"At first, you'll be afraid. But don't worry. You're just becoming the monster you always were."Characters who decide to toboggan down The Dark Slide will have a fun time of it... at first. It starts small, maybe an Evil Makeover with Spikes of Villainy and Red Right Hand. But there's a nasty surprise at the bottom of this insidious slide; those who commit especially heinous crimes, abandon all of their humanity for power, or allow their inner darkness to bloom into a blight won't just grow tiny fangs or discover Evil Makes You Ugly, they'll find out Evil Makes You Monstrous. This is usually a feature of legends, both in real life and in stories. Basically, a guy, gal or even animal becomes so mean, malicious, and generally Evil that they transcend their mortal existence and become a monster of legend. A scourge on man and beast. After killing enough, the Serial Killer goes from a man into a force of nature that just. Won't. Die. The witch buried in the heart of the woods will rise from her grave and haunt it as a half-dead corpse until her spellbook is destroyed. The man who killed and ate his family out of hunger transforms into a Wendigo. The Creepy Child everyone picks on lets the hatred fester and ferment until she becomes a living poltergeist. The devil worshipper so taints their souls that they transform into a demon. Then again, the (mostly) innocent might suffer this fate because of a Curse or The Virus. In the most extreme cases the character will no longer be flesh and bone but Made of Evil. While it's unlikely the character wants to seek redemption, it's not impossible that a loved one from before the change can at least give them pause. Can also be caused through The Power of Hate. See also/compare One-Winged Angel and Scaled Up. The Punishment is related, but the transformation into a monster is forced by an outside faction. Contrast Power-Upgrading Deformation, where monstrousness makes you powerful. Compare with Cute Is Evil where cuteness is the warning.
— Ada Wong to Derek Simmons, Resident Evil 6
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Anime & Manga
- The evil humans fought by the DWMA in Soul Eater are often incredibly bizarre. In the anime it's stated to be because eating humans souls was turning them to Kishin, whereas in the manga only weapons can eat souls, leaving their strangeness more or less inexplicable.
- Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest: When Chiba is taken over by his bloodlust and obsession with killing Haguro, he becomes a deformed ogre instead of a werewolf.
- Berserk has the Apostles, every one of whom Was Once a Man (or woman, or child) before making their sacrifice to the Godhand and being reborn as demons, usually with a heaping helping of Body Horror to go with their new superpowers. Zig-Zagged by Griffith, who becomes monstrous upon transforming into Femto, only to cross the Bishonen Line and emerge even more beautiful after being reborn into the physical plane.
- The Witches in Puella Magi Madoka Magica are former magical girls who have succumbed to the curses resulting from their wishes. While as magical girls they still look fully human, as witches they become bizarre monsters in a world of Alien Geometries.
- Wendigo, particularly the Marvel Comics version. (Only 98% though - the rabid man turns into Wendigo more or less permanently, not only on the anniversary.)
- In one issue of the Valiant Zelda comics Link steals the Triforce of Power from Ganon. As a result he starts turning evil, and nearly completely transforms into a piglike monster similar to Ganon.
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dr. Jekyll indicates that Mr. Hyde has grown much larger from the exercise of sin.
- Marvel villain The Hood has a red hooded cape that gives him magic powers — and is warping him into a demon.
- Star Wars: Legacy Darth Krayt's own Vonduun Crab Armor(Yuuzhan Vong armor) has completely fused with his skin.
- Assuming that The Joker started out as an ordinary man, whatever turned him into a Monster Clown certainly has this trope happen to him. However, in Death of the Family, he has successfully outdone himself by first having his face removed, and then coming back one year later to wear it like a mask. Now he looks like a villain out of a Slasher Movie.
- Judge Dredd: Dredd's nemesis Judge Death, a walking corpse who believes that life is a crime, was once a human being in an Alternate Universe. Death spent his whole life killing people before allowing a pair of witches to turn him and his three lieutenants into undead abominations to achieve immortality. Since he was already pure evil long before his transformation, casting off the last of his humanity means the outside simply started to reflect the inside.
- Nemesis the Warlock: After Torquemada was killed by Nemesis in a Teleporter Accident, he returned as a monstrous, distorted, clawed phantom who had to possess rapidly-decaying hosts to interact with the physical world effectively.
- In Thousand Shinji the main characters become worshippers of the Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Gods. Their dark gods' gifts gradually mutate their bodies until Asuka becomes a red-skinned, bronze-haired, muscled demon, and Rei looks like a diseased, rotten living corpse.
- In The Black Cauldron fic Hope For The Heartless, the Horned King is revealed to have been a human who became what he is today centuries ago when he lost his heart and humanity with the numerous atrocities he committed in the name of his master Arawn and later in his own name after his master was vanquished.
The Horned King: The heart is the messenger from the soul to the body, and keeps the two bound together as one. When the body fails, the heart ceases to be, and the soul is released from the body and sent elsewhere. You can see this in your elderly, however there is another scenario. After killing someone, the heart, the origin of all morality and emotion, begins to corrode. Slowly, but it is noticeable. The more one kills, the more difficult the damage is to reverse. — After one has killed so much that the heart is gone and no longer holds the life in them, they begin to decay on the outside as well, as the heart binds the body and soul together, and without the heart, the soul cannot function properly. You see this with anyone who has killed before. They are alive, but they are not, and their outward appearance begins to reflect what they have become on the inside, and what they leave in their wake. I look like this because I am the embodiment of all that I have become. My heart turned to dust centuries ago, taking all life with it, and left me merely in a state of existence, my soul unable to work properly without it, thus my appearance.
- This is the nature of Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th series. Notably, he started out as an implacable but very human killer, until he morphed into an immortal undead killing machine over time.
- Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street somehow managed to become an undead dream-dwelling human monster just by being really nasty to kids. The sixth film reveals that he was given his powers upon dying by several nightmare demons.
- Halloween's Michael Myers went from a super-strong, sociopathic human with plans to kill his sister to a completely unkillable supernatural being hell-bent on massacring half of Haddonfield. And if you follow the sixth movie's canon, his power is making him grow bigger in each movie.
- In Doom, Chromosome 24 turns evil people (or people with a great potential for evil) into monsters and those who aren't into superhumans. Sarge, who had earlier crossed a moral line but was still just following orders, starts out superhuman after being infected but turns into a monster during his fight with Reaper the moment it seems like he's really going to murder him.
- Star Wars: Darth Vader got all his flesh burned off and earned a black skull-faced suit. Darth Sidious was disfigured into a withered wrinkled ghoul of a man. Darth Maul got tattoos all over his body. Only Count Dooku got away in looks and stayed classy.
- Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean was supposed to use his supernatural ship, the Flying Dutchman, to transport the souls of the dead to the afterlife. After his lover Calypso abandoned him, he in turn abandoned his duties and began instead to bargain for the souls of dying sailors to become part of his undead crew, at which point they would be tortured until becoming one with the ship. This caused him (and, by extension, them) to mutate into horrific amalgamations of human and sea creature.
- Theodora turns into an ugly green hag in Oz: The Great and Powerful after being tricked by her wicked sister Evanora (who is also an example) into eating a cursed apple.
- According to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, any woman who turns evil and becomes a witch cannot perfectly hide her rotting flesh to a thorough examiner. Hansel uses it to prove that Mina is not a witch He turns out to be wrong, but the trope still applies because white witches like Mina are good and remain untarnished. Grand Black Witches can take on attractive forms, but when they use their powers they revert to their monstrous form.
- Chucky from the Child's Play movies. The more time he spends in the Good Guy doll, the more evil the doll looks (as well as slowly mutating from plastic to actual flesh and blood).
- Ben Willis, the Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer, was originally a revenge-driven killer who used a hook as his Weapon of Choice. By the time of I'll Allways Know What You Did Last Summer he's apparently become an undead ghost/living memory still driven to kill.
Folklore and Mythology
- The concept is more or less universal amongst human cultures - literally regarding the inhumane as inhuman.
- This is one of the possible origins of a vampire, according to some accounts.
- This is also common in Native American Mythology. Many, many monsters are spawned due to someone acting in such an anti-social fashion for so long that they become monsters.
- In the Native American mythology you may turn into a Wendigo if you become a cannibal.
- Norse Mythology's Fafnir (who, depending on the source, is either a dwarf, a giant, or a man) murders his own father over a pile of gold, then turns into a dragon that constantly guards the treasure (Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, The Saga of the Volsungs). While this appears to be a voluntary transformation, Fafnir never shifts out of his dragon shape.
- Shuten-douji of Japanese Mythology, once an ordinary boy who callously burned up love letters and was cruel at heart. However, the smoke from this fire turned him into an oni.
- Eustace in The Chronicles of Narnia, very allegorically becomes a dragon by being greedy and messing with a dragon's hoard.
- Waraug the evil dragon in Dealing With Dragons turns into a frog after displaying un-dragonlike behavior.
- This happened to Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. He lost his handsome looks and acquired ugly snake-like features after using too much Dark Magic. He also made himself very, very difficult to kill through the same means.
- Tends to happen to the most powerful Dead in the Old Kingdom books. The deeper regions of death have strongly metamorphic properties, so that any spirit that forces it's way back into the world of the living from there will have to be quite powerful to do so, but will no longer resemble its human form- and any dead spirit that willingly returns to life is a walking abomination against the natural order and a threat to any living person who encounters it.
- In Eva Ibbotson's children's novel Dial A Ghost, one of the ways Our Ghosts Are Different is that evil ghosts decay in appearance over time while good ghosts still look mostly like they did in life. Some of it is apparently based on neglect for personal appearance and/or deliberate attempts to appear scary, but just plain being hateful seems to mess them up pretty well on its own— an unpleasant character seen just after his death is described as being even uglier as a ghost than he was as a man.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- "[The Master] has grown past the curse of human features."
- Like the Master before him, Kakistos has grown past the curse of human features. Unlike the Master, he has cloven hooves in place of hands and feet.
- In Supernatural Wendigo are created when humans dine on human flesh. The hunger grows and grows until they're nothing but beasts.
- In Kamen Rider Decade's version of Kamen Rider Hibiki, an Oni who loses sight of justice and fights only to become stronger will become a powerful, corrupted, ox-like Makamou called Gyuuki. This happens to Hibiki, forcing his young student Asumu to Mercy Kill him and take up the title of Hibiki.
- The line between monster and human is a common theme in Rider shows, since a lot of its heroes gained their powers from evil sources before using them for good.
- Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, being heavily based on Japanese Mythology, has several bad guys who are explicitly ex-humans who went bad enough to become monsters. The villains for the show are even called Gedoushu, literally "Outside Path Ones", because they have left the path of humanity.
- Fomori in Werewolf: The Apocalypse tend to be created when the Wyrm warps the flesh of those who are corrupt.
- Slashers in the New World of Darkness are people who have done such evil things that the evil has warped them and given them special abilities to help them kill.
- In the same setting, the Mad are mages who have committed so many heinous acts that their souls shatter, letting their magic start to leak out all over the place and manifest whatever psychoses pushed them over the edge.
- Similarly, the Centimani from Promethean: The Created. Usually driven over the Despair Event Horizon by the raft of crap Prometheans have to deal with, they turn their back on the Pilgrimage and start dealing with Flux. This usually results in mutations. Lots of mutations.
- That would explain the name.
- In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, worshippers of Chaos will inevitably mutate—sometimes rather quickly—as the power of Chaos seeps into their being. Chaos mutations tend to be rather...grotesque, even horrifying. Eventually, this power will be the key to the apotheosis into a Daemon Prince, although failure or inability to keep the power from overwhelming oneself, leads to succumbing to the mutations and becoming a mindless Chaos Spawn, which is a much more common fate (provided they survived to that point).
- The Dark Eldar of 40k, though they generally have a somewhat genteel evil look, have Haemonculi, who enforce this trope on themselves, with a combination of surgical and quasi-scientific means.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, a lot of The Undead work this way. Cannibals rise from the grave as ghouls, unrepentant murderers come back as wights, those consumed by hatred become wraiths or spectres, and so on.
- There is also the taint mechanic introduced in the book "Hero's of Horror." In this you don't even have to do evil, mere exposure to evil can induce unpleasant effects.
- Ravenloft invokes this to the point of having game mechanics for it. Whenever a player character commits an evil act, the DM makes a secret roll to find out if this attracts the attention of the Dark Powers. This normally results in gaining a supernatural power and a Red Right Hand to go with it. Repeated evil acts lead to further progression down a chart, and a PC who reaches this stage becomes a monstrous NPC Darklord. Some "Acts of Ultimate Darkness" can automatically take a character to Darklord status.
- In Magic: The Gathering the planeswalker Ashiok is gradually transforming into something else as they orchestrate acts of evil. Thus far they've transformed about half their head into dark mist and a pair of slender black horns (in the process removing the eyes and brain, which they seem to have passed beyond a need for). Arranging the massacre of an entire city turned a few more specks of their cheek into this mist, indicating that countless atrocities lie behind the progress that's been made so far.
- In Kingdom Hearts I, Maleficent embraces the Darkness and becomes a giant dragon as a result.
- As Sorceresses in Final Fantasy VIII grow older and continue to use their magic, their power begins to change their appearance into something less human and more monstrous. Edea was a fairly young sorceress so her appearance (while slightly altered) was still beautiful, whereas the older (and far crueler) sorceress Adel had morphed into a monstrous, muscular being. However, Sorceress Ultimecia's appearance is up for debate - her true form might be that of a sexy, winged scantily-clad woman, or her true form might actually be her barely-human existence-sucking final form. Considering how the other sorceresses look, the latter is more likely.
- Then there are the various sorceresses the player must fight during Time Compression. The first batch have odd skin colors and facial markings but still resemble beautiful women, the second batch look a little less human and have eerily warped laughs, while the final sorceress resembles a fat, bloated, purple slug.
- In Final Fantasy X, this is how one of Yevon's monks was turned into Omega Weapon.
- The Legend of Zelda's Ganondorf, tapping into the full power of his Triforce of Power, transformed into the pig beast now known as Ganon. Although he is sometimes able to revert back to his human form at will, he definitely received the absolute refusal to actually stay down.
- In Diablo II, the protagonist from the first opus, after defeating the eponymous Demon Lord, has put his soulgem on his own body in an attempt to contain his evil. As the game progress, Diablo takes over his body, gradually making him more monstrous until he turns back into the hideous Demon form Diablo used to assume.
- The further you go down the Dark Side in Knights of the Old Republic, the uglier you get. When you're maxed out on Dark points, your eyes turn red and your skin gets ashen and veiny.
- In Live A Live, this is the fate of the knight Oersted. Originally one of the most straight up heroic player characters in the game, he falls after he is betrayed and abandoned by everyone he knows. After accepting the mantle of "Demon King", he seems to prefer his new monstrous form to his original appearance. He reverts to his original human appearance right before he dies while warning the other heroes not to repeat his mistakes.
- Skyrim vampirism. A bite from a vampire will cause you to contract the disease that turns you into one but you have three days to cure it before you actually become one. So pretty much all vampires in Skyrim are vampires by choice.
- The fact that, in one quest, you meet vampires praying to Clavicus Vile to cure their vampirism, could be taken as indication that they were unwillingly turned into vampires. Or that they grew bored with it, who knows. Certainly vampirism is easy enough to cure before the three days have passed, a cure disease potion will do the trick, as will praying at a shrine.
- Isamu in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. He decides to seek the truth by himself, not accepting any help... and next time you see him, he's absorbing countless stray spirits in the Amala Network to empower himself. Result? He ends up with dozens of faces growing out of his body.
- Ryu from the Street Fighter series has an evil form, cleverly named "Evil Ryu". In the series, it is said that those who train in the art of Ansatsuken (Ryu's fighting style), they can tap into even more power with Satsui no Hadou, which causes the user to do anything for victory, including murder. Ryu using this power is what gave series boss Sagat, a gaping scar across his chest for sequels to come.
- Also worthy to note, series True Final Boss Akuma has been cursed with the power of the Satsui no Hadou, causing him to lose his mindset and his humility.
- OFF plays this one straight with The Batter. Maybe.
- In the Fable series, your character's appearance is affected by your moral standing, with evil characters developing glowing eyes, pale skin and even horns.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Due to the hidden "Demon Points" counter, every immoral action Snake commits (killing animals or enemy soldiers, attacking your buddies, killing Diamond Dogs staff, developing nukes, etc.) will slowly cause this to happen to him. At 20,000 points, his shrapnel horn grows significantly to resemble an actual horn, and at 50,000 points, it grows even longer and Snake becomes permanently covered in blood, becoming a true demon.
- Resident Evil 6: Carla Radames infects Simmons with the C-Virus with this very trope in mind:
- In Until Dawn, true to Algonquian mythology, the act of eating human flesh transforms a person into a monstrous Wendigo, an undead predator with lanky arms and vicious teeth. The mountain the protagonists have visited has been infested with them since 1952 when a bunch of miners resorted to cannibalism to survive after being trapped for weeks by a cave-in. The survivors were transported to a sanatorium where they transformed, massacred the nurses and other patients and fled into the night. Years later, when Hannah and Beth fell off a cliff resulting in the latter's death, the former's maiming and both being presumed dead, Hannah resorted to eating her sister's remains, transforming her into the fearsome Makkapitew.
- Arguably this happens in Shadow of the Colossus, as killing the colossi gradually turns the protagonist into a monster.
- The hideous Creature, a supervillain in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe has been active as a super-criminal since the 1930s. Originally he was an officer in the SS and a spy for Nazi Germany when he found a mystic artifact called the "Stone Heart" that legend said would grant the one who possessed it great power and immortality. But it also transforms you so that your appearance reflects your "true self". Unselfish heroes who are kind, honorable, and generous tend to become tall, attractive, and strong in physically perfect bodies. Its safe to say that Creature was not kind, honorable, or generous...
- Gibson from Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! when he's infected with The Virus in the episode "Thingy".
- Though it's revealed in Luna Eclipsed of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic that Princess Luna can change to her Nightmare Moon appearance whenever she wants, it was still her preferred and default form when she turned evil.