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 all right.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 and Upbringing Makes the Hero. When this trope is used as a reward instead of a punishment (of sorts) it's And Your Reward Is Infancy.
Captain Jack Harkness: Or she might be worse.
The Doctor: That's her choice.
Captain Jack Harkness: Or she might be worse.
The Doctor: That's her choice.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball:
- 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.
- Played with in Battle of Gods: The Pilaf Gang got their hands on the dragonballs and wished for youth, turning them into children. They're still evil and try to steal the dragonballs again, until they realize just how far the Sorting Algorithm of Evil has left them behind. Meanwhile, Trunks introduces Mai as his girlfriend, and they seem to be hitting it off by the end of the movie.
- Saffron in the final chapter of Ranma ˝. As a phoenix, Saffron should be expected to reset to an egg after his defeat, though.
- Sailor Moon:
- 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 original anime, after Queen Nehellenia returns and gets a far more sympathetic send-off than in the manga, she's sent back to her home planet as a little girl. She remembers what happened in her "past life", but everyone else around her has Laser-Guided Amnesia and simply believes that she fell asleep at her throne. She then asks an unseen nanny for a lullaby and smiles happily when the nanny accepts, hinting that this time she will be The High Queen rather than a Vain Sorceress.
- 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. He's last seen as a genuinely kind and innocent little boy.
- When Valgaav, the half-demon, half-dragon and 100% Omnicidal Maniac and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds from Slayers TRY is defeated, he is transformed to a dragon egg, which is entrusted to Filia to re-raise Valgaav as a good dragon. Last time he's seen, the egg is lovingly placed in a basket arranged as an impromptu baby cot while Filia and Valgaav's two followers work.
- The Sandman - This trope is almost what the Corinthian gets. However, he gets to start over an adult, physically.
- At the end of the spinoff Lucifer, Elaine turns Noema (the daughter of Jill Presto and the Basanos) into an ordinary child and returns her to Jill to be raised on Earth.
- 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 returned 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.
- Following an arc in which he died in a case of Redemption Equals Death, Loki, a longstanding villain in The Mighty Thor, is resurrected as a young boy and serves as a Redeeming Replacement of himself. The explanation is that Loki pulled his Face–Heel Turn as a teen, and his younger form only has memories from before that, at which point Loki was a nice kid who looked up to his big brother.
- Partly subverted: Living in Asgardia, loathed by other gods for every mischief his past self used to deal with, being pressured by the All-Mother to act as some sort of secret agent and losing his only friend (and maybe more) just left him bitter and scarred earlier than it happened in its past life. Not enough to be a villain, but enough to claim he'd be happy to see every single Asgardian, including his brother, burn for the hardship they put him into if that could give him back some childish happiness.
- As of Loki: Agent of Asgard totally subverted. The All-Mother (one of them their own adoptive mother) said it in their face that they would rather see them back to their evil ways, than to allow them to change and risk Asgardia's comfortable and predictable future. For their fortune/misfortune, Loki already screwed over and killed their kid self by that point, which they regretted a whole lot. What does it tell us, when the... OK, technically copy of the God of Mischief and Evil has more empathy with poor kid, than his own parents?
- A very odd variation of this happens in Irredeemable. The Plutionian's body is disintegrated after absorbing massive amounts of radiation, but his original essence as created by the Eleos is still intact, and Qubit scatters it across The Multiverse, where it can hopefully be remade into something good. And then two boys excitedly start drawing designs for the ultimate superhero. Yes, Plutonian is reborn as Superman.
- Darkseid is killed by his own daughter by an Amazon, Grail, but is then reborn in the son of Crime Syndicate Superwoman and Mazahs so Grail can control and torture her father forever. After a massive battle daughter and father-baby escape and she vows to raise him with love; the infant's smouldering red eyes (plus Status Quo Is God) hint this may not work out.
- One Mickey Mouse comic had Pete steal an age-reversing gun from... somewhere and trying to inflict the evil version of this on Mickey. Mickey ducks at the last second, the beam ends up hitting a mirror and reflecting onto Pete instead, and Mickey decides to try playing this trope straight. All his friends are a lot less enthusiastic about this, especially given what a hellion even young Pete is; they eventually turn out to be right when Pete reveals the gun can't permanently erase memories, and tries to kill Mickey during a canoeing trip (though once he's beaten and sent back to prison, Pete privately admits that he enjoyed a lot of the father-son bonding Mickey tried with him).
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Meta 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.
- Another My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic, a Doctor Who crossover called Time Lords and Terror, mixes this a bit with And Your Reward Is Infancy as this is the fate of the only one of the villains to show any qualms about what they were doing, acting primarily out of loyalty to her mother.
- The ending of A Different Lesson implies that Heian Chao will one day be reincarnated and given a second chance.
- Pony POV Series:
- Played with in regards to Dark World Fluttercruel. After having a Villainous Breakdown and partial Heel Realization, the Elements of Harmony manage to banish her spirit (reduced to a mentally broken foal) to the spirit world, where Fluttershy (now the Alicorn Queen of Cups) decides to raise her properly and teach her to use her powers for the benefit of others. Then the other Alicorns decide she hasn't been punished enough for her crimes, and she's sentenced to be sent back in time and live as one of her own victims with no memory of her past existence; after eventually dying again, the horror she experienced finalizes her Heel–Face Turn.
- With Queen Chrysalis' final defeat, she got turned into a baby, which Princess Cadance and Shining Armor adopt. According to Word of God, Chrysalis's mind and personality has been completely extinguished, making the baby a blank slate that will grow up to be a better person.
- Played With in If Them's the Rules as Harry goes back in time to invoke this trope with Tom Riddle, who's already showing sociopathic tendencies. The results are mixed as Tom cares for Harry enough to resist his darker urges, but on the other hand he simply plans to make sure that Harry never finds out.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis II, a very downplayed example occurs. Kirk doesn't avoid the Vulcan training Spock went through the first time, but he hopes that, by being more accepting of Spock's humanity, he'll feel more relaxed.
- Used in the Doctor Who / Torchwood fic Purgatorio. After "Children of Earth", Jack starts having dreams of the Master offering him a way to revive Ianto. Jack, understandably suspicious, builds the machine but uses it to revive his grandson. He's not surprised when it turns out to be the Master in the kid's body, and proceeds to erase his memory and arrange for his adoption. He ends up becoming Professor Yana.
- In Dangerverse Elladora Gamp turns herself into a baby and gets passed off as her illegitimate child, to be raised by her blood-traitor sister and husband.
- crawlersout: Time Travel variant. Fem!Harry travels back in time and creates an alternate timeline where she takes in a young Tom Riddle with this as her goal. Harry, knowing that Tom's very nature will draw him to The Dark Arts, is content to give him a more...liberal education, as long as he turns out happy and not a rampaging Dark Lord like Lord Voldemort.
- A Bridge Once Broken is a Wakfu crossover with Avengers, in which the OC dragon/eliatrope pair turns out to be Shinonome's attempt to replace Quilby and herself with someone who wouldn't go nuts like Quilby has. So far, it's successful.
- Sky High (2005) - 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.
- At the end of the first segment of Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, which was mocked in Mystery Science Theater 3000, Jonathan, the Jerkass Straw Critic, drinks a potion created using Merlin's tome that turns him into a baby. He is then implicitly raised by...his wife, who had previously been having a hard time getting pregnant.
- The Boss Baby: After Francis Francis is turned back into Super Colossal Big Fat Boss Baby, his "brother" promises this.
- This happened to the villain of The Princess Pawn, at the end of the book.
- In the Q novel Q-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 Casket, the titular object turns out to have this effect and is used on one of the book's 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.
- At the end of Genome by Sergey Lukyanenko Kim buys the body of the villain whose personality has been erased and promises to do this. Subverted, though, she just needs a body and an identity for her boyfriend hiding in a "gel crystal" computer.
- A Choose Your Own Adventure book starring Superman has this as a possible ending. Lex Luthor sends Superman to retrieve an alien Super Serum and Superman gets the option to either tell the right dosage or wrong dosage to Luthor. If you chose the wrong dosage, Luthor ends up turning into a baby.
- In The Candy Shop War, the main villain is hunting for a Fountain of Youth which will allow them to become young again, because magic works better on the young, but most magicians, being old, cannot use it on themselves. She also gives the main characters a tablet that causes Laser-Guided Amnesia, intending for them to use it on her main enemy. Instead, the main characters keep it, and drop it into the Fountain of Youth so that when she becomes young, she also loses her memory. She then gets adopted by said enemy and raised properly. The "fixed" villain becomes one of the main characters in the sequel.
- 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.
- The bit about "raising him right this time" explicitly stated in the classic series' story "The Leisure Hive".
- 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.
Religion and Folklore
- 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...
- 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.
- The literal implication behind calling a young person an "old soul" is that they have undergone this. In practice, the term is more of a euphemism for "young person too dumb to recognize when they're being patronized," though.
- 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: The Princeless Bride 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 3.
- 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.
- Borf, at the end of Space Ace.
- 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.
- This happens twice to Alessa in Silent Hill, who is reborn as Cheryl and Heather
- Done in a fashion in Ni no Kuni. Shadar had a nasty habit of severing his connection to his soulmates, so Alicia decided to give him a soulmate in a place he couldn't touch—the future. She captured the soul of his most recently-departed soulmate, impregnated herself with it, and then flung herself into the future. By raising Shadar's soulmate right, she could influence him when he neared her time.
- 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.
- In BACK, the villainous Tummy Boys are transformed into babies when their Fartillery powers are negated by antacids. The townspeople they had previously harassed are sure they won't be a problem anymore, but Abigail still wants to shoot them.
- 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.
- The death god Charoth from Thrilling Intent returned to it's smaller, infantile form when defeated by the main characters.
- 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 (1985) 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.
- In Adventure Time, Big Bad the Lich is splashed with the blood of a Guardian, which has such powerful healing properties that it can cause flesh to regrow over bare bones. The skeletal Lich is covered in flesh and reborn as a giant baby, which Finn and Jake drop off with Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig to raise. He's usually a sweet-natured and cheerful child, but a Spotlight Episode demonstrates that the malevolent spirit of the Lich is still lurking inside, as powerful as ever, and can be let out under the right circumstances.
- Grammi invokes this trope in Adventures of the Gummi Bears when she finds a baby ogre in a Baby Morph Episode, unknown to her that the ogre was magically de-aged. When the effect passes the ogre went back to Drekmore at the service of the Big Bad Igthorn, yet he remembered Grammi’s care to some extent.