for his entire first year on TV, even getting eliminated from his first Royal Rumble Match after only seven seconds! It was only after he was drafted to ''ECW on [=SciFi=]'' in the summer of 2007 and paired with Wrestling/JohnMorrison in a heel tag team that he started to emerge as something resembling a threat. Fast-forward three years and several titles later, and suddenly Miz is "Mister Money in the Bank" and eventually "the most must-see WWE Champion in history!" And, of course, [[MemeticMutation "Awesome."]]
* The Wrestling/{{WWENXT}} season one rookies were just some wet-behind-the-ears, fresh-out-of-training nobodies -- maybe something someday, but for now not worth much. Then they banded together to form Wrestling/TheNexus, and completely tore apart [[Wrestling/WWERAw Monday Night Raw]]. For a few months after that, they were "the biggest threat WWE has ever faced" -- bigger than The Alliance, bigger than the [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder nWo]], bigger than the [[Wrestling/StephanieMcMahon McMahon]]-[[Wrestling/TripleH Helmsley]] Regime, you name it. Ironically, their undoing came when [[Wrestling/BryanDanielson Daniel Bryan]], the only rookie who actually had a good amount of experience before coming on NXT, and who had been expelled from the group for showing remorse, joined the WWE wrestlers in the fight against The Nexus.
* Wrestling/MarkHenry spent the better part of ''15 years'' as a midcarder, best known for his angle with Mae Young, and was considered an oft-injured bust who the WWE only hung onto to justify the untold millions they (over)paid him. When the company was short on monster heels, they turned to Mark Henry to see if he could fill that role finally. With strong booking that had him decimating upper midcarders and main eventers alike, coupled with a rejuvenated Henry in the ring and on the mic, he was able to finally be convincing as one of the most dangerous men in the company, if not THE most dangerous.
* Wrestling/CodyRhodes made his WWE debut back in July of 2007 as a generic babyface who teamed up with veteran [[Wrestling/BobHolly Hardcore Holly]] to win the World Tag Team Championships later that year. But Rhodes would turn on Holly at Night of Champions in June of 2008 by revealing himself to be Wrestling/TedDiBiase Jr.'s mystery partner. Both [=DiBiase=] and Rhodes would spend the rest of 2008 to early 2010 as Randy Orton's Legacy henchmen who did all of Orton's dirty work. By spring of 2010 when Legacy disbanded, many experts predicted that [=DiBiase=] would be the breakout star of Legacy while Rhodes would be stuck in WWE Superstars-land. But it would be Rhodes who would become one of the WWE's top heels as well as one of the longest reigning Intercontinental Champions while [=DiBiase=] faded to obscurity.
* Wrestling/AJLee started off as the adorable, nerdy Geek Goddess who won the crowd by being tiny, cute, and easy to relate to. Once she hooked up with Daniel Bryan, her popularity grew... and then he dumped her and she lost her mind, turning her into the crazy WildCard who brutally abused her former best friend, won the Divas Championship and held on to it for longer than anyone before her, running right over the top of the other Divas in the process.
* Wrestling/KennyOmega was a FunPersonified kid best known for pretending to Hadoken people during matches. Then he joined the Wrestling/BulletClub and reemerged as "The Cleaner" a PsychoForHire brought in to take out all of the wrestlers in Wrestling/{{New Japan|ProWrestling}}'s junior heavyweight division. He then ascended even further up the ranks after Wrestling/AJStyles left at Wrestle Kingdom 10, now the new leader of the Bullet Club, he has become one of the strongest wrestlers in the world, being the first gaijin to win the G1 Climax and is now the US Champion of NJPW as well as gaining mass amounts of media coverage for his matches against Wrestling/KazuchikaOkada at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and Dominion 6.11.
* Wrestling/BrayWyatt. Originally Husky Harris, filler for CM Punk's iteration of the Nexus, he later on became "possessed", now the AxCrazy leader of a backwoods cult, who may or may not be the vessel for the devil himself.
* As an unusual heroic example (or straight example, depending on how you feel about his career), the big man himself, Wrestling/JohnCena. Cena's first appearance as a pro wrestler was on a Creator/DiscoveryChannel show called ''Inside Pro Wrestling School'', which caught on camera his first day as a wrestler-to-be. He eventually evolved a rather corny gimmick called "The Prototype" (basically a ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}''-pastiche that derided everyone on their physique, building on Cena's past as a bodybuilder), which he kept up until he made his WWE main roster debut against Wrestling/KurtAngle in 2002 (at which point he began using his real name). Anyone watching back then would have brushed this guy off as another face in the crowd, not expecting him to become the biggest thing the industry has ever seen since the days of Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Cyric of the ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' was originally a rank-and-file thief in his guild, then an ordinary if somewhat amoral and greedy, mercenary. After the Time of Troubles he became the Prince of Lies, the Black Sun, the Mad God, the Lord of Three Crowns; an evil god ''even when compared to other Greater Evil deities'', who controls the portfolios of Murder, Lies, and Strife (and for a while Death, Tyranny, and Intrigue as well). And the title "mad god"? That's an understatement. ''He makes Lloth look sane''.
** The Archdevil Bel is probably one of the greatest examples of this. He started out as an ordinary lemure, a weak pile of goo that doesn't even have an intelligence score all the way up the promotion chain until he overthrew his boss and became the Archdevil of the first layer of hell. True it's the lowest ranking Archdevil there is, but tell him he's not a nightmare to his face and he'll probably kill you and use your soul for some evil deed.
*** And he's not even the only one. According to the second ''Fiendish Codex'', ALL devils are like this, except for the few who are fallen angels or such.
** Orcus deserves special mention too. Legend says he was originally an evil mortal, who ended up in the Abyss as he died, as a lowly manes. But he was cunning, and over several millennia, worked his way up, becoming stronger and evolving into more powerful demons. Presently, he's a demon lord, and is not only the number two - or three, depends on who's talking - ruler in the Abyss, he has more mortal worshippers than any other demon, possibly making him the one closer to gaining true godhood - his stated goal - than any other demon.
** Rust monsters. Originally, a cheap toy that looked sort of vaguely lobster-like that Gary Gygax picked up once. After a few editions, the bane of player characters ''everywhere'' for their habit of eating all your ridiculously expensive magic weapons and armour.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', ANYONE who gets possessed by a daemon becomes a nightmare. If it's properly bound...
** The Tau in the latter. When the mighty Imperium of Mankind first discovered them, they were no more than a simple plains-dwelling race that had barely mastered fire. Fast-forward six thousand years and they've assembled a multi-species empire capable of standing against the might of an Imperial crusade and defeating a Tyranid splinter fleet without a single lost vessel. However, they're still small-time on the galactic scale, controlling maybe a hundred worlds compared to the Imperium's one million. The main reason they've been able to survive is because they're located in the arse-end of the galaxy and generally not seen as a major threat to the Imperium (they managed to hold off a crusade for a time, but had the Imperium not been forced recall its forces to combat the Tyranids, they'd have been crushed eventually).
** This could also apply to the Necrons in their own time ([[RetCon at least prior to 5th edition]]), who went from an insignificant, short-lived race orbiting a dying sun to an endless army of immortal killing machines possessing the most advanced starships in the setting.
** Asdrubael Vect, the supreme overlord of Comorragh, started out as nothing more than a slave. He managed to escape slavery and became a gang leader, and then slowly amassed power until his forces were powerful enough to be noticed by the noble houses that ruled the Dark City (though he did make sure to not become powerful enough to be seen as a threat by them). Eventually he [[{{MagnificentBastard}} manipulated events to cause the death of the leaders of the three biggest houses]] and leave their forces depleted and confused, then used the opportunity to seize power for himself.
** Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, now the most feared and powerful Ork Warboss in the galaxy, an Ork who brought a Hive World to its knees. Nine years before the "present", he was just a random thug who suffered a head injury and started hearing the voices of the Ork gods.
** Every post-Heresy SpaceMarine and Chaos Marine. To become a SpaceMarine you need to be selected from the population of the Marine homeworld or a world it often recruits from. Every PowerArmor-clad, genetically engineered killing machine of the Imperium was once a teenage boy on one of any backwater planets, a lot of them {{Death World}}s or Feral Worlds. These kids are badass, no doubt, but in the Imperium of a million worlds and trillions upon trillions of citizens, not so impressive.
** Arkhan The Black from Warhammer Fantasy began as a wastrel from a minor noble house. Known for his gambling and whore mongering, earning the nickname The Black due to his poor dental hygiene. After becoming a follower of Nagash however he became the second most powerful necromancer in the world, commanding such fear and dread that none dared to approach his remains after his death. With his title The Black going from an embarrassing nickname to TheMagnificent.
* The "Gagagigo" series of TabletopGame/YuGiOh cards tell the tale of a cute little [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Gigobyte Gigobyte's]] eventual transformation into the insane cybernetic monstrosity [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Gogiga_Gagagigo Gogiga Gagagigo.]]
** The sad part is that the reason he went from [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Eria_the_Water_Charmer cute familiar]] to cybernetic monstrosity is that he wanted to [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Level_Conversion_Lab gain power]] to [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/My_Body_as_a_Shield repay a debt]] to a man who [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Two-Man_Cell_Battle used to be his enemy]]. Sadly, his attempt to gain enough power to kill [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Invader_of_Darkness_%28Card%29 the man]] [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Absolute_End who killed Marauding Captain]] led to [[CyberneticsEatYourSoul cybernetics eating his soul]]. As you can see from all the links, his story is the most elaborate in the card game, told solely through the pictures on otherwise unrelated cards.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', this is often part of the backstory of Abyssals and Infernals. Infernals are offered their Exaltation by the Yozis after a [[MyGreatestFailure deep, personal failure]], and Abyssals only get the chance to become Abyssals when they're at death's door. The Prince of Shadows is a particularly good illustration of this trope as it applies to Abyssals.
** The previewed Infernal for third edition, Basphomy in Verdigris, was a Tengese political pawn with nothing two years ago. Now she's [[TheHedonist a rich hedonist]]...who [[OneWingedAngel turns into an eyeless dragon]] when the time comes to fight.
** The Scarlet Empress herself; an officer of the Shogunate of decent background but no particular widely known reputation, who became the most powerful person in Creation when she took control of ancient defense systems and drove back an invasion of TheFairFolk. This actually formed part of the early basis of Lookshy's defiance; the commander of the Seventh Legion wrote to the Empress saying he knew nothing about her, suggesting that she lacked the credentials to take such a lofty title.
* A frequent factor in ''TabletopGame/BetrayalAtHouseOnTheHill''. That cute little boy who collects bugs? Just discovered a nest of BigCreepyCrawlies and thinks they're so cool he's just ''gotta'' feed his new friends fresh meat. That sweet little girl with the teddy bear? Stumbled across a gateway to hell. The possibilities go on and on...
** This trope can take place not only in the plot, but in the mechanics. Most games revolve around a ''haunt,'' or a time when some player turns on the others. The traitor and the others compete to fulfill different, opposed goals. Character stats in the game can go up and down. A character might start with only modest physical or mental stats, pass a few checks, TakeALevelInBadass, find a magical item for a further buff...and then wind up betraying the rest of the players while easily the most powerful character in the game.
* ''TabletopGame/DeltaGreen'' features a few amongst the more human antagonists. One was once just a guy learning how to play guitar from some random drunkard. A pretty teenager from Ohio. A health food magnate. Dirt encrusted war orphans, one of them missing an arm. All of them viciously insane, completely amoral and enslaved to the will of powerful and dangerous alien entities.
* Yawgmoth from ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering''. He started out as an ordinary ''medic'' and eventually became a god-killing MultiversalConqueror DimensionLord EldritchAbomination. His StartOfDarkness is because unlike everyone else, he wasn't a [[WhiteMagic healer]] he was a [[ScienceIsBad surgeon]], who wanted to know how deep the rabbit hole went.
* One of the planets of the Screaming Vortex in ''TabletopGames/BlackCrusade'' is a dismal wasteland where nothing can be built, populated by permanently depressed people. However, the inhabitants of the planet all harbour deep resentment and unspeakable desires that they're unable to act out on their bleak homeworld, and if taken off fromt he planet and allowed to finally act out their desires, they tend to become some of the most merciless and feared mortal followers of Chaos.
* Prior to [[FounderOfTheKingdom Kahless the Unforgettable]] being codified as a [[CrystalDragonJesus Warrior Messiah Jesus]] by ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' and ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', [[Creator/{{FASA}} FASA's]] ''Franchise/StarTrek'' TabletopRolePlayingGame released a supplement on the Klingons (it was heavily influenced by Creator/JohnMFord and his novel ''Literature/TheFinalReflection''). In it, Kahless was a ruthless warrior who, despite his talents, opted for a position in military research for the shaky coalition of generals that controlled Klinzhai following [[TheWarToEndAllWars the last great war of planetary unification]]. [[KlingonScientistsGetNoRespect This seemingly career-limiting choice of a dead-end position]] kept him from being a target in ongoing factional strife. More importantly, it let him create a research program on matter/antimatter reactions that gave him both an orbital DoomsdayDevice (which he used to force the coalition to name him Emperor) and the ability, via warp drive, to channel his people's ambitions toward the conquest of the stars. In the meantime, of course, anyone who he didn't trust (a rather large number) was mercilessly hunted down.
* Quite a few characters in the TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness crossover game ''Midnight Circus'' were noted for their inauspicious backgrounds prior to seizing power in the circus.
** [[RepulsiveRingmaster Ringmaster]] [[EvilSorcerer Devyn Cavendish]] got his start in life as a lowly street urchin in 15th century Florence, having been raised by his uncle after his father - [[DirtyOldMonk a priest]] - abandoned him to avoid a scandal. However, all that changed when he [[TabletopGame/MageTheAscension Awakened]] and the Celestial Chorus found him; for a while, he was a promising apprentice... and then he happened to get hold of [[TomeOfEldritchLore certain forbidden texts]] confiscated from [[OmnicidalManiac Nephandi mages]]. Seduced by their power, he left his chantry and went off in search of the author - and the rest was history.
** Being a thinly-veiled {{Expy}} of UsefulNotes/JosefStalin, Jerigif Sacha AKA [[MonsterClown Koba the Clown]] was also destined for seminary school before dropping out and starting a life of crime - as part of a subversive comedy group. Following a run-in with a [[TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse Silent Strider werewolf]], he found himself unexpectedly possessed by a Bane - but somehow retaining enough free will to use its powers for his own ends. Not long after, the once-lowly clown joined the Midnight Circus.
** Few Circus folk start off any lower than the [[FatBastard Cone of Flesh]]: beginning life as a random [[BlobMonster blob of fat]] gathering in the Seventh Generation's fomorach pits, it unexpectedly achieved sentience and began eating the fomori that were supposed to be emerging from the pit... then the scientists who went to investigate... and then the security team that went looking for them. Following its escape and recruitment by the Circus, the nine-foot-tall cone of rancid blubber has ascended from an exhibit at the Museum of Oddities, to the King of Freak City and the terror of all who dwell there.
* TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'s Ileosa Arabasti was always cruel, petty, and manipulative, but as a glorified trophy wife [[TheDitz with less smarts than the average peasant]], she was too weak and cowardly to actually do anything that bad. [[spoiler: Then she found [[ArtifactOfDoom the Fangs of Kazavon]], which gave her a significant boost to her abilities, and the courage to act on her ambitions, turning her into one of the Inner Sea's most brutal and depraved tyrants. Over the course of ''Curse of the Crimson Throne'', she goes from a low-level aristocrat to a 20th level, Devil-bound bard with enhanced ability scores and two incredibly powerful artifacts.]]
* Some of the villains in ''TabletopGame/SentinelsOfTheMultiverse'' are a drug dealer who mutated into a horrible rat monster (Plague Rat), a thief who turned into a serial killer, became superhuman after responding positively to SuperSerum and later made a DealWithTheDevil (Spite), and most notably, a goth teenager who found an evil mask (the Matriarch), who is most notable because she has a difficulty rating on par with ''Iron Legacy'', who is basically an evil Franchise/{{Superman}}.
* Heather Duke from ''Theatre/{{Heathers}}'' starts out as a BetaBitch consistently silenced by AlphaBitch Heather Chandler, and appeared rather meek compared to the person protagonist Veronica refers to as a "mythic bitch." When describing Heather Duke, Veronica even comments about how she seems to have no discernible personality in comparison to the other Heathers. [[spoiler: However, after Heather Chandler's death, Heather Duke takes over as the new BigBad of the school and is arguably even worse despite lacking the charisma to strike other students with the same feeling of fear that Heather Chandler did. She goes so far as to spread false rumors in order to completely smear Veronica's virtuous reputation, where as Heather Chandler had merely threatened her with social isolation.]]
[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series, Joe Darke was an ordinary office worker, until he killed someone with his car. This led to a chain of events that made him an infamous Serial Killer.
** The beginning of ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' has Miles Edgeworth. He's known as the Demon Prosecutor who is said to do whatever it takes to get his guilty verdict, including forging evidence ([[spoiler:though Case 1-5 verifies that particular rumor was untrue]]) and who ''never'' lost a case before going up against Phoenix. It's later revealed though that Edgeworth used to be a perfectly normal kid, albeit one very interested in being a famous defense attorney. CharacterDevelopment in later games makes him less of a nightmare, though.
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'''s Sakura Matou goes from the cute girl with a jerk brother who gets kicked out of all the routes early, never does anything important, CannotSpitItOut and more ShrinkingViolet traits to [[spoiler:an all powerful dark mage with the ''exact'' magic traits needed not only to be able to be the host of the (sort of) devil, but also express its power. And also to keep her mind (to a certain extent). Oh, and she can eat Servants or corrupt them as she pleases, have an immense HealingFactor and a bunch of other nifty moves. The one thing it ''doesn't'' do for her is improve her self image, causing her to believe that Rin (her sister) doesn't care about her (Rin's [[IdiotBall rather cold statements]] don't exactly help matters...), and to worry that Shirou might abandon her for Rin]].
** Avenger/ Angra Mainyu too. [[spoiler: Started off as just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Mesopotamian villager. After being randomly picked to be a scapegoat for 'all evils of the world' he ended up being summonable for the Holy Grail War, but even there he was still pathetic, being one of the weakest Servants imaginable. However his spirit then went inside the Grail where he made a wish to truly become the manifestation of evil for revenge on humanity, and that's the reason the Grail has been corrupted ever since.]]
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'': All the secondary antagonists/ironic members of the main set of TrueCompanions.
* In ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'', [[spoiler:Akane goes from being a sweet little girl to masterminding a second Nonary Game to get revenge on the four men that caused her death, as well as to get Junpei to show her the solution to saving her life.]]
* ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganronpa2'': [[spoiler: The students of Hope's Peak Academy's 77th class (excluding Chiaki) were all fairly normal, if [[DarkAndTroubledPast somewhat messed up]], high school students before they became members of Ultimate Despair. Afterward, they were responsible for the murders of their families and friends, terrorism, coup d'etats, wars, the massacre of countless innocents, and even [[BodyHorror destroying their own bodies through self-inflicted mutilation]]. The [[Anime/DanganRonpa3 finale anime]] describes them as ''million-class murderers''.]]
** [[spoiler:Hajime Hinata takes the cake among the cast, starting off from someone with no talent being selected by Hope's Peak for an experiment. Said experiment erased his memories and personality to make him multi-talented for the sake of creating Ultimate Hope... but the aftereffects made him a prime target to become ''the'' Ultimate Despair, triggering TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.]]

* In ''Webcomic/DrowTales'', Quain'tana would be this from the perspective of the BlueBlood Sharen clan. She started out as a lowly orphaned StreetUrchin, forced to steal food in order to survive and nearly dying at the hands of a Sharen dragon knight over it. But in time, she was able to build up enough power to become their bitterest foe for authority and survived all of their attempts to crush her. By the end of the TimeSkip, she [[spoiler:overthrows their reign over the city-state of Chel and completely topples their sense of reality]].
* In ''Webomic/TheresSomethingAboutTails'', [[VideoGames/SonicTheHedgehog Tails]] gets possessed by a soldier from another universe and turns into a badass.
* Several centuries before the start of ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'', Hoaqin was originally just an ordinary Regular from the [[TheClan 10 Great Families]]. After [[FusionDance fusing with his siblings to become more powerful]] and taking on the guise of [[spoiler:White]], he climbed up the Tower, became a Ranker and eventually became one of the most infamous and feared [[spoiler:[[TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized FUG]] [[AGodAmI Slayers]]]] in the history of the Tower. His crimes and actions were so severe it took the efforts of the [[PraetorianGuard Zahard]] [[AmazonBrigade Princesses]] to put him down for good. [[NotQuiteDead Or so they thought...]]
* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'', as it turns out [[spoiler:[[ButtMonkey The Onion Kid]] becomes [[AWizardDidIt Sarda]], RealityWarper extraordinaire.]]
* Karnak from ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'' was a human orphan raised by orcs. Through a HeroicSacrifice to save Miranda Deegan, he was transformed into a semi-demon and gradually slaughtered his way up the ranks to become the only Demon Lord in Hell.
** Most Infernomancers in the series fit this trope as well. And Necromancers. And maybe Siegfried. Yeah, Mookie sort of loves this trope.
* Jack Noir of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' starts out as just an unwilling ObstructiveBureaucrat in the kingdom of Derse, but ends up becoming the comic's DiscOneFinalBoss after [[TheStarscream killing the Black Queen]] and takes the prototyping rings [[KillEmAll for his own use]].[[spoiler:Takes a whole another level when he successfully kills an entire universe]]
** [[spoiler:Eridan Ampora]] is a competitor for fastest jump from IneffectualSympatheticVillain to a serious threat with [[spoiler:[[FaceHeelTurn his plan to join Jack]], [[MoralEventHorizon the murders of his love interest and best friend, and causing the extinction of his species]]. Right after pathetically thanking said best friend for being the only person to show faith in him.]]
** For straight-up old-school shiver-inducing terror try [[spoiler:''Gamzee's'' [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=005258 about face]].]] He starts the comic as an unimportant FlatCharacter based on a parodic {{Deconstruction}} of a Music/InsaneClownPosse video - an attempt to imagine what a character holding the beliefs implied in the video would actually be like (a MonsterClown with a tough upbringing, but also a sweet-natured, totally chill, [[TheStoner Stoner]] LoveFreak who is probably the nicest person in the comic). The fanbase [[EnsembleDarkHorse loved him]] and produced gag fanworks based on him, which made it all the more [[{{Troll}} hilarious]] when he was described as "the most important character in ''Homestuck''", and then [[spoiler:[[FreakOut flipped out and started murdering all the other trolls due to a religious crisis]]]].
** ...and now we have [[spoiler:Aranea Serket]], whose whiplash-inducing FaceHeelTurn is enough to break one's neck. Making it worse? The action that put her over the MoralEventHorizon was [[spoiler:"healing" Jake's emotional trauma, allowing him to use his powers against everyone else in the session on her behalf]]--against his will. And the fallout? Considering he's [[spoiler::a Page of Hope, explicitly stated on several occasions to be one of the most powerful classes]], not exactly pretty.[[spoiler::Her actions end up causing the failure of the entire original timeline, needing a large scale multiversal retcon to fix.]]
** And finally, in an exceptionally spectacular example: [[spoiler:Caliborn. He]] was little more than a brat on trapped on a room, but ended up turning into the [[spoiler: ultimate omniversal terror, ruler of paradox space, and unquestionable master of time; the all mighty Lord English]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''
** On the prequel book ''Recap/StartOfDarkness'', Redcloak goes from a cleric initiate to vessel of his god's will and earthly power simply by donning his mentor's [[UpgradeArtifact Crimson Mantle]].
** His master, the Dark One, started off as a regular purple-skin goblin before becoming a powerful warlord, and eventually a god.
** Xykon goes from being an unfocused thug with no real long-term goal other than just wanton murder and destruction to an undead monstrosity that threatens the entire world.
** Tarquin was once a small-time adventurer who tried to set up his own nation on the Western Continent. However, he joined together with his old friends and [[spoiler:engineered a conspiracy which controls most of the Western Continent]]. He is now the de facto ruler of the Empire of Blood, [[spoiler:as well as the other two Western Continent superpowers]]
** The Snarl started out as a tiny piece of creation that embodied the pantheons' disagreements over how the universe should work. It was so insignificant that the gods either didn't notice or didn't care about its existence. Then it got bigger and meaner to the point that it could curbstomp entire pantheons. It is now supposedly the greatest threat to all existence, with the entire series revolving around efforts to control or seal it.
* Pretty much the main story arch of ''Webcomic/ZebraGirl''. the series began when a random magical accident transformed an ordinary tech support specialist into a [[spoiler:demon with a soul]]. From those humble beginnings, she has gradually [[spoiler:lost her humanity by inches]], and has spent the past several months of the comic [[spoiler:gleefully and unrepentantly terrorizing the inhabitants of her hometown as the living embodiment of fear]]. Basically, she has become [[spoiler: a better-looking version of Freddy Krueger.]] With longer claws.
* Coyote of ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' believes that etheric beings like himself only exist because of human belief. Assuming his theory is true, he was once an ordinary coyote until a [[http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/?p=1069 delirious dying human]] saw him as a [[http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/?p=1070 deity]].
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=1692 this]] is why the government puts so much effort into maintaining TheMasquerade that keeps regular people from realizing magic exists (and, more importantly, how ''easy'' it is). Ordinary jerks with just a taste of magic can turn into [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=1663 psychotic monsters]].
* (Mostly) heroic example in ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary:'' Petey, near the beginning of the comic, was merely the AI of one of many of the Ob'enn warships, and thus just an assistant to a race of OmnicidalManiac koala-like bears. But he proved to have both unparalleled tactical genius, a fondness for baryonic life as a whole ''and'' a bit of a god complex. All of this together led to some complex trickery on his part to take over his own ship, and later employing our protagonists in a variety of missions to spread his influence further, along with making some tactical advancements of his own. By the latter chapters, he's become the closest thing to a god the setting has, the commander of the greatest known fleet in existence, and the Milky Way's self-appointed protector.
** A similar example, including the (mostly) heroic part, is LOTA. He was initially built as a ''longshoreman'', albeit an overengineered one, built with off-the-shelf tank parts and his AI built by one of the greater experts in the matter. But still, a longshoreman. Some skillful maneuvering, journalist call-outs and colony-saving later, he ended up in charge of the entirety of the Credomar station, with millions of (now happy) humans to rule over and one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons at his disposal.
* ''WebComic/GuildedAge'' has [[spoiler:Penk]], who starts out as a [[spoiler:drummer and herald]] with strong ideals but not much else, and then becomes an avatar of his god, gaining increased strength, resilience, and senses, and takes on leadership of the World's Rebellion's response to the Gastonian Peacemakers.
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' has Baron Wulfenbach. While not quite nobody, Baron ''is'' one of the lowest ranks possible in Europe, and his family historically ruled a single town without much invasion of anyone else. He disappeared for a few years, during which time attacks from [[BigBad the Other]] left Europe in ruins, and came back to a destroyed town and every ruler and MadScientist trying to kill or conquer each other. He dealt with this by conquering ''the entire continent'' in a matter of years.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' goes this route with the main character. In the prequel comic released, he was merely a geeky kid who was inspired by a MadScientist's moment of triumph to be a Supervillain (albeit one with [[WellIntentionedExtremist good aspirations]]). He consistently remains unsuccessful at impressing his superiors and is eventually shoehorned into a situation where he must commit a murder or [[YouHaveFailedMe be executed for incompetence]]. Eventually [[spoiler:with the accidental murder of Penny, the girl he loved]], he becomes a true supervillain in both position and personality.
* ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'' provides plenty of opportunities for (mostly) normal high school students to become multiple murderers. J. R. Rizzolo, in particular, went from being a regular guy who liked playing ''VideoGame/GuitarHero'' to a [[ColdBloodedTorture sadistic]], [[ManipulativeBastard deceptive]] loony who offed his former classmates without a trace of guilt.
* ''WebVideo/CoyleCommand'' found its origins as a laundromat. Its leader, Coyle Commander, had the job of opening and closing it every day.
* Cute swamp monster Theodora, from roleplaying podcast ''Podcast/DiceFunk'', goes from a bit character in the previous season to a main character in the next one...[[DealWithTheDevil a main character in Faustian service to a God of Abominations.]] By the time the other characters realize that she's NotSoHarmless and sweet, Dora has become the living avatar of a dark god and sacrificed everything she's cared about on that god's altar. [[spoiler:Worse yet, she accomplishes exactly what she'd set out to do, killing dozens and trapping thousands of innocent people in a FateWorseThanDeath inside of [[IronicHell ironic hells]] that they can no longer escape. Ever.]]
* ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' has Jericho Swain, the Master Tactician. His first record of being known in Noxus was when he walked into an infirmary with a severely mangled leg. No one but Swain (and maybe his bird) knows what happened, and he walked off afterwards with nothing but a cane in hand, refusing magical treatment, going off to join the Noxian military. Instead of being turned away for being a cripple, he tore his way through the ranks as a commanding officer, being promoted when demotions were asked for, and being decorated after nearly every battle. And even now, he ''still'' walks around [[HandicappedBadass with a cane.]]
* Frequently used in ''Roleplay/TheGunganCouncil'' for villains. Better examples would be characters that managed to fly under the radar for a year or two before everyone realized how nightmarishly involved they were in all of the galaxy's problems.
* A host of kids in the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'' who are nothing until somewhere around the age of fourteen they manifest as mutants. Deathlist, most feared hero killer in the world, started out as an ordinary schoolboy.
* ''Literature/TheQuestportChronicles'': The Fellowship never finds out who [[NoNameGiven the mage]] who [[spoiler:destroyed Questport]] is or where he came from. No one had heard of him until after the cataclysm.
* [[http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-story&story=dr_yes_jolonah The Queen of Pain]] from ''WebOriginal/OrionsArm'', an EldritchAbomination that was once a perfectly normal cat.
* Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses:
** [[WesternAnimation/CaptainPlanetAndThePlaneteers Ma-Ti]] goes from the ButtMonkey of the group in the ''WebVideo/TGWTGYearOneBrawl'' to the BigDamnHero in ''WebVideo/SuburbanKnights'' to the BigBad in ''WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee''.
** ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'' has The Entity, a [[NightmareFuel terrifying]], [[OmnicidalManiac universe-devouring]] EldritchAbomination that motivated [[spoiler:Lord Vyce]] to become TheDreaded [[MultiversalConqueror across the multiverse]] just to stop it. The identity of the Entity? [[spoiler:[[Franchise/{{Pokemon}} Missingno]], a relatively harmless [[TheMissingno video game glitch]] which only becomes creepy when FridgeLogic is applied to it.]] Also counts as AdaptationalBadass.
* The heroine of ''Tired Fairy'' is originally just a joung woman from a middle-class family, going on university vacation. Then she finds the [[ArtifactOfDoom Sphere of Power]], an ancient artifact that can kill averybody and destroy anything the wielder wishes (think Manga/DeathNote on steroids). By the end of the first book, she is de-facto in control of the world.
* After two online users, ghettofinger and [=GirlVinyl=] were kept from creating a Wikipedia article about ''[[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment a certain someone]]'', they went on and created their own wiki so they could get away with it. The result: The infamously offensive (and NighInvulnerable) ''Encyclopedia Dramatica''.
* You, in ''Videogame/CookieClicker''. At the very start, you can't even bake a decent cookie, with the ones you do make being unappealing even to the neighbourhood raccoon. Several gazillion cookies later, you've established a baking empire spanning several galaxies, have opened dozens of [[HellGate portals to universes made of cookies]], baked with antimatter, unravelled time itself, and bribed elder gods, all with these same cookies that are now unimaginably good. And it all started with one click from someone who one day felt like baking some cookies.