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Ascended Demon
When a hell-bell rings, a hellspawn gets its wings.

"No day goes by where I am not tempted to return to my inborn nature. Zin krif haalvut se sulyek.note  What is better? To be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?"
Paarthurnax, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Being Evil Sucks, though not all baddies realize this or care. What really sucks about it is that those that want to give Good Feels Good a try often find it near impossible to fully pull a Heel-Face Turn. This isn't for lack of trying, but because they're a demon, vampire, or other Always Chaotic Evil critter whose very body is Made of Evil. Kinda hard to walk into a temple and pray for forgiveness when you spontaneously combust by crossing the threshold. This is a big reason why humans turned to monsters who held onto their humanity will angst at their abysmal fate.

So, what to do? Fall in reverse, and become an Ascended Demon!

The demon looking to ascend has a few avenues to explore. The most common are to go on a literal or metaphorical quest to Find the Cure. If their "evil nature" is biologically based, like viral vampirism or hereditary lycanthropy, finding the recipe for an ancient cure or researching a new one is one possibility. When it's mystical, getting an artifact (usually a holy relic) is another. The metaphorical route requires they try and get a benevolent god to "reformat" them into a human or even angelic body. This often requires doing lots of good deeds or having an epiphany on the nature of good. Sometimes, just getting a soul in itself is enough to earn salvation from the Nothing After Death and a Reincarnation as a non-Always Chaotic Evil being.

Because Good Is Dumb, there's a fair chance that by refusing their evil nature they lose or dampen all of those nifty powers, though it also likely removes several exploitable weaknesses. Of course, such a feat may well do the opposite and take the "Suck" out of Blessed with Suck, and make them a top tier angel.

Though by nature the Ascended Demon will be very rarenote  it's not uncommon for there to be a mentor who has done this before and is willing to sponsor them, or more tragically, failed and wants them to succeed as a redemption by proxy. If they really are the first to pull it off, an author might invert the Last of His Kind and have the Ascended Demon redeem some or all of their peers and reveal they were Good All Along. This is especially poignant if the demons were once angels who fell. Expect an Enemy Civil War to follow as demon-kind is divided between "loyalists" and "redemptionists". In fact, just check out the Fallen Angel page; it has far more examples than this one does.

It's not all rainbows and lollipops though. Aside from the fear of backsliding into evil, the Ascended Demon has made enemies of his former kindnote , and likely faces the distrust of the good guys at the chance they're a Civilian Villain. On the whole, Ascended Demons are a good way to avoid the Unfortunate Implications that The Usual Adversaries and Always Chaotic Evil races are completely irredeemable, and usually used to provide An Aesop that everyone can earn forgiveness.

Not to be confused with ascending to demonhood in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Compare Grew Beyond Their Programming, when AI's or robots ascend to a more humanlike level of emotion and development.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comicbooks 

    Film 
  • In The Deaths of Ian Stone the Harvesters aren't really evil per se... but being extra-dimensional spirits that live off fear, and have long ago become addicted to the fear of a human facing death (and the easiest way to get that is to kill people), they are pretty close to Always Chaotic Evil. However a renegade Harvester has found an alternate power source capable of killing the other evil Harvesters... Love.
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: It's implied in the ending The Ghost Rider became this.
  • Warm Bodies has R and the zombies who witness or hear about his loving and being loved by a human reject their zombie nature and want something different, trying to make peace with humanity. This amazingly rekindles their emotional, mental, and physical humanity, and they start to come back to life. The "makes enemies of their former kind" part kicks in when the Bonies— those zombies so far gone into hunger and darkness that all skin and most flesh has rotted off— start seeing them as food because of their return to the ranks of the living.

    Fan Fiction 

    Literature 
  • Simon R. Green's Tales from the Nightside series has Pretty Poison, an angel who fell to become a succubus and then re-ascended to angel.
  • In The Guardians, Lilith is a human-demon hybrid bound to serve Lucifer, but through The Power of Love she manages to renounce her demonic side and Ascend to full humanity.
  • According to the Ars Goetia, several demons listed in it aspire to become this, and actually delude themselves into thinking they'll succeed, after a set amount of hellish penance. Given that these demons also usually teach mankind various sciences and natural wonders when summoned, one has to wonder if there's some form of cosmic irony in play, there...
  • In the Disgaea Novels, this happens to Vyers/Midboss.
  • While operating as a sort of Noble Demon to begin with, Extirpon in The Gerosha Chronicles views himself as an ascended demon when he unlocks the other half of his Marlquaanite abilities - the ability to heal others when charging up positive energy. With negative emotional energy from others, he was only able to heal himself, and otherwise had only the power to destroy, humiliate, and undermine. His blue-purple glow effects switch over to glowing white and gold when channeling his "positive battery."
  • In Tolkien's The Silmarillion, the Maia (angel) Ossė had thrown in his lot with Melkor, but eventually repented and returned to the good side. The book doesn't make clear just "how far" he fell, since he was not one of those who fell right at the beginning during the Ainulindalė. Nevertheless, he was fighting with the demons against the angels for a while there. Though in most ways he tried to make Arda 100% compatible with Catholicism, Tolkien explicitly disagreed with the idea that anyone could be truly irredemable.
  • In the Young Wizards series, the Lone Power Itself eventually gets redeemed... but since as one of the Powers That Be It's outside time, Its evil iterations continue to exist and cause trouble in the series even after Its redemption.
  • A variation in The Dresden Files: Harry briefly touches and rejects a coin possessed by the Fallen Angel Lasciel, who cannot fully possess him but leaves a "shadow" in his mind to try and corrupt him into fully accepting the coin. However, while Lasciel herself is eternal, unchangeable and irredeemable, the sentient image that is left in Harry's mind is only as unchanging as the mortal brain she inhabits, and over the course of several years she changes and develops a personality of her own. She eventually comes to care for Harry so much that she performs a Heroic Sacrifice with a psychic version of Taking the Bullet. There is no record of this ever happening before because either those events were never recorded or the records were destroyed, leading to the general idea that all previous shadows have managed to tempt their hosts into fully accept the coin in such a short time that the shadow has no chance to change, but Harry is too much of a Determinator to be broken that easily.
    • This is the attitude of any warlock (a practitioner of Black Magic) who tries to become a wizard (a practitioner of good magic); Black Magic gets you Drunk on the Dark Side extremely easily, and even if the warlock has a My God, What Have I Done? and tries to reform, it's all too easy to slip back into it. As such, very few warlocks are able to reform, and while this is partly because the White Council executes anyone (even teenagers who genuinely don't know what they're doing) who performs Black Magic unless a member of the Council puts his own life on the line to mentor the warlock into becoming a proper wizard, it is suggested that reformed warlocks would be pretty rare even without the summary executions. Harry Dresden himself is one such reformed warlock, and even though he only performed Black Magic once in self defence when he was a kid, he fully recognises the ease of recidivism and, much as he despises the Council's arrogance and self-righteousness, he has to concede that in the majority of cases their policy is probably necessary. However, when he truly believes the accidental warlock Molly Carpenter has a chance of reforming, he fights tooth and nail to give her that chance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel wanted to be this.
    • From that series and its parent series, Spike arguably became this as he voluntarily chose to have his soul restored (whereas Angel's was forced upon him and always forced back in unwillingly when he loses it). The comic continuation of the series further reinforces this: vampires (apart from the ensouled Spike and Angel) are established to be Always Chaotic Evil due to a lack of a soul but after temporarily losing his own soul, Spike remains good and only does not take his soul back (initially) because he wanted to give it to someone else.
  • Forever Knight, sometimes.
  • Reaper had a group of demons (all Fallen Angels) who were trying to overthrow Lucifer through being nice. When they decided to stop playing the long game and just kill The Devil, Steve was the one dissenter who pointed out that it defeated the entire point. When the devil shows up and kills the entire army, Steve apparently ascended to angelhood after death, though the finale indicates that angels can be pretty ruthless when they need to be.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The 17th century Lemegeton and 19th century Dictionnaire Infernal (both demonology books) depict Marchosias, a literal Noble Demon looking to achieve this trope.
  • According to The Other Wiki, official Catholic doctrine declares all Fallen Angels i.e. demons irredemable, completely unable to repent or return to Heaven. This is because all angels have Super Intelligence. Whenever they have a choice they know exactly what they are doing and so never change their minds.
    • On the other hand, islamic traditions have it that djinn can be redeemed (though it helps they're only partly demon analogue). In Judaism, fallen angels are not necessarily evil, and many still are considered part of the heavenly host.
  • Meridiana was a succubus believed to help Sylvester the second become the Pope. This was meant as slander most likely but since his time as head of the Catholic Church is best known for cracking down on Simony, promoting scientific studies, building musical instruments such as a hydrological organ and teaching grammar his fans concluded that if Meridiana helped put him in power she was a benevolent succubus.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook "Book of Exalted Deeds" on good-aligned characters has one chapter on forgiveness. It features an orc chieftain sparing a girl's village because she had saved his life years earlier and a good-aligned illithid.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings the demon Okura no Oni affected the honor of the Lion Clan through Kitsu Okura, and at Oblivion's Gate slew her father, Akuma no Oni. She ascended to become the Guardian of Tengoku and she is now seen guarding the Gates of the Celestial Heavens.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade the fabled state of Golconda allows a vampire to transcend just about every physical and spiritual weakness of vampirism. The Enemy Within is muzzled, blood requirement drops to almost nothing, and various caps and restrictions vanish. Tellingly, the vampire is immune to Diablerie... their soul is no longer tied to their blood/body and can't be eaten.
    • In Vampire the Requiem the above is one of three suggested outcomes for reaching Golconda. The best one is a return to humanity. The worst one? Complete balance with the Enemy Within... which means the vampire is in perfect harmony with a remorseless gluttonous raging monster.
  • Another World of Darkness gameline with this possibility is Demon: the Fallen. The titular demons have the choice to either try to recover their lost grace by reaching zero torment (only possible with RP, no game system allowed that) or spurning their newfound humanity and chance at redemption by Slowly Slipping Into Evil. Unlike Vampire, Demons who eschew use of their demonic powers and One-Winged Angel form are at a disadvantage compared to their morally laxer peers.
  • In the Mystic China RPG from Palladium games there's a literal Ascended Demon class, where as you gain levels you lose demonic traits and gain human traits until if one survives all the pitfalls the character will be reborn as a human being with only dim memories of its former life.
  • Exalted features two possible examples of this:
    • The Abyssals are Exalted by the Neverborn, who corrupted Solar shards to serve death and the Void. Thing is, underneath all that necrotic taint, there's still a glimmer of innate Solar nature. It may very well be possible for an Abyssal to seek redemption and become a Solar again... and if that happens, then they don't have to deal with that pesky Great Curse.
    • The Infernals are similarly corrupted Solars, only their shards were tinkered with by the Yozis as part of a scheme to escape from Malfeas by making Creation just as bad. Infernals don't have innate Charms as other Exalts do, but instead have a direct connection to their Yozi patrons that allows them to use their magic. There's just one problem that the Yozis didn't entirely consider — that relationship may go both ways. So, with enough time and effort, an Infernal could possibly convert one of the demonic masters of Creation to good.
      • Alternatively, Infernals using the right Heretic Charms can redesign themselves into Primordials 2.0, taking and improving the designs that the Yozis used before being ripped inside out, castrated, and imprisoned. The resulting being literally containing worlds and having multiple souls. It doesn't require the character to be good, or even define good, but it does involve long periods of spiritual meditation and reformatting one's own souls, and it's hard to get worse than being one fifth Ebon Dragon, the Cosmic Principle of Dickishness.
    • Sidereals with access to Greater Astrology Charms actually have one, An End to Darkness, that allows them to hand this out willy-nilly. If they find a demon that wants to leave the service of Hell, they can cast this Charm and transform them into a god that will serve Heaven. The only downsides are that other demons will be out for that god's blood, and the Sidereal takes a large amount of Paradox in the process.
  • Interestingly, the infamous So Bad, It's Good game World Of Synnibarr has this as the origins of its "angels": they are all "devils" that decided to start helping out the mortal races instead. It actually manages to make sense in context.
  • This is possible in In Nomine, but difficult - it requires the direct intervention of an Archangel, and is very painful, and sometimes results in death for the demon trying to ascend.

    Videogames 
  • Valen in Neverwinter Nights and Neeshka in Neverwinter Nights 2 can end up being good demon-blooded people if your character tries hard enough.
    • For that matter, your character can end up as one too.
    • Due to the number of times Aribeth passes through the Heel-Face Revolving Door, some of her later incarnations come across this way.
    • Persey in the Tales of Arterra mod discovers a conscience and develops into a priestess of the goddess of love by the end of the story.
  • The player character in Dark Messiah can end up this way with one of the good-aligned endings. You lose your ability to transform into a demon and your succubus advisor, but you gain a bunch of top-tier holy gear after purifying yourself.
  • Similar to the Succubus Paladin in DnD above, in the MMORPG Mabinogi, the NPC Kristell was once a succubus, but after falling in love with the druid Tarlach, she became the priestess at Dunbarton.
  • Ashrah from Mortal Kombat is a demon, formerly from the Legions of Hell, who gets betrayed and has a Heel-Face Turn in regards to Black and White Morality. She comes across a sword that purifies her, every time she slays a demon with it. She becomes a Woman in White. Her plan is, to gain enough purification, that the evil or taunt, that resided in her demonic creation, no longer exists, to the point of the Netherrealm (Hell) being UNABLE to keep her presence inside, for you cannot exist in that realm without a taint on the soul. So she'll eventually be expelled out of that fiery wasteland. The problem though? She's turned a bit Knight Templar, or Ax-Crazy because of this obsession.
    • Granted, it's still unclear whether any of this is actually happening, or if the Kris is just a Manipulative Bastard of an Empathic Weapon that's making her think killing certain targets will save her soul in order to make her into its instrument of genocide.
      • Her ending in one of the games reveal that the Kris really works, but the rate of purification is proportional to the evilness and power of the target. Also, once the user is ascended (and safely expelled from the Netherrealm), the sword stays behind to repeat the process for another demon.
  • Worlds In Global Battle Locked, the sequel to Nexus War, has Redeemed demons and Fallen angels as third-tier classes. The Redeemed's skillset has a strong emphasis on protection and debuffing over dealing damage.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a sidequest involves Link helping a demon named Batreaux who wants to become human.
  • Planescape: Torment has Fall-From-Grace, a succubus who runs a pleasant brothel of platonic prostitution. (A chaste succubus, who runs a brothel that does not sell sex, something that seems a contradiction in every way.) However, she still feels some loss from her ascension to a good-leaning Lawful Neutral cleric from a Chaotic Evil existence, hence the name.
    • There is evidence that her "fall" is more than a little uncomfortable for her, as her race is evil incarnate in a universe where belief governs the laws of physics and 'being evil' is as much a part of their existence as 'breathing air' is for humans. Despite your party being composed of only those in true torment, Ravel claims that Grace suffers more than any of your companions. This is pretty amazing, considering how your remaining party members are tormented.
  • A Satyr in World of Warcraft who came to his senses and seeks redemption culminates when he uses parts of his former tribe and rips out his own heart to use in a potion to save a child dying of sickness. He doesn't actually ascend though: He just turns back into a night elf.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Paarthurnax, leader of the Greybeards, views himself as such; dragons are inherently born to conquer and dominate, and he supresses this desire only through meditation and great effort. Though the Blades doubt this, and it's hinted he might not be quite as good as he seems.
  • Flonne has become this, as of Disgaea 4. That is to say, she was originally an angel, but in the Good (and canonical) ending of the first game, the Seraph turned her into a Fallen Angel. Not much of a punishment (or even intended to be one), since she gets to stay with her friends Laharl and Etna, and her personality remains the same. By D4 she has apparently gotten a promotion, and his now an Archangel, once again serving the Seraph (and is the boss of the new Vulcanus).
  • Cthulhu in Cthulhu Saves the World was initially forced into becoming this, setting out to save the world so he could later conquer it. However by the end of the game he's grown to like being a good guy.
  • In Persona 4 and its spinoffs, Teddie, who was formerly a Shadow just like most of the enemies in the game, gains a Persona and essentially becomes human.
    • This also applies to the Personas of the main cast, including all of Yu's Personas besides Izanagi: all of them were originally shadows that were brought under the control of the ego. Persona 4 Arena implies that this process is reversible, and that it is only through sustained effort that a Persona can continue to exist.
  • The backstory of the Devil May Cry series has the "Legendary Dark Knight" Sparda rebel against his kind and fight for humanity, eventually fathering twin sons Dante and Vergil with a human woman named Eva.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, two Goetic demons, Ose and Flauros, will be purified by Chiaki in her Boss Battle and will regain the shapes they had before they fell.
  • The player character in Baldur's Gate is eventually revealed to be (one of many) children of Bhaal, the late God of Murder. As the series goes on, both the Bhaalspawn part of you and other characters try to get you to embrace your heritage and become a proper successor to the lord of murder (even to the point of giving you a Superpowered Evil Side that drains your Reputation every time you use it.) It's up the player whether they actually do this, or fight on the side of good instead.

    Webcomics 
  • Caliban of Narbonic, who renounces his demonic powers and becomes human. Turns out he's less motivated by virtue than by getting away from some demonic loan sharks who are after him, but once that's sorted out he seems quite happy to live as a human and gets a job at Starbucks.
  • This seems to have happened to Lil' E in Sinfest

    Web Originals 
  • Tales Of Wyre begins with the Moral Dilemma of whether to slay a succubus who claims to repent her sins. There is, of course, no way to know whether she's telling the truth.
  • NES Godzilla Creepypasta. At the end of the game, when all characters are brought back to life, Solomon has become this, evidenced by his red eyes becoming blue.


Anti-AntichristInfernal TropesBat out of Hell
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