"So never kick a dog, because it's just a pup —The Bad Future has happened, meaning the Evil Overlord has won, it's The End of the World as We Know It and they are unquestionably in charge and making questionable fashion choices. There is hope in this bleak Dystopia however; some brave people have formed La Résistance. Notably, these include most of the former Sidekicks, the Plucky Comic Relief, and even The Scrappy, with an occasional "main" character survivor; basically everyone you'd expect to be a loser in the future. But they're not the same characters we knew and loved (or hated), they're Darker and Edgier. It seems living under an iron fisted despot is a great personal motivator to get buff, and all those bombed out HotTopic stores are just begging to be used by actual punk freedom fighters. Effectively everyone's gotten a Badass Makeover and turned into fashionably scarred, goatee-sporting, longcoat-wearing, Shell Shocked Veterans and Genius Bruisers. Eyepatches are popular too. Even the mousiest, ditzyiest, flabbiest, slacker-iest characters straighten out and become deadly serious professionals. Even if we grow to like these new interpretations of the same characters more than the originals, the status quo and attachment for the originals is sure to undo this harsh future. At the very least it becomes somewhat ominous to know that, under the right (or wrong) circumstances the lovable Woobie or Goofball can become a cold killing machine. They might make a future reappearance (if the future gets unfixed again) or return in the much more disturbing event that the character suffers a Heroic BSOD, or worse, gets pushed too far. If they're lucky, the reappearance of the hero can set things right before the Big Bad is too entrenched to be removed. In some cases it can be All Just a Dream, a Time Travel made Alternate Universe, or a Mirror Universe with a tiny difference. See also Future Me Scares Me, Bad Future and Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome. Compare with Ridiculously Successful Future Self. Subtrope of Took a Level in Badass.
You'd better run for cover when the pup grows up!"
You'd better run for cover when the pup grows up!"
— Les Misérables, "Little People"
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Anime and Manga
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann seems to begin with Simon leading the Dai-Gurren Brigade through a war with all the stars in the heavens which is theorized to be what would have happened if the Anti-Spirals were right and the Spiral races went on to abuse Spiral power. This Simon, while similar in appearance, is a lot cockier and violent then his kinder canon self.
- Tsukihime: According to several released small stories, in the future Tohno[/Nanaya] Shiki will become the Dead Apostle-slaying assassin Satsujinki, who has surpassed his past limits. One such story begins with him wiping out one of the 27 Dead Apostles, without him even noticing he was dead until it was far too late.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn!: Most notably Lambo, going from crybaby incompetent toddler to crybaby slightly more-competent bishonen in 10 years, and turning into an overpowered beefy stud in 20 years.
- Yes. Lambo and... everyone else.
- Pandora Hearts has the whiny, sniveling Gil become the raw testosterone canon of Raven.
- Dragon Ball Z's Android Saga features Future Trunks, who wiped out both Frieza and his father King Cold, who up until that time were considered the supreme Big Bads of the universe, on his first appearance. He traveled through time to get Goku and the gang ready to fight the Androids, which had all but destroyed the Earth in Trunks's future, as well as give Goku the cure for the heart disease that he got back on Planet Yadrat, which had killed him in Trunks's timeline before the Androids arrived. "Normal" Trunks only shows up after this, ironically turning out to be mostly useless in a fight and having horrible taste in clothing.
- Future Gohan. He takes this trope to extremes compared to his present day child counterpart. Even when he loses his arm to the Androids and eventually gets killed. However, he is also a subversion; while he's a more focused warrior than the child Gohan, he is less powerful, having grown up without his father to train him.
- Noein had the Dragon Knights Karasu and Fukuro as Future Badasses for Yuu and Isami respectively. Karasu got into fights with almost all the other Dragon Knights, and became a Determinator, singlehandidly invading Shangri'la the timespace that had nearly destroyed La'Cryma to rescue Yuu(then Haruka) from Noein.
- Shirou Emiya of Fate/stay night turns into the man they created the word "GAR" for.
- Also from Nasuverse - Waver Velvet, the Naďve Newcomer in Fate/Zero, who eventually grows up to become Lord El-Melloi II, the man who dismantled the Fuyuki Grail after Fate/stay night. Also, a dead ringer for Waver appears inside Ionioi Hetairoi, heavily implying he became a Heroic Spirit after his death.
- Tekkaman Blade has Aki Kisaragi, who for the first season serves as the supportive figure of Takaya aka D-Boy, and eventually his Love Interest, who sometimes DO help him fight in piloting the not-quite-so-powerful ship. In the second season, after several years of Time Skip, she became a Tekkaman herself, and while lacking natural Tekkaman powers like flight or Voltekka, she still manages to be a Badass fighter on her own, and goes on tutoring Tekkamen blessed with natural Tekkaman powers.
- The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi has Asahina Mikuru's future self. She's clearly more self-confident, wiser (and bustier) than her present self, and she's actually her own superior.
- The ending of Mahoromatic has the main character become this, much to the consternation of many fans.
- Reversed, somewhat, in Violinist of Hameln with Clari Net. Clari has yet to demonstrate any real prowess—only talk—when Trom and Flute come across a mirror that shows the past, and a scene with a pathetic-looking crying boy. The end of the flashback reveals the boy to be Clari. Cue adult!Clari taking out an army of dragons. Singlehandedly.
- While the cast of Getter Robo were already supreme badasses, the After the End OVA Armageddon has the characters appear older and more rugged than before and ditch the old Space Clothes in favour of something more badass. Most notable is Ryoma, who gains a huge red Scarf Of Ass Kicking, a Badass Longcoat, chain belt and hand wrappings, and his sideburns go from "huge" to "have their own gravitational field."
- Tagalong Kid Genki Saotome not only grows up to be a badass sufficiently capable of piloting Shin Getter 2 (and later, Shin Liger), but turns out to have been a very, very, very, very, VERY tomboyish girl, and only now shows how hard she got hit by the pretty stick. It also helps that she's gotten military training of some kind as well.
- In Psyren, the Elmore Wood kids, after dying repeatedly in the future, come back with a vengeance, all kicking ass and taking names except Kyle.
- In Claymore, after the Time Skip, a previously useless and weak character, Raki, takes several hundred levels in badass.
- Otcho from 20th Century Boys goes from an average Joe to an enlightened mercenary to a Bare-Fisted Monk who goes by the name of Shogun.
- And Yoshitsune goes from a timid, ineffectual Woobie to a competent resistance leader, though he's still plagued with self-doubt and his major character development is learning his own worth.
- EVERYONE becomes a future badass, good or bad - Kenji started out as a loser who run a store, and by the epilogue, he had became a symbol for hope, a rock star, and ultimately Messiah.
- Invoked in Ravages Of Time the moment that Liaoyuan Huo first uses the alias Zhao Yun, but used a lot in the series. For example, the little squirt who appears in the Wu camp as a raving Taishi Ci fanboy? He's going to grow up to be the general whose army brings down the kingdom of Shu.
- Rogue from Fairy Tail, having come from a future where Acnologia decided to take over the world and has killed of 90% of the population, as well as having succumbed to his Superpowered Evil Side. When he turns up in the present, he has murdered and stolen the powers of his former friend, giving him the dual element power-up that, until that point, only Natsu had been shown to use reliably. He also invented a spell to control dragons, and manipulates the royal family into summoning as many as possible before turning on everyone. It's only thanks to another time travel based Deus ex Machina that he isn't responsible for the most deaths of named characters in the series (including a main character). And that's with another member of the cast having a tendency to kill people by standing too close to them.
- Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica is technically only from the very near future, but has lived through countless time loops thanks to her time control powers and thus has turned from a shy, bookish girl into the most experienced magical girl of the cast as she tries to create a timeline where Madoka doesn't become a Magical Girl and survives Walpurgisnacht's attack.
- The X-Men story "Days of Future Past" had several of these, starting with Kitty Pryde—who is now called "Katherine", thank you.
- The same future has Franklin Richards as a mutant freedom fighter, even though in comics set in the present day he's been 8 years old (or so) for decades.
- In a 2004 arc in the Teen Titans comic, the Titans get warped to a Bad Future where the Justice League have all died and been replaced by their sidekicks, who are now uniformly deadly vigilantes: Robin has become Batman (and now uses a gun), Superboy has become Superman (and has no compunctions about ripping peoples' arms off), Beast Boy is the feral Animal Man, and so on. And they're all working for Lex Luthor. Overlaps with Future Me Scares Me.
- Three Ultimate Marvel-examples: In a X-Men/FF crossover, future Cyclops lost his powers, but is still badass enough to be the new, 616-esque Captain America. Future Shadowcat (still called Kitty though) develops the ability to become super-dense in addition to her intangibility, which allows her to bitch-slap Ben Grimm around; also, she has a copy of Spiderman's web-shooters. In another, earlier UXM-arc, future Wolverine lost his Healing Factor and an arm, no less, which forced him to become even more badass as a result—cue Ultimate Cable.
- Seemingly normal high school student Victor joined the cast of Runaways after Gert came back from the future to warn the kids that he would someday kill every super hero on the planet. And not only was Future!Gert leading the Avengers, but she looked so different that the fifteen-year-old Gert didn't recognize herself.
- A late arc of Impulse called "Dark Tomorrow" had Bart and his present-day then-girlfriend Carol transported to the 30th century after Bart's mentor Max Mercury "died." They discover that their future selves, living in a very Bad Future run by Bart's evil grampa, are quite Badass... and also fighting on opposite sides, with Carol working for President Thawne. Even though he's on the good side, Future!Bart is much more savage than the kid we all know and love.
- Jack Knight went to the future and saw that Stargirl will eventually be a great hero.
- Her younger sister is also destined to become a Starwoman in the future.
- Bratty Damian Wayne from Batman becomes one of these in Batman 666, taking place in the future (or perhaps a possible future). He stretches the no-kill rule to the limits, more than willing to brutally injure and kill his opponents, although he does mention that he promised his father not to kill. He "cheats" by rigging the entire city of Gotham with booby traps and bombs, acknowledging that he won't match his predecessors. And he has made a Deal with the Devil, able to survive and heal immediately when he was shot with bullets, his soul in exchange for his need to protect Gotham.
- Sort of example in Hack Slash; in the Murder Messiah Annual, it's revealed the previously thought dead Liberty Lochs cast a spell at the last minute that saved her from dying, but flung her into a post-apocalyptic future, where she was forced to become a badass, complete with cool hoverbike.
- Not that he wasn't a Bad Ass before, what with winning the Superpower Lottery and having several powers brought up to the level of Story-Breaker Power, but Superman becomes this in DC One Million. This is due to studying, training, and gaining powers under the Source (AKA the Expy of Marvel's The One Above All), journeying the universe and beyond for 84,200 years, coming up with a deal with his descendants that adds the sum of the power levels of each and every single one of his descendants (including thousands, potentially even an unlimited number, of Masters Of All, Physical Gods, Reality Warpers, and at least a dozen Boring Invincible Heroes) to his own power level… oh, yes, and he's been soaking up the rays of TWO yellow suns for tens of thousands of years. And there's the fact that he has at least one Green Lantern Ring...
- Billy Kaplan. In the present, he's a powerful but fairly inexperienced reality warper who's poor judgment tends to cause disaster. In the future, he's a dimension spawning deity worshipped under the name Demiurge.
- Double Subverted in the French comic Raghnarok, about a young dragon who just can't fly in spite of his mother's insistence (her teaching methods consisting her throwing him off a cliff until he learns) and whose Fairy Companion is a Stepford Smiler who's only allowed to use a kiddie wand. Fed up one day, he asks a witch to be sent forward in time to see if he ever grows up to be someone useful. He then sees a Mordor-esque Crapsack World dominated by a gargantuan, city-destroying black dragon who ceaselessly screeches "Raghnarok!!!", and his fairy has become an evil sorceress. It turns out that it's not him but his mother, since in this timeline he's been missing for a decade, sending his mother insane with grief until she can't do anything but torch the world calling for him, and the fairy went Well-Intentioned Extremist to help her. Further subverted in that the whole thing was real but didn't actually happen—the witch showed him the consequences of running away from his problems but closed the timeline by bringing him back (since her house was one of the first to burn).
- Uatu the Watcher shows Hank McCoy a vision of possible futures, and in one, Magik became the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, likely as his successor, since he retrained her.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe Fan Fic Love Ignites the Galaxy: Star by Star by polgarawolf, the Tahiri Veila from Legacy of the Force uses Darth Caedus' flow-walking technique to travel back to the events of Star by Star and save the Jedi strike force from the disaster ahead. She proceeds to rig the Yuuzhan Vong's voxyn grove to explode, get the drop on the entire Myrkr strike force, neutralize Lomi Plo and Welk, all the while evading the Yuuzhan Vong, and generally makes it clear that she's seen the future of this timeline, and nothing is going to stop her from insuring that future does. Not. Happen.
- In the Star Fox fanfiction Krazoa Legends by Wolf E. Urameshi, more than one character is an example of this: Falco Lombardi's life is shown when he has to escape with his sister after his parents are killed. Both of them. Also, Wolf O'Donnell goes through the same thing, though his story is more mommy dearest fare. But the original character Janus is probably the most accurate example of this. I mean, the guy starts his life abandoned by his own father, General Scales because he was apparently not muscled enough in the non-literal sense. The events that followed traumatized him- plus Scales killed Janus's mom a year after the latter was born. He was rescued by an obligatory smart guy, turned into a genius Badass Nice Guy, and is even a hot, muscled Sharpclaw with a toned bod, avenges his family and guards ancient ruins with just a spear. He even scores. Yeah.
- This story shows an alternate timeline where Nightmare Moon conquered the world (apparently because Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash never met and the Sonic Rainboom never happened). While Rainbow Dash is The Dragon and Rarity ended up making statues instead of fashion designs, Fluttershy of all ponies is leading the mythical creatures of Everfree Forest against Nightmare Moon's forces. And winning.
- Pony POV Series:
- Twilight Sparkle is revealed to be this is the Bad Future ruled by Discord and at least possible future. In this Bad Future, she's Discord's brainwashed The Dragon, Twilight Tragedy. However, Applejack's view of that future implies she actually manages to Out Gambit Discord during one of the moments he unbrainwashes her for his own amusement by hiding a letter to herself, which allows her to restore her memories without his knowledge and plan his downfall. Which is arguably more badass. In another possible future, she's an extremely powerful magician who fights tirelessly to defend Equestria. It's even hinted she's the one to defeat death. Oh, and she's immortal as well.
- Thus far, most ponies we've seen future versions of qualify. Living in Discord's Bad Future probably has this affect on ponies.
- In the Shining Armor arc, at one point items from the human world start coming out of portals. According to some documents and ID cards, Megan Williams' little sister Molly grew up to be a Special Forces agent. The Doctor comments on how unlikely it is that sweet little Molly would choose such a career path, and speculates it was an alternate universe version of her.
- In The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum, all the ponies of the PHL (or Ponies for Human Life) have become this-Sweetie Belle has become an Action Survivor capable of living in the Everfree on her own, Trixie is a deadly shapeshifting spy, Cheerilee is a high-ranking resistance commander, and Vinyl Scratch is now a soldier capable of carrying a minigun and using weaponized wubs.
- The Facing The Future Series shows us the version of Danny that replaced his evil future version, and he's downright badass enough to stand toe to toe with Dark Danny, even able to control Danny's deadly Super Mode. Even better, Sam's his partner, a revelation that began the entire series.
- Ditzy Doo from Fallout: Equestria. In present-day Equestria, she was a happy-go-lucky mail carrier with an affinity for muffins. Two hundred years and a balefire apocalypse later, she's an Undead ex-slave Intrepid Merchant who pretty much runs the town of New Appleoossa despite being mute. And is capable of pulling off a Sonic Radboom, and is the new bearer of the Element of Laughter.
- The Meg's Family Series features a few appearances from an adult Maddie from the future; the first time around she came back to prevent turkeys taking over the world and almost destroying humanity. Even after that was prevented, according to Stewie's future self she went on to be trained by Stan Smith after seeing how much of a badass she was, and became a CIA agent.
- Harmony Theory: It's revealed that Spike grew into Genius Bruiser and Mighty Glacier, who's now capable of ripping ponies in two, while shrugging off gunfire. This however puts extra tension on his interaction with Rarity, who's woken up in the future and isn't used to the violence of the After the End Equestria.
- Terminator franchise:
- Future John Connor is referred to as a brilliant, Bad Ass military leader of the human resistance. The first film shows him in action, as part of Kyle's description of him to Sarah, then we see him as a child in the second movie and TV show.
- Kyle Reese himself. Among other things, he makes pipe bombs out of mothballs and a few other sundry household items. Bad Ass. What makes it apply to this trope is that then Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles shows us him as a young child before the war.
- Reese also spends a lot of the first film telling Sarah Connor she's one of these, much to her disbelief, bewilderment and frustration, and his eventual disappointment. She is by the second film, though.
- Time Chasers gives us a downplayed version of this with Nick, who is certainly hardened by his experiences throughout the film compared to his former self. He's still kind of a Non-Action Guy, though.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the future Sentinels are a serious improvement over the 1970s versions.
- One of the Animorphs books concerned Jake waking up in the future, where all his friends were battle-scarred screw-ups. Jake himself has a huge Rated M for Manly body "a Yeerk would give up three ranks for".
- Paul Carpenter encounters a badass swordsman version of himself in Tom Holt's Earth, Fire, Air and Custard—the end of the plot of that book was so convoluted it's hard to tell, and he never finds out for sure, but there's a good chance said version of Paul existed because a Canadian bank tried to change history to make Canada a major world power.
- In the final book of The Pendragon Adventure Mark and Courtney, formerly fairly average high school students, have become grizzled leaders of the surviving human population on Earth.
- In the ending of The Enchantress Marethyu turns out to be a far older and more powerful version of Josh.
Live Action TV
- When Cordelia wished an Alternate Universe into being in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, random classmates and Giles are forced to fight the vampires sans Slayer. Xander and Willow get a Gothic Punk makeover as The Dragons of the Big Bad. Even Buffy is scarred.
- Willow's creepy alternate was also alluded to when she snapped following Tara's death, using the alternate's creepy "Bored now" line, with the same delivery, right before using her powers to flay Warren, Tara's killer, alive.
- In the novel The Lost Slayer, Giles becomes a vampire king, and the Scoobies become a battle-hardened almost military group trying to fight him. Younger!Buffy-in-Older!Buffy's-body is surprised when she breaks out of where Giles was holding her and sees how they've all changed.
- Sideways example: the Slayer's Handbook supplement to the RPG describes an alternate setting called Hellworld, in which Glory's portal wasn't closed, unleashing a demonic apocalypse on Earth. One of the last remaining enclaves of humanity is defended by a group of grizzled demon fighters led by a horrifically scarred, nearly psychotic Alexander 'Call me Xander and die' Harris.
- In the same scenario, there are rumors filtering in from the wasteland about someone called "Ripper" who hunts down demons with a combination of magic and mundane weapons....
- Heroes has its own alternate future, with various side-switching and bad-ass-ifications. The most jarring one is Hiro, who goes from scruffy-looking, broken-English-speaking comicbook nerd to Badass Longcoat-wearing, hair-slicked-back, contemplative-yet-badass street samurai. And is pissed about it.
- What's really amusing about Badass!Hiro is that he's so exactly what Original!Hiro would have thought of as a Badass—it's unclear that he did it consciously, but he's the perfect incarnation of what Original!Hiro wanted to be. And is pissed about it nonetheless. This was actually requested by the actor as a nod to Future Trunks from DBZ.
- Mild mannered Peter Petrelli either, who turns into a jaded, bitter Badass Longcoat with a huge scary scar and "hasn't had a good fight in years."
- Matt Parkman goes from an unlucky police officer who Bennett is easily able to screw over into a Badass FBI Agent who takes out both Bennett and Future!Hiro.
- Claire Bennett gets this in Season 3, with a large helping of Face-Heel Turn or Knight Templar.
- Humorously inverted in Season 3 with Sylar, who ends up the only person in the Dark Future version 2.0 who's pleasant, well-adjusted, and not wearing black leather.
- At least until his son gets killed, at which point he promptly and quite literally goes nuclear.
- This happened in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. During their It's a Wonderful Life segment, Beaker — normally Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's hapless assistant — is a buffed bouncer. With a tattoo.
- A lot of people couldn't stand Captain Kathryn Janeway's moralistic hand-wringing and rule stickling in Star Trek: Voyager.note Her alternate future counterpart, Admiral Kathryn Janeway stomped the rule book and then blasted it with a transphasic torpedo for good measure. She willingly violated all kind of regulations and swindled the Klingons, and then laughed it off. Badass Grandma if there ever was one.
- Also Kim in Season 5 Episode 6 "Timeless"
- Trance from Andromeda actually switched places with her future badass self in one episode. The change was permanent, but we also got a brief look at badass future Becca.
- Supernatural: In the Season 5 episode "The End," which is one giant homage to 28 Days Later (though also a great episode in its own right), Dean has become even more badass and left all of his Woobie-ness behind (and he's highly reminiscent of Major Henry West, Christopher Eccleston's character in 28DL), and Sam is possessed by Lucifer. Slightly inverted in that Castiel has become a relaxed, stoned hippie/love guru, but even that is just a cover for his transformation into a Nietzsche Wannabe.
- An interesting twist on this in Stargate SG-1, the episode Moebius. Although it was really an alternate timeline, when the DifferentTimeline!SG-1 encounters RegularTimeline!Daniel, it's implied that they see him sort of as a Future Badass, since in their world, SG-1 had never existed and Daniel was somewhat of a wimp. But for the audience, that's Daniel as we know him, so we're not surprised.
Original Daniel: Where am I?
Alt O'Neill (of course): Ancient Egypt.
Original Daniel: No I mean the other me.
Alt Teal'c: I killed him.
Original Daniel: Why????
- A less extreme example to be sure, but Sun, of Lost, in the flashforwards is shown to essentially perform a stock market based hostile takeover of her father's company before he can blink.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl Who Waited", Amy gets trapped in an alternate timeline. When Rory manages to find her, she's 36 years older, dressed in armour made out of the robots she's killed, and armed with a sword and a home-made sonic screwdriver. Oh, and she's kind of pissed off.
- John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a Deconstruction of this. He knows, and has always known that he's going to become one of these, like his movie incarnations, and a TV series allows for more time to deconstruct that and show him living with that knowledge and suffering the traumas that would turn someone into that. He's even shown asking people from the future who've met him what his future self would do in certain situations.
- Sanctuary: In "Pavor Nocturnus", a confused Magnus encounters a battle-scarred and extremely jaded Will. That's what happens when you're one of very few survivors of a zombie-type epidemic.
- In Misfits, Superhoodie, who has been helping out the heroes, is revealed to be Simon.
- Inverted in the Distant Finale of Dollhouse. We follow Bad Ass Action Survivors Zone and Mag through two episodes of apocalyptic madness, during which they survive all kinds of crazy madness, only to finally decide to part ways after their side has finally won. The two of them, having until then been too busy surviving to dwell on the past, decide to tell each other what they were doing before the end.
Zone: Mag... what did you do... you know, before?Mag: I was... at Brooklyn College. Sociology. You?Zone: ... Landscape Architect.Mag: [Cracks up] ... I wouldn't have called that one.Zone: [raises an eyebrow and swaggers off] People are such a mystery!
- Played with in Merlin. Merlin is destined to be the most powerful sorcerer who ever lived and unite the old and the new worlds. However, just when this will happen is kept ambiguous, so it's not going to be clear whether or not he's already become this until the series ends.
- In Season 2 Danger 5 are stuck with Valley Girl Holly as The Load. After time-traveling back to World War II, they return to The '80s only to find history has changed and Hitler has taken over the world. Then they're rescued by Danger One, a Bad Ass Holly raised and trained by the Colonel to help them kill Hitler. Right after she explains this, the trope gets subverted when normal Holly blows her head off with her Evil Hand that's being controlled by Hitler.
- Critical Shifts brought about by bad guys in Feng Shui are the game's version of the Bad Future. Usually, people who the characters have met do much the same thing they did in the original timeline, but sometimes, the people go through changes as a result of the timeline. In one fan-written Feng Shui adventure, a Distressed Damsel that the PCs rescued from a Serial Killer in a previous adventure goes Sarah Connor as a result of a Critical Shift where the demons of the Underworld have overrun the mortal world and leads La Résistance against the demons.
- One Dragon Magazine Forum letter came from a DM who'd cured his players of wanting to switch to an Evil campaign with this trope. Sent to a parallel world, the PCs found that the goblinoids had taken over the planet using sci-fi technology, the good-guy demihumans were virtually extinct, and the Future Badass versions of the players' own retired PCs were practically the only heroes left outside of a graveyard. A few sessions of living like fugitives (and fleeing from monster-race adventurers!) convinced them that's what they were really looking for in a campaign, not Evil player characters per se.
- In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, a tragedy occurs in the first half of the game. Fast forward 17 years later, two former Tagalong Kids eventually evolve into two Badasses:
- Shanan, who was formerly Ayra's Morality Pet and started out as a Distressed Dude, evolved into an ass-kicking Sword Master, and when combined with the Balmunk Sword, which grants him crazy dodge rates... he's one of the game's Game Breaker.
- Fin can also count, After the time skip he's much more competent and experianced then his younger self.
- Oifaye, though his significance wasn't as big as Shanan and seemed to be a Crutch Character but proved not to be. He manages to hold on his own, protecting Celice through years of hardships. Within the Fire Emblem community Oifaye is synonymous with initially powerful characters that remain useful.
- City of Heroes has a few examples. The final goal of Operation: DESTINY is to prevent your villain from turning into a Future Badass capable of taking down both the Freedom Phalanx and Arachnos single-handedly (as killing Lord Recluse in this future costs your right arm). Mender Silos may be another example, what violating the underlying laws governing time travel and generally being an mysterious benefactor with hidden, layered plots, and certainly commanding a more impressive set of capabilities and army than that modern-day brozned poser Lord Nemesis.
- The players themselves as of Issue 19. You are shown a glimpse of a possible future version of you effortlessly defeating groups of the strongest bosses in the game, before breaking the laws of the universe to send Mender Ramiel further back in time than should be possible. Possibly not applicable, since you're already a superhero, but your future, fully powered incarnate version is to a superhero what a superhero is to a normal person. And then some.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is an example of this, with emphasis on Link, Zelda, and the Sages.
- Chrono Trigger inverts this with Magus (also known as Janus back in his own past). A full arc after crossing blades with the Fiendlord, you come upon a Creepy Child who informs you that one of your own (Crono) will die. It's after the Kingdom of Zeal crumbles that Magus lets them know of his past, and the party makes the connection at that point; a savvy player should see this much sooner.
- Fate/stay night has Servant Archer, who is nominally of the Archer Class and focused on ranged attacks, but is also very good at swordsmanship, and has the power to summon any sword he can think of, with his ultimate attack being a Reality Marble by the name of "Unlimited Blade Works." He is the future incarnation of Emiya Shirou, the protagonist of the series, who also has the ability to summon swords. Archer, however, is nowhere near the idealist that Shirou is, and his reason for coming to Shirou's time is to kill him.
- Edward, yes that Edward, in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
- From BlazBlue: "I am the white void. I am the cold steel. I Am the just sword. With blade in hand shall I reap the sins of this world, and cleanse it in the fires of destruction! I am Hakumen! The end has come!" — A major improvement over his previous life as the Ambiguously Gay Yandere Jin Kisaragi.
- In inFAMOUS, all-powerful Big Bad Kessler is revealed at the end to be an Alternate Universe version of Cole who traveled back in time to prepare his past self to deal with a monster destined to destroy the world. Depending on the Karma Meter, he either succeeds or he becomes something worse.
- Its also made clear that the actions of the first game only would have changed the timeline to make him far, far stronger. Or it would have if he didn't die in the second one
- There's an interesting variation in the Jak II: Renegade: our gun-toting Anti-Hero Jak meets his adorable younger self in the future before he's sent back into the past to grow up safe from harm.
- Not a story-based example, but Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has an example in an early bonus mission, where you're tasked by three Disir to calm down the rampaging Yggdrassil. This doesn't turn out so well, as not only does he outstrip your team at that point stat-wise, he can also stop time. Before he can kill you, though, the hero blacks out and is saved by a mysterious figure. A few Sectors later, it turns out that figure was his own future self, sent back in time by the Norns the Disir would become after he defeated Yggdrasil. Bam. Textbook Temporal Paradox.
- In the fan created game Touhou MOTHER, Cirno is a laughably easy recurring boss for the first half of the game. Then you're sent forward in time and you encounter her again, and she puts up a fight.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has Isaac, hero from the previous game that saved the world 30 years ago. He is now 47 years old, but is more buff, boasts a Badass Beard AND a Badass Longcoat, and he still kicks major ass as he helps his son, Matthew, (the player) and Karis find their friend as he uses a BFS and retains most of the powerful Djinn and summons he used on his last adventure. It helps that being exposed to the Golden Sun in the previous game drastically reduced his aging, meaning he's still as spry now as he was as a teenager.
- In the same game, there's Eoleo, who is the son of the famous pirate, Briggs. In the previous game, he was just a baby with some powers. 30 years later? He's now pirate like his dad before him with a mastery of Fire Pysnergy and he joins your party later on!
- Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days has Hanako, Adell's younger, nine year old sister. Ten years later, as the DLC reveals, she becomes Demon Lord Hanako, evidently fulfilling her dream of becoming as "sexy and powerful" as her idol, Etna.
- Though, to her dismay, her future self is still as flat as a board. Exactly as Etna!
- Bayonetta one similar to the Jak and Daxter example: Cereza turns out to be Bayonetta as a child who by the end is sent back in time.
- In World of Warcraft there is a quest you can get at level 72 in which you have to protect a magical hourglass from the Infinite Dragonflight. Before they attack you find yourself with "Future You" who is level 80 and will assist you in the battle. When you hit Level 80 you can take the next quest in which you have to protect "Past You" in the same battle.
- Champions Online has more of an Alternate Universe Badass in the character of Clayton Griswold. In the normal universe he's simply an ordinary citizen with a bit of a helpful streak (and a bit of a homage to National Lampoons Vacation). But when the heroes travel to Multifaria, they meet up with "The Grizz", the muscle-bound leader of La Résistance against the forces of Citizen Harmon.
- In Dragon Age II, by 9:40 Dragon when the Framing Device is set, Hawke is known throughout Thedas as a certified badass and one of the individuals responsible for the outbreak of the Mage-Templar War, currently poised to throw the entire world in anarchy. The game itself takes place over the ten years leading up to that point, as Varric explains to Cassandra exactly How We Got Here—and Hawke starts off as a homeless refugee desperate to take on any job that brings some cash.
- In the Team Fortress 2 comic "Death of a Sales-Bot", the Engineer travels to the present from 1999 (the game takes place in the 1960s), and he now has an entirely robotic right arm instead of just his hand, a glowing bionic left eye, a Badass Beard, a Pip-Boy, and a robotic Teddy Roosebelt, along with the Pyro, whose head is now preserved in a glass dome on a floating platform. He gives the RED team a warning about some vaguely-explained "Hat Wars" (also telling them that in the future, the President of the US will be a cybernetically-enhanced Pomeranian in a sweater), and to prevent that from happening they must not open the robotic crates full of hats that Grey Mann's robots were trying to sell them. Naturally, the Soldier hears him saying the exact opposite.
- In several endings of Beyond: Two Souls, we get to see a flash-forward of Zoey—the little girl whom Jodie helped deliver earlier in the game—and, possibly, Jodie herself in futuristic combat gear, seemingly humanity's last hope against an apocalyptic invasion from the Infraworld.
- Remember Henry Oldry, that helpless little kid you rescue during your first playthrough of Castlevania 64? Eight years later he comes back as a gun-toting Holy Knight out to save some more hostages in Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness.
- In Homestar Runner, occassionally you see a little alien, only slightly bigger than The Cheat, who's a Butt Monkey, named Nebulon. The most famous quote associated with him is 'Go away Nebulon. Nobody likes your style." Well, in Stinkoman20x6, Nebulon is now several hundreds times larger, able to shoot energy balls, and is the king of the moon. Due to the fluid nature of the Homestar Runner universe, he is both an alternate version and the future version, with the manual even saying that he's been working out, making it clear he is the same character.
- Eight Bit Theater revealed that Sarda is the Future Badass version of Onion Kid, Black Mage's serial victim.
- Harry Potter Comics did this with Deputy Bart and Rosie Weasley travelling back from an apocalyptic future to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. The trope was partially subverted, though, because afterwards they stuck around as displaced time clones.
- Narbonic, during the Unstuck in Time arc. The world sucks, Helen is a Brain in a Jar, Mell IS Vice President and is planning to become President, and Dave is in charge of Narbonic Labs.
- Dave in Homestuck, which is pretty impressive considering that his present self is already one of the most Bad Ass characters of the series. He's also a bit more emotional than his present counterpart (thanks to being stuck in an Unwinnable by Mistake situation with two of your closest friends dead for months on end) and gets pissed off if you refer to him as "Other Dave".
- A different variation with God Tier, pre-"Cascade" John, when Karkat first trolls him. Not exactly badass, but with a lot of cool gear and clothes and sounding remarkably secure and confident despite the uncertain future.
- There's also a variation in Dave and Rose in post-scratch Earth, who formed La Résistance together and are heavily admired by their ectoparents/later progeny Dirk and Roxy.
- Caliborn starts off as foul-mouthed and hateful, but apparently harmless. Then right when he starts showing off how Not-So-Harmless Villain he is, you find out he'll eventually become time-travelling crime-lord pimp and Bigger Bad Lord English, arguably the most powerful character in the series.
- Parodied in The Way of the Metagamer, in which everyone from the future is badass, no matter how far from the future they are. Even characters from five minutes in the future are incredibly badass.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Dark Smoke Puncher. Battling jetpacking dinosaurs with his ninja wizard skills. The main thing thats different about him is the trademark Future Badass scar. He was already a ninja in the present working on his technomage gear.
- Strip 457 of Brawl in the Family had Luigi accidentally taking Link's role in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When he pulls out the Master Sword, his future self is shown to have a Heroic Build complete with Badass Beard and Barbarian Long Hair. He eventually becomes the legendary Hero of Time by one-shotting Ganon.
- Parodied in a Homestar Runner Flash Forward Easter Egg in the Strong Bad Email your funeral, in which the emo-ish, nerdy Strong Sad is shown as a grizzled, scarred fighter in a Zombie Apocalypse. Pom Pom is also even cooler than usual.
- Fissure, from LessThanThree Comics' Brat Pack. Comes from a dystopian future to warn the Brats, and to make things better.
- Zero Punctuation's Halo 3 review ended with a Bad Future in which the expressionless man used as a stock photo has become "Captain Bland", complete with Eyepatch of Power.
- The peaceful and pleasant pilgrim, Lorenzo, from Nan Quest becomes the Dark Messiah in an Eldritch-Hotel
- Static Shock. Static becomes one of the most powerful DC heroes, as glimpsed in an episode where he meets his future self working alongside Terry McGinnis (the Batman of the future from Batman Beyond) and in a two-part episode of Justice League Unlimited where the present-day League travels to the Batman Beyond-era future and interact with the future League members, including adult Static. Adult Static also alludes to Richie/Gear—who in the present usually functions as the Plucky Comic Relief—having become a major Future Badass in his own right as well, and we're very briefly given a glimpse of this.
- Interesting variation in the Teen Titans series — in the episode "How Long is Forever?" Starfire is pulled into a future where the Titans broke up after she vanished. While Cyborg is reduced to living in the ruins of Titan tower attached to a crude power generator, Beast Boy has locked himself into a cage at a freak show and Raven appears to have lost her mind, Robin on the other hand has become Nightwing.
- Invoked in the Made-for-TV Movie of Dexter's Laboratory, Ego Trip, wherein Dexter travels to the future for the primary purpose of seeing what kind of Bad Ass he is. In the dystopian future version of himself, he comes to resemble his hero Action Hank: big, brawny, and bearded (and unlike Hank, he goes bald), and his Mad Scientist pseudo-Germanic accent is replaced by an Arnold impression.
- Kim Possible's three-parter "A Sitch in Time": When Shego uses the Tempus Simia (Time Monkey) to take over the world, Kim's little brothers, Wade, Monique, and a gaggle of ripped Rufus clones, become buff freedom fighters and Doctor Drakken becomes a huge musclebound hulk. Ron even references the trope throughout the episode.
- ReBoot had this happen twice to Enzo. First in the episode where Dot is given a "It's a Wonderful Life" vision of what the future would be like without her, and Enzo is a bitter, scarred, leather wearing teen badass, and then later in season 3 when the show went Darker and Edgier, they had Enzo develop into the fully grown, bitter, scarred, leather wearing badass Matrix.
- ReBoot also put this trope wonderfully in its place when they brought Young Enzo back to exist alongside Matrix (the system got rebooted, okay?) — at first Enzo is extremely envious of his older self, who is indeed a leather wearing badass with a hot girlfriend. He tries to act more like Matrix, only to discover that the horrors Matrix went through that drove him to become that way have left him emotionally wrecked and fairly miserable. The episode ends not only with Enzo resolving to just stick with being a happy-go-lucky innocent, but with Matrix deciding that he needs to be more like Enzo.
- It bothered even Hexidecimal to the point she actually benignly altered Enzo's code so he COULDN'T become like Matrix!
- In The Fairly OddParents Made-for-TV Movie, the beginning shows Timmy's geeky friends Chester and AJ as buff adults, fighting against a bunch of Mooks. Later, Timmy's Bad Ass future self also shows up.
- Godzilla: The Series had part of H.E.A.T. travel to a Bad Future, meeting (among others) a Bad Ass Mendel and his war-N.I.G.E.L. in the episode "Future Shock".
- An episode of Ben 10 has Ben and Gwen meet their future, adult selves. In the future, Ben has mastered the Omnitrix and become a Jerkass who dislikes receiving help from others (well, moreso), and Gwen has become proficient in magic spells.
- An episode of Samurai Jack ended with a guardian who had just spared Jack's life looking into a time portal, seeing Jack's future self◊ and saying "Not yet Samurai. Not yet." Jack is already a Badass dwelling in the future. Alas the image never came to fruition, as the series was cancelled.
- Gargoyles applied this trope in the episode "Future Tense," with Brooklyn and Alexander "Fox" Xanatos as the Future Badasses (Brooklyn even managed to hook up with Demona), and Lexington as the secret Big Bad. Though it turns out it was All Just a Dream, induced to con Goliath out of a time-travelling device.
- Xiaolin Showdown had a rare villainous exemple, by having Omi travel to the future via self-imposed cryogenics, only to discover that Jack Spicer, of all people, had conquered the world, imprisonned the rest of the Xiaolin monks, enslaved his rival villains, and now ruled with an iron fist. And all it took was for Omi to be missing.
- One episode of Invader Zim had Dib receive superpowers, after which he proceeded to expose all the paranormal beings he wanted to expose, becoming a world-wide celebrity over the next twenty years, saving the entire Earth from an Irken invasion and was awarded the "Greatest Person Ever To Live" award, all with an Improbable Hairstyle. A subversion however, as it was only a Lotus-Eater Machine concocted by Zim who wanted Dib to admit he threw a muffin at his head.
- Like The Fairly OddParents example above, the Timeline-based Danny Phantom TV movie has several Future Badasses. The biggest is Dark Danny, who is now the most powerful ghost on the planet or as Sam puts it "...okay, you're really a jerk." Well, that is certainly a mild way to put it-he becomes a rampaging Sociopath who kills people and destroys things apparently just for kicks. The episode in which Danny sees what he would become and is extremely horrified is one of the darkest, yet most highly acclaimed episodes of the series.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, with Irwin being the leader of La Résistance after Mandy takes over the world and is a ripped mercenary, too. Hilariously, he still has his teetering-on-the-edge-of-puberty voice.
- The Bleedman fan-comic beautifully applies this trope to Mandy(not that she really needed to be anymore bad-ass).
- In Megas XLR, when Coop visits an alternate future he's become an evil overlord, lost his gut and become ripped, Kiva is his emotionless cybernetic lieutenant, and Jamie is a Badass leader of La Résistance.
- Superjail has an interesting varition of this trope. After being apprehended by the Time Police, the Warden is shown a Bad Future where the Earth becomes a barren, bloodsoaked wasteland that has been enslaved by a vicious, cold-blooded dictator. Who is this dictator? The Warden himself. Present-Day Warden doesn't seem to mind, though.
Warden: "Oh, wow! Where can I get a bootleg of this, this is great!
- Codename: Kids Next Door featured future badass Numbuh 4 in a two-part episode that had a time traveling villainess succeed in committing wholesale gendercide and conquering the world. The second half of the story picks up several decades later: former Boisterous Bruiser Numbuh 4 is now a grim, battle-hardened old man leading the Boys Next Door, while using a custom mecha/wheelchair to get around.
- The Ninja Turtles' 2003 incarnation gets a Bad Future episode - "Same as it Never Was." Donatello is sent 30+ years into the future to find that without him, the Turtles fell apart as a team, Splinter was killed saving his remaining sons, and Shredder not only took over the world but is poised to take over the universe.
- First encountered and least recognizable is Michelangelo - who within the first couple minutes not only takes out a patrol on his own (with spiked nunchaku, no less), but destroys several tanks and a helicopter with one of the goons' own guns. He is then found to be missing an arm, disturbingly accepting of the fact that the world sucks, and thoroughly willing to bawl Don out for "abandoning" them. This contrasted with the bubbly, hyperactive, superhero-idealizing version of Mike present throughout the rest of the show. It's a little jarring and yet completely Awesome.
- April O'Neil is actually in charge of La Résistance... and during the course of the episode gets to fire a bazooka.
- Raphael is missing an eye and wears a bomber jacket.
- Leonardo gets a cool trenchcoat and might even be blind.
- Future Leo's attire is strikingly similar to that of the Guardians, earlier in the series, implying he may have become one or at least helped himself to a spare...
- But for all that, present Donatello manages to be the biggest badass, ultimately ending the war that they were fighting in the course of about a day.
- In an unusual case to not involve time travel (kind of), Ravage from Transformers: Beast Wars. In the centuries since we saw him last, he became bipedal, decided to speak up more, and proved himself incredibly Badass. Maybe he was before, but he was too quiet to show it verbally back in the day, was too subservient to show it by personality, and was too kitty-shaped to show it with action. Then he took The Slow Path.
- He also speaks with a classy Russian accent.
- An episode of American Dad! did this. It jumps into a future where The Rapture happens, and Stan is left behind. Him and Jesus team up to fight Satan. He's already a reasonably bad-ass CIA agent, but in the future he's a full on ripped Future Badass with an eyepatch. Strangely, there is nothing to suggest it's not the real, canon future. In fact, that episode's Big Bad later appears (albeit much younger) in another episode.
- Another episode has a cyborg Stan from a thousand years in the future coming back in time.
- In the Disney series Darkwing Duck, the trope applies in an unusual way, to the lead character. In one glimpse of the future episode, we see that the lovable, goofy-yet-competent DD was transformed by the apparent loss of his daughter into Darkwarrior Duck, a Knight Templar to the extreme who has more-or-less conquered the world to enforce law and order. Between this possible future version and the fact that one alternative-reality version of Drake Mallard is the evil Negaduck, who conquered his world long since, it's clear that Drake Mallard's goofy 'competent harmlessness' is only the surface of something far more potent.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Played with in "It's About Time" when Twilight meets a scarred, eyepatch wearing, future version of herself in a black catsuit. It turns out she's from next Tuesday morning, and her entire look is not from an epic war in the distant future, but from simple mishaps that happen to her in the next few days, which were, ironically, all caused by her trying to find out what could've forced her to go back in time - the very same thing she wanted to prevent her past self from doing in the first place.
- The alternate timeline versions of Cutie Remark feature several. In the first timeline, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are frontline soldiers in a brutal war of attrition with the scars to show for it. In the second timeline, Zecora leads whats left of pony-kind, including Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, in a hopeless Last Stand against the changelings. In yet another timeline, the Flim-Flam brothers go from annoying con artists to conquerors of Equestria.
- The Super Hero Squad Show had the episode "Days, Nights, and Weekends of Future Past" where Falcon and H.E.R.B.I.E. are dropped in a dystopian Super Hero City forty years in the future (and in another dimension) where Scarlet Witch has become a dictator and full-fledged supervillain, and Reptil has grown up to succeed his mentor, Wolverine, complete with a Dueling Scar.
- In the Crapsack Tri-State Area alternate universe of Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, almost all of Phineas and Ferb's friends are badasses in La Résistance. (Candace-2 is the Badass In Charge.)