"It's funny. It seems like yesterday Arcturus was the idealistic rebel crusader. Now he's the law and we're the criminals."After Character Development, some people regress into a vulnerable state. Others go from evil to good, good to evil or just become better or worse without changing sides. Or they turn into a fragile, highly poetic and a bit irrational version of themselves. Another group of people tend to reject everything that seemed to define their identity for the viewer, their appearance, their values, their main quirk, and their general attitude towards The Hero, Save The World, and Good Versus Evil. Then, they manage to become a negative picture of themselves, the complete antithesis of what they formerly were known for. This is this trope. The trope is mostly used to make a Face–Heel Turn more dramatic, using The Dark Side Will Make You Forget, but can also serve the other way around, to prove how much someone can better himself when under the influence of Good. It is, of course, often closely related to Shadow Archetype and The Corrupter (she or he delights in this, mostly when it is a case of Corrupt the Cutie). It rarely prompts "What Have I Become?" or "I Have Seen the Light", the change often being too brutal to be noticed before it is completed. Expect some surprising Out-of-Character Alert. Also, this is sometimes tightly linked with Morality Dial and Mirror Morality Machine for examples where an heel/face and face/heel transformation (along with this trope) are exerted by artificial means by a third party. See also He Who Fights Monsters, Ascended Demon, Fallen Angel, Fallen Hero, Start of Darkness, The Horseshoe Effect, The Paragon Always Rebels, and Full-Circle Revolution. Compare and contrast Hourglass Plot, though it can sometimes overlap, when two opposite characters are becoming this trope.
— Jim Raynor, StarCraft
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The anime adaptation of Fate/stay night features an example listed in Video Games.
- Light Yagami of Death Note: compare Light with the murder notebook and Light without the notebook: Without the notebook — an honorable, highly empathic, idealistic teen who believes in the inherent goodness of man. With the notebook - a petty, egotistical, manipulative, vindictive, lying murderer with a God complex who believes Murder Is the Best Solution... to under-productivity in the workforce!
- Oddly enough, this seems to apply to Misa as well, which is why a number of fans speculate the Death Note's power has drastic and degenerative effects on the user's personality. Misa as the Second Kira is a morbid, amoral Genius Ditz with a frightening Ax-Crazy Yandere streak. Without the Death Note, however, she's a lot more innocent, genuinely ditzy, and generally seems to be a nice person who is alarmed by violence. It is averted with Mikami, however; he is insane before he gets hold of the Death Note. He just got much worse afterwards.
- Dragon Ball Z: Gohan falls into this during the Cell Games. Compare Gohan before he unlocks Super Saiyan 2 and after. Before SS2 - a humble, soft-hearted Martial Pacifist who makes it clear on more than one occasion that he doesn't like to hurt people, not even truly evil monsters like Cell. After SS2 - an arrogant, borderline sadistic, revenge-driven Smug Super who eagerly beats Cell within an inch of his life and even deliberately prolongs the Curb-Stomp Battle just because he wanted Cell to suffer as much as possible before he died. Thankfully, he snaps out of it, but only after his actions backfire horribly, resulting in his father's death.
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure: Kars In a physical, rather than a moral sense. At the start of part 2, he's a Pillar Man who's only weaknesses are sunlight and Harmon. By the end, not only is he immune to sunlight, but he's immune to harmon and can use it himself, with far more power than any human wielder, thanks to becoming the Ultimate Life Form
- Tokyo Ghoul: Ken Kaneki starts out as a kind, gentle young man and an Extreme Doormat who doesn't like to hurt others. The hardships he suffers as a result of becoming half-Ghoul, along with his ordeal at Yamori's hands, cause him to become a brutal, ruthless Anti-Hero with a Pay Evil unto Evil mentality.
- In Eureka Seven Ao, it happened to the former protagonists Renton and Eureka, as both saviours of the world who supported the Scub Coral are no longer on good terms with it and planned to destroy the Scub due to the disaster the Scub causes to humanity via attracting Secrets and on a personal level, the loss of their infant daughter due to high levels of Trapar emitted by Scub Coral, and endangering Ao's survival if leaving the Scub to keep time travelling to his world.
- Naruto: Obito, a.k.a. Tobi. Dear God.
- Ai no Kusabi has Riki pretty much doing a complete 180 in personality by the end after trying so hard to remain the same.
- Jeremy and Ian from A Cruel God Reigns: Jeremy believes love is only anger, much like his stepfather, Greg and all the things Greg did to him. Ian realizes that, like his father, he likes to see Jeremy in pain, even though he doesn't want him to be hurt. Both are also examples of He Who Fights Monsters.
- Precia Testarossa of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is shown in flashbacks to be a Doting Parent to her daughter. This is in contrast to the current Precia, who is an Abusive Parent that literally whips her daughter at the slightest provocation. This is one of the reasons why Fate still loves her despite all the suffering she receives, as she remembers a time when she used to be kind. Unfortunately for Fate, the reason for this change is because Fate is a failed attempt to revive Precia's dead daughter, and she's unwilling to treat a clone like Fate as a second daughter.
- In Tokyo Ghoul :Re, this happens to Seidou Takizawa as a result of a Face–Monster Turn. He goes from an idealistic young Investigator, to an Ax-Crazy Ghoul that gleefully slaughters humans without a second thought. He explains to a pair of Red Shirts that if you become a monster, you don't have to be afraid of them anymore.
- The The Four Doctors special has Ten, Eleven and Twelve exposed to a Time War device that changes reality through a single decision of anyone in range - Ten sees himself leave Wilf to die in the radiation-flooded chamber and giving into the persona of the Time Lord Victorious, Eleven catches himself living in the dying reality of 22 April 2011 and ignoring the death of the universe as long as he can have his peace with River, and Twelve finds himself a crazy hermit who refused to forgive Clara for "betraying" him and is secretly the madman who arranged it all to begin with. The machine was also used on the Ninth Doctor - however, it failed to find a point in time where he was any less noble than at his best.
- Quite funnily, Kid Paddle's hero fears aliens would tamper with his brain, suspecting his father to want it. He fears he would be turned into a Glurge Addict, a thought that appalls him.
- Throughout the third series of Runaways, Nico, who had previously fought to avoid turning out like her dark-magician parents, increasingly embraces her heritage as a dark-magic user to make her life easier. After she employs Mind Rape on Klara in the final arc, Molly, whose own parents were enthusiastic mind-rapists, accuses Nico of acting like one of the Pride.
- Harry Potter in The Darkness Series.
- Sherlock Holmes in "The Dying Detective" (not to be confused with "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", a canonical story), thanks in part to the machinations of Professor Moriarty. It should be noted, however, that Holmes wanted to Jump Off The Slippery Slope in order to avoid emotional pain. Thus, the emotional, compassionate, loving Holmes becomes the emotionless, cruel, uncaring Moriarty.
- Fade: L. In his attempts to stop Kira from killing him and ruling the world, he becomes Kira. His own inability to realize this is one of the main sources of conflict in the story.
Films — Animated
- Played With and subverted in Frozen when Queen Elsa is using her powers against the Duke of Weselton's henchmen after taking great precautions not to harm people with her powers, and ultimately failing. The subversion comes in because not only was it self-defense, but because Prince Hans talks Elsa down before she would have otherwise killed them.
Films — Live-Action
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: The once effervescent and idealistic Xavier we saw in X-Men: First Class has crumbled into a heap of melancholia and cynicism after 1963. His telepathy, which he had been at ease with since he was 12 years old, has suddenly become a heavy burden that he avoids using at all costs. Charles' social drinking has deteriorated into alcoholism, and he gives up on other activities that he used to enjoy, such as teaching, scientific research and womanizing, in favour of a self-imposed exile from everything that exists beyond his mansion. Xavier has more or less reduced himself into a Man Child who is completely dependent on Hank, when in the other movies, various mutants rely on the paternal telepath for emotional support. Even the way he dresses has changed dramatically; the impeccable suits that define Professor X's style have been replaced by a gaudy paisley shirt paired with a brown leather jacket, or if he's feeling especially lazy, just an undershirt with jeans. Charles has also neglected his grooming, which makes him look like a confused hippie or a hobo instead of a well-adjusted, upper-class academic.
- Oz: The Great and Powerful has Theodora's Character Development as one of the main points of the movie and its attacks on Oz's selfishness. Due to his actions, poor Theodora ends up going from The Cutie to a disappointed and resentful Naïve Everygirl to (briefly) a bitter Woman Scorned who is a bit too focused on her problems to The Wicked Witch Of The West.
- Peter Parker, the Adorkable, awkward, and relatively devoted suitor and hero from the first two Spider-Man movies, briefly becomes a confident and manipulative egotist after fusing with an evil symbiote in Spider-Man 3.
- General Miller's acceptance of defeat in In the Loop, even though he is never a particularly likable character, is still a tearjerker moment, when, after taking on the most vicious spin doctors and politicians for months, he must finally support the very war he has been fighting to prevent. ("Go f*ck yourself, frodo").
- "I am Michael" is about the openly gay and antireligious activist Michael Glatze who later became a straight Christian pastor that advocates for gays to change their ways.
- The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy showed Anakin Skywalker changing from the hotheaded but idealistic Jedi Knight into the cold, controlling Sith Lord Darth Vader, something Obi-Wan addressed before their duel on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith.
- The First Order to the Galactic Empire that preceded it in The Force Awakens: while believing they carry on the legacy of Emperor Palpatine, in reality they are being terrorists that struggle against the established government to restore the regime that preceded it, which is what the Empire had called the Rebel Alliance.
- In Captain America: Civil War, the Pro-Regulation team supported government supervision to prevent collateral damage, yet War Machine was accidentally hit by their own fellow Pro-Reg teammate, due to said teammate being distracted by their emotions, the same reason Captain America wasn't able to properly defuse Crossbones in the beginning. Not to mention the Pro-Reg team causing a bit of collateral damage when trying to contain the Anti-Reg team in the airport.
- This is probably Older Than Feudalism, and at least Older Than Print as an apocryphal legend (perhaps inspired from a reference to Nebuchadnezzar in the Book Of Isaiahnote ), says that Lucifer was originally the most beautiful of the angels of God and was called "son of the morning", until he began to want godlike power / supremacy over humans, fell prey to Pride, was banished out of Heaven and became Satan.
- Pierre Dubois's La Grande Encyclopédie des Elfes, Tome 1 gives the example of a Scottish goddess of winter whom he claims was at first a cheerful and juvenile goddess of spring who witnessed an accident that harmed her beloved country and became cold as stone as a result, finally turning into an Anti-Villain Noble Demon blue-green-skinned goddess of suffering and ice with a sweeter side. Though said goddess is also a mother goddess, it is likely he made that up.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium
- Morgoth. Initially Melkor, "He Who Arises in Might", the mightiest and most able of the Valar (demi-gods/angels), he descends into madness and becomes "Morgoth", "black enemy of the World". He leeches so much of his original power into Middle Earth in order to assert his dominance over the land (that is what enables him to breed orcs and twist good things into evil) that he also winds up being the physically and magically weakest of the Valar.
- When Sauron was first tempted by Morgoth, the Chaotic Evil A God Am I archangelish creature who tries to become The Corrupter, he was a slighly weaker angel-like being whose goal was to repair Middle-Earth in the most efficient way possible. He craved order and efficiency so much that he followed Morgoth's chaotic destructive path because he thought the power would make him wiser, became a Control Freak less evil than his master only because he tried to serve him, then lost his last bit of sense of duty, and turned into an Evil Overlord whose lands slowly fall into ruin and chaos.
- Tolkien seemed to be fond of antithesism, especially pertaining to power and how it corrupts its wielder into a dark mirror of himself. Case in point: the Nazguls, once-glorious kings who were swayed by The Rings, now slaves to evil.
- Terry Dean in A Fraction of the Whole is as a child an extremely promising sportsman, but has a slightly psychotic obsession with fairness. His brother Martin uses this to manipulate Terry into attacking Martin's bullies, which results in Terry being stabbed in the leg and being unable to play sports. Frustrated, he turns to petty crimes which gradually turn worse, and he ends up making headlines as he goes on a killing spree against famous sportsmen in any way guilty of cheating. He then seemingly dies in a fire, but turns up again decades later, near the end of the book, as the morbidly obese kingpin of a crime syndicate.
- The House of Night:
- Stevie Rae became a more aggressive, impulsive, and slightly misanthropic undead after being The Cutie for most of the series. Unlike most of the initially heroic examples, it however contributed to improve her character, after she healed from her new aggressive nature, and to make her an independent, always heroic and more self-controlled person.
- Probably an unintentional example, but Erik Night went all the way from a confident, open-minded and self-sacrificing young man who is asked out by his slightly possessive ex-girlfriend to a self-centered, I-mostly-don't-care-about-the-good-versus-evil-thing, self-doubting and possessive boyfriend who doesn't want to try to understand his newer girlfriend and shows off his newest girlfriend, the Evil Twin of the first girlfriend who Took a Level in Kindness and treats the heroine well, understanding the problems his being possessive can cause. This is treated as an example of Jerkass All Along.
- It is difficult to say whether Neferet's warm, easy to trust, and maternal nature has changed since she became a priestess, or if it was a mask since long ago. She is revealed in Betrayed as a ruthless and manipulative figure towards Aphrodite and Zoey. On a similar way, a Big Bad's reputation underwent this, to the great surprise of Zoey and her friends. It is never revealed whether he actually was a case of this.
- This is downplayed with the antagonist in Mansfield Park. Mary Crawford starts in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park as a somewhat vain gold-digger, who is nonetheless a loyal friend and had some kind of elegance about her which prompted much Draco in Leather Pants, while the heroine Fanny Price starts the book as a passive and judgemental extreme doormat who lacks self-condidence, prompting much Ron the Death Eater. In the end, Mary Crawford shows what remains of her initial True Colors, and borders on Stupid Evil, having become geniuely interested in Edmund and a False Friend to Fanny. This is, as often, mirrored by a Hourglass Plot, as the initially defenseless Fanny shows more confident and useful traits, and gets what Mary Crawford wanted.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it is downplayed with Jacen Solo, a compassive and self-doubting young Jedi, who seemed to be very generous to his family, was turned into a Sith because he thought he could use the power of Siths without corruption. When his extremism got the better of him, he became a ruthless and inflexible Sith Lord, who killed his aunt, and only began to regain his previous characteristics when he feared for his daughter and questioned his lack of empathy, self-centered behavior, and uncontrolled outbursts of anger.
- This is Graendal's backstory in The Wheel of Time — originally, she was the most selfless and ascetic person in the world, but at some point became fed up when nobody else was able to live up to her standards and so turned to the Dark Side and became the extragavant hedonist we all know.
- Happens in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making with the Big Bad: first Mallow, then Marquess.
- The later books in Codex Alera reveal that Lord Aquitaine, who had previously been a candidate for Big Bad, first started his schemes to topple the First Lord out of disgust for the scheming nobles that made Alera a Crapsack World and murdered Princeps Septimus, who was a close friend of his. He intended to become First Lord so he could avenge his friend and keep the schemers in line with an iron fist rather than concession and compromise, but he ends up becoming just another schemer, albeit one with some redeeming qualities.
- Dr. Fell, a villain from The Good, The Bad And The Uncanny, started out as one of the Nightside's rogue vicars: preachers who come to the notorious Wretched Hive to save its sinners. Lampshaded by John, whose narrative points out that when religious idealists go bad, they tend to go really bad.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- This happens to Willow when she becomes Dark Willow (from Plucky Girl and The Cutie to Accentuate the Negative and The Baroness). It also happened to her alternate vampire self.
- Buffyverse vampires tend to revel in their human selves' repressed / disapproved-of traits. The hedonistic layabout Liam became Mad Artist Angelus. William the Bloody-Awful poet became William the Bloody / Spike, a football hooligan-style Blood Knight. Wishverse-Willow (who would have still been a Shrinking Violet) turned into a corset-wearing Depraved Bisexual. Drusilla, a psychic of 'pure innocence', became a sadistic Mad Oracle - although she'd already been driven mad by Angelus. Jesse is another example of a vampire that revealed his repressed traits, deriding his human self as an 'excruciating loser'.
- It happened to Knight in Shining Armor Duncan after the dark Quickening, and to the warlord Darius after a light Quickening in the series Highlander.
- The guy Duncan got it from was described as "pretty much a saint" - until he beheaded one too many evil Immortals.
- In Legend of the Seeker, Cara is revealed to have been a vulnerable little girl who could easily be manipulated, was very emotional, and couldn't bear the thought of letting a little fish suffer. Her vulnerability to manipulation and her impulsive nature lead to her becoming a collected Noble Demon working as a Torture Technician. Later on, this is averted, as she regained part of her old personality and became a heroine while remaining extreme and stoic.
- This is hinted to have also happened to Nicci in the ABC series. She was at first an Innocent Bigot and a Wide-Eyed Idealist. After a traumatic event, she began to Accentuate the Negative greatly, and became a Well-Intentioned Extremist who mostly responded to problems with careful chessmastering and unimpressed Kill Them All.
- Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Taiga goes from gentle doctor to self-centered Jerk Ass through run of the series' prequel, Kamen Rider Snipe: Episode Zero.
- In Merlin, Morgana was at first a confident, brave, and always compassionate young woman, who didn't judge any differences between magicians and non-magicians. After she discovers she has magical powers and would thus be hunted by Uther and shunned in Camelot, she becomes insecure and paranoid. Her feelings of isolation and lack of self-worth make her more self-focused. She slowly begins seeing everyone in Camelot as an enemy and reinterprets her relationships with them. After a betrayal, she begins to feel justified in her fear and considers all non-magic users in Camelot as worthless and cruel enemies who deserve to die. She then uses her insight into their inner lives to trap them, manipulate their minds, and ruin their romantic plotlines.
Arthur: What happened to you, Morgana? I thought we were friends.
Morgana: As did I.
- Though an unwilling example, Sir Lancelot at first appeared as a generous and loyal knight with an unconspicuous but significant lack of self-confidence, leading to his Heroic Sacrifice. He's brought back as a shade by Morgana and is forced to integrate the personality she wants. This makes him behave cruelly, act as a traitor, and finally, display overconfident Handsome Lech and Manipulative Bastard behaviours towards his New Old Flame Guinevere.
- Speaking of which, one of the points of the show is to introduce us to an impulsive and clumsy teenage servant, a self-conscious Shrinking Violet, the aforementioned straightforward lady, and a slightly immature prince, and to turn them into a wise trickster mentor, a High Queen with a hint of Pride and a Good Is Not Soft approach on things, a much more complex and doubtful Well-Intentioned Extremist, and a Good King.
- There's also King Uther, who begins the show as a regal, arrogant, powerful, indomitable ruler, and ends as a crippled, frail, mentally shattered shadow of his former self.
- The young Clark Kent from Smallville became a shadow of himself whenever he was exposed to red kryptonite, or any product that could alter his personality. It was sometimes hinted by Martha, one of his mothers, to be a case of True Self revealed or "all inhibitions removed", which would mean that Clark mainly spent the first four seasons of Smallville tempted to blast Lex against a wall while cheating on poor Lana, all while quite conspicuously ruining his reputation and throwing money by the windows.
- The same happened to Conner Kent, briefly.
- Just as briefly, it happened to Lana Lang who went from a shy and polite girl to an uncivil attention seeker for an episode after smelling strange spores.
- This seems to have happened to Tess Mercer, who was seen in flashbacks as an innocent, soft, optimistic and vulnerable young woman when she met Oliver. Cut to her being a Well-Intentioned Extremist, who can fight with almost everyone without superpowers, candidate to being the Big Bad, and fully believing that Humans Are the Real Monsters.
- It happens to Boris in Young Dracula. From The Cutie and The Comically Serious with "Well Done, Son!" Guy and Rebellious Rebel tendencies to a handsome devil and The Charmer who becomes an Antagonistic Offspring. Bonus points for actually using a mirror.
- Walter in Breaking Bad goes from being a meek chemistry teacher and loving family man to a ruthless murdering gangster after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and starts cooking meth to provide for his family. What is truly frightening is that his wife doesn't even notice the profound change in his character until he carefully explains her how much of a monster he has truly become.
- The overarching plot for the first four seasons of Supernatural. Sam Winchester starts out as a college student who abandoned his hunting family to live a normal life and be a lawyer. Even when his fiance is killed and his dark destiny and powers are slowly revealed, he remains an empathetic, kind-hearted heroic character whose greatest fear is "going darkside". The his brother sells his soul and later dies. Poor grief-stricken Sam, who had previously started being more ruthless as a response to his brother's impending death, snaps and turns to doing demon blood, using his powers and allying with demons in an effort to hunt down the demon that killed his brother. His blind quest for revenge leads him to inadvertently start the End Of The World. The corruption doesn't stick though and Sam spends the next season being The Atoner.
- This happens to Jack in the 8th season of 24 when he snaps and goes on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. While he previously averted Revenge Before Reason (while he's never been above revenge, he always had standards regarding it, only targeting the person who actually wronged him and never doing so if it would compromise the greater good), now he even ends up killing some of the head antagonist's accomplices just for being associated with them despite having nothing to do with the actual crime he's seeking revenge for. Just one season prior he chastises Tony for using the death of his loved ones as an excuse for causing mayhem to carry out his own selfish goals, and winds up doing the same thing after his own love interest is killed, being willing to start World War III if it means killing the mastermind behind it. Thankfully, thanks to a much-needed verbal smackdown from Chloe he finally snaps out of it.
- The Doctor of Doctor Who temporarily becomes this in the final stretch of Series 9. Between the events of "Face the Raven" and "Heaven Sent", he is betrayed by both Ashildr and his own people, Trapped in Another World, and subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture — suffering that he goes through completely alone because his beloved companion and Living Emotional Crutch Clara Oswald is Killed Off for Real in a Senseless Sacrifice and he has no access to his TARDIS. Driven to Madness, the result is that in the finale "Hell Bent" a man who is usually desperate to avoid embodying Beware the Superman becomes The Unfettered, willing to harm others and risk the destruction of time itself for nothing more than the chance to bring Clara back from the grave and give her a nice SAFE life — exactly what Clara demanded him not to do, but then she had no idea he'd be tormented to the point his grief and rage would be too much to overcome and too big an obstacle for What the Hell, Hero? speeches to undo. But he eventually has a Heel Realization, and with the help of Mind Rape regains his sanity and moral compass, leaving him sadder and wiseer, a selfless healer once more.
- During the course of Pink Floyd's The Wall, Pink sinks further and further into isolation and goes mad, the fragmented parts eventually metastasizing into the ultimate embodiment of all his negative emotions, which take the form of a fascist dictator — the same kind of evil that originally killed his father and established the very first brick in his emotional Wall.
- This is the entire point of Marina & the Diamonds' Electra Heart album.
- Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka, started in All Japan Womens Pro Wrestling as bullied rookies routinely crushed by bigger and or nastier heels, toughening up from the experience and meeting to form the most successful women's Tag Team of all time, in the Crush Gals, who became the top faces and role models to arenas full of cheering little girls. Then they turned twenty five and were forced into retirement not long afterwards. Nagayo kept her spirits up, forming her own promotion in GAEA and forming a partnership with WCW to help "old" retired wrestlers and rookies to the sport alike. Asuka was more bitter, forming the Super Star Unit for the purpose of taking over GAEA and putting out all the hopeful rookies who were filling the arenas with cheering young girls.
- Chris Hero and Kevin Steen entered into Ring of Honor lore as an angry wrestler wishing to destroy it on the behalf of Combat Zone Wrestling and a wrestler who saw it as a safe haven to flee from CZW. By 2012, Steen was part of the SCUM Stable, which wished to destroy the whole wrestling industry, starting with ROH and in 2013 Hero claimed to represent everything the promotion stood for.
- Carly had no interest in the pro wrestling business and only worked as a cameraman in the Puerto Rican version of the World Wrestling Council to help his dad through a tough time in business. Unfortunately for him, Ray González was out to destroy his father and the company and learning Carly was a son of a founder, decided to beat him up to make a point. This lead Carly to train in pro wrestling in order to defeat González and rid WWC of La Familia Mileno. Come 2015, Ray González has (supposedly) retired from pro wrestling, and opened a mini market that his son helps out with. Carly, not done with González, storms into the store and attacks Ray González Jr, causing Jr to train in pro wrestling to avenge himself and his father against Carly and La Revolucion he had allied with.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, a Blackguard is Prestige Class that is an Evil Counterpart of a Paladin; many were originally actual Paladins before they committed some unforgivable crime, even getting class bonuses if that was their previous class.
- Exalted: Deathlords. Once, they were glorious Solar Exalts who ruled Creation and shining paragons of everything that is good (mostly). Now, they are ghosts of said Solars, serve the embodiment of nihilism, and seek to plunge everything into absolute nothingness. Parallels to Nazguls are noted.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The primarch Horus was the Emperor's favorite son, who was to be the greatest of all Space Marines. When he fell to Chaos, he attacked everything he'd held dear, including the God-Emperor.
- It's also a depressingly common trajectory for Inquisitors. It can be summed up in these steps:
- New Inquisitor starts as an Acolyte, and is the closest thing one can find to a Wide-Eyed Idealist in this setting, believing in never touching alien or daemonic weaponry, always doing the right thing, that they'll always be able to save a lot of people. In other words, they're a Puritan Inquisitor.
- They'll see a Radical Inquisitor, which they consider to be no better than a Heretic.
- The constant atrocities, Exterminatus, and other such horrible things begin to get to the Inquisitor, and they feel as if they should do anything to save the Imperium, because there has to be a better way.
- The formerly Puritan inquisitor becomes a Radical, and is then (possibly) shot by a Puritan. Or worse, and there's plenty of fates like that cause it's Warhammer 40k.
- In Macbeth, the eponymous character turns into The Caligula, after being a loyal general who proved himself to be heroic and have qualms about his wife's plan to take power. He slowly loses all moral scruples, while his wife, who pushed him to ruthlessly betray his king, feels deep remorse and is Driven to Suicide.
- In the French play Topaze, the eponymous character starts off as a naive, idealistic, and honest schoolteacher who is fired from his job and recruited by people involved in a con scheme, who believe his truthful nature will convince people to fall for it. Fast forward ten years or so, and Topaze is now a hardened con artist, even manipulating his former boss to leave his position. The end shows him attempting to convert his old colleague from the school, and it is left ambiguous whether the other teacher will fall down the same path.
- Shaundi from Saints Row starts off as a fun-loving, hedonistic hippyesque girl, if still a gangster. A game later she has turned into the most serious, angriest and most bloodthirsty member of the Saints. It's mentioned that this happened because the Saints became famous and due to her new job as the star of her own tv show, Shaundi didn't have time to get stoned anymore.
- Blizzard, being fond of the Black and Grey Morality and Fallen Hero tropes, does it a lot:
- King Leoric of the Diablo series went from a righteous and noble king to a bloody-handed madman and eventual undead abomination by the time that Diablo and his Evil Chancellor Lazarus got through with him.
- His granddaughter is forced into this in Diablo III; she tries to help the heroes save the world in the third act of the game, only to get backstabbed by her own mother and devoured by Diablo himself. What is left of her spirit after the ensuing insanity from being force-fed some of Diablo's pure evil, seeks revenge on everyone and tries to break the spine of the universe as to destroy everything.
- In Warcraft III, Arthas went from a noble, heroic paladin to a Knight Templar to an all-out evil Death Knight seeking to Take Over the World.
- In World of Warcraft, Sylvannas Windrunner leads a rebel undead faction called the Forsaken against Arthas, despising him for putting her in her undead state and uniting them under the shared suffering of their condition. After Arthas' death in Wrath of the Lich King, however, she gains control of some renegade Val'kyr she uses to raise more Forsaken in Cataclysm, becoming exactly what she hated so much in Arthas. Though her new-found attitude is partially justified in a short story set between the two expansions, where she sees a vision of what would become of her spirit and the remaining Forsaken should she ever end (what's left of) her life.
- Likewise, Arthas' girlfriend, Jaina Proudmoore, used to be one of the biggest promoters of peace between the Horde and the Alliance due to their teamwork at Mt. Hyjal to drive away Archimonde, enough that she would see her warmongering father dead for peace even if she grieves about it. Then the Horde, now under Garrosh Hellscream, willy-nilly nuked her home Theramore, and after that, every reasonings were lost to Jaina, she became a warmonger that wants the Horde destroyed for her own vengeance, even citing that her father was right, with people saying that she just became a warmonger blinded by hatred, just like her father.
- Arcturus Mengsk from StarCraft, who provides this page's quote, went from a Rebel leader to The Emperor and eventually one of the Big Bads. Although if you read between the lines, that's what he had in mind from the start.
- His lieutnant Sarah Kerrigan manages to do it twice. She starts out as a good and idealistic character, only to get infested by Zerg and be turned into an Sociopathic, backstabbing Magnificent Bitch who quickly becomes the most evil villain of the franchise. Then StarCraft II gets her partially turned back to normal, and she becomes a heroic Dark Messiah Noble Demon, in contrast with Arcturus' Villain with Good Publicity.
- King Leoric of the Diablo series went from a righteous and noble king to a bloody-handed madman and eventual undead abomination by the time that Diablo and his Evil Chancellor Lazarus got through with him.
- This slowly happens to the prince in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, when the side effects of the sands of time corrupt him.
- In The Sims, this can happen if a Sim drinks the yellow potion of the potion-maker machine.
- In The Sims 2, it happens to a Sim resurrected with the Resurrection machine with a sum of between 4128 § and 8512 §. You know this controlled, shy, kind, energetic and serious Teen Genius? Meet the confident, Obviously Evil party animal who demonstrates as much laziness as a human being and a sloth combined normally could show in their life High School Hustler version of him.
- This can be done via the personality transformation award in The Sims 3.
- Andrew Ryan of BioShock. He built Rapture in an attempt to create a free-market paradise where the world's greatest entrepreneurs, scientists, and artists could live free of government regulation, taxation, and censorship. Yet both the flaws in his society, the actions of Frank Fontaine and the invention of ADAM have slowly morphed him into a brutal fascist dictator by assassinating dissenters, instituting curfews and executions, nationalizing Fontaine's business, and finally using pheromones to Mind Control Rapture's mutated populace, in short not only becoming a "Big Government" much worse than the one he founded Rapture to get away from but even destroying free will, the one thing he considers that truly "separates a man from a slave".
- Hinted for Sophia Lamb, too. She was probably kinder and more compassionate before becoming what she was in the end of the second game.
- Emiya Shirou from Fate/stay night is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who wants to be a Hero and protect everyone, and he only wants to do what seems to be right. His Future Self from another reality, Archer, on the other hand, is a Cynic who hates being an Heroic Spirit, says that it is a curse and a goal Shirou should not pursue, wants to kill him, and is willing to use rather ambiguous methods to reach his self-destructing goal...
- Shirou aspires to become a hero, and has thought to follow Kiritsugu's ideal of sacrificing the few to save the many. In Heaven's Feel he must choose to either kill Sakura or risk the lives of hundreds of innocents. He chooses to abandon his ideal and follow his selfish desire to protect Sakura, even though he knows it's a betrayal of his very self.
- Lord Dearche of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games is a villain to Anti-Hero example. In the first game, she was an Omnicidal Maniac Big Bad who was trying to reduce everything to nothingness. By the end of the second game however, not only has she saved countless worlds by stopping the rampage of that game's Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, but in the epilogue, it's shown that she's actively and successfully reversing the decay of the dying planet of Eltria. Mind you, as a Card-Carrying Villain, she tends to get angry when someone points out the Heel–Face Turn.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: In Peace Walker, Huey Emmerich courageously defied his boss, refusing to work for a deluded megalomaniac who thought he could do no wrong, and survived an attempt on his life in the process. In The Phantom Pain, Huey's become the deluded megalomaniac, abandoning his wife to die when she tries to defy him. All the courage and integrity he showed in Peace Walker is gone by the time of The Phantom Pain.
- The Eastern Brotherhood of Steel as of Fallout 4. Owyn Lyons lived in self-imposed exile in the Capital Wasteland for refusing to follow the Western Brotherhood's self-destructive policies. After his death, his daughter Sarah tried to continue his teachings until she died in battle a few years later. Once Maxson took over, the Lyons' teachings were lost and the Brotherhood became much like the Mojave chapter but without the NCR to curbstomp them. It seems the inevitable fate of any Brotherhood chapter is to either turn tyrannical or be destroyed by their beliefs. Ironically enough, if you were to pinpoint a power armour and Vertibird-using dictatorial military institution that flew around with the stated goal to wipe out all non-humans, who would you be describing? The Brotherhood, or the Enclave?
- This can be a possible outcome in Streets of Rage during co-op play. If both players reach Mr. X, he'll ask if they're willing to become his right hand man. If both players can't agree to a decision, then they fight to the death with the winner either accepting Mr. X's offer (which sends the player back two levels since it was a trap) or refuse the offer and fight him. Refusing the offer and defeating Mr. X shows the player becoming the new crime lord in Mr. X's place and thus they have become the very thing they were fighting against.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Miles Edgeworth was the son of a defense attorney and idolized his father, but fifteen years of Manfred von Karma's tutelage turned him into a ruthless prosecutor who hated criminals and their attorneys equally. Phoenix Wright changed the whole course of his life just to meet Edgeworth and try to shake him out of what he had become. He succeeded.
- Ultra Fast Pony parodies the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic example by having Discord magically invert the main cast's defining vices rather than their virtues. The greedy mobster Applejack becomes kind and generous; the gadfly Pinkie Pie becomes quiet and serious; the annoyingly codependent Rainbow Dash just wants to be left alone; the wannabe slavedriver Fluttershy suddenly loves serving others; the BDSM-obsessed Rarity becomes ludicrously safety-conscious. We Want Our Jerk Back is in full effect, as Twilight notices that these new personalities are somehow even bigger jerks than before.
- It's been stated in Homestuck that Sburb players who are especially resistant to their roles within the game will sometimes act as though they're an opposite class or aspect. This is seen to happen with Rose, who despite being a Seer of Light decides to fly around breaking things with dark magic and winds up going grimdark and blacking out their session.
- In Dexter's Laboratory, Dee Dee is turned into an Insufferable Genius for an episode.
- It is discussed in Kid Paddle. The child hero imagines it can happen by surgery, turning his brain around. He becomes terrified at the idea that his sister and his father would do this to him. It is a nice metaphor of his impression that they do not like him, and that there is not a thing they accept in him. They actually care more, but it is made clear that he and them have almost nothing in common.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, it happened to Fluttershy and Luna when they failed to (or felt that they failed to) use their special gifts. Cue to the Cutie Mark Failure theory amongst the fandom.
- In the two-parter "The Return of Harmony", Discord corrupts all the mane six through a combination of verbal trickery and mind control, until they all invert the virtues they formerly embodied. Applejack lies all the time; Rarity becomes greedy, Fluttershy becomes cruel, Rainbow Dash abandons her friends, and Pinkie Pie alternates between over-seriousness and laughing at other's misfortune. Twilight (who embodies the esoteric "magic", and in this series friendship is magic) loses all faith in her friends and in friendship itself.
- Totally Spies! features a town in which rebellious teenagers are turned into docile, serious and polite young people via Brainwashing. When they are healed, Clover is displeased by the result on her Love Interest, Todd, who goes from prim and proper Knight in Shining Armor to self-serving musician and Handsome Lech.
- In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Razer begins the series as an angry, vengeful Red Lantern. He ends the series as a potential Blue Lantern, as his hope and belief that he could be reunited with Aya drew a Blue Power Ring to him.
- In the episode "Joker's Favor" from Batman: The Animated Series, Charlie Collins begins the episode being an Everyman Ungrateful Bastard that becomes a Miles Gloriosus when feeling unappreciated he indulges at Mugging the Monster and Holding Out for a Hero. At the end, he becomes an Action Survivor Bully Hunter that really appreciates his life.
- Megatron of all people comes to a Heel Realization that he became this centuries ago after being tortured by Unicron in the "Predacons Rising" film.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, Cree Lincoln went from hero of the KND to kid-hating-teenager, becoming the embodiment of what she had despised and fought against while still on the team. And it would seem she isn't the only one; the whole reason operatives are subjected to Laser-Guided Amnesia and mandatory retirement upon turning fourteen is because so many of them have turned traitor.
- Peridot in Steven Universe starts as a cold, calculating force who couldn't care less about anything not in her job description as "technician for an evil empire". Her appearance on Earth was a genuine threat to the Crystal Gems. Then she gets stranded on Earth and loses all her tools, forcing her to learn about the world and understand the people around her. By the time she realizes her bosses can be wrong, cutting off her last reason for following orders, she's become an over-the-top, Constantly Curious Large Ham who, at the very least, cares for the Crystal Gems.
Rebecca Sugar: She’s excited by the infinite potential of everything, and fascinated by her own capacity to care, because those things had been a total blind spot for her.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Shredder comes to New York when he discovers Yoshi has been training ninjas. He mocks and belittles his rival when he finds out Yoshi himself is now a rat and his ninja clan is a bunch of mutant turtles he considers his adopted sons. Shredder also actively hates and ignores all the Fantasy Kitchen Sink occurrences happening New York. Flash forward a few seasons, he's replaced all his low level Mooks with robots based on Kraang technology and mutated all his high level apprentices, generals, and adopted daughter. He's became the Token Human of the Foot Clan, which has turned into a dark version of Turtle and Kraang weirdness-only to eventually use mutagen on himself to hasten his near death recovery, the consequences of which result in a giant monster of a mutant named Super Shredder. Karai lampshades it, declaring that Shredder has become everything he hates.
Real Life: Psychology
- The concept of Shadow Archetype itself is an interesting take on what someone rejects as foreign despite the fact that it is very much a part of one's possibilities and could manifest in one's behavior despite denial. This seems to cause the belief that people suffering DID have an alternate personality which is the contrary of the principal one.
Real Life: Others
- G.I.F.T. can consist of this, as it is wittily explained in this article. The reader is to judge whether the purposed equation performs well or not in its prediction purpose.
- The popular conception translated in In Vino Veritas; suppose it happens when someone completely represses a great part of their natural personality and drinks too much. That, or alcohol just makes you act goofy for no reason.
- This trope is frequently invoked in Real Life in cases involving extreme social pressure to avoid some behaviors and opinions and some ill-considered secret or denied traits being suddenly uncovered. Someone tries to hide one's opinions, one's religious beliefs, or one's sexual orientation, covering up what could indicate its existence and vehemently denying it (sometimes even to oneself), untill it suddenly appears and generates either Internalized Categorism (and actual changes) or demonization from their peers, giving birth to tropes such as You Are What You Hate.
- When the inability to hide something stems from a trauma, the deduction is often that the trauma caused the change. This is how a Sociopath, a Narcissist, or a Con Artist can be spotted in periods of stress after lapses in judgement, lack of planning, and sudden and ill-advised outbursts of rage.
- When an officer is about to be promoted in the Finnish Armed Forces, his or her colleagues will drink with him or her until he or she is blind drunk. A sociopath can be detected this way — his or her behaviour will get really strange. The promotion will ensue only if the candidate is not found to be a sociopath. While sociopaths are completely without any empathy and often intelligent, they are a liability in the armed forces because they are completely unpredictable; they have a knack for deceiving their friends, committing treason, or running away at the first sign of danger, endangering the whole unit as a result.
- When the inability to hide something stems from a trauma, the deduction is often that the trauma caused the change. This is how a Sociopath, a Narcissist, or a Con Artist can be spotted in periods of stress after lapses in judgement, lack of planning, and sudden and ill-advised outbursts of rage.
- It is not unheard of for teenage girls who get in with the wrong boy or vice versa to turn out this way in regards to how they behave around parents and friends. On at least one episode of Investigation Discovery's Deadly Women, a sweet-hearted teenage girl started dating a warlock-wannabe who was a few years older. She quickly turned cruel and manipulative, and in the end, became a cold-blooded killer.
- In a lot of weight-loss stories, it's often the formerly obese who become the most health- and exercise-conscious after they lose the weight. Part of it is simply Addiction Displacement, part of it is potential fear of falling back into old habits and gaining the weight back.
- There's a general observation to be made that when people afflicted with Black and White Insanity in religion or politics realize that their position has something substantially wrong with it, instead of revising their views to something more sane and moderate, they often conclude "Everything I've ever believed is a lie!", and assume by extension that the "other guys" they've been rabidly opposing must by extension be Absolutely Right, and proceed to overzealously campaign in favor of whatever they see as the opposite of what they'd previously thought.
- It has been supported by believers in the pseudoscientific Myers-Briggs personality test's that, whenever an unstable person with a given MBTI type is confronted to extreme stress, she adopts behaviors of the "shadow" type, giving in to her own "shadow", and therefore using their cognitive function in reverse order of importance if not even using the cognitive functions they are not supposed to use naturally.
- Studies led by enlightened amateurs on message boards suppose that this stereotypically tends to involve someone with a type that is supposed to demand a lot of conscious effort to uphold his way of life lapsing into a more instinctive behavior which betrays one's values. The most commonly reported example is a stereotypical INFP (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving) personality type (referred to as "an INFP") becoming an "evil" ESTJ (Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judging). Other common examples include a stereotypical ISFP (Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving) becoming an "evil" ENTJ (Extroverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging), and a stereotypical INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging) becoming an "evil" ESTP (Extroverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving), which sounds very puzzling, at least to people who haven't been exposed to the MBTI stereotypes. Rather strange discussions on the otherwise perfectly understandable PersonalityCafe site center on this, enlighting both the irrational reaction provoked by people who identify with a shadow type of the type with which one identifies, and the deep emotional reaction this trope provokes. This is losing oneself per excellence, after all.