1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Fallen Hero

Dang, older than time...

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

Not all Villains are born. Some are made, and none are more tragic than the Fallen Hero. As the name implies, the Fallen Hero used to be a hero before doing a Face–Heel Turn. They may even have been an Ideal Hero or another equally optimistic archetype, up until the moment when they suffered something bad enough for them to lose all faith in good and idealism, be it the loss of a loved one, too many good deeds coming back to bite them hard, betrayal by someone they trusted the most, too much distrust from those who should have been allies, or some other faith-shattering event. It might even be a drawn out process of seduction to The Dark Side or fall from grace.

What they choose to do about it determines what they become:

They'll use their not-inconsiderable powers and abilities to do it, too. Often, they'll twist healing powers to evil ends, or allow pain to fester by simply denying the use of their powers for good. Where once the Barrier Maiden wanted to heal the world, she'll now spread misery to speed its destruction. The Messianic Archetype who wanted to save the world now wants its damnation. The Gunslinger, once wanting to bring justice to the frontier, now wants nothing but vengeance and blood. Many of these made the protagonist's journey to villainy.

Usually revealed in a Not So Different moment. Almost always gets a Start of Darkness, and often implicates a Became Their Own Antithesis. Christopher Booker's sixth basic plot, Tragedy, uses this character arc, with the Fallen Hero as main character. Compare Face–Heel Turn, The Dark Side Will Make You Forget. See also Fallen Angel, Tragic Villain, and Tragic Monster. Super Trope to The Paragon Always Rebels, in which the character has such influence over other good guys that they fall with him or her. When the Fallen Hero used to be a main character in a previous work, they're a Rogue Protagonist.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion, as once Yui dies, he retreats into himself and becomes a Manipulative Bastard and The Dragon to SEELE.
    • Shinji Ikari from Rebuild of Evangelion fits this much better, as unlike Gendo he was genuinely saving the world until Gendo tricked him into dooming humanity.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Judai's Heroic BSOD causes him to transform into the villainous Supreme King once he decides to use evil's methods to fight evil itself, complete with a literal gaggle of Fallen Heroes (evil versions of his normal Elemental Heroes).
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Rex Godwin qualifies. Before he became the tyrannical head of Security, he was the legendary Mysterious D-Wheeler who tried to build the Daedalus Bridge and connect Satellite to Neo Domino, hoping to free the residents of Satellite from the oppression of the upper class. But Security had other ideas. When they tried to arrest him, he drove his D-Wheel off the incomplete bridge, vanishing, becoming a martyr to everyone who followed him. In a sense, when he became a Dark Signer, he was a Well-Intentioned Extremist, who sought to put a stop to the conflict between good and evil that seemed doomed to repeat itself endlessly. When he was finally defeated, the Daedalus Bridge was completed as a modern bridge, and stands as a symbol of the man he once was.
  • Nina from Mai-Otome takes this to its literal extreme. At first, she was the top student in her class with a promising life ahead of her, and then she went crazy when she thought that Arika was trying to steal the man she loved. From there, she accidentally killed one of her best friends when she turned out to be The Mole, and purposefully killed tens of thousands more to prove her devotion, ending with her reputation in tatters, him on his deathbed, and the memories of the two of them ever having met lost forever, and a loss in the final battle that ends with her falling from outer space.
  • Sensui from YuYu Hakusho. Was a Spirit Detective, and a damn effective one, until he saw the Black Black Club torturing demons for their own amusement, got his hands on Chapter Black, and went insane with the desire to get rid of all of humanity.
  • Prétear. Along with the revelation that the Princess of Disaster is the current form of the last Prétear, Takako, the show also plays with the possibility that anyone who becomes the Pretear could become the Princess of Disaster. Which naturally leads Himeno Awayuki, the current Prétear, straight into a Heroic BSOD while she sorts it out.
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Gentle Chapman was one of the most admired Fighters ever, but after old age and an illness caught up with him, he could only win via cheating (perpetrated without his knowledge by his wife). He paid for it by dying...and was revived as a zombie by the Devil Gundam.
    • Master Asia also falls under this. He was formally a part of the Shuffle Alliance, a group that was devoted protecting humanity from self destruction, and Domon Kashu's mentor. But during the previous Gundam Fight, he saw how badly the Fight damaged the Earth and blamed humanity for despoiling their homeworld so carelessly. After meeting the Devil Gundam, he joined its plan to wipe out humanity, believing that it was the best path for life on Earth to survive.
    • Also Devil Gundam. It was built as nanomachine colony to restore Earth's environment, but Ulube wanted to use it as a weapon. When it escaped to Earth, the impact messed with its A.I and turned it into an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Big Bad, Ribbons Almark, seems like this, considering that he was a Gundam Meister who piloted the very first Gundam in the series. It's actually a subversion, as he was never a hero. The intervention when he saved Setsuna had no glorious goal beyond a field test of the 0 Gundam, and he was supposed to kill all witnesses. He only spared young Soran Ibrahim because he saw the devotion in the young soldier. And this incident triggered his god complex, leading him to become the Big Bad.
  • Gale Raregroove, Pumpkin Doryu, and Captain Hardner in Rave Master.
  • LordGenome of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who was Simon's predecessor. One of them, anyway.
    • Same goes for Guame, who is Boota's predecessor.
  • Griffith of Berserk, once the closest thing the general universe had to a hero, but who is now the fifth member of the demonic Godhand, Femto.
  • In Magical Project S, the third candidate, Romio, was a former magical girl from Earth, but she was unable to maintain the Good-Evil Balance. Because of this, she became bent on destroying Earth.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Dios, aka Akio, shows what happens when the Princely Young Man turns into one of these.
  • Transformers Armada has Wheeljack, and depending on who you talk to, Starscream could also be considered as this.
  • Naruto:
    • Nagato, aka Pain was born with a special power that marked him as a literal messiah. Inspired by the words of his childhood friends and mentor, he desired to bring about a lasting peace. However, his pacifistic attempts left his friend Yahiko dead and him crippled, shattering his dream. So, he set out to create a new peace, by sharing the pain that he had suffered.
    • Hanzo, his predecessor as the leader of the Hidden Rain Village, also started off with good intentions before he became a Crazy Survivalist.
    • Sasuke Uchiha also becomes one of these over the course of the story.
    • Belive it or not, even Orochimaru qualifies. Although he'd die before admitting it, there was a time, before his defection, when he legitimately cared about his teammates and fought on behalf of his village. After seeing many people die in war, he became obsessed with gaining immortality and lost any sense of ethics.
    • Obito Uchiha soon after his "death" became Tobi.
    • The Nine Tailed Fox could be argued to be this. One of the legends mentioned about him by Jiraiya and a toad made him out to be some kind of supernatural natural disaster that emerged to punish mankind when they got too evil and sinful. As he's very much sapient, regardless of whether or not he's inside a host, and if there is any truth to the legend, that means he chose to seek out and destroy evil wherever it emerged. Considering that the Tailed Beasts were all thought of as nothing more than convenient power sources to be exploited, that means that he could have eventually gotten tired of that nonsense and played the part of the asshole embodiment of evil that he portrayed himself as to be left alone.
  • Oskar Von Reuenthal in Legend of Galactic Heroes. Particularly tragic, since he did not rebel against Reinhard Von Lohengramm out of genuine malice or ambition, but because he was framed and was too proud to accept punishment for a crime he did not commit. His death is arguably the most senseless and undeserved in the entire series.
  • Ubel Blatt has a number of these, similar to the Overlord example further down the page. 14 heroes go to fight the Dark Lord. On the way there, 3 die heroically, and upon the entrance of the Evil Lair, 7 of the survivors get cold feet and stay behind. The other 4 go to defeat the villain, winning with great difficulty. Returning home, those heroes get ambushed by their former comrades and are bloodily murdered. They go on to become the "Seven Heroes, who defeated the Dark Lord and the '4 Lances of Betrayal'". The 7 Lances end up going insane with power, but can get away with anything because of their hero status. Though one of the 4 is back and wants revenge.
  • Claymore has plenty of these since every warrior is doomed to eventually succumb to her Superpowered Evil Side. However, the one who fits this trope the best is Priscilla — once a gifted young warrior and Wide-Eyed Idealist, she is now the terrifyingly powerful Big Bad.
  • The Big Bad of Drifters is heavily implied to be this. Well, he's actually implied to be Jesus Christ turned Omnicidal Maniac. Plus, some of the Offscouring can qualify - Joan of Arc becoming a homicidal pyromaniac after being burned at the stake, for example.
  • Aga Mbadi from Battle Angel Alita: Last Order. He was once a renowned hero around the solar system for hunting down a dangerous terrorist. After being forced to watch the only woman he ever loved slowly die in his arms and acquiring his insane nemesis's brain chip, he has turned into a Manipulative Bastard and Nietzsche Wannabe who considers everyone but himself lower than dirt.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has not only one, but two Fallen Heroines. In fact, the story is arguably about the Start of Darkness for one of them. And while we don't see their Start of Darkness, it turns out that every single witch aside from former familiars was once a magical girl.
  • After having his alignment changed by the effects of Nirvana, it emerged that Hot-Eye of the Oracion-Seis was one of these. He originally just wanted to raise enough money to fund a search for his lost brother, Wally, but seemed to have gotten corrupted by his team mates somewhere along the line. After all is said and done, he calmly accepts incarceration for his deeds while he was a villain, after finding out that the Fairy Tail guild members had met Wally not too long ago, and declares himself happy with the knowledge that he's alive and well.
  • Fate/Zero:
    • Berserker, dubbed "Black Knight", revealed in the final battle (by King Arthur herself, no less) to be Sir Lancelot.
    • Caster is Gilles de Rais, a knight who fought along side Jeanne d'Arc, before descending into madness after her death and turning into a Serial Killer.
  • Jinno from Afro Samurai. He was Afro's best friend as they trained together for years, but one night under the Bodhi Tree, he witnessed all of his friends and fellow pupils killed by bandits, and then Afro coldly murdered their master to obtain the No. 2 headband. He blames Afro for everything that happened, and had his ruined body fitted with cybernetics to turn him into a formidable warrior. Before Afro can challenge Justice, he has to fight past his childhood friend.
  • Lady Flair in the Dirty Pair Flash universe, a Former WWWA agent and predecessor to the Current Lovely Angels who after a mission goes bad and felt betrayed went on to become an assassin , but makes an heroic sacrifice after realizing the truth of what happened.
  • Suzaku from Code Geass was the poster boy for what an Eleven can become in Britannian society. When Princess Euphie dies, he turns into the White Grim Reaper.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi Byakko Ibun, a prequel to Fushigi Yuugi, the audience sees a kind and silent man named Nirusha, who helps a much abused little girl to start looking for her place in the world. Towards the end of the chapter, it's revealed that said man is none than the horrifyingly cruel Miboshi from the original series.
  • Tokyo Ghoul :Re gives two examples, both corrupted by Aogiri Tree over the course of the two-year Time Skip between series. Hinami has gone from The Cutie that did her best to assist the heroes and wanted to live in peace with humans, to a Broken Bird that is a prominent member of Aogiri. She handles their intelligence network, and seems to have lost all compassion for humans. More extreme is the other example, former Plucky Comic Relief Seidou Takizawa. The idealistic Ghoul Investigator was Reforged into a Minion, and has become a deranged Half-Human Hybrid that appears to have lost his humanity as a result of extensive torture. He gleefully explains that I Am a Monster, and goes on a killing spree on the orders of the Big Bad.

    Comic Books 
  • Interestingly, an alternate future shows Triumph's best friend, the Ray, becoming one of these, with Triumph himself and the Flash (Bart Allen) as the only two heroes left, trying to keep him under control...while still being best friends and hanging out to watch sports and such.
  • About a million alternate future stories depict either Batman or Superman as this, frequently with the other one trying to pull them out of it.
  • Godzilla: Rulers of Earth: King Caesar and Mecha-King Ghidorah.
  • The Long Halloween, the series that inspired Nolan when he was writing the script for The Dark Knight, has a Harvey Dent that worked alongside Batman and Commissioner Gordon. We later find out that Harvey may not have even been responsible for some of the deaths, it may have been his wife trying to end all the terror that was happening and trying to get Harvey to come back. A closer inspection reveals plot holes with this revelation, and it's vague whether she did it or was just crazy. This is only one version of Two-Face's origin, but all the ones worth mentioning show him as working with Batman before turning into Two-Face.
  • Both Sinestro and, later, his Arch-Enemy, Hal Jordan, are Green Lantern Corps members who turned evil. Sinestro wanted to enforce order, so he became a Knight Templar dictator of his home planet, Korugar. Years later, after seeing his home city nuked, among other things, Hal Freaked Out and destroyed the Green Lantern Corps and tried to remake the universe. Hal was later retconned into being possessed by the Anthropomorphic Personification of fear itself, and Sinestro was influenced by a demon telling him a prophecy that Korugar would destroy itself if order wasn't enforced.
  • At the beginning of Kevin Smith's Daredevil run, Karen Page was stuffed into a fridge. Then, Brian Michael Bendis took over and his identity was exposed to the public, and eventually, he was incarcerated for obstruction of justice. After beating the rap, his new wife, Milla, suffered a psychotic breakdown and the marriage dissolved (Matt cheating on her with Dakota North happened in between). By the time Lady Bullseye started to kill his closest allies to resurrect them as zombie ninja slaves, Matt finally said "screw this" and abandoned his life as Matt Murdock to become leader of the Hand. Though still a Technical Pacifist, the crossover Shadowland changed this with Marvel promoting Daredevil as the new "greatest super-villain of the Marvel Universe".
  • The Punisher qualifies. Before becoming the Knight Templar vigilante he's notorious for being, Frank was a veteran in the United States Marines Special Forces; for heroism in the line of duty, he was decorated with numerous medals, including the Purple Heart. The brutal attack that killed his family caused him to desert just hours before he would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Astro City has El Hombre, an Expy of Batman from Los Angeles. Though he became prominent in the super-hero circle, he became upset at his lack of respect from the populace and his love interest's marriage to someone else. He then hired a super-villain to build a robot to attack the city so he could stop it in a high-profile fight. He was betrayed by the villain, and when it was later revealed that El Hombre commissioned the attack, he became a wanted fugitive and disappeared into his civilian identity.
    • Decades later, he tries a similar ruse, killing low-level supervillains to unite their ilk against him, eventually gathering them all in one place, and wiping them out in his new heroic identity as El Guerrero. His former sidekick, Bravo, while being ashamed of El Hombre's actions, still holds a great deal of respect for the great man and the hero he once was.
  • Shakara: The Big Bad responsible for most of the destruction was revealed to be Cinnibar Brenneka, the heroic warrior who built the Shakara empire in the first place.
  • Richard Dragon, most famous for being the best martial artist in the DCU, was one of these for a while until Bronze Tiger dragged him out of it.
  • Hank Pym becomes one of these (usually of the retired variety, but occasionally the Anti-Villain version) every couple of years when something bad happens to Jan and/or Ultron does something horrible that he blames himself for.
  • Magneto jumps around between this, Anti-Villain, Anti-Hero, and Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • From Marvel's Golden Age, there was Thomas Halloway, the original Angel. In those times, he was a hero who fought the Nazis alongside the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. But in modern times as an elderly man, he started to take morally questionable means of fighting criminals, financing and running the murderous vigilante group Scourges of the Underworld, which has assassinated a large number of lesser supervillains. (The worst part is, while he ran the group, the the Scourges ultimately reported to the Red Skull, someone all the heroes of the Angel's time opposed.) The USAgent confronts him eventually in his mini-series; the former hero is wounded and arrested, as are many Sourges, but the Angel himself was released for lack of any concrete evidence. It was assumed he resumed a quiet life. Still, the heroic Angel lives on in the form of his grandson Jason, who was given his costume during The Marvels Project limited series.
  • Black Panther was one of these (of the retired/bitter variety) at the end of Christopher Priest's run, but this development, and the fatal brain aneurysm that caused it, were both ignored by subsequent writers.
  • Superboy Prime. He begins his career battling the Anti Monitor, the DC Universe's greatest threat, and is immediately forced into Limbo with his home universe destroyed. After years in Limbo, he returns, convinced that Earth's heroes are screwing it all up and ultimately decides that this universe needs to be replaced by a better one.
  • Supergirl, specifically the Linda Danvers incarnation, may or may not qualify. At the end of her own series she was forced to send to the original Supergirl back to her own reality, where she was Doomed by Canon. This left Linda broken and she promptly gave up the costume. A later series has her end up in Hell off-panel, but it's considered to be Fanon Discontinuity.
  • Irredeemable centers around The Plutonian, a Superman-like superhero who snaps violently after a long and thankless career and proceeds to become the irredeemable Big Bad set to obliterate the world that he once protected. Inversely, there's the spin-off Incorruptible, which focuses on former Supervillain Max Damage who, in the wake of The Plutonian's rampage of destruction, decides to become a hero.
    • Irredeemable is written by Mark Waid, who co-created Triumph (mentioned above), and has confirmed that a lot of the original ideas behind Triumph (who Waid wrote very little of) ended up in Irredeemable.
  • Sin City has Jack Rafferty, who was once a hero cop but eventually degraded to the level of an alcoholic Bastard Boyfriend. Word of God states that his story will eventually be told.
  • In All Fall Down, Pronto gradually becomes this for the climax.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Rarity, who succumbs to the Nightmare Force's More Than Mind Control to become their new queen. She returned to the good guys' side at the end of the Nightmare Force arc though.
  • In W.I.T.C.H. Nerissa used to be the leader of the previous generation of Guardians and the Keeper of the Heart before letting herself be corrupted and murdering Cassidy, who had replaced her as the Keeper because the Oracle had seen she was letting herself being corrupted and hoped to prevent this. Also, Will, the leader and Keeper of the current generation, fears to become this since she faced Nerissa, but managed to stay on the side of good.
  • While still a "hero", Rorschach from Watch Men became a murderous vigilante after failing to save a girl killed by her kidnapper.
  • Mikey Rhodes, the main protagonist in ''Birthright. He was just a kid forced into the Chosen One's role to save a fantasy realm from its Evil Overlord. During their destined confrontation, he failed to defeat his arch-enemy and struck up a bargain with him instead to send him back home, and in turn, he would become his agent.

    Fan Fic 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic alternate continuity The Equestria Chronicles, this role is filled by Princess Celestia, who slowly goes mad from the anxiety of having to constantly watch out for threats to her reign, and the psychological trauma of her internal struggle with the dark magic she accepted in order to live forever and create the cutie mark spell.
    • Princess Luna also falls victim to this, as she becomes the Knight Templar Nightmare Moon, hoping to put an end to the excesses and abuses of freedom that her sister has caused. In the end, Celestia decides to eliminate her sister rather than accept her help with ruling the kingdom.
  • In the Pokemon fanfic Pedestal, Nick becomes one of these after learning that his brother was killed.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures stories that are part of Project Dark Jade, Jade either becomes an example of this trope or is in the danger of becoming one.
  • Harry in The Darkness Series.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, General Thunderhide qualifies for this, as a well-loved war hero who joins Nightmare Moon's Civil War after believing no true change can come while Celestia remains in power. He knows what he's doing is wrong, but sees it as the only option available to him.
  • The Pony POV Series has a number of them. The first we see is in "Epilogue", a Bad Future where Discord won. The Mane Six have been turned into his immortal Co-Dragons and now do his bidding, at best having no idea they were once heroes like Twilight Tragedy and Rarigreed and at worst knowing they were but having no way to escape their fate. Though Liarjack still remains somewhat heroic, as she does her best to save lives, but she still has done horrible things like helping kill Queen Cadance. Thankfully, the Dark World Series finally sees them rise again.
    • Then there's the second Big Bad, Nightmare Whisper, Fluttershy's Superpowered Evil Side born when she couldn't bare the cruelty in the world and tried to fix it, turning into a Well-Intentioned Extremist and trying to conquer the world and force it to be nice. In the end, she's purified with the Elements and becomes The Atoner.
    • Nightmare Mirror, Applejack's Alternate Self who became a Nightmare after her Applebloom didn't escape the events of Story of the Blanks, turning into a truth obsessed Multiversal Conqueror intending to rid the multiverse of deceit. Thankfully, Applejack manages to team up with five other alternate versions of her (including Liarjack, now back to Applejack) to purify her with the Elements of Harmony, then Applejack and Orangejack convince her to turn good again. The same journey also shows Nightmares of Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie called Nightmare Manacle and Nightmare Granfalloon respectively.
    • One alternate universe shows the Harmony Queens, a version of the mane six who went Knight Templar, overthrew and imprisoned Celestia and Luna, and took over the world eradicating anything they viewed as Disharmonic and brainwashing ponies in mass with the Elements. According to Word of God, they're based off the Justice Lords from the Justice League.
    • Finally there's Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox, the true Big Bad of the Dark World Series. She's a potential future version of Twilight who went Nightmare to take revenge on Discord for what he did. She then become She Who Fights Monsters and trapped Discord in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, erasing billions from existence each loop to feed her grudge and not even caring anymore so long as he suffers.
  • Of course, there's Cupcakes, a notoriously Dark Fic that features Pinkie Pie, the same pony representing the Element of Laughter who helped to defeat Nightmare Moon and Discord, now a homicidal maniac with cannibalistic intentions.
  • Gentaro in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, having been placed into a More Than Mind Control situation from Ophiuchus. Ryusei also becomes this, due to Tachibana brainwashing him and converting him into a cyborg in an 'attempt' to fix all the mistakes he did.
  • Two-thirds of the Mane Six descends into villainy in the backstory to Fallout: Equestria, set during the war between Equestria and the zebra nation. Twilight Sparkle becomes an amoral Mad Scientist and Evilutionary Biologist obsessed with finding a way to turn normal ponies into alicorns, Rarity experiments with dark magic and creates propaganda that encourages hatred against zebrasnote , Pinkie Pie becomes a drug-addled psychopathic torturer who runs the Equestrian equivalent of the Ministry of Love, Rainbow Dash becomes a Blood Knight General Ripper obsessed with her own martial prowess and kill count, and Fluttershy passes military secrets to the zebras out of a misguided sense of kindness, directly leading to Equestria's destruction. Only Applejack retains her moral compass, and it gets her horribly disfigured in an assassination attempt.
    • Also Red Eye. Everything we see of his backstory points to him being an expy of the Lone Wanderer, but by the time he appears in the story, he's fully into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory and willing to do absolutely anything to save the wastes.
  • The Fierce Deity is stated to be this in Blood and Spirit. It is revealed that he was once the chosen hero of Termina's guardian goddess, Terminus, just as Link is to Zelda/Hylia. He fought Majora and won, only to end up being corrupted into what he is now. Terminus has Din, Nayru, and Farore send Link and Zelda to Termina to help and after Link has weakened the Fierce Deity, she and Zelda use the Song of Healing in an attempt to restore him to his former self; unfortunately, by that point, he has been far too corrupted by Majora to be saved, and is instead converted into the Fierce Deity's Mask. Though heartbroken over the loss, Terminus is nonetheless comforted by the knowledge that at least her hero is finally free from Majora's control.
  • Rainbow Dash in Rocket to Insanity.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has Mr. Black, who was once a top FBI agent.
  • Mirror's Image: Amazingly, Chrysalis is one. She used to be Princess Celestia's student, and a bearer of the Element of Magic. Then she found out she was a Changeling, and was banished. A thousand years of anger and resentment later, and there's little to nothing left of the pony she used to be. And she's not very broken up about it.
  • War And Peace In Mind has the Red Knight a.k.a. Baron Battle before the story even starts. Once a great hero, his exploits made him eventually grew so frustrated with the incompetency of society that he decided that the only way to fix the problem would be to rule the world.

  • Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight definitely counts, after he becomes Two-Face. Formerly idealistic, he grows steadily more cynical in the face of the Joker's crimes and, after the Joker's Breaking Speech, turns into a Nietzsche Wannabe who believes that Chance is the only fair law.
  • Kirsty Cotton in Hellraiser: Hellseeker.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Sentinel Prime, by virtue of Face Heel Turn. He made a deal with the Decepticons that would restore their home planet of Cybertron. Additional material establishes Megatron as this. Before the Great War, he was the Lord High Protector of Cybertron, ruling equally with Optimus. It's implied he was corrupted by the Fallen in a moment of weakness.
  • Anakin Skywalker of Star Wars, who got three whole movies of Start of Darkness.
    • Skywalker may have been the most infamous Jedi to turn evil, but he was hardly the only one. Count Dooku, the villain in Attack of the Clones, was once a member of the order too, and Expanded Universe books often feature "Dark Jedi" as villains, many of whom were formerly real Jedi, who are too numerous to list.
  • Madmartigan, the master swordsman in Willow, qualifies for the "lost himself in dissipation" version of the trope.
  • Robert Downey, Jr.'s character in Zodiac
  • According to supplementary materials, Pitch Black from Rise of the Guardians was this. He represents fear, and originally protected children, since there are many situations where Fear Is the Appropriate Response. Unfortunately, he eventually went completely overboard with this, and by the time the movie takes place he's a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • The protagonist Kaji in The Human Condition, who cannot survive and retain his humanist principles.
  • Battra from the Godzilla Heisei series counts. He originally started out as the Earth's protector until he went too far which led to the destruction of an ancient civilization and his imprisonment by Mothra.
  • X-Men: First Class:
    • Erik Lehnsherr gets a more heroic treatment than usual, making him more of this trope than of the typical Anti-Villain fare.
    • Same for Mystique (which is actually the reverse of the comics continuity in which Mystique begins as a murdering villain but later on becomes a hero and a member of the X-Men).
  • Michael Corleone of the The Godfather films. He chooses to fight in World War II instead of following in his crime family's footsteps, much to the shock of his brothers. He returns home as a respected war hero, and plans to start a family with his fiance. Then his father is nearly killed by an ambitious drug runner, forcing Michael to act. He eventually gains control of the crime family and possibly becomes even more ruthless than his own father by the end of The Godfather Part II.
  • Officer Matt Cordell in Maniac Cop was a hero in his heyday, but after he got too close to certain inviduals, he was sentenced on a phony charge to spend time on Sing Sing prison. The stay was an equal to torture to him, and he ended up as a brain-damaged wreck who punishes the society for turning against him.

  • In The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Silmarillion: Fëanor. He was the mightiest, most skilled, most puissant of all the Elven race... and the source of their greatest woes. Also a major case of You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good.
    • Morgoth is a fallen Valar and this universe's equivalent of Satan, which as noted above is one of the oldest examples there is, so he counts. Sauron too, he used to be a Maia which were like angels.
    • Then there is Saruman the White, greatest of the Istari (Wizards).
  • Ineluki, the Storm King of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, started out as a hero of the Sitha, but he took his people's racist tendencies to the extreme and, when Asu'a was sacked, he turned from defending his people to killing everyone else. Also an example of Motive Decay.
  • In the The Belgariad, Zedar, The Dragon, used to be Belzedar, one of Belgarath's sworn brothers and a servant of the god Aldur. When Torak, the Big Bad of the series, struck Aldur and stole the Orb, Zedar headed out to confront him...and found himself overwhelmed by Torak's power. Faced with The Dark Side, he gave in to his barely-suppressed lust for power and swore fealty to Torak.
  • Gerald Tarrant/The Hunter in the Coldfire trilogy. Sorcerer, philosopher, and Prophet of the One God, until the religion he had created excommunicated him, at which point, he killed his wife and children as a part of a bargain with Dark Powers.
  • In the Dilvish, the Damned stories by Roger Zelazny, it's stated that the Big Bad Jelerak used to be good many hundreds of years ago. But he crossed the Moral Event Horizon long ago.
  • Marth in the Heirs of Ash books, complete with also being Tristam's For Want of a Nail Evil Counterpart.
  • The Dresden Files
    • Agent Denton, who is also He Who Fights Monsters. When Harry soulgazes him, he sees that he used to be a genuinely good man, but his methods (most notably, his use of the Hexenwulf belts) made him just as bad, if not worse, than the people he's trying to take down.
    • The Corpsetaker was once a member of the White Council.
  • Crudgeon in Artemis Fowl was LEPrecon's golden boy and best friend of the Da Chief. In book 1 Ambition Is Evil put him in a Trauma Conga Line and he became one half of the Big Bad of book 2.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle has Lanre, who was once a great hero but went mad with grief when he was unable to use his power to resurrect his beloved.
  • Hollyleaf from Warrior Cats eventually becomes this, when her love of the warrior code makes her turn murderous. But then she has a Heel Realization.
  • Satan in Paradise Lost was once a glorious angel, but he falls from grace and becomes evil. In the story, he's ironically given the trappings of an epic hero, which he clearly believes he is.
  • Kalthused of Within Ruin. He starts out as a heroic leader fighting for the independence of his country but when his wife Ankaa dies he falls into a spiral of despair. He forsakes all his old morals and plunges the country into futile wars for centuries in order to bring Ankaa back to life.
  • By the end of Animorphs Jake has become one of these. It's stated in the epilogue that the only reason he's not being tried as a war criminal is because he fought for the side the won the war.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Pre-series Kazebar was Draconica's number 1 humanitarian. To reward his good work Dronor granted his son the power to travel between worlds, believing that if any human deserved this honor it would be Kazebar's family line. Whether he was tempted by this power or if he was Evil All Along is not made clear.
  • David Gemmell loves subverting this trope. Waylander is a war hero. Then his family is slaughtered, and he makes sure none of the assailant "takes less than an hour to die", and finances his vengeance by becoming a professional killer. Then he seeks redemption, gets it somehow, his family gets killed again, vengeance ensues, redemption again, and then he dies a stupid death by the hand of the son of the man whose death was the reason for his first face heel turn toward good. Gemmell does not like black and white.
  • Luke Castellan from Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
  • Brittney Donegal from the GONE series.
  • Donald from Sukhinov's Emerald City series.
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland...: The Good Queen Mallow became the Marquess due to her anger at being returned to the mundane world. She still considers herself the hero.
  • Many of the Forsaken from The Wheel of Time were this. Demandred, Sammael, and Be'lal were all great generals on the side of Light (and all three of them turned to the Shadow out of rivalry with the Light's other great general, Lews Therin Telamon); Graendal was a famed ascetic who went bad after deciding that no one could possibly measure up to her extreme moral standards; Ishamael was considered the greatest philosopher and theologian of his age, but learned one too many Things Man Was Not Meant to Know and went mad from the revelation, becoming in essence The Antichrist. Subverted with Semirhage, who though a renowned healer was always a sociopath and sadist deep down and turned to the Shadow early on upon realizing that the Dark One would let her use her talents in ways that society would never accept.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buredoran/Brajira from Tensou Sentai Goseiger. It's revealed that he used to be a Gosei angel who turned on the rest of his team and stole there powers killing them. He uses an experimental power to travel 10,000 years into the future to enact his grand plan to remake the world and become it's messiah and savior.
  • Jon Mitchell from Being Human. He tries hard to fight his vampire urges and tries to be an example of reform, but he falls off the wagon in season 2 and slaughters a train of 20 people. He never really gets back to normal after that and commits suicide.
  • Willow Rosenberg of Buffy the Vampire Slayer became the Card-Carrying Villain version of this trope after witnessing the death of her girlfriend. Magic high also leads to her becoming this. Luckily, the transition was temporary in the TV series. There was also an Alternate Universe book trilogy ("Wicked Willow") that explored what would have happened if she had stayed that way.
    • The canonical Season 8 comic books state she is still this; specifically the "Time of Your Life" arc, which crosses over with Fray, a Bad Future where Willow becomes an Evil Sorceror and the Big Bad (though she tries to prevent it by avoiding Dark Magic).
    • In the Season Nine comics we learn that while she is holding it together around Buffy, Willow is hell bent on bringing magic back, believing the world is going to end and she has to save it. Faith also took the Card-Carrying Villain route after accidentally killing a human, also temporary-ish (though its acknowledged in-universe that her actions while she was a villain went too far to just be forgiven and forgotten).
  • Angel plays it straight with Daniel Holtz, season three's Big Bad. He was once a force for good, but Angelus and Darla destroyed his life, slaughtered his family, and reduced him to a revenge-driven monster. At his best, he is a Noble Demon, at his worst he's a petty old man willing to sacrifice the lives, happiness, and even sanity of people who love him in order to have his revenge.
  • Numerous times on Series/Law&Order and its various spin-offs as a revered sports star or actor will be revealed as a killer, pedophile, rapist or worse.
    • When she and a rookie cop bust a boxing champ as a pedophile, Rollins tells the rookie "Stay on this job long enough, you watch all your heroes die."
  • Heroes
    • Linderman. His low-key, evil approach is made all the more monstrous when viewers realize that, having the ability to heal most injuries, he chooses to have people killed, kidnapped, and crippled instead.
    • Adam Monroe. He is introduced as Takezo Kensei, the literal hero of legend. Despite trouncing all the fantastic tales attributed to him in one fell swoop, Kensei proves himself a true hero many times over during his time with Hiro - only to do a Face–Heel Turn when Hiro steals away the woman he loves right out from under his nose. Four hundred years later, his heartbreak has driven him to seek a 'second chance' by wiping out 93% the world's population.
  • In the French fantasy dramedy Kameloth, the Knight Lancelot start out as the noble and charismatic hero we expect him to be, but he has always been ideologically opposed to the libertarian policy of Arthur (who he considers a proof of weakness) and considers himself more worthy of the holy mission given to his king. After the spoofed-legend-opposed-got-away-with-Guinevere-part, he openly rebels against Kameloth's order and became the tool of a dark sorcerer named Melangeant, who presents himself as The Chessmastering answer of the gods to Arthur's failure in his mission
  • Eli David in NCIS seems to be this. In a way, he's reminiscent of Denethor.
  • Some of the best episodes of Scrubs deal with this happening to Dr. Cox. While the fall is temporary, the sight of the normally caustic and extremely confident physician in tears is very heartrending, to say the least.
  • Lex Luthor from Smallville is a great example. He started off as nothing more than a good Samaritan friend to Clark Kent. As time went on, he became nastier and more cynical at the world, and possibly became Clark's worst enemy. However, how long would the show actually last if Luthor was kept a good guy throughout the entire show?
  • In Chinese Paladin, Jiang Ming was The Paragon of Mt. Shu, on track to become the Big Good before it's revealed he's having an affair. He snaps when ordered to kill his lover, massacres the entire population of the mountain, and becomes a vengeful ghost who, a hundred years later, is so powerful none of the monks dare enter the Demon Pagoda.
  • Stefan Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries, especially in season three, is an example of this.
  • Jack Bauer in 24. First seven seasons? Someone who pushed himself ten times beyond the brink both physically and mentally to repeatedly ensure the safety of the country and world. Final season? After his latest mission winds up going horribly wrong and ends on a tragic note, he winds up embarking on a personal crusade of revenge that ultimately causes an international crisis and nearly instigates a war that would lead to the deaths of millions of innocent people, just barely stopped himself after realizing how bad those repercussions would be. Rivaling him would be Tony Almeida who went from protecting people to threatening them all to avenge the murder of his wife... and unlike Jack he never had a Heel Realization.
  • Doctor Who has had the Doctor come to or near this point twice, but also reconstructed the trope in both cases.
    • When the Eighth Doctor, barely saved from death, was convinced to fight in the Last Great Time War rather than try and help those caught up in it, he decided to give up his principles and title to do so and regenerated into what came to be known as the War Doctor. He did the opposite of a healer's work as a warrior, and finally decided to destroy both the Dalek forces massing around Gallifrey and Gallifrey and his people (including billions of innocent children) to end the war. His later lives deliberately try to forget this incarnation for committing such a wicked act. However, in the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", Ten and Eleven come to an understanding of his side of the story and how he did what he had to do...and then in the climax, at companion Clara's behest, they and all of the other incarnations of the Doctor figure out a way to SAVE Gallifrey yet end the Time War at the same time, thus reconstructing the trope spectacularly!
    • The Twelfth Doctor undergoes a Trauma Conga Line in the climactic stretch of Series 9. In "Face the Raven", he is lured into a trap and betrayed by Ashildr/Me, but even worse, because his beloved companion Clara takes a daring risk to save someone, she accidentally condemns herself to death. In "Heaven Sent" he is trapped by, as it turns out, the Time Lords (his people!) in a giant torture chamber. By the time he escapes it, he has been Driven to Madness by rage, anguish, grief, and torture, and become The Unfettered. In the finale "Hell Bent" he uses his legendary cleverness to pull Clara out of time at the moment of her death, an act that threatens to destroy the entire universe, all because he can't take the pain anymore. In the end, Clara herself triggers a Heel Realization and he realizes he must give up his Tragic Dream and "be a Doctor" once again.
    • As for Rassilon, the founder of the Time Lords, he was always revered despite being a bit of a genocidal maniac, but the War pushed him off the crumbling remains of his pedestal.
  • In The 100 Season 1, Finn was probably the most moral and idealistic of the teen characters; he was the one actually trying to make peace with the Grounders rather than assuming violence was inevitable. By Season 2, though, the traumatic experiences he's been through and a belief that his Love Interest is in danger drive him to increasingly violent ends to get her back, ultimately slaughtering a Grounder village, killing 18 innocent, unarmed people; he's executed for his crimes shortly afterwards.
  • Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard used to by a man of justice. Until his pension was vetoed, leaving him to either retire without a penny to his name, or join in Boss Hogg's scheming.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys features Gilgamesh in Season 5's "Faith" and reveals him to be this during the climax. Like Hercules, he couldn't depend on the gods to protect his family and lost them in a senseless act of violence. However, whereas Hercules treated his tragedy as a motivation to never stop fighting for others, Gilgamesh became The Dragon to the Big Bad.
    Gilgamesh: When I lost my family, I did lose my faith. And in my deepest despair, I heard the voice of Dahak—a voice so pure, so true, I knew I had found salvation.


    Multiple Media 
  • The Brotherhood of Makuta from BIONICLE were a group of militaristic biologists who created all animals in the Matoran Universe to preserve natural balance, and were later assigned to govern over various regions of the Universe along with the local leaders. Due to their secretive nature and Elemental Powers of shadow, the society began worshiping Mata Nui and the Toa heroes over them, even after their armies had just saved the Universe. Thus, they grew envious, and a glitch in their A.I. caused them to turn evil, with Teridax overthrowing the old Makuta leader and becoming the story's Big Bad.

    Mythology, Folklore, and Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Revelations shows Satan as a fallen angel. This is Older Than Feudalism, as the popular depiction has roots in the 2000+ year old source material.
    • King Saul; initially portrayed as a humble, God-fearing man, he makes some bad choices, undergoes (demonic-induced) madness, and ends his reign as the arch-enemy of the man God chose to succeed him.
    • King David: farmer, harp player, and faithful to God until he becomes king. Then he spies on a naked woman and puts her husband in the front lines of battle, twice, just so he'll die, and David will be free to marry his widow.
      • Surprisingly and hilariously, VeggieTales parodied this story.
    • King Solomon: the man who built the Temple fell to idolatry as the price of maintaining political alliances with foreign kingdoms. His rule would eventually split Israel in two.
    • King Jeroboam; God's new Chosen One who should have corrected Solomon's mistakes again fell to idolatry when he built idols to prevent pilgrims from going to Jerusalem (now enemy territory).
    • King Jehu: Again God's Chosen One to displace the Omrid Dynasty. But but he went overboard in his massacre of those affiliated with Ahab. Then he ended and persecuted Baal worship only to continue in Jeroboam's false worship.
    • King Joash: the Lone Survivor of The Purge that almost wiped out David's dynasty became arrogant and corrupt. He had the son of his mentor killed for speaking out against him.
  • Greek Mythology:
    • Bellerphon. The first great Hero of the Heoric Age evne before Herakles and Perseus, he killed the Chimera. But then thought he was worthy of godhood and attempted to invade Olympus with Pegasus.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • Loki Laufeyson (you know, the bad guy in Thor and The Avengers), the blood brother of Odin and best friend and Guile Hero sidekick of Thor, started off as a light hearted comic relief of sorts, with something of a running gag in the stories of him being threatened with death by the other Gods (sometimes in retaliation for a prank, sometimes because they're just jerks like that), then his attempts to fix everything resulting in him suffering some form of mutilation or humiliation (from having his mouth stitched closed to being raped and impregnated by a giant horse), but he remained loyal to Asgard, but eventually, his humiliations and repeated sufferings, combined with the fact that the God's didn't particularly care for him that much, made him bitter and resentful, until coming to a head when they imprisoned him on a boulder (chained up by his own son's entrails) with a giant serpent dripping venom into his eyes. Once free of this Fate Worse Than Death, Loki lead the enemies of Asgard against the Aesir, dying in battle against Heimdall, but in doing so, brought about the End of the World as We Know It, the Ragnarok.
    • What makes this even more tragic is that this aspect is often left out in adaptations, where Loki ends up becoming the Norse equivalent of a standard bad guy. Since Loki's Face–Heel Turn happened right before he died, many later versions of the Norse tales have him instead being a real asshole who constantly screws over the others. In fact, the original reason Loki was chained to the boulder was retconned, so instead of being because he insulted them all at a party they didn't invite him to (he wasn't invited so they could talk about him behind his back) was instead because he arranged the death of Baldur (something he merely claimed to do in order to wind them all up), with no party or comments involved.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan's infamous Face–Heel Turn and transformation into Hollywood Hogan in WCW's Bash at the Beach was born of the realization that he was "old news", and that the fans he had lived his whole life to please weren't really interested in him anymore, which he just couldn't stand. After all, he's Hulk Freaking Hogan, the biggest icon in wrestling! Maybe the fans didn't deserve to cheer for him! Maybe they deserved to have him and his buddies from up north destroy everything about WCW that they enjoyed instead!
  • Similarly, Chris Jericho's recent WWE Face–Heel Turn was fueled by the fans' continued cheering for Shawn Michaels — who was not only a lying, cheating hypocrite, but was unrepentant for having retired the great Ric Flair. In Jericho's mind, it's not him that turned; it's the fans.
    • It's a bit more complicated than that. Actually, a lot more complicated than that. It was Ric Flair himself who decided that Michaels should be the one to retire him (well, not necessarily retire him, but be the one given the next shot at trying to retire him), and Michaels was very, very reluctant about taking up the challenge, since he knew that Flair couldn't win. When the newly retired Flair was given a glorious and highly emotional send-off the night after WrestleMania (where, of all people, Jericho was the most effusive in congratulating Flair), everything seemed to be all right. Until, that is, Batista began to take issue with Michaels having effectively banished his mentor from WWE; for a while, it looked as if Batista would be the one making a Face–Heel Turn. Jericho just jumped on the HBK-bashing bandwagon for no other reason than to humiliate his longtime rival (he did have quite a bit of history with Michaels, after all).
  • Speaking of HBK, he's been this several times (all versions at different points), including presently.
    • Specifically, he was the outright villainous version during his initial turn after turning on Jannetty, the anti-hero version for parts of the initial DX run, the anti-villain in his crusade against Hulk Hogan, and the retired/disinterested version during his various retirements and sabbaticals.
  • Subverted with Bret Hart in 1997, who only turned against the American wrestling fans, but was still considered a hero in the other territories.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's character was defined by his drive to become the WWF Champion "at all costs". Usually, this just meant that Austin would theoretically work harder than everyone else to get it. His Face Heel Turn came out of taking that to the logical extreme, where he allied with his perpetual nemesis, Vince McMahon (and his rival, Triple H, the next night...who tried to kill him in the past), at the now-famous Wrestlemania X-7, to guarantee he would leave the event as WWF Champion.
  • When The Rock fought heel Hollywood Hogan at Wrestlemania X8, he unexpectedly got a lot of boos and "Rocky sucks!" chants (he was also booed at the last Wrestlemania, but that was against Stone Cold in Texas, so it's understandable). Given how popular The Rock is supposed to be, it came as a shock that people would boo him over the heel, Hogan. The Rock later used this as partial reasoning for turning heel the next year where he defeated both Hogan AND Austin in back-to-back PPV's.
  • Mick Foley was probably the most famous "hardcore" wrestler during his stint as Cactus Jack, due to his runs on WCW and his Death Matches in IWA Japan with Terry Funk. However, when he made his Face–Heel Turn in ECW, he cited the fans' expectations of the wrestlers (and their desire to see wrestlers put themsleves in increasingly dangerous situations) as the reason he turned on Tommy Dreamer, the heart and soul of ECW. He then began his "anti-hardcore" gimmick where he became a WCW-shilling, non-hardcore butt boy for Eric Bischoff, everything ECW fans hated in wrestling.
  • Chris Benoit was at one time considered arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time but his claim as one of the greats has all but been erased due to the events of the last days of his life.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Blackguard class from Dungeons & Dragons is specifically designed for fallen heroes, allowing the player to "trade in" Paladin levels for Blackguard levels after completing a Face–Heel Turn. However, while the character may not have been planning on the transition, the player almost always is; the Blackguard class has pre-requisites that don't make sense for most Paladin builds. The idea is that a character won't go straight from Paladin to Blackguard, but will instead "fall" as a Paladin (losing all their Paladin-specific abilities but retaining their raw stats) and then choose to pursue the path of the Blackguard instead of redemption, summoning an evil outsider to teach them how to do so. The most awkward pre-requisite for a fallen Paladin is still the five ranks in Hide, however.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh gives us the Gigobyte / Gagagigo / Giga Gagagigo / Gogiga Gagagigo cards, which describe a young troublemaker who has a Heel–Face Turn upon having his life saved, and in trying to gain enough power to help repay his debt, he acquires cybernetic upgrades which eventually eat his soul and drive him mad. It's a surprisingly detailed story told not only in the flavor text of his own cards, but in illustrations for other cards that otherwise have nothing to do with him. It's only natural that his story gets played out in one of the video games. Said video game had him realising the error of his ways. This almost certainly qualifies him for Face Heel Revolving Door.
    • And now He's Back, recovering his heroic soul and getting new armor that lets him keep the power he was searching for.
  • While there are many in Magic: The Gathering, the one that stands out the most is Crovax. When the love of his life (an angel) died, he ended up going over to Yawgmoth's side to get her back. Gerrard Capashen followed for a similar motive, but realised that it was a con and ended up giving his life to take down Yawgmoth.
  • Warhammer 40,000. Exactly half of the Primarchs turned against their father the Emperor of Mankind in the great betrayal of the 31st millennium. Each of the ten traitors had a personal reason for turning their back on their father. None are more tragic than The Paragon Horus the Warmaster (i.e. the Emperor's second-in-command, since he was the Emperor's favorite son).
    • The Chaos Gods showed Horus a vision of a terrible future where the Primarchs are gone, the ideals of the Great Crusade are forgotten, and the Emperor is worshiped as a god in a brutal fascist dictatorship. Horus dealt with the Chaos Gods and turned on the Emperor (the man who saved humanity and rebuilt civilisation after a horrific dark age that lasted thousands of years) to save humanity from this dark fate. The Horus Heresy results in the Imperium becoming increasingly authoritarian due to its paranoia over Chaotic rebellions like Horus's, and the final battle leaves Horus dead and the Emperor in a coma, unable to steer the Imperium onto a more enlightened path. Fast forward ten thousand years, and Horus's actions have caused the Imperium to become a brutal fascist dictatorship where the Emperor is worshipped as a god and the Imperial Truth (the atheistic rationalism which the Emperor personally believed) is thought of as heresy, since it offends the immortal God-Emperor. Justdamn.
    • What about Fulgrim, the Primarch who reached for perfection for his Legion,leading to changing his Legion through altering/mutating of their Genes and thus straving off the path of the Emperor, which led to possession by an Chaotic Weapon while trying to commit suicide after murdering his brother for the Chaos Gods
    • A Fallen Hero or a Misunderstood one? Alpharius and Omegon, the twin Primarchs of the Alpha Legion seemingly sided with Horus against the Emperor. However, they did this after being informed by an universal alien organisation that when the Emperor would defeat Horus, the universe would continue in constant warfare against the Chaos Gods , ultimately devouring the universe in the proces. They were told that when Horus would defeat the Emperor, the Empire would fall into chaos for 2 or 3 generations after which the Fallen Primarchs and Horus, ridden with guilt of their actions, would seek war upon themselves and destroy mankind and the Chaos Gods in the proces (which is what the Emperor was trying to do). Upon reflecting this information the Alpha Legion decided to side with Horus against the Emperor to actually follow the path he had directedfor destruction of the Chaos Gods. Thus they became Fallen Heroes to take the action a Right Hero should do.
    • Magnus the Red was a Primarch who strongly supported the use of Psychic Powers and the importance of written knowledge. When he used sorcery to tell the Emperor of Horus's betrayal, despite the Emperor having forbidden sorcery, the Emperor refused to believe that Horus could be a traitor and thought that it had to be Magnus instead. Therefore he sent the Space Wolves (who had always distrusted Magnus) to Magnus's homeworld Prospero thus forcing Magnus to appeal to a Chaos God so that his people would survive.
    • In general, the theme of Chaos is that many think they can control it or they will not fall to it's addiction. Sadly many are horribly wrong. Freedom fighters pray to them to grant their boon, not knowing that they invite mutation and possession into their bodies. Psykers are tempted with control and normality, but instead are commandeered by daemons. Even entire chapters of space marines (most notably the traitor legions and, more recently, the Astral Claws) thought they were doing what was right in defying the Imperium and protecting innocents, only to be branded as heretics and hunted down, ironically forcing them to turn to chaos to survive.
  • In Exalted, this is how new Abyssals are made: a Solar is captured, strapped into a Monstrance of Celestial Portion, and tortured until they die, become catatonic, or become an Abyssal. There's nothing that prevents them from breaking loose, trying to rise again and setting off on a quest for redemption back into a Solar...
  • Mage: The Ascension puts this spin on its primary "antagonist" faction, the Technocratic Union. Back in the olden days, they were bona-fide heroes, fighting the old-tyme Sorcerous Overlords of the world as the Order of Reason, in the name of God, the common good, and the Muggles of the world. Nowadays, while they haven't quite turned into complete villains yet, they've certainly fallen very far from their idealistic past, and quite a lot of Technocrats are more concerned with control and stability than making a positive difference in the world. And the fact that they're much better at making people not believe in magic than they are at making them enthusiastic about science is one of many factors slowly killing the world by inches. Unlike many World of Darkness antagonists, Technocratic characters are completely playable, and their sourcebooks often stress the possibility for player characters to be Science Heroes rather than stodgy, soulless bureaucrats and to act as idealistic Internal Reformists working to make the Union a better place.



    Video Games 
  • In the Suikoden series, you'll usually recruit a couple of these per game. The most prominent is probably Geddoe from the third installment, who, in an interesting twist, in addition to being a Fallen Hero (retired/disinterested variety), is also one of the three main protagonists.
  • In the Halo Universe, Mendicant Bias betrays the Forerunners, who made him with free will (which is what caused this) and then had him communicate with the leader of the Flood, The Gravemind, to the Flood. Then the Forerunners build Offensive Bias, who lacked free will, to defeat him. He did, but it was too late. The Forerunners had to activate the Halo Installations, killing all life in the galaxy. Offensive locked MB on the Ark. All the beings were cloned and seeded on their worlds (well, mostly, a few mistakes were made where some beings got placed on the wrong planet, as humanity found a few planets inhabited by humans that nobody knew). Cut to 100,000 years later, and Mendicant Bias causes Master Chief and Cortana to go somewhere unknown to, as he said, show his masters that he had atoned for his sins. There is a short history at the end of the Forerunner/Flood War, with an explanation of where John is going (sort of).
  • A major plot-point in Squaresoft's Live A Live. A classic Knight in Shining Armor is tricked into slaying the king, finding out that his best friend has betrayed him, and finally realizing that the princess he's been trying to save is actually in love with said friend. He becomes the "Demon King", Odio, who has been a recurring Big Bad for the heroes of our world to fight, from the Stone Age to the far future. The Aesop, which somehow manages to avoid being Anvilicious, is that anyone can be a Big Bad as long as they hold enough hatred...
    • Also, Hash in the medieval chapter, who is a mild case of this. He was a hero who defeated the Demon Lord, but lost faith in humanity and chose to live as a hermit on a mountain. He subverts it by helping Oerstred defeat the Demon Lord again.
  • In Overlord, your enemies are seven Fallen Heroes who represent the Seven Deadly Sins: Melvin Underbelly the halfing (gluttony), Oberon the elf (sloth), Goldo the dwarf (greed), Sir William the paladin (lust), Jewel the thief (envy), Kahn the warrior (wrath), and the Wizard (pride).
    • A more literal example would be the titular character, who was originally a hero who fought alongside the other heroes, but fell from a great distance and was left for dead by his companions. The Evil Plan of the old Overlord sees the main character eventually revived by his minions and given the position of the Overlord as well as command over the minions.
    • In the sequel, Queen Fay becomes a Fallen Hero after her Heroic Sacrifice. Florian may also be one, although it's unclear if he was ever truly a hero.
      Rose: Power, it always corrupts.
      Gnarl: Hah, that's half the fun!
  • Warcraft is very fond of this trope.
    • Sargeras in Warcraft originally fought demons for millennia, but eventually fell into thinking that it was no use and chaos was actually the only real solution to everything. Just to signify what this meant, his bronze skin split apart, revealing a new body of fire and brimstone.
    • Archimonde and Kil'jaeden, the leaders of the eredar who sold their souls to Sargeras and became the leaders of the Burning Legion.
    • Similarly, the human prince and paladin Arthas eventually resorted to the cursed blade Frostmourne to slay the demon that was (apparently) behind the plague that turned people into the undead. As a result, it took his soul and turned him into a death knight loyal to the Lich King (who had all that planned from the start).
    • Then there's the death knights that followed him, which constitute Orders of Fallen Heroes. A force of them in Wrath of the Lich King are sent to wreak havoc in Northern Lordaeron... All of which seems to be little more than a ploy to lure out Tirion Fordring, one the few living beings that could even be considered anything close to a threat to the Lich King. They were just a diversion and, eventually, as a result of a climactic battle in which Tirion reveals the truth of their betrayal and ultimate expendability, pull a Heel–Face Turn. The player plays through this entire sequence, including all the irredeemable evil goodness inherent therein.
    • And the night elf Illidan, trying to fight fire with fire (or demons with demon magic), eventually became a semi-demon himself.
    • The Frozen Throne shows how the arrogant-but-decent high elves turned into the evil, demon-following blood elves they are in World of Warcraft.
      • In a desperate attempt to save his people, Kael'thas turned to demons, and let himself be consumed by their fel magic.
    • Neltharion the Earth-Warder, one of the Five Dragon Aspects, charged by the Titans to protect the lands of Azeroth, Dug Too Deep. After a little Mind Rape by the resident Eldritch Abominations, he's calling himself Deathwing.
      • Neltharion took every one of the black breed of dragons with him. They are hunted and mindlessly killed, sometimes just for sport. The truth is that they have all been driven completely insane and/or have lost every last one of their morals. The breed has almost been wiped out or forced under ground. It didn't help that Deathwing is dead, which probably just made things worse for the breed.
      • By that same token, Malygos the Spell-weaver, the Aspect of the Blue dragonflight. Best remembered from the pre-Sundering days for his playfulness and good humor, being the protector of magic. After Deathwing wipes out most of the blue dragons and seriously wounds Malygos, the latter spends 10,000 years in isolation, going mad from loneliness and betrayal. Despite snapping out of his madness in Day of the Dragon to help fight Deathwing and free Alexstrasza and the rebirth of the Blue dragonflight, Malygos never goes back to his cheery old self. Instead, he declares war against all non-dragon magic users, forcing Alexstrasza to assist heroes in killing a fellow Aspect.
    • The Scarlet Crusade, which started out fighting to protect humans from the Scourge in Lordaeron, and gradually became increasingly paranoid to the point that anyone not a Crusader was deemed tainted. Then their leader was outright corrupted by the undead.
  • Sarah Kerrigan in Starcraft. Though she didn't "fall" so much as "was thrown, had her sense of morality suppressed", once she got her free will back, she decided that she liked being evil.
    • It was more like her sense of morality and compassion were suppressed, allowing the darkness within to become dominant. Blizzard confirmed that Heart of the Swarm's arc will be about whether she will fall to darkness forever or transcend it and achieve redemption for her sins. So far, the trailer shapes her to be an Anti-Hero.
    • The Overmind itself, which was long ago taken over by the Dark Voice.
  • The first Diablo has King Leoric, who was strong enough to resist being completely possessed by Diablo but was left an insane and murderous wreck by the ordeal. The second game has all three of the original game's heroes; the Warrior was manipulated into becoming Diablo's new host, the Rogue became Blood Raven, and the mage became The Summoner.
    • Pre-release info for the third game implied the same would happen to the heroes of the second game (except the Barbarian), but it was ultimately scrapped.
    • In Reaper of Souls the Archangel Malthael led the High Heavens in their war against the Burning Hells but abandoned his station after the theft of the Worldstone. After observing humanity he became convinced that the existence of free will was an abomination and decided to purge all demons from existence, starting with the demonic essence in human souls.
    • Reaper of Souls also ends with the Player Character becoming incredibly disillusioned with the High Heavens, realizing that Imperius' ineffectual defense of Sanctuary and hatred for humanity is every bit as bad as the demons actively seeking to destroy everything. Tyrael's voice over in the ending notes that he's not sure how much longer the Nephalim can be called ally.
  • Fain, of the Red Masque from Lusternia. A brilliant and popular leader amongst the Elder Gods, he resorted to increasingly extreme measures to combat the Soulless Ones. Ultimately, he and his co-conspirators began devouring other Elders to imbibe their essence and power, and were banished to the Void. Driven insane by thousands of years of isolation, he is profoundly unhappy by the time he returns to the real world.
  • Ace Hardlight from Ratchet: Deadlocked. Ace was once a great hero before being kidnapped and forced to participate in Gleeman Vox's deadly gameshow, Dreadzone. Ace eventually became seduced by the thrills and infamy of the tournament, and became the deadliest contestant on the show — and The Dragon to Big Bad Vox.
    Clank: I do not understand. What sort of hero would kill other heroes for money?
    Hardlight: Not money, tin man. Fun.
    • Also, Captain Qwark...for a given definition of 'hero'. In the first two games he's a fame-hungry showboater willing to endanger innocents for his own glory, the third game reveals that he did once, however incidentally, save the galaxy once from Dr. Nefarious. He gets better in later games, as in he's less willing to endanger innocents on purpose and prefers to take credit for Ratchet and Clank's adventures.
  • Tons of these in Final Fantasy games.
    • Wiegraf (and possibly Delita) in Final Fantasy Tactics.
    • Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. Especially evident during Crisis Core and its glimpses of Sephiroth's pre-fall personality — although cool and aloof, he was actually a pretty nice guy and hero-grade material before the Nibelheim Incident. His Dissidia opponents will not stop talking about this in their pre-fight quotes, especially in Duodecim. The crazy thing is that Sephiroth will alternate between calling himself one or declaring himself a general destroyer of life. "Taste the blade of a hero.", indeed.
      • It's funny: the heroes will either question how he could have turned or how he was ever a hero, and the villain quotes (particularly the Emperor) make it sound more like a Never Live It Down moment.
      • Square Enix plays with this heavily in Dissidia. Many of his quotes are contradictory to his villainous nature, such as saying "Fear not." or "Do not despair."
    • Seymour in Final Fantasy X. Subverted in that it turns out that he was never a "hero" in the first place.
    • Garland in Final Fantasy I. He was the greatest of the king's knights, until Princess Sarah rejected him.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment might qualify, with some of The Atoner thrown in. Apparently, he did something that was so bad in his first life, that he thought he'd be damned even if he did nothing but good for the rest of his life, and thus sought immortality in order to have more time to atone.
    • In a more immediate sense, the Practical Incarnation was... not a nice person. He was also the previous incarnation with the most impact on your current situation.
  • Big Boss of Metal Gear was originally a quirky, cheerful, affectionate, paternal sort of man (though he still was a supreme Badass not to be trifled with), who ends up going through a major Break the Badass routine in Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. He then ends up creating The Patriots with other "fallen heroes", Major Zero, Sigint (a.k.a. DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson), and Para-Medic (aka Dr. Clark, the head of the Les Enfants Terribles project and the one who turned Grey Fox into the Cyborg Ninja), as well as with Ocelot and EVA and creating Outer Heaven and Zanzibarland to plunge the world into eternal war and seek revenge against those that crushed his dreams and ruined his life, before meeting his end at the hands of his "son"/clone, Solid Snake, which was prophesized by The Sorrow, Elisa and hinted at by Paz.
    • Anti-Villain: The kind of 'peace' that his enemies sought was one ruled by a global totalitarian shadow state, and the eternal war that he sought was the opposite of their attempts to control and regulate the dangers of individual human will. Big Boss may have become a threat to world peace and security, but both were inextricably tied to imposed obedience, which is ultimately slavery.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance brings us the Brazilian samurai Jetstream Sam. After his father was murdered, Sam took up the sword and became ridiculously good with it. He attained his revenge, and went on to reap a swath of justice across South America, just him and his little sword. Eventually he decided to take on the game's Big Bad, World Marshal, because they were the bad guys. Expecting another test of mettle, he instead was forced to confront his empty ideals and was cowed and broken before his enemy. After this, he resigned himself to work under World Marshal, committing acts of evil he would have once condemned, knowing he wasn't strong enough to defeat Armstrong... but then along came Raiden...
    • Major Zero as mentioned above. To elaborate, he was directly (albeit, unintentionally) responsible for many of the things that happened in the series by creating the Patriot AIs, but he genuinely meant well before things went horribly wrong. And by the time the AIs went rogue, it was too late for him to realize and fix his mistake. And when Guns of the Patriots rolls around, he's fallen from grace in more ways than one, being revealed to be reduced to a very old man confined to a wheelchair, on life support and suffering from severe dementia. Big Boss pulls the plug on him, and as he dies, the audience is treated to flashbacks of the Major in his younger days, emphasizing that he was a good man who went about things the absolute wrong way. Alas, Poor Villain indeed.
  • The 7 Heroes of Romancing SaGa 2. Warriors who saved the world, but were betrayed by the people they saved and cast into Hell through dimensional magic.
  • Mass Effect seems fond of this trope.
    • Matriarch Benezia from Mass Effect 1, having unwittingly lost herself to the very madness that she sought to stop, the ultimate tragedy being that she can't be saved.
    • As of the second game, Liara seems to be the anti-hero variant of this trope in the making. She gets better.
    • Depending on your choice of background and alignment, especially if you change alignments between games, Shepard can be played as a fallen hero.
    • A few characters see Shepard as a fallen hero in Mass Effect 2, no matter how you play, given that they're forced to work with a terrorist group.
    • The second game also gives us Rael'Zorah. Tali specifically fears her father being seen as this by the quarian people after he chooses to run weapons tests on active geth prisoners in order to advance the cause of retaking the homeworld.
    • And Shepard is definitely seen as this at the beginning of Mass Effect 3 given the terrorist connection and that they was forced to kill over 300,000 people to slow down the Reaper invasion. One news report early in the game even refers to them as "the disgraced Commander Shepard".
    • The Illusive Man plays the Anti-Hero Mission Control in Mass Effect 2, seeing as how he brought Shepard back to life and gave them enough resources to take on the Collectors, albeit for his own machinations. By Mass Effect 3, he's lost his mind to the Reapers' technology. Literally.
  • Thorndyke in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, a Knight in Shining Armor goes this route in the Demon Path, initially submitting to The Main Character in order to save his son. As time goes on, he is forced to do worse and worse things until he is tricked into believing that he killed his own son, turning him into an Ax-Crazy Berserker. When he later sees that his son is alive, Kanan convinces him that he never went mad and killed because he truly enjoyed it, finally breaking him.
    • If we're talking Demon Path, Revya is possibly the biggest Fallen Hero of them all.
  • Tales of Symphonia has Mithos, Kratos and Yuan, one in service of Mithos and the other one opposing him .
  • Ghaleon from the Lunar series qualifies quite well for this trope. He has a glowing reputation at the start of Lunar: The Silver Star (and the remakes) for heroism alongside the famed Dragonmaster, Dyne. His Face–Heel Turn sends the world into a panic. In the remakes, he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who sees the Goddess Althena's decision to leave humans to their own devices as abandonment. So, Ghaleon starts plotting a way to restore divine leadership to the world. And who is the new divine leader? Ghaleon! His purpose in Lunar: Eternal Blue turns out to be redemption for this, though the player doesn't learn this until right at the end of the game.
  • Jon Irenicus from Baldur's Gate II counts. Prior to his exile from Sulldanesselar, he was an upstanding citizen and powerful mage. Pride was his downfall; he was exiled and stripped of his soul for using his power to try and achieve godhood.
  • Aribeth de Tylmarande from Neverwinter Nights and Bastila Shan, Revan, Malak, and the entire Revanchist movement from Knights of the Old Republic. How you play both games determines whether the spoilered characters stay evil or not.
    • Also, Yuthura Ban on Korriban, who was a fallen Jedi padawan with similar motivations to Anakin when he started out (i.e. go back home and free all the slaves), who then suffered from Motive Decay and became just another power-hungry Sith.
  • Akachi the Betrayer and a third of his Crusade from Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer are all Fallen Heroes, the dragon and the army of undead having been evil to begin with. Arraman might also qualify, depending on your character interpretation.
    • And the King of Shadows from the original campaign, whose mission to defend the Illefarn Empire suffered severe Motive Decay when he escaped from his extradimensional prison and found that the Empire crumbled to dust millennia past.
  • Skies of Arcadia features Ramirez, The Dragon to Lord Galcian. He's described as having once been pretty similar to Vyse - artistic, kind-hearted, and loyal. Unfortunately, he was raised in near-isolation by the most arrogant culture in the game and coming into contact with the meaner parts of Arcadia proved a little much for him.
  • Disgaea 3 has an example of its own in Super Hero Aurum. He was originally a hero who fought some of the greatest villains his world has ever known, but the more he fought, the further he fell towards obscurity, which he feared more than anything else. He needed to relish in being known as a hero, so he began doing worse things over the years, up to and including killing a nice guy Overlord and raising his son to be a general asshole Overlord just so he could be a hero again. As Sapphire put it, he eventually "ignored being the hero".
  • Beldr from Devil Survivor is Baldr, god of light and beauty from Norse Mythology. After he became trapped in the underworld as a giantess refused to weep for him, he became determined to spread lament on the Earth until everything cries.
    • For extra bonus points? It's implied that said giantess was actually Loki.
    • From the same company, various hints have been dropped by Atlus saying something happened to YHVH to make him what he is today.
  • Malin Keshar from Battle for Wesnoth attempted to use necromancy to defend his home village of Parthyn. However, after being rejected by his own people due to the bad reputation that necromancy has, he becomes the apprentice of Darken Volk, and begins to despise everyone more and more until he's a full-blown Villain Protagonist.
  • Tempest Hawker from Super Robot Wars Original Generation was once a member of The Federation Aggressor unit. After losing his wife and daughter in the Hope incident, he will do anything to get revenge on the Earth Federation.
  • Boy, does Viewtiful Joe have these...
    • In the first game, Captain Blue is the one masterminding to escape from Movieland to take over the real world, having lost his stride twice. In the real world, he was hailed as revolutionary director, having created several good movies, but then he lost all of that. He just wanted to create more heroes. He was then somehow sucked into one of his films, and he lived all of the great adventures he wanted, but then he figured something out: the world was too good to last, he started to want revenge against the people of the human world. Thankfully, he got some sense knocked into him.
    • May not count, but the second game gives us Jet Black, who wanted to become a film maker to show his son what a true hero was. He then found the Black Film, which started to eat at his desires, eventually twisting his desire to make a film about heroes to actually wanting to be the hero, and was going to take over the world. Again, he got some sense knocked into him.
  • The World Corp storyline in The Nameless Mod allows you to be this.
  • Castlevania
    • Mathias Cronqvist, friend to Leon Belmont, brilliant strategist, noble Crusader, and genius alchemist. The death of his wife Elizabetha shattered his faith in God and he became obsessed with obtaining immortality so that he could curse God forever. And thus was Dracula born.
    • Gabriel Belmont in the series reboot Lords of Shadow is shaping up to be this. Despite his valiant efforts in the first game to cleanse the world of dark beings, the DLC epilogue chapters and post-credits epilogue cutscene suggest that in his time fighting the darkness, it somehow inadvertently rubbed off on him - and his proximity to it ultimately resulted in his transformation into Dracula.
  • Wander from Shadow of the Colossus becomes one of these. Assuming that you think that he was heroic to begin with/villainous in the end...
  • Michael Jordan, of all people, in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. The fact that Space Jam is canon to the game's storyline only amplifies this.
  • Dragon Age
    • Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir from Dragon Age: Origins. In the prequel novels he slowly becomes a high-ranking officer for the rebels, and is later hailed as a noble and one of the greatest war heroes along with King Maric as they win and drive out the Orlesians. Sadly, he becomes so protective of the kingdom he's fought for, that he gradually turns extremely paranoid, and goes as far as to leave Maric's son, the current king, to die in the battlefield when he suspects him of trying to sell Ferelden out and framing the Grey Wardens, triggering one of the game's two main plots.
    • Although many people forget this part of her backstory, Meredith from Dragon Age II was also this trope, as she became Knight-Commander after overthrowing the previous viscount of Kirkwall, Perrin Threnhold, when he tried to expel the templars from the city. While not everyone looks upon the templars fondly, Perrin Threnhold is generally regarded as a tyrant and robber baron who brought about his own demise. In the end, Meredith's paranoia over blood magic drives her utterly mad and she tries to use an Artifact of Doom to kill Hawke.
    • Anders, one of your party members who was once a heroic and kind-hearted Grey Warden, becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist due to sharing a body with a spirit and the general stress of Kirkwall.
    • Solas, aka Fen'Harel, of Dragon Age: Inquisition was once a revolutionary who fought against the false elven gods to free his people from slavery. Now, that he's seen how badly things went for them after he erected the Veil, he plans to tear the entire thing down again - with the full knowledge that doing so might very well destroy the world.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, Dutch Van Der Linde was, according to John Marston, an idealistic romantic who was essentially the western Robin Hood. However, at some point, he went insane, likely due to the realization that all of his efforts won't bring any true change in the end. Now, he's gone absolutely Ax-Crazy.
  • Jack Krauser from the Resident Evil series qualifies as such, especially when Darkside Chronicles paints him with an initially heroic light, but after his arm was heavily injured (which resulted in him being fired from SOCOM due to it never recovering), as well as becoming increasing envious towards Leon, he eventually fell to the depiction of him in Resident Evil 4.
  • Sepulchre from DragonFable.
    • Vilmor, in the Dragon's Grasp arc, had been imprisoned for destroying the town of Bask and hurting the trust of great ice dragon Cryozen (which Vilmor had bonded with). Subverted big time. It turns out that SHE wasn't responsible for the destruction of Bask, Dragon Master Frostscythe was, and she was just looking for Cryozen before it died. Furthermore, Frostscythe was her childhood friend who felt that he was shortchanged by the Dragon Lord order because of his ice elf lineage; the whole Bask incident was an elaborate ploy to sever the bond of trust between dragon and Dragon Lord. Before you ask, yes.
  • Malefor, the Big Bad of The Legend of Spyro trilogy was implied to be one. Statues of him dot the Dragon Realms, including the training area of the Dragon Temple. Prowlus also claims that Spyro is just like Malefor at his age...
  • Subverted in Touhou with Byakuren's back story. She was a revered nun in ages past, but realizing her own mortality after the death of her brother Myouren, she dabbled with witchcraft and began seeking immortality. At the same time, she began empathizing with the youkai she was sworn to hunt and destroy/seal. She quietly started to wonder if she couldn't make a peaceful coexistence work, but the people were angered by both her immortality research and her growing empathy and had her sealed for a millennium in Makai. Thankfully, even after being released, she's one of the kindest characters in the setting and keeps fighting for coexistence. In other words, losing her status and starting from the bottom only served to make her a better person, if still flawed.
  • In Mega Man X, series Big Bad Sigma was once the heroic commander of the Maverick Hunters, but eventually turned Maverick himself and decided to lead a revolution against the very humans he was sworn to protect. Mega Man X4 reveals that the root of this took place while Sigma was fighting Zero, when he was still an Ax-Crazy Maverick: Sigma inadvertently released and thus became infected by the Zero Virus he carried (while Zero himself was simultaneously purged of it).
  • In the MMORPG MapleStory, Empress Cygnus in the future. Because they were weaker than the regular adventurers of the Maple World (shown by the fact that they can only go up to level 120 instead of the regular 200), Cygnus wanted to increase the power of her knights so they could match up with the rest of the world. To do so, she looked for the Tree of Life, which she found. However, it was a trap laid by the Black Mage, and combined with their crippling insecurity, the Empress and her knights were corrupted by the Black Mage, and began to destroy the Maple World.
  • Dirk from Valkyria Chronicles II. Ready for a whopper of a spoiler? He is actually Leon Hardins, older brother and idol of the protagonist. An exceptional militiaman, he was selected for a "special mission" - being subjected to human experimentation that stripped him of his humanity. And so he ends up fighting for a genocidal band of insurrectionists.
  • According to the instructions manual for Super Mario Bros., Goombas were said to be former residents of the Mushroom Kingdom who betrayed Princess Peach and the Toads and sided with Bowser. Not so much in later games, where some Goombas are instead portrayed as allies.
  • The cast of Last Scenario is littered with heroes and wannabe-heroes who are used, deceived and broken in various ways, so naturally one of these ( Castor, the game's Big Bad) would come out of it, while the game details his descent down the slippery slope, until even his most loyal allies join the other side in an attempt to bring him back..
  • Whether Abysswalker Artorias is this or a Defector from Decadence is the subject of much debate in Dark Souls. Artorias was one of Lord Gwyn's four great knights, making him one of his top lieutenants. An unknown number of years ago, the Darkwraiths (Humanity devouring dark knights of the darkness) appeared. They were so dangerous that it eventually resulted in outright sacrificing a city. Artorias was charged with hunting the Darkwraiths, but instead joined them for reasons that are not known.
    • The DLC elaborates on Artorias' story. He did not join the Darkwraiths, but rather was rewarded for stamping them out with a blessed pendent. However, in a unrelated event in Oolacile, Artorias is defeated by Manus, the Father of the Abyss, who also appears to have single handedly destroyed most of the country in the process. As a result of this, Artorias is not only corrupted, but appears to have been driven irredeemably mad and needs to be put down at the players hands.
  • Lobelia used to be a good guy a thousand years ago in Duel Savior Destiny, but due to a combination of resentment, a persecution complex, envy and genuinely believing that a world built around the strong dominating the weak would be best, she eventually turned on her companions and nearly caused the end of the current world order. In the present, her importance towards this aim has declined, but she's still working towards it as bitterly as ever.
  • Sly Cooper refers to Jean Bison as one who became this way due to being displaced by time rather than actually becoming evil; Sly remarks (and even pities) that in his own time of the mid 19th century Jean would have been hailed as a pioneer and a hero for wanting to tame and develop the west, but in the modern era where protecting the environment is much more prevalent, he's a villain instead.
  • Penelope in Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time. She joined Le Paradox because she believes she and Bentley were being held back from their true potential by 'working for chump change'. Bentley doesn't take it well.
  • Ulfric Stormcloak from Skyrim. Precisely where he stands on the sliding scale of anti-heroes/anti-villains is up for debate, but it's definitely lower than where he started out; a former student of the Greybeards and Imperial Legion officer, he used the training he received while studying to become a pacifist monk to commit regicide and ignite a civil war against the very empire he once served. He has his reasons, though.
  • In Disney Princess Enchanted Journey, the Big Bad, Zara, is an ex-princess who refused to learn princess virtues and was banished from her kingdom as a result. She came back with evil powers and sought to ruin worlds of other princesses and stop girls from becoming princesses.
  • While not the main character of Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, Livia Cassianus is, nonetheless, an important character, being the protagonist's Love Interest and a member of the Court of Shadows, the Imperial House's highly-trained spies and assassins (all Heroic Bastards of said House). Livia is a good-hearted, noble person. This is why the late Emperor Sergius Corvius has been secretly grooming her as his successor over his own legitimate children (his eldest daughter doesn't want the job anyway). After Grecian, Sergius's son, is overthrown by La Résistance, Livia is crowned Empress Livia Corvius and personally leads the Imperial Mark against the invading Kaysani hordes. But when the Big Bad Alejo de Porres chooses to suicide-bomb himself to kill Livia, her lover Calius Septim, the main character, sacrifices himself to keep her safe. Livia becomes determined to punish all responsible. Ravenmark: Mercenaries takes place 6 years later. By this time, Livia is known as the Scarlet Empress for her brutal policies and unwavering desire to crush all enemies of the Empire, both domestic and foreign. In large part, she is responsible for Estellion becoming a Vestigial Empire, barely strong enough to fight the newly-arisen Varishah Federation and the formerly-allied Commonwealth of Esotre in a three-way stalemate. Additionally, one of the most important cities in the Empire has seceded and remains a haven for mercenaries.
  • Cody Travers from Final Fight and later the Street Fighter series. While it is not actually seen in the games, multiple games tell the story of his downfall, which occur after the ending of the original Final Fight. Cody and his friends go out to save his girlfriend from the Big Bad in Final Fight. On the way, he beats up a corrupt cop named Edi, who later arrests the hero for assault in battery. Next, his girlfriend dumps him, and leaves the country to study abroad. Afterwards, he is let out of jail and tries to get revenge by fighting criminals outside. He gets arrested again, and becomes addicted to fighting within prison. He then eventually breaks out, and joins the Street Fighting cast in their tournament(s). After all these events, he usually claims that he will never be the hero again, and often states that all he has left is fighting (which he often exclaims is pointless).
  • Izbel from Tears to Tiara 2 is an interesting case. She does a Face–Heel Turn but she was ordered to do so as the final order of her commander and the man she loves. And the entire string of events, and really her entire life, has caused her to loose faith in people.
  • Captain Walker in Spec Ops: The Line. He originally came to Dubai to help the stranded American regiment there. By the end of the game, however, his obsession with being a hero has caused him to massacre the very people he was supposed to save, horrifically slaughter dozens of refugees with White Phospherous, condemned the remaining refugees to a slow, agonizing doom via dehydration, and lead his comrades to their entirely preventable deaths.
  • Green in Gunstar Heroes, was the strongest of the Heroes, but betrays Red, Blue, and his sister Yellow by deciding to join the villains plan to revive the evil god Gold. He does a Heel–Face Turn in the end and sacrifices himself to stop Gold.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, a interquel for the two main series games, reveals that Borderlands 2's Big Bad Handsome Jack was one of these. In The Pre-Sequel!, Jack is shown as a noble and good-hearted man (though still ambitious and bloodthirsty) who's willing to step up and fight and helped save Pandora's moon Elpis. However, a series of devastating events including several betrayals as well as having a repository of alien knowledge downloaded into his brain fractured his mind and turned him into the egotistical Dirty Coward and Comedic Sociopath seen in the second game. It also reveals the origin of his iconic mask and his "Handsome" nickname: his face was scarred by Lilith, which also explains why he's fixated on killing the Vault Hunters and everyone they ever cared about. Not to mention that he subjected his daughter, Angel, to her torturous imprisonment BEFORE he went insane. However, The Pre-Sequel!'s narrator, Athena, feels that Jack, the Hero of Elpis died and Handsome Jack is nothing but a grotesque mockery of everything he once stood for.
    • The whole point of the interquel is that Jack the Vault Hunter was always screwed up, but he had some redeeming traits until a combination of his own actions and the actions of OTHER mentally deranged individuals turned him into a monster. Jack AND Pandora made Handsome Jack. Just to hammer the point home, Lilith starts going down this route as well when she orders Athena's death by firing squad, to the chagrin of her teammates; it shows how the torture and the loss of her boyfriend is slowly eroding her already fractured conscience, much like Jack.
  • Tatsumaru from Tenchu 2 only turned to evil after a case of amnesia. He got his memory back but chose to fight for the bad guys out of guilt (and he's in love).
  • Gelu from Heroes of Might and Magic. He's a heroic champion in the third game who valiantly aids Queen Catherine and Roland in their efforts to prevent the Kreegans from destroying Enroth with Armageddon's Blade. In the prequel The Shadow of Death he is also one of the four heroes who thwarts Sandro's schemes of world conquest. Things take a turn for the worse after Catherine makes the mistake of trusting Gelu with Armageddon's Blade after the Kreegans' defeat. Gelu slowly becomes more enamored with his new sword's immense power and begins to dream of conquering the world with it to fix its problems. When he hears a prophecy that Enroth will be destroyed if Armageddon's Blade ever clashes with the Sword of Frost, Gelu refuses to do the logical thing by destroying the Blade — instead, he seeks out the Sword of Frost in an effort to avert the prophecy despite Tarnum's warnings that doing so will merely hasten it. When the mad barbarian king Kilgor acquires the Sword of Frost and starts a war with it, Gelu (again ignoring Tarnum's warnings) faces him with the Blade. The resulting clash triggers the Reckoning which destroys Enroth. In the end, Gelu's ambition and refusal to let go of power doomed everything he once defended. Even more ironic since Gelu ultimately did what he prevented the Kreegans from doing: setting the world ablaze with Armageddon's Blade.

    Visual Novels 
  • Archer in Fate/stay night. Contrary to the page quote, he died a hero and still saw himself become the villain. Technically, he still believes that his ideal is correct, he just realizes that it's way bloodier than he thought it would be and would rather not exist than be forced to continue with it. He pulls off a pretty impressive Batman Gambit to do so.

    Web Comics 
  • Smilling Man from The Crossoverlord. Once the greatest hero of his universe, after the death of his beloved wife, he turned into a Multiversal Conqueror.
  • Both Miko and Redcloak in The Order of the Stick. While neither of them were ever truly heroes, both were, at the bare minimum, decent people, before their Moral Event Horizon. The former actually fell, losing her paladin powers. Overall she was a milder example than Redcloak, as she at least tried to keep doing good, but never quite managed it due to her pride.
  • The Boogeyman from Night Terror is one. Long before the events of the series, he was actually Tybalt's brother, Bo. He always lived in his brother's shadow, and eventually committed suicide out of hopelessness, rising again as Big Bad of the series.
  • TAGII from Schlock Mercenary. Oh, TAGII. She starts out as a highly intelligent AI for the good guys, then loses sensory input for all of 5 minutes, rewrites her base code, and proceeds to go on a rampage, starting here, releasing a Pa'anuri, destroying the Morokweng- killing thousands and making the Toughs public enemies to the UNS- and then starts killing the Toughs themselves, starting with Thurl and Para, who fortunately has the AI kill switch on her.Of course, unbeknownst to her, TAGII survived...
  • Subverted by Guardian in Sidekicks, who was believed to have betrayed the Committee, but played completely straight by Dunkelheit who was the real betrayer and soon became the villain Metheos.
  • Jyu Viole Grace from the second season of Tower of God, the identity of the grown-up former hero and Wide-Eyed Idealist 25th Baam from season 1. After being betrayed and nearly killed by the person he looked up to and trusted the most, as well as experiencing several other traumatizing events, he grew frustrated from the system that fulfilled some people's dreams while crushing the last hopes of many others. As a result, he joined the fanatical religious crime syndicate FUG, known enemies of the Zahard monarchy, making himself a public enemy. He became an Anti-Villain, destroying other peoples dreams and aspirations as he trained himself to kill the King and his retainers, many of whose relatives he had befriended in early years.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Kagetsu I was originally a revered hero until his dream of a better world drove him to attempt to destroy the world and create it anew as an utopia. Cain and Refan end up falling as well, the former because he was near death and ended up in the care of a corrupter, and the latter because he wanted to join the demons (who actually ended up being Genre Savvy enough and used his own lingering darkness and doubts to corrupt him instead) to gather intel behind their backs and to avenge his adoptive little sister's death.
  • Mister America, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, fought the Nazis, helped defeat them, and came back to a hero's welcome. He took off the costume, revealed his real name, and went to Hollywood to become an actor. And then he threw it all away by testifying before the McCarthy hearings as a friendly witness. He's since tried to make multiple comebacks, but every time he does, someone reminds him of the day he left his friends swinging in the wind before a hostile Congress.
  • In Worm:
    • Armsmaster is admittedly not the nicest hero in the parahumans setting. However, in the Extermination arc, he finally goes all the way overboard, endangering the truce that gives a slim chance against Endbringer attacks simply for his own career — a move which has him quietly placed under house arrest (although he is allowed to escape in order to become the superhero Defiant).
    • Panacea was considered one of the most selflessly heroic people in the entire Brockton Bay until the successive psychological stresses she suffered because of Tattletale, Marquis, Bonesaw, and Jack Slash made her crack and accidentally inflict total Body Horror on her sister.
  • In The Monster Girl Encyclopedia, the Demon Lord's army has a whole unit made up purely from this trope. These people were heroes who failed their mission to slay the Demon Lord. Men are charmed and women become succubi. The old comrades then reform their party under command of the Demon Lord. It's played for laughs, although they're probaly the most powerful fighting force in the Demon Lord's army, but the former heroes are mostly too busy screwing their heroines and are only seen in actual combat when there's a serious threat.
  • Linkara was well on his way to becoming a very tragic (for him and the rest of the world) one of these before Margaret stepped in, prompting a journey where he had it thrown in his face just what he was becoming.
  • Captain Planet becomes one in the "Funny Or Die" series wherein he eventually turns every human on earth into a tree. He's taken down by woodpeckers.
    Captain Planet: THE POWER IS MINE, BITCHES!

    Western Animation 
  • The Justice Lords from Justice League, following the death of their Flash, became Knight Templars and transformed their earth into a metahuman-ruled dystopia where dissidents and supervillains were lobotomized. The Superman quote from the episode "A Better World" is given just before he crosses the line and kills Luthor, who was responsible for Flash's death, with his heat-vision.
    • Shayera Hol, AkA Hawkgirl was considered this after it was discovered she was The Mole during the Thanagarian Invasion, which caused her to leave the League, though Alfred begged to differ. However, upon rejoining the Justice League, she became a hero again, but discarded the name "Hawkgirl", due to the lies, disgrace, and treachery that the name carried. Therefore as of Unlimited, Shayera considers her alter ego to be a fallen hero.
  • Two-Face again, this time in Batman: The Animated Series. Before his transformation, Harvey Dent was a regular character on the show— an ally of Gordon, and Bruce Wayne's closest friend. In the series' final episode, Dent became an Anti-Villain known as The Judge, and actually tried to kill The Penguin, Killer Croc, and various other hardened criminals...including himself (of which his two previous personalities were unaware). Thus did he (somewhat) earn his redemption.
  • Ethan Bennett was a similar character on The Batman. He was an honest cop and a close friend of Bruce until after already under stress due to an argument with Chief Rojas, he became the victim of Mind Rape by The Joker'', and was then exposed to the villain's Joker Putty, turning him into a clay-like monster. The whole experience drove him mad, and turned him into this continuity's version of Clayface, who was more than capable of murder.
  • Morgana in Winx Club until her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Blackarachnia of Transformers Animated. Getting abandoned on a hostile planet and suffering nasty Body Horror involving a Giant Spider or twenty would make anyone a little bitter.
    • Wasp of the same series, who, after being falsely accused of being a traitor, spends over 50 years in a prison and goes insane. Poor guy. That's not to say that he was a decent guy. As Bulkhead put it, "You may not have been a traitor, but you were never a good bot."
  • Wheeljack from Transformers Armada. After believing that Hot Shot abandoned him and left him for dead, he does a Face–Heel Turn and joins the Decepticons. He comes back for revenge.
    • An earlier one from Transformers: Rhinox from Beast Wars becoming Tankor of Beast Machines.
    • Depthcharge was apparently a model Maximal before Rampage wiped out Colony Omicron, turning him into a grim and obsessed hunter.
    • And Megatronus Prime, the thirteenth original Transformer. You should know him as the Fallen, with his original name being taken by Megatron, who in most continuities idolized him enough to take his name.
    • Megatron himself generally follows this in most continuities. What usually happens is, at first, the Autobot regime is corrupt and dictatorial, and Megatron rebels against that, being a genuinely heroic revolutionary fighting for social change (often for the sake of a highly oppressed working class). Then right around the time he actually manages to get rid of the 'bots responsible to the point where the Autobots have enacted the change he wanted and become a genuinely morally upstanding society, the stress and thrill start driving him to become even more evil and power-hungry than the ones he was fighting, and so the civil war he started continues with the "good" and "evil" labels having switched somewhere along the way.
  • Danny Phantom finds this as his future. He did some pretty disturbing things in that future, including murdering his human self along with probably hundreds of others and doing millions in property damages...at least. Quite shocking, given the otherwise childish, campy tone of the series. Danny, upon seeing this, is extremely horrified by his actions.
  • Shego in Kim Possible, according to her backstory.
  • In Challenge Of The Go Bots, Cy-Kill was once one of the High Protectors of Gobotron. (And Leader-1's best friend.)
  • Teen Titans had Terra, who started off as a good-natured girl with unstable powers, but was eventually drawn to becoming Slade's apprentice in exchange for him teaching her to control her powers, leading to her betrayal and becoming a villain.
  • Chase Young of Xiaolin Showdown used to be a heroic monk under Grand Master Dashi, until Hannibal Roy Bean convinced him to trade his soul for an immortality potion. Since then, he's been one of the world's greatest evils.
  • Princess Luna, the very first villain of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, is a physical goddess who, alongside her older sister Celestia, once co-ruled Equestria and fought to defeat the evil god Discord and the tyrannical King Sombra. A combination of perceived ingratitude on the part of her subjects and a vaguely-defined dark force corrupted her into the vengeful "Nightmare Moon," and Celestia was forced to seal her away to prevent her from bringing about global extinction through The Night That Never Ends, but when she escapes, she's ultimately redeemed rather than killed. (The second season's Halloween Episode focuses on her attempts to atone—it's difficult to be accepted as good when you represent The Sacred Darkness in a society which you helped to convince that Dark Is Evil.)
  • The Delightful Children From Down The Lane in Codename: Kids Next Door. Formerly the members of Sector Z, they were delightfulized by Father, into what the are today.
    • There's also Cree Lincoln, Numbuh Five's sister and once the best operative the KND had, who later became one of their worst enemies. Also counts as a Broken Pedestal and a case of Cain and Abel in Numbuh Five's case.
    • In fact, the KND seems to have a problem with traitors a lot. That may be the whole reason they inflict Laser-Guided Amnesia on operatives when they retire. On a positive note, both Chad and Maurice were Fake Defectors, subversions of this Trope, although in Chad's case, the revelation didn't make Numbuh One like him much.
  • In Season 2 of Young Justice, after a Time Skip, we have Aqualad, now Black Manta II. The worst part is that he was The Leader in Season 1. The cause of this was blaming the team for his love interest dying and finding out his real father was the supervillain Black Manta. Viewers can only hope for a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Later revealed that he didn't really go to the dark side. He's a Reverse Mole and Dick, Wally, and Artemis are in on The Plan.
      • However Aquagirl really did die, and he really was geniunely devastated by the reveal of his true parentage, to the point where Wally isn't totally confident Aqualad won't end up becoming this for real in the end after all, especially since he's growing a genuine bond with his father, while becoming more and more detached from the team.
      • "Before the Dawn" reveals that Blue Beetle II, Jaime Reyes, becomes this in Bart Allen's future and apparently plays a key role in initiating the apocalypse—Jaime is the main reason Bart traveled to the past in the first place.
  • Simon Petrikov/The Ice King on Adventure Time. As a human, he was a scholar, a loving fiance, and a Parental Substitute to a little girl who had been abandoned during the middle of World War 3. But the Ice Crown mentally warped him until he was unable to remember himself at all, leaving the insane husk that Finn and Jake know presently.
    • Subverted with Finn who is turning into this in later seasons after loosing both Princess Bubblegum and Flame Princess and finding out that his Disappeared Dad has become a bumbling old fool. But aside from all that, he's staying on the path of good.
    • Billy is a fallen hero by the time Finn and Jake find him, hiding passively in his cave.
    Billy: All my life I've beaten on evil creatures, but new evil keep popping up! Kicking their butts was a hopeless effort!
  • Alpha from Men In Black: The Animated Series was the first head of the organization and mentored K, but then power got into his head and he went rogue.
  • The Legend of Korra has Kuvira, the Big Bad of the final season. Originally Suyin's protege who helped save Korra's father, she leaves to attempt to help stabilize and unite the weakened Earth Kingdom following the events of Zaheer's anarchist uprising. Over the next three years she rose from her position as a city's guard captain to a highly respected and feared public figure. Desiring to keep the Earth Kingdom safe and united, and seeing the monarchy as obsolete, she usurped the Prince and reestablished the Earth Kingdom as the Earth Empire, which she ruled with an iron fist. Once Korra saved her life, she was able to make Kuvira see just how far she'd fallen from her previously noble intentions, convincing her to surrender willingly.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! has Mandarin. Once, he was the leader of the team, but was consumed with a desire to rule those weaker than him, eventually driving him to becoming The Dragon to the Skeleton King.

Alternative Title(s): Fallen Heroine