"Perhaps, if you had more time... But then again, perhaps not. Redemption is a rare and special thing, after all. It is not for everyone."
The much more vindictive brother of Redemption Equals Death
, where you have a villainous character who is beginning to realize that the way of evil is not the way
, and is attempting or planning to redeem themselves
, but is killed or otherwise brutally rebuffed, either by karma, the heroes
, or even their boss
(the latter who most often crosses the Moral Event Horizon
in doing so) before they can carry out their plans.
As a result, the character doesn't even get redemption, and they will never throw off the darkness of their past. This will almost always be the response given to a villain who expresses a desire to redeem themselves, but whose past actions were too far beyond the pale for anything even resembling a convincing redemption to take place.
Less lethally, a Quirky Miniboss Squad
may find they've been effectively chained to the role, and no amount of Character Development
or viewer sympathy
can free them. In this case, they at least don't die, but are still doomed to a lifetime of failure and villainy and realize it
. Contrast Redemption Earns Life
, Karma Houdini Warranty
, and Redemption Rejection
. Compare Redemption Failure
, where the character actually goes clean for a while but has to revert back to villainy due to unforeseen circumstances. When it's played lethally, this trope can straddle the border of Redemption Equals Death
or Death Equals Redemption
, depending on how close to redemption the character comes before they're offed. May be the result of a Last-Second Chance
offer that is later taken Off the Table
Compare to Reformed, but Rejected
. See also Rejected Apology
for the verbal variant.
Contrast with Go and Sin No More
While Heel Face Door Slam does not always involve a character's death
, it often does, so here be Spoilers
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Afro Samurai offers a non-death variant. At the very start of his journey, Afro's obsession with revenge resulted in the death of all of his friends and his teacher. This is the one of two times in the series he actually show regret for his actions, but he quickly accepts afterwards that there was no turning back at that point.
- Battle Royale: Lovable Alpha Bitch Hirono Shimizu is strangled and thrown into a well by Toshinori Oda. She then climbs out of the well and joins the protagonists, but it's suddenly revealed to be All Just a Dream.
- In Bleach, Tosen is defeated and near death, and actually seems to be leaning toward repenting in his final moments. Then Aizen kills him.
- There are a lot of these in Bleach. Gin realizes that he's spent his whole life playing the villain and was unable to kill Aizen or make Rangiku happy, Ulquiorra starts to recognize emotions just as he's disintegrating, Halibel turns on Aizen after she realizes he's just been throwing their lives away and is promptly killed for her troubles (though she turns out to be Not Quite Dead later), and Nnoitra casts a debatably meaningful glance at Nel, whom he tried to kill more than once basically just because he's a misogynist with an inferiority complex (though there's some indication that his true desire had been to provoke her into killing him).
- Chirin No Suzu has this happen to Chirin at the very end. He kills the Wolf, but the sheep throw him out. Chirin is left with nothing. This is one of the contributing factors to the tragedy of the story.
- Deliberately invoked by Klaus Von Bogoot on Mary, Ibaraki and Oyamada in Cyborg 009. He had forcibly made them into Cyborgs, counting on them to kill their former friend 009... but the moment the kids couldn't bring themselves to kill him, he activated the bombs they had implanted in their bodies. The three look at each other in horror, then Ibaraki tackles Joe so he won't get close, and they hug each other as they say their goodbyes and die.
- Invoked in the Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z. Vegeta, who has spent most of the series in the Heel-Face Revolving Door, knows he's about to make a Heroic Sacrifice, and asks Piccolo if he'll meet Goku in the afterlife. Piccolo responds that Goku spent his life fighting for others and has more than earned Heaven, while Vegeta has spent his life fighting only for himself, and will not receive the same treatment. Fortunately, the Celestial Bureaucracy decides that Vegeta is too strong as a fighter to be left dead when the universe is at stake, and he's given a chance to return to Earth (while still being dead, like Goku was at the start of the arc) to face Buu. Vegeta does eventually make a genuine Heel-Face Turn, which is confirmed when he is resurrected by the wish that resurrects everyone who was killed by Buu except the evil people.
- Fresh Pretty Cure! pretty much subverts this. When Eas finally discovers the meaning of true happiness, Clyne instantly kills her, crossing the Moral Event Horizon in the process, and Wester and Souler come in saying that Eas finished her life span. When all seems lost, the Akarun zooms in and she is brought back to life as Cure Passion.
- Futari wa Pretty Cure does this with Kiriya in the first half. He takes on a human form to infiltrate the Boys' School adjacent to Verone Girls' Academy and spy on the protagonists, until he begins to learn the value of humanity and friendship from Honoka. However, since he was *born* from the darkness, completing his Heel-Face Turn *caused* his "death" in the form of having to "disappear into the darkness." He gets better, but only late in the second arc due to the barriers of realities beginning to break down. There is a possibility that he survived the Dark King's final demise. Maybe.
- Future Diary: Yukkii's father was an all around horrible parent who not only tries to break Yukkii's phone so his debt would get paid off, but also leaves his son to die, and kills his own ex-wife so she won't turn him in to the police. Still, he does realize that what he did was wrong and was going to make it up to him by turning himself in and finally going to look at the stars with his son...that is, until he gets stabbed in the gut immediately after he declares this.
- Inaba, in Gantz. He's a coward, and spends most of the time hiding when there's danger and badmouthing his braver team members when there is no danger around. It takes the sacrifice of a good man to make him start acting bravely. He finds the courage inside him, he starts fighting back the swarm of enemies he is facing, and he actually manages to kill several. Only to be squashed by a giant feet, seconds later.
- Yamada gets this in Highschool of the Dead when he starts to show even the least bit of concern for his family. The entire Orgybus votes to murder him on the spot (read: leave him to the zombies). In the anime adaptation, Misuzu may have regretted killing Toshimi just as the zombie mob behind her crushed her own head.
- Boingo in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 3. He is one of of the weakest Stand Users in Big Bad's group. Pretty much Forced Into Evil by his brother Oingo and Hol Horse, then tries to avenge the former and even tries to change his ways before Iggy (heroes's Team Pet) mauls him and makes him even more insecure than before.
- The Black Beauty Sisters in the Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch anime, and most to all of the first arc's villains in both versions.
- In Muhyo And Roji, Kid Cortlaw turns against Buhpu and leads to his defeat after learning that he killed Ivy and lied that the MLS did it. He realizes that his allying with Ark to bring back his parents was wrong, but is unable to do anything more before he dies.
- Naruto: After Obito/Tobi has the tailed beasts extracted from him, he, Kakashi and Edo! Minato discuss what should happen to him next. Obito chooses to copy Pain and sacrifice himself reviving his victims. Zetsu interrupts, hijacks his body and forces him to use the resurrection technique on Madara.
- In Pokémon, on the rare occasions Team Rocket attempt to go straight, Team Twerp blast them into the sky anyway, sometimes completely by accident.
- Jegan from Rave Master. After his defeat he realizes that nothing he can do will put him on the winning end of the love triangle and starts looking for a way to end his life when he's talked down by a girl who starts inspiring him to turn over a new leaf. Then we find out that Demon Card's new policy is to eliminate everything in a 5 mile radius of a member who failed his or her mission.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, after Senkaku escapes from prison, he reflects on the battle he had with Kenshin. Grateful that Kenshin spared his life, he decides to turn over a new leaf... only for Seta Sojiro to unceremoniously assassinate him for losing the fight.
- Happened to Sailor Mnemosyne and Sailor Lethe in the Sailor Moon manga. They were this close to a Heel-Face Turn when Mnemosyne restored Usagi's memories, which were deleted by Sailor Lethe, who was also willing to make a Heel-Face Turn along with Mnemosyne after the restoration, but then they got killed off by their evil superior officers Chi and Pi.
- Likewise, Sailor Tin Nyanko was partially purified by Sailor Moon in the anime. Galaxia doesn't give Sailor Moon the chance to finish by killing her off herself.
- Nephrite in the first season of the anime dies immediately after leaving Beryl's organization. Whether this is this trope or Heel-Face Turn + Redemption Equals Death is a real judgment call since Nephrite dies before having a real chance to turn against Beryl or do any substantive damage to her, but does at least manage to save Naru's life, and did so rather than kill Sailor Moon even though he had her right where he wanted her.
- It's worse for Kunzite in the manga who recovers his old memories of being Venus' lover in their past life but realizes he cannot betray Beryl because she controls Endymion. He's forced to fight against the woman he loves until she kills him. Made more evident in the musicals where he confesses to her just before she kills them BOTH with Crescent Beam.
- At the end of School Days Makoto realized playing with girls hearts for sex caused a lot of social and emotional damage for many girls involved, especially Kotonoha whom he really loved from the beginning. He decides to stop his perverted ways and become the honest boyfriend she deserves. However, Sekai Saionji, who loved Makoto just as strongly and claims she's pregnant with his child, snaps and kills him after he dumps her for good in favor of Kotonoha.
- Shinsen Tennozu of Speed Grapher is the head of both a legitimate multi-billion dollar organization and the shadier criminal group that helped make it so powerful. Also, she's a terrible mother. She gets a very Karmic Death at the hands of her Magnificent Bastard right-hand man, and as she's dying on the floor her daughter Kagura comes running up to her and tearfully reveals that Shinsen's lover (Kagura's father) hadn't abandoned her: he had been unavoidably delayed for their rendezvous and had subsequently been murdered by the secret organization he was working with. The look on Shinsen's face suggests that she truly regretted allowing herself to become the bitter and hateful person that she had, but it was too late to even try to make up for it and she died moments later.
- Ikuya Asano from The Twelve Kingdoms, who had given into despair upon being Trapped in Another World and became a pawn in the Big Bad's hands because of that, is given a chance for a last mission which will help him redeem himself. He's killed in it, and his Famous Last Words lampshading the trope: "Why did I come into this world? Will I just die for nothing?!"
- It gets worse. That mission? The goal was irrelevant.
- At a meta level, he was one of two anime-only characters introduced so the first half of the first arc wouldn't just be Youko freaking out; he'd long outlived his narrative usefulness once the series starting trying to adhere to the books more. Still, the other one got a bit of a happy ending.
- Legion of Super-Heroes: V4 has a wretchedly sadistic example in Sun Boy, a long-standing Legionnaire who'd been seduced into being the public face of the evil Earthgov. Faced with an impending disaster, he tried to put his costume back on and save the city, only to a) meet with public scorn and b) be caught in the explosion of a fusion reactor. Wait, we're not done: due to his powers, the explosion didn't kill him (actually, due to his powers the explosion shouldn't even have touched him; oh well); instead it left him a mangled, screaming, burning wreck. He then spent the next year and a half on life-support, in agonizing pain and reliving his worst memories, until finally he was shot by his lover/handler (who then killed herself). That door slammed so hard it broke.
- In Nikolai Dante, during the Battle of St Petersburg, a random mook suddenly had a change of heart and shoved a machine gun operator out of the way to stop him firing on the Romanov forces. Immediately afterwards, Jena, unaware of what he had just done, stabbed him in the chest.
- Mac Gargan, a.k.a. the Scorpion, ends up wandering the sewers at one point, depressed but with a clearer head than he had had for a long time. Eventually, his sanity starts to return, and he is about to make a Heel-Face Turn when Spider-Man having depression issues of his own, finds Gargan and attacks him savagely ignoring Gargan's pleas that he had changed. Gargan then goes crazy again to save himself and continues his life of super-villain debauchery, first as Scorpion, and later as a new Venom.
- Another example was Shriek, one member of Carnage's group of killers during the Maximum Carnage fiasco. Some months after that fiasco, she broke out of Ravencroft Asylum and kidnapped Malcolm McBride (formerly Carrion, who was human at the moment, the virus inside him in remission) and stress caused by the ordeal caused him to become Carrion again. After seeing Carrion show some sympathy for his mother, Shriek had a brief moment of sanity, and actually tried to absorb the Carrion Virus into herself, trying to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save Malcolm. She did save Malcolm, but the virus didn't kill her... And for poor Shriek, this heroic act only made it worse for her. It drove her deeper into madness, making her think the virus inside her was an unborn child, and she spent her time in her cell eagerly anticipating the birth of her "baby" like an expectant mother. Eventually, the Jackal assaulted her to get the virus back, and when next seen, she was back with Carnage and worse than ever.
- Older example: The Kingpin's wife Vanessa once told him he had to choose between her and his crime syndicate. He chose her. (She gave him twenty-four hours to tie up loose ends, and he may well have killed Spider-Man, had the deadline not come right before he was about to make the killing blow.) Nevertheless, he retired with her to the South Seas. But many other crime bosses he had bequeathed his empire to didn't like having to run it without him, and felt that Vanessa was the cause, so sometime later, she was apparently killed by an assassin's bullet. (She got better later.) The Kingpin returned worse than even, not only seizing back full control of his former organization, but making sure the police ended up with incriminating evidence that led to the arrest of the ones responsible for his wife's apparent death (he hadn't been fooled for a minute) a true case of a plan Gone Horribly Right.
- A Star Wars Tales comic tells the POV account of the first stormtrooper to rush into the Tantive IV in A New Hope. Desperate to leave his backwater, dead-end planet, he murders a subversive man as a loyalty test for an Imperial officer and leaves with them to become a stormtrooper. He has witnessed horrors, committed unspeakable atrocities, and, all this time later, is beginning to lose his cold, ruthless demeanor. He wonders if he hadn't made the wrong decisions, and begins to consider jumping ship and finding the Rebel Alliance. Then Princess Leia shoots him in the face.
- In Ultimate Spiderman, Doctor Octopus refuses to help Norman Osborn kill Spider-Man. He explains that he is sick of being evil and wants to make a fresh start for himself. He also tries to convince Osborn not to kill Peter, since Spiderman is their greatest "creation". Norman won't have any of that and kills Otto after a vicious fight.
- Usagi Yojimbo features a story involving a crooked bookie who has employed a skilled former samurai to help him run a con; they hustle wandering travelers into fighting duels with the samurai, the bookie takes bets on the fight, hyping up the unskilled traveler as unbeatable, then they split the pot when the samurai kills the traveler. The samurai begins to feel bad about this dishonest life, however, and tells the bookie he's quitting. The bookie forces him to fight one last duel to pay off a debt to him, and said duel just happens to be against Usagi, who knows nothing of the con or of the samurai's intention to turn over a new leaf. They fight the duel, and Usagi wins easily, killing the samurai. The last page of the story shows the dead samurai's wife and son, unknowingly waiting for him to come home...
- In V for Vendetta, the head is shot down by the time he began to ponder about his ways and the possibility to change them.
- Deadpool tries really, really hard to be good. He does. Really. But it's just so much easier to kill people and he has no attention span and people are SO annoying and... That's not to say he's a Heel, but rather that despite all his attempts to be good, and all his actually good acts, he's still a nutcase killer-for-hire. It doesn't help that whenever he does something so good that he'd likely be recognized by the world for his heroics, there's typically either no one (reliable) around to witness it or some outside circumstance screws it up immediately afterward.
- In Pre-Crisis Superman comics, after a particularly ignominious defeat, Lex Luthor finally decides he can't go on like this any more. He travels to Lexor, a planet where a single uncharacteristically good deed on his part years earlier had made him their national hero. There he settles down with the Lexorian woman he loves, has a child, uses his brilliance to help the Lexorian people, and genuinely tries to put his evil past behind him. Except... to his own chagrin, he realizes he can't. Part of it's that he can't get over his obsession with needing to defeat Superman, but more than that, he psychologically needs dogs to kick. With ancient Lexorian tech, he builds a suit of Powered Armor, and uses it to become Lexor's first supervillain, the Mystery Marauder, for no other reason than to relieve his tensions by randomly destroying things. When Superman finally tracks Luthor down (ironically, one of Lex's old automatic systems had launched an attack on Metropolis without Lex even being there), Lex fights him using the armor. One of his blasts ricochets off Superman's invulnerable chest and strikes the Neutrarod, one of his inventions, destroying the entire planet, including his wife and son. Lex survives but vows to dedicate the rest of his life to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Superman.
- The Powerpuff Girls refuse to believe that Mojo Jojo has gone straight and opened his own restaurant ("Monkey Business," issue #67), in spite of the fact that everyone loves his cuisine. Twice, the girls cause an alarm that sends everyone for the exits and subsequently publicly apologizing for it. The third time, though, is enough for Mojo. He quits his restaurant and goes back to being a villain.
- In The Mastermen #1, Overman attempts to right the wrongs of his making Nazi Germany become the new world by lying about Human Bomb's physiological differences from most people. Unfortunately, Jürgen Olsen figures out that he's not in favor of Hitler's vision and has sympathies with the Freedom Fighters, and thus betrays him, leading to Overman's downfall.
- Hao to Tadashi in the Shaman King fanfic A Gift Of Love.
- Poor Ikusaba gets hit by this several times in the Dangan Ronpa fanfic And Again. In the final loop, she manages to make a full turn without getting killed for it.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Avatar: The Last Alicorn, Sweetie puts the breaks on Rarity's redemption due to her amplifying the darkness in her heart.
- In the Rosario + Vampire/Ranma ½ crossover Big Human On Campus, the Holy Dragon enforcer was sincere in rejoining the Protection Comittee to make Youkai Acadamy a better place but was thrown of a cliff for his troubles.
- In the Pokémon fanfic Brave New World, after making it very clear that Oblivion's Shadow has completely and utterly lost, Mewtwo says that he could surrender, kill the Nihilators, and join Team Aurabolt to prevent the Ruler of Evil being released. Oblivion's Shadow considers this - and then the Ruler of Evil puts a stop to that.
- Lude starts to have a Heel Realization in the fourth story of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fanfic What If, but dies before he can carry it out.
- Brolli from the Touhou fanfic Diamond In The Rough starts out as a prime candidate for turning into a power-hungry villain until he realizes the damage he could potentially do to Gensokyo. However, he realizes this just as Gensokyo is ready to watch him die.
- In the Black Butler fanfic Diligo Victum Nusquam, Sebastian gets turned into an Empty Shell before he can redeem himself.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Kamen Rider Wizard crossover Friendship Is Showtime, Dryad arranges for herself, Harpy, Hellhound, and Minotaur to go into protective custody to protect themselves from the Higher Phantoms so they can live in peace. Unfortunately, Gremlin proceeds to corrupt Harpy, Hellhound, and Minotaur into berserk monsters via the Akumaizer's tomb and them murders them himself before they get the chance to join her.
- Teased but ultimately averted with Malcolm in the Dragon Age fanfic Life On Thedas.
- Nephrite in the Sailor Moon/Ranma ½ crossover No Chance For Fate.
- In a flashback in Chapter 7 of the Monsters University fanfic PostMU: Life's a Scream!, Big Red attempts to visit Oozma Kappa at Squishy's mother's house for the very first time. He claims that he and the rest of Frat Row REALLY want to make it up to OK for laughing at them about the ROR prank as well as having rejected them since the fraternity's founding, announcing that a party is being made in their honor back at the JOX frat house. Knowing Terry had just delivered Johnny Worthington of all monsters a "Reason You Suck" Speech, not only does he finally release his pent up emotions about what OK suffered even long before Mike and Sulley arrived, he makes it perfectly clear to the JOX president that he doesn't want to do anything with the Greek community (as well as the student body) any longer.
- Relationship-wise, in the Pretty Cure/Cars crossover Piston Pretty Cure, Rod gets killed by Professor Z before he can really warm up to Hayward, who he tended to look down on most of the time.
- Inverted in the Pretty Cure fanfic Pretty Cure Heavy Metal, where Cure Nirvana manages to use rakansen on the brainwashing machine before Lady Marilyn can finish turning Shugo evil, resulting in a Face Heel Door Slam on her own part.
- Yayoi/Sunder felt a heavy amount of remorse for her actions toward the end of the Smile Pretty Cure!/Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover Respect. Mami offered her one last chance of redemption, but Yayoi's despair reached a peak. She vanished from the area, but it is implied she had just fled and turned into a Witch later...
- In the Mega Man Loops of The Infinite Loops, Bass was helping the Anchors (to impress Roll) when the reality warp hit. After that, Dr Wily reprogrammed him to be obedient.
- This happens to Anakin in the Star Wars fanfic Passion Play.
- In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians fanfic The Prayer Warriors: The Evil Gods Part One, Thalia Grace says she wants to repent, but Jerry kills her, believing that she'll go to heaven if she's telling the truth, and will go to hell if she's lying.
- In the Storm Hawks fanfic The Strength In Weakness, whoever has been using Mind Control on Master Cyclonis has been keeping her from making good on her decision to end the war peacefully.
- Late into Episode 1 of the Total Drama fanfic Total Drama: Some Stars, Mike's new demeanor is shown to even be bothering him in the confessional, but he winds up getting the boot without even being able to apologize for his misbehavior.
Films — Animated
- In Rocky and Bullwinkle, Boris and Natasha get a scene where they reflect on how futile their villainous careers have been, and resolve to quit villainy whether or not the Big Bad's plan succeeds. This doesn't stop them from being flung into cyberspace with the Big Bad in the Final Battle.
- Kung Fu Panda 2 has the Wolf Boss refuse to fire cannons on his own men with a firm 'No', only to be immediately killed by Lord Shen's throwing knives to the throat.
Films — Live-Action
- The Lord of the Rings:
- The pivotal scene of Sméagol's near-repentance on the stairs was omitted from the film Return Of The King due to the director feeling it necessary to maintain that Sméagol had never been redeemable in the first place. This decision to elevate Gollum from antagonist to outright villain was challenged by the writers, so the scene was replaced with another climactic episode in which Frodo spares Gollum and Gollum almost repents, but Frodo then admits the purpose of the quest to Gollum, at which he snaps and attacks Frodo again.
- At the beginning of the third movie (in an extended scene), it looks like Wormtongue is finally about to abandon Saruman and join the heroes, giving them insight on the enemy's plan. When Saruman realizes this, he strikes him across the face. Wormtongue is so upset by this that he stabs Saruman in the back and is shot down by Legolas, resulting in yet another point against diplomacy in Middle Earth.
- In Shaun of the Dead, David has been a dick towards everyone (but especially Shaun) pretty much throughout the entire movie, largely due to his unrequited love for Shaun's girlfriend Liz. This culminates in David forcing Shaun to shoot his own mother (not without cause, since she was a newly risen zombie, but his insensitive and smug way of handling it didn't help matters) and then trying to shoot Shaun himself. After being called out by his own girlfriend about his actions, David is on the cusp of sincerely apologising to Shaun for all he's done... when an army of zombies break through the window behind him, drag him out, tear him to pieces and eat him before he can actually say it. Ouch.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- Batman Begins: Played straight when Joe Chill, who agrees to testify against Carmine Falcone in exchange for early parole, is assassinated by one of Falcone's goons immediately after the hearing.
- The Dark Knight: Gordon's blunt dismissal of Maroni's indignation at the murder of Rachel Dawes by the Joker's minions. Subverted when Maroni goes ahead with ratting the clown anyway ("You want him, I can tell you where he'll be this afternoon") and later reveals to Harvey Two-Face the name of the other traitor in Gordon's unit, then ultimately left up in the air when Two-Face kills his driver.
- In Twilight Zone: The Movie Vic Morrow's racist character, who was on a Quantum Leap-type trip inhabiting the bodies of various oppressed victims through time, is presumably on his way towards redemption; but real life writing the plot / Author Existence Failurenote caused his character to be sent to a concentration camp, whence he presumably never returned.
- In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (the first movie), Number 2 pulls a gun on Dr. Evil, decrying his old-fashioned villainy and pointing out how he made Virtucon disgustingly rich through completely legal means. He starts to negotiate a surrender with Austin Powers, only to sit in the wrong chair… He returns in the next film, still on Dr. Evil's side and with just some slight burns on his face.
- The 1949 version of The Great Gatsby plays this to the hilt. In the climactic poolside scene, Gatsby tells Nick that he plans to turn himself in and take the rap for what he has (and hasn't) done, and go straight. The Door Slams him immediately afterward.
- The ending of American History X involves a particularly memorable one; the day after Danny leaves the Neo-Nazi movement, he is killed because he pissed off a bully (who happened to be a minority) he had a feud with (and for further irony, was probably pressured into it the same way Danny was pressured into Nazism and then out again by his own Big Brother Mentor). Some alternative endings have this causing Derek to revert to Nazism, undoing all the Character Development of the film.
- In Four Lions one of the protagonists panicked and no longer wanted to be a suicide bomber, so he tried to turn himself in to the police. While he was yelling about how his costume was filled with explosives but he wasn't going to blow himself up, one of his friends blew him up to stop him giving the rest of them away.
- Danger!! Death Ray, with a healthy dollop of Ho Yay beforehand.
- In Six: The Mark Unleashed, one of the carjackers who decides to turn himself in along with the smuggler takes The Holy Implant near the end of the movie and regrets his decision.
- Mental in Dumb and Dumber, a kidnapper who stalks and plans to kill Harry and Lloyd after Lloyd swipes a briefcase full of ransom money. He finally realizes that they're just a couple of idiots naively returning a briefcase to its rightful owner and not rival criminals - unfortunately, they accidentally poison him immediately after he figures this out.
- The Patriot has two instances where it shows British officers being morally conflicted about their actions, but nothing is done with it:
- First up is a lieutenant. The movie seems to make rather a big deal about him reacting with horror and distress at Colonel Tavington shooting Benjamin Martin's son Thomas and killing the wounded Militiamen. There is even a shot of him reacting to the sight of one of the younger boys crying before departing. But then the movie just kills him off in the very next scene.
- Next we have Captain Wilkins, a Loyalist officer who joins the Green Dragoons and whose zeal leads him to boast that traitors to the crown deserve to die. However then Tavington tells him to burn a bunch of townsfolk in a church, he protests this as being dishonorable and murderous. Nevertheless Wilkins readily caves when Tavington bullies him into it, essentially shutting the door on his own redemption himself. Despite this, there still seems to be some hope for him, given how visibly upset he is watching the church burn, however nothing is ever done with him and apart from a few snarky comments aimed at Tavington, he more or less vanishes from the movie entirely in the final battle (the novelization gives him a small The Dog Bites Back moment, where he passes up the chance to shoot Martin as he and Tavington fight to the death).
- We get a version of this in Skyfall, when Silva has M cornered and his gun in her face, when he realizes she's already mortally wounded and will die no matter what he does. He breaks down, puts the gun in her hand, raises it up to one side of her head while pressing his own head to the other side, and begs her to kill both of them with the same bullet. Then Bond barges in and throws a knife into his back. Silva gets demonstrably annoyed at this before keeling over.
- "Apologize" by One Republic (featuring Timbaland). The refrain says "I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late." Granted, it's probably less along the lines of "you can't have a chance to change your ways ever" and more like "this relationship is over regardless of whether you say you're sorry" or "if you want to have a relationship where you're not a traitor, it won't be with me."
- The Bible:
- The book of Revelation points out that once a person has taken the Mark of the Beast and has worshipped the beast's image, they're screwed for eternity.
- After betraying Jesus and regretting it, Judas tried to get the Sanhedrin to reverse the transaction, but they would have none of it. He was Driven to Suicide as a result.
- In Dino Attack RPG, this was Pterisa's greatest fear. She knew that having a place in a post-war society meant that she had to make sure Dino Attack Team trusted her and knew that she was on their side; however, she feared that the reputation of Quasifigus Hybrids meant that, if they discovered her identity, she would forever lose her chance at gaining their trust. Once the Darkitect figured this out, he attempted to slam the door in her face by revealing her identity and reminding the present Dino Attack agents of the Quasifigus Hybrids' untrustworthy history. Fortunately, thanks to Andrew, Amanda, and Rex holding the door open, it didn't work.
- In Shakespeare's King Lear, the villain Edmund, upon realizing he is mortally wounded, wants to do one good thing before he dies by rescuing people who he's ordered to be executed. He's too late.
- In the opera Susannah, Olin Blitch, the traveling evangelical preacher, forces the protagonist (who is not on good terms with the rest of the town) to have sex with him. Overcome with remorse, he tries to convince the people that she's not a bad person. They don't listen. He begs Susannah to forgive him, she doesn't. Then her brother kills him.
- In The Crucible, Mary Warren told the judges and everyone that she and the other girls were lying about being attacked by witches. Then she got scared and ended up accusing John Proctor of witchcraft instead. Truth in Television: Mary Warren did this in real life, from what historians know. She admitted that she and the girls were lying, but then they accused her of witchcraft, saying she'd joined the witches so they'd stop hurting her. Mary confessed to save herself, and "confirmed" the girl's accusations as true.
- In Urinetown, Senator Fipp and Mrs. Millenium, realizing just how evil their boss Caldwell B. Cladwell has become, decide to leave him and run off to Rio together. At that moment, the blood-hungry rebel poor, on their way to the UGC headquarters to confront Cladwell, brutally kill them.
- Nuwangi in the original Utawarerumono visual novel, where after being defeated he vows to end the war… and is promptly killed by bandits for the reward they assume they'll receive. The anime just had him disappear.
- If you defeat Darth Malak of Knights of the Old Republic he may have some regrets to share with you as he lies dying, "Still… still spouting the wisdom of the Jedi, I see. Maybe there is more truth in their code than I ever believed. I... I cannot help but wonder, Revan. What would have happened had our positions been reversed? What if fate had decreed I would be captured by the Jedi? Could I have returned to the light, as you did? If you had not led me down the dark path in the first place, what destiny would I have found?"
- The player is given a chance to throw that back in his face, however: essentially saying something along the lines of, "I turned back to the Light, you could have as well. You chose your own fate."
- The player can also pull this on Bastila if you are a real Jerk Ass.
- You can also do this to Atris in the sequel.
- In Neverwinter Nights, if you can turn Aribeth back, she comes back, turns herself in, and tells the leadership of Neverwinter everything she knows about the Luskan forces. Then they turn around and execute her anyway.
- A really mean player who chooses to side with Kelemvor at the end of Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer can do this to Arraman.
- Bishop has the door slammed in his face as well. He gives you a piece of the Mask and warns you of enemies that are about to attack you, implying he's done at least some soul-searching. Unfortunately, he's absorbed into the Wall moments later.
- After dueling Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins, you can offer him a chance to redeem himself, but generally the path is to decapitate him right there, if only because Alistar will leave the party in disgust at allowing the man who led nearly every Grey Warden of Ferelden to their deaths live. It's worth noting that Riordan, the person who suggests to let Loghain be of some use instead of executed, is a Grey Warden himself.
- The end of the "Best Served Cold" quest in Dragon Age II. Thrask forms a secret mage-templar alliance to depose Meredith and get the Circle working the way it's supposed to. Then he has one of Hawke's loved ones kidnapped just in case they try to stop him. While he has no intention of actually hurting the hostage, his right-hand woman doesn't share his good intentions, and turns on him the second he stands in her way.
- Special Agent Kato in Shadow Hearts Covenant gradually grows disgusted with the motives of his superiors, and shifts focus towards his own dream of having a family with the clone of his murdered love (it's complicated), and living peacefully. Then the girl is killed a second time, and Kato decides to destroy the world.
- It is very possible to slam the door in the face of a character's redemption (Although, not necessarily canon) in every Fire Emblem, due to the fact that Anyone Can Die, and there's lots of potential allies who are enemies at first.
- In Radiant Dawn, Sephiran is so utterly resigned to his fate that the only way to save him is if you start a New Game+.
- Another canon example from Sacred Stones: Glen and Duessel, two of Vigarde's generals, both figure out that something rotten is going on in Grado. Duessel subverts it and successfully defects, but Glen is killed by Valter before he can switch sides.
- In Blazing Sword, this is the unfortunate fate of all but a few Black Fang who realize how Nergal's interference completely turned their organisation against what it stood for.
- Kuja of Final Fantasy IX redeems himself by teleporting the heroes out of the Hill of Despair and outside the Iifa Tree. It's probably because of this that Zidane decides to go back for him. If anything, at least Kuja didn't die alone.
- Mass Effect
- In Mass Effect 1, Saren, by it simply being too late for him by the time he realized that he'd been indoctrinated by the real Big Bad.
- In Mass Effect 3, the exact same thing happens with The Illusive Man
- Also Benezia and Fai Dan from the first game. All examples save the last have the same source. you can also choose to slam the door in the Rachni Queen's face in 3.
- In Mass Effect 2, if you talk Miranda down from killing Niket, who, after hearing of Miranda's plan to, in his view, steal Oriana from their father, betrays Miranda to the Eclipse mercenaries, he sees the error of his ways, but is gunned down immediately afterward.
- Again in 2, if you bring a disloyal Miranda to the final battle, she'll tell the Illusive Man where to get off...and then die thirty seconds later.
- Mortal Kombat 9
- Cyrax gets a chapter in Story Mode showing his signs of turning good, ditching the Lin Kuei over the Cyber Initiative. Then he got captured and roboticized off-screen.
- Elder Sub-Zero dies at Scorpion's hand and his soul descends into the Netherrealm to become Noob Saibot (as foreshadowed in Mythologies and revealed in Deception). Raiden tries to avert this by striking a deal with Scorpion (if Scorpion doesn't kill Sub-Zero, he'll ask the Elder Gods to restore Scorpion's family to life), but Quan Chi, being the asshole that he is creates false images of Sub-Zero killing Scorpion's wife and child, causing Scorpion to lash out and kill his nemesis in anger anyway. So, not only does the younger Sub-Zero get dragged into the picture alongside Smoke again, but his older brother returns to life as Noob Saibot again. This also comes with the unfortunate side-effect of Scorpion playing Quan Chi's lapdog, something that Raiden calls him out on (in the original timeline, Scorpion learned that Quan Chi, and not either of the Sub-Zero brothers killed his family, and chased Quan Chi through the Netherrealm after 4, beating the tar out of him).
- Also, Sindel. True to Mortal Kombat 3, she's brought Back from the Dead as a part of Shao Kahn's Evil Plan, Brainwashed and Crazy. In the original timeline, she was able to break free of her mind control and was reunited with her daughter Kitana and their allies. Here, Shao Kahn empowers her with Shang Tsung's soul, allowing her to kill 90% of Raiden's chosen warriors (including Kitana). It takes a kamikaze Heroic Sacrifice on Nightwolf's part to kill her, and her and the fallen heroes' note souls descend into the Netherrealm, where they become Quan Chi's slaves. Sindel does make a Heel-Face Turn in her Arcade Ladder ending, but this is noncanonical in regards to the story. note
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has Officer Hernandez, the third, silent member of C.R.A.S.H (Well, not completely silent. The one time he speaks is on the phone with C.J. warning him that C.R.A.S.H is going to make sure he stays in Los Santos and works with them.) who acts as a Foil to the loudmouthed Tenpenny and Pulaski. Eventually however, he got fed up with Tenpenny and Pulaski's ways sometime offscreen as his final cutscene is of Tenpenny beating him with a shovel for being a snitch, and having C.J. dig his grave at gunpoint. Hernandez isn't dead though, and he gets back up to try and tackle Pulaski, only to get shot, finally dying.
- The Introduction DVD expands on this. Hernandez speaks in it, telling a story about how he had to make a difficult decision between letting a man beat his crack addicted wife, or jailing the man and leaving the obviously unsuitable for children wife with their kids, establishing himself as a cop with morals. The other two cops scoff at that being a difficult decision, telling him that they're gonna be making difficult decisions on a regular basis. Later on, they force him to personally shoot a cop who had evidence proving that Tenpenny and Pulaski were crooked, so he can "be a fucking man." It makes Hernandez's death all the more tragic, as he was pretty much one of the handful of good cops in the whole series.
- Gaspard in Dark Cloud 2 realizes that he's lost his way after a Not So Different moment with the hero and decides to quit serving the Big Bad and back out of the conflict entirely, expressing a wish to see the end of the heroes' journey and maybe end his own with them. Unfortunately for him, the Big Bad pulls a Villain Override out of spite and the heroes are reluctantly forced to kill him.
- Specialist Cross in Prototype helps Alex Mercer defeat Blackwatch in the later half of the game. He is killed by the Supreme Hunter before he gets the chance to reveal his true identity to Alex.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The Meherun's Razor DLC involves a mad wizard seeking an artifact weapon as part of his bid to invade Cyrodil. Deep inside his fortress, you encounter Khajiit workers bussed in by the wizard to help work his mines and outfit his army. Of course, they attack you on sight just like everyone else, despite the fact that they're not wearing armor and most of them have nothing but hoes and rakes to attack you with. While poking around, you can find a letter home by one of the workers saying that they hate Cyrodil and the work sucks, but the money's too good. It also mentions that they're planning rebelling on at very least against the head smith in the near future. Of course, that worker is probably dead now… Much like the Penny Arcade example below, there's a lot of talk about missing the recipient of the letter and sending them needed money.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Blades want you to do this to Paarthunax, the dragon leader of the Graybeards, for his past crimes… nevermind the fact that the only reason the atrocities were thwarted was because of his eventual notion that these mortals are worth something, and teaching them how to overcome Alduin.
- The Bonfire of the Vanities DLC for Assassins Creed II does this several times in the same mission. In order for the people of Florence to rise up against the insane monk Savonarola, Ezio has to assassinate each of his lieutenants that he had corrupted with the Apple of Eden. By mortally injuring them, the men are freed of the Apple's influence, and several of them express remorse and horror for their actions. But by then it is too late for them to right their wrongs, and they die in misery and shame. Notably, one of them admits that he wasn't under the Apple's influence and followed Savonarola because he happens to agree with him. He laughs at Ezio for thinking that the Apple is the only reason someone may share another person's ideas.
- Cetsa gets this late in The Way: rescued from death and touched by both the hero's utter devotion to finding Serena and his utter disdain for Cetsa herself, she decides to start over anew and give up her life of crime. The first person she encounters after making this decision is a dying Slade who she doesn't recognize. Grappling with his own failures, he kills her so he can die knowing he did something right. Then everything starts getting weird.
- Dangan Ronpa's Mukuro Ikusaba voices her doubts about the ideals of Ultimate Despair in the final scene of her Social Link and resolves to turn over a new leaf If We Get Through This. Monokuma kills her immediately after.
- Lor'themar Theron in World of Warcraft became increasingly angry with how the Blood Elves were treated by both the Forsaken and Warchief Garrosh. During the Landfall storyline Variann Wrynn made secret overtures to the Blood Elves in hopes of regaining their lost ally (the elves had left the Alliance after the Second War), and Lor'themar was willing to listen... until Jaina purged Dalaran of all Sunreavers and aligned the neutral Kirin Tor firmly with the Alliance after hearing of the Horde using Dalaran's portal network to steal the Divine Bell and blaming the Blood Elf Sunreavers.
- Perhaps this goes on to be something of a subversion after the fact, as the Kirin Tor's actions may have soured the Blood Elves from rejoining the alliance, it hasn't stopped them from turning on Garrosh for his abuse of them. Further, his problems with Jaina certainly didn't stop him from finding a tenuous truce with her on Thunder Isle.
- Nimdok's scenario in I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream entails realizing the atrocities he committed during World War 2, and doing everything he can to make amends in AM's recreation of the concentration camp he performed his research in. Nevertheless, in an ideal playthrough of his scenario, while his change of heart is recognized by the Jews he frees, they still order the Nazi's Golem to kill Nimdok once he relinquishes control of it over to them, as his crimes merited no less as punishment.
- In Injustice: Gods Among Us, it's Regime Shazam who suffers this fate, realizing that the Regime Superman has lost his lid in wanting to obliterate Metropolis and Gotham City before marching over to the heroic universe and subjugate that one.
- Shauna in the Normal Path of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters dies of Scarlet Iago immediately after she beings to be liked by the group.
- Super Robot Wars Alpha series: Kukuru unfortunately gets killed off just on the verge of making one in Alpha 2, but the biggest one in these games comes at the tail end of Alpha 1 if you choose to make peace with Kycillia Zabi. Although she can't do much to help take the edge off of the remaining conflicts, she does at least pledge to do what she can and her Zeon faction will keep from causing trouble. Shortly thereafter though, Angel Halo activates and, in a show of power, leaves the entire population of Side 3 braindead.
- In First Encounter Assault Recon, Harlan Wade makes a doomed attempt to undo what he did to his daughter Alma by releasing her from the Vault where she's been locked for almost the entirety of her life and un-death. As soon as she is able to get out, she thanks him by liquefying his flesh.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Miko Miyazaki plays this trope straight. Redemption in this case would have meant admitting she was wrong, and she dies before she gets the chance. That said, it's implied that she isn't going straight to hell, because she does genuinely care for innocent lives.
- The prequel book "Start of Darkness" reveals that Redcloak falls into the non-lethal type. For a brief moment he considers setting his Evil Plan aside in favor of an ordinary life, but then Big Bad Xykon shows up and slams the door in the most tragic way possible.
- Half-orc ninja Therkla gets this in a big way. She falls madly in love with Elan, but he's not willing to leave Haley for her, and nobody else on the Good side is willing to cut her any slack. She dies tragically.
- There Will Be Brawl:
- Link was going down this path, realizing that he and Zelda were going too far to get their hands on the Mushroom Kingdom throne. Then Zelda literally stabs him in the back with the Master Sword and leaves him for dead. He survives this however, and gets an actual Redemption Equals Death.
- Zelda follows him down this road in the finale, in which she attempts to sacrifice herself in place of the "not yet dead" Link. Unfortunately, Ganondorf's attack is so powerful, it takes them both out simultaneously.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Armageddon Girl slammed the door on her own Heel-Face Turn. Ultra-Man managed to talk her down from destroying a city. The hero speaks to her with heartfelt concern about her former career as a teen sidekick to a superhero, and how no one could blame her for going a little nuts after her family was killed, and that she could get help if she only wanted it. She thought about it for a while, then tearfully smashed Ultra-Man through a building, crying, "No, it's too late for that."
- Survival of the Fittest:
- In v4, there's minor player Remy Kim. After leaving behind one person to die in a dangerzone after stabbing him and then also stabbing a battered girl, he runs into Sarah Tan, his friend from school, and has a Heel Realization. He vows to protect her, and it looks like she might be a Morality Pet - type figure... but not only is she angry at him for his actions, but he promptly gets headshotted midsentence by Ericka Bradley. Damn.
- Lyn Burbank spends her early part of the game trying to play the game after killing her cousin, and even after she joins a group to repay being rescued from a nervous breakdown, it eventually falls apart, ending in her Mercy Killing one of the members and pulling a gun on the other one before leaving him behind, going on to return to playing the game. After she gets caught and brutally tortured by J.R. Rizzolo and left to die in a burning hanger, however, she gets rescued by her former party member, leading to her finally breaking down, tearfully admitting that she's sick and tired of trying to play the game and that she just wants to go home. Unfortunately, she ends up dying of blood loss shortly after.
- Non-death variant; Reiko Ishida, after her murder of Carol Burke among other things, becomes more hesitant to play the game, and once she finds her girlfriend Sarah Xu, she's obviously happy. However when the escape boats arrive she is denied going with Sarah, on the basis that she was playing the game to begin with. It ends with Sarah going on the escape boat (though reluctantly) and Reiko staying.
- In Program V2, Damien Stone has a breakdown after killing a third classmate, realizing that what he's doing is wrong, and resolves to change his ways. These thoughts are interrupted by Dylan Walker shooting him in the back of the head.
- In the first season of Video Game Championship Wrestling, Little Mac quickly became the promotion's top heel after winning Money In The Bank under dubious circumstances, and very quickly aligned himself with Corrupt Corporate Executive and VGCW owner Baz McMahon. This prompted a long feud with Zangief, who felt that he should have been the winner. The feud ended on the season finale, when Little Mac won an Iron Man Inferno match over Zangeif 8-4. At the end of the match, Baz threw a chair into the ring and ordered Little Mac to finish Zangief off, but Mac had a change of heart, threw the chair back at Baz, shook Zangief's hand, and ended their feud on a high note in a showing of mutual respect. It looked like Mac had a career as a babyface ahead of him until he was the victim of a hit and run on his way out of the arena.
- What makes this worse is that afterwards, Phoenix Wright headed up an investigation to determine who was responsible, but at the end of the second season, his investigation's focus turned to finding the identity of Mr. L, while Mac himself became an afterthought. No one knew who was responsible for taking out Mac, and Mac himself has not been seen until Season 4 when he returned from his long recovery. The season also revealed that it was Phoenix who ran over Mac thanks to Time Travel.
- There are no less than three different versions of Leon's death in Tales of Destiny. In the manga, Stahn beats Leon, but then tries to convince him they can save Marian by working together. He's almost swayed... Then the mines start flooding, and he's too weak to escape. This is promoted to a full out Redemption Equals Death in the game's PS2 remake.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Zuko, who has been trying to capture the protagonists for two seasons (and half-ignoring their insistence that he could be their friend for just as long), finally sees the error of his ways and, guilt-ridden and earnest, tries to join the Aang Gang so he can play a vital role in teaching Aang/saving the world. The protagonists unanimously decide that he's used up his chances and send him away. Then he accidentally injures the only protagonist still in doubt about him. Kid's got bad karma. All is eventually well though!
- Fire Lord Sozin is a textbook definition of this trope. He wasn't all evil, but by the time he came to the realization that his actions were evil and not worth it in the end, he was on his death bed, and his descendants largely carried on his genocidal work.
- Jet started out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but through a series of events he was brainwashed by the Dai Li. When he finds out that he was brainwashed, he helps the GAang storm the Dai Li base under Lake Laogai until Long Feng activates a secret code phrase that causes Jet to attack Aang. Aang breaks him out of his brainwashing long enough for Long Feng to clobber Jet with a rock and kill him.
- The Fairly OddParents:
- Taken to ridiculous extremes in the TV movie Channel Chasers. At the end of the movie, Timmy's Sadist Teacher Mr. Crocker was seen coming out of therapy, cured of his obsession with fairies and decides to turn his life around. He even discovered cold fusion! Then, even though he had nothing to do with the plot (in fact his very appearance was probably just to show he's a Cosmic Plaything), Timmy's wish that nobody remembers anything that happened from when the film began affected him, returning him to his fairy-obsessed self who tosses his cold fusion generator away because he doesn't know what it is anymore.
- Done again in the episode "Crocker Shocker", where Mr. Crocker is put under hypnosis by a desperate therapist to erase his belief in fairies. Among the changes he undergoes, he loses his hunchback look and his ears move from his neck to his head. Unfortunately, it turns out that Fairy Magic is powered by Crocker's fairy believing spazz attacks, so Timmy had to get him to change back to his old self. You know the universe is unfair when one person's sanity has to be sacrificed.
- In ReBoot, the treacherous binome Cyrus was on the point of a Heel-Face Turn at the end of "Firewall" after the protagonists guided him through saving the day from the Game Cube Of The Week. He was in the middle of being lauded as a hero when the Big Bad showed up and had his goons drag him onto their side of the eponymous impenetrable wall; a couple episodes later he was shown about to be executed. One of the goons set him free, but he still didn't show up again until a cameo at the end of the season.
- One episode of Samurai Jack features the robotic assassin X9, who was one of several murderours robots created by Aku, but was the only one given emotions and feelings (As he explains it, the scientist who built him "was funny like that"). After years in the service of Aku all the other robots of his series have been destroyed, but he has survived because of his emotions. However, when he meets Lulu he finally hangs up his assassin hat for good, determined to settle down and spend his time playing music. Unfortunately, when Jack arrives, Aku becomes desperate and decides that he has to pull his greatest assassin out of retirement by holding Lulu hostage. Jack knows nothing of this, and when X9 launches his attack he is quickly destroyed, his final words are asking Jack to finish caring for his now abandoned charge. Also notable for being one of the saddest things in the entire show.
- In Teen Titans, Terra makes a Face-Heel Turn and joins Slade, becoming The Mole to the Titans. However, due to getting close to the Titans, she ends up regretting her actions, but doesn't dare to fully betray Slade, so she just tries to spare Beast Boy, taking him on a date while Slade's army infiltrate the Titan Tower. Slade tracks Terra and Beast Boy down, revealing the truth to Beast Boy. An apologetic Terra breaks down sobbing, saying she's sorry and pleads with Beast Boy to forgive her, reminding him he said they'll be friends no matter what. An angry Beast Boy responds with "Slade's right. You don't HAVE any friends." As a result, Terra fully embraces being Slade's apprentice and becomes truly evil, and Beast Boy ends up kicking himself over slamming the door in her face earlier. In the end, however, Terra makes a Heel-Face Turn after all...but with a cost.
- In Transformers Prime, Starscream gets so sick of the being the Decepticon's Chew Toy that he tries to defect to the Autobots. Note that Starscream is not in any way repentant, he just figures he has a better chance on their side. Once it's revealed that Starscream killed Cliffjumper, Arcee goes ballistic and tries to avenge her dead partner. Starscream is driven off, and is convinced that he should become a neutral party in the war.
- The South Park episode "Free Hat" deals with filmmakers making revisions to their films with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as villains. Lucas briefly ponders giving the copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark to the boys so that they can protect it from Spielberg. However, when Spielberg demands that Lucas give him the film, he relents before complying. As he does so, he comments "It is too late for me". He is later killed along with Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola when said film is poorly received at its premiere.
- Simon Squealer in Geronimo Stilton experiences this thanks to a combination of Negative Continuity and Status Quo Is God. He pretends to be a superhero called the Gator Samaritan in one episode, and the heroic acts he performs are staged to sell issues of The Daily Rat. But after he rescues Thea Stilton from drowning, he realizes Good Feels Good and starts disobeying Sally and performing genuinely heroic acts independently of her paper-selling scam. Although Thea is grateful enough to him that she lets him go after he's outed as a phony, and he is clearly feeling morally conflicted over his continued involvement with Sally, the episode closes with him still under her thumb (complete with a humiliating joke at his expense), and, the next time he appears, he's back to his old sniveling, weaselly self.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Brother from Another Series", Sideshow Bob tried to go straight, but when his brother Cecil proved every bit as rotten as Bob used to be, Bob was arrested along with him, due to Chief Wiggum's utter incompetence. The next time Bob appeared, he had given up trying to reform, and it's hard to blame him.
- The closest Mr. Burns ever came to turning over a new leaf was in "Rosebud". After trying every underhanded way he could think of to force Homer to give him his teddy bear Bobo (and finally hitting rock-bottom by trying to take it from Maggie by force and failing) he gave up; at which point Maggie gave it to him. Leading to this exchange:
Burns: Smithers, I'm so happy. Something amazing has happened, I'm actually happy. Take a note! From now on, I'm only going to be good and kind to everyone.
Smithers: I'm... sorry sir, I don't have a pencil.
Burns: Oh, don't worry, I'm sure I'll remember it.
- Blame this one on bad memory and an unprepared assistant.
- After the Evil Con Carne organization went out of business, Scarr just wanted to retire to a quiet house in the suburbs, where he could relax and do some gardening. Unfortunately, he moved in right next to Grim, Billy, and Mandy, making his new leaf very hard to keep.
- Batman: The Animated Series: In one episode, after the Penguin was released from prison, a wealthy socialite, on urging from her friend, pretended to have a crush on him, both of them thinking that associating with him would be good PR. The Penguin was actually happy for a while, and was considering going straight and giving up crime... Until he realized he was being used. Out of rage, he kidnapped the socialite, and tried to kill her friend when he delivered the ransom. Once Batman had apprehended him, she felt a little sorry for it all and tried to apologize... To which the Penguin responded, "I guess it's true what they say, society is to blame... High society..."
- Batman Beyond: In "Meltdown", Mr. Freeze has his mind transferred to a new cloned body. Restored to normal, he tries to make a new life for himself and help the victims of his crimes. However, his body begins to revert to its cold-dependent state, and the doctor who did the procedure tries to kill him for study rather than help him. He escapes and goes back to his old revenge-seeking ways.
- Futurama: In "Benderama", a huge ugly giant with anger management issues chases the main characters off his planet after Fry accidentally insults his mother. Later, a bunch of microscopic self-replicating Benders convert Earth's water supply into alcohol, leaving the planet drunk. When the giant lands on Earth to apologize for his actions, the gang is hammered and drunkenly crack ugly jokes again. This puts him over the edge, causing him to ravage New New York before being put down by the microscopic Benders.
- Non-lethal example: This U.S. Supreme Court case allows slamming the heel face door on "sexually dangerous" criminals on a federal level by allowing them to be kept imprisoned after their sentence is up. On the other hand, the Supreme Court found in this case that slamming the heel face door on teenagers who haven't killed anyone by giving them a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is "cruel and unusual punishment" that is constitutionally prohibited.
- Sabino Arana Goiri (1865-1903) was a Spanish writer, philosopher, and political activist of Basque descent. It was he who founded the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV), which was the first political party to strive toward an independent nation-state for the Basque people. He also harbored an obsessive loathing for any Iberian peoples who were not Basque, condemning them in his nationalistic tracts and arguing against intermarrying with them to such a degree that his attitude bordered on racism. (It should be pointed out that this was the 1890s, when racism was not only socially acceptable but also considered rational and scientific, not to mention ubiquitous; and anyway, most of Arana Goiri's opponents shared similar attitudes.) Arana Goiri eventually began to moderate his extremist views, deemphasizing race and stating that home rule for Basques within the Spanish nation-state would be an acceptable alternative. Unfortunately, he died before he could convince most of his followers to similarly adjust their attitudes, and the PNV (or at least a militant wing of it) remained radicalized down to the present day. It is largely for this reason that Basques are often thought of (at least by other Spaniards) as terrorist bombers, rather than the peaceful, churchgoing farm folk they always have been and still are. When a bombing occurred in Madrid in 2004, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar even hinted that the plot might have been orchestrated by ETA (a major Basque terrorist organization, currently at an extremely low ebb) rather than by the true suspect, Al-Qaeda. Many Spaniards, including non-Basques, conceded that that was wrong, and it's widely credited for Anzar's party being defeated in the national elections 3 days later.
- Albert Speer (according to his own words, anyway) regretted being a part of the Nazi party, only a little too late to really do anything about it. He was sentenced to 20 years. (The tribunal was understandably skeptical of his regret.) He was the only one of the Nazi higher-ups to actually plead guilty.
- Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist church started to feel regret for how fanatical his group was nearing the end of his life and asked his church to stop being so extreme. Instead, the Church elders (including his own daughter) had him excommunicated and left him on his deathbed in a rest home.
- Whether this was actually genuine remorse or several factors relating to the church's increasingly bad publicity is debatable. Many of his other children had defected from the church, their public demonstrations were causing gay rights groups to gain support via their actions, state governments were using loopholes in the original Supreme Court decision to force their protests to keep their distance from funerals, and counter-protests tended to outnumber them by a thousand to one on average, the organizers too clever to do anything the church could legally sue them for.
- The late Israeli PM Yitskhak Rabin was known for being an almost ruthless military man, notoriously giving the unofficial order to ‘break [the Palestinians’] arms and legs’ during the First Intifada. In his final years he signed the peace treaty with Jordan and started moving the Oslo Accords forward; this eventually cost him his life when a far-rightist assassin, Yig'al Amir, shot him to death in a rally in support of the process. For years after his death he was an Unacceptable Target for the vast majority of the Israeli population, but recently far-leftists have been criticizing him harshly for his actions before the Oslo Accords. It helps that he was also failing to keep up with his promises to evacuate settlements in the Palestinian Territories, notoriously saying, ‘There are no sacred dates [i.e. there are no dates for due evacuations that must be kept].’
- This could be said of the officers who had sworn loyalty to the Bourbons in 1814, rallied Napoleon during the Hundred Days and were subsequently executed (Ney and Labédoyère, for instance).