Then Let Me Be Evil

"Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause;
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs."

Sometimes the "forces of good" in a story treat an "evil" character badly enough, for long enough, that the "evil" character just says "Screw it. You think I'm evil? Then let me be evil." Prolonged exposure to the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism has conditioned this character to accept the fact that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and if he wants to get anywhere in life, he has to be every bit as dirty and cruel as they are.

The villain normally gets to this point by being rejected by the resident morality enforcers and treated to assumptive behaviour. Whether it's due to being of a different nationality, hailing from a stereotypically Always Chaotic Evil species, or having had a few evil moments in the past, they just cannot get a break; even if they try to do good deeds, it will only lead to being horrifically punished for them at worst and having them be disregarded or treated as insincere attempts at fostering good will at best. The point is, there is absolutely no way they can change anyone's mind that they're not a monster, so why bother?

Once this trope has been declared, unlike a lot of Ambiguously Evil characters, they won't be redeemed in spite of their sympathetic traits — this is largely because it took a lot of work to turn him evil in the first place. Interestingly, in spite of all this, he doesn't look for excuses to kick puppies — he still has morals, he just exercises a (much) more cynical variant of The Golden Rule.

The trope can be played to be more or less convincing for the audience depending on what point the writer wants to make. You can have the statement come across like a cheap Freudian Excuse such that it feels just like the villain is not truly owning up to their own part in their villainy. You could have it come across as a genuine explanation, but still not an excuse. And then again, it could be used as a genuine exposure of mistakes the hero has made, or even an outright exposure and commentary of the other characters' hypocrisy.

At that last point, you might start wondering who the villain really is, and have fun arguing with people over the authorial intent.

Related to Heel Realization, Internalized Categorism, He Who Fights Monsters, Reformed, but Rejected, Heel Face Door Slam, Cycle of Revenge, Not Helping Your Case, Interrupted Cooldown Hug, Who's Laughing Now?, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and Gone Horribly Right.

See also Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and Nature Versus Nurture.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Gaara of Naruto was originally a sad, lonely boy who simply wanted a friend. But the villagers feared his power, and hated him because of its source. Finally, after Yashimaru tried to kill him, on orders of Gaara's father no less, Gaara becomes exactly what Yashimaru and the villagers had always said he was: A monster that loved only itself. Fortunately Defeat Means Friendship, and after fighting Naruto and losing, Gaara eventually regains his sanity and learns to trust and love other people again. He later even becomes the new Kazekage, and is now revered by the villagers as a hero.
    • In the Fourth Ninja World War, Gaara's father, the 4th Kazekage, has been brought Back from the Dead...and revealed that Yashamaru never believed a word of his Hannibal Lecture. He only told Gaara that nobody ever loved him, and that even his own mother hated him, because they thought the shock would make him easier to kill, an order given only because they thought he was too unstable because of the demon placed within him. When the Kazekage sees all that his son has accomplished in spite of all this, he tells him that both Yashamaru and his mother always loved him, that he's sorry for ruining his life, and that he's never been prouder of him and should have had the faith in him that his mother did.
    • This may be part of Madara Uchiha's motivation for his Face-Heel Turn after having co-founded the Hidden Leaf Village with Hashirama Senju. Tobirama constantly made moves to limit the power of Madara and the Uchiha clan, which convinced Madara that the old hatreds wouldn't die out. After reviewing the legend of the Juubi, Madara decided to follow a different route to peace.
      • And later, the Uchiha clan as a whole followed in his footsteps. After the Nine-Tailed Fox attacked Konoha, the village leaders concluded that the Uchiha had to be responsible (as the Sharingan can influence Tailed Beasts).note  While outwardly the clan still seemed to still have a position of influence and power, they were being marginalized behind the scenes and feared being driven out of the village. They decided in response to seize power in a coup, something that had been feared by some (such as the Second Hokage) since the day the village had been founded. This...did not end well for the Uchiha clan.
  • As a child, Lucy from Elfen Lied is bullied / persecuted mercilessly for being a Diclonius, a horned, superpowered girl who may one day destroy the human race... Yeah. Nice going there.
  • Played with by Lelouch of Code Geass, especially towards the end after things go south for him. He says this after the death of Euphemia.
    • His mindset when he begins his scheming. He is willing to commit evil if it means taking out greater evil in so doing, or when pushed past the brink. Ultimately, after the Black Knights betray him on suspicion of using them for sport, he loses all restraints and allows himself to become the most despised person in the world... so that the world would focus all their hatred on him... so that his death would remove that hatred and provide a chance for the world to rebuild more positively. One of the best ways to unite the world, he figures, is to give them a common enemy to kill, and since by this point he feels he has lost his reasons to live...
  • Lilu in Watashi No Messiah Sama. It's made a bit worse by the fact that she was in fact originally supposed to be the Priestess of Salvation, but because of a wish Haruna made, she had the position stolen from her and forced into the role of Priestess of Domination. Said wish was made by her best friend, the original Priestess of Domination, and forced her into a life of horrible treatment, at the end of which she just snapped.
  • Trigun's Livio seems to have reached this point due to the confluence of a Super-Powered Evil Side that got him rejected everywhere and...uh...torturous retooling at the hands of a Murder, Inc.. It took murdering his childhood friend repeatedly as he burned his body out regenerating the damage while giving him a Shut Up, Hannibal! for a volume and a half to get him to Heel-Face Turn again. And then Wolfwood was dead, and Livio and Vash ate spaghetti.
  • During the climax of Devilman Lady, Asuka has transformed into a godlike being, brainwashing most of the world into loving her. Meanwhile, protagonist Jun has been cast into a giant (possibly metaphorical) pit, but she manages to rally her strength and declares that if Asuka is "God," then Jun will become the Devil to destroy her!
  • Rave Master gets hit with this two to three times. The first Big Bad, King, is a questionable case. He starts off more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist before the government rather harshly puts a stop to him, spurring him to go into full on terrorism. Lucia and Doryu make for much clearer cases. Despite being a demon lord, Doryu came to the human world hoping to create a place where all species could live in harmony. When Fantastic Racism became too severe and he was locked away by the people he sought to help, he lost it. Lucia had a similar fate. Coming from a family with a history of villainy, the Empire decided to get it over with and preemptively arrest him. When he was six. That he went to prison because he was expected to become a villain is, ultimately, his motive for becoming a villain.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing we have Wu Fei, who comes from a very martial space colony and is the epitome of Arrogant Kung-Fu naturally he has a few personality conflicts with the other Gundam Pilots and their Martial Pacifist ally, all of whom want to end the cycle of war, peace, and revolution. So in The Movie, Wu Fei sides with the bad guys and comes into direct conflict with the other pilots. He even outright says it:
    Wu Fei: I need to determine for myself whether or not peace at the expense of lives can really be defined as peace! And I will become evil itself to find out!
    • The mid-quel manga add a bit more information to this; in Battlefield of Pacifists Wu Fei befriends an OZ soldier who believes that war drives humanity to new heights, and his personal goal is to encourage deep space exploration by setting a Mecha-Mook factory in the outer solar system. When said soldier is killed, Wu Fei promises to become "the threat that makes humanity grow".
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Shion does this to herself. During her Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Meakashi-hen, she kills Satoko only to remember a promise she made to Satoshi to protect her. She immediately decides that since she's lost any chance of happiness, she may as well become a demon.
  • Princess Tutu: When her Kraehe persona resurfaces, Rue initially fights back, struggling to maintain her identity as a human being. However, Fakir continually fights her and treats her as a villain, until she finally snaps and lets the Crow Princess take over.
    "That's right. I am a crow."
  • This is a major reason people judged to be "latent criminals" in Psycho-Pass become actual criminals. The culprit in the first episode specifically mentions that since he was scanned with a high enough Psycho Pass, his life is basically ruined at this point, so he might as well beat and rape his hostage.

  • This is one of the motivations behind the Plutonian's Face-Heel Turn in Irredeemable. In his mind, if the world is just going to fear him like a giant ticking bomb after all that he's done for them, then why not give them what they expect?
  • Loki from The Mighty Thor fits, Depending on the Writer. It's almost always more that Loki THOUGHT that the Asgardians didn't trust him and that he was The Unfavorite compared to Thor (combined in some continuities with the reveal that he's a Frost Giant, an Always Chaotic Evil race) that caused his Start of Darkness, not that he was actually disliked/hated. Thor, years later after fighting as the hero to his villain, still cares enough about him to get him reincarnated after Loki engineered the near fall of Asgard and helped save it in a last-ditch Heroic Sacrifice. Enemy Mine has been a recurring thing for Loki when the threat gets too great for a long, long time.
    • Also, there might have been a bit of Because Destiny Says So, since according to some writers the Ragnarok cycle, while it existed, contained the prophecies of the Norns that wrote the fates of the Asgardians and those around them. Loki might have been dealing with the knowledge that it said he'd be evil.
      • The seriousness with which the mythological factors are treated in the Mighty Thor materials varies a lot, but it's always going to when it comes to Thor-and-Loki because it requires them to be a set of good and evil brothers, which is categorically wrong in every particular way. Although Thor does seem to have been considered the safest of the Aesir to petition.
    • Since Thor destroyed the fate of the gods, and his death and rebirth even after the child murder, body snatching and guilt complex over it, long story, Loki is determined to not become evil again, or at least not go quietly into any box others build for him, because there are forces, some even on the side of good like the All-Mother of Asgardia, who want the status quo back and actively make his life miserable for this reason. Yeah, if he would snap now he would be perfectly justified.
  • Magneto has generally been written as a Well-Intentioned Extremist for a few decades now, which makes the name of his old supervillain group, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, seem a little strange. It has, therefore, been stated that the name invokes this trope. The way he sees it, humans will always be afraid of mutants... so he's going to give them something to be afraid of.
  • Marv wonders if he is unknowingly following this trope in both the film and comic version of Sin City. All his life, people told him that he would grow up to be "a psycho killer" and he contemplates whether or not it's happening.
  • In the Mexican comic Memin (about a poor Black boy) a story had some bullies convince him that Black people never go to Heaven, no matter how good they are (claiming that the fact there are no pictures of Black angels proves it). Memin is so angry that he swears that if he's going to Hell, he'll rule it by being the most evil kid in the world! (being a preteen his idea of evil acts are things like disrespecting his mother.) His friends hatch a plan to reform him by painting one of the angels in a Church (with the clergy's permission) Black and then show it to him. It worked.
  • During a visit to Hell, Bane of the Secret Six discovered that despite being a Noble Demon (at least what he thought was one) he was still damned. He figures that since he's beyond redemption anyway, he might as well stop trying to be a half-assed antihero and embraces villainy. First order of business? Settle the score with Batman once and for all.
  • While it never actually happens, Spider-Man comics have repeatedly teased the reader with the possiblity of Spider-Man becoming a menace due to the All of the Other Reindeer mentality of the world around him. In the Ultimate Spiderman comics, Nick Fury was particularly worried that all of the tragedy and bad publicity in Peter's life would drive him to villainy — and given the combination of Peter's intelligence, determination, and superpowers, that would be a very bad thing.
    • The closest it came in the mainstream Marvel Universe was during the Acts Of Vengeance, when he gained the godlike powers of Captain Universe, which he could not control, making the New Yorkers more scared of him than ever. The fact that super-villains were attacking him for no seemingly reason at all (something that was happening to the entire hero community during the crisis) only made him angrier. Finally, during his battle with the robot T.E.S.S. One, the insults from the people he was trying to help made him lose his temper, and he screamed, "You want a menace?? I've got your menace right here!!" And then he blew T.E.S.S. One to smithereens. (He may have eventually truly fallen into this Trope had he not been able to win their respect by saving the city and winning their respect again - at least for a while.)
  • The Scorcher, a Spider-Man foe, reportedly started out like this. According to his origin story, research scientist Steven Jamal Hudak was framed for embezzlement by a co-worker and had to go into hiding to avoid his arrest. Being a wanted man with little chance of finding work at his chosen field, Hudak used his scientific knowledge to build a Powered Armor and started a career as a freelance mercenary.
  • Cyclops, after the events of "Avengers vs. X-Men". At first it seemed that he would surrender and stand trial for the murder of Charles Xavier, but after spending some time in prison, he decides that he's more useful outside bars, and since he and his "Phoenix Five" team are already fugitives believed to be guilty, why not take advantage of that to go where the regular X-Men can't go, operate outside the law?
  • The original version Blackfire. As the first princess born from Tamaran's royal family in centuries, her birth was supposed to be a joyous day. Then the day she was born was marred by the Citadel destroying a city and slaughtering its three thousands inhabitants in her name, and a childhood illness robbed her of the ability to fly. Because of this, everyone hated her, treating her like a villain and passing her birthright to her little sister Starfire, who became the focus of Blackfire's rage. Then one day she snapped during training and tried to kill her sister, and was exiled... And when she returned on Tamaran, it was leading the Citadel's armies to conquer Tamaran, relenting only when Starfire too was stripped of her birthright and made her sister's slave. To add salt in the wound, it's eventually found out that Blackfire is a born queen, as shown when she takes over Tamaran and quickly becomes a much better ruler than her father ever was.


    Films — Animated 
  • Megamind's reason for being a villain.
    Megamind: "No matter how hard I tried, I was always the last one picked. The screw-up. The bad boy. [...] Then it hit me: if I was the "bad boy", then I was going to be the baddest boy of them all!"
    • He gets another one two-thirds in. He's this close to reforming thanks to the budding relationship with Roxanne he has disguised as Bernard, but goes full villain when she learns the truth.
  • In Tangled, after Rapunzel calls her out, Gothel finally decides once and for all to forgo the pretense of being a good mother (which she was never really good at anyway):
    "You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I'm the bad guy."
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Ramsees is portrayed more as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds than anything, but grows more bitter towards his former brother as the plagues destroy his kingdom.
    "Then let my heart be hardened,
    And never mind how high the cost may grow
    This will still be so:
    I will never let your people go!"
    • Also a Shout-Out to The Bible, to which the movie in general sticks pretty closely: the book of Exodus states somewhere around the sixth plague that "Pharaoh's heart was hardened," causing him to stick to his guns and let the plagues continue. If you dig a little deeper and see passages like Exodus 4: 21, 10: 1, 11: 10, 14:18, you'll deduce that the deity of the story is forcing the pharaoh to play the "villain" role in-universe. Could be interpreted as a Nominal Hero's action.
  • The Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons tries to use this as his Freudian Excuse. In actuality, all of his isolation and misery were self-inflicted.
  • A variation: Shrek is, gruff personality aside, a fairly decent guy. Unfortunately, everyone judges him on the fact that he's an ogre, and consequently treat him like dirt. He decides that as long as people are going to view him as a disgusting, horrifying, swamp-dwelling monster, he may as well bank on it. So, he sets up intimidating signs around his home and scares trespassers away, in fact he seems to get a bit of a kick out of it if the intro sequence is any indication. He gets better, though.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Creature from the Black Lagoon is given this treatment in the sequel Revenge of the Creature. A science team is sent to Black Lagoon to capture the Creature and bring him back for scientific study. Said "scientific study" seems to mainly involve whacking him with underwater cattle prods for reasons which are never explained. After watching the Creature be harassed and brutalized for no apparent reason in the first half of the movie, a modern viewer may have mixed feelings upon the Creature's escape, where he does, in fact, kill people, but at this point "man, Humans Are the Real Monsters" seems to be an appropriate response.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has a song devoted to this, 'Let The Monster Rise'. It shows how Nathan allows his Repo Man persona take over in order to save his daughter.
    Nathan: Have I failed my daughter?
    Then let the father die!
    And let the monster RISE! (''goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge)
  • Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as discussed above under Comics. This one spends most of Thor alternately trying to be a worthy son and being an underhanded jerkass, while going steadily more insane due to Parental Issues and Internalized Categorism. This comes at the end.
  • In Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, it is revealed that Godzilla and Rodan only hates humans because they hate them.
    Shobijin: Godzilla says he has no reason to save humans. They are always bullying me. Rodan agrees with him.
  • The Amazing Spiderman 2 gives us the villain Electro. At first, he was just Max Dillon, an ordinary Oscorp electrician and powerless loser who nobody paid attention to, to where people even forgot it was his birthday. Then his boss forces him to work a late night shift, leading to the fateful accident that would give him his powers. When he got them, he was taunted and jeered as a freak of nature, which only got worse when an officer tries to snipe him just as Spider-Man was reasoning with him. Next he got experimented on (read: tortured) by Dr Kafka. By the time he escaped, he decided that if people wanted a monster, he'll show them what a monster was.
  • The Usual Suspects: Keaton claims that he is really in love with his lawyer girlfriend and was trying to set himself up as a legitimate restauranteur. However, when the police bring him in for the line-up right at the beginning of the movie, arresting him at dinner with his potential investors, he realizes that his investors are going to back out of doing business with an ex-con, and he will never be able to set up a legal business. So, since the police will never let him put his past behind him, he might as well embrace it.
  • Girl Interrupted has Lisa, a diagnosed sociopath, deliver this line when asked why she was reading aloud the main character's diary:
    Lisa: "I'm playing the villain, baby. Just like you want. I try to give you everything you want."

  • The eponymous Outcast of Redwall has elements of this. A foundling infant from one of the Always Chaotic Evil vermin races (specifically, a ferret) is raised in the Abbey and grows to be quite the troublemaker as a child. Even so, he is treated with little more than suspicion and prejudice by most of the local populace, and rarely, if ever, given the benefit of the doubt, even for his motivations (backfired attempts to do good are still punished without consideration). Ultimately, the message boils down to him still being responsible for making his own immoral choices; but he at least got more sympathy than any other vermin character when one considers what a slim "chance" the Redwallers ever gave him. His surrogate mother never gave up on him and her life is saved by his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Huckleberry Finn, sick of being treated as a "wicked" boy who will never amount to anything, eventually declares "All right, I'll go to hell!" and "take[s] up wickedness" by... helping a man escape from slavery. He faces the moral quandary of being 'good' or keeping faith with Jim, and finds himself unable to countenance the former if it is exclusive of the latter. He believes he's 'bad' because he's defying the rules and will be punished, because he's coping with higher morality on an emotional level but completely lacks the vocabulary to deal with it mentally.
  • Frankenstein abandoned his newly-made monster in disgust at its uncanny looks, and everyone else who ever saw the monster reacted with horror. Is it any wonder the "daemon" became Ax-Crazy?
    • He became marvelously eloquent first, though. Just from overhearing someone read aloud. Nineteenth century writers believed books could do anything.
      • It didn't hurt that the family was also teaching a runaway Arabian noblewoman French, and the monster (who was just born, after all) was listening. No, really.
  • C.S. Lewis uses this in a speech given by Senior Tempter Screwtape in an epilogue to The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape comments that one of the results of the "You're no better than me" school of thought will be to turn anyone even remotely different from the mass public against them. If I will be called a fascist or a monster, I may as well be hanged for a ram as for a lamb, and become one in reality.
  • The titular Space Brat, Blork, from Bruce Coville's series. He was labeled by the computer nanny as a brat soon after hatching from his egg, all due to his having a piece of shell stuck behind his antenna and crying in pain because of it. Since then, he was the boy who cried wolf, and constantly marked as an easy person to stick the blame on. After putting up with it for a while, he winds up throwing a temper tantrum at how unfair it all was, which was unheard of for his species. Which then gives him a very easy out for whenever he gets blamed for something from then on, leading to this trope.
  • Harry Dresden gets villains pointing this out to him, and, once or twice, almost considers it. But he's too stubbornly good to be evil, though Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is occasionally a concern
  • While it's hardly the only factor, this is one of the main reasons why Jaime Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire became the cynical and amoral monster he is at the start of the series: The entire kingdom looked down on him for breaking his oath and killing the Mad King Aerys, giving him the mocking name of Kingslayer and an undeserved reputation as a scheming, treacherous backstabber- even though Aerys was about to have all of King's Landing (the capital city, with a population of about 500,000 people) burned down out of spite. After years of being called a monster for what he rightly considers his "finest act," it's not hard to see why he eventually became one, although what fans sometimes seem to forget is that no-one knew what Aerys was about to do and Jaime never bothered to tell anyone (Maybe they wouldn't have believed him, or discounted it, but he could have tried - his father could also have used influence to spread the true story and temper the hatred, had he known). It also happened at the same time as his father sacking the city after the war had in effect already been won at the Trident, making it look like a patently obvious attempt to get on the good side of the rebels and a pointless betrayal; another theory suggests that despite being it a good act, Jaime must have felt deep down he deserved the scorn for the betrayal regardless, or he'd have attempted to defend himself at least (possibly because he felt guilty for having stood by for plenty of Aerys' other horribly insane and cruel acts). Recently, it seems like he might finally be turning his life back around, eschewing his family's toxic influence and taking a newfound pride in his honor as a knight.
    • Jaime's younger brother Tyrion seems to be heading down this road too.
      • Sandor "the Hound" Clegane probably qualifies as well.
  • As the famous line from Paradise Lost goes: "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."
    • Satan later declares to himself: "So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear/Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost; Evil, be thou my Good".
    • In Steven Brust's To Reign In Hell (a excellent fantasy novel of the Revolt of the Angels), Satan follows a similar trajectory — pushed into his "evil," oppositional stance by the way Yaweh's followers have treated him. (But Brust masterfully makes this happen without any evil intent on Yaweh's part; in fact, Yaweh's plan is unquestionably a good one.)
  • This is basically the entire plot of I Am Mordred. The writer even includes an author's note in which she decries the assumption that kids are all budding juvenile delinquets and argues that treating them like criminals can only be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • In Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, the book concerning evil For the Love of Evil, has Parry, in the office of Evil known as Satan, trying to work fairly with the other Incarnations, but due to most of their past experience with the last office holder, Beelzebub, treat Parry like dirt, humiliating him whenever he tries. Finally, he becomes even worse than his predecessor.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain: After the protagonists accidentally become supervillains, they try to clear their names, but fail. In the end, Penny decides that being a villain isn't so bad after all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Michael" from Stargate Atlantis was a Wraith who the protagonists forcibly converted into an amnesiac human. His introductory episode has the characters mistreating him for no clear reason (mainly Ronon, who utterly despises all Wraith due to their wiping out his planet and putting him through years of torture), before he realizes that he's a Tomato in the Mirror and breaks out to return to his people... but they won't accept him either, since he's still partly human. He desperately returns to the protagonists and offers valuable aid, just begging them that they don't brainwash him again. They brainwash him again. When he recovers again, he's fed up of saying What the Hell, Hero?, and he snaps completely and becomes an Evilutionary Biologist.
    • The fact that Michael has to eat people to survive, and the virus that can transform a Wraith into a human (thus removing the need to kill people to keep him alive) inherently causes amnesia, explains why they felt the need to brainwash him, though.
  • Adam Wilson from The Young and the Restless has ended up invoking this trope. It's hard to escape the fact that, before he came to Genoa City, Adam was relatively moral and well-adjusted. It was only after prolonged exposure to the chronic backstabbing and underhanded business dealings of the city that he started his horrific revenge plan — and at the end of that, he lapses into a My God, What Have I Done? moment and tries to reform. Then even this is completely undercut when the Newmans and Abbotts confront him in the cabin and treat him like a monster, even though they don't have any idea what he did — plus how hollow their moral superiority sounds, considering all the crimes they've committed in the past, which Adam and later DA Owen Pomerantz call them out on.
  • When Ashur of Spartacus: Blood and Sand gets berated at for his slimy Manipulative Bastard behaviour, he pulls this line of defense, pointing out that everybody treated him like pig feed and that nearly every git move he pulled benefited his master, doctore, and the ludus, so screw the gladiators and their honour.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • There's an episode in the second-to-last season where Gul Dukat tries to convince Sisko (and himself) that they really were friends all along and that he has always been misunderstood as merely an Anti-Hero, not a true villain. Eventually, with some subtle goading from Sisko to drop his facade, Dukat realizes that he has always been a villain and decides to embrace his role by destroying Bajor and everything Sisko cares about.
    • A variation also occurs in the episode where Sisko goes after the traitor Eddington. He realizes that Eddington sees himself as a hero fighting for a noble cause and decides that he has to embrace his role as the villain in Eddington's mind in order to beat him. He eventually engineers a situation that plays to Eddington's nobler instincts, forcing him to turn himself in to stop Sisko's villainy. This consisted of poisoning a Maquis planet in such a way that humans couldn't live there (but Cardassians could), essentially just balancing out the nearby world Eddington had just poisoned to Cardassians but not humans, and then threatening to do so to every Maquis settlement he could find.
    • Winn Adami concerns herself less with the spiritual and more with political. She ends up Kai (the head of the Bajoran religion) but still doesn't give up the power game. After Dukat, with the help of the Pah-wraith, manages to seduce her, she stops receiving visions from the Prophets. Realizing they have rejected her for consorting with their enemy, she chooses to join the Pah-wraith out of spite.
  • In Charmed, Cole may have been half-demon, but his love for Phoebe was enough to motivate him not only to wake up his humanity and then to fight the Source for control of his body, but later to amass enough random powers from other vanquished demons to escape hell and return to her after his death. However, no matter how he tried to convince her that he wasn't evil anymore, she and her sisters drove him away, and attempted to kill him, (which turned out to be impossible, even for him when he tried to commit suicide out of grief). All of this eventually drove him insane, and he started committing evil deeds again; sometimes in a misguided bid to reclaim Phoebe, and other times just For the Evulz.
  • A major theme in Smallville. Lex Luthor makes several efforts to do good and often helps Clark and others save the world, but several characters- especially Clark's parents, no less- treat him with suspicion at best because he is the son of local Corrupt Corporate Executive Lionel Luthor, who himself had been trying to mold his son into another ruthless Magnificent Bastard (whilst simultaneously letting Lex know just how much of a disappointment he was). The latter stuff really had put the seed of evil in Lex's heart- Oliver Queen knew Lex at school and saw him beat up his best friend (though Oliver had been a bit of a dick to both of them, mind), and a horrified Lionel covered up the fact that as a boy Lex had murdered his own baby brother though it turned out, Lex only took the fall for his mom, who wanted to spare the child Lex's horrible childhood. There is a lot of tension between Lex's natural bad side and his desire to genuinely do good getting screwed over; he is particularly annoyed that Clark, his best (and only) friend, is obviously hiding stuff from him- Clark, for his part, has thought about revealing his secret to Lex but has been dissuaded by, amongst other things, hallucinations, that make it seem like a bad idea. Not helped by the fact that the two of them are aware of a prophecy about a mortal man fighting a godlike alien and Lex believing that to Beware the Superman might actually be sensible; after all, how can anyone be trusted with that much power?
    • Several episodes are devoted to Lex's own internal struggle. One such story inverts A Christmas Carol- Lex, having been shot at Christmas, meets the ghost of his mother who shows him what happens if he changes his ways: he has a loving and happy marriage with Lana and is finally treated like a friend and family member by the Kents; Clark holds no grudge about the two of them marrying either and is happy for them and remains his best friend. Then Lana gets seriously ill and Lex can't afford it, so he goes back to his dad to ask him to help...and is promptly brushed off, meaning Lana (and their baby) both die because Lex gave up his money and his wicked father's fortune. When he wakes up, Lex decides that money and power are the only things that really matter in life, because then you can protect the people you love.
    • Lionel himself gets some of this. Early in season 4 he is in prison, and tries to escape by swapping bodies with Clark, naturally discovering his secret in the process. His plan fails and he ends up back in his own body by the end of the episode, but afterwards professes that he is a changed man (and faking amnesia about finding out Clark has powers and the whole body-swap thing) and after getting out of prison on a technicality anyway, tried to convince the rest of the suspicious cast, meeting the most resistance from Lex himself, who is also trying to earn everybody's trust. Things hit a head in one episode when Black Kryptonite splits Lex into his good and evil halves- the good Lex lets his father know he'll trust him and encourages him in his do-goodiness; the bad Lex goads Lionel into assaulting him with a poker, then says that proves he hasn't changed at all. Turns out Lionel really had changed, but by the end of that episode, and never finding out about the whole split-in-two thing, he tells the now whole Lex that he was right- "we're Luthors", and they should embrace the Card-Carrying Villain within, though to his credit Lionel is never quite as evil again and never exposes Clark's secret, generally deciding he'll help him from now on.
      • Eventually Good!Lionel becomes Clark's new father figure, and does all the things for Clark he never did for Lex, leaving by-now-lost-to-the-Dark-Side Lex justifiably frothing at the mouth at the unfairness of the universe.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike tries to enlist in the good fight after falling in love with Buffy, who regards this Heel-Face Turn with suspicion, especially after discovering his true motive. However he gains some trust by protecting Dawn in Season 5 and acting as her confidante in Season 6, but when Buffy realizes she's falling for Spike she starts physically and verbally abusing him in order to drive Spike away. As Buffy refuses to let him be good, he decides the only way to get Buffy is to drag her down to his level, leading to their Destructive Romance. Though he was a monster for at least 100 years prior to getting the chip and falling in love.
    • Eventually subverted, as Spike arranges to have his human soul restored and becomes a hero for real. Though not a nice one.
  • In The City Hunter, Lee Jin-Pyo's sole purpose is to find and punish five corrrupt and murderous politicians; not an unworthy cause in itself, although he knows from the beginning that his method of revenge—kidnapping his best friend's infant son and raising him as an instrument of vengeance—is unforgivable. But since that's what he started, he's damned well going to finish it.
  • One arc on Desperate Housewives had Lynette trying to stir concern about the fact that there was a possible pedophile living with his sister on Wisteria Lane. However, the attempts to stir up hysteria drove the sister to suffer a fatal heart attack, at which point the guy told Lynette he'd kept his urges under control because of her. And now he was going to leave Wisteria, and had no reason to curb his impulses... and he wanted her to know it was all because of her (however, since it was never really confirmed that he really was a pedophile, it is possible he's just messing with her head).
  • Explicitly referenced in Once Upon a Time "Witch Hunt". By this time Regina has stopped trying to kill everyone and has become some combination of the Token Evil Teammate and The Friend Nobody Likes. However when everyone assumes that she must have cast the most recent curse and begins to turn on her ignoring her protests that she's innocent...
    Regina: If you all want me to be the Evil Queen then fine. That's exactly who you'll get. (causes an earthquake and then warps out).
    • And subverted in that that was just a show that she and Emma were putting on. In any case, it's repeatedly made clear that while everyone blaming Regina certainly annoys her she also doesn't particularly care what any of them think. The only person she does want acceptance from is Henry.
  • In the final episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney goes back to his womanizing ways after his divorce from Robin. When Lily calls him out on it, he rationalize that if it couldn't work with Robin, just let him be the guy that "straightens his tie, says something dirty, gives himself a self-five, and [hits on younger women]."

  • This is the ending of Tripod's song "Suicide Bomber"—the falsely accused bomber is awaiting release after repeated torture, and is already planning to blow up a bus.
  • Happens in Adam Warrock's song, "Sad Ultron"— All the newest incarnation of Hank Pym's Ultron wants is to hang out and be accepted, but because all previous versions of him went all Knight Templar and evil, everyone assumes he'll do the same- thanks to being shunned and hated, he turns evil on principle.
    "Sorry y'all, I tried to be a nice dude, fuckin' human intelligence made me wanna fight too/And that's ironic, isn't it? The fact that human indifference made a robot turn evil and villainous/Fuck it, I'm engaging a plan to kill Hank Pym/ Ask me if I'm one of those nice robots, I'm not him."
  • From Killer Mike's "That's life", where he gives his views on many of the current issues of the day and authority's failure to handle them
    Ask em am I a bad guy? "Ya Goddamn right!" I done seen how ya do a nigga when he doing right.
  • "Down With The Sickness" by Disturbed, especially the child abuse segment which is about "mother society beating down on the freaks."
  • "Meet The Monster" by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • One English dub of Servant of Evil has a variation:
    They say you are a lady of vice and disdain, then I am evil as well, with the same blood in my veins.
  • Eminem has explored this topic in many of songs, but it becomes a primary element in the sequel to his hit song "Stan", appropriately enough, titled "Bad Guy". The final verse really drives the trope home, with Stan's younger brother, Mitchell, mocking the rapper, as the young man takes vengeance on Eminem, for driving Stan to suicide.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Kevin Steen was on board with Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino's efforts to reform him at first but after Ring of Honor security kicked him out of the building upon his return to explain this, he joined the House of Truth in attacking Corino. This lead Jim Cornette to proclaim Steen would never have another match in ROH again, and that lead Steen to convince Jacobs and Corino that Good Is Dumb and kicked started SCUM(Suffering Chaos Ugliness Mayhem), their effort to destroy the company and eventually, the entire wrestling industry(Chikara was to be next on their hit list, and Jacobs almost did take it down with The Flood).

    Tabletop Games 
  • It is not uncommon for Storytellers to use this tactic in Hunter The Reckoning. Since almost all of the mook monsters you meet actually have a measure of humanity and are enslaved to their natures or other, worse monsters, there is already a bit of a gray area to killing them in the first place. Since hunters constantly hound the monsters, cutting off their resources and food supplies, they can eventually get fed up or be driven to desperate acts of violence since their beastly side starts taking over. This could cause a normally nice vampire who only drinks just enough blood to survive, and only from animals, to become a raging beast draining the nearest humans dry. If the monster survives, you can bet he won't care much about keeping his humanity anymore. Expect angry party members who have more forgiving views of the monsters.
    • In the New World of Darkness there's the Refinement of Stannum in Promethean: The Created, which is centered around wrath and getting revenge on the world that scorns you at every turn. Prometheans eventually draw the wrath of humanity and the suffering of nature everywhere they go, and Stannum is about focusing that wrath where it belongs. Each Refinement is a philosophy the Promethean follows during their Pilgrimage, and the various paths usually require some careful study before you can switch over. Stannum, however, can be entered instantly, and is usually entered when some Promethean goes, "Oh, fuck this shit."
      • And a step below that is the path of Centimani, the Refinement of Flux. Flux is a force of dissolution and mutation, and the Centimani themselves are focused on monstrosity rather than rebirth. Prometheans on this path have not only given up on trying to be good, they've given up on trying to be anything resembling a human. In a subversion however, some Prometheans see Centimani as a way to humanity just like the others.note 
  • It is said that to betray the Imperium is the heretical work of Chaos. After all, the Emperor Protects, and His Imperium provides for all. So who cares if you grew up on a world with a 95% conscription rate, if your local sub-System governor cut off all incoming supplies to your desert planet because the local figurehead didn't want to marry off his only daughter to the guy, or if you only accepted the help of that one benevolent alien race in fighting off the far-less-benevolent alien race because the Imperial Guard/Space Marines wouldn't arrive for, oh, fifty years. The response will still be BURN, HERETIC, so if you'll be condemned for being a pawn of Chaos anyway, you may as well get the fun powers (and horrid mutations) that go with it.
  • The tieflingsnote  of Dungeons & Dragons tend to fall victim to this. While they are no more predisposed to good or evil than their human kin, they're surrounded by people who can see only their fiendish heritage and therefore conclude that they must have an inherently evil nature—which leads to a cycle of abuse that drops tieflings face-first into this trope with depressing frequency. Compare their Aasimar counterparts, who sometimes get so worn down by the assumption that their celestial blood means they must be paragons of good and justice that they end up bobsledding off the slippery slope.
  • It takes a lot for the samurai of Rokugan to betray their Emperor. The Code of Bushido is very clear- if you betray your lord, you must kill yourself to restore your honor. So imagine how bad Hantei XVI was to have his entire personal guard turn on him and slay him- in their minds, bringing dishonor on themselves and their family and having to commit seppuku was a preferable fate to letting Hantei XVI stay in charge.

  • Shakespeare loved this trope, as seen in Don John, the Designated Villain of Much Ado About Nothing. He protests his state thusly:
    "I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and seek not to alter me."
    • Similarly, the bastard son Edmund in King Lear laments that he is categorized as base and lowly since he is "illegitimate." Since he is going to be treated unfairly regardless of how well-behaved he is, he resorts to evil to try and increase his standing.
    • Richard III has the titular Villain Protagonist give his motivations in Act 1, Scene 1:
      "And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
      To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
      I am determined to prove a villain
      And hate the idle pleasures of these days."
    • Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus is not only happy to live up to the Roman's wicked expectations of him, in the end he finds he repents only the meager good he may have done.
      • Averted, however, by Iago and Caliban (of Othello and The Tempest respectively), who make comments to the effect that they're just born to be evil.
  • Elphaba of Wicked, after having every good deed that she's ever done blow up in her face, declares this near the end of her BSOD Song "No Good Deed." Provides the page quote.
    Elphaba "Alright enough so be it
    So be it then
    Let all Oz be Agreed
    I'm Wicked through and through
    Since I cannot succeed Fiyero saving you
    I promise No Good Deed will I attempt to do again
    Ever Again
    No Good Deed
    Will I Do
  • Similarly to "No Good Deed", Shrek The Musical has "Build a Wall".
    Shrek: "I'm gonna be what they want
    I'm gonna be what they say
    Hey world, I'll do it your way!
    You're looking for a monster, it's your lucky day
    I'll be what you want!"
  • In Bat Boy The Musical, "Apology to a Cow" ends with this.
    Bat Boy: "I don't want to harm you, I only want to KILL!
    You shall have your monster, I shall drink my fill!
    At last I am embracing my bloody destiny!
    Dear Mom and Dad this place will be
    The last thing that you ever see!
    Revenge will be a home for me!"

  • The most commonly-accepted interpretation of Sorceress Ultimecia's motivations in Final Fantasy VIII is that she was discriminated against and persecuted by a society conditioned to assume that any sorceress runs the risk of snapping and trying to take over the world, until - shockingly enough - she snapped and decided to become the evil sorceress that history reviled. Her speech in Deling very heavily alludes to this.
  • This is Odio's backstory in Live A Live. Even after the demon lord tricked him into killing the king, he figured he could still be a hero, so long as one person believed in him. When that one person committed suicide as a direct consequence of his actions, he took up the demon lord's title and role, spreading pain and misery across the universe.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Ramirez's backstory involves a play on this trope. He came to Arcadia as a naive idealist with some lessons to learn from the school of hard knocks, but found one guy who seemed alright as a role-model/mentor. Sadly, he ended up getting played for a fool and humiliated when the guy turned out to be a dirtbag. So, he went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and gave up on his nice ideals. He was convinced that Humans Are Bastards was a universal truth and decided he might as well join them.
  • In City of Heroes, Leonard "Frostfire" Calhoun (Yes, that is his real name) is explicitly stated to have "succumbed to a 'if you're going to treat me like a villain' mentality" after a botched attempt at vigilanteism. For this reason, Frostfire is one of the more sympathetic villains in the game, even delivering a crude Motive Rant when confronted. He even eventually tries to redeem himself.
  • In Icewind Dale 2, the twin Big Bads Isair and Madae were treated as embodiments of evil their entire lives because they were cambions — half devil, half elf. After a lifetime of this treatment, with a cruel prank involving cakes baked with holy water as the final straw, they decided they might as well act like embodiments of evil. Iselore the Big Good remembers that he warned their foster mother (the only person who ever loved them) that "they are forged in evil and only evil can come from them" and sadly wonders if he helped make it true.
  • In Dragon Age II, almost all of Kirkwall distrusts the qunari and their leader, the Arishok, due to the qunari's reputation for being heathen conquerors. While the Arishok is by no means a nice guy, he and the rest of the qunari just want to mind their own business and leave Kirkwall as soon as possible. However, after years of unprovoked attacks by those who expect him to act against them, the Arishok finally has enough and tries to conquer Kirkwall.
    The Arishok: Fixing your mess is not the demand of the Qun, and you should all be grateful!
    • This also sums up why so many Circle mages turn to Blood Magic; they spend their whole lives effectively at the mercy of the templars, who tell them that the abilities they were born with are sinful and hold the threat of being made Tranquil over their heads, so what do they have to lose by dealing with demons? First Enchanter Orsino does this in the endgame - even if you sided with him.
      • Spelled out in the web series Dragon Age: Redemption focused on several characters trying to stop an escaped qunari mage, or Saarebas ("dangerous thing" in qunari). The qunari treat their mages way worse than humans. They sew their mouths shut and force them to wear harnesses that dampen their magic and can be used to shock them into submission. After finally stopping and collaring the Saarebas, Tallis asks him why he tried to cast a dangerous spell. His response is that he has been told for so long that he's a thing of evil that the only thing he could think about doing after escaping is the most harm possible. However, not all Saarebas are like that.
    • Anders especially emphasizes this point as the reason the Circle of Magi simply doesn't work-when you imprison and terrify a person with supernatural powers for the entirety of their lives, does the fault lie with the prisoner for eventually snapping and trying to take everyone down with them, or the system that forces them into that corner with no room for compromise? Doesn't stop him from yelling at the mages who made deals or turn into abominations, but he saves most of his bile for the Chantry. By the end of the game he's gotten just as desperate, self-hating, and dangerous as they have... Though by then Anders' mind had completely merged with Vengeance and he was no longer thinking like a rational human would but rather like an emotional fade spirit with a one track mind for vengeance.
  • Since the Jedi of Knights of the Old Republic considered any of their members who went off to defend the Republic against the Mandalorians as fallen (see their shoddy treatment of the Exile, who did return only to get Reformed, but Rejected from the Council), the fact that Revan went and became Dark Lord of the Sith is a cross of this and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • In Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan, recently de-infested and now aligned with the heroes, is actively trying to turn her back on her own potential to control the zerg, since she feels this might lead her back to her old self. Then, The Dominion attacks her allies, forcing her to take control of a feral zerg brood lest the Dominion shoot down her Love Interest, Raynor. She realizes during the fighting that she's at risk of giving in to her viciousness, and tries to curb herself. However, Raynor's ship never shows at the rendezvous and she overhears a news report that the Dominion captured and executed him before he could escape. (In fact, he was not executed, but is being held as a check against her attacking the Dominion.) She promptly declares bloody vengeance against the Dominion and Emperor Mengsk, actively seeking out zerg forces to command and becoming re-infested, after a fashion to increase her psychic power. Mengsk seems to realize that the whole mess is his fault (twice over; his betrayal got her infested in the first place!) when she kills him.
    Kerrigan: You made us all into monsters.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Gabriel Belmont became evil because destiny said he would become evil.
  • If you decide to take the villain route in inFAMOUS, Cole cites this as one of his reasons for slipping into selfish evil. The people already think he's a terrorist that blew up their city, and he has the powers to make them suffer, why not give them what they want? This is best exemplified at the end of the train mission, where even after saving their loved ones, the people still want Cole's blood, resulting in him zapping one of them to make them disperse. For reference, the good version of the same scene has them treat him like one of the family and marks his turn for the better in the public eye, so it mostly comes down to the reputation he builds in the interim.
  • One interpretation of the final ending of The Binding of Isaac Rebirth, where after Isaac's mother tries to kill him to save him from sin after God told her to, and after all the horrors he faced in the Basement and beyond as a result, Isaac finally locks himself in the chest and transforms into a demon.

  • Redcloak of The Order of the Stick has this trait in his more sympathetic moments, most of which are in the prequel book Start of Darkness. As a member of the Always Chaotic Evil goblin race, if a "good" character murders him, any other goblins, or even any baby goblins for any reason, this is not treated as an "evil" act, even though the whole reason goblins are evil in the first place is supposedly because they murder without provocation. His example is particularly notable, as at one point he has a Heel Realization — about the way he mistreats other goblins. He never seriously considers the idea that he's giving humans any less than they deserve.
  • This scenario from Brawl in the Family follows up from the previous one, in an attempt to answer why King K. Rool has such a problem with DK.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Molly the Monster briefly considers this, early on:
    "'F-Freak?' He shot at me just for what I look like? Yeah? W-Well, if they want a monster, maybe I'll just give them one! Like Shelley's Frankenstein Monster, if I cannot give love to the world, then i will give it wrath! I'll... I'll... Aw, who am I kidding? I haven't got any wrath! Oh Dr. Poule, what am I going to do? Sob!"
  • In Girl Genius, Gil tells Othar that "If being like you is the alternative, I'll gladly take evil" before knocking him off of a dirigible. May or may not be a true example, since both Gil (and his father) and Othar are Well-Intentioned Extremists with slightly different goals and methods.

    Web Original 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the titular Villain Protagonist was supposedly driven to supervillainy by the smug Jerk Jock attitude that his heroic archnemesis, Captain Hammer, takes toward anyone "nerdy" or "unpopular". Being both of those things, he was persecuted until he gave up on using his intelligence for good and adopted the Dr. Horrible Mad Scientist persona. Even then he's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain until one too many humiliations from Captain Hammer triggers a Not-So-Harmless Villain breakout.
    • It doesn't help that he's not exactly getting good publicity because even when he was trying to be explicitly heroic, he was a Hero with an F in Good. He still wants to do long-term good, even as a villain, but he's not that great at it. His plan seems to be, "1. Take over the world. 2. Everything wrong with the world magically fixes itself because I'm in charge."
    • Even then he was something of a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thought that he can fix the world by ruling. However, when his Morality Chain Penny dies in the end, he had nothing keeping him from becoming a true supervillain.
  • In Worm, Taylor constantly worries about her perception in the eyes of the superheroes and her acquaintances, but ultimately embraces her villain identity. She realizes that her villain team contains the only real friends she has, and has been thoroughly unimpressed with every superhero she's met. Despite this, she continues to mostly fight villains as a supervillain competing for territory in the city, and has heroic goals of her own that will require time and resources to achieve..
  • The Elfslayer Chronicles is a rare heroic example of this. It's set in a D&D 4e game, where the PCs come from the evil homophobic tree-killing human-and-orc-and-dwarf-and-tiefling empire, but are supposed to be swayed by the sparkly environmentalist homophilic elves and the gay love story between a lost Human prince and the captain of the Elvish Guard and stop the war between the two nations. Unfortunately, one particular human PC basically said, "Screw You, Elves! If I'm supposed to come from a nation of homophobic jerks, then I'm going to be a homophobic jerk." He then proceeded to kill the prince, frame the Elvish Captain for the murder, and then later killed the Captain as well. And, thanks to liberal application of illusion magic, at no point was there any way to connect him to either of these crimes.
  • There's a Man in the Woods is about some sort of school administrator being fired after a child makes up a lie about there being a serial killer in the woods to get all the honeysuckle to himself, and the parents undergoing a moral panic and getting him fired for not properly dealing with the nonexistent serial killer in the woods. In the end, the man who has been telling the story is revealed to have gone into the woods in order to murder the child who originally made up the rumor while he is all alone, eating the honeysuckle where none of the other kids dare to go.
  • Appears in the Back Story of several characters in the Whateley Universe: Some mutants became villains for revenge, while others complain that they were given no choice and still others are obviously just using this as an excuse. It's played out front and center with the "Bad Seeds", a school clique composed of the children of supervillains who are banded together mostly out of self-preservation because everyone else seems to assume evil is in their blood. At least one "heroic" character (the "future heroes" clique essentially being a stand-in for the "Jocks" cliques found in normal high schools) recognizes this trope is in action and is trying to convince her fellow "Capes" to stop persecuting the Bad Seeds, with limited success so far.
    • One could argue that the most heroic character in the whole series is Jadis Diabolik, because she tries so hard to avoid being sucked into Then Let Me Be Evil even though most people presume she's going to become a supervillain like her father.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time resorts to this at times when his more diplomatic attempts backfire. Then again, considering he's often still trying to kidnap princesses...
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode, "Harley's Holiday", former Joker minion Harley Quinn espouses this after violating her parole barely moments out of being released from the asylum ("I tried to be good. I really did. But if that's not good enough, fine!"). However, after having to be rescued by Batman, she seems to reconsider.
    • Oswald Cobblepot (a.k.a. The Penguin) could put up with Batman not believing he actually reformed, but Veronica Vreeland shouldn't have used him for a pig at a pig party.
  • Similarly in Batman Beyond, Mr. Freeze after having a new body constructed for him, decides to make amends for his previous misdeeds all those decades ago. Not many were convinced, and he even set up a charity to help the victims of his past crimes after one of them tried to kill him. Then his body starts failing, and his doctor/girlfriend decides to try and knock him unconscious and use his organs to see what went wrong. Freeze barely survives, and goes back to revenge again, killing his traitorous girlfriend, and planning to blow up the Wayne-Powers compound, threatening to kill hundreds more, with him along with it. While in the animated movie Sub Zero, which took place decades earlier, Freeze had finally achieved his goal of saving the life of his wife and seemed to have undergone a Heel-Face Turn as a result of that (he also tells Batman and co. to save some children rather than save him when he is badly injured on an exploding oil rig) in the following series, The New Batman Adventures, his body is falling apart and he decides that even though his wife is alive and happy, if he can't be happy with her he is going to make the lives of everyone in Gotham as miserable as possible, culminating in a Kill 'em All plot. It's understandable if Freeze isn't wholly trusted.
  • And in The Batman, the Riddler's backstory reveals him to be a victim of Parental Abuse suffering because his father was jealous of his intellect. Sightly unhinged, the Riddler ends up finding love in college with his science partner. She ultimately ends up sabotaging him, sending him down a path of villainy all so she could take all the profit for the experiment herself.
  • This was Jinx's motivation in Teen Titans. Because she had the power to cause bad luck, she thought evil was the only option. Someone eventually snaps her out of it.
  • Mojo Jojo in The Powerpuff Girls Rule. When he becomes ruler of all, he uses his new power to make things right and pleasant. It becomes suddenly boring to him, so he reverts to villainy at the end.
  • An episode of Futurama had the crew make a delivery to a giant ugly monster. Bender continuously insults him, but the guy remains calm and composed and takes the barbs in gentle stride. Fry tries to be compassionate, claiming he just inherited ugly genes from his mother. Too bad insulting his mama was his Berserk Button. Later, the giant comes to Earth to try and apologize for his outburst. Unfortunately, the world's water supply had been turned into alcohol and everyone acts drunkenly agressive towards him. The giant finally snaps and goes on a rampage.
    Giant: I won't stop until your whole planet is as ugly as you perceive me to be!
  • In the Family Guy episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog" a homeless Brian tries begging a guy for change, but the guy assumes he's crazy. Brian gets pissed off and shows him just how a crazy dog acts.
    • Similarly, after spending several episodes as a Villain Ball Magnet to Quagmire, and facing gratuitous outbursts and criticisms, he snaps back at him and makes an attempt to ruin Quagmire's dream relationship for revenge. Even Quagmire exclaims he didn't think he was that low before.
  • Scott, the Canadian dick in South Park, was an overbearing jerk that wanted Terrence and Phillip gone, but did nothing more than that other than being a jerk to people. Everyone else calls Scott a dick because of his jerkish attitude, which eventually got to him in "Royal Pudding" after he becomes a giant:
    General: You're a dick, Scott! You have always been a dick! And then you got radiation poisoning in Ottawa and now you're a GIANT DICK!
    Scott: Well, you kept calling me a dick, so that turned me into a dick! And then I got radiation poisoning in Ottawa and now I'm a giant dick!
    • This may also be the case for the Ginger Kids, after being ostracized and shunned for their appearances. They then formed the Ginger Separatist Movement, after being influenced by Eric Cartman of course.
  • Wakfu gives us a rare inversion: Rubilax comes from an Always Chaotic Evil race of demons called Shushus, but he gets No Respect from his peers, who often mock him for being a softie and not being evil enough (despite proving that he can be quite evil), to the point that he gets fed up and pulls a Heel-Face Turn, arguing that at least humans respect him to some degree.
  • Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness features Fu-xi, a cobra once defended China from other evil doers. However, the others that Fu-xi sworn to protect feared him and his kind. Their betrayal lead him to be racist towards the two-leggers.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this is ultimately the trigger for Azula's actions throughout the series. She believed that her mother rejected her as a monster and preferred her brother Zuko. So she dedicated herself to becoming Daddy's Little Villain, proving to both her Mother and Zuko that she doesn't need their love, as being feared is the only thing that matters. It backfires on her tragically, resulting in an epic Villainous Breakdown.
  • Barely averted in the first episode of Gargoyles. After the Gargoyles heroically fought to protect Castle Wyvern and the refugees inside from the barbarian hordes, Lexington, Brooklyn, and Broadway are treated with disdain and called monsters by the very people they risked their lives to protect. They conclude that if the humans are going to treat them as monsters, "Then perhaps we'd better live up to the name", and they begin to advance menacingly on the refugees. Luckily Goliath stops them before they do...whatever terrible thing they were planning to do.
    • Most likely a good-natured spooking. But you know, slippery slope and all that. A better example would be Demona: Humans not giving the clan respect? Horrific past experience with your very evil future self getting you down? Kill 'em all!!

Alternative Title(s):

Then I Shall Be Evil