So, you are a powerful villain in need of a Quirky Miniboss Squad
. You need to replace The Dragon
who has failed you one time too many. Or perhaps your Monster of the Week
never works and you are thinking of trying The Psycho Rangers
. But where can you find a servant both competent enough and willing to serve you? Not everyone can create minions from the ground up. But perhaps you don't need to create anything.
See that guy, Not Quite Dead
after a Heroic Sacrifice
? He will do. A quick brainwashing, a new name and new clothes, and while you are putting his damaged body back together, you can always make some improvements. If no half-dead hero is available, you can always use the remains of the previous season's Big Bad
, or even some of your past victims. What is important is that they are not just Brainwashed and Crazy
. The new minion must be customized for your needs. So turning dead heroes undead does not count by itself, but creating a death knight will.
May coincide with That Man Is Dead
and obviously We Can Rebuild Him
. Sometimes involves a Deal with the Devil
. Evil Costume Switch
is pretty much mandatory.
As mentioned, this trope requires the victim to be custom-modified. Also it must be someone either important (a powerful wizard, a king) or plot-relevant (the hero's childhood friend) prior to the transformation and important for the villain's plans after. This can be effective as it puts the former hero's strength on your side, and also puts the other heroes in the uncomfortable position of having to fight their former friend. On the other hand, heroes do have the nasty habit of beating them back to themselves
, so in the worst case, you may just end up bringing back a hero you spent so much time killing in the first place, only stronger
Compare The Corrupter
If the subject has Heroic Willpower
, may result in a Phlebotinum Rebel
. A type of Face Monster Turn
. Can result in a Monster from Beyond the Veil
. Not to be confused with Degraded Boss
, where a boss enemy becomes a regular mook.
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- In One Piece: "The Tyrant Kuma is dead."
- The Mazinger franchise:
- Mazinger Z: This is Big Bad Dr. Hell's favorite trick. This is how he got himself his Co-Dragons. He found Brocken bleeding to death on the ground and turn him into a headless Cyborg. While exploring the underground mazes of Bardos he found two mummified bodies. One half of each body was crushed under rocks. So he sewed the intact halves together, revived it like a Cyborg with a mechanized brain and named it Ashura. And his Mooks? He -or his henchmen- killed people and he turned the corpses into cybernetic slaves programmed to serve him. Now you know what happened to all the people who died in the battles between Mazinger-Z and Hell's Mechanical Beasts.
- Great Mazinger: Ironically, Big Bad Physical God Emperor of Darkness did the same thing to Hell himself, turning it into his newest The Dragon.
- UFO Robo Grendizer: The Vegans grafted brains of prisoners into their Saucer Beasts. Duke got a severe Heroic BSOD when he was told he technically had killed one friend of his every time he blew up a Robeast.
- In Afro Samurai, this is Kuma's backstory. After nearly being killed when Afro first got the Number 2 Headband back, he's brought back from the brink of death by Dharman and the Empty 7 after being turned into a cyborg-samurai.
- The Shitennou in the Sailor Moon manga were Endymion's Generals before everyone was sent into the future to be reborn and fight Queen Beryl in the future. Present day however, they've been brainwashed and now serve her as the Quirky Mini Boss Squad.
- She does this to Tuxedo Mask himself, having Kunzite kidnap him as Sailor Moon is revealed to be Princess Serenity. The irony being, just as she remembers her love for TM and his for her, he is kidnapped, brainwashed, and turned against her.
- It's also the main shtick of Kunzite in the anime version: turning civilians into Monsters of the Week to try and find the secret identities of the Sailor Soldiers, once doing this to Sailor Venus' best friend from London. Quite ironic, considering he's one of the Shitennou (who in the anime don't appear to have the same backstory as in the manga)...
- That's the origin of the Phages, the Monsters of the Week of the fifth season: as a side effect of having their Starseed extracted, people with a fake Starseed (that is, everyone but the Sailor Soldiers) become a phage.
- In the manga, the Daimons of the Death Busters are civilians (or, sometimes, cats and dogs) who had their souls removed and replaced with beings from the Tau Star System, transforming them into monsters at random times. Note that this is when the process fails: successful Daimons keep a human appearance.
- While the anime used objects as the vessels of the Daimons, we still have two similar examples: Germatoid uses professor Tomoe as host in the anime before leaving him near the end of the season (where in the manga Germatoid was Tomoe after becoming a Daimon), while a Daimon in Sailor Uranus' and Neptune's flashback was a kid who assumed the form of a failed Daimon.
- Happened in Slayers: NEXT, though this was reversed.
- Almost everyone in Blassreiter, especially when XAT almost entirely was infected with Pale Rider. Some managed to remember themselves and turn on their would-be "masters" anyway, but most were taken over completely.
- Madara Uchiha does this to Obito Uchiha, turning him into Tobi.
- In Tekkaman Blade, every Tekkaman is an example. The Radam captured a bunch of explorers and subjected them to a harrowing procedure that infused them with awesome superpowers and a parasite controlling their thoughts. Takaya aka D-Boy's father used the last of his strength to free Takaya and interrupted the process. As a result, Takaya had the superpowers of a Tekkaman but lacked the mind controlling parasite.
- Horsemen of Apocalypse in X-Men, particularly Archangel/Death.
- Psylocke was long thought to be this after she returned from Japan transformed into a psychic ninja assassin. The truth turned out to be a bit more complicated.
- All of the heralds of Galactus are this.
- Incredible Hulk: Back in The Nineties the Leader used the dead body and mostly dead brain of Thunderbolt Ross to power the Redeemer armor.
- This is the M.O. of supervillain Deathmonger in Empowered, as he is a necromancer.
- This is what happens to Bucky Barnes, former kid sidekick to Captain America. He's brainwashed by Soviets and turned into the Winter Soldier, an elite killing machine.
- This is the SOP of all the Succubae in The Return, both the protagonists and the antagonists. The worst offender in it is Alexia though. Even the other demons thinks she's excessively evil about it. Sailor Dark Mercury has a similar stance towards recruitment.
- The Taken in Black Company are powerful wizards, defeated in battle and remade into powerful servants. The transformation seems to involve death and the victim remains human in shape only at best.
- Zaknafein in the second book of The Dark Elf Trilogy.
- In The Lord of the Rings, this was the purpose of all the lesser rings (with the One made to control the resulting minions) but only the human recipients of the Nine were fully corrupted and became the Nazgūl. The Nazgūl themselves also have this ability-being stabbed by one of their Morgul Blades turns the victim into a wraith. It nearly happened to Frodo, if it hadn't been for Glorfindel's (Arwen's in the movie) timely rescue.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Others raise the dead as wights. It's heavily implied that Qyburn did this to the late Gregor Clegane, turning him into Ser Robert Strong.
- Mistborn: The Original Trilogy does this interestingly. Marsh, older brother of Kelsier, infiltrated the Steel Ministry disguised as an acolyte. He attracted the attention of the Steel Inquisitors, who, owing to how good Marsh's impersonation was had Marsh forcibly converted into an Inquisitor himself, a stomach-churning procedure Marsh certainly did not sign up for. However, the Inquisitors were not aware that Marsh was a spy, and he was able to retain his personality despite the mind-altering affects of the transformation and betrayed the Inquisitors at a crucial moment, killing their leader Kar and several other high-ups and leading directly to the overthrow of their boss, the Lord Ruler. Unfortunately, the dark god Ruin- ultimate source of the magic that powered the Inquisitors and whom the Lord Ruler had been holding at bay- now gained greater power to affect the world, so he possessed Marsh and made him into The Dragon. So poor Marsh ended up a minion after all, even if it didn't quite work out the way that those who reforged him wanted it to.
- Some Yuuzhan Vong Shapers tried to do this to Tahiri in the New Jedi Order series (though their primary goal was brainwashing her into believing she was Yuuzhan Vong herself, they also intended to make physical modifications to bring her closer to a Vong physical appearance). Unfortunately for them, Tahiri was rescued and the head Shaper was killed before the process was complete. Unfortunately for Tahiri, there were lingering effects.
- This is how Chytrine got her Quirky Miniboss Squad, the sullanciri, in The Dragon Crown War. A group of heroes were sent to kill her, and she captured them, manipulated them into accepting a Deal with the Devil with her, and then used immensely powerful magic to convert them into Nigh Invulnerable undead warriors. The specifics of the transformation varies from sullanciri to sullanciri (it's implied to be at least in part Personality Powers), ranging from Anarus (Wolf Man), to Ganagrei and Tythsai (visibly decaying undead), to Neskartu (wraith-like sorcerer) to Myrall'mara (glowing and ethereal) to Nefrai-kesh, Nefrai-laysh, and Quiarsca (outwardly normal, but with Glowing Eyes of Doom and a bit of Uncanny Valley about them), but all were physically transformed in some manner, and had their personalities overwritten with ones more in line with what Chytrine wanted in lieutenants; the procedure is apparently unspeakably agonizing.
Live Action TV
- In the second season of Dark Angel the formerly dead Zack returns as a cyborg. Sort of like Robocop, only less well-intentioned.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force and Mahou Sentai Magiranger, Leanbow/Isamu was The Hero of the Great Offscreen War twenty years prior, who stayed behind to make sure that the seal on the evil can worked. This naturally resulted in him being trapped in there with the evil badly wounded from fighting off an army alone, which then took his unconscious body and reforged him into Koragg/Wolzard, their new Black Knight dragon. Yes, becoming a Black Knight qualifies as being reforged, its a transformation rather than a suit of armor, and he stayed in that form the full twenty years until the spell was broken.
- In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Joe learns that Walz Gil's bodyguard Barizorg is actually his old friend Sid, whom he thought had sacrificed himself to help him escape, but was actually rebuilt into a cyborg and brainwashed.
- Several of the heroes in the early series of the Kamen Rider franchise come out of failed attempts to do this, starting with the original one. Of course, there are also villains who are the result of successful attempts.
- JackMoon from Madan Senki Ryukendo is a Noble Demon who is set up as The Rival to Kenji Narukami, the eponymous Ryukendo. He dies in what he sees a honorable death against Kenji...only to be rebuilt into the mindless cyborg Mekanimoon by the Evil Genius Baron Bloody. He does return to his old self after the Big Bad is destroyed and dies for real in a Post-Climax Confrontation against his rival Kenji.
- In Smallville, the Monster of the Week in the episode "Prototype" turns out be Wes Keenan who Lois grew up with as a Military Brat, turned into a genetically engineered Super Soldier for Lex Luthor. He was drafted into Afghanistan, severely injured in a battle, and LuthorCorp retrieved his body. He was officially declared KIA, though he unknowingly made a Deal with the Devil, with Luthor promising that he will properly serve his country like never before. Luthor had scientists experiment on him with DNA from several "meteor freaks" and a "Zoner" (aliens from Krypton/had contact with Kryptonians), giving him Super Strength (enough to rival Clark), barrier projection, Invisibility and Super Speed. More so, he was conditioned so that he remembers nothing of his old life, making him a perfect assassin for pesky senators attempting to shut down Luthor...
- In Lexx, His Divine Shadow stabbed Kai, last of the Brunnen-G, after the latter's doomed attempt to defeat him. Believing that Kai deserved a punishment beyond death, the Divine Shadow had Kai's body "decarbonized" making him into a brainwashed undead Divine Assassin. Two thousand years later, this bit the Divine Shadow in the ass when Kai managed to regain his memories and his willpower.
- Agents Of SHIELD: Mike Peterson is seemingly killed in an explosion by Centipede in "The Bridge". However, the end of the following episode reveals that he survived, albeit captured, heavily scarred and minus a leg, as well as freshly implanted with a Centipede eye device. This is built upon two episodes later, as he's given a cybernetic leg in order to move about as The Clairvoyant's new chief enforcer, Deathlok.
- In The Protomen's Rock Opera, after being destroyed by Dr. Wily's robots, Protoman is rebuilt by Wily and returns as the general of Wily's forces, filled with a seething hatred for the humans who simply let him die on their behalf rather than making any attempt to stand up for themselves.
- Death knights in World of Warcraft are a borderline example - they are Elite Mooks but the people to be transformed are hand-picked to ensure quality.
- They were this exactly in Warcraft II: slain Azerothian Paladins reanimated into Undead Squishy Wizards for the then-evil Horde. Warcraft III's Liches are those same Death Knights retransformed into frost magic users (though they kept the Death and Decay spell), and the new generation of Death Knights are human nobles reanimated as melee heroes with a much better survival rate.
- Arthas' transformation from Paladin to Death Knight isn't shown, but it definitely involves this.
- Mother 3: Porky uses the body of Claus, your brother who goes missing at the end of Chapter 1, for creating his cyborg henchman.
- Sarah Kerrigan is corrupted to serve the Zerg Overmind in the original StarCraft (and that she eventually emerges on top).
- Lorewise, Infected Terrans from Starcraft and StarCraft II are this.
- The Queen of Blades took a psychically gifted Terran woman, a medic named Amanda Haley, and transformed her into Izsha at some point between Brood War and Wings of Liberty.
- Seiken Densetsu 3 eventually reveals that this happened in the Darkshine Knight's backstory (assuming you picked Duran as your main character, anyways) - namely, the Dragon Emperor used his magic to revive the knight Loki (no, not that one) after the two of them dropped into a bottomless pit during a struggle, and neither was ever found.
- While it's technically more of an Unwitting Pawn, in Overlord the Player Character is really one of the heroes who defeated the previous Overlord after being recovered after a Noone Could Have Survived That.
- Mu-12's origin in BlazBlue. More specifically, she's Noel Vermillion note . Terumi/Hazama mind raped her into nihilism, finished the process of turning her into a cyborg killing machine and sicked her on Ragna. All just as a brief distraction so he could kill a god. This far from the only time Relius and Hazama invoke this trope, either;
- The ending of the second game also implies that Hazama and Relious Clover did this to Ragna and Jin's apparently dead little sister Saya to use as some sort of pupper ruler/vessel for a higher power.
- The Extended edition also all but says that Hazama's minion "Phantom" is Konoe A. Mercury AKA Nine, one of the six heroes.
- In "Phase 1" the protagonist Kazuma Kval merges with Terumi (essentially just being a physical body for him) to create Hazama.
- In Chrono Phantasma, Izanami the Goddess of Death using Saya as a vessel does this to Ragna, making him her slave.
- Bulletstorm: Ishi's fate, if you stayed after the credits. Although the screen remains black, the dialogue is implies that the Big Bad not only survived, but managed to patch up Ishi after his heroic sacrifice, and cranked his soulless AI to 11.
- Subverted in Quake IV. Halfway through the game, protagonist Matthew Kane is captured by the Stroggs and turned into one of them. However, Kane's fellow EDF soldiers come and rescue him before the Stroggs can indoctrinate him.
- Jade Empire: Not only is Death's Hand not the Big Bad, or even close to it, it turns out that he's the spirit of the Emperor and Sun Li's youngest brother, mortally wounded at Dirge and magically bound to Sun Li's armor.
- The Dark Side ending to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has the mortally wounded Starkiller turned into something even worse than Vader and sent out as an assassin, with Palpatine making it clear that as soon as he has outlived his usefulness, then he will die
but not before.
- In Xenoblade, all of the Faces are examples of this trope, most notably Mumkhar, Fiora, and Gadolt. They're cybernetically altered Homs who pilot giant robots, rather than autonomous Mechon. This renders them immune to the Monado, but susceptible to any and all Brainwashed and Crazy-related tropes.
- Mass Effect:
- Rare heroic example: happens to Shepard at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. Notably, the Illusive Man didn't bother installing any real Restraining Bolts, trusting instead in Shepard's gratitude and their mutual goals to ensure that she would work for him post-resurrection. Whether he's right depends on the player's choices, although he's ultimately proven wrong in the third game. Shepard can also be made to pay lip service to the idea that Cerberus is working for her instead of the other way around.
- If Shepard fails to rescue her in time in Mass Effect 3, this will happen to Jack. It also potentially happens to Legion, but only if you sent their platform to Cerberus without ever getting to know them in the first place. Morinth will also show up as a Banshee if she was alive at the end of Mass Effect 2.
- This happens to Nabooru, courtesy of Koume and Kotake, in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. She is forced to act as an enhanced Iron Knuckle.
- In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Gig used to be the benevolent Master of Death of Haephnes Vigilance. He was slain by Median and had his soul reforged by Drazil into its current Omnicidal Maniac form. Ironically, the protagonist, even on the heroic path, is perfectly capable of beating up and press-ganging people in the street should they want to; and three secret characters can be challenged, defeated, and dominated into your army, despite their protests.
- In Dungeon Keeper, any prisoner who dies in your dungeon will be raised as a loyal skeleton soldier.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, those who are stabbed by the Morgul Blades of the Nazgul eventually become the red-robed Cargul, lesser wraiths under the control of the Nine, as happens to the Ranger Amdir. Ivar the Blood-hand, one of the Gaunt-lords, is particularly fond of doing this, and does this with an evil Dwarf-lord named Skorgrim Dourhand in the finale of the Elf and Dwarf introductory quests.
- Shin Megami Tensei games have this. As a general rule, once you've slain a boss or midboss, regardless of its previous allegiance or alignment, you can summon it as a new minion at the right level. As an example, in Nocturne, you can slay Metatron, the Voice of God... and force it into your service against God's representative in the Vortex World. Another good example is Futomimi, the Manikins' seer. Instead of reviving him as a Manikin, he returns as a demon. As an added bonus, with careful tinkering, you can slap any moves you want on them.
- In Neverwinter Nights 2 after Black Garius' death, he and the priests who were helping him are resurrected by The King of Shadows as Shadow Reavers, immensely powerful undead beings who act as The King's main agents for the rest of the game.
- Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Jugdral both contain the Dreadlords, 12 immortal warrior souls who posses the bodies of powerful fallen warriors. Fire Emblem Jugdral will use allies who you either failed to protect or were not recruited, while Fire Emblem Awakening implies the Bad Future versions possessed the allies who were killed by the Big Bad.
- In WildStar, the Eldan security systems of Nexus are fond of using Augmentation to turn would-be hostiles to their side.
- In The Adventures of Lomax, this is what Evil Ed does to all the lemmings except Lomax, turning them into all sorts of monsters.
- Peashy of Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory was kidnapped and forced into amnesia by one of the villains after she ate a certain apotheosis-inducing item from another one of the villains, becoming a CPU as a result. Neptune and Plutia invoke an I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight using various items to trigger her dormant memories, (though they had to weaken her first)
- In Dominic Deegan, when Karnak takes over in hell, he transforms the damned knight Sigfried to serve him as The Dragon. This bites him in the ass when his new servant regains his free will through a freak magical accident and goes on to overthrow him.
- Subverted in The Order of the Stick, where it seems Tsukiko is going to turn to Miko into a Death Knight, but certain mitigating factors make her change her mind. This was partly a Take That at fan speculation that something like this would happen.
- Played pretty straight later on, when as soon as Malack is done killing Durkon, he turns him into a vampire spawn (though Malack sees him more as a potential peer than a minion, he's keeping him enthralled for the time being.
- Though the term minion will likely wear off since Durkon doesn't turn into a vampire spawn. At his level he would become a full fledged vampire. He is only really a minion so long as Malack keeps him under thrall, and he already stated that he'll release him from that at a later time. But regardless of what Durkon does when he is free, at the moment he is likely just as powerful as Malack, the guy who made him a minion in the first place.
- If we follow the 3.5 rules, Durkon, who is shown to be at a higher cleric level than Malack, would be even MORE powerful then him as a vampire.
- Xaos's sword in The Wotch does this instead of killing what it stabs.
- Evan, Ethan's McAwesome's counterpart in Shortpacked!, was killed by a bomb planted by Sydney Yus and thrown out of the store by Ultra-Car, then brought back as a cyborg by Sydney to get revenge on U.C. (It makes as much sense as anything Sydney does.)
- F.O.W.L. tried to do to Taurus Bulba on Darkwing Duck.
- In Aladdin: The Series, Mozenrath turned the evil wizard who trained him into one of his Mamluk minions.
- Galvatron in The Transformers is a literal example. Interestingly, the reforging completely failed to make him loyal, or even more evil; all it did was change his appearance and abilities, and make him significantly more Axe Crazy. The Big Bad had to resort to repeated psychic torture to get anything resembling obedience.
- In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Joker Junior.
- In the sequel series to Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Megatron has turned tons of garden-variety transformers into mindless mooks, and two out of the three members of his Quirky Miniboss Squad are ex-heroes who have been reforged into new bodies/personalities.
- Graft in Phantom 2040, rebuilt as a Cyborg by the series' Corrupt Corporate Executive Big Bad.
- In Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, in the other dimension Perry the Platypus is captured and turned into Perry the Platyborg, general of Doofenshmirtz's army.
- The Psychocrypt in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. The victim has his Life Energy removed, placed in a Soul Jar, and the "jar" used to power a high-level Mook through which Her Travesty has a Psychic Link. Anything the poor bastard might have known is free for her to rummage through and use as a weapon, while they're conscious and unable to do anything about it.
- In Sonic Sat AM, the robotized Mobians are this.
- Sterling's rival Barry in Archer, rebuilt as a cyborg by Soviet (er... Russian?) Superscience. Subverted in that he betrays his superior, and usurps the position as head of the KGB (only to be replaced himself in his absence).
- TRON: Uprising: Repurposing takes programs and changes their directive, not necessarily their personality, and makes them loyal to Clu. The victims get their Tron Lines changed to Red, and their ailments removed. It was done to Tron's security team, among thousands of other programs, as well as Cutler. It was almost done to Tron, and may have been done to Dyson, though by all accounts he probably volunteered.