Reformed, but Not Tamed

"Discord may be reformed, but he's not that reformed."

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:

  1. The reformed character may still harbor some form of resentment or disdain for the good guys, particularly The Hero.
  2. 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.
  3. He may be just naturally mean due to some Freudian Excuse or other reason and he will be an example of Good Is Not Nice for years to come.
  4. He is only all too aware that he can never be a model of Incorruptible Pure Pureness.

Here's a list of 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:

Tropes

Very common in a setting of Black and Gray Morality. This type of character is more likely to become The Hero's lancer and especially when the former is an Ideal Hero or The Cape. 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.

Also see Token Evil Teammate, Combat Pragmatist, or Vigilante Man. Subtrope of Quirky Good. Compare Hazy Feel Turn and Heroes' Frontier Step.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Vegeta 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 sacrificing himself in an attempt to kill Buu, then later 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.
      • Though as of Dragon Ball Super, Picollo has mellowed out considerably, though he's still rather aloof. Apparently he actually spends time eating with Goku's family, and he babysits Pan when both Gohan and Videl are busy. Vegeta... Well, he's still very much Vegeta, but he cares deeply for his Earth family despite his attempts to not show it, and there are moments for him that border on Not So Above It All.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Naruto:
    • The previously Card-Carrying Villain Orochimaru outgrows his fetish for fanning the flames of war and becoming a perfect immortal being, and now wants to trust his knowledge to the next generation and see what happens. His slithering snakes and creepy rituals, once used to terrorize the innocent and shake the foundations of nations, are now used to bolster faltering heroic forces and give confused teenagers history lessons. Orochimaru's former friend Tsunade—whose life he goes out of his way to save—uncomfortably accepts him as an ally again, but makes a point of asking "but why, Orochimaru? Why have you always been such an asshole? Why are you suddenly now not being an asshole? Are you aware of the fact that our friend Jiraiya may have still been alive if you had decided to stop being an asshole earlier?", to which Orochimaru basically replies with "don't nag me with your silly hypotheticals."
    • Double Subverted with Orochimaru's disciple, Sasuke. Sasuke's short term as apparently Reformed, but Not Tamed is, to begin with, edgier and more fraught with reservations than Orochimaru's — which is very jarring given that Orochimaru was introduced as a villain with a capital V whereas Sasuke was a mere Rival Turned Evil who several times displayed redeeming characteristics. At first we are led to believe that Sasuke has concluded that the best way to stick it to the man is to save the world and be elected for office, with only ominous hints regarding the mystery of his ultimate agenda; eventually, we find out that he does not intend to be elected, and instead his idea of "saving the world" involves killing the Kage to tick people off, thereby setting himself up as the ultimate evil and keeping the world united against him (he didn't trust them to stay united without a common enemy). Fortunately, Naruto's will to keep on fighting him for as long as necessary proved stronger than Sasuke's will to go through with this plan, and he gives it up as he finally concedes defeat.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Saint Seiya examples:

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ThugBoy and Ninjette from Empowered started as Punch Clock Villains, but also thanks to the influence of the protagonist, they developed into Anti-Heroes.
  • 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.
  • Sabretooth was inverted into a good guy during AXIS. He genuinely wants to do good and atone for all his past sins -swearing to Logan that he will find the Spirit of a Wolverine. However, just because he's good & penitent doesn't mean he's a sweetheart. He still has the same gruff, temperamental, snarky attitude he has as a villain. And he's still violent, but now he's using it against bad guys to help, rather than for his own sadism.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Raptor Squad from Jurassic World have been shown to be able to work with humans, but Owen stresses that is due to years of trust-building and training, and even then they are still aggressive predators that will attack their handlers the first chance they get. They ultimately do turn against the humans and slaughter a whole bunch of them, but they still show enough loyalty to Owen that they do not attack him at first sight.
  • This is true of Ebenezer Scrooge, as played by George C. Scott in A Christmas Carol (1984). By story's end, he's seen the error of his ways, but is still rather gruff and doesn't register near the amount of joy seen in other renditions of the tale (it's as if he's angry with himself for wasting so many years being a bitter miser).

    Light Novels 
  • 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 fact, he at one point states his intention to troll the very idea of heroism by saving a life in the most violent, bloody manner possible.

    Literature 
  • 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 to, his death glares towards, and his temptation to beat the crap out of his cousin Eustace. And he's almost always frowning or scowling at him! However, he is kind and polite with everyone else.
  • 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.
  • Verchiel in End of Days and after is The Atoner and wants to be forgiven by God, but he's still a Politically Incorrect Hero and his methods of obtaining victory have not stopped their brutality.
  • As described on Nightside, Razor Eddie, "Punk God of the Straight Razor", is a reformed — but not retiredSerial 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 (who went off the deep end in the previous season).
  • 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, which got even more of a showing in season 6 due to a mutally abusive relationship with Buffy before he went and got his soul back to try and stay on the side of good. Season 7 had him out of his mind due to said soul, but he stayed on the side of good, only to regress when on Angel and during the After the Fall comics. After a lot of soul searching in season 9 he rejoins the group in season 10 and has fully settled on good.
  • 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.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak is no longer an assassin and torturer for the sinister Obsidian Order, but to defeat Dominion (and thus free his beloved homeworld Cardassia from their rule) he's still willing to do anything, no matter how ruthless.
  • Meg from Supernatural allied with Team Free Will in Seasons 7 and 8 against Crowley, but remained very much a demon. She became a Heroic Comedic Sociopath, and her primary motivation was Avenging the Villain that Crowley had earlier helped the Winchesters defeat.
  • Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. He's a good guy, but he's definitely not a nice guy.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Jin from BlazBlue didn't really start off as a villain but he was a selfish asshole who was only really concerned about his own problems. He gets some Character Development in the second game and pulls a Heel–Face Turn to fight against the villains, along with taking several levels in badassery to boot. He's only slightly less of an asshole though and still treats people with both apathy and aloofness, especially if its Noel Vermillion.
  • 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.
  • Mega Man:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Magus of Chrono Trigger appears to be a stone-cold, intimidating villain before and after your first confrontation with him. Should you forgo the second showdown, Magus realizes that you and he share the same goals and he joins you— as a stone-cold, intimidating hero.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Miles Edgeworth in Ace Attorney starts off as an arrogant prosecutor who always seems to be one step ahead of Phoenix and baits him into making a fool of himself with trap questions and evidence held back until just the right moment. After a Heel–Face Turn and a lot of Character Development... he does exactly the same, with the important difference that he is trying to make his best case that the defendant being guilty is the truth. If Phoenix can come up with a counter-explanation that satisfies him (especially if it points to someone else as the guilty party), Edgeworth will help him make his case, even though it means a 'loss' for him.
  • The Arkham Knight keeps his lethal ways after adapting the much more heroic Red Hood identity.
  • The player characters in Raid: WWII are criminals from their homelands that are drafted into service by the British military to fight against the Nazis. By doing so, they will be pardoned of all their crimes, but they won't be acknowledged as heroes in the public eye. They become the Anti-Hero archetype where they do anything to kill Nazis in any way possible to reduce Hitler's power. On top of that, the crew are also allowed to steal the Nazi's gold and other valuables to keep for themselves. While the crew are still committing heinous crimes, they are doing so for the greater good since their enemy is far worse and are a huge threat to the world. None of the crew members mind being in service and prefer it over going back home and being jailed or executed for their original crimes.

    Web Original 
  • Brainy Twilight has recently begun an attempt to reform a cannibal pony. Progress is... iffy.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Iago beomes good in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, which continues through Aladdin: The Series and while he no longer serves an evil vizier, there are still numerous times where his temper and insatiable greed gets the better of him. He rides into the sunset with Aladdin's father Cassim at the end of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, partially because said thief was "good, but not too good".
  • 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.
  • An anti-heroic example: Archer Took a Level in Kindness in Season 6 after becoming a father, but still retains his reckless attitude and Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • 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.
      "Even when I'm good, I'm still bad."
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series gives us mostly reformed evil super genius Jumba. Still loves mad science, but has a conscience now.
  • 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. It's hinted that his loss of power from Tirek not only cemented his Heel–Face Turn, it may have also taken some of the edge, since he was powerless for once... or not, since in season 5's "Make New Friends but Keep Discord", he brings the ultra-destructive Smooze to the Grand Galloping Gala as a party guest and threatens to banish someone to an alternate dimension. Season 7's "Discordant Harmony" shows that he has to act chaotic, or otherwise he would fade out of existence.
    • Another example is Princess Luna in the Season 2 episode "Luna Eclipsed". Princess Luna still speaks in her booming voice early on, left over from her time as Nightmare Moon. This, combined with her past reputation as Nightmare Moon, makes every other pony scared of Luna. She manages to soften her approach further in that episode, and later in the series she has more or less escaped her 0% Approval Rating - but she's still got an edge to her in comparison to her sister and co-regent Celestia; while Celestia is all smiles and grace and prefers to gently nudge ponies in the right direction, when Luna appears in an episode it's usually to hand out unvarnished truths and dire warnings.
    • Trixie as well, at the end of "Magic Duel". Although she gives a heartfelt and very sincere apology, she is still as hammy and conceited as ever. Just more apologetic, that's all.
      Trixie: Don't you think the Great and Apologetic Trixie is the most magnificent and humble pony you have ever seen?
      Twilight Sparkle: *Rolls eyes, then smiles a little*
    • In the season 5 finale "The Cutie Re-Mark", Starlight Glimmer has a Heel–Face Turn and becomes Twilight Sparkle's student, learning about magic and friendship from her. A few episodes show Starlight's got a lot to learn, especially "Every Little Thing She Does", where she decides it's acceptable to use mind control to get a bunch of friendship lessons done at once.
  • Buford van Stomm from Phineas and Ferb started out as a stereotypical Barbaric Bully. He later became a much more sympathetic character and befriended Phineas and Ferb, but he still considers himself a bully and frequently bullies his vitriolic best bud Baljeet.
  • Asajj Ventress in Star Wars: The Clone Wars qualifies. She undergoes a Morality Adjustment, but openly acknowledges that the only side she cares about is her own to Obi-Wan Kenobi at one point.
  • In the Grand Finale of Gravity Falls, Gideon Gleeful had a Heel–Face Turn and resolves to give up evil-doing... which doesn't stop him from siccing his prison buddies on a kid who made fun of him.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReformedButNotTamed