The Doctor: She can start again. Live her life from scratch. If we take her home, give her to a different family, tell them to bring her up properly, she might be alright. Captain Jack Harkness: Or she might be worse. The Doctor: Thatís her choice.
Sometimes, a person's spirit is just too corrupted to redeem. Maybe he committed despicable acts, maybe he became one of The Heartless, maybe he just had extraordinarily bad luck. Regardless, there's simply no hope of redemption.
So, what do you do? Turn him into a baby!
Turning someone into an infant - mind, body and all - will essentially purify his/her spirit, and allow him to start over. Typically, the transformation is soon followed by one of the heroes (or at least a good person) adopting the newly made infant, and presumably raising him right this time.
This can be undermined if the person who adopts him raises him to be evil, anyway, or it turns out to be In the Blood after all, or if the age-reversal fails to erase the villain's memories, or if he chooses it, perhaps after being told of his past. Good parenting or bad, questions of how this outcome is morally any different from imposing a Mind Wipe on someone are seldom addressed.
If an evil Immortality Seeker is looking for the Fountain of Youth, expect this trope to kick in even if nobody else tries to do it to him, but because of his own greed: chugging way too much of the youth-juice or whatever.
See also Fountain of Youth, which is usually the cause of this. Compare Turn Out Like His Father. When this trope is used as a reward instead of a punishment (of sorts) it's And Your Reward Is Infancy.
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Anime & Manga
As Kid Buu finally disintegrates into nothingness at the end of Dragon Ball Z, Goku wishes for his soul to be reincarnated so he's a better person. Indeed, Buu is reincarnated as Uub, a kindly and friendly boy from a poor village whom Goku meets again during the Tenkaichi Budokai. After a quick match to gauge Uub's powers, Goku takes him away and blows off the whole tournament, leaving on a years-long training mission to bring Uub up to speed.
Saffron in the final chapter of Ranma ½. As a phoenix, Saffron should be expected to reset to an egg after his defeat, though.
Hotaru Tomoe, alias Sailor Saturn. This one falls under the "was just unlucky" Hotaru/Sailor Saturn wasn't evil, but had the power to destroy the world, and the entity that possessed her body - Mistress 9 - WAS evil. Without her evil father (manga) / demon-possessed father (anime) being the one to bring her up she wouldn't have gotten possessed herself.
In the anime, after Queen Nehellenia returns and got a sympathetic send-off, she was sent back to her home planet as an infant.
Mayuka in Tenchi Muyo!: Daughter of Darkness. She starts out as a Tykebomb created by the movie's villain, but is reverted to a fetus at the end. Washu puts her in an artificial womb, with the whole cast intending to help raise her once she's born (again).
The oldest homunculus, Pride in Fullmetal Alchemist. And unlike before, he's actually aging properly this time.
When Valgaav, the half-demon, half-dragon and 100% Omnicidal Maniac from The Slayers TRY is defeated, he is transformed to a dragon egg, which is entrusted to Filia to re-raise Valgaav as a good dragon.
The Sandman - This trope is almost what the Corinthian gets. However, he gets to start over an adult, physically.
Magneto, the famous X-Men villain, was changed◊ from a mad world-conqueror into a more morally gray character this way, by his own creation, the "Ultimate Mutant". While he was later aged back to adulthood by a villain, complete with all his memories, his megalomania was now gone. We also have Cassandra Nova, in New X-Men.
Subverted in Uncanny X-Force. The team was on a mission to stop the revival of the villain Apocalypse or kill him if he returns. When they see he had return as an infant, they didn't feel comfortable killing a child and decided to take him in a raise him to be good....All except team member Fantomex who decides to not take any chances and shoots and kills the kid Apocalypse anyway, to the horror of the others.
At the end of the Our Worlds At War crossover event in 2001, Lena Luthor—who'd been taken to the future and raised/warped into an evil cyborg by Brainiac 13—is reverted back into infancy, and one of the last scenes of the crossover is Superman giving her back to her father, Lex Luthor, and begging Lex to Raise Her Right This Time. A few years later, after Lex goes goes insane, is kicked out of the Presidency, and goes on the run, Lena is put up for adoption to more fit parents. She hasn't been seen or mentioned since.
In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicMeta Crossover Fandom Wars, this happens essentially to the human race as a whole after the war. This was 1. to prevent the Fandom Wars from ever happening again and 2. to prevent the humans from living in total regret and resentment over their loss and to be assimilated more easily. Director Yozu is reborn as Pio and Zoey's son a few years after the main storyline, to serve as an example for the audience.
In the story When Jutsu Go Wrong, this happens to Orochimaru when, during a battle, he does hand symbols wrong and is turned into a baby. He is raised by his less-than-thrilled former student Anko who has Iruka help her out, and naturally Hilarity Ensues as the village thinks he's their baby. It only gets worse for her as his first word just so happens to be Mommy. Sadly the story hasn't been updated in four years so who knows how the plot was going to fold out.
Sky High - Royal Pain was regressed to a baby by her own Pacifier device, then raised by her henchman to be evil again. Royal Pain intended to do this with all the heroes, raising them to be villains under her command.
This happened to the villain of The Princess Pawn, at the end of the book.
In the Q novelQ-Squared, Trelane is destroyed at the end of the novel, but his essence survives and Q can begin raising him again.
It should be noted that the evil Trelane in the novel is not the same one from the show. The one from the show was just an immature child who gets better under Q's tutelage in the novel. The evil one is from an alternate universe who absorbs the normal universe's Trelane and takes his place.
In A Hero Born the hero offers to let the villain do this to him again should the latter win a game of chess.
In Half World, the Big Bad is transformed into a harmless baby, and the heroine decides to raise him properly this time.
In the Doctor Who novel The Resurrection Castket, the titular object turns out to have this effect and is used on one of the books Big Bads. It's also revealed that it was used previously to turn the dreaded Space Pirate Hamlek Glint into young Jimm raised by Glint's cabin boy to be a better man.
Live Action TV
In Doctor Who, this happens to Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen ("Margaret") in the episode Boom Town.
In the draft of The Stolen Earth, the Doctor and Donna encounter her as a toddler at the Shadow Proclamation.
Dr. Forrester of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is turned into a baby (a la 2001: A Space Odyssey) in his last appearance on the show. Subverted in that his mother Pearl initially promises to raise him right, but it's revealed later that he turned out just as bad as before. So she killed him.
In one episode of The Fantastic Journey, a murderer steals an object that has the power to warp matter, create food and other such things from a peaceful community. The orb reacts to him and regresses him into an infant. The community scoop him up and promise to raise him well; his life will replace the one he took.
In an episode of Weird Science, Chett is turned into a kid again, and then regrows into an adult at accelerated speed. Replacing his military school upbringing with a few days of kindness and love from his "older" brother turns him into a big softie.
Isabelle in The 4400 went from being a baby to a young adult almost instantaneously, and as a result of this and her incredible power became quite mentally unstable. Her father Richard finds a way to make her a baby again, hoping she'll turn out right if she's given a more normal childhood. Shortly thereafter, Isabelle's dead mother Lily appears in a vision to Richard and convinces him to change Isabelle back.
Functionally done in Angel when Angel makes a deal with Wolfram and Hart to rewrite Connor's past to be brought up by Muggles rather than by an obsessed vampire hunter, in a hell dimension.
In season 10 of Smallville, Tess Mercer tries to raise a clone of Lex Luthor to be a better man than the original.
The Korean folktale The Magic Spring is about a Fountain of Youth and two old men: one kind and one greedy. The kind old man takes a single sip from the spring and ends up as a young man; his greedy neighbor drinks as much as he can swallow and ends up as a baby. Just to wrap things up neatly, the kind old man and his wife always wanted a child...
Chrono Cross - Serge is purified in this way about two-thirds of the way through, though he rapidly ages back to normal afterward.
King's Quest VII ends with Malicia being turned into a baby, to be raised again properly.
Prince Cort, at the end of Legend of Legaia. He is promptly adopted by his long-lost younger sister Noa.
One of the minor villains was redeemed in this way by Luna in Seiken Densetsu III.
Wander from Shadow of the Colossus, during the final cutscene. This is more ambiguous that most examples, given Wander's uncertain status as protagonist. Given that he had just been possessed by the morally dubious divine entity who served as his master and guide throughout the story, and his reincarnation as a baby largely purifies him of its essence, Wander at least undergoes redemption through dissociation.
Inverted in Terranigma in which the villains do this to Ark once he's outlived his usefulness. However, upon gaining maturity again, he is 'reborn' as the hero destined to defeat Dark Gaia and complete another revolution of the cycle.
In The Dragon Doctors, a team of thieves tries to steal a drum full of rejuvenating fluid. Goro, the soldier surgeon, cracks open the drum with a booby trap and one of the thieves is exposed to a massive, incurable overdose of the fluid, turning her into a confused infant. The last we see of her she's being handed to someone in Pediatric Care and being reassured that she'll be well-taken-care-of.
Discussed in a couple of Vlogbrothers videos. The idea is that, when time travel is discovered, time travelers should abduct evil dictators and the like when they're infants and put them in an "Evil Baby Orphanage" where they could be raised to be good people.
In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the Daimyo's son is deaged for this purpose, although he's only turned back to a young child and not an infant.
In Codename: Kids Next Door, an evil TV exec is hit by his own de-aging ray, at which point two of his cronies reveal themselves to be his parents and remark that "maybe this time we can raise him not to be evil". Bizarrely, he already looked like a baby, so his appearance did not change.
Daolon Wong, the Big Bad of Season 3 of Jackie Chan Adventures actually did this once to Valmont, the Big Bad of Season 1, though it was meant as a cruel joke after the only way Valmont could think of threatening an Evil Sorcerer was "Because I'm bigger than you!" Kid-Valmont spends the episode demanding the heroes change him back. They do...and promptly hand him over to Captain Black, at which point Valmont realises the missed opportunity. Then again, as Valmont retained his memories and it was previously revealed in a time travel episode he was already that evil back when he was as young as Wong made him, he wouldn't have changed a lot.
"Conan the Adventurer" In episode 23, The episode's villain is a sorcerer who steals youth from others for a magic perfume. He manages to steal Conan's and Greywolf's youth, but they get it back. While fleeing the heroes, he runs into a room, knocks over some bottles and gets doused in potions which regresses him into a baby. Greywolf takes the baby with them at the end of the episode, stating he has been given a second chance and may not become evil this time. As seen here.
Happened in the comic book adaptations of Teen Titans after the TV episode "How Long Is Forever", where they defeated a time-traveling villain named Warp by damaging his vortex generator which regressed him to the age of an infant. In an alternate timeline, (in the tie-in comics series) they attempted to raise Warp so he would become a good member of society. Unfortunately, his obsession with time made this a case of In the Blood as he quickly became corrupt and evil again, even brainwashing Robin to join his side and attack Starfire from her timeline.
The Flintstones: A criminal had his thugs abduct Fred and Barney because they mistook Barney for a scientist whose formula the criminal was after. The Great Gazoo turns the bad guys into babies for the trope's sake.
A Thundercats villain named Malcor was brought back from the dead. He was old and was transported to a mystical place where he would grow younger. However due to intervention from the Thundercats he stayed too long and was turned into a baby. He was then given to a loving couple specifically invoking this trope.
The Real Life religious doctrine of reincarnation is based on the idea that the universe gives you a second chance to live a good life. A few even have a way to get it to stop doing this as their goal.