"Wish I'd never met you, Doctor, I was much better off as a coward."
—Captain Jack Harkness
, Doctor Who
, "Parting of the Ways"
When an anti-heroic
or outright villainous
character is forced by circumstances to work with a heroic character
and over time, becomes more selfless and cooperative as a result (though not necessarily to Heel-Face Turn
levels). They may even blame The Hero
for making them go "soft"—often right after a Changed My Mind, Kid
moment. This is even more likely to occur if the heroic character is a Messianic Archetype
, an All-Loving Hero
A type of Character Development
. Toxic Friend Influence
and Peer Pressure Makes You Evil
are the opposites. Compare Got Me Doing It
(which is about mannerisms rather than internal values), Good Feels Good
(which is about good's inherent superiority over evil, rather than personal influence), and The Paragon
(who actively strives to make this happen). Compare/contrast Morality Pet
, who induces niceness in a villain who otherwise remains perfectly vile.
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Anime and Manga
- Kyouko in Puella Magi Madoka Magica is introduced as an Unscrupulous Hero and clashes violently with the heroic Sayaka at first. However, after the true nature of magical girls is revealed to them, Kyouko grows more attached to Sayaka, rediscovers her own long-forgotten heroic self, and ultimately commits a Heroic Sacrifice to stop a rampaging Witch!Sayaka.
- Luffy from One Piece is hardly a hero (and doesn't want to be one), but he has a massive problem with powerful people abusing their power and often demonstrates it with his fists. Thanks to his charismatic and caring nature, this attitude quickly takes hold on most of his crew mates, even on the stoic and previously uncaring swordsman Zoro.
- Both Piccolo and Vegeta from the Dragon Ball series fell prey to this, though it took a lot longer with Vegeta.
Film — Animated
- Mittens the cat would've been content to stay behind in Las Vegas while Bolt continued to Los Angeles, had not Rhino reminded her of Bolt's selfless ethics. Bolt's heroism is infectious to the point that Mittens rescues Rhino the hamster during his Heroic Sacrifice, something that would have been inconceivable when Mittens and Rhino first met.
Film — Live-Action
- Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy starts off as a smuggler pilot, who is quite a mercenary and only helps Luke and the Rebels for the cash they offer. Before long, however, he gradually becomes a heroic Rebel leader himself under the influence of the very heroic Skywalker siblings.
- The Na´ve Newcomer Will and the Loveable Rogue Jack seem to have respectively a positive and negative influence on each other through the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Jack becomes more selfless, not much, mind you, but he does improve a bit, while it's inverted with Will, who becomes more ruthless.
- In Labyrinth, Sarah does this with the dwarf Hoggle, gradually inducing him to be less selfish and cowardly, while undergoing a Coming of Age Character Arc herself.
- And in the Spiritual Successor MirrorMask, Helena does this with the scoundrel Valentine, while remaining steadfastly heroic herself. In this case, Valentine's growth is the main dramatic counterpoint of the film.
- Downplayed in Discworld. One of Carrot's defining traits is that he expects people around him to behave and be good to each other, and they do. The effect from his presence tends to be temporary, and wears off shortly after he's gone, but as long as he's around, it works on just about everyone.
- In the first two Artemis Fowl books, career criminal Mulch Diggums only works with the rest of the cast in exchange for time cut off his sentence or a Mercy Lead over the cops who want to arrest him, or as a result of being blackmailed. By the third book, he's incredibly annoyed to learn that he's developed a fondness towards Artemis and is prepared to commit an entirely non-selfish act to prevent Artemis being kidnapped by the Chicago mob.
- Doyle in Angel. In the first episode, he is reluctant to help Angel in any way other than getting the visions and passing on the message; after Angel forces him to come along to Russel's place, Doyle almost bails when he hears gun shots. Fast forward to the episode Hero, where Doyle decides to make a Heroic Sacrifice instead of Angel.
- Jack Harkness in Doctor Who; when he's introduced in "The Empty Child" he's a time-traveling scam artist, but his time spent travelling with the Doctor turns him into an Anti-Hero. He acknowledges the change when he's preparing to make a Last Stand against the Daleks to buy the Doctor some time, commenting good-naturedly that he wished he'd never met the Doctor because he preferred himself as a coward.
- Several series later, Rory Williams calls the Doctor out for this, pointing out that the Doctor is terribly dangerous because he inspires people to try and impress him. Although later in the episode, he goes with Amy to help the Doctor and the Doctor himself comments on this.
- Happens early on in Leverage to the leads aside from Nate. Helping out injured soldiers kept the crew together despite the risks and helped turn them from being just criminals for themselves into criminals for the helpless.
- PJ, your second Wingman in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, is much more influenced by your behavior than Pixy, your original wingman. If you follow the Knight path, his dialogue will be all about protecting civilians and ending the battles quickly. On the other hand, if you fly as a Mercenary, he'll eventually be Only in It for the Money.
- This is a gameplay mechanic in Knights of the Old Republic II: not only are you able to swing between the Light and Dark Sides of the Force, but you can also build up Relationship Values of your party members to sway their own attitudes towards Light and Dark from their default positions to whatever philosophy your support, so the Light-Sided Exile will inevitably do this to her Dark-Sided companions.
- Mass Effect:
- Garrus is unique as a companion in Mass Effect 1 in that you can shift his attitude to life with your actions and dialogue. He starts off as a frustrated Cowboy Cop, but traveling with a Paragon!Shepard convinces him that playing by-the-book is the better alternative. Of course, working with Renegade!Shepard only reinforces his original beliefs.
- In Mass Effect 2, you can continue to influence Garrus on his Loyalty Mission, but the game also gives us Jack, characterized as "the meanest and most spiteful creature in the galaxy". While she certainly tries to live up to that description, undertaking the Suicide Mission with Shepard brings out the more selfless traits in her. If she dies there, her Famous Last Words blame Shepard for her starting to "care". If she lives, she becomes a much more helpful and caring person by the next game, even jokingly blaming Shepard for bringing out her softer side.
- From the same game, there's also Miranda Lawson. At the beginning, she is one of the most loyal operatives that the Illusive Man has in all of Cerberus. At the end, she dramatically gives her resignation from Cerberus, having become even more loyal to Shepard.
- Isabela the Pirate Girl in Dragon Age II is introduced as a kind of woman who'd kill without a second thought, never commit to serious relationships, and run off with a precious artifact while you're not looking. However, with enough Friendship or Rivalry, she will ultimately return said artifact to the Qunari to prevent more bloodshed in Kirkwall—and blame Hawke for having a bad influence on her.
- Green Arrow from Justice League was already a hero but is introduced adamantly refusing join because he doesn't like the League's style. They only seemed to fight the "big monsters" while he preferred help the "little guys". However, after he takes down a giant radioactive "monster", he starts to reconsider, that and Black Canary walking by didn't hurt either.
- Interestingly, it's later implied that he is playing this role for the rest of the League- that Green Arrow is acting as a kind of Morality Chain for the more powerful members of the League, keeping their attention on the "little guys".