Discord may be reformed, but he's not
This is when a character can go from evil to good
and still retain the characteristics they had as a villain
. There are plenty of reasons for why his immoral or unpleasant behavior remains the same despite changing his alignment:
- The reformed character may still have issues with one or more of the members of the group whom he initially opposed, particularly The Hero.
- He is still hung on the ways of villainy, and he was very "sour grapes" on joining the heroes. Perhaps he may have been a Well-Intentioned Extremist who's now realized that his actions caused more harm than good, but he still hangs on to his ruthless ways as long as it doesn't hurt others, or maybe his evil powers have enlightened him a lot, but he now agrees to use it for the greater good instead of his self-serving reasons.
- He may be just naturally mean due to some Freudian Excuse which he rarely had gotten over it for years to come.
Here are the tropes which involve a character changing their alignment, but not their personality. In short, this is more of a character turning into heroic versions of what they started off as:
Very common in a setting of Black and Gray Morality
. This type of character is more likely to become The Hero
. When it comes to this trope, turning over a new leaf is more complex than people would want it to be, which can often invoke the thought that Humans Are Flawed
or at least bastards whether good or bad
. Not to be confused with Reformed, but Rejected
, where a character turns for the better, but others don't acknowledge it. See Token Evil Teammate
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- Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z pulled a Heel-Face Turn, but this was because he wanted to be the one to defeat Goku, in which he went as far as to temporarily turn Heel to do so. At the end of the Buu Saga, he pulls a genuine Heel-Face Turn by reviving all of the people he has killed while he deliberately allowed himself to be hypnotized by Babidi's spell earlier as well as making peace with Goku. Even then, he still retains his gruff attitude.
- Piccolo is the same way. Even though Gohan was the reason he softened up and became a part of the good guys, he still remains aloof and distant toward the other fighters. Even after it's clear to everyone that Piccolo is a genuine hero now, he still claims to be "the Devil", for example.
- Sakurako Sanjou from Hana Yori Dango is a Rich Bitch in Sheep's Clothing as well as very nasty when crossed. After her Heel-Face Turn, despite having a kinder disposition, she still remains spoiled and childish.
- Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! was a Faux Affably Evil Smug Snake at first. Even if he's undergone some Character Development and even if he's helped Yugi and his friends, he still remains a grumpy, arrogant, and insufferable Jerkass (and his heart of gold doesn't show that much unless it involves his brother Mokuba). Also, he is still obsessed with defeating Yugi.
- Sesshomaru started as a villain trying to kill his own half-brother InuYasha, but turned into his protector due to taking a young orphan girl under his wing. This doesn't mean he really enjoys showing kindness to others, even Inuyasha.
- Much like the game continuity, Shadow in Sonic X pulled a Heel-Face Turn by sacrificing himself to save the world from the Space Colony ARK. In the Metarex saga, however, Shadow returns (with his memories erased), still the Perpetual Frowner, still cold and aloof around others, and still ruthless in his goals, even to the point of fighting Sonic and his friends if it's necessary. Believe it or not, he's largely more ruthless and less personable than his game incarnation (who mellowed out a bit more after his own title game).
- Exeter from Scion was as a menacing minor villain, but becomes The Big Guy of the main group who is less merciful than Ethan might like.
- ThugBoy and Ninjette from Empowered started as Punch Clock Villains, but also thanks to the influence of the protagonist, they developed into Anti-Heroes.
- Venom, who was a Spider-Man villain, became Anti-Venom, who tries to become The Atoner as well as graduating into a full-fledged Anti-Hero.
- Then there's the Venom symbiote itself, after bonding to Flash Thompson.
- Batman villainess Catwoman develops into an anti-heroine who often at times teams up with Batman in his missions. Then there's that whole relationship status of theirs.
- In his short stint as a reformed detective, The Riddler, while for the most part working on the right side of the law, still retained his ego and need for attention, and at times cheated to get his leads. For example, one comic showed he would frequent chat rooms that gave theories on current crimes (one of which involved lilies that were left at the scene and random victims, with suggestions being things like a ritual killing, or a serial killer, or a cult, etc.), and if he felt a theory/lead was good enough, he would pursue it, and if it checked out, the Riddler would simply take the credit for himself. Of course, being as Batman often frequented those same chat rooms and shared some of those leads, it could have just as easily been a way to let the Riddler show off his "genius" to the media and feed his ego and need for attention while simultaneously keeping him on the straight and narrow.
- Emma Frost from X-Men started as a villainess who is cold, aloof, arrogant, sociopathic, and likes to underdress. Even after she joins the team, nothing has changed about her attitude and behavior, although she seems to let her coldness melt a little and becomes slightly less sociopathic. Sometimes.
- Deadpool debuted as a mercenary villain in New Mutants and in X-Force. After those events, he's still a mercenary, but evolves into a Heroic Comedic Sociopath who only does good deeds not because it was the right thing to do, but because either he felt like it or for selfish motives.
- Although he has made honest attempts at being a hero at times, like during Cable & Deadpool.
- The Lyrical Nanoha fanfic Monsters runs off this concept, saying that as the Wolkenritter have killed in the past, they can be motivated to do so again under the right circumstances, namely their mistress, Hayate, coming to harm.
- To an extent, Nao from Perfection Is Overrated, who remains bitter and cynical compared to the others even after her Heel-Face Turn, although she no longer believes that hurting others in revenge is justified or eases her pain.
- Loki in Child Of The Storm is a hero, a kindly and indulgent uncle and a patient teacher. He's also The Atoner and bitterly regrets what he did when he invaded Earth. However, he is also Asgard's spymaster, willing to use Cold-Blooded Torture to extract information and is generally the sort of person you don't want to be on the wrong side of. Ever.
- On Ice Age, Diego pulled a Heel-Face Turn after befriending Manny and Sid, and remains a sarcastic prick, but with a heart of gold.
- The film adaption of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has the main character learning the true meaning of Christmas. Even so, he still behaves like a jerk, but his heart is still a half-size too small, so that's good enough for everyone.
- Catwoman again in The Dark Knight Rises. Her Heel-Face Turn ultimately comes about by her expanding on her good traits, and Batman encouraging her to consider others more (though she always had a soft spot for the little guy). But even when she has fully completed her Heel-Face Turn and fights alongside Batman, she's still more than willing to use lethal force against lethal force, as opposed to Batman's Thou Shalt Not Kill and is the one to plug Bane with the Batpod's cannons.
- Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index killed ten thousand cloned girls who were part of a Hive Mind as part of a monstrous experiment supported by the Academy City researchers and only agreed to it in the first place in the hopes that the results would make him so powerful people would stop constantly picking fights with him, but transitions into The Atoner and even gets shot in the head and suffers permanent brain damage in order to protect one of them, which results in the remaining ten thousand girls letting him use their neural network to augment his damaged brain functions. He will do good to others, but he'll still behave like a utter jerk in doing so.
- In C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund Pevensie is actually somewhat of an Anti-Hero, even after his Heel-Face Turn, because of his constant snarkiness, his death glares, and his temptation to beat the crap out of his cousin Eustace. And he's almost always frowning or scowling.
- In A Clockwork Orange, Billy-Boy (novel)/Georgie (movie) and Dim become policemen after Alex is released from prison and proceed to abuse him when he encounters them.
- Severus Snape from Harry Potter. Eternally loyal to Dumbledore after his Heel-Face Turn, but still a moody Jerk Ass (and Stern Teacher to an extreme degree), more than willing to punish Harry for the sins of his father and take revenge on his enemies (even gleefully allowing one of his old bullies to be taken off by the Dementors to have his soul removed!), and blatantly biased against Gryffindor, but still on the good side.
- As described on Nightside, Razor Eddie, "Punk God of the Straight Razor", is a reformed — but not retired — Serial Killer, who now targets those who threaten children and the homeless. He's been known to leave buildings soaked in blood but conspicuously absent of corpses; the narration calls him "an extremely disturbing agent of good. The forces of good didn't get a say in the matter".
- Angelina in The Stainless Steel Rat enters the series as a ruthless, extremely violent criminal before Jim DiGriz was sent to bring her in. As a member of the Special Corps she is marginally less ruthless and somewhat less violent, thanks in part to seeking out psycho surgery to take the edge off her homicidal tendencies and eventually falling in love with Jim. Still, there is a definite Morality Chain element to her relationships with her husband and children.
- Angel: Faith post Heel-Face Turn is very much a darker version of Buffy, particularly in this spinoff, where to the series’ end she's immoral, rough 'n tumble and aggressive. It would be exaggerated earlier in the comics before she takes a big dose of maturity, and is now regarded In-Universe as better than the main character.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike started off as a villain in season 2, but by season 4 (partially due to a dose of Badass Decay) he sometimes worked with the Scoobies and he pretty much joined them during Season 5, while still keeping his mean streak as a vampire.
- Farscape: Bialar Crais was the Starter Villain for the first season, chasing after the heroes until Scorpious came and take his place. While he underwent a Heel-Face Turn and backslid a couple of times, he never seems to lose his nasty streak.
- Legend of the Seeker: Cara retains a strong vicious streak after her Heel-Face Turn. Understandable, considering that training Mord-Sith includes massive amounts of dog-kicking and cutie-breaking.
- Once Upon a Time: Regina is an example of a character who undergoes a realistic Heel-Face Turn. She is still depressed and bitter, and still holds a grudge against someone who is innocent, and not a lot of people trust her. But she stops her daily Kick the Dog habits and doesn't act on her Irrational Hatred, and despite never returning to her sweet, childish pre-Face-Heel Turn persona, she shows that it's not quite gone.
- Revolution: Miles Matheson might seem like such a jerk at first glance. But as flashbacks reveal, he used to be far worse as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and Knight Templar. Now, he is a Pragmatic Hero lapsing into Unscrupulous Hero every now and then.
- Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. He's a good guy, but he's definitely not a nice guy.
- This is quite common in the professional wrestling world. A good number of wrestlers begun their careers as heels, but were so loved by the fans that they just have to turn face despite still behaving the same way they started. Basically the only change is that they start feuding with Heels instead of Faces, and stop insulting the audience in their promos. A noticeable example is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during the rise of his popularity.
- Wrestlers who previously had a Face-Heel Turn, but then turned back into a face also qualify. The Rock started as the clear-cut face "Rocky Maivia", but wasn't well received. Then along came his heel turn and repackaging under his now-iconic gimmick as The Rock (which he's described as basically being himself with the volume turned up), and a lot of fans were behind him. He turned face after being kicked out of The Corporation, but still continues his backstage bullying and remains as one of the biggest trash-talkers in pro wrestling.
- Jin from BlazBlue pulls a Heel-Face Turn at the end of the second game, but still remains one of the biggest jerks of the game.
- Joshua Graham from Fallout: New Vegas actually had a Heel-Faith Turn after becoming one of the most ruthless and cruel men in the Legion. Even though he now fights for a noble cause, he still retains his ferocity and Kill 'em All mentality. A Courier with a silver enough tongue may be able to stay his hand against Salt-Upon-Wounds and make him cool down his militancy, however.
- Several Spotpass characters in Fire Emblem Awakening go this way, or Reformed, but Rejected. YMMV on which, especially as they have very different supports depending on the Avatar's gender.
- Proto Man used to work for Dr. Wily in his debut (as he felt indebted to Wily for repairing him) and constantly fights against his brother Mega Man, but after being defeated, he soon turned from enemy big brother to Aloof Big Brother.
- Granted, Proto Man's defining trait is that he's an aloof loner. His few skirmishes with Mega Man after 3 are more a test of his brother's mettle and resolve. Curiously, Mega Man 4 implies that Proto Man, despite learning of Wily's true nature and saving his brother at the end of the previous game, was still working for Wily up to that point (albeit as a Reverse Mole) due to Wily's reaction to Proto Man saving Kalinka.
- Sagat from Street Fighter aligns himself with Shadaloo after suffering a loss to Ryu in the first SF tournament. He realizes that his revenge-driven desire in defeating Ryu isn't the right path, so in Street Fighter Alpha 3, he reforms from his ways, but still retains a heated yet healthy rivalry with Ryu.
- Various characters of the Sonic the Hedgehog series started off as enemies of Sonic, but even after they joined his side, they can still be found clashing against Sonic on occasions due to circumstances or contrasting lifestyles and personalities.
- Wario of the Super Mario Bros. started as a villain in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins and as a Villain Protagonist in Wario Land. After that, while he isn't all that villainous anymore, he still retains his lust for money and is still a jerk because of it. The enemies he's pitted against in his own outings are usually far worse than he is, which, when coupled with Wario's own shortcomings and slapstick nature of his games, makes it hilariously easy to root for him as the "hero" in those situations.
- The Star Wolf team in Star Fox started as a mercenaries and Evil Counterparts to the Star Fox team. They even worked for Andross in Star Fox 64 to take down Fox. In the later games, they graduate into anti-heroes who will sometimes, and grudgingly, team up with Star Fox in their missions.
- In Worm, Taylor defects to the superheroes late in the story, but retains the calculated brutality that they used to great effect as a supervillain in spite of the Slave to PR tendencies of the heroes.
- Brainy Twilight has recently begun an attempt to reform a cannibal pony. Progress is... iffy.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Discord, antagonist of the season 2 opener "The Return of Harmony", is reformed by Fluttershy at the end of the season 3 episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On", but clearly demonstrates in several episodes of season 4 (such as "Princess Twilight Sparkle" and "Three's a Crowd") that he's still as big a Troll as ever. Hell, he's lucky his antics didn't end up killing anyone. Then again, he may be just be trying to be a Trickster Mentor.
- David Xanatos from Gargoyles arguably never had a Heel-Face Turn; he simply stopped being an enemy to the Gargoyles. (Granted, he was grateful they saved his son.)
- Angelica Pickles, in All Grown Up!, is much less antagonistic and considerably nicer than she was in Rugrats, even if still prone to mischievous and selfish behavior.
- Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove is a lesser example. In the movie, he's a selfish, self-centered jerk who plots to bulldoze the entire village for his own profit and almost left Pacha for dead, but had a change of heart and becomes good friends with Pacha. In The Emperor's New School, however, he still behaves like a jerk and his heart of gold doesn't show very often.
- In the series, his selfishness isn't as bad as he was in the movie, and it was out of his stupidity most of the time. However, by Kronk's New Groove, he finished his character development, but was still flamboyant as ever.
- Dinobot from Beast Wars was a Predacon who made a Heel-Face Turn and joined the Maximals right in the first episode. However, he did it for completely selfish reasons (seeking revenge against his former leader) and kept his Predacon philosophy and attitude even while working with the Maximals, frequently leading to arguments between them. Still, he also was a Noble Demon from the start, so he managed to get along with them eventually. As the story progresses, he go through a lot of Character Development and ends up doing a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Similar to Dinobot, Blackarachnia ended up joining the Maximals while keeping the attitude she had as a Predacon.