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Rogue Protagonist
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

Alright, The Hero has saved the world, paid off his debts, and made time with that girl in the blue dress. His story is done, the credits have rolled, and there was no "To Be Continued", but what's this about a Sequel? What could the guy be in for now?

...Wait, who are these new people? And where's the character from the original?

WHAT?! He's a villain now?! What happened? He went rogue.

Usually, the new main character is Locked Out of the Loop, and doesn't know something that the original character does, or the other way around (or perhaps both), and they're at odds over it. Of course, there might be other reasons, but in these cases it usually ends with the new characters and the original cast working along the same side.

Alternatively, the original character really has gone to the dark side for whatever reason. (Or may have been there the whole time...)

This often appears in Video Games, as a previous main character may be an excellent Final Exam Boss or give the player A Taste of Power from their side as an Antagonist.

While it can appear that way, this isn't in effect in a P.O.V. Sequel, given that said P.O.V. Sequel is a retelling of the original story.

A subtrope of Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome; also compare with Not as You Know Them. Also note how these heroes seem to avert the Bag of Spilling. See also Previous Player-Character Cameo, when the old PC isn't a major antagonist.

Compare and contrast with Fallen Hero. Not to be confused with a hero who happens to be a Rogue. Or Rogue herself.

WARNING: Expect spoilers.

Examples:

Anime
  • Yomi in Ga-Rei Zero-. From helpful mentor and friend of Kagura in the prequel anime to the Big Bad in the beginning of the manga. And then an even bigger bad near the end of the manga. She does lament her situation.
  • Sasuke in Naruto Shippuden.
  • The final season of Shakugan no Shana opens with Yuji's apparent death... only for him to turn up as leader of the bad guys.
  • ROD the TV begins with new characters who weren't in the OVA. When we finally catch up with the original cast, they're no longer on the same side, and one of them is the Big Bad.

Comic Books

Fanfiction

Film
  • Star Wars: If you go chronologically, Anakin is the protagonist and becomes the antagonist.
  • Mission: Impossible's Jim Phelps. Enough of a Base Breaker to make some fans of the original denounce the film series.
  • Clu has a small role in the original TRON as one of the hero's programs. In TRON: Legacy, his upgraded version is the main villain. Also, Tron has been brainwashed into "Rinzler," Clu's chief thug.
    • Arguably (very, very) arguably, even Flynn's gone this direction. The ARG, Betrayal, and some of his actions in the movie are morally gray at best.
  • Luc Deveraux spends most of the Universal Soldier series as The Hero. He becomes the villain of Day of Reckoning, leading a renegade army of UniSols, Colonel Kurtz-style.
  • Done in the live-action Scooby-Doo movie, where it turns out that the main villain is actually a disguised Scrappy-Doo, who was booted out of Mystery Inc. prior to the events of the movie.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Kamen Rider Decade plays with this, as Tsukasa/Decade spends Final Chapter hunting down all the Kamen Riders, while the Riders believe that they must stop Decade's rampage in order to save The Multiverse. In the end, Decade turned out to still be Good All Along, as his trying to "kill" the Riders note  was the only way to save the Multiverse and the Kamen Rider legacy.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: When Picard is assimilated into the Borg Collective. Slightly averted in that he did not join willingly and was thus forcibly integrated into the collective consciousness, but from the point of view of Starfleet played terrifyingly straight, as the Borg gained knowledge of high-level Starfleet tactics and used that knowledge to great effect at Wolf 359.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A minor example in Michael Eddington. Once the Starfleet officer sent to handle station security, he defected to the Maquis terrorist organization.
  • 24: Jack becomes one for the last arc of Day 8, in which Chloe and the rest of the trustworthy staff at CTU have to keep him off the warpath in addition to stopping the main villains of the season. He snaps back to normal by the finale, but the sequel mini-series 24: Live Another Day shows that he's still seen by the public as this. Namely, even though he's trying to protect the President from being assassinated (again), due to his previous actions everyone's become convinced that he's the one behind the attack.
    • A couple seasons before that, it was Tony who went into rogue solo revenge mode.

Video Games
  • This is how you appear to your former squadmates in Mass Effect 2, seeing as how you're currently working for Cerberus, a terrorist group whose members were shoot-on-sight enemies in the first game. Ashley and Kaidan outright refuse to go with you because of it, and Tali rejoins with serious reservations about the Normandy's Cerberus-comprised crew (they attacked her people, so It's Personal). Subverted in that Shepard eventually leaves Cerberus (not to mention people like Admiral Hackett essentially considered Shepard a shadow asset the entire time), Garrus and Wrex trust Shepard without a second thought (although Garrus is reasonably concerned about the Cerberus connection), and everyone else eventually trusts Shepard once again. In fact, the only one who you can possibly kill over this is the Virmire survivor in Mass Effect 3, and even that is hard to do in standard gameplay.
  • Another BioWare example: Revan shows up in Star Wars: The Old Republic, having spent 300 years since Knights of the Old Republic as the Sith Emperor's prisoner/conduit/favorite toy, his life artificially prolonged by Sith alchemy. The Republic side frees him, but we see later, playing as the Imperial faction that he's found yet another Rakata battlestation, a ton of droids, and decided to commit genocide on anyone with a trace of Sith blood (about 98% of the Imperial population, and probably a significant chunk of the Republic's), and is completely insane by the time the party puts him down like a rabid mutt.
  • Lloyd Irving in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is seen as a murderer at first, in stark contrast to his ideals in the first game. Emil hates him for killing his parents in a brutal massacre of Palmacosta. Of course, he's not really a villain. The Lloyd who committed those crimes was Decus wearing a disguise.
  • Isaac in Golden Sun: The Lost Age is an unseen antagonist to the game's main character, Felix. Felix intentionally avoids contact with Isaac, because he knows they're working against one another, and wishes to avoid a fight — until Felix's supposed allies Karst and Agatio try to kill Isaac, at which point the groups are forced into an uneasy alliance. (And eventually team up for real once Felix convinces Isaac he's right.)
    • Felix was an opponent to Isaac's group in the first game, and The Stinger for the first game made it fairly clear you'd be playing as Felix in TLA. Neither Isaac's goal nor Felix's has changed, so they're still at odds. Effectively, it's the player who's gone rogue.
    • Though Felix does it in reverse, and Jenna and Sheba do it without the player realising it at the time: Felix was an antagonist who then became the protagonist, and Jenna and Sheba were both prisoners that needed to be rescued as far as Isaac knew in the fist game, but in the second game it turns out that Jenna was helping of her own free will and Sheba joined Felix's quest because she wanted to get to Jupiter Lighthouse.
    • Also may have happened in Dark Dawn, since Felix hasn't been seen since he left Vale shortly after the Golden Sun.
  • Caim, the protagonist of Drakengard, appears about halfway through the sequel as the "One-Eyed Man" responsible for the death of Nowe's adoptive father. He's basically the same person he was in the first game. He's just not the viewpoint character any more.
  • In Armored Core for Answer, AC4's main character is the pilot of White Glint, with Fiona still being his operator, which are now sided with Line Ark since Anitolia got destroyed at the end of 4. You either fight them or side with them; either way, The Raven loses the storyline fight.
    • It's also implied in 2 that Leos Klein is the original raven from Master of Arena.
  • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 2. At the start of the Plant chapter, Raiden is repeatedly told that the leader of the terrorists is Solid Snake. Ten minutes of gameplay and one Paper-Thin Disguise later, you realize you were an idiot for thinking it was possible.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Dante is an example, showing up as a villain right out of hell, and making himself a serious enemy to Nero, the new protagonist. They do end up fighting for a similar cause later, especially when it's revealed that the guy that Dante gunned down, and who got better, is the Big Bad.
  • You learn of a possessed and evil character in Diablo II, called the Dark Wanderer. As it turns out, he's the player character of the first gamenote .
  • Kain, the main character from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, was the Big Bad of the sequel Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.
  • In Mysteries of the Sith, the player character for most of the game is Mara-Jade, and the previous player character Kyle falls to the dark side for the final boss fight.
  • Clyde from Vigilante 8 turns heel in the sequel.
  • In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, the kingdom of Baron is once again aggressively invading its fellow nations in order to take the Crystals. However, this time, the king of Baron is Cecil... a Brainwashed and Crazy Cecil.
  • Misleading trailers were released to make it seem like this would be Yuri in Shadow Hearts Covenant. The trailer made it seem like two new characters would be the leads and Yuri only appeared at the end after turning into a monster. When the game came out though, Yuri was the main character and almost all the scenes in the trailer never occurred.
  • Richter Belmont was the main character of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. Five years later for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Dracula's castle is back, with Richter in charge. In truth, he was manipulated by the magic of the dark priest Shaft.
  • Arguably parodied in I Wanna Be the Guy, where past versions of "the Guy" are player characters from many of the games homaged.
  • Mega Man Zero sets this up with Mega Man X apparently leading the slaughter of an untold number of reploids. It's subverted, but you knew that.
  • Mario in Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Most main characters in Nippon Ichi games, especially in Disgaea, are inevitably back as Bosses and antagonists in later games. Not because they've turned evil, mind you: they don't take kindly to other people stealing the Main Character spot. Also, many of them will claim they were evil in the first place. Depending on one's definition of evil, of course
  • In .hack//G.U., Kite's avatar from the first games is used as an evil AI. Also, Elk shows up as Endrance, who plays the part of a villain for a good portion of the game.
  • Ethan Waber in Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus. The events that cause him to go rogue are detailed in the online comic Shadow of the Arkguard.
  • Lenneth Valkyrie from Valkyrie Profile is essentially the main antagonist (from Wylfred's eyes) in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, and can be the final boss (depending on which ending is viewed.)
  • In Prototype, Alex Mercer fought to stop the infected and Blackwatch from destroying New York. Prototype 2 has him spreading the infection, including to the new player character, James Heller. The reasons for his Face-Heel Turn, given in a Motive Rant towards the end and a prequel comic, seem to be out of line with his characterization at the end of the first game. The best explanation is that he ended up seeing things that convinced him that Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • J.C. Denton, the protagonist of Deus Ex, becomes one of the major faction leaders in the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, and is also arguably the character who is most centrally driving the game's plot (a role that usually falls to the Big Bad). You can join his faction in one ending path (and the majority of the game's plot seems to be building up to this), but if you chose any of the other 3 ending paths, he becomes the "final boss" of the game, since assassinating him becomes one of the key endgame objectives. Denton has changed quite a bit between the two games, but can still arguably be described as a "good guy", and Invisible War is much more Gray and Gray Morality than the first game.
  • This seems to be the trend in the NecroVisioN series. The protagonist of the prequel ends up becoming the Disc One Final Boss of the main game, while the protagonist of the main game either becomes the Devil's right-hand General or (in the hardest to obtain ending) ends up becoming the Lord of Hell himself. In either case, it's pretty clear he'd be the Big Bad if any sequel was ever made. In both cases, they turned to the dark side with the intention of preventing a greater evil from occurring.
  • The sympathetic and seemingly good-natured protagonist of MechWarrior 4 is revealed to have turned into a cruel despot in the expansion pack, and serves as a Disc One Final Boss. In his case, it may have been In the Blood, as he obtained the throne by overthrowing his evil dictator uncle.
    • Also, this is an explicit follow-up to one of two possible endings to the original game. Presumably, a sequel to the other ending would not feature him as a villain.
    • Word of God states that he was smear-campaigned by Katrina Steiner's loyalists and a vast majority of people bought it. Whether this means the events of Black Knight are actually what happens or some kind of Steiner propaganda is still up for debate (especially given the game's second half).
  • In Arcania: Gothic 4, the Evil Overlord Big Bad is King Rhobar III, aka the Nameless Hero, the protagonist of the previous 3 games. It turns out he's possessed by a demon lord, though, and he gets exorcised in the ending.
  • This happens quite a lot in the Contra series. The most notable are Contra: Shattered Soldier and its sequel Neo Contra. In Shattered Soldier it's revealed that the terrorist leader and Disc One Final Boss is in fact Lance Bean, Player 2 of the classic Contra series, who as it turns out is a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to stop the World Government from destroying the planet, but who was driven insane by the Red Falcon cell he injected into himself to survive an early assassination attempt by the World Government. In Neo Contra, Bill Rizer (Player 1 of the classic series and Shattered Soldier) is the Big Bad and final boss, who wants to destroy the Earth For the Evulz (although it's heavily implied that he's actually an insane A.I. based off of Bill's mind, with the real Bill Rizer being The Obi-Wan character). Lucia (Player 2 of Shattered Soldier) is also a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad and seems gleefully evil in helping Bill destroy the world. Unlike Bill, she dies without any explanation being given for her abrupt Face-Heel Turn.
    • Also happens retroactively in Hard Corps: Uprising, where the main character is a young Colonel Bahamut, who was the Big Bad of the original Contra: Hard Corps.
  • The Tekken series would have this a lot. Kazuya is the protagonist in the first game, but becomes the antagonist in the second game up to the rest of the series. Jin is the protagonist in the third game onwards, and becomes the antagonist in the sixth game.
  • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, the True Final Boss of the Brutal Bonus Level is Mobius 1, the protagonist and Player Character of Ace Combat 04 (which should be chronologically impossible, as AC4 takes place ~10 years after AC0, and Mobius 1 officially starts AC4 as a newbie pilot). Later games with similar Boss Rush modes also add Scarface One of Ace Combat 2 and Blaze from Ace Combat 5.
  • In Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, Chuck Greene appears as a Psychopath, having failed to save Katey in this continuity. Similarly, Stacey is the Big Bad of the game, replacing Sullivan.
  • During the events of Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, it is revealed that Penelope has undergone a Face-Heel Turn and is working with the game's Big Bad Cyril Le Paradox.
  • Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 5 as a result of being Brainwashed and Crazy by Wesker.
  • In Tactics Ogre, there is a Gaiden Game for the Game Boy Advance called Knight of Lodis. Whatever happened to the titular Knight of Lodis? He becomes a Climax Boss in Tactics Ogre Let us Cling Together, essentially an antagonist, but not the antagonist.
  • In Torchlight II, the Alchemist, one of the three player classes of the first game, is revealed to still have the Ember Corruption, and has become obsessed with it. By the time the story starts, he's murdered Syl, blown up Torchlight, and stolen the Heart of Ordrak, the first game's Big Bad.
  • In Jade Cocoon, Levant, the main character of the first game, is one of the second game's final bosses.
  • During Part III of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Ike, protagonist of the previous game Path of Radiance, and Micaiah, the protagonist during Part I of Radiant Dawn, end up commanding opposing armies and clash several times, with the player switching perspectives between chapters. Ike is the boss of Chapter 3-13 and Micaiah is the boss of Chapter 13-Endgame, though both chapters can be completed without ever attacking them (and the story doesn't change even if you do).
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, this is Phoenix's role - he's been disbarred for around seven years, and he starts of the game by helping Apollo convict his friend Kristoph for murder using a piece of forged evidence. After that, Apollo punches him, and he sort of vacillates between Trickster Mentor and Anti-Hero after that.
    • And then, in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , Apollo briefly returns the favour - he leaves the agency, conducts a private investigation, and accuses his fellow lawyer Athena of murder. Phoenix even has to face him down on the witness stand, although it turns out he's doing it for a very good reason.
  • The protagonist of the original Japan-only King's Field game was Prince Alfred. In the third game (King's Field 2 in international releases), King Alfred has been possessed by the Big Bad and his son, Prince Lyle, must confront him to save the kingdom.

Web Original
  • Agent Washington in Red vs. Blue, who makes the switch between seasons 6 and 8. Though arguably he ends up not a villain but as an Anti-Hero Antagonist, as he has understandable non-evil (if selfish) goals which just end up opposing the other main characters' goals. Wash risks his life to obtain the evidence needed to implicate The Director and is captured while attacking a secure facility. Unfortunately, the person with the evidence would rather rescue his friend than turn the evidence in to the authorities. So Wash is arrested. He then shifts to the mentality of "Being a hero sucks, I am just gonna clear my name and move on", which puts him in direct opposition with the Reds and the Blues.

Western Animation
  • Aqualad in Young Justice. After spending the first season as The Hero, he's become The Dragon in the second. While ultimately revealed to be a Fake Defector, he is forced to commit genuinely villainous acts to maintain his cover.


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Sudden Sequel Heel SyndromeHeel Face IndexStart of Darkness

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