[[quoteright:300:[[Franchise/{{Batman}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mrfreeze_1742.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[-"[[PutThemAllOutOfMyMisery If I must suffer... Humanity will suffer with me.]]"-] ]]

->''"He's the most dangerous man alive. Not so much because he ''believes'' in his actions, but because he believes his actions are all which life allows him."''
-->-- ''Series/TheXFiles'', [[Recap/TheXFilesS04E07MusingsOfACigaretteSmokingMan "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man"]]

A particular {{Deconstruction}} of the {{villain}}, a Tragic Villain is completely aware of their evil but takes little pleasure from it. Rather, they [[FreudianExcuse feel compelled to engage in evil due to circumstances beyond their control]].

A common form of Tragic Villain is one who has his HeelRealization after crossing the MoralEventHorizon: he has no hope of redemption, so despite MyMasterRightOrWrong, he continues to follow orders. A KnightTemplar who stops attacking [[InnocentBystander potential rebels]] may realize how his orders are doing more wrong than right, but the side of good will never take him... there's no turning back from where he is standing.

Or maybe a hero was [[NotEvilJustMisunderstood forced to commit a necessary evil]], and never forgave themselves, deciding they were now a villain beyond hope/not deserving of salvation or redemption, possibly becoming a DeathSeeker in the process.

May also be a TragicMonster; there is strong overlap. Highly sympathetic ones may be [[AntiVillain Anti-Villains]] and [[SortingAlgorithmOfFaceHeelTurning prime candidates for]] [[HeelFaceTurn redemption]], but also [[RedemptionEqualsDeath everything]] [[RedemptionEarnsLife associated]]. Compare to WellIntentionedExtremist, who commits evil actions in hopes of producing good results. Also compare ByronicHero, who is a similarly sympathetic but flawed and morally conflicted character. Overlaps with WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds when their destruction is a result of the extreme mistreatment they have endured. There's also LoveMakesYouEvil, where they act out of villainous actions, due to either losing the ones they love, or have never been loved before.

Contrast CompleteMonster, a villain who is pure evil and devoid of relatable qualities. (A Tragic Villain could become such if they [[DisproportionateRetribution act worse than,]] [[TookALevelInJerkass or lose their sympathetic traits]].)



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Kagura from ''Manga/InuYasha'' only serves the BigBad Naraku because he holds her heart in his hands and can kill her at any time. She routinely helps out the heros, and when she allowed Kohaku to escape she was killed.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** Androids 17 and 18. Before they became cyborgs, they were two teenagers who were kidnapped and used by Dr. Gero as experiments.
** Vegeta was used by Freeza as a hostage and then had his father murdered and his entire race exterminated by Freeza, who continued to use him as a low-level enforcer afterwards. Goku eventually realizes that Vegeta was largely shaped by Freeza into becoming a remorseless killing machine.
** Piccolo was one back in "Dragon Ball". He grew up without any parent, giving him a strong hate for Goku for killing his father, King Piccolo, and to fullfill his father's dream that is to TakeOverTheWorld. Gohan sympathises with him, telling him that he is nowhere near as evil as his father ([[CardCarryingVillain he did not take that very well]]). When sacrificing himself to Gohan, he tells him that he was the only one who has ever been nice to him, giving yet another reason why he turned into a cynical megalomaniac. Thanks to Gohan, anyhow, he is now a noble hero.
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'' has Pegasus, who was driven mad by the Millennium Eye, and his primary motivation for his subsequent villainy was the [[{{Necromantic}} resurrection of his dead wife]].
* Stella Louissier in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'', due to being a brainwashed SuperSoldier who was given TrainingFromHell since she was a young child and has a Control Word to keep her in line. The other members of Phantom Pain could also qualify, but Stella is the biggest example because of how childlike and [[BrokenBird broken]] she is, and her love for Shinn Asuka.
** She is an {{Expy}} of Four Murasame and Rosamia Badam in ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'', who also suffer the same horrible fate and [[RedemptionEqualsDeath sacrifice their lives for their only redemption]]. Louise Halevy in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'' is another example, only she got better in the end thank to [[LoveRedeems Saji]] and [[AllLovingHero Setsuna]].
** As you go down the line from the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam One Year War]], you'll find Zekes and Feddies both that get caught up in a CycleOfRevenge as the previous wars left them scarred and without purpose but vengeance. The most recent example of this is Loni Garvey from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamUnicorn'', the daughter of a former Zeon soldier who brought the remnants together, she lost her parents in a Feddie hunt for remnants and it has consumed her such that all she wants is vengeance for that.
* ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'': Shin, originally Kenshirou's best friend, is tricked into becoming a BigBad due to his weak heart by Jagi, who convinces him to kill Kenshirou to get his lover, Yuria, whom Shin has long had a great desire for. He tries to please Yuria with every luxury he gains with his bloody hands, but to no avail. When Yuria commits suicide [[spoiler: - or at least, she seems dead -]] to prevent him from doing it any further, Shin is left heartbroken, and finally joins her in the afterworld after his defeat in the hands of his former friend, Kenshirou.
** Souther also qualifies as a Tragic Villain - a particularly cruel, tyrannical type. Overrun by the grief of killing his own beloved adoptive father and master, who instructed him to do it to complete his training, he goes insane and orders children to build a pyramid for his master without mercy until Kenshirou kills him, making him reveal his human side at his death.
* Nike, [[TheDragon The]] AxCrazy [[TheDragon Dragon]] to ''Manga/AirGear's'' BigBad, fits this. While he's a mostly unrepentant {{jerkass}} who [[KickTheDog kicks the dog]] often and balances over the MoralEventHorizon, he does generate some sympathy. He's been used as a weapon for most of his life by the brother he looks up to and one of the characters harmed most by Nike even states that his brother kept him isolated from everything that could have dulled his edge. As a result, his life gradually lost all meaning outside of killing to achieve victory in battle. When he finally realizes how close everything that could have given him a normal life was, he seems to lament the fact that the other Gravity Children could have given his life meaning instead of just his bastard of a brother. However, he feels that even if he's finally realized this, he's come too far and that there is no way he would be able to live a normal life. The way the scene plays out, it makes it feel like he's a slave to his own need for victory.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', either Lelouch or Suzaku or ''both'' could apply for this: They've both done morally dubious things in the hope for a better world, they've both demonstrated a great deal of regret and guilt over what they've done, and yet they both feel that they have no other choice but to continue down their current path.
** Continue, nothing. It is their tragedy that makes them start walking on that path in the first place - it is only ''after'' accepting that they have no choice but to walk the morally dubious path that they truly do things that would be regarded as villainy.
** Mao may count as well, since the reason why he's a villain stems from the Geass he received at the age of ''six''. Unlike most examples, though, he doesn't seem to be aware that he's evil.
** For that matter, if one is to consider C.C. (the one who gave Mao and Lelouch their Geass) a villain, then she also qualifies, as she was an innocent girl who was tricked into inheriting the power of Geass and immortality.
* Bellamy from ''Manga/OnePiece'' becomes this in the Dressrosa Arc. While he was an all-around {{Jerkass}} in the Jaya Arc and later presumed dead, he did show a great deal of respect towards Doflamingo. He eventually returned with a new lease on life, respecting Luffy much more and having an even stronger desire to move up in Doflamingo's ranks. During the course of the arc, Luffy even comes to cheer Bellamy on during the coliseum match and call him his friend. Later on, though, he's given orders by Diamante to assassinate Luffy with the promise of an Executive chair in return (which is a ruse anyway since Diamante then immediately tells Dellinger to kill Bellamy, a fact that Dellinger does not mind slipping to Bellamy even before he attempts the assassination). Much later, when Doflamingo begins his "election game" demanding the heads of the Straw Hats and company, Bellamy approaches him alone to ask if he really wanted him dead; in exchange, Doflamingo beats him to a bloody pulp and leaves him at his feet for Luffy and Law to find later. Doflamingo then controls Bellamy and forces him to fight Luffy, which Luffy is hesitant against since he now considers Bellamy a friend, which moves Bellamy to tears. Eventually Doflamingo releases Bellamy from his control, but when Luffy attempts to go after him, Bellamy intervenes with his Spring Hopper technique, begging Luffy to fight him one last time. He still refuses to turn on Doflamingo even after all he's done, even admitting that he chose the wrong man to admire. While initially hesitant to fight him, Luffy eventually knocks him out in one blow ([[MeaningfulEcho mirroring the way he took him out at Jaya]]), leaving him bloody and with tears running down his face; Bellamy's last thoughts before falling unconscious is thanking Luffy for call him a friend. [[UnstoppableRage Knowing that Bellamy was fighting out of honor for an honorless man]] [[CallMyName causes Luffy to scream Doflamingo's name in fury]].
* Some of the UnDead in ''Manga/{{Shiki}}'' hate what they have become, but the pressure from other vampires combined with their uncontrollable bloodlust and desire to live mean that they can't stop themselves. The best example would be [[spoiler: Tohru.]]
* [[BloodKnight Beelzemon]] from ''Anime/DigimonTamers'' is an almost-perfect example. He's pretty sympathetic for the first few episodes, [[DespairEventHorizon given]] [[BreakTheHaughty the]] [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown events]] [[FreudianExcuse that]] [[IJustWantToBeNormal drove]] [[HumiliationConga him]] to villainy, especially since he didn't do anything in those episodes except ride around on his CoolBike. Then came [[MoralEventHorizon Episode]] [[WhamEpisode 36]], and he completely lost any sympathy both the audience and the characters had for him...until he was shown wandering aimlessly a few episodes later, so [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone shocked, horrified and disgusted with himself]] that he tries to commit SuicideByCop.
** Also he subverts this trope. He's genuinely surprised when [[LadyOfWar Renamon]] saves his life and offers him a second chance, and actually turns her offer down since he thinks death is all he deserves. After some persuasion on her part, he relents and becomes a ReformedButRejected [[TheAtoner atoner]], although he ''still'' doesn't think he can nor deserves to be redeemed.
* Lucy from ''Manga/ElfenLied'' is one of the prime examples of this trope: A broken little girl who became a murderous monster after she snapped at the world's relentless cruelty and her own budding insanity.
* The Akuma from ''Manga/DGrayMan'' could count, especially the ones given backstories, like [[spoiler: Mimi, Crea/Claire from the first few episodes, and the witch from the witch arc.]]
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'': CharacterDevelopment revealed that Gaara's psychosis was a direct result of the actions of his own father's attempts to either turn him into a living weapon or kill him. Insanity and Shukaku's whispers were his last refuge from the bleak emptiness of his childhood. Thankfully, he does a HeelFaceTurn and life starts getting better for him. [[spoiler:As the series has progressed a majority of the villians has turned out to be this with notable exeptions being Zabuza and Orochimaru]].
** [[spoiler:Even then you can make a case for those two. Zabuza proved to truly care about Haku, and his death truly did break his heart and drove him to SuicideByCop. Orochimaru lost his parents at a young age and desired immortality to see their reincarnations. Originally he wanted it for himself and the entire village, but eventually his increasing thirst for power and descent into insanity made him lose sight of his original goal and made him into what he is today.]]
** In all actuality, the only real exception to this trope in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' is Hidan. He killed his neighbors and ditched his village because the village itself became a tourist resort and abandoned the whole ninja village thing. The lack of violence went against his religion.
** Conversely, one of the most tragic is [[spoiler:the BigBad, Tobi, aka Obito. Tobirama's revelation of how the Uchiha Clan's deep sense love is also the source of their "curse" and subsequent insanity changes the perspective of Obito's supposedly disproportionate reaction to Rin's death. The mental anguish truly was worse for him, and to see the girl he loved killed by his best friend was something his mind couldn't handle. He clings to the AssimilationPlot of Madara not because he honestly wants to make a better world, but because it can give him back the person he loved the most: Rin]].
*** This is shown [[spoiler: while his soul was being devoured by the bijuu, which was represented by his genin team photo being torn apart and being reconstructed when he regained his sanity. Even after all he has done and said, it seems his friend, his crush and and his sensei are his reason to exist.]]
** Even Madara Uchiha has shades of this. While no doubt one of, if not THE most villainous character in the franchise, it was a result of a life filled with tragedy. He was born in the era of Warring Clans, one of the most violent periods of time in shinobi history. By the time he was ten, he had already lost ''four brothers'', leaving only Izuna, and the constant loss and desperation caused a dream of peace, a dream he shared with Hashirama Senju, the future First Hokage and Madara's best friend. However, despite that dream, what Madara cherished most was Izuna, his only remaining brother -- enough to willingly turn his back on his best friend and his dream for his little brother's sake. Hashirama believes that all of Madara's actions are a result of him lashing out in his grief over his brother's death.
** Neji was raised around people who convinced him that he does not decide his destiny. His father was the only one who did not tell him this, but when he died, he named himself the ''bird in a cage'', and became like the rest - A cynic who annhilates people who strive for their dreams, constantly telling them that they could not ever fullfill their dreams, and though he put them through DomesticAbuse, he did not see it that way. In fact, he thought he was helping people that way. He even developed a murderous additude towards his cousin Hinata, for being the head of the branch that was unintentinally responsible for his father's death (though he was stopped before it was too late). At least he gets a JerkassRealization after Naruto shows him that destiny lies in one's own hands. He then sheds a tear when his father sent him a letter from the time he was alive, that he decides his own destiny.
* ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'' has the demonic Apostles, the main villains of the series, were once humans who made a DealWithTheDevil during a moment of ultimate despair.
* The King of Night in ''LightNovel/IsThisAZombie''. He grew to hate his immortality and just wanted to die. [[spoiler: However, Yuu saw him as a friend still and didn't want to kill him, so the King went out and caused everything that happened to get Yuu to hate him and thus kill him.]]
* Adolf Kaufman from ''Manga/{{Adolf}}''. He was forced to go to Adolf Hitler Schule and became a true Nazi who killed without compassion. [[spoiler: He crossed the MoralEventHorizon, which made him lose his friends and family. He realized at the end of the war that what he did was useless, but it was really too late for him to have any chance of rehabilitation.]]
* In ''Anime/SonicX'', Dark Oak, also known as [[spoiler:Luke/Lucas]], counts as one, as his tragic past happened during a war that took place on his former home planet of Seedrius-Flora/Greengate. Refusing to leave with the other Seedrians and abandon his home planet after having fought so long, he began using its Planet Egg to make the male Seedrians' transformations last longer to Hertia/Earthia's shock and dismay, forcing the females to destroy the males and leave them behind. But a few males survived and they became the Metarex. The motivation of Dark Oak and the Metarex is to erase all life of flesh and blood from the entire galaxy so that plants can rule, and therefore bring their own peace and tranquility to the galaxy, and they require the Planet Eggs and the seven Chaos Emeralds to do so. [[spoiler:In the end, Dark Oak finally realizes the errors of his ways when Sonic and co. defeat him with help from Cosmo's HeroicSacrifice - he realizes that Hertia/Earthia was right about his lust for power destroying his own people and him bringing nothing but pain and suffering to everyone. Hertia/Earthia appears before Dark Oak and gives him a second chance, and he happily reunites with her and they both depart for the afterlife]].
* [[EvilMatriarch Precia]] [[MadScientist Testarossa]] in ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' [[TheMovie The MOVIE 1st]] combines this with FatalFlaw ''and'' FondMemoriesThatCouldHaveBeen. [[spoiler:As she falls to her death, Precia remembers that Alicia once wanted a little sister and realizes that she could've treated Fate as another daughter instead of a failed replacement for Alicia.]] Unfortunately, there is no longer enough time left to make amends or even apologize.
-->[[TearJerker "I never notice things before it's too late."]]
* Accelerator from ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'' is this at the beginning and after his HeelFaceTurn. He is [[TheAtoner desperately trying to make up for his very heavy sins]].
* Gluttony from ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. Despite embodying his Father's gluttony, Gluttony is a near invincible overweight manchild who would rather eat and spend time with Lust like a child to his mother than actively hurting anyone beyond eating them. No doubt tears were shed [[spoiler:when he himself was eaten by the Pride, calling out to Lust (who died earlier in the series) to help him.]]
** Scar in the Brotherhood anime is an (from AntiVillain to AntiHero) example. When asked what is his name, says that Ishvalan names are from God and implies that he doesn't deserve to be called by his real name anymore. Also when Winry hates him for [[spoiler: killing her parents after they helped him due to his confusion at the time]] and tries to and contemplates whether or not to [[spoiler: kill him]], he understands and seems at peace with the idea of [[spoiler: her getting her revenge on him and dying as a result]].
** [[GreenEyedMonster Envy]] is this in his [[spoiler: final moments]], after turning out to be ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin. [[spoiler: Edward's TheReasonYouSuckSpeech about Envy's jealousy toward human strength [[DrivenToSuicide drives him to suicide]].]]
** Most of the homonculi in the ''Anime/FullmetalAlchemist'' anime, except [[NietszcheWannabe Envy]] and [[AGodAmI Pride]], count as this. Gluttony is much like his manga incarnation [[spoiler:until Dante brain-washes him because of his attachment to Lust]]. Wrath was a sweet, normal kid when introduced. He eventually warps into an antagonist but he mainly just wants a mother. [[spoiler:It isn't until TheMovie that he realizes that he had Izumi the entire time, though by then she's succumbed to her ilness]]. Lust and Sloth are both tormented by their nature as CameBackWrong subjects and the lives they used to lead, with the former realising IJustWantToBeHuman [[spoiler:and realising as she's killed that she's able to die as one]] and the latter lashing out at all the remains of her life [[spoiler:before being killed by her own children in self-defence when she tries to murder them]]. Greed just wants to be left alone and free of his creator [[spoiler:and commits SuicideByCop when that is denied to him]].
* Darcia from ''Anime/WolfsRain'' only starts off as an antagonist to the heroes because while they want to use LivingMacGuffin Cheza to find the way to paradise, while Darcia wants to use her HealingHands ability to save his lover Harmona, who he's kept on life support for centuries while he's tried to find a cure for her condition. Darcia defeats the heroes without killing them, takes Cheza back to his castle... [[DespairEventHorizon and finds that Harmona was murdered by another noble just hours before his return]]. We don't get to see the full effect this has on him until much later. [[spoiler:In the OVA that finishes the series, we see that he's become an AxCrazy NietzscheWannabe, and the hero's EvilCounterpart.]]
* [[spoiler:Vincent Volaju]] from ''Anime/CowboyBebop: TheMovie''.
* [[spoiler: Annie Leonhart, Reiner Braun, and Bertolt Hoover]] from ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', in a series of major [[TheReveal reveals]] that create more questions than answers. [[spoiler: All three are TykeBomb ChildSoldiers sent to destroy the Walls and infiltrate the military as TheMole]]. While their crimes may well have put them over the MoralEventHorizon, a fact they even [[IHaveComeTooFar acknowledge]], there's no denying that they are painfully ''human''. The narrative paints them in a sympathetic light, focusing heavily on their [[BecomingTheMask conflict]] over their mission as well as their [[TearsOfRemorse guilt]] and [[TraumaInducedAmnesia trauma]] over the things they have had to do. While their exact motives remain mysterious, they claim their actions ''must'' be done and that they can't stop -- making them either NecessarilyEvil or TrappedInVillainy.
* ''LightNovel/FateZero'' shows that [[CardCarryingVillain Kotomine Kirei]] started off as this. Kotomine Kirei lived his life always trying to do what others and his society thought was good, because he found he could only find happiness in violence, destruction, and tragedy and despised himself for this. However, Kirei questioned if others truly were as good as they said they were but followed what he was told regardless, becoming an Executor (assassin) for the Church despite understanding the hypocrisy. When Kirei met Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh slowly convinced Kirei to stop hating his genius and to use it for what he [[ForTheEvulz truly enjoyed]].
* In ''Manga/BIchi'', the Clowns must respect a specific condition in exchange for their power, or they will lose "something precious within them" (like "friendship"). Some conditions are rather harmless (like "eating only dried food"). [[BigBadFriend Emine]]'s condition is… not. He must commit "one evil deed a day", which prevented him from getting along with normal humans, as much as he wanted to. He ends up so desperate that several years later, he is determined to [[spoiler:kill Showtaro and destroy the world.]] How did all this end? [[spoiler:[[CutShort Who knows…]]]]
* Helbram from ''Manga/TheSevenDeadlySins'' is presented as this. [[spoiler: He was once a kind fairy who was fascinated by humans until he saw his beloved friends tortured and slaughtered, leaving him as a hateful shell of himself. His hatred for humans had swelled for years up to a point wherein he can no longer bring himself to stop killing humans despite his own desire to do so.]]
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho''.
** The younger Toguro was the strongest man alive but made a DealWithTheDevil because he was dying of an incurable disease. That and he couldn't get over the guilt of losing his students to a powerful demon.
** Sensui came up with his elaborate EvilPlan to get Yusuke to kill him as atonement for all the innocent demons he killed and like Toguro above was dying of a disease, specifically cancer.
* ''Manga/FairyTail'': Zeref. Life was not fair to him ''at all''. [[spoiler:One of the JerkassGods, Ankhseram, {{curse}}d him simply because he was researching a way to bring his dead little brother back to life. A curse of contradictions, as he long as he values life, everything around him dies; he can regain control if he stops valuing life, but because of this LackOfEmpathy, he'll probably end up killing people anyway. The curse also makes him a massive MoodSwinger, and he constantly contradicts himself -- pointing this out will cause him a mental breakdown. He can't even find relief in death, as the curse him makes him immortal so he can suffer for eternity. For this alone, he was labeled as the most evil wizard in history and ostracized by humanity, when a bit of conservation made it blatantly clear that he wasn't evil at all. All of this alone would be enough for a StartOfDarkness for any villain -- but Zeref didn't break until he met Mavis. She was the first person in centuries to ever show him kindness and see the good, but troubled soul he really was. When she too was cursed by Ankhseram, she proposed EternalLove, and her empathy was enough for him to fall in love with her -- but their first kiss ''kills'' her because, despite both of them being immortal, the curse they both have is ultimately to ensure that they can ''never'' be happy. Denied the chance to be with the only person who ever truly understood him, the only person who ever brought him a shred of happiness in his hellish existence, pushed Zeref beyond the breaking point, and led to his descent into evil]].
* The villains of ''Anime/CardCaptorSakura'' fall into this. Eriol Hiiragizawa, aka the reincarnated Clow Reed, performs NecessaryEvil to motivate Sakura into transforming the Clow Cards into Sakura Cards or they will lose their magic. The degree of his magic disturbances vary, but sometimes he has outright put Sakura and her friends in mortal peril. This nearly included drowning Sakura's friend Rika in a swimming pool (which he subtly apologised for) and ended up pushing Sakura too far when she tried to use the powerful Time Card in the middle of a blizzard. He doubles as a WellIntentionedExtremist to ensure his creations survive beyond Clow Reed's magic, leading to Sakura realising Yue was fading away.
** The sorceress in the first movie was imprisoned in another dimension by Clow Reed, who was her lover and taught her magic. She spent centuries trapped, unable to escape, and unaware Clow had died and she herself later on. Eventually learning the truth from Sakura, the sorceress dissolves into water and passes away.
** The Nothing Card in the second movie. Her purpose is to act as a counterbalance to all the positive magic of the other Clow Cards with only negative energy, but she was so powerful that Clow Reed trapped her beneath his house for centuries with no connection to her friends. When she escapes, the Nothing steals the other cards one by one, but it causes parts of Sakura's hometown to disappear. Sakura then learns the only way to capture the Nothing is to sacrifice her feelings towards the person she loves most, aka Syaoran Li. When Sakura finally confronts the Nothing, she breaks down in tears, revealing just how lonely she has been, encouraging Sakura to sympathise with her and invite her to join her friends rather than catch her by force. As for the required sacrifice, a nameless card Sakura created through her love at the end of the series performs a DeusExMachina, fusing with the Nothing Card to negate the effects of her capture and becomes The Hope Card, allowng both Sakura and Syaoran to maintain their feelings.
* ''Anime/VoltesV'' has Prince Heinel who is brought up hated as the son of a traitor so he goes about the business of invading Earth to redeem himself. After TheReveal that the Emperor he serves is a usurper and his father is the rightful Emperor, he is marked as a traitor, his loyal minions are killed and even though he gets his revenge on the usurper [[spoiler: he is DrivenToSuicide after finding out his father still lives and three members of the Voltes team are his half-brothers]].
* Prince Richter of ''Anime/{{Daimos}}'' seeks revenge for his father's murder. He suffers almost the same fate as Prince Heinel (see above) after finding out the regent is responsible. In the end Ulric makes a HeroicSacrifice, leaving his sister Princess Erica to lead their people.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Every ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' villain has a tragic motivation, but the most archetypical AntiVillain is [[AnIcePerson Mr. Freeze]]. His main motivation is to find a way to save his dying wife, no matter what it may be. A major factor in his introductory appearance in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' is that a CorruptCorporateExecutive directly caused his FreakLabAccident that nearly killed both him and his wife.
** Prior to the aforementioned animated series, Mr. Freeze was just a generic [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] kooky tech-based villain: [=B:TAS=] came up with the idea of Mr. Freeze as a man simply wanting to restore his wife and every incarnation since (except for the one in ''WesternAnimation/TheBatman'') has [[LostInImitation adopted this aspect]].
** Although in the ComicBook/{{New 52}} [[spoiler:Nora isn't his wife, she's a frozen woman from the '40s with a heart disease. Freeze is just crazy, [[DoubleSubverted which is just as tragic when you think of it.]]]]
** SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker is one too... probably. [[MultipleChoicePast He just can't remember what it is]]. Or, possibly [[UnreliableNarrator he just]] [[MultipleChoicePast made it up]] to get his targets to lower their guard. He was one in The Batman, where he started out as an unsuccesful comedian, and was one, until he fell in a lab of chemicals that turned him into a complete psychopath.
** DependingOnTheWriter, fellow Batman foe Killer Croc can also be seen as one of these. Yes, he's a homicidal cannibal, but he is often portrayed as having little to no control over those urges. His increasingly bestial appearance and the gradual loss of his own humanity (again, DependingOnTheWriter) makes it impossible for him to have any sort of life other than that of a villain. In his appearance in the ''[[ComicBookTeenTitans Titans]]'' series, he mentions that all he wants now is to be left alone.
** The Penguin was bullied in his childhood for being short, and having the shape of a penguin. His whole life he had been mocked to insanity.
** Bane sometimes.
* ComicBook/WonderMan, long-time Avenger, has been straying into this. After being revived, he's become increasingly disillusioned with the perpetual cycle of superhero-supervillain violence. After repeatedly asking the Avengers not to re-assemble, he puts together a team of similar malcontents (including a new Goliath, angry over his uncle's death during ''Comicbook/CivilWar'') who attack Avengers Mansion and Stark Tower, demanding that the Avengers be disbanded.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''FanFic/MegaManDefenderOfTheHumanRace'', Proto Man was stolen and reprogrammed early in life. As a result, he can't defy Dr. Wily's orders even when he ''really'' wants to, such as being a HeelFaceMole or abandoning a life-threatening situation.
** [[spoiler:Ballade]] is also this. He realized that being the robot Wily's most proud of meant others will fight for the spot, and while he showed respect to his enemies he got no respect from comrades.
* In ''The Tale of Discord'', well, [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic DISCORD OF ALL PEOPLE]] is this. Let me count the ways. His father was disgusted by his appearance, barely anyone treated him like a normal citizen, his crush (Celestia) didn't return his feelings (though they didn't exactly hate each other back then), and then these events happen: his best friend, Luna (the mare he now knows he loves) feels that Discord betrayed her and she leaves him in tears. This is only the first part of his StartOfDarkness. He later learns that his [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas doting and ailing mother]] died giving birth to his sister (who would begin the line of the Sparkle family. [[FridgeBrilliance Well, whaddya know?)]]. This sends Discord on his path of chaos (but [[KickTheSonOfABitch not before taking care of his dad.)]] If that doesn't make it any sadder, it is revealed that the spirit of Nightmare Moon was possessing him and judging by his behavior nowadays, [[FridgeHorror he is permanently scarred by his past.]] By the end, you just want to give him a hug!
* ''[[http://archiveofourown.org/works/3189956 Aftershocks]]'' turns J.D., the AxCrazy SerialKiller from ''{{Film/Heathers}}'' into one. In this AU fanfic, he attempted to take his violent urges out in a legal way by joining the army, but [[RealityEnsues came back with]] [[ShellShockedVeteran thorough PTSD]], suffering violent flashbacks and nightmares. By the time he returns home, he sincerely wants to just settle down with Veronica and their twin daughters and have a normal life, but his constant flashbacks and unstable mind make him a danger to his children. At that point, he's less evil and more broken and pitiful.
* Dark Oak was this trope in the canon ''SonicX'', but ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos'' somehow turns him into an ''[[UpToEleven even more]]'' [[ItsAllMyFault tragic]] [[PutThemAllOutOfMyMisery one]]. By the time Sonic and friends meet him face to face, he's not the evil overlord of the show - he and his last few Metarex leaders are [[DespairEventHorizon broken, pitiful]] figures barely keeping themselves alive with Chaos Energy. [[DeathSeeker They don't even put up a fight.]]
** [[spoiler: Tsali]] is revealed to be this as well in Episode 74 [[spoiler: thanks to a nightmarish TraumaCongaLine at the hands of the Seedrians - and the resulting genocidal [[TheDogBitesBack dog biting back]]]].

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* [[spoiler:Stinky Pete]] from ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory2''. All his actions were evil because, for years, no one bought him.
* [[spoiler:Lots-o-Huggin' Bear]] from ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory3'' as well. He became heartless and completely vile because he was abandoned (not intentionally) and was replaced. Unlike [[spoiler:Stinky Pete, Lotso]] never sought redemption.
* Tai Lung, the villain of ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda,'' UsedToBeASweetKid before his foster-father built up his {{Pride}} and ambition to unrealistic heights. When Master Oogway refused to entrust the Dragon Scroll to an ArrogantKungFuGuy, his sense of entitlement and lack of self worth drove him to criminal violence. Emphasized at the climax of the film, when he repudiates Sifu's apology and can't accept the 'lesson' of the Scroll because he saw the scroll as the only thing that mattered and could not see the value within himself.
* Lord Shen from ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2''. Neglected by his parents due to his poor health, Shen strove to make them proud but started down a dark path in his pursuit. When he heard a prophecy foretelling his defeat if he would not change his ways, Shen killed anyone that matched the description, thinking that averting his fate would make his parents proud. When they instead banished him, Shen saw it as a final sign that they didn't love him and swore retribution. His plan to conquer all of China is essentially an attempt to get over his [[ParentalAbandonment issues]] and find some measure of happiness and fulfillment. Shen himself even admits that it probably won't be enough but [[IveComeTooFar to stop now would make all of his actions pointless]].
* ''WesternAnimation/RiseOfTheGuardians'' has Pitch Black, the Boogyman, who is unhappy because unlike other fairytale characters, children fear him instead of loving him.
* [[spoiler:Hans]] from ''{{Disney/Frozen}}'', according to WordOfGod, had never been loved, and the way [[spoiler:his brothers]] treated him was downright cruel, resulting in him growing up to be a sociopath.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLionKing'' has Scar, who, while arguably an utter sociopath, is this way because he was called "Taka" by his parents, which translates to "trash", or "dirt", and the fact that Mufasa gets to be what was his goal all along. Being king of pride rock.
** There was also the Hyenas, who had to live by eating other species, because they'd die from no food, and were cluelessly manipulated all along.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Ray Finkle [[spoiler: aka Lois Einhorn]] from Film/AceVenturaPetDetective. He simply missed a 26-yard field goal that cost the Miami Dolphins a Super Bowl game, but it caused him to lose his place on the team and vilified him in his hometown, enough for him to blame the whole thing on quarterback Dan Marino and plot to kidnap him and the team's mascot for revenge years later. As Ace himself said, "Poor guy with a motive, baby."
* Koba from ''Film/DawnOfThePlanetOfTheApes''. While [[TheHero Caesar]] grew up with kind caretakers and recognized the good in humanity, Koba spent much of his life being tortured and experimented on by his captors at [=GenSys=]. He's fiercely loyal to Caesar after he liberates the apes, but grows more and more paranoid that the surviving humans will wage war. By the end of the film, he's become ''even worse'' than the humans he grew to hate and fear.
* Dr. Sebastian Caine in ''Film/HollowMan''. After he achieves invisibility, he becomes a homicidal lunatic and rapist, but his mind was being warped by the experimental treatment. The longer he spent invisible, the harder it would become to be able to go back after that.
* ''Franchise/StarWars''
** Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. Sure, he's pretty evil (although nowhere near as evil as [[BigBad Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious]]), but the prequel trilogy made him go from just [[ItWasHisSled Luke's evil father]] to Luke's ''[[FallenHero tragic]]'' evil father. The expanded universe makes this more apparent. He's aware of what he's done and hates himself for it and feels beyond redeeming. Which is why he continues down his path.
** Kylo Ren assumes this role in ''Film/TheForceAwakens''. Though at first he seems to be a ruthless Dark Side villain, it is slowly made obvious throughout the film that he struggles to overcome the call to the Light constantly, and even believes [[spoiler:killing his father]] will suppress it for good. When he does go through with it, the implication seems to be that he was wrong. Furthermore, he came from a {{Heroic Lineage}} in [[spoiler:Leia and Han Solo]], but as a child was ensnared by Supreme Leader Snoke, and subsequently manipulated into betraying his family.
* ''Franchise/TheGodfather''
** Don Vito fled to America after a mafia lord killed his family, only to become one himself.
** Michael Corleone in ''Film/TheGodfather'' Saga. He starts as an independent minded [[FallenHero War Hero]], but he is gradually dragged into mob life to protect his father and his family. He fought his perceived enemies with cold ruthlessness for years while he struggles to achieve legitimacy, and by the time he gets there, he admits that it's too late and that he is too tired and past redemption, and [[PassingTheTorch passes the torch]] to a new Don.
%%* ''Film/MrBrooks'' is this trope to a T.
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'': Davy Jones falls into this category, since it was his love for Calypso and her betrayal that caused him to do the things he did, [[spoiler: including telling the pirates how to lock her in a human body]].
* Franchise/{{Godzilla}}. The original 1954 film ''Film/{{Gojira}}'' showed that he was as much a victim of the atomic bomb as everyone else.
* Loki from ''Film/{{Thor}}''. He was motivated by a combination of sibling rivalry with Thor, the desire to impress his father, personal ambition, and a messed up sense of duty towards Asgard. There is also probably a fair dose of self-loathing, [[spoiler: seeing as he found out that he was a Frost Giant and not an Asgardian.]]
** He is also portrayed as this in ''The Trials of Loki'' comic miniseries.
* Hans Beckert of ''Film/{{M}}'' doesn't want to murder children, but just feels compelled to do so. His [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvxBvqvuY7I speech]] at the end (wherein he calls out the Mob hunting him down on their ruthlessness) reveals just how tortured and screwed up he really feels.
* The VillainProtagonist of ''The Headless Eyes'', a burglar who loses his eye in the very first scene and slowly loses his mind as well, winds up becoming this by the end of the film, to the point where even after everything he's done in the course of the film, the audience still feels sorry for him as [[spoiler:he freezes to death in a meat freezer without ever having found a real solution to his eye problem]].
* ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy'':
** Dr. Octopus in ''Film/SpiderMan2''.
** Almost there is ComicBook/NormanOsborn in ''Film/SpiderMan1'' (the Green Goblin [[GollumMadeMeDoIt personality ruins it]], complete with ISurrenderSuckers moment).
** And Eddie Brock in ''Film/SpiderMan3'' (could count if not for Venom being a CardCarryingVillain).
** The Sandman in ''Film/SpiderMan3'' never meant to kill Peter's uncle or cause trouble for anyone. All he wanted was to get enough money to save his little girl.
* Mama/[[spoiler:Edith]] in ''Film/{{Mama}}''. In the film, due to her mentality, her baby was taken from her, and she went through extreme measures to get her child back. She then commits suicide by jumping off a cliff and her baby ends up on the branch while she lands into the water. It's implied that she doesn't even know where her lost child is. She also kills and threatens people who she thinks wants to harm Victoria and Lily. All she ever wanted was to be a good mother.
* While usually many of ''Film/JamesBond'' villains tend to avoid this trope being pure evil and lack of redeeming qualities, there are few exepctions.
** Alec Trevelyan/Janus from ''Film/{{GoldenEye}}''. He wants revenge on the British government after it betrayed his parents, Lienz Cossacks, and sent them back to the USSR where Joseph Stalin had them all executed. Though Trevelyan and his family manage to escape the execution, Trevelyan's father was ashamed to have liven his life as a Lienz Cossack, and he purposely killed Trevelyan's mother and himself out of survivor's guilt.
** [[spoiler: Elektra King]] from ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough''. [[spoiler: She was kidnapped by the terrorist Renard and held for ransom, which her father refused to pay on the advice of M. Embittered by what she saw as her father's betrayal, she participated in Renard's scheme to milk money from her father.]]
** Raoul Silva from ''Film/{{Skyfall}}''. He was turned over to the Chinese in exchange for four other agents. They tortured him, but he refused to give up his secrets. Upon learing it was M that gave him up, he tried to commit suicide, but the cyanide didn't work, but left him disfigured.
* 2014 Disney movie ''Film/{{Maleficent}}'' tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain of the original story, Maleficent, who seeks vengeance after her fairy wings are taken.
* ''Film/OzTheGreatAndPowerful'' reveals that the Wicked Witch of the West came to be because [[spoiler:she was too naïve to realize that her sister was playing her and agreed to bite a magic apple that turned her into a merciless AxeCrazy villain]]. Oz is partly to blame for that, as [[spoiler:he flirted with Theodora like he does with any girl he meets, making it easy for Evanora to claim that Oz courted her too while showing pictures of Oz with Glinda]]. Even [[spoiler:Evanora]] is disturbed as to how AxeCrazy [[spoiler:her sister]] has become.
%%* Bane from ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises''. Same for [[spoiler: Talia because of her upbringing]].
* ''Franchise/FridayThe13th:
** Pamela, the mother of the infamous Jason Voorhees. A prequel comic shows that she gave birth to Jason as a teenager, and suffered much spousal abuse from husband Elias. She eventually murdered him and struggled to raise her disabled son on her own, which eventually led to his fatal drowning at Camp Crystal Lake. Losing her only family pushed her over the edge, and she went on a killing spree to ensure no child ever has to go through what Jason did.
* ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' franchise:
** John Kramer AKA Jigsaw started out as a decent man, a loving husband and a soon to be father. His wife was mugged by one of her patients at the drug clinic she ran. She lost her child in a miscarriage during the mugging. The two went through a messy divorce and John later contacted cancer. After being denied health insurance, John grew disgusted seeing people unappreciative of the gift of life he was being denied. He devoted himself to kidnapping people and placing them in life threatening situations to try and get them to appreciate life.
** His apprentice, Amanda Young, also counts. When she was a little girl, her father would lock her in a dark closet and keep her there for hours. In her adult life, she was framed for a drug crime she did not commit, and became an actual drug addict in prison. She was later kidnapped by Jigsaw and placed in a situation where she had to kill to save her own life. She came to see Jigsaw as a mentor and father figure, and became his apprentice due to StockholmSyndrome. Even after her FaceHeelTurn she still had it pretty rough, being thrown into a pit of needles and almost being killed by Xavier Chavez. Finally, she was blackmailed by her rival apprentice Mark Hoffman.
* ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderManSeries'':
** Dr. Connors in ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan''. After losing his right arm, he tries to develop a cure that will make him regain the limb as well as cure every illness on earth. He only [[ProfessorGuineaPig injects himself with it]] after his superiors threaten to [[PlayingWithSyringes use unwitting war veterans as human trials]]. It is his willingness to spare them the pain as well as his desire to simply be whole again that directly causes his FaceMonsterTurn.
** ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2'':
*** Harry Osborn/[[spoiler: Green Goblin]], played by [=Dane DeHaan=]. He was neglected and belittled by his obsessed, sickly father Norman and on top of that, inherits his own fatal disease. He begs Peter to help him get Spidey's blood in order to synthesize a cure. Peter suggests things could turn worse and tells him this as Spidey too, but Harry is desperate for anything that will save him, even if it kills him. When he finally does get the blood, since it's [[spoiler: designed with Richard Parker's blood and thus why it only worked on Peter and failed with everyone else]]. It turns him into [[spoiler: Green Goblin]] and he blames Peter/Spidey even more, especially when finding out about his dual identities. While what he wants throughout the movie makes him identifiable and understandable, it doesn't make [[spoiler: [[MoralEventHorizon causing Gwen's death]]]] easily forgivable.
*** Max Dillon/Electro. Abandoned and mistreated by nearly everyone (even his own mother who fails to remember his own birthday and interprets his humming hint as annoying singing in a deleted scene) and with just Spidey giving him encouragement, he got into an accident involved electric course because of said mistreatment, and everyone are either ignoring him or treating him as a true menace (unlike Spidey who this time around are more welcomed by the public), so he's had enough and decided to lash out to humanity for all their mistreatment to him.
%%* Andrew Detmer from ''Film/{{Chronicle}}'', played by [=Dane DeHaan=].
* Lucian Carr from ''Film/KillYourDarlings'' has the distinct ability to manipulate both the characters in the film and the audience into pitying him. Furthered by the revelation that he met David Kammerer, [[spoiler:who he kills at the climax of the movie]], when he was just 14 and had been stalked by him ever since.
* In ''Film/{{Inception}}'', Mal really has no choice about being a psychotic, murderous, obsessed FemmeFatale. She just wants to be with Cobb forever, but the villainous Mal in Cobb's dreams isn't even his real wife, but a shade of the dead woman he can't bear to forget. [[spoiler:The dead Mal herself was accidentally brainwashed by Cobb, but inadvertently became so obsessed with the notion of her world not being real that she killed herself and framed Cobb for it. All out of love.]]
* ''Film/AmericanMe'': Montoya Santana, a Mexican gang leader, is portrayed mostly as a product of his environment. He was the product of rape himself, became acquainted with youth gangs in his neighborhood, was sent to Juvie where he was raped, murdered his attacker only to be convicted of murder, and has had to remain the top dog ever since simply to survive.
* ''Film/{{Unbreakable}}'': [[spoiler:Elijah Price]] is desperately looking for a purpose in life. He thinks that being a supervillain is better than being nothing, so he commits several acts of terrorism to find his antithesis, a real life superhero. He expresses deep remorse for what he has done to complete his life's work, but thinks he finally knows who he is.
* The titular vampire of ''Film/{{Blacula}}''. Once an African prince, the evil Dracula turned him into a vampire, sealed him in a coffin to starve for two hundred years, and killed his wife. Blacula hates being a vampire and is shown to feel remorse for his actions. Blacula only feeds on people because of his hunger, and clearly regrets it. At the end of the film, he ends up being DrivenToSuicide.
* Kitty Galore from ''Film/CatsAndDogs 2''. A FallenHero, she was once an agent of a secret organization that fought for the rights of both cats and dogs. On one of her assignments, she was investigating a chemical plant. A dog scared her and made her fall into a vat of chemicals. She lost all her fur, was ridiculed by her fellow agents, and upon returning home, her owners threw her out on Christmas of all times.
* Clyde Shelton of ''Film/LawAbidingCitizen''. His wife and daughter were killed in a robbery, and the more guilty robber got a slap on the wrist while the less guilty one got sentenced to death. Infuriated with the justice system, Clyde set out to destroy it, causing the deaths of hundreds of innocents in the process. Even after everything he has done, it is hard not to feel sorry for him.
* The Candyman of the Film/{{Candyman}} films. After falling in love with a white woman, he was tortured and killed by her father and the cruel villagers, who cut off his hand, covered him in honey, and let him get stung to death by bees. Lessened in that after his death, he returns to kill innocent people unrelated to his death, even going as far as to target babies.
* The Winter Soldier from ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' [[spoiler:also known as "Bucky" Barnes, who has spent the past 70 years being tortured and [[BrainwashedAndCrazy brainwashed]] by HYDRA to become the ultimate assassin completely against his will.]] Despite being one of the most dangerous men on the planet, the scenes where he [[spoiler:starts to regain some memories]] makes him come across more like a kicked and abandoned puppy.
* ''Film/JudgmentAtNuremberg'': The concept itself is a major plot point, as it explores how the German people could be complicit in UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust. [[AmoralAttorney Hans Rolfe]] argues that [[ThoseWackyNazis Ernst]] [[HangingJudge Janning]], a once respectable jurist and legal expert, committed the crimes he did [[MyCountryRightOrWrong out of a sense of duty]] [[InherentInTheSystem to a system that encouraged it]]. Judge Haywood does agree with Rolfe to a point- Janning was a tragic figure. But his defeat does not excuse him from the crimes against humanity he committed. The tragedy is that a respectable human being can be easily manipulated into committing mass murder.
* General Hummell from ''Film/TheRock'' stole chemical weapons and took the city of San Francisco hostage unless reparations be paid to the families of his soldiers who he lead into a disastrous covert operation and were abandoned to die. [[spoiler:His plan was a bluff and his remaining soldiers killed him.]]
* Rico loves and hates his brother ''Film/JudgeDredd'' in equal measure. He is crushed when Dredd sentenced him to death years ago and still doesn't understand why his own brother didn't pick his side.
-->'''Rico''': "Why did you judge me? Why did you judge me?!"
* Deleted scenes from ''Film/EmpireRecords'' reveal Rex Manning to be this. He is a genuinely talented artist but he sold out and now he can't perform the music he wants. His attempt at redemption by joining in the rooftop concert in the climax [[HeelFaceDoorSlam ends with him getting arrested]].

* ''Literature/DragonBones'' has Garranon, whose motivations are noble (he wants to protect his brother), but who is ready to do everything for that goal - he openly admits that he would [[KickTheDog torture puppies]] to ensure the safety of his brother.
* ''Literature/MobyDick'': Captain Ahab. While the whale can be seen as the villain, Ahab [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation could be seen as]] the TragicVillain: consumed by his own insanity, forced to chase the beast.
* Literature/{{Cujo}} isn't really a villain in the popular sense of the word, but he's just as much a victim as anyone else is, and if the Cambers had taken the possibility of their dog catching rabies seriously, the disaster could have been avoided. Parts of the books are told from [[{{Xenofiction}} his perspective]]; there it's shown that he suffers horribly from rabies, and only attacks people because he believes that they are responsible for his pain.
%%* ''Literature/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'', otherwise known as Erik.
* [[spoiler:[[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds Barty Crouch Jr.]]]] in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire''. [[spoiler:Due to his WellDoneSonGuy situation with his real father, Crouch Jr. came to see Voldemort as a ParentalSubstitute.]]
* Both [[EvilOverlord Rhulad Sengar]] and [[TheManBehindTheMan his boss]], the Crippled God, from the ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' commit or orchestrate acts that cement them as villains, but both are also portrayed as deeply tormented victims of circumstance (a JerkassWoobie and a WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds, respectively) and you really can't help but feel sorry for them.
* Claude Frollo from Creator/VictorHugo's ''Literature/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'' suffers from his [[SexIsEvilAndIAmHorny obsessive love]] for Esmeralda, which causes him to go tragically insane. What makes his suffering sympathetic is the fact that he was a deeply compassionate and caring man before he laid eyes on the gypsy.
%%* Mordred in some ''Myth/KingArthur'' interpretations.
* [[spoiler: Murtagh]] from the ''Literature/InheritanceCycle''. During ''Eldest'', he is enslaved by [[BigBad Lord Galbatorix]] and forced to fight on his side. ''Brisingr'' makes it appear that he's gone completely evil at first, but Eragon speculates that he's getting back at the world for giving him a crappy life. Near the end of the book, [[spoiler: he's fighting the Dragon Rider Oromis and he desperately screams at him, "YOU COULD HAVE HELPED US!"]].
** His dragon, Thorn, counts as well, as he wonders why he was brought into the world just so he could be tortured and destroy things.
** [[spoiler: Galbatorix's dragon, Shruikan, is one of these as well. While Galbatorix remains a villain, several characters point out that Shruikan never chose to serve him; his ''real'' rider was killed when he was a hatchling and he was forced to bond with Galbatorix, driving him insane. When he finally appears in ''Inheritance'', he is a nightmarishly huge and powerful dragon that appears to be an OmnicidalManiac; Elva tells Eragon that nothing is left of him but pain and hate, and the best they can do is end his suffering.]]
* ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}:
** The ''entire town'' of Dark Falls in the first book. They were all once a normal, thriving community, but an accident at the nearby chemical factory caused gallons of toxic gas to engulf the citizens, transforming them into vampiric mutants. Now, they have to feed on new visitors every year to survive. [[spoiler:At the end, after the protagonists have destroyed most of the residents, the real estate agent responsible for ensuring new victims is the only survivor. The ending implies he'll continue his gruesome business, all alone.]]
* The creature from ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}} is driven to evil when everyone (including his eponymous creator) rejects him because of his monstrous appearance. In the end he [[spoiler: tries to take his revenge on humanity before committing suicide]].
** (Only in the book; the movie adaptation replaced all this with "ScienceIsBad".)
* Literature/TheHungerGames: Just about any of the other career tributes. Yes, they are all ruthless and one even taunts Katniss [[spoiler:about Rue's death]] but they are all ''teenagers'' being forced to fight to death in a CrapSackWorld.
* The ruthless Tywin Lannister of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' is the most feared lord in Westeros. He is this because his father's weakness almost caused the fall of their family. The death of his wife (who was the velvet glove to his iron fist) also made it hard for him to raise his children with love and compassion.
** Prince Viserys of House Targaryen lost almost his whole family in a rebellion that toppled their dynasty and had to sell whats left of their riches so he and his sister Daenerys can survive. Drink and years of being treated as a joke caused him to threaten Dany in front of her husband Khal Drogo who then killed him.
** Theon Greyjoy was taken hostage as a child by Ned Stark after his father's failed rebellion. He betrays the Starks to earn his father's respect but can't because the man sees him as a [[GoingNative "greenlander"]]. With no one to back him up, Theon is captured, tortured and flayed and becomes "Reek".
* Gollum of TheLordOfTheRings was a good person before being corrupted by the One Ring. After Gollum's death, Frodo still feels sympathy for him even though he betrayed him and Samwise.
%%* Magua in ''[[TheLeatherstockingTales The Last of the Mohicans]]''.
* Alistair Mechanus of ''Literature/HeartOfSteel'' is undeniably a villain, what with the plans for world conquest and everything, but he only suffered a psychotic break when he discovered that the parents of his comatose girlfriend--whom he'd loved more than life itself--was forced to take her off life support because they could no longer afford to keep her alive. He'd missed saying goodbye by about a week, after spending five years rebuilding himself after the car accident they'd both been involved in.
* ''Literature/{{Carrie}}'' has a horrible abusive mother and is bullied at school by the cruel Chris Hargensen. At prom, Chris dumps pig blood on her, and the jerkass people at the prom laugh at her. Driven over the edge by her torment, Carrie goes on a rampage tthrouhout the town, killing hundreds of people.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'': [[spoiler: Ward]] is revealed to be a Hydra sleeper agent. However, his backstory is tragic on so many levels that (as of the Season 1 finale), much of the fandom is hoping for a redemption arc.
** Season 2 brought us [[spoiler: Skye's parents, Jiaying and Cal]]. She was orginally a wise, kind-hearted woman and he was an adorkable volunteer for Doctor Without Borders. And then she was captured by Hydra and vivisected by a MadDoctor to learn the secret to her immortallity. After this incident, she became a cold-hearted ManipulativeBitch who considered human inferior and willing to wage war to prove their superiority.
* ''AmericanHorrorStoryFreakShow'' has Twisty the clown. Twisty became mentally retarded after his mother dropped him when he was a baby. Twisty's mother often abused him, yet he still loved her. As a clown, Twisty was loved by children. One day, some jealous carnies accused Twisty of being a pedophile, resulting in him losing his job. When he tried to return to his mother, he found out she had died. After a failed suicide attempt, Twisty began killing adults and kidnapping their parents, intending to raise the kids himself, believing he would be saving them from the cruel adults.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** Londo Mollari is a perfect example. He often [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone expresses regret for his ultimately genocidal actions]], but continues to dig himself in ever deeper until midway through season 4. He ends up [[spoiler:doing some medium-evil things, but also suffering greatly and ultimately [[RedemptionEqualsDeath sacrificing himself for his country]].]]
** Barely an AvertedTrope by Zack Allan. He joins Nightwatch because he thinks it's an extra 50 credits per week for the work he's already doing, but over time finds that he's joined an organization with darker goals. He's in over his head, and struggling with the ethics of his previous decision--but he can't leave Nightwatch without causing himself more trouble. It's not until Captain Sheridan and the rest of the senior crew offer him a way out that he's finally able to escape his dilemma--thankfully, before he's forced to perform any ''actual'' evil.
* ''Series/BreakingBad'':
** The entire run is essentially [[ProtagonistJourneyToVillain a long tale of this]], as Walter White starts out forced into his life of crime as his only way to care for his family, but eventually starts choosing evil and caring only about himself.
** His "accomplice" Jesse may not have started out out innocent, but without Walt he would, at worst, have stayed a clueless bottom-of-the-ladder meth cook. "Thanks" to Walt, he's helped build an incredibly lucrative drug empire - at the cost of his sense of self-worth and almost everything he cares about. The worst part is that at least two of the big things he blames himself for are squarely Walt's fault, he just doesn't know it.
* Harmony from ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' spent most of high school as the AlphaBitch but she was actually getting nicer in the days leading to graduation. But on that day she was made a vampire and the nice person she really was vanished forever.
* Since childhood, ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' has always had an instinctive urge to kill, and has been raised from childhood to believe that there is nothing he can do to stop it and that he can only satiate it by only killing [[AssholeVictim other serial killers]]. He is a rare villainous example of IJustWantToBeNormal as he [[BeingEvilSucks often wishes he weren't a serial killer]], but it's never strong enough to get him to actually stop killing people.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Master, especially during the two-parter "The End of Time".
** The Minotaur in "The God Complex". He doesn't want to kill, but does so in order to survive and feels at peace when it finally dies.
* ''Series/KamenRiderOOO'':
** Gamel, one of the [[OurHomunculiAreDifferent Greeed]], is by far the most sympathetic of the Greeed, being a childish simpleton who doesn't care about doing evil things, and only wants to make [[TeamMom Mezool]] happy. He's still TheBrute, and has absolutely zero regard for anyone's life but Mezool's, but his puppy-like devotion makes his eventual death ([[spoiler:both of them]]) [[TearJerker feel very sad]].
** Mezool counts as well: her driving desire is to experience parental love. She is quite satisfied with treating Gamel as her child until she receives a HannibalLecture that pushes her over the edge, all the while lamenting the impossibility of her dream (Greeed cannot reproduce) and the unquenchable nature of her desire.
* "Series/LabRats": Douglas Davenport. Though now a good guy, he was strongly sympathetic as a villain. His backstory consist of constantly being overshadowed by his big brother, who had mocked him for his whole life about it. Their parents also constantly gave attention to him, and did not at give Douglas any at all. Because of this, Douglas became obsessed with getting the upper hand, until Leo convinced him that some things are more important than {{Revenge}}.
** Terry Perry. She's a real "bitch", and a SadistTeacher who bullies her students, and acts mean to her employees and basicly everyone who's not apart of her family, and even if she does help people, it's only for money. However, her mother was always mean to her, and called her a guy's name, which had other people mocking her as well. She also, cares about the Davenport family, yet only shows that when she's alone with them in a room, despite how she treats them like dirt when they're all together.
** Sebastian. He starts out as a bionic student, who is a generally good guy, and a friend of the Davenports. However, when he finds out that they had destroyed his father, ''Victor Krane'', he now seeks vengeance on all of them for it. Thing is, Sebastian had no idea just how evil Krane was, and was too hard headed to listen to reason.
* ''Series/LeagueOfGentlemen'': Practically everyone (well, maybe except Mr. Chinnery who is a TragicHero and Hiliary Briss and Papa Lazarou who are just downright evil...) is one of these.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'': Michael Dawson, who [[spoiler:murdered Ana Lucia and Libby and delivered Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley into the hands of the Others]] because it was the only way to free his 10-year-old son and get him off the Island.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'':
** Regina blamed Snow White for the death of the man she loved, instead of her mother who actually killed him because of a mix of fear and need for acceptance. Her need to destroy Snow causes Regina to kill her own father and cast a curse that exiled her and countless others into the real word, but she still feels empty because no one loves her. She adopts a son but her need to control him alienates him. Her backstory shows she was tailor-made to be the villain and even when she tries to get better she's afraid she won't get her happy ending because "villains don't get happy endings".
** Rumpelstiltskin keeps losing everyone he loves because of his need for power.
** Owen spent his whole life trying to get back to Storybrooke and rescue his father, only to find he's already dead. Owen also turned out to be Peter Pan's UnwittingPawn
** Ingrid [[spoiler:aka the snow queen]] started off as a good and kind person who was adored by her two sisters, Helga and Gerda, despite her ice powers, until she [[spoiler:accidentally killed Helga, which made Gerda fear her sister and trap her in the urn given by Rumplestiltskin]]. This made her go insane and feel that the only people who could love her are those with magic.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''
** Season 1 had Ulrich Kohl, a former East German government assassin. He found out his team sold him out to the Americans when Communism fell so he took his wife Anja and tried to escape but she was killed and he was imprisoned for 30 years before escaping to track down and kill his traitorous former allies. [[spoiler: It turned out the Americans helped Anja fake her death after she found out what Kohl did for a living. Kohl also found out too late that he has a daughter. Kohl also planned to kill himself after he was done.]]
-->'''Kohl''': "I never had a tomorrow."
** Season 3 had Peter Collier whose brother was wrongfully arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist until he killed himself. The government refused to take responsibility for his death and Collier joins Vigilance to get revenge but turns it from a bunch of glorified vandals into a domestic terror group. [[spoiler: Decima created Vigilance as it's UnwittingPawn and they were all killed once they've served their purpose.]]
* ''Series/PrisonBreak'': FBI Agent Alexander Mahone, the main villain in the second season, is only trying to murder the protagonists because the NebulousEvilOrganisation is blackmailing him ([[spoiler:they know he murdered a SerialKiller]]), on top of threatening to kill his wife and child.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': General Sebastian Monroe. It's not obvious at first, but as the first season goes on, it turns out that he is this. He was once a good man and a soldier for the USA, but a number of events occurred. First, he lost his entire family in a car accident and he would have killed himself had Miles Matheson not intervened. So he attaches himself to Miles to the point of borderline erotic fixation ("[[Recap/RevolutionS1E10NobodysFaultButMine Nobody's Fault But Mine]]"). The blackout also happens, leaving a lot of people, including Miles and him without a job ("[[Recap/RevolutionS1E1Pilot Pilot]]"). Miles and Monroe form the Monroe Republic, with Monroe as the general in charge ("[[Recap/RevolutionS1E3NoQuarter No Quarter]]"). [[spoiler: Their relationship fell apart when in response to a Rebel bombing the restaurant they were in and injuring Miles, Monroe had the Rebel and his entire family executed to make an example out of them. Miles tried to assassinate Monroe in response but he couldn't do it. A number of times, Monroe points out that he never really cared about controlling anything, and that he thought he was just doing what Miles would have wanted]] ("[[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower The Dark Tower]]"). A number of times, it is also shown that Monroe doesn't enjoy being a villain, but he apparently feels that there's no going back for him ("[[Recap/RevolutionS1E15Home Home]]").
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': The ArchangelMichael in season 5 frees [[{{Satan}} Lucifer]] to bring about the Apocalypse, which will destroy at least half of the planet. Yet he is ultimately trying to make the best of a bad situation with holding everything together after God's abandonment and looking after humanity. Bringing about the Apocalypse is supposed to please God, destroy the source of evil in Lucifer and Hell, and bring about paradise both for humanity and angel. Ultimately, he is trying to fulfill his [[TheDutifulSon duty and please his Father]] even if that means killing the brother he loves.
* ''Series/TheWire''
** Avon Barksdale is a fundamentally good man who just happens to be a drug lord. To him, The Game is just a means to an end into helping his community. Never does he do someone a favor and ask something in return. He prizes family most of all and treats String like a brother. It all goes wrong when he finds out String had his nephew D'Angelo killed and helps him cover it up. Avon then finds out String played off Omar and Mouzone against each other and the latter almost got killed. Mouzone threatens to cut his New York mob connections so he gives up his best friend to be killed but not before String betrays him to the police because he won't back down from his war with Marlo (which String promised he would back like always) after the New Day Co-Op threatens to cut off their drug supply. Avon realizes too late how wasteful everything has been but he gets arrested for parole violations and must serve the remainder of his 25 year sentence. In prison he is still formidable but everything he valued, his family most of all, has abandoned him.
** Randy's journey into villainy underscores the theme of the police's inability to protect citizens.
* ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'':
** The protagonist, Jax Teller. He was raised into SAMCRO, and to believe that they're doing the right thing. However, he slowly starts to see that it's wrong, and tries to get SAMCRO into a more peaceful motorcycle club, after getting a kid. Unfortunately, he slowly becomes colder after every season, and after becomming President, he seems to have forgotten himself, and everything he stands for.
** Opie winston. He just wanted to move out of SAMCRO, to get a better life, with his wife and children, and to take Jax with him. Unfortunetly, nothing went well for him, and after his wife's death, he changes his goal into doing suicide.
* ''Series/TheGoodGuys''
** Walker is a terrible getaway driver who just got out of jail but he can't keep his promise to his daughter to stay on the straight because he craves the excitement of crime. He goes back to prison knowing staying out of his daughter's life is for the best.
** Senator Buddy Haverton is a greedy politician but it's implied his appetite for money and women led him astray from doing public service. Thanks to his VillainousBreakdown, the investigation into a company dumping toxic waste (which he was being paid to bury and he was secretly responsible for) will get trashed and [[KarmaHoudini the company will get away with it]].
* Cole from ''Series/{{Charmed}}'' is a half-demon sent to kill the Charmed Ones but he falls in love with Phoebe. He wants to stay good for her but fate keeps causing him to turn to evil until they finally kill him. It's only as a disembodied spirit does he get a little but of redemption.

[[folder:Multiple Media]]
* Makuta Krika from ''Franchise/{{Bionicle}}''. He didn't agree with [[BigBad Teridax]]'s EvilPlan, nor with him overthrowing the Brotherhood of Makuta's former leader and turning the [[BrotherhoodOfEvil organization evil]], but had he rebelled, Teridax's supporters would have killed him. After realizing what the plan entailed, he became resigned to his fate: if it succeeds, they would become the rulers of a world he wouldn't want anymore, and if it failed, they would face the wrath of a PhysicalGod. [[spoiler:Too late did he find out that Teridax wanted to rule alone. Upon trying to warn his brethren, they believed him to be a traitor, and killed him.]]

* Music/ThreeDaysGrace's song "Animal I Have Become" could be interpreted as being about one of these.
* Other songs that seem to portray this trope seem to be especially prevalent in the metal and punk genres, such as:
** "My Own Hell" by Music/FiveFingerDeathPunch.
** "Monster" and "Falling Inside The Black" by Music/{{Skillet}}.
** "It's the Fear" by Music/WithinTemptation.
** "The way i was" by Music/MakeshiftRomeo, is a song about a guy being shaped into becoming ruthless, and not knowing why they're doing it, and being desperate to become who he was earlier in his life, yet wondering if it's too late.
** Many songs of Music/SlipKnot is about this, due to them being about the band themselves being misanthropes filled with hatred, angst and depression. Good examples are "Left Behind", "(Sic)", and "Dead Memories".
** Contagion, i'm sitting at the side of Satan. What do you want from me? They never told me about the failure i was meant to be" - Taken from Slipknot's (sic).

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' has its share, both in the Horus Heresy and the 41's millenium.
** Horus was the most favored of the Primarchs until the Chaos Gods tricked him into becoming their champion as he lay dying from treachery. The war he wages turns the Imperium into a Dystopian nightmare of cosmic proportions.
** Chaos tricked half the Dark Angels into turning against the other and the battle they waged destroyed their home planet. While some of The Fallen continue their war against the Imperium, some have realised their mistake and are now on the run.
** Fulgrim was slowly corrupted by a daemon residing in a sword, who took over his body after making Fulgrim and his Legion fall into depraved hedonism. Rather than deal with his mistake, he embraced Slaanesh so he will be given unlimited pleasure that will numb his soul.
** Magnus the Red's carelessness with warp magic got his legion marked for destruction. Unwilling to let them die, Magnus struck a DealWithTheDevil to allow his legion asylum in the Warp. The price was eternal servitude to Tzeentch and the endless mutations that took a horrible rite to counter.
** Angron was turned into a raging berserker in his childhood by the implantation of neural augmetics, that would cause him extreme pain and rage until he killed something. When he finally lead a slave revolt to go down in battle with the people he considered his own, the Emperor chose this moment to come in and teleport Angron out, denying him his chance to finally make the pain stop.

* Theatre/SweeneyTodd is a classic example. Having been exiled by a corrupt judge who then took his wife and fostered his daughter, he returns for revenge and to save his family. When his vengeance is denied, he teams up with Ms. Lovett, who makes the worst meat pies in London. Her meat pies become much better when Sweeney Todd starts murdering every man who comes to his barber shop and giving the bodies to her to use. Yet despite being a mass murderer who helps dupe people into eating human flesh, Sweeney is still usually portrayed as a {{Woobie}} and VillainProtagonist in the musical. His original incarnation in penny dreadfuls was a lot less sympathetic.
* Elphaba of ''{{Theatre/WICKED}}'', in a [[TwiceToldTale perspective flip]] of the original plot of TheWonderfulWizardOfOz. The Wicked Witch of the West started out as a [[LonersAreFreaks solitary]] young woman frequently derided as hideous just because she has green skin. Everything good she tries to do backfires spectacularly--in no particular order, she loses the only teacher who cared about her, is forced to leave her best and only friend G(a)linda (The Good Witch of the South), loses her little sister Nessarose (The Wicked Witch of the East), and her lover Fiyero [[spoiler: who she unknowingly turned into the Scarecrow in an attempt to save his life]]. By the end of the play, she's suffered so many failures that she completely ''loses it'' and her death is devastating to the audience and Glinda. [[spoiler: And Glinda is the only one who [[LockedOutOfTheLoop DOESN'T know]] [[FakingTheDead Elphaba faked her death]].]]
* ''Theatre/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'', who comes across as pitiful even as he does a multitude of horrible things, all of which he seems to have been driven to do because of his horribly disfigurement.
* Nathan ''did'' commit a series of crimes in ''Theatre/ThrillMe'', but he also had a peer group of one, and that one was a rather poor influence.
* Theatre/{{Macbeth}}, if one interprets the play in one particular perspective. He likely became an unwilling tyrant due to the twisted fate that befell him.
* Meg from ''Theatre/LoveNeverDies'' was taught that only The Phantom's approval matters so she can become a star, but he never pays her attention because she isn't Christine. This leads to her VillainousBreakdown [[spoiler: and accidentally killing Christine]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden}}'' series might be king of this trope. In literally every one of the primary five games, one or more of the primary antagonists are this.
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenI'': Emperor Barbosa's apparent lapse into psychotic madness is actually a desperate gambit on his part to redeem his new wife, the insane Wendy, who reminds him of his first wife, who'd died tragically. He ultimately pisses away his legacy, his friends, his kingdom, and his life trying to help the woman he loved… who didn't want his help.
*** Most of Barbosa's underlings count as this (with the notable exceptions of Yuber and Neclord). All his generals, including the protagonist's father, are fighting for Barbosa out of loyalty and honor, not because they don't think he's crazy.
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenII'': All the major villains except [[AxeCrazy Luca Blight]] and Yuber (again). Jowy, the main antagonist and the protagonist's lifelong friend, is trying to do the exact same thing the protagonist is doing (trying to stop the war and unify the land for the sake of everyone), but he's doing it from the opposite side. Leon Silverburg, his genius strategist, is trying to end things as quickly as possible for the same reason, but the protagonist's side's competence ends up dragging everything out.
*** All of the Blight family's underlings, like the generals of the previous game, serve the empire because they loved Luca's father, not because they don't think Luca is a total shit (and he is).
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenIII'': The main villain is one of the heroes of the previous two games, trying to stave off universal entropy. His second in command loves him too much to understand the cost of what he's trying to do. Yuber is also there, and remains as non-tragically evil as ever.
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenIV'': The ManBehindTheMan is arguably one of these, but the main general you spend most of the game building towards a confrontation with, Troy, just loves his country and wants to protect it.
** ''VideoGame/SuikodenV'': The first major villain, Queen Arshtat, is the hero's mother and is being driven insane by the rune she bears, which she only agreed to bear to protect her country. Her sister, Sialeeds, later performs an apparent FaceHeelTurn in order to go full BigDamnVillains from the inside, but it costs her big and turns her into one of these. The main villain, Gizel, is a racist jerk, but he's a racist jerk who legitimately thinks he's doing the right thing for Falena because he listens to his much jerkier father.
** Gizel is given a much more tragic bent in the manga, where it's implied the true reason for his villainy is because the SuccessionCrisis of the royal family killed his mother and destroyed his PerfectlyArrangedMarriage with the only person he ever loved.
* The ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' series has a few villains/criminals with tragic backstories:
** Lance Vance from ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity''. It is implied that several things that happened in his life, like ParentalAbandonment, the murder of his brother, and his own drug addiction, turned him into the greedy [[JerkAss jerkass]] who betrayed his own loyal partners.
** Trevor Phillips from ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' has a very DarkAndTroubledPast. He has a history of rage issues and violent impulses that ruined his attempts to fit into society. Besides that, he suffered numerous social problems: he grew up with a physically abusive father and an emotionally abusive mother.
** Johnny Klebitz from "VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheLostAndDamned", was a man who met his big brother's friend, the horrible Billy Grey at a young age, who turned out to be a bad role model for Johnny. Billy got him into crime, and later introduced him to other Lost MC Members. Johnny became apart of The Lost MC, and though he actually wanted out after the years, he stayed because of his loyalty to his "brothers". Literally everything he does in the game is out of loyalty to the people he cares about. What makes is worse was, that the people he cared about turned out to be evil, selfish traitors, with only a few friends who stood by him at the end.
** Tommy Vercetti from "VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity". He became a mobster as a way to get money, but was still a sane man. when he got caught, he was locked up in prison for ''15 years''. Those years have turned him into a coldblooded psychopath who does anything for money.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' has [[TheDragon Golbez]], really [[spoiler:Theodore Harvey, Cecil's brother]], who may cross the MoralEventHorizon several times in the game, except that [[spoiler:he was under the control of [[BigBad Zemus]]]] and takes full responsibility for his actions [[spoiler:once freed from Zemus's control]].
** In the DS remake, it's ''much worse''. The implication is that Golbez [[spoiler:''wasn't'' brainwashed, and that it was the darkness in his own heart that led to him being controlled. The remake makes a much bigger deal out of his ReformedButRejected status after the spell is broken.]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII-2'' has Caius Ballad who wishes to destroy reality/time as he sees this as the only way to free his surrogate daughter from a cruel cycle of death and rebirth. To do this he would commit genocide on the civilization of Cocoon, which will unleash the chaos from Valhalla, the world between life and death. [[spoiler: In the end Caius sacrifices his life and lets the hero Noel kill him which releases the chaos.]]
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', Mr. Freeze doesn't have it much better in the game than he does in the comics. His wife is still frozen, and he's blackmailed by the Joker for the TITAN cure, leading to him getting captured by Strange and thrown to the Penguin, who proceeded to torture him, [[Main/TheWoobie giving him woobie status]] until the Batman came around. Eventually he did reunite with her, but only if you're willing to endure that side quest.
** By ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamKnight'', Freeze took Batman's advice and quit villainy to work full-time in solving his wife's Huntington's Disease. Unfortunately, his new Wayne-Tech research team and laboratory don't get him any closer to a cure for a whole year, and everyone worries that what is left of Freeze's sanity will break...
*** The Arkham Knight himself is a broken man. Joker tortured him over the course of a year ''in Arkham Asylum'', meaning that Batman overlooked every trace of the missing teenager while he was branded, humiliated, forced to watch pictures of his family ''adopting a replacement within three months'', etc. His motives for hating Batman are petty, "Why didn't you save me, you deserve to die too", but his mind is too broken and his lieutenants are too awed by his skill to think about getting their boss a psychologist.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'' has [[spoiler:most of the decoy BigBad throughout both games, via varying forms of MindControl and MindRape. Matriarch Benezia, the Collector General (the whole Collector ''race''), Shiala, even Saren gets a few sympathetic moments, despite being established as a KnightTemplar long before Sovereign got his tentacles into him. The Collector General especially gets quite a few fan-tears shed over its death.]]
** [[spoiler:David Archer from the [[TearJerker Overlord package]].]]
*** [[spoiler:In some ways, Gavin Archer from the same DLC. He did such terrible things to his own autistic brother, but by the end [[HeelRealization even he's got a taste of how horrible his experiments were]]. He then pleads for the chance to take care of his brother, claiming that what he did to David was unethical -- but if he dies, it's unforgivable.]]
** [[spoiler:The Batarians from ''Arrival''. They have a long history of [[MisanthropeSupreme hating humans]], {{slavery| is a special kind of evil}} and terrorism, but ''Arrival'' ends with a planet full of Batarian ''civilians'', who are at the mercy of an oppressive and paranoid government straight out of an Orwellian novel, getting destroyed because there's no way to get an early warning through to them about the destruction of a Mass Relay. Then in ''Mass Effect 3'', they've suffered the worst of the initial blows from the Reaper invasion and have suffered a species-wide BreakTheHaughty.]]
** [[spoiler:The Illusive Man. Despite mostly coming across as a cold MagnificentBastard who leads an entire organisation of {{Absolute Xenophobe}}s and authorises some [[MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate questionable scientific experiments]] in the name of advancing humanity, [[FromNobodyToNightmare he was once an ordinary man with a family who lost everything]]; in ''2'' he actually does some good for the galaxy by bringing Shepard BackFromTheDead and giving them a new, improved Normandy to fight the Reapors with; in ''3'', he's back on the far side, but he and Shepard clearly respect each other greatly. Finally, during the GrandFinale Paragon Shepard can [[IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight convince him he's indoctrinated]] and [[TalkingTheMonsterToDeath he should break free of their control by killing himself]]. If they do, his last words are a mournful [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone "I tried, Shepard..."]]]]
** [[spoiler: ''Harbinger'' of all people is one; the Extended Cut reveals that the Catalyst destroyed its creators and used their genetic material to create him...meaning he's the last of that first race, and is stuck serving the guy who destroyed them forever.]]
** [[spoiler:The Catalyst itself, after the Leviathan DLC and Extended Cut; the Reapers' overmind is little more than a broken tool, unable to fix itself or even realise that it's broken, built by ancient aliens with a massive god complex to ensure their organic slaves weren't killed off by synthetics they built, but whose arrogance prevented them from realising that it could view them as part of the problem and turn on them. It can't fix itself; that's what the Crucible is for, but since that Crucible also offers the possibility of destroying it and bringing an end to its great work, it also strives to eradicate the Crucible designs whenever possible.]]
** [[spoiler:Clone Shepard - brought into being solely as a reserve set of internal organs, awakened by a particularly vicious racist even by Cerberus standards to serve as a figurehead and a tool to replace the real Shepard, and then confronted with an endless chain of reminders that they just weren't up to the level of the original Shepard and never would be. Finally, the one person the clone actually seems to care for abandons them in a scene heavily inspired by ''[[Film/TheMummyTrilogy The Mummy Returns]]'', leaving them with nothing. Even if you try to save them, the clone will simply let go of the Normandy's ramp, hundreds of feet above the Citadel streets.]]
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert3'': Yuriko Omega, [[spoiler:born Yuriko Matsui, was kidnapped by MadScientist Shinji Shimada and transformed into a [[Manga/{{Akira}} Tetsuo-like]] psionic monster with no feeling of empathy toward anyone else, particularly because she was bullied by her schoolmates due to her natural psionic ability that caused her tragic fate. She even went through hell to find and save her sister, who turned out to just want to be at the top of the world, just like other people, including the Allies. After doing what has to be done, Yuriko still remained a lonely, unloved girl, vilified continuously by the news media of the major global powers (all Allies, the Soviet Union, and Japan).]]
* All four main antagonists in the ''Franchise/FatalFrame'' series. All of them were nice people when they were alive, it's only when they died and were corrupted by their respective gates to Hell that they started killing everyone.
* Many of the bosses of ''Franchise/MetalGear'' are tragic in some form or fashion.
** Sniper Wolf from the first ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' is defined by her tragedy--she's a Kurd whose childhood consisted of being a fugitive and refugee who lost her friends and family to an Iraqi gas attack, who was taken under the wing of Big Boss, who truly regrets her part in the Shadow Moses incident in her last moments. However, even Psycho Mantis and Liquid Snake are tragic in their own ways, the former fueled by a childhood of his father's hatred and neglect, where the latter is driven by a ''massive'' inferiority complex for which he blames his (blameless) father.
** Fortune of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'' was an ordinary woman until a conspiracy to steal Metal Gear RAY took place. She lost her father during the Tanker Incident, her mother to suicide following the event, her husband to death in jail due to a federal fraud case, and her unborn child to miscarriage due to the stress. It's no surprise that a woman who lost everything would want revenge, and at the same become a DeathSeeker as well.
** The End of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'' is a grandfatherly figure who spends most of his time barely conscious, only really 'coming to life' to snipe. He bears no ill will whatsoever towards Naked Snake, and challenges him solely to find a WorthyOpponent before he dies. He won't even kill Naked Snake, as he only ever shoots tranquilizer rounds. The most tragic figure in the game, however, is The Boss herself. She was a true patriot.
** The entire Beauty and the Beast Unit from ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 4|GunsOfThePatriots}}''.
* In ''VideoGame/InFamous'', [[spoiler: Kessler, reveals to be Cole from the future who has turned Empire City into Hell just so that he could turn his past self into the savior of the world from The Beast.]]
* Most of the members of Organization XIII, from ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' save Xemnas and Xigbar. After losing their hearts to the Heartless and waking up as Nobodies, they were found by Xemnas, who manipulated them into working for him under very false pretenses. What were these false pretenses? [[spoiler:That being a Nobody left them empty, made them ''literally nothing''. In reality? Anything can have a heart if it has friends, even Nobodies, the heart will naturally grow back, in time. Xemnas's lies were crafted to suppress their hearts from growing back, so he could use the power of Kingdom Hearts to fill them with copies of Xehanort's heart.]] Sora is horrified to learn the extent of Xemnas's lies.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', the final boss of the game, [[spoiler:General Tor, is the leader of the fleet invading earth to eradicate the last of the Tasen.]] However, he only does this because he's a SlaveToPR. [[spoiler:There were many generals including Tor himself that wanted to end the war without committing genocide, but the rest of the Komato insisted on doing so because [[FantasticRacism they hated the Tasen and wanted them dead]]. He gives in to finally attacking the remaining Tasen, and is about to completely destroy the Earth to make sure no Tasen are left alive, at least until the protagonist arrives to prevent Tor from doing so. Once he's defeated, he sees the error of his ways, calls off the attack, and saves whatever life is left on Earth in the process.]] Unfortunately, the guilt of killing so many people in the past [[HeelRealization weighs heavily on him]], and he [[spoiler:[[DrivenToSuicide kills himself so he doesn't have to live with it anymore.]]]]
* The Transcendent One from VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment. All he wants is to live and preferably to never again meet the main hero, whose very presence reminds him of the times when [[spoiler:he was a part of the hero's soul rather than an individual sentient being]], and he cannot stand it. Unfortunately, the hero's quest to regain his memory and mortality means that confrontation is imminent, and to prevent it he's prepared to murder everyone who could possibly direct the hero to him.
* ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'': [[spoiler:Count Bleck. His motives were entirely the result of grief over the supposed death of his girlfriend, Timpani.]]
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' is full of villains with tragic back stories. One of the most infamous villains is Arthas, a paladin prince who was desperate enough to save his people against the undead scourge that he committed many terrible acts to stop the onslaught, up to taking the cursed blade Frostmorne and losing his soul.
** Illidan wanted only for the woman he loved to return the affection and practice his beloved magic. Every action he took saw him rebuffed by those closest to him, but he still clung to the belief that he could do some good. After being exiled for using demonic magic to fight the Burning Legion, he tried and failed to destroy the Lich King. By the time of ''Burning Crusade'', his constant failures and rejections have driven him mad.
** Another villain who was reintroduced in the Cataclysm is the dragon aspect Neltharion the Earthwarder, one of the five dragons created by the titans to protect Azeroth from the Old Gods' corruption. Unfortunately, while he was in a 1000 year rest, the Old Gods managed to whisper to him, driving Neltharion mad and causing him to devastate the other dragonflights and gain a new name for himself: Deathwing the Destroyer.
* Shiro Tagachi from ''VideoGame/GuildWars'' would fall under this catagory, but only after you learn his complete backstory. He was a skilled soldier who defended a local village from bandits and robbers. He was well liked and was quite the hometown hero, until the Emperor took notice and hired him as a royal bodyguard. The dark god Abbadon took advantage of this and began planting the seeds of doubt and paranoia into Shiro through the use of demonic agents disguised as fortune tellers and members of the royal court. It got Shiro so flustered that he decided the only way he could safeguard his own life was to kill the emperor and acquire ultimate power so that nobody could ever betray him. What he didn't realize was that by now, the general public viewed him as a monster. By the time you meet him in Factions, he's so far gone and filled with Abbadon's corruption that he seems incapable of listening to reason.
* More than a few in ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'', mostly qualifying more as {{Tragic Monster}}s, though the best example is [[spoiler: Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, former BigGood of the Age of Flame and (possibly) the greatest impediment to mankind's GoldenAge]].
* Kratos from ''VideoGame/GodOfWar''.
** The Gods, the reason they turned against Kratos was because Kratos released the evil within Pandora's Box, which affected them greatly.
* Whoever the traitor in ''VideoGame/DawnOfWarII'' is. All have sympathetic motives.
** [[spoiler: Tarkus]] believes he is being NecessarilyEvil, and can use the power of Chaos to save his brothers.
** [[spoiler: Thaddeus]] sold his soul in exchange for safe passage through the Warp for the ''Litany of Fury'', so the Blood Ravens' recruiting worlds could be saved from the Tyranids.
** [[spoiler: Jonah]] has been possessed, and is desperately trying and failing to regain control of his own actions.
** [[spoiler: Cyrus]] has seen how utterly corrupt the upper echelons of the Blood Ravens have become, and how little the foot-sloggers mean to them, and has bartered for the power necessary to change leaders.
** [[spoiler: Avitus]] cracked when he found out that his justification for the destruction he caused was a lie, and that so much blood had been shed for no reason. In his mind, the best case scenario is SuicideByCop, the worst case is that he'll continue doing what he apparently has done for years, but without the veneer of lies.
** [[spoiler: Martellus]] was just trying to survive.
* Both of the villains in the first two ''VideoGame/GabrielKnight'' games.
** Malia Gedde was the great-great-etc. granddaughter of Tetelo, a voodoo priestess whose tribe's traditions included such things as ''[[HumanSacrifice cabrit sans cor]]''. Malia herself had no ill will toward Gabriel and even seemed to be in love with him, but Tetelo's influence forced her to attack him and abduct his friend.
** Friedrich von Glower was the son of a baron who raped a young Gypsy girl and became cursed to lycanthropy as a result, and the curse was passed down to Friedrich himself as well, transforming him into "The Black Wolf." Despite living for centuries as a werewolf and committing countless slaughters, von Glower seemed to believe that the werewolf curse could be controlled, and he seriously wanted to control it.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'' features [[spoiler:Hilda. Her plan to have Yuga steal Hyrule's Triforce stems from her desire to replace Lorule's Triforce after it was destroyed [[NoManShouldHaveThisPower to keep anyone from using it]], only to cause Lorule to rapidly fall apart. It's not until Ravio convinces her that doing this would simply leave Hyrule to the same fate as Lorule that Hilda realizes the folly of her scheme.]]
** Ganondorf is usually evil and loving it, but ''VideoGame/TheWindWaker'' expands on his backstory and gives him a FreudianExcuse. By the end of the game, when he [[LaughingMad finally snaps]], you can't help but feel bad for him.
-->"My country lay within a vast desert. When the sun rose into the sky, a burning wind punished my lands, searing the world. And when the moon climbed into the dark of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes. No matter when it came, the wind carried the same thing... Death. But the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. I coveted that wind, I suppose."
* [[spoiler: R.O.B., a character that was previously nothing more than an ''NES peripheral,'']] spends most of [[VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Super Smash Bros. Brawl's story mode]] as one of these. [[spoiler:His homeland was invaded and turned into a bomb-making facility, and he was forced to deploy the bombs and pull the world into Subspace. He switches sides after one of his bosses forces all of his comrades to pull a mass [[Main/TakingYouWithMe Taking You With Me]] and detonate every bomb in the facility, but this sadly results in him becoming the [[Main/LastOfHisKind last of his kind]].]]
* The Broken Lords of ''Videogame/EndlessLegend'', once a society of honorable knights, nobles, and town builders, were forced to bind their souls to suits of AnimatedArmor to survive Auriga's collapsing climate as the [[EndlessWinter winters grow longer and more brutal]]. Sustained by [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum Dust]], a rare material, they were a DyingRace until they discovered they could [[LifeDrinker drain Dust from living creatures in a fatal process]]. Now widely considered soulless monsters, they must betray their vows and ideals in order to survive by consuming the weak while they try to cure their affliction.
* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain''
** Nupraptor was driven mad by the death of his beloved Ariel and his madness spread to the other guardians. Ariel's spirit sends Kain to MercyKill him.
** Malek's soul was bound to his armor as punishment for failing to protect the previous guardians. Turns out [[spoiler: the massacre was orchestrated by Mobius, one of Malek's charges and the one who cursed him]].
* In ''VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys3'', [[spoiler:the animatronics are confirmed to have been haunted by the ghosts of the children murdered in the pizzeria]].
* ''Franchise/FireEmblem'':
** In ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Blazing Sword]]'', if you manage to do three sidequests on Hector's route, you learn that [[spoiler:Nergal's desire to open the Dragon's Gate was originally because he wanted his children, Ninian and Nils, back. However, the dark magic he practiced corrupted him, to the point that he no longer even remembers his children or why he wanted to open the Gate in the first place.]]
** ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'' gives us [[spoiler:Lyon. It all started with a premonition of a devastating earthquake, leading him to experiment with Grado's Sacred Stone. Then his father dies, and Lyon's attempts at necromancy leads to the demon king Fomortiis possessing him and wreaking havoc on the world.]] However, it should be noted that in Ephraim's route, [[spoiler:Lyon is a bit more in control compared to Eirika's route, meaning some of the atrocities he committed were done on his own volition, even if Fomortiis gave him a little nudge.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'':
** ''Undertale'' has this in the form of [[spoiler:Asgore Dreemurr. After the death of his son at the hands of humans, he becomes overcome with rage that declares that he will gather the seven human souls needed to break the barrier sealing the monsters away in the Underground and declare war on humanity. Said declaration made his wife leave him in disgust and exile herself to the Ruins, and it's clear that he regrets his decision now, but his declaration gave monsters hope of finally being able to see the surface, so now he has to go through with it, and he's absolutely tortured by it (especially since it's implied that the player character won't be the first human child who died because of his plans.)]]
** [[spoiler:His son, Asriel, is also one. He clung desperately to the memory of his OnlyFriend, the First Child. Even sadder, it's likely that they never loved him back at all and only used Asriel to initiate [[OmnicidalManiac their]] [[KillEmAll plans]]. After their death, Asriel absorbed their soul out of grief and went through the barrier just to place them on a bed of flowers in their village. Thinking that Asriel killed the Child, the villagers attacked him until he was fatally wounded and died back home, only for his "dust" to spread all over a garden.]] [[spoiler:Eventually, due to experiments with determination, he wakes up unable to feel not only his limbs, but any form of compassion whatsoever. Over time, due to boredom, he uses the power to SAVE to kill everyone over and over until the protagonist comes along. We know him now as [[BigBad Flowey]].]]
* Kazuya Mishima from ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}}''. Right now, he's basically the host of the Devil that shares all his evil ambitions for world domination and crushing the weak beneath his heel. However, he UsedToBeASweetKid and had a lot of loving embrace from his grandfather Jinpachi and his mother Kazumi, and he truly loves both of them. His father Heihachi, on the other hand, is a complete bastard and once he took over Kazuya's training, he became disgusted at Kazuya's softness from the previous training by Jinpachi and tossed him to a cliff for a test of strength. The only way for Kazuya to survive was to latch onto his hatred to his father and make a DealWithTheDevil. And from that point on, he became DrunkWithPower and becomes the unrepentant villain we know of, but his first descent to villainy was something that was really out of his control.
* "VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog" has some. One example is Gerald Robotnik. He was a genuinely good man, and a scientist who was his nephew Eggman's role model, and a good father to Maria and Shadow. However, after the humans killed his daughter Maria for trying to enter earth with her disease, Gerald became obsessed with revenge, and could not even stop himself from creating his plan to destroy earth.
** His creation, Shadow The Hedgehog is also an iconic example. Maria was the only friend he ever had, and would basically do anything for her. Gerald knew this, and therefore he re-installed Shadow's mind to remember it as if she asked him for revenge. For that, he almost destroyed earth, until Amy convinced him that while [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold humans can be selfish and cruel, they are trying their best to get a better world]], and then he remembers what Maria truly asked him for: To help the humans of earth. That's where he does a HeelFaceTurn and sacrificed himself.
** Chaos. He did everything out of protection for the Chao, and seeked vengeance on all echidnas after their leader, Pachachamac, ordered them to kill Tikal, which truly hurt him.
** Pachacamac was also one himself, as he blindly believed he was protecting his people.
** There's also Eggman Nega. He was always mistreated for his failures.
* ''Franchise/MortalKombat''
** Scorpion is so blinded by revenge against the Lin Kuei for killing his clan that he ends up becoming an UnwittingPawn to just about everyone, [[spoiler:including Quan Chi, the bastard who was actually responsible for his family's murder]].
** Reptile just wants to save his people from extinction so he latches on to the most powerful bad guy who only sees him as a tool. Reptile never survives in every game.
** Smoke is a fundamentally good person who [[YouCantFightFate can't avoid his inevitable fate]]. In [=MK9=], he doesn't become a cyborg [[spoiler:but he is killed and resurrected as a demon]].
* Tatsumaru from ''VideoGame/{{Tenchu}}'' was leader of the Azuma ninja until he was presumed dead in battle. Turned out he suffered amnesia and defected to the Burning Dawn and he helped massacre his own clan. He recovered his memory but it was too late so he killed himself (because Ayame couldn't) to atone.
* Vendra Prog is this from ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankIntoTheNexus'' because her parents sent her and her brother away from their home to escape Mr.Eye. They were found by galatic authorities and put into a bad orphanage where they were constantly picked on. Vendra discovered Mr. Eye and was tricked into thinking he was her friend so she wanted to go back home and harmed a lot of people to do so.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Kirei Kotomine, the BigBad of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. He was born with a mental defect that made it so that the only thing he could find pleasure in was the suffering of other people. However, he still had a ''conscience'', and every time he enjoyed someone suffering, he recognized that it was ''wrong''. Disgusted with himself, he tried out a number of different vocations in the hopes that he would be able to enjoy one without bringing harm to others-- he even married an IllGirl, whom bore him a child. But when she killed herself to try and prove that he could feel emotions, he realized that he would have been more satisfied if ''he had killed her himself''. He gave up at that point, setting the plot of the game in motion.
** Also Archer in the Unlimited Blade Works route, who fought so hard to be a hero and save people, only to break under the realization that he couldn't actually accomplish anything, leading to his desire to [[spoiler: kill his past self before he can pursue that path.]]
* Every murderer, with the notable exception of [[spoiler: the BigBad, Junko Enoshima]] from ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' and ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganRonpa2''. They all kill because of the horrifying situation they've been put into.
** For the first game:
*** [[spoiler: Leon Kuwata: accepts a late-night invitation from Sayaka Maizono, but she attempts to kill him and he is forced to defend himself. The manga makes him more sympathetic by showing that the fatal blow was actually accidental and that he was tortured by memories of what he did.]]
*** [[spoiler: Mondo Oowada: kills Chihiro Fujisaki in a fit of rage after Chihiro reveals his secret to him, enraged by the seemingly pathetic Chihiro being strong enough to be true to himself while Mondo himself had never gotten over his brother's death. It's strongly implied later in the game that a similar event happened in the less stressful pre-Despair, with Mondo accepting Chihiro and the two becoming good friends.]]
*** [[spoiler: Hifumi Yamada: manipulated by Celestia Ludenberg into thinking Kiyotaka Ishimaru had stolen the AI he had befriended (ItMakesSenseInContext), made to kill Taka as a pawn, then he is betrayed by Celeste and killed. Celeste, for the record, is the closest we have to an unsympathetic killer, but she was compelled to kill after being offered enough money to live out the European-style castle fantasy she had dreamed of, thereby casting off her hated former identity of Taeko Yasuhiro.]]
*** [[spoiler: Sakura Oogami: chooses to TakeAThirdOption and commit suicide after Monokuma threatens to kill her family and destroy the dojo if she does not kill another student. The ensuing trial is genuinely heartrending, with best friend Aoi Asahina so distraught (with the help of a fake suicide note) that she believes that none of them deserve to live after driving Sakura to suicide and tries to get all of the remaining students killed.]]
** And for the second game:
*** [[spoiler: Teruteru Hanamura: mistakenly kills "Byakuya Togami" while attempting to foil Nagito Komaeda's own murder plot, and after his guilt is revealed, his only thoughts are of the health of his mother.]]
*** [[spoiler: Peko Pekoyama: believing she is a tool to her Young Master, Fuyuhiko Kuzuryuu, she kills Mahiru Koizumi after stepping into a confrontation between the two. Fuyuhiko tries to take responsibility for the murder, but loves and cares about Peko too much to see her as a mere tool. Fuyuhiko even tries to save Peko from her execution, but is injured himself and Peko shields him as she is executed.]]
*** [[spoiler: Mikan Tsumiki: catches the Despair Disease, causing her to regain memories of her past as Ultimate Despair and, in a desperate attempt to appease her beloved (Junko), kills Ibuki Mioda, as well as Hiyoko Saionji whose only mistake was to stumble upon the scene. The circumstances that lead to Mikan joining Ultimate Despair in the first place are equally tragic; she was bullied all her life (explaining her ExtremeDoormat personality) and devoted herself to Junko because she was the first to show her "true kindness", all the while letting herself be manipulated.]]
*** [[spoiler: Gundham Tanaka: makes a death pact with Nekomaru Nidai, in which both will be sacrificed so the remaining students will not starve in the Fun House.]]
*** [[spoiler: Chiaki Nanami: after finding out that all the students bar Chiaki are former Ultimate Despair members, Nagito Komaeda orchestrates his own elaborate death, manipulating the odds so that Chiaki will be the one to "kill" him, but the "murder" will be unsolveable so that all of the students except Chiaki will die and hope will win in the end. Thanks to his extraordinary luck, he ''almost'' succeeds. Chiaki is willingly executed, but returns in spirit (she is an AI in the game, after all) to keep Hajime away from the DespairEventHorizon in the last trial.]]
* VillainProtagonist Fuminori in ''VisualNovel/SayaNoUta'', who [[DidYouJustRomanceCthulhu falls in love with an]] EldritchAbomination thanks to a unique case of agnosia that causes him to see everything around him as utterly revolting and covered in or made out of meat and organs, while Saya - the aforementioned EldritchAbomination - is the only thing that appears normal to him, leading her to become [[LivingEmotionalCrutch his only reason for living.]] After he finding out that living with her has eroded his sanity and caused him to commit murder [[spoiler: and cannibalism]], he's given the offer to have his sight returned to normal. Choosing no leads to him accepting that there's no turning back and happily crossing the MoralEventHorizon.
* The ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series has a number of examples:
** The original game has [[spoiler: Yanni Yogi]], whose fiancée was DrivenToSuicide after he was arrested under suspicion of murder. His lawyer got him an insanity verdict, but [[spoiler: Yogi]] lost everything. Years later he [[spoiler: killed his lawyer and tried to frame Edgeworth]].
** Justice For All has [[spoiler: Mimi Miney]], who lost her sister and was horribly injured in a car crash after being blamed for causing the deaths of several patients. To try and escape her old life and the accusations, she posed as her dead sister. Years later [[spoiler: she killed the man blaming her for the deaths and tried to frame Maya for his murder]].
** The same game has [[spoiler: Acro]]. He and his brother were abandoned by their parents at a young age. They were adopted into a circus, and [[spoiler:Acro]] came to see the ringmaster as a father figure. After a prank gone wrong, [[spoiler: Acro]] ended up being crippled in a lion attack while his brother was placed in a coma. [[spoiler: Acro]] tried to kill the ringmaster's daughter (who was responsible for the accident) but ended up accidentally killing the ringmaster instead. He ended up unintentionally framing an innocent man for the crime. He wanted to turn himself in and clear the other man's name, but couldn't because he was still waiting for his brother to recover from his coma.

* [[BigBad Fructose Rioflavin]] of ''WebComic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' is a dangerous, borderline psychopathic Galactic Emperor wannabe that seeks to overthrow the Nemesite Empire and [[ForTheEvulz enjoy the destruction and death that he causes]]. However, it's also revealed that he comes from a poor background, and when his father (a street bandit) attempted to rob the FatBastard Emperor at the time, he got killed in front of Rioflavin. Not only that, after Emperor also [[{{Jerkass}} mocks his death in Fructose's face]], he swore revenge upon the Nemesite Empire, but after 1900 years, Fructose has made no progress in his plan to overthrown the empire and is now a old, lonely wrench that has wasted his life for a meaningless cause.
* Snatcher [[spoiler:and Gale]] from ''Webcomic/{{Sidekicks}}''. Snatcher just wanted to get rid of her powers which she [[BlessedWithSuck viewed as a curse]] and [[spoiler:Gale]] felt hard done by after being [[spoiler:coldly dismissed as a sidekick since his father died allowing him to become one]]. Both [[spoiler:end up being killed by the same {{Jerkass}} superhero]].

[[folder: Web Original]]
* JeffTheKiller used to be a normal kid, before the TerribleTrio of Randy, Troy, and Keith tried to mug him and his brother. Jeff beat the bullies up, but they lied to the police and said Jeff attacked them first. Jeff's brother took the blame to protect him, and was sent to juvie. Already dealing with the guilt and the loss of his brother, Jeff was attacked by the bullies at a party, where they beat him close to death and set him on fire. The trauma from these events caused him to snap and become a SerialKiller.
* Machinima/RedVsBlue gives us the Meta/[[spoiler: Agent Maine]]. He starts out as a relatively ruthless solider, but he is still loyal and protective of his teammates. [[spoiler: After losing his voice defending one of his teammates, he is given the A.I. Sigma, who slowly corrupts Maine until his former personality is completely destroyed, leaving only the Meta.]] By the time season 6 comes, he has been reduced to little more than an beast. [[spoiler: Even without Sigma controlling him, he is still compelled to fulfill Sigma's ambitions simply because that is all he knows.]]
* Machinima/ArbyNTheChief: Some see Eugene Black from Season 7 this way, due to his sister's condition and his father's abuse.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BewareTheBatman'': Most of the villains on the show fall into this, especially if you exclude those affiliated with the League.
** Magpie's probably the most heart-wrenching example, as she started off as a basically good person with kleptomania, but the treatment they gave her (which she volunteered for in hopes of being cured) ends up shattering her mind, and eventually erases her good persona entirely. Even after that, the Magpie persona is largely sympathetic, as beyond her compulsion to steal she mostly just wants to be loved; it's her complete lack of impulse control and her own emotions that makes her a villain. Even Batman feels sorry for her, and of course because it's [[CrapsackWorld that kind of show]] his attempt to help her only makes things worse.
** Metamorpho's another one, as none of what happens to him is his fault and if any of the major players in his life would just treat him with a little kindness everything would be fine. [[CrapsackWorld They don't.]]
** Humpty Dumpty is yet another one, and is equally heartbreaking. He tried to do the right thing by testifying against his BadBoss Tobias Whale, but was horribly injured and driven insane by Tobias' vengeance. Humpty is left basically a super (tactically) intelligent child, who mostly just wants to play games. Unfortunately, his games involve (somewhat justifiably) getting even with the people who either attacked him or failed to protect him, so he ends up drawing the attention of Batman, who naturally tries to help me. [[CrapsackWorld It doesn't]] [[RunningGag work.]]
** And then there's Lunkhead. He used to be a basic (albeit strong) mook, but a fight with Batman left him comatose and damaged his brain. Nowadays he's basically a gigantic child who *wants* to be good, but is just a little too stupid and immature to control himself. At one point he's coerced into breaking out of jail (which he initially doesn't want to because he knows he's been bad and belongs there) with the promise of candy. And, once more with feeling, because it's [[CrapsackWorld that kind of show]] he doesn't even get the candy. Instead, he gets betrayed by his only friend and pushed off a ledge.
** Adding to the list, there's [[spoiler: Jason Burr, who starts off as a straight up good guy, and still wants to be one, but suffers from residual effects of Cipher's mind control that force him to betray his friends and try to kill his love interest.]]
** In the most recent episode, we find out that [[spoiler: Katana's father, a well-intentioned guy for the most part, was blackmailed into betraying his best friend Alfred, making him one of these. And, again, because it's this show [[CrapsackWorld he dies for it.]]]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'':
** The Ice King assumes this role when it is revealed in a WhamEpisode that [[spoiler:he used to be a normal human with a fiancé, whom he called his "princess". His ArtifactOfDoom ice crown made him go insane ''and'' made his fiancé leave him when he just tried it on for a laugh, and turned him into a hermit that constantly kidnapped princesses, subconsciously trying to get Betty back.]]
*** A later episode actually reveals [[spoiler: Betty didn't abandon him, as she was running in fear from him in his insanity, The Ice King from the future had temporarly turned back to normal and opened a portal through time to say one last goodbye. Though [[ActionGirl Betty]] basically says "Screw that" and jumps through the portal into the present day Ooo determined to find a way to permanently cure him]]
** Marceline is more of a jerk than a villain in the earlier seasons, but her backstory is quite tragic, yet not being as evil as other examples.
** Lemongrab. He is a creation [[AmbiguousDisorder with mental problems]], it is impossible for him to have a social relationship for that condition (which it has led to suicidal thoughts), [[HairTriggerTemper is uncontrollably impulsive]], his mother locked him in his castle for a long time, bullied him and has long been in his own solitude. The Lemonjon's death probably contributed much to his AxCrazy behavior (note that he has in his mind thoughts like "rage" suffer "), as well as a revelation in the second videogame.
** Magic Man is probably one as well. He seems to live deeply depressed by the death of his girlfriend, and that's the reason why torture other creatures.
* Mr. Burns from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. He was a CheerfulChild, but his grandfather, a cruel and insensitive man, was the reason why he is the man we know today. He lured him away from his loving parents and forcibly adopted Burns. There's also the loss of his teddy bear, Bobo, but that may or may not have actually contributed to it.
* Roger Smith from ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad''. It is revealed that he is so evil because his species releases a bile that kills them if they don't "let their bitchiness out". Made worse when it is revealed the reason he is trapped on Earth is that the others of his species wanted to get rid of him.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'' gives us [[BigBad Nox]], a [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity crazed]] time mage out to gain power by any means necessary, no matter who he has to hurt. Why? [[spoiler:[[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong So he can go back in time to save his family]]. In the process of doing, all of the damage he's done will be undone, creating a better future for everyone. He fails.]]
** The kicker is that there's no possible way for him to win. [[spoiler:Attempt TimeTravel? [[WrongTimeTravelSavvy It goes directly against the setting's cosmology]] and ultimately fails to work. If it had? Incur risk of the TimeCrash.]] Hypothetical perfect situation where neither of the above happens? [[spoiler:He'd likely become distant with his family all over again, considering they left him in the first place for being [[WhenYouComingHomeDad cold and unstable]].]]
*** Worst part is [[spoiler: He beat the heroes and started to travel back in time. Only reason he didn't win? He was only able to go back 20 minutes in time, just barely enough to save the Sadida from extinction.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Prince Zuko. The snarling, angry, ruthless teenager turns out to be a WellDoneSonGuy who just wants to return home and be loved by his [[AbusiveParents father]]. Who mutilated him and then exiled him from the kingdom on a lifelong SnipeHunt over his speaking out against a plan to use a squad of raw recruits as cannon fodder to bait a trap for an enemy regiment.
** [[spoiler: His sister Azula too, in a different and arguably MORE tragic sense. While she seems to blatantly be a ManipulativeBastard and TheSociopath (our first sighting of her is of her ''smiling with joy'' as her brother gets his face burnt), it eventually turns out that her viciousness and cruelty were encouraged by her father, but her DaddysLittleVillain training alienated her from her mother and she has no idea how to interact with others without fear and manipulation.]]
** [[spoiler: Zuko and Azula's great grandfather Sozin as well. Despite leading a genocide and killing his best friend, Sozin reflects at the end of his life whether all of it was worth it. He somberly concludes that it wasn't and dies a sad and regretful man seeing his life as a waste, despite what the Fire Nation history books would write.]]
** From ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', [[spoiler:both Tarrlok and Amon/Noatak. The sons of the very evil Yakone who trained them to bloodbend seeing them as nothing more than possible tools of vengeance against the Avatar and Republic City. Yakone's abuse of both him and his brother caused Noatak to run away and conclude that bending was the ultimate evil, becoming a self-loathing KnightTemplar and taking on the identity of Amon. Tarrlok eventually becomes a ruthless politician in Republic City and only at the end does he realize that he's become the very tool of vengeance that his father wanted him to be, just as Amon also did, having torn Republic City apart socially and politically. With this realization he decides to end both his life and Amon's in a MurderSuicide.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Amon]]:''' [[spoiler:Noatak. I'd almost forgotten the sound of my own name.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Tarrlok]]:''' [[spoiler:It'll be just like the good old days.]]
** From Book 3 of ''Korra'', P'Li. A [[HavingABlast combustionbender]] raised as human artillery by a war lord as a ''[[ChildSoldiers child]]'', she was rescued by [[KnightTemplar Zaheer]] who—despite [[UnholyMatrimony falling deeply and genuinely in love with her]]—ultimately seems to have caused a [[RescueRomance gratitude complex]] and led her to become a terrorist, costing her 13 years in prison. She's—apparently by necessity—the ''last'' of the [[RenegadeSplinterFaction Red Lotus]] to be sprung from her cell. Then, when she's finally free once again, [[spoiler:she's [[AlasPoorVillain the first to die]]—and [[YourHeadASplode violently]]—[[HoistByHerOwnPetard when her own power is turned against her]]]].
* Demona from ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}''. She seems to be aware, on some level, of her evil, but can't stop doing it or even consciously admit it to herself because that would require her to admit that much of the suffering she's experienced over her millenium-long life was her own fault. So, instead, she's the ultimate WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds, lashing out at the world around her in the hope that, if she kills enough humans (and anyone else who gets in her way), it'll be enough to make the hurting stop. She's definitely a villain who needs to go down, but you can't help but feel sorry for her, all the same
* Several established Batman villains are portrayed this way in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', as people whose lives have been consumed with a desire for revenge on the [[VillainWithGoodPublicity people]] who caused their problems. Mr. Freeze is probably the best example.
-->'''Freeze:''' Tonight I mean to pay back the man who ruined my life...''our'' lives.
-->'''Batman:''' Even if you have to kill everyone in the building to do it?
-->'''Freeze''': *nods* Think of it, Batman: to never again walk on a summer's day with a hot wind in your face, and a warm hand to hold...oh, yes. I'd kill for that.
** Even sadder, is that [[spoiler: Nora is eventually revived but Mr. Freeze refuses to let her see what he had become, so she (possibly an amnesiac) runs off to get married with her doctor offscreen which in turn destroyed what little humanity Mr. Freeze had left.]]
** Baby Doll is a former actress with a growing disease who prevents her body from developing, so that she will always look like an 8 year old kid. After a brief success in a sitcom that starred her as the troublemaking kid in a typical American family, society shuns her and she loses everything. She finally resolves to kidnap the cast of her old sitcom in a desperate attempt to live her fantasy of a "normal" life. Its really driven home at the end of the episode when, during a climactic chase through a hall of mirrors, she ends up staring into one which (somehow) distorts her image into that of a full-grown adult. She drops her cutesy voice and persona, breaks down crying, and shoots out the mirror before surrendering to Batman.
--> "Look! That's me in there, the REAL me! There I am... but its not really real is it? Just made up and pretend like my family! And my life! And everything else!"
** One-shot villain Lock-Up may not be the best person on Earth (he's cruel to inmates under his charge as the warden of Arkham Asylum) but considering he's [[StrawmanHasAPoint right that the legal system in Gotham encourages Batman's rogues gallery]] to keep coming back, putting everyday people at risk, he goes over the deep end into villainy himself because he's fired for being too tough. While cruelty isn't good by any standards, the fact that he was working with people like the Joker and Scarecrow means he was effectively canned for not being nice enough to serial killers and professional terrorists.
** Then there is Calendar Girl who is getting revenge at the modeling world after they fired her for being too old (she is in her late twenties at least) and making her ugly. When the mask comes off she is beautiful but is absolutely horrified seeing her own face. Best put by Batman.
-->'''Batgirl''': She's beautiful.
-->'''Batman''': She can't see that anymore. All she can see is the flaws.
** Clayface. He starts out as a stressed actor, desperately looking for more Clay (which lets him hide that his face was horribly disfigured years ago) so he can continue his career. However, when a group of thugs overloaded him with it, he turned into a clayed-out monster, and he's not happy about it.
* Lord Garmadon from Lego's ''Franchise/{{Ninjago}}''. Bitten by the Great Devourer and infected with his evil, he cannot fight that side of him. He struggles to be a good father to his son Lloyd and lets him make his own choices and follow his own destiny, even if it means that the two are destined to battle in the future.
** Pythor P Chumsworth was out to destroy humanity for the fact that he believed that they were out to get other snakes.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'':
** It is implied that the cruel treatment Eric Cartman receives from his schoolmates for being fat and his ButtMonkey status in previous seasons (abducted by aliens and being teased by Scott Tenorman) made him the sadistic AxCrazy psycho we know today in "Scott Tenorman Must Die". That, and he hasn't known who his father was for the longest time, causing him a not insignificant amount of grief. In the lack of a readily-available father figure, he turns to sometimes-dubious substitutes, most notably Chef.
** Professor Chaos, Butters's villanous SecretIdentity in the season 6. After the main boys snub him, he adopts the alter-ego "Professor Chaos", and plots to drown the world... with a garden hose.
** Scott Tenorman, the villain of the 200/201 episodes. While he was not such a nice guy before the events in "Scott Tenorman Must Die", still counts.
* Dr. Doofenshmirtz from ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb''. Parodied in [[WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerbTheMovieAcrossTheSecondDimension the movie]] when Doofenshmirtz-2 tells Doof that "[[DrivenToVillainy true evil is born through pain and loss]]" before explaining that the only reason he became evil was the tragic event [[spoiler:of losing his toy train as a child]].
* Dr. Drakken of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' became a villain after his college friends laughed at him, one of which was the father of his ArchEnemy.
* World from ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends''. He destroyed his own world in rage when the gang tried to take Frankie back home, but he has a tragic backstory and the fact that all he really wanted was a friend who was willing to stay with him.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'':
** Vicky, implied. It is possible that she has a FreudianExcuse for her actions and had DarkAndTroubledPast which made her the way she is now? The episode "Snow Bound" suggests that she had rough childhood. Later episodes, however, {{Flanderiz|ation}}ed her to be so evil, even her parents are afraid of her.
** Crocker wants to destroy all fairies due to losing his own fairies as a child, and became the AxCrazy, SadistTeacher we know today.
* Eddy from ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' was the VillainProtagonist of the show, but it was not until TheMovie, where it is revealed he was a victim of DomesticAbuse by his older brother. At the time, he tried to find a way to impress him. After that revelation, is confirmed that he's definitely the most tragic character in the series.
* Cat from ''WesternAnimation/CatDog'' is TemporarilyAVillain and a JerkassWoobie in some episodes. But he gets beaten up on a regular basis by the greasers dogs, and always gets hurt because of Dog running around and bumping to what ever is in his path, and he suffers the repercussions of whatever Dog does.
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'':
** [[NobleDemon Dreadwing]] and [[LastOfHisKind Predaking]]. The former is an honourable warrior who went berserk upon learning of the desecration of his brother's body and the later is a revived Predacon who, thanks to [[BigBad Megatron]]'s manipulations, ended up all alone in the universe.
** Megatron himself used to be an idealist freedom fighter who could see the injustice and corruption of the society he lived in. But his lack of understanding of things like kindness and tolerance made him walk down a dark path that eventually led to the death of his own planet.
* Vlad Masters in ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' qualifies as this. When he was at college with his former best friend and crush, said friend accidentally mixed up the material needed to make a ghost portal work, which led to him becoming a ghost hybrid and him hating the culprit because of it. Years later, he discovers his creator's son who also suffers from his condition. He offers him the chance to help control his powers, but also to rule the world with him and abandon his father. He then pursues both the boy and his mother and hopes to destroy the one who started it all. However, he fails and tries making clones of the son to have as his own, but his hopes are dashed, which leads to his VillainousBreakdown.
* Nightmare Moon from ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''. Once, she was Princess Luna, one of the two royal sisters who saved Equestria from [[GodOfEvil Discord]], freed the Crystal Empire from [[EvilOverlord King Sombra]] and ruled over Equestria with her sister, Princess Celestia. She felt that no one appreciated her night because they slept through it, which led to her becoming resentful toward her sister and attempting to bring about eternal night. She is returned to the side of good early on from the main protagonists' intervention.
* The Brain, of ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' spinoff ''WesternAnimation/PinkyAndTheBrain'', who is doomed to failure every episode because of his tragic flaw, GenreBlindness. His plans have been shown at points to be purely power-hungry, but he's also shown to be wanting to rule the world because he thinks he can do a far better job (that appears to be Pinky's position at least -- and considering the intelligence level of the world as depicted in the show... he could be right). In the historically inaccurate episode of "{{Freakazoid}}" (where he travels back in time), it was shown as much in an alternate time-line where he's president of the U.S.A. and things seem to have worked out pretty well. He is unable to anticipate the [[HilarityEnsues wacky hijinks]] which will inevitably result from the fact that this is a Warner Brothers cartoon, and so inevitably either Pinky's bumbling or his own carelessly chosen reactions end each plan in disappointment. In one episode, a prognosticative observation shows a future elderly Pinky & the Brain still locked in their labmouse cage, still plotting to TakeOverTheWorld.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'':
** Abrakadaver. Once a magician who wanted to try and do a magic trick with a little girl's bunny. When he made the bunny disappear, an iron maiden hit him and he fell into a coffin after dying. He then comes back a zombie trying to destroy humanity for being responsible for his death.
** The Sandman. He hardly ever gets any sleep, because people are making so much noise at night, and he has lived like that in years. This has caused him to attempt to make the whole town sleep forever, so that he can finally sleep himself.
** Mojo Jojo was one in ThePowerpuffGirlsMovie. The movie revealed that he started out as a WellIntentionedExtremist, who believed that his race were looked down upon humans, and that had caused him to go against humans along with his race. Albeit his quote: "For too long, apes and monkeys have been living under the thumb of man! Well, the time has come, to oppose that thumb, and give back what was rightfully ours. The world!!!"
** In the comics, he also regrets what he has done, and wants to become Jojo again. When he does turn back to Jojo anyhow, he becomes Mojo Jojo again, by a mistake.
** Elmer Sglue. He started out as a boy who liked eating glue. Other kids picked on him for it, and he was pushed so hard that he became a glue-monster, and became a destructive threat towards Townsville. In the end, he just wanted Buttercup to apologise to him, and he pulls a HeelFaceTurn afterwards.
* A few in ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'':
** [[ButtMonkey Blendin Blandin]] only tried to RetGone Dipper and Mabel [[WhatTheHellHero after the two unapologetically ruined his life.]] [[spoiler: The twins realize this, and manage to make amends.]]
** The Summerween Trickster. Every year kids throw away the "loser candy" he's made of, and all he ever wanted was someone to say he tasted good.