A crime-solver in a PoliceProcedural who has killed and is TheAtoner because of this. Their method of atoning is to catch other criminals. Because they ''can'' think like criminals, they are often better at this than the average cop.

Interestingly, this motive even applies to people whose killing was perfectly legal--people who served in the military, the FBI, or a spy agency. It also applies to detectives whose killing, and thus whose need to atone for it, is ongoing.

A VampireDetectiveSeries is a supernatural version of this.

Compare RecruitingTheCriminal.

Beware if one of these has a FaceHeelTurn.

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Richard from ''Anime/{{Monster}}''.



* In the "Literature/FatherBrown" stories by Creator/GKChesterton, Father Brown (the series detective) meets and bests a thief named Flambeau, who, because he wants to atone for his crimes (Brown having stopped him from going down the slippery slope when he was going to frame someone for his crime), then assists Father Brown in solving crimes by providing information about how professional criminals work.
* [[Literature/CharlieParkerSeries Charlie Parker]], the eponymous detective from a series of books by Creator/JohnConnolly, embodies this trope. He slips off the deep end after the death of his wife and child and spends the rest of his life making up for what he did after their death. He's still not shy about killing people though - he just makes sure that the people he's killing are truly evil. [[spoiler: ''The Black Angel'' suggests that this is the whole reason for Parker's existence in-universe. He is one of the angels the fell from heaven after Lucifer's revolt, but rather than descending to hell, he became stranded on earth, spending his many lifetimes helping others - dead and alive - in penance for his sins. However, the ending of ''The Wrath of Angels'' seems to refute this theory - according to various in-universe authorities there ''is'' a fallen angel present in the series recurring cast, but it isn't Charlie.]]
* In Creator/LarryNiven's ''[[Literature/KnownSpace Gil the Arm]]'' stories, Gil Hamilton lost an arm in an accident in space. However, only prosthetics are available in space, as accidents in space tend to quickly ruin transplant stock and the minarchist Belters ''don't'' [[OrganTheft regularly execute "criminals" for their organs]]. He thus immigrates to Earth to take advantage of the UN-sponsored organ harvesting programme, justifying it to himself that his new arm would most likely come from an executed murderer (perhaps unaware that the UN government regularly has people broken up for ''[[AllCrimesAreEqual running traffic lights]]''[[note]]though this may have started happening later in the series, as the story where this comes up, "The Jigsaw Man", is set about a century after Hamilton's death[[/note]]). Surprise - his brand-new limb came not from a villain, but from the seized stockpile of a ''criminal'' who [[NotSoDifferent killed people for their organs]]. Lacking the moral composure to have the arm removed, he joined the Amalgamated Regional Militia ([[MeaningfulName aka ARM]]), the agency which polices illegal body harvesting... but spends more time [[EnforcedTechnologyLevels suppressing inconvenient technologies]] and [[PopulationControl hunting illegal pregnancies]].
* In ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', Commander Vimes has killed a ''lot'' of people, and even though they were mostly self-defence, he's aware that he wasn't really thinking about that when he killed them. He explicitly tells TheDragon in Discworld/{{Snuff}} that he recognised him as a killer the moment he saw him - because he's used to seeing a killer's face every day in his own mirror.
* Jerry Spinoza of J.R. Rain's ''The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo'' became a private detective after his drinking led to the death of his son. He specializes in missing child cases in hopes of repaying his debt by saving the children of others.
* ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'': It's never given as an explicit reason ''why'' he became a detective, but he does have a very dark past which includes [[spoiler: having once been exactly the sort of mass-murdering supervillain he now spends his days defeating]].


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Leroy Jethro Gibbs in ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' (Former Marine sniper) [[spoiler: Gibbs also killed his wife's and daughter's murderer, although he has stated that he "never lost a day of sleep over [him]".]]
* Mac Taylor in ''Series/{{CSINY}}'' (Former Marine)
* Seeley Booth in ''Series/{{Bones}}'' (Ex-sniper) He actually voiced this as his reasoning for joining the FBI.
** A supporting character on ''Bones'' was secretly working for a villain while he was doing the lab work to solve other crimes...
* Horatio Caine in ''Series/CSIMiami'' (Kinda) He tries to catch as many murderers as subject him to SuicideByCop. Preferably ''not'' by SuicideByCop.
* Ezekiel Stone of ''Series/{{Brimstone}}'' killed the man who raped his wife. When Ezekiel was later killed in the line of duty he was sent to Hell because, no matter how deserving of death the rapist had been, Stone's actions had been motivated by anger and the need for revenge instead of a desire for justice. The Devil sent him back to Earth to hunt down and return 113 escaped souls with the promise of a chance at entering Heaven (Not a guarantee, just the offering of a chance) if he captured all the escapees. Notably, Ezekiel has no personal regrets about what he did.
* He never really killed, but Sebastian Stark of ''Series/{{Shark}}'' was once a defense attorney . However, after one of his clients who he managed to get acquitted went on to kill his wife shortly after, Stark switched teams and becomes a prosecutor.
* Likewise, Patrick Jane of ''Series/TheMentalist'' didn't kill anyone, he just scammed many people out of ''lots'' of money as a wildly successful fake psychic. But after his family was murdered by a serial killer he offended by doing a cold read of him on television, Jane (eventually) became a police [[InsistentTerminology consultant]] in pursuit of a chance at revenge. He's not exactly "atoning", but he is deeply ashamed of his past actions as a con artist and seems to hope that he's become a man his dead family would be proud of.
* The CowboyCop protagonist of the show ''Series/{{Maou}}'' became a detective out of guilt over having accidentally killed someone when he was younger (and having been let off scot-free because his rich and influential father pulled some strings).
* ''Series/{{Castle}}:'' [[spoiler:Captain Montgomery]] spent his career trying to atone for his actions as a rookie, when among other things he was complicit in [[spoiler: the death of Beckett's mother.]]
* In ''Series/BodyOfProof'', former neurosurgeon Megan Hunt is trying to atone for killing a patient on the table after neurological damage causes her hands to numb occasionally. She becomes a medical examiner because she can't kill anyone if they're already dead.


[[folder: Video Game ]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden}}'' series has [[spoiler: the Oboro Detective Agency in ''VideoGame/SuikodenV''.]]
* A less severe example in ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' is Ron [=DeLite=], a former thief, opening a security business that helped other businesses defend themselves against thieves. [[spoiler: Of course the twist is that he then turns around and sells the plans to other thieves. At least his wife's in on it this time.]]
* ''VideoGame/LANoire'''s Cole Phelps was a Marine in the war. Specifically, he was TheNeidermeyer who [[spoiler:ended up leading an attack on Japanese civilians.]]

[[folder: WebComics]]
* ''WebComic/AMiracleOfScience'': [[spoiler: The primary protagonist Detective Benjamin Prester]] is a reformed MadScientist who, after being treated for ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder himself, now works to bring in others for treatment and protect everyone else from their rampages. Most of his work involves applying psychology to get the mad scientists into a position where they lose momentum and surrender. [[spoiler: He later loses his job after a relapse, and ends up becoming a liason between [[HiveMind Mars]] and the unmodified remainder of the human race.]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Career con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. (on whose life the Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio film ''Film/CatchMeIfYouCan'' was based) eventually settled down and became a high-profile securities consultant who specialized in the sort of crime he used to commit. It is also notable that to this day he has never taken money from law enforcement for his consultation, even refusing reimbursement for travel expenses.