troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Used to Be a Sweet Kid
Ciel Phantomhive, from a child...
...to the reason to fear the name "Phantomhive".

"They were kids that I once knew, they were kids that I once knew, now they're all dead hearts to you..."
Stars, "Dead Hearts"

This applies when a villain or other dark and troubled/troubling character was not so as a child: the trope name also tends to appear as a Stock Phrase in these cases. Works, and audiences, may vary considerably as to what point they consider a character to be past the adolescent stage here, but post-adolescents in general need not apply.

Aversions will usually be notable here, given expectations that Children Are Innocent, or that there's at least some Ambiguous Innocence even when Kids Are Cruel, so people will tend to assume a Start of Darkness must have happened, and that there will be a Freudian Excuse that will explain (if not excuse) all. By extension, this trope frequently applies through subversion, inversion etc. where an Enfant Terrible, Creepy Child, or Axe Crazy junior initially manages to get past everyone's radar but is actually a little horror from the start. ("And he seemed like such a nice kid"). Often, it is not clear which a character fits under, which in turn often leads to a Flame War, especially if the character is also a Draco in Leather Pants.

Generally, the trope tends to be reserved for villains near the Big Bad end of the villain spectrum, but can also be played for What Measure Is a Mook?. Also, while this is most commonly a villain trope, it can apply to characters who are not so much aligned with evil as troubled, bitter and twisted, cynical, jerky, despairing, lacking in emotions or differently sane. Or an Anti-Hero. Or just going through puberty. (In the latter case, expect the parents to invoke the trope name.)

When played straight, this trope tends towards Rousseau Was Right, though if other villains and darksiders in the same work do not fall under this trope, Rousseau may have only a partial victory, and the trope is sometimes used as the exception that proves the rule in Hobbes Was Right or Humans Are the Real Monsters scenarios. Also frequently used, straight or otherwise, to make more or less anvilicious points about free will, destiny, individual responsibility, or the moral version of Failure Is the Only Option.

Handled well, this trope can really add depth and complexity: handled badly, especially by combination with a poorly executed Freudian Excuse, it tends to cause Badass Decay and Villain Decay.

Often related to From Nobody to Nightmare, though the character may be of some prominence from an early age, or even from birth. This subset of the trope can be heart-breaking, as when a long-awaited Chosen One turns bad. Also often the precursor to Break the Cutie and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. In these cases, expect it to be Played for Drama with extra Tear Jerker moments. It's also often invoked to make the audience Cry for the Devil.

Sometimes, the "used to be nice" stage may be revealed only retrospectively, often by a third party, and the villain himself/herself may treat the "sweet kid" stage as an Old Shame that undermines their Villain Cred. This last one may be Played for Laughs, as the villain furiously denies their Pet the Dog past, often complete with stomping on cutesy childhood toys and memorabilia. Or it may be Played for Drama in an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight with the good guys.

Compare to She's All Grown Up, in which the character may have been a sweet kid, but is now a very attractive woman. Compare Used To Be More Social in which the character used to be a social butterfly, but has become introverted and withdrawn.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Butler
    • Pictured above: Ciel Phantomhive. He's a cynical, callous, and very driven 12-year-old (or 13, depending on how far you are in the series), is a Chess Master and Wise Beyond His Years. He has no qualms about getting involved in dangerous missions and will command his badass butler Sebastian to kill someone without a second thought. He has also been shown slapping and insulting individuals for being too comfortable with touching or speaking to him. The only individual he appears to genuinely care for is his fiance, Elizabeth Middleford, although he does seem to view her as a bit of a distraction and a nuisance, at times. In the anime, he appears downright cruel at times, although in the manga, he is simply just icy and elitist. It's eventually revealed that he was a happy, loving, carefree child before his tenth birthday. Then his parents were murdered, the mansion set on fire, and he was kidnapped. He was locked in a cage with other children his age and eventually was to be a child sacrifice until he accidentally called upon a demon in his desperation to live.
    • Alois Trancy in the second season. He was shown to be cute and innocent as a child but then his foster family died in front of him, from unknown supernatural means, including his adoptive brother and only friend, and then he was horrifyingly raped and abused by his master, Lord Trancy, alongside other boys. A few years later he's shown to be creepily Ax-Crazy.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
    • Jotaro Kujo. First we see him in past as an little boy playing with mom and as an model student, and on the next page he's in a cell, terrorizing fellow prisoners and telling his mother to shut up.
    • Subverted later on in the manga when Alessi uses his stand to de-age Jotaro to about seven years, and Jotaro was still capable of pounding Alessi pretty seriously, and still had his not-accepting-any-nonsense mentality which, given the way Alessi's stand works (its victims don't remember anything from the years they lose), Jotaro must have had even then.
    • Diego Brando was shown to be a really nice kid in his childhood. That is until his mother died from being overworked by the unfair farm owner they were working for. That combined with the knowledge that his father had abandoned him drove him to become ruthlessly ambitious to prove that he's above people like his father by any means necessary.
      • Subverted with his original universe counterpart Dio Brando though, who despite having a similar abused childhood is noted by Speedwagon to be someone who's completely evil by nature.
  • Roberto, The Dragon from Monster, is retrospectively revealed to have been a sweet kid (gave up his cup of hot chocolate to give it to a sick friend, liked to collect bugs but would always let them go because he couldn't bring himself to kill them). Then the Orphanage of Fear really got to him - and as for the later character he shows in the story proper, let's just say "wouldn't hurt a fly" is not the phrase that leaps to mind.
    • Johan Liebert, the series' Big Bad, is about a deconstruction of this trope.
    • Peter Capek is another example. Once an ordinary kid, now a Mind Rape-inflicting fiend.
      • Even played with with Peter Capek, as his semi-Forgotten Childhood Friend, who grew up to be a normal dentist, attempts to kill him for what he's become at one point. His friend is shot dead before he can get a shot off, and seeing his now-remembered friend's death effects Peter for the rest of his life (a few more days).
  • Michio Yuki from Osamu Tezuka's MW is a sweet-natured, rather shy kid till the age of nine when he gets, in short order, taken hostage, molested, and exposed to potentially lethal neurotoxins that fuck up his mind terribly. After that, he goes "a bit" off the rails.
    • Osamu Tezuka loved this trope. Most incarnations of Rock have a similar story. Perhaps the most heartbreaking example is Adolf Kaufman, one of the three title characters of Adolf. As a child he befriends a young jewish boy and resists his Nazi father's hateful ways, but he's soon shipped off to a Nazi training school and it all goes downhill from there...
  • In Full Metal Panic!, one side story focusing on Sousuke and Kalinin's backstory showed that Sousuke was this. During his childhood, when he was rescued by Kalinin and they spent time together, Kalinin was shown to love Sousuke and grow so attached to "that sweet and gentle boy" to the point where he really wanted to adopt him as his own. Then they got separated, and the next time they meet, they met as enemies, with Sousuke becoming the Nietzsche Wannabe Stoic that we know today.
  • Naruto has done this repeatedly with major characters.
    • Gaara, despite his great power, just wanted to have friends. However, after one horror too many, he snapped and became an Ax-Crazy Dark Magical Boy with Omnicidal Maniac tendencies. He got better after the main character beat some sense back into him again.
    • Sasuke used to be a genuinely likable, out-going child. Then Itachi broke his mind repeatedly and other shit happened. He is currently The Dragon of the Big Bad, and things won't get any better anytime soon.
      • Sasuke went through this twice. Even after the Mind Rape and trauma he was an asocial, aloof boy but not too off. It's during the Chunin Exams, especially just after them, where he began going off the handles.
    • As a child, Nagato looked like he could be a Messianic Archetype. Then...things hit the fan, he renamed himself "Pain" and decided it was better to be a Dark Messiah.
    • Orochimaru was one of the Legendary Sannin, and he showed great promise as the next Hokage. He was a kind and helpful orphan, but then he got the idea that he could either bring his dead parents back or extend his own lifespan enough to meet them again when they got reincarnated, if he got more powerful. And he started doing questionable experiments, and becoming a demon.
    • Itachi himself was an adorable boy who genuinely loved his brother and his village. After shit hits the fan, he seems like the biggest Jerk Ass in history, until we find out why he is how he is. He had watched countless people die in a bloody world war, and it gets worse after that.note 
    • Sasori. LOOK at this boy!. His parents died when he was very young and his grandmother kept lying to him that they were away on a mission. He grew so alone from the lack of love from his mother and father that—when Chiyo taught him the art of puppets—his first two creations were that of his Mom and Dad. But they could never replace the kindness, love, and affection that human parents could provide, which lead to the development of his twisted views on immortality, the sanctity of life, and how it was so fleeting and needed to be preserved... Cold, emotionless, stoic, and impatient with wasting time. Gee, thanks Sand Village!
    • The Kyuubi, erm, Kurama of all people...the other Bijuu too. We see them all as young beasts with the Sage of Six Paths shortly before his death, and Kurama is tearing up at the imminent loss of the man. It turns out that countless years of being treated as monsters led them to become what they are, but they've now found a human they can believe in: Naruto.
    • Konan. She used to be a sweet little girl, then things happened.
    • And as of chapter 582, if his flashback is to be believed, Kabuto.
    • And now it seems that the Big Bad is this trope as well. Chapter 599 is a montage of Obito Uchiha as a kid, leading up to his Heroic Sacrifice and supposed death. It then cuts to the present where Tobi's mask has shattered to reveal himself as Obito.
    • Even the real Madara Uchiha qualifies. We see in a flashback that, while being a bit of a loner, he was a dreamer whose sincerest desires were to protect his brother and put an end to the clan wars.
    • Pretty much any villain in this series whose childhood we get to see ends up being this, it's one of the themes of the series - people aren't born evil, the ninja system makes them that way.
    • Furthermore, every single of these former sweet kid have direct parallels with Naruto - in short, they are essentially what will happen if Naruto snapped.
  • Teru Mikami of Death Note was a really sweet kid who would always defend the weak and was a Bully Hunter. As he got older, the fact that most people seemed to tolerate bullying gave him an intense sense of Black and White Morality which was strengthened when some of his bullies ended up being killed in an accident. Once he got his hands on the titular Artifact of Doom, he ended up as the craziest person in a series filled with some fairly unstable people.
    • To a degree, also Misa Amane. Had her parents not been killed by a burglar when she was a little girl, she would've possibly grown into the same beautiful and popular Idol Singer she was in canon... but without the Ax-Crazy Yandereness.
    • Light Yagami. Nice, normal family, top of his class, popular with other students... and he's killed God knows how many people by the end of the second episode.
      • Light and Misa were distinctly never normal; they have emotional impairments of some kind. It's possible Misa developed her psychopathic tendencies somewhere between her parents' deaths and meeting Rem, given she's had actual trauma and a showbiz career to mess with her head, but Light is pretty...empty.
      • Or not—the fact that he dropped tennis because it was pointless and several other moments indicate that, even if he was always broken inside, it had been getting worse before he found the titular Artifact of Doom.
      • When Light temporarily forgets about the Death Note, he returns to being a nice, morally sound person. In other words, he was just a REALLY bad case of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Lucy from Elfen Lied, who started out as a kind-hearted but shy little girl, but through enough torment, crippling loneliness, and a psychotic inner voice became an Ax-Crazy mass murderer bent on killing all humans.
  • Simply one person: Doctor Jizabel. If you've read Godchild, especially volume 7 and more especially the Misericorde chapters you know he's a perfect example.
  • Lampshaded in Lucky Star, when Konata and Kagami talk about how when criminals are arrested in real life and people who knew them are interviewed, they will always say things to the effect of, "he wasn't a bad kid." Kagami then says that if Konata ever gets caught, she'll tell the media that she had "always figured she'd do something like that".
  • Most of the Egrigori experimental children were like this, before whatever processes they were put through were completed. The Keiths mostly became bloodthirsty psychopaths who had no problem killing anyone they had to and Alice developed a dark side to her previously sweet personality after being shot and taken over by an AI. The fact that the kids were treated terribly and given almost no positive human contact could explain a lot (Keith Green genuinely grew to love Katsumi because she was the first person who was nice to him.)
  • Mao from Code Geass was a sweet, innocent little boy until C.C. gave him his Geass power. After she abandoned him in the hope of making him not rely on her it ultimately broke him completely and drove him insane, so he turned into a Psychopathic Manchild with no grip on reality who Mind Rapes the local All-Loving Hero and the Knight in Shining Armor and kidnaps the Ill Girl... To say that his opponent, the Ill Girl's Dark Messiah, was pissed off at him, is an understatement.
    • This is a prominent theme in Code Geass, while some characters like Rolo are proven to always have been killing machines since childhood (and often, like in Rolo's case, thanks to the brutal training and brainwashing coming from the Geass Cult), loads of characters started out like sweet kids even up to the Emperor but also including, C.C., Suzaku, possibly Cornelia and Clovis, Karen and Lelouch Lamperouge.
  • Lucia, from Rave Master. He goes from being a sweet little 6 year old who hides behind his mom when he sees a stranger to being a psycho-killer at the age of 16. He's somewhat forgiven for that because he spent the ten year gap between those two points locked in prison for no good reason after having to watch his mother get shot down.
  • Fist of the North Star: There was a little boy who loved his adoptive father, a martial arts master. Then his father decided to take in some students and teach them his art. The boy felt left out, especially when his father refused to teach him. The boy pushed and begged until his father decided to teach him as well... and that little boy grew up to be Jagi. The story doesn't have a happy ending.
    • There was a tiny baby, abandoned by his parents and adopted by another martial arts master. Though trials were difficult, and the regiment strict, never once did the little boy feel that it was a burden, being driven by nothing more than his love for his adoptive father. Then came the time, when he became 15, to inherit his master's style after a final trial and become and adult. The little boy's name was Souther, and neither does this story have a happy ending. Well, almost had.
    • There also was a young boy, left orphaned with his younger brother, who knew that crying will not make things better, and instead aspired to become stronger along with his brother. As the two get adopted by a martial arts master, the two finally learn to become stronger and this young child aspires to greater glory in his quest for strength. This boy grew up to be Raoh, but his story does have a happier ending.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia brings us resident Psychopathic Manchild Russia, who was just adorable and sane (and oh-so-woobie) as a child. Then came this and this, and I don't think this did him any favors.
    • There's also his sister, resident Yandere Belarus. We see her in her, Russia's and Ukraine's backstory as a cute little girl who clings to her brother and pouts to her older sister. And then, we see her now, as a scary strange girl in a frilly Elegant Gothic Lolita dress...
    • America from England's perspective, who used to be a sweet boy and just adored England. Then, we all know what happened next.
    • England too, apparently. The youngest we've seen him was in the Passing Through The Year 1000 strip, when he happily agreed to let France pretend to have conquered him. From there he became a very unhappy child, then a "juvenile delinquent" who's hobby was piracy, and eventually settling into the Tsundere we know and love now.
  • Clair Leonelli of Heat Guy J. He used to be a cute chibi with a very demure personality. After years of abuse from his dad, he eventually went insane, killed his father, and became Daisuke Aurora's puppy-kicking arch-nemesis. He does get a Heel-Face Turn, however.
  • The main character Jae Hyuk of the manwha Immortal Regis started out as a sweet Ordinary High-School Student devoted to caring for his Ill Boy little brother. Then both of them got dragged into another dimension full of swords and sorcery and monsters. Jae Hyuk is forced into the role of The Hero while his little brother eventually becomes the host of the Big Bad. Over the course of the series Jae Hyuk becomes more and more jaded and bitter about having his old life ripped away from him (being turned into an undead abomination didn't help either). In the sequel series Cavalier of the Abyss which takes place years later, Jae Hyuk has become the new king of the other world. The first thing we see him do is ruthlessly order The Purge of a village of suspected rebels — men, women, and children alike are all put to the sword. He also chops off the arm of a soldier who questioned his orders. He's not so sweet anymore.
  • Miharu Rokujou from Nabari No Ou.
  • Adam Blade from NEEDLESS, who is, to put it mildly, a violent Lolicon Anti-Hero. Even his foster-father wonders just what had gone wrong in the process. This is actually a plot point that is currently on-going in the manga.
  • Chouji Suitengu, back then known as Ueno Takeshi from Speed Grapher was a pretty sweet kid, who loved playing games with his little sister. Then his parents were murdered for not being able to pay their debt to the Roppongi Club. Suitengu was sold off as a child soldier, almost killed during his final mission, and then turned into a Frankenstein stitch job. Nowadays, he's a textbook example of Four Eyes, Zero Soul.
  • Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki wasn't always such a psycho girl. When Yukiteru and Minene go three years to the past it turns out that despite her abuse, she still was hopeful and idealistic.
    1st World Yuno: When did I become so twisted?
  • Sofia Irininskaya Pavlovena aka Balalaika from Black Lagoon used to be a pretty, young and seemingly friendly girl who wore her hair in Girlish Pigtails and whose dream was to do her family proud in the Olympics as a sharpshooter. That is...until the Afghanistan War.
  • Surprisingly, Guts from Berserk was actually a sweet and innocent kid. The downfall started when he was three and his foster mother Sys died of the plague, leaving him to be raised by his sadistic and hateful foster father Gambino. Even after being trained for war and serving on the front lines, he was still a pretty innocent kid, until the night after his first battle when Gambino sold him to another soldier for three silver coins, a soldier who liked little boys in the wrong way, resulting in a traumatic rape despite Guts' best efforts to fight the man off. The following day when Guts coldly murdered the man was the point of no return. When he was finally forced to kill Gambino in self-defense and was driven out of the camp by a mob intent on killing him, he became bitter, hateful and cut off from other people.
  • Millions Knives, the Big Bad of Trigun. Anime him...kinda, but the psycho tendencies were there even before he flipped out and became a full-blown Creepy Child. Manga Knives...had something much better to flip out over, and before that, just listen to the kid.
    Knives]]: There's no difference between people's hearts and ours, so if we try, I'm sure everyone can understand each other.
    • This attitude did not survive contact with For Science!! Look at your big sister's preserved vivisected corpse, and the records of how the only people you've ever known experimented her to death before she was a year old! See the lovely metastasized cancers from all the scans!
    • It's obvious Vash was a cute kid, who briefly believed Humans Are Bastards after finding out about his and Knives' sister, but snapped out of it thanks to Rem, but flashbacks reveal Wolfwood was as well...more recently than you might think. And Livio, despite already being psychotic at the time, too.
    • Manga Legato gets a dubious entry, because while there is nothing innocent about his flashback (he was a kept catamite who was discovered in a plan to kill everyone he'd ever known and was therefore being raped to death when Knives turned up and coincidentally sliced up everyone but him, because he subconsciously used his psychic powers in self-defense), it's practically impossible not to get choked up at the look on his face when he realizes Knives is going to allow him to live and follow, and he admits he has no name.
  • Ken Ichijouji from Digimon Adventure 02. He got better.
    • This trope tends to recur throughout the manga adaptations of Digimon. Digimon V-Tamer 01 had Neo Saiba, and Digimon Next had Shou Kahara. They also got better at the end.
    • Kiriha Aonuma from Digimon Xros Wars is shown to be gentle as a child in his back story. His father critiques that Kiriha must learn to be stronger, which leads to him being a Jerk Ass. He gets better as well.
  • The first line in the Baccano! novel set in 1705 is from Huey Laforet's mother, talking about how innocent he was. A couple of hundred years since, he's become a Mad Scientist who sees all humans (including his own children) as "raw materials."
  • Sakurako aka Youya from Sakura Gari was a sweet and adorable child, right until she witnessed the death of her mother under some very screwed up circumstances which turn out to be even more screwed up than they appear. She then became a seriously Creepy Child, eventually revealed to be a total Yandere.
  • While the primary casts of Puella Magi Madoka Magica are kids by most definition, Sakura Kyouko used to be a sweet, good Japanese Christian girl who only wanted to help her father in spreading the word of his God. Unfortunately, when Minister Sakura figured out that Kyouko used magic to bring people to his church, he snapped, killed his family, and then committed suicide. Only Kyouko survived. No wonder she's such a misanthropic Jerk Ass. Also, Homura used to be Adorkable, but fighting the scheme of an Eldritch Abomination in a "Groundhog Day" Loop warped her into a cold, lonely Anti-Hero.
  • Faye Valentine of Cowboy Bebop actually used to be a very sweet idealistic child from what could be told from the lost tape found from a time capsule. It is a very sad comparison to how she is grown up.
  • A Pokémon manga called How I Became a Pokémon Card has a chapter on a boy. He's a sweet boy who takes in an injured Persian who ran away from a group that keeps "precious" Pokemon to stare at all day. Who's this boy? The infamous Yakuza boss, Giovanni.
    • Trip from Pokémon Best Wishes shows HUGE signs of this. The only flashback the audience has of him is when he meets the Champion, Alder. Back then, he was an adorable, hyperactive kid that wanted to become a Pokemon Trainer so he could battle the Champion one day. Fast forward into the present time when Ash first meets him. He's a trainer now, but the happy go lucky personality is gone. Something happened in that time period to make him change so drastically.
    • Mewtwo was actually born emotionally well adjusted; looking at the Birth Of Mewtwo radio drama, it's somewhat of a surprise to see him happily smiling and having a cheerful outlook on life. Then, of course, he meets the humans who created him and finds out that they just see him as a guinea pig; the experience turning him into a vengeful Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds in Mewtwo Strikes Back. He calms down at the end of the film and by the end of Mewtwo Returns, while he's no longer the happy youngster he was, he's certainly nicer than he was during his first few months in the outside world.
    • Pokémon Origins suggests this with Giovanni: during Red's gym battle with him, Giovanni realizes how Red's attitude and respect for his Pokemon not only reminded him of his own days as a fresh-faced Trainer before becoming the leader of Team Rocket, but also how it reignited his passion for battling Pokemon for reasons other than business.
  • Enchu of Muhyo And Roji used to be quite nice and hard-working in comparison to Muhyo, and especially cared for his sick mother, hoping to become an Executor and support her. Losing his mother to her illness and his chance at getting the position resulted in him turning evil. After realizing the truth, that Teeki killed his mother in order to take advantage of his potential he reverts to his former personality, continuing his Magical Law studies even while incarcerated.
  • Deadman Wonderland:
    • Before the earthquake, Minatsuki Takami aka Hummingbird appeared to be a sweet adorable child. Then after her mother grabbed a pot of flowers and left her to die, her more sadistic tendencies began to arise.
    • Also applies to Genkaku of all people, when it revealed that he was once a kind forgiving buddhist priest who was constantly bullied and beaten and once fed an injured cat. It was until the earthquake that he lost his sanity.
  • Barnaby Brooks, Jr. from Tiger & Bunny was a joyous, trusting child constantly showered with love and care courtesy of his very affectionate parents. But they were murdered right in front of his eyes when he was just four years old, resulting in Barnaby becoming cold, cynical, consumed by the desire for revenge and reluctant to trust anyone; up to the point where he has avoided close relationships with other people for 20 years. Subverted towards endgame in that he regains traces of his original personality upon befriending the show's Idiot Hero, Kotetsu.
  • Alviss of Märchen Awakens Romance.
  • Gundam:
  • Raven/Gilbert Nightray of Pandora Hearts was absolutely adorable as a child. Following his Break the Cutie event he became a brooding, serious man with major issues. He can still act sweet without meaning to sometimes, though.
    • Oz could count as this, too. Even when you consider the fact that he used to be this innocent little stuffed rabbit who was turned into a Chain of destruction against his will.
  • Tetsunosuke and Suzu of Peacemaker Kurogane.
  • Litchi Hikari Club: Tamiya at the very least, and he still is to an extent.
  • Shinji and Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, and practically the entire cast. Rei in particular seemed to be downright cheerful until her first clone met its demise.
  • Alucard, Integra, and Seras of Hellsing.
  • Tabitha aka Princess Charlotte of Zero no Tsukaima. Before her mother went mad to save her from an assassination attempt from her Evil Uncle, Tabitha was a Cheerful Child. Now she's The Stoic and very quiet.
  • Nanami of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Also, in episode 9 there is a back-story to Saionji's childhood depicting the origins of Saionji's current controlling, depressed Jerkass personality; when he was younger, he was more easygoing and kinder.
    • And there's an even bigger case in the general backstory. Oh, Prince Dios alias Akio Ohtori, how low you have fallen. From a literal Knight in Shining Armor to the Big Bad? Woooooow.
    • Nanami's brother Touga plays with the trope. On one hand, Nanami's childhood memories of him paint him as a much kinder big brother than he is in the series' present. On the other, the flashback he shares with Saionji portrays his pre-teen self as something much closer to a Creepy Child; he casually plays with little Utena's hair, has virtually no reaction to her situation (contrasting with kid!Saionji), and already shows signs of becoming the Manipulative Bastard he is as a teenager. Later, it's strongly suggested that even his past kind behaviour towards Nanami was an act, as he claims that he never really loved her and only pretended to care because his father wanted him to. Finally, Word of Enokido is that Touga really was a sweet kid a very long time ago, but changed drastically soon after he and Nanami were sent to the Kiryuus.
  • Psyren Big Bad Amagi Miroku 'Grigori #06' is an extremely homicidal Magnificent Bastard who decided to Kill All Humans except those with Psychic Powers who are willing to help with the plan, after spending most of his childhood and adolescence as a government test subject. However, several years into being a test subject, while his twin #07 was nonresponsive and #05 had already defaulted to hate, #06 was still the sweetest kid. The fact that he held onto the hope of living as a human being the longest seems to have enhanced the virulence of his hatred once he gave up.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Laxus Dreyar was once a cheerful young boy who idolized Makarov, his grandfather and guildmaster of the title guild. Due to the influence of his father Ivan, and his growing resentment at his accomplishments being compared to Makarov's, he grows more and more bitter until he finally tries to take over the guild by force and remake it in his own image, the final part of his plan being to beat Makarov in combat. He never gets the chance to fight Makarov, his plan being thwarted by the guild as a whole and Natsu and Gajeel team up to defeat him. Later averted when he returns after being expelled from the guild, as a much kinder and less prideful person.
    • Mirajane Strauss is an inversion. She's very sweet and caring now, but in her younger days she was a Bratty Half-Pint who was always picking fights and constantly insulting Erza.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba was once like this; just ask Mokuba. Their stepfather Gozaburo's harsh, strict, and at times cruel methods to mold him into a successor was the biggest factor towards him becoming an arrogant and selfish Jerkass with a win-at-all-costs attitude. In fact, when Seto finally lost in Battle City, the extent to which he had changed is what finally made Mokuba too disgusted with him to continue pandering to him.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX's Kaiser Ryo. As shown in a flashback, he used to be a sweet, idealistic kid. Somewhere along the line, he became the stoic, cold, Aloof Big Brother of season 1. It's even more jarring after he freaks out and becomes Hell Kaiser.
  • Setz from Crepuscule is shown to be a bright spirited young boy in the prologue chapters but is later shown to be a fairly apathetic, uncaring guy after the Time Skip.
  • Zettai Karen Children: Kyousuke Hyoubu is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who uses terrorist methods and has a Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers! attitude, but as a child he used to be a kind-hearted and polite Wide-Eyed Idealist who actually wanted to use his powers to help ordinary people.
  • Accel World has Nomi, a.k.a Dusk Taker. In the last two episodes of the anime, it's revealed that his mentor, who introduced him to Brain Burst, used and abused him to the point of breaking. When he's defeated, and the Brain Burst (and his memories of it) erased, he reverts back to being a cute boy.
  • Believe it or not, Queen Nakia from Anatolia Story fits in perfectly. The homesick and scared teenage girl who was forced to marry an much older man as a part of an alliance between the Hitites and the Babylonian in the backstory... well, she grew into a massive Manipulative Bitch and Hot Witch, who is also the Big Bad of the story.
  • A Cruel God Reigns: Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy... At the very beginning of the series, he is sweet to the point of being ridiculous, but after he is physically and sexually abused by his stepfather for 6 months, he finally snaps and kills him via Vehicular Sabotage. Actually, it is Jeremy's sweetness that causes his Trauma Conga Line in the first place; he refuses to seek help because it would mean ruining his mother's happy marriage. Although more of a Conflict Ball with Fille Fatale problems than evil, he never really snapped back. Arguably, Jeremy still is a sweet kid- he just has some issues he needs to work through.
  • There was a time when Ichiko Sakura, the protagonist of Binbo Gami Ga, was an adorable, cuddly little kid. Then one of her "friends" just had to badmouth her in front of their mutual love interest, driving the little kid over the edge and giving said "friend" a beatdown. That little incident, combined with the lack of parental attention throughout most of her childhood (although it is ultimately revealed that her parents never intended to work away at the expense of spending time with her), unless her butler and surrogate father figure Kikunoshin Suwano counts, molded Ichiko into the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing she has become when the series first started. Fortunately, the genuine kindness in her has never been fully extinguished, and interactions with the few people willing to put up with her snobby, higher-than-thou attitude, such as Suwano, next-seat crush Keita, best friend Ranmaru, and even her Sitcom Archnemesis, misfortune goddess Momiji, helped improve her personality into a girl who's more than willing to put herself on the line for the people she genuinely cares for.
  • In Sailor Moon, Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn) is shown as a cheerful child with adoring parents—until the accident that kills her mother, wounds Hotaru fatally, makes her father either "rebuild" her and puts himself willingly under the orders of the Big Bad (manga) or sign a desperate Deal with the Devil to save her life (anime), and sets the catalyst for the S season going. Even though Hotaru remains kind and sweet, she becomes withdrawn and is considered creepy by nearly everyone save for Chibi-Usa and the Inner girls because of her illness, healing powers, and dark aura. When she's reborn and raised by her father (anime) or the Outers (late anime and manga), she's a cheerful sprite again except for when her older, wiser personality slips through.
  • Sakuya Ookuchi from Sensual Phrase once was a kind boy who lived alone with his Broken Bird mother. We meet him, however, as a massively screwed-up Bastard Boyfriend.
  • In Free!, the backstory shows Rin Matsuoka as a Cheerful Child. The death of his father and training overseas, however, changed him into a deeply wounded Jerk Ass. Lampshaded in-story, where Haruka chides him for not smiling like he used to.
  • Bleach gives us Suifeng, who while not exactly a villain, was introduced as a cold and stern Action Girl with quite a bit of a sadistic streak. Then we see her as a teenager, when she was a sweet and even slightly shy Little Miss Badass... until the person she was completely devoted to, Yoruichi Shihouin, left Soul Society.
  • Wrath in Fullmetal Alchemist is introduced as a young Wild Child before being revealed to be a homonculus. Envy feeds him red stones which makes him do a Heel-Face Turn into a full Enfante Terrible.

     Comic books 
  • Magneto from X-Men. Had the Holocaust not happened...
  • The Joker, Depending on the Writer, and to the extent that he gets a childhood backstory at all (and which may or may not be true), and possibly Batman himself, when given a Darker and Edgier interpretation.
    • Batman. He's not evil, but he sure is dark.
  • There are a couple of Star Wars Expanded Universe webstrips set between the original and prequel trilogy. They cameo Ysanne Isard, Big Bad of the X-Wing Series, as a little girl. She idolized her father, Director of Imperial Intelligence, back then, although her innocence was in doubt even then, since he brought her to see his work, which involved hunting down and killing Jedi. As she grew up she was groomed to be a field operative, and started cultivating connections, which worried her father to the point that he sent her on a suicide mission. She survived, came back, trumped up a treason charge, executed her father, and took his place.
  • Herr Starr, a Big Bad note  from Preacher was this, until a bully-induced trauma that cost him an eye, his hair, and a good chunk of his humanity, before he'd even hit puberty.
  • The Garth Ennis penned tale "The Tyger" shows a snippet of the childhood of Frank Castle before the days The Punisher MAX. He's a quiet, thoughtful young man who does well at school and is quite close to another girl his age. Events of the one-shot however show that Frank was surrounded by the refuse left by mobsters from an early age, and it left its mark.
  • Chris Genovese/Red Mist/The Motherfucker from Kick-Ass. Volume 3 reveals that as a child, he used to be a fan of X-Men to the point where he would dress up as Wolverine on a daily basis.
  • X-23: The entire plot of The Killing Dream, the first arc of her solo series, revolves around an apparition that may be the Enigma Force showing Laura that she wasn't born an emotionless killing machine, but that the Facility consciously destroyed her innocence. That she is inherently a good person despite the evil she's done is critical in helping her throw off the demon attempting to recruit her to his service. Innocence Lost actually shows what was done to her, as well as small glimpses of the sweet and innocent child she was before the Facility tried to break her. Much of Laura's life after escaping the facility is spent trying to repair the damage that was done to her.
    • Xander Rice is first introduced in Innocence Lost as a wide-eyed toddler whom Martin Sutter has to tell his father won't be coming home. He grows up with such deep-seated loathing of Wolverine as a result, that he takes it all out on Laura just because she's Logan's clone. And then he doesn't so much jump off the slippery slope as he does take it with a rocket-powered toboggan and keep going.
    • In subsequent books, even Kimura, of all people, is revealed to have been the product of an abusive upbringing and didn't used to be the Ax-Crazy psychopath Laura was introduced to by the Facility.
  • In certain versions, Lex Luthor of Superman used to be a sweet, extremely intelligent kid - and in some cases, a friend of Clark's. What exactly happened depends on the writer.
  • Iznogoud: Amazingly, Iznogoud. Iznogoud's Childhood reveals that he actually once was an adorable, good tempered, sweet kid who got along pretty well with Haround and Dilat.
  • Magik was Colossus' sweet kid sister. Then... stuff happened, and she is now the franchise's main Designated Hero / Villain Protagonist / Nominal Hero / Anti-Hero, Depending on the Writer. Regardless of that, she's always her team's Token Evil Teammate and a Sociopathic Hero.

    Fanfic 

    Film - Animated 
  • Tai Lung of Kung Fu Panda was such a cute kid in the flashback sequences that he got a lot more sympathy from audiences than the filmmakers expected.
  • The Incredibles: As an adolescent, Syndrome aka Buddy Pine was an adoring fan of Mr. Incredible until he was seemingly brushed away by his idol.
  • In Toy Story 3, Chuckles said of a young Lotso "He used to be such a good toy." That is, until their owner Daisy accidentally forgot about them while on a picnic. After a grueling journey, Lotso returns with Chuckles and Big Baby to see Daisy with another Lotso-Hugging Bear and becomes cold and bitter, convincing the others that Daisy never loved them.
  • Eight Crazy Nights: Davey was a teen basketball star and liked by practically everyone. Upon learning that his parents died in a car accident on the way to one of his games, he grew up to be an alcoholic jerk.
  • Monsters University: Randall Boggs and Mike were friends in college. Randall himself was a very introverted Adorkable nerd who got encouragement from Mike and frequently helped Mike study, even letting him have first pick of the beds in their dorm. When Mike gets into a conflict with Sulley, then a Jerk Jock, Randall plays the rational friend and tells him to let it go. As the film goes on, Randall goes to the popular kids, and slowly loses his nice demeanor, blowing off Mike, who needed his help, and later helping to humiliate Mike's fraternity. By the end of the film Randall let rivalry, and implicitly ambition, get in his way and when Sulley accidentally ruined his chance of victory at the Scare games, swears to never be beaten by him again.
  • Frozen: Elsa used to be a happy child, in addition to being a Cool Big Sis to Anna. Then, after an incident where she accidentally hit Anna in the forehead with her ice magic while trying to save her from falling, she was told to hide her powers from the world, especially from Anna (whose memory was altered by the trolls to erase her knowledge of Elsa's powers). Afterwards, Elsa avoided any interaction with Anna, becoming more of an Aloof Big Sister, remaining mostly in her room while brooding over her powers. By present day, she had become emotionally distant from everyone. However, she refrains from crossing the Moral Event Horizon, and even returns to being a good sister to Anna by the film's end.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker. Innocent bright eyed mother's boy who builds robot buddies turned into well... Darth Vader.
    • Shown mostly in the novelization, but Boba Fett turned from a sweet kid who idolized his father into a bounty hunter who had to be reminded to curb his penchant for disintegrations.
  • Subverted, or possibly entirely inverted, with Eddie from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, if we are to believe his dodgy scientist uncle, Dr. von Scott: "From the day he vas born, he vas trouble/he vas the thorn/in his Mutter's side"
  • The titular Kane from Citizen Kane.
  • Chaz, from Air Heads, used to be called 'Chester' and play D&D.
  • Red Skull from the infamous Captain America (1990) movie. Before the Super Soldier experiment - nice kid playing on piano. After the experiment - crazy nazi with super-strength who wants to rule the world.
  • The live-action movie of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! does this to the Grinch, complete with a Freudian Excuse.
  • Judging from the flashback, Loki from Thor had a good relationship with Thor and his father and had a penchant for mischief before the jealousy settled in.
    • Loki was much the same in original Norse Mythology, sans the jealousy issues. Thor and Loki were frequently involved in mischievious pranks, and nobody thought too much of Loki's shenanigans until one of them got Baldr, the incredibly popular god of beauty, killed.
  • Godzilla Junior is a subversion. On the one hand, he did start out as a bubbly, friendly and docile baby mutated Godzillasaurus. On the other hand, while he's not downright malevolent as a teenager, he is still a Godzilla and will utterly thrash you if you dare harm humanity. (Too bad that didn't work too well against Destoroyah.)
    • Godzilla Final Wars even originally was going to show (and the final cut even heavily implies) that incarnation of Godzilla is Junior. While still not a villain, this incarnation is definitely playing at Good Is Not Soft at absolute best
  • Erik in X-Men: First Class until, well, the Holocaust and the death of his mother. And Raven, who is still rather innocent for the majority of the film and is absolutely horrified when she sees Charles get shot, yet that doesn't stop her from going over to the dark side.
  • Maleficent does this for both the title character and King Stefan, the latter of whom is the Big Bad. Yes, the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" was once a friendly, loving girl, who was in love with a human - but their love was destroyed by political feuds between their kingdoms. In the end, Maleficent does a Heel-Face Turn.

    Literature 
  • In Jonathan Carroll's novel Bones of the Moon, the main character's husband comments that the boy who lived in the apartment above them, dubbed "The Axe Boy", was always such a good boy before he was arrested for chopping up his mother and sister.
    "He seemed like a good kid, didn't he Cullen? 'Axe Boy'? Jesus, what a thing to call someone!"
    "Danny, our young friend 'Axe Boy' Alvin Willians chopped his mother and sister into pieces exactly one floor above our apartment. A good boy he is not."
  • The protagonist of Vernon Scannel's poem "Incendiary"
  • The Indian Prince's boy from Raymond E. Feist's Faerie Tale, who we are told was once a nice boy.
  • The long-awaited giant children in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are this, until they get possessed and Axe Crazy.
    • Also, from the new chronicles, Roger Covenant. Probably.
  • Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin was a full-on aversion of this trope from birth - or so his Unreliable Narrator mother claims.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Subverted in two ways with Sirius Black: he's been a pretty nice guy all along and he was also an immature, arrogant, bullying rebel as a teenager, averting the cliche that all good people are flawless angels as children.
    • Snape seemed to have been about as good as a kid raised in an abusive and poor household could be expected. And while he eventually did a Heel-Face Turn to Dumbledore in his twenties, there was a period of time when he served Voldemort and remained bitter enough that many people believed he still was evil into his thirties.
    • And Peter Pettigrew must have been at least a good and moral person, for the Marauders to both be friends with him and to trust him with their lives as adults.
    • Quirinus Quirrell was apparently a very gifted wizard who, like any true Ravenclaw, loved to learn and study. However, years of abject bullying by his peers drove him to try and become a great wizard to show them all and be remembered. However, before he could do so, he happened to meet Voldemort on a trip to Albania...
    • Averted with Voldemort. Tom Riddle was rotten to the core even as a small child.
  • Francis Dolarhyde, aka the Tooth Fairy, from ''Red Dragon''. Played for one of the more selective instances of Cry for the Devil in the first film version, Manhunter:
    Jack Crawford: You feel sorry for him.
    Will Graham: As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks.
  • In John C. Wright's Titans of Chaos, Amelia thinks that the maenad she is working out how to shoot was once a sweet little baby. She braces herself by defying A Million Is a Statistic.
  • Warrior Cats: Tigerstar, big bad of the entire series, is seen in the prequel Bluestar's Prophecy as a sweet, innocent, adorable kit who loves his mother and grows into a well-meaning but aggressive apprentice thanks to his Axe Crazy mentor. Same with Scourge, who in his backstory was an inquisitive, cute little kitten who had bad things happen to him, turning him into a crazy killer.
    • Same for Brokenstar/kit; "Look! I'm a tree!"
  • In "A Song of Ice and Fire" the Stark Kids, before they were all broken and put on their Jade Coloured Glasses. An example that is easily missed are Catelyn Stark's memories of Petyr Baelish as a mischievous, bold and sweet-natured little boy, who believed in all the songs and started out as idealistic as Sansa
  • The general response to Sefalet with regards to her left-hand mouth in Dirge for Prester John.
  • From Aunt Dimity Down Under: The expat Americans Angelo and Renee Velesuonno knew Broken Bird Bree Pym since she was ten years old, and Angelo hangs this lampshade when they meet Lori and Cameron for dinner in Ohakune, New Zealand. His description of Bree: "Nice kid, good manners and sharp as a tack." The Velesuonnos go on to say they were shocked at the recent changes in her appearance, particularly the choppy haircut.
  • The Mord-Sith from The Sword of Truth series. Every year, six of the kindest, sweetest girls in the entire country are chosen to be trained as Torture Technicians. The kinder they are, the better.
  • In Torn by Cat Clarke, it's revealed that Tara used to be an extremely sweet, kind young girl until when they were younger, Alice, then Tara's best friend, grew irritated with how she and Tara were the least popular girls in school and purposefully started to avoid her in an attempt to join in more with other kids. Of course, it backfired horribly.
  • In More Than This, Regine the Scary Black Girl tells Seth she used to be a nice person, before her mother married an abusive man.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When transformed back into a teenager ("Band Candy"), Principal Snyder was shown to be a relatively friendly dork and seemingly looked up to the Scoobies. He even liked Oz's Cool Hair!
  • Ben Linus from LOST gets a story arc showing him as an innocent kid who was abused by his father. Also includes the Moral Event Horizon.
    Sawyer: (to Sayid) How are you doing?
    Sayid: A twelve year-old Benjamin Linus just brought me a chicken salad sandwich. How do you think I'm doing?
    Sawyer: Sweet kid, huh?
    • Although Ben was sorta creepy even as a kid.
  • Harry Enfield and Chums's Kevin was a well-behaved, if hyperactive, boy until he turned thirteen, at which point his hormones kicked in and turned him into the teenage horror we all know and love.
  • Beverly Hills 90210 character Valerie Malone, revealed during the civil rape suit she files against Noah by Steve.
  • Law & Order: SVU episode "Swing", Elliot Stabler's interaction with his mother highly suggests that he was a sweet kid with a dream to become an architect. His mother even suggested that he's turned out like his father.
  • In Kamen Rider Double's movie, Big Bad Katsumi Daido/Kamen Rider Eternal is described this way by his mother. He's an unusual case since he died and was brought back to life by Mom's research, which may have had some effect. However, as the Eternal Returns prequel movie shows, the complete flip to evil happened when he and his fellow undead mercenaries tried to save Foundation X's psychic test subjects and failed after the Hope Spot.
  • Doctor Who: The Master was apparently a sweet kid until he looked into the Vortex at age 8, and heard the drums. Then he slowly went batshit insane.
    • Invoked by name in "The Rebel Flesh"/"The Almost People", except with reference to the sweet kid's artificial duplicate.
  • Debbie Pelt from True Blood. It's almost painful to watch a flashback that includes the sweet, well-intentioned girl you know will become a V-addicted nutcase.
  • Once Upon a Time Both Rumplestiltskin and Regina. Rumplestiltskin was a coward, but loved his son deeply. His efforts to protect his son were what turned him into a monster.
    • It's taken even further with Regina. She was a genuinely good person who loved a stable boy. Her first interaction with Snow White is actually saving her, and she is later the one to tell her that "true love is the most powerful magic of all''. Then her mother murders that man she loves, an attempt to bring him back fails (other characters deliberately sabotaged it to drive her over the edge), and decides revenge is all she has left.
      • It's turned back on Regina with Greg Mendell/Owen Flynn - being confronted with the fact that it's entirely due to her actions that he turned from a sweet and happy child into a magic-hating torturer drives her to an attempt at Redemption Equals Death to stop his plan.
    • Inverted with Queen Eva, Snow's mother. She used to be a spoiled brat who spitefully tripped Cora. But by the time she married and had Snow, she became a much kinder person and quick to lecture Snow's own bratty behaviour.
    • Also surprisingly subverted with Cora. She was already proud, bitter, vengeful and calculating prior to Rumplestiltskin coming into her life, although she wasn't evil by any stretch. The way she used her wits to her advantage and didn't hesitate to talk back to arrogant royalty is rather admirable.

    Music 
  • Alice Cooper, "No More Mr. Nice Guy". First person, too.
    • "I used to be such a sweet sweet thing till they got a hold of me..."
      • Although he's a pretty nice guy as an adult. The song's arguably about the way the media painted his character based on his stage appearance.
  • Averted in "Only a Lad" by Oingo Boingo.
  • The Decemberists' song The Shankill Butchers:
    They used to be just like me and you,
    They used to be sweet little boys
    But something went horribly askew
    Now killing is their only source of joy
  • Morrissey, "Used to be a Sweet Boy" and "The World is Full of Crashing Bores."
  • The song "Junge" by German band Die Ärzte:
    And you were such a sweet child
  • Played for Laughs in Joe's Garage by Frank Zappa. Joe's neighbors viewed him as this ("He used to cut my grass, he was a very nice boy."), until he discovered rock 'n roll.
  • Used in Lordi's "The Kids Who Want To Play With The Dead", which is a blasting of the the old media's hatred of the new media and love of blaming them ("The must have been some dangerous toys, and the music sings of murderous ploys...")
  • The sweetest Girl by Nicki Minaj. "She used to be...(Yeah, she used to be the sweetest girl!) When a good girl gone she gone forever."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!'s monsters tend to have their own stories. In the case of the charmer monsters, Eria is hinted to grow up into Gishiki Ariel. It is unknown whether or not this was of her own free will or if she was brainwashed like other Gishiki monsters. However she went from sweet little girl into ruthless warlord.
    • Her friend Gagagigo started his carrier as the little and cute Gigobyte and fights along with Eria. As the grown-up Gagagigo he eventuelly left her and someday he fought Freed the Brave Wanderer, ended up being trapped in another dimension. He met Marauding Captain and fought against Inpachi, who later appeared again as Blazing Inpachi; the Marauding Captain took the bullet, which inspired Gagagigo to do the same for one of the Captain's men during the war against Invader of Darkness. Later, in hope to defeat Invader of Darkness, he asked the Mad Scientist Kozaky to make him stronger who rebuild his body to the corrupted Giga Gagagigo. When he fought against Freed the Brave Wanderer again in his native dimension, he got an own attack reflected and lost. Obsessed to continue gaining strength to defeat his rivals, he continued his rampage and eventuelly transformed into Gogiga Gagagigo and truly lost his soul.
      • The following story (which is "written" many years after his transformation) inverts his dark development as he fought Freed the Brave Wanderer again, finally overpowering him, but Marauding Captain appeared and protected him, before Gogiga Gagagigo gave him the finishing blow. Instead of following his corrupted instincts, Gogigo Gagagigo understands Marauding Captain's actions, and forsakes his quest for power. Thus, he finally becomes the strong warrior of justice he once sought out to be, Gagagigo the Risen.

    Video Games 
  • King Zephiel, of Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, was a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose dealings with his father had destroyed his faith in humanity. In the prequel, Rekka no Ken, he's The Wise Prince who just wants his father's love. Stupid King Desmond!
  • Konnan of Dragon Fable, who used to be Yulgar's apprentice and used to look up to heroes. Then Akriloth happened.
  • Cyrus of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, according to an elderly couple in his hometown of Sunyshore City. Even they, however, had to admit that even from the beginning he was a little bit funny...
  • Utterly inverted by Jade Curtiss, who, when you get to know him, is actually a pretty nice guy. Then we learn about him as a child...
    • Alternatively, Played Straight by Van Grants, as Guy Cecil mentions remembering Van serving him on Hod and how he was like a big brother to him.
  • Geldoblame, the leader of the Evil Empire, is shown in the prequel Origins as the assistant of the local Reasonable Authority Figure, and helps the heroes out on a number of occasions. Near the end, we see what caused his Start of Darkness, and it ain't pretty: said Reasonable Authority Figure turns out to be only acting as such, and informs Geldoblame that You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. He doesn't take it well.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep includes glimpses into the lives of several Organization members before they became Nobodies. Ienzo was a cute Child Prodigy who followed his elders around in an oversized labcoat, and Lea and Isa were best friends with them having the dynamic of a Keet and Kuudere flavored Red Oni, Blue Oni. Isa is probably the worst, given how Saix is one of the most cruel Organization members.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] has Lea and Ienzo regain a little of their childhood sweetness upon the return of their hearts... Isa however? The game reveals that Isa / Saix has been slowly turning into another Xehanort vessel, which makes it unclear how much control he's had of his own actions.
  • The Dept Heaven series spends a game showing us firsthand what a sweet person Gulcasa, the Hero Antagonist of Yggdra Union, used to be before his life caved in on him just when it had started to go right. Granted, side materials and Yggdra Unison, the Gaiden Game where he's one of the main characters, go to show that he's still an incredibly nice guy off the battlefield, but given that the Sympathetic P.O.V. is kept away from him for most of the main game, you'd never know it.
  • Porky Minch of EarthBound may not have ever been a "sweet kid" by any stretch of the imagination, but he was certainly a normal one. Throughout the course of the story, events slowly dragged him in and corrutpted him, to the point where he became The Dragon to Giygas, and may actually have been pulling Giygas's strings by that point. When that fell through, he disappeared into time, later resurfacing to invade and corrupt the Nowhere Islands, dismember and reassemble its wildlife, and slowly suck the soul out of Tazmily Village until everyone left for his city. All of this was done out of sheer boredom and shows absolutely no remorse for anything, believing himself to be victimised and in the right.
    • In the end, it's shown that Giygas and/or the Mani Mani Statue were playing on his desire to be liked, when he states one of his main motivations for destroying the world to be so that "...everyone who won't like me is gone."
  • The trope is almost said word-for-word by one of the characters in Soul Nomad's New Game+, right before you stab her.
  • Darion Mograine of World of Warcraft, as a child, loved his father and hoped to become a paladin. After sacrificing himself to save his father's soul, he became a Death Knight agent of the Lich King's will, and later, a ruthless Anti-Hero willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Lich King.
    • For that matter, the Lich King himself. The child we see early in his novel is something of an idealist, loves animals, and is kind even to commoners to a point he's said to spend more time with them than is appropriate for royalty, including being best friends with one. One dead horse, zombie plague, and a few questionable war decisions later, and Arthas has become first the champion and then ruler of death itself. Special attention is even brought to this with the five-year perpetual dream he had during his long sleep after taking up the crown, in which he finds two figures battling to influence him: Ner'zhul (the previous Lich King) and his own innocent child-self. Eventually, he kills them both.
  • Ayane of Dead or Alive, according to Dimensions, used to cheerfully play with her sister Kasumi all the time, before circumstances related to Kasumi being favored, then leaving the village to get revenge for her brother caused her to become embittered and hostile toward her.
  • Inverted in Dragon Quest V; Harry is a vile, abusive spoiled brat as a boy, but years of hardship and suffering turn him into a kind, honorable and selfless young man.
  • Played straight with Terry in Dragon Quest Monsters and Dragon Quest VI. Life between the two was rather harsh between the two games (highlights include an evil king forcing his beloved sister into prostitution), turning him from an adorable heroic figure into a darker antihero.
  • Here's a fun one for you. In Kingdom of Loathing, once you Ascend, you can gain access to a Temporal Rift and visit the past version of several Nearby Plains areas. One of them is Fernsworthy's Hut, the past version of Fernsworthy's Tower. Fernsworthy himself is still alive at this point, and is teaching an Ethics of Magic class. You know that cute schoolgirl who winks at you as you're leaving that scene? If only the Naughty Sorceress had paid attention in that class...
  • In Shadowrun Returns you're investigating your friend Sam's murder. You can find a photo of him and his twin sister Jessica as children. In the present, he was a drunken loser (who, in his own words, probably deserved whatever killed him) and his sister's become a cold, Corrupt Corporate Executive who had Sam and several other innocents murdered because she wanted to bury their mother with the organs they'd had transplanted from her.
  • In NieR Replicant, the eponymous protagonist is initially a kind, optimistic, and selfless 16 year old (though even then he was hiding severe issues, like the fact that he went into prostitution to pay for his sister's medicine and developed a fear of people touching his hair as a result of the sexual encounters with a rough customer). After his sister is kidnapped by the Big Bad, his entire world falls apart. Cue the 5 year timeskip into the second half of the game, and you see he's become an irreparably damaged, murderous and bitter young adult.
  • In Skullgirls, Peacock was a friendly, cartoon-loving child before being captured by slave traders and horribly mutilated by them. While Dr. Avian and the Anti-Skullgirls Labs were able to repair her body, her mind remained scarred, leaving her an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight using her love of cartoons as the basis for her attacks. Her friend, Marie, is also an example of this trope: she was captured by the same group of slave traders, sending her on a quest for revenge by tracking down and using the Skull Heart.
    • Meanwhile, Carol was an innocent, kindly teenager before being captured by Valentine and Lab 8, who transformed her into the horrific Painwheel. She's Brainwashed into tracking down the Skull Heart for Lab 8.
  • Soul Series
    • Siegfried Schtauffen was a kind child and the son of a proud esteemed Knight of the Holy Empire, until his father went away on a mission and started hanging with the wrong crowd and formed a gang of bandits. One night, Siegfried and his gang raided a tired group of knights and murdered them all. To his horror, Siegfried realized that one of the knights he killed was his father and was driven insane. He eventually convinced himself that someone else had killed his father and heard of Soul Edge, the esteemed "Sword Of Salvation" seeking it out hoping to take down his father's killer. Soon after gaining Soul Edge, he becomes the new host for it, becoming the demon knight known as Nightmare.
    • Ivy Valentine appears to fit the Trope; the family portrait hanging in the Valentine Mansion on her SCIII stage seems to suggest it, as she looks to be about 11-12 years old, sports a cute (platinum) bob and has a hand placed lovingly on Earl Valentine's shoulder.
  • Jin Kazama from Tekken. Jin was a kind, sweet, boy who has a lived a rather happy life with his mother Jun Kazama until he was told by his mother at the age of 15 that his father was Kazuya Mishima (who was dead at the time) and that something bad might happen to her and should anything go wrong, that he should go to his grandfather Heihachi, the head of the Mishima Zaibatsu. One night, an entity known as Ogre attacks their home and in the aftermath, Jun is missing. Respecting his mother's wishes, Jin goes to his grandfather Heihachi and asks him to train him to avenge his mother. At the age of 19, Jin enters the 3rd King of Iron Fist Tournament and makes it all the way to the final contestant, Ogre. After he defeats Ogre, he is then gunned down by Heihachi and his soldiers. Jin reawakens and becomes Devil Jin (thanks to the Devil Gene he inherited from his father) and smashes Heihachi through a wall and flies off into the night. Since then, he has nothing but hatred for his paternal side of the family and will do anything to be rid of them and his curse, even if it means putting the world in danger.
  • Wirt, the unfortunate peg-legged boy from the game Videogame/Diablo. He wasn't always the Jerkass he is in the game: he was a normal kid from the city of Tristam, until he was abducted by demons and pulled inside the Cathedral. Griswold managed to save him, but not only Wirt lost his leg but also a big part of his sanity.

    Visual Novels 
  • Archer from Fate/stay night, though in a subversion he's just as broken inside now as he was when he was younger — he's just grown more outwardly cynical and self-aware towards his inner failings. Fate/hollow ataraxia shows this to be the case with Gilgamesh, and Fate/Zero with Kiritsugu as well.
  • Ace Attorney: 9 years old Miles Edgeworth was idealistic and adorable to the max. Then, his father was murdered. Before his eyes. Edgeworth was embedded with a severe phobia of elevators and earthquakes, and a hatred for criminals, defense attorneys, and himself after this. Even after his eventual Heel-Face Turn he still has trouble relearning the social skills he lost due to this trauma and always comes across as blunt, insensitive and cold to others.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Miyo Takano used to be a cute, sweet girl who liked to collect flags and go eat outside with her parents. A car crash, which causes the death of said parents, results in her getting send to a horrible foster home where she spends "not so nice" moments. Much later, she's out murdering children to release an illness that'll kill hundreds, all while laughing maniacally and spouting self-glorifying lines.
  • In Ryukishi07's other famous series, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the main antagonist, the seemingly Axe Crazy sadistic Beatrice was once a timid young servant named Yasu who wanted to learn magic to spice up his/her not really nice life. While Beatrice isn't actually as sadistic as she seems, she still has a lot of issues.
  • Akane Kurashiki, aka June in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. She used to be a sweet girl, but the trauma of the first Nonary Game turned her into a person willing to do anything for the sake of ensuring her survival and later, saving the world - whether that means sacrificing her life (for the latter) or someone else's. Her childhood friend Junpei Tenmyouji remarks at the end of Virtue's Last Reward that the Akane he knew is gone.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Done tearjerkingly in The Nostalgia Critic's "Commercials Special". When he's on the edge of a Despair Event Horizon, he picks up a photo of himself as a kid and angsts about how he had so much promise and dreams back then. So that sweet, "perfect" child went through a Break the Cutie (parental abuse, date rape, bullying and stalkers) and became a cynical, depressed man who has nothing left in his life but reviewing. He gets a Crowning Moment Of Awesome right after, but still... ouch.
  • The Nostalgia Chick used to be an adorable girl who wanted a fairytale wedding when she was six, had quite a few friends and fell in love with a dragon because he was honorable. Then bullying, abuse, becoming a Bratty Teenage Daughter and turning to alcoholism happened, so now she's a lonely, psychopathic Broken Bird. Again, ouch.
  • Happens frequently in Survival of the Fittest if you read pre-game. Many characters come off as likable, friendly people, only to be broken once the game starts, in a good portion of cases turning Ax-Crazy. As a result, you will be seeing this trope a lot, especially if the character showed up in pre-game frequently or there are any flashbacks involving the character.
  • The Doomy Adventures Of Irken Doominess: Melissa as a smeet was a very fraile and kind irken, until she was abused by her classmates, lost her sanity, began killing lots of people, got a taste for human blood and over all became quite messed up to some degree.
    • Gar who was normal as a smeet, got ridiculed by everyone, was singled out to be the tallests personal Chew Toy, started Hearing Voices, got a major Sanity Slippage which resulted in her trying to kill the tallest.
      • Deef might qualify since Word of God states his mother cared about him up until the age of six when she decided he was able to take care of himself, he still lives with her but seems neglected by her, although Deef isn't insane or there isn't anything seemingly wrong with him, he's strange and has No Social Skills.
      • Inverted with Nel who used to be a Homicidal jerk And is now a very nice human.
  • In Worm, after Taylor has her secret identity exposed, news crews go around to talk to the few people who knew her, who are all astonished that the quiet, unassuming, bullied teenager they knew is now the single most powerful and brutal supervillain in the city.
  • Adam from Arby 'n' the Chief is an 8-year old boy whose a member of Chaos Theosis, a group of cyberterrorists who wreck havoc across Xbox's Network. However, he is demonstrated to be the most cruel and volatile of of all its members. He always screams and shouts online, verbally abuses his mother and friends, gleefully enjoys killing people for fun, and stealing their account information to do what he feels like doing with it. During his final appearance though, when his mom finally breaks down asking what can be done to make him behave, she reminds him (and his friends) that was once a very happy young boy who would play nicely until playing Halo corrupted him into the monstrous child that he's become. Adam however coldly dismisses her yet again and continues acting the way he does. Needless to say, this comes back to bite Adam at his demise, HARDLY.

    Western Animation 
  • In Thor Tales Of Asgard it was revealed that Loki was like this as a teenager. Its not until the betrayal of a family friend and the use of Sword of Surtur that his former outlook starts souring and he begins to think different.
  • Monty Burns on The Simpsons was depicted as one in "Rosebud." A flashback showed him happily playing with his teddy bear Bobo, and being referred to by his parents as "Happy." He immediately abandons them, however, to live with a "twisted, loveless billionaire."
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Insane in the Membrane", it appears like this trope will be subverted when Baxter flashes back to his childhood and is seen about to pour some sort of chemicals on a bug in a jar. He changes his mind and lets the bug go. Through more flashbacks, it was clear that he was a good kid who was devastated by his mother's death, and the memories of her were enough for him to let the Turtles and April go.
  • On The Fairly Oddparents, Denzel Crocker was a near perfect child who was loved by everybody as a child. However, losing his fairies was his Start of Darkness.
  • Amazingly, Lucius VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes. He's Satan (albiet a mostly incompatent one), but what flashbacks we get of his childhood paint him as actually cute and rather sympathetic, being abused by his father or the people of Miseryville. Then again, given the place he lives in, it's probably no suprise he grew up the way he did.
  • Zig-zag: In the 1993 cartoon Itsy Bitsy Spider (based on the animated short subject that played with Bebe's Kids in theaters), Leslie—the little girl who befriends Itsy—was a sweet, introverted kid in the short and first season. Many episodes in season two have her a head-slapping bitch.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Asajj Ventress, through a series of flashbacks, is shown to have first been a cute little girl who later turned to the dark side after her Jedi Master, Ky Narec, was killed.
  • Archer: The title character was a fairly normal kid, but his mother wasn't around at all until he was 5, and messed him up even worse after she returned.
  • Ricky Owens from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated went from the Shaggy of the original Mystery Inc. to the devious bastard he's known as in the present. Mr. E.
  • Although he had shades of being a Spoiled Brat especially after his mother's death and his father's initial refusal to hit him, Clay Puppington in Moral Orel was revealed to be this in "Passing." He was actually somewhat Orel-like.
  • Nightmare Moon from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic used to be a Socially Awkward Heroine Princess Luna before bitterness and jealousy toward her sister twisted her into a monster. Subverted in that not only did she get better, but Word of God says that she was actually corrupted by outside forces and not acting of her own accord.
  • Dan from Dan Vs.: In "Summer Camp", Dan is bullied and responds by telling the camp director. Contrast that with how now-a-days with his first response to anything fustrating, no matter what or how small the problem is, his first response is almost always to get revenge.

Child SoldiersThis Index Has Had a Hard LifeUsed To Be More Social
Unstoppable RageTear JerkerVengeance Feels Empty
Unicorns Are SacredEvil TropesVader Breath
Ungrateful BastardSeries/Holocaust'Well Done, Son" Guy
Unholy MatrimonyVillainsThe Usual Adversaries
Uriah GambitAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Vindicated by History
Magical EyeImageSource/Anime & MangaBlack Cat

alternative title(s): Used To Be A Sweet Child
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
221207
5