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"You Used To Be Better" Speech

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What happened to you? You were better than this! (Needs more examples)

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
WiseMan23753 on Jan 11th 2019 at 6:36:47 AM
Last Edited By:
4tell0life4 on 9 hours ago
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Heroes don't last forever. They eventually fall or show characteristics that make people their faith in them. They Took a Level in Jerkass or fell much deeper into the realms of a Fallen Hero. But some people still have faith in them, even as an enemy and they have fallen well after their prime.

Someone who knew that person, or at least based on one's knowledge, would say how he or she used to be a much better person. That person would usually go on like this whenever the Fallen Hero has hit rock bottom and is sucking the ground in defeat. Unlike "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which is used to belittle a target, this type of phrase reminds them of how they were respectable in the past and what accomplishments they made as an Ideal Hero. He or she used to be a Knight in Shining Armor who fought for ideals, held moral values at heart, cared profoundly about humanity, or had some dignity that made great characteristics as a person. It doesn't matter what Start of Darkness they had when they should not have surrendered to evil in the first place.

The speech is usually an attempt to make the target have a Heel Realization and the shock that would normally terrify him or her come all at once. Shortly after recovering from this Heroic BSoD would one expect the Broken Pedestal to come back from despair, pulling a Heel–Face Turn, and regaining the respect he or she once had. In some cases, however, they may Ignore The Epiphany instead and further indulge in misdeeds.

Compare You Are Better Than You Think You Are and We Used to Be Friends. The Paragon Always Rebels, and is likely to be confronted for their fall in this manner afterward. What the Hell, Hero? is when this trope and "The Reason You Suck" Speech have a child together.

Subtrope of Rousing Speech.

Examples include:

Anime & Manga

  • Fullmetal Alchemist
    • Happens to Greed in the manga and second anime. When he attacks Bido, his friend from his first life, he tells his former superior how they used to be family. Greed casts aside the memories and kills the poor creature without hesitation. Then, Ling goes in a rage within his body and tells him the exact same thing. What drives the point across is how he just surrendered his right to be called 'Greed' by turning away his family and friends. My God, What Have I Done? indeed...

Comic Books

  • In Astro City, after dealing with his latest horrendously destructive scheme to ruin her life, Winged Victory laments that her arch-nemesis Karnazon has degenerated from lofty ambitions of taking over countries to a single-minded obsession with ruining her just to soothe his wounded ego.
  • Batman
    • When Batman was recovering from his broken back during Knightfall, he went to Lady Shiva to get his fighting skill back to acceptable levels. After a test battle, she expresses disappointment at his decline. Her unspoken sentiment is that had it been almost anyone other than Bruce, she would've killed him without mercy.

Fan Fiction

Film - Live Action

  • Predator: Dutch and his hostage rescue team are hired to retrieve a cabinet minister and his aide from enemy hands. When they find the men, Dutch discovers that they're actually CIA spies, and the real purpose of hiring the team was to use it to destroy a rebel military encampment. Dutch challenges his old friend CIA operative Dillon, who tricked him into accepting the job.
    Dutch: What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be somebody I could trust.
  • Toy Story 2: Buzz gives one of these to Woody when he prefers to go to Japan with the other collectibles of a hit show than return with Andy.
    "Somewhere in that pad of stuffing is a toy who taught me that life's only worth living if you're being loved by a kid. And I traveled all this way to rescue that toy because I believed him."

Live-Action TV

  • In the Miami Vice episode "Buddies," Crockett finds out that his old friend Robbie Cann is the son of a mobster, that he borrowed money from his father to start his business, and that he's willing to let a woman get murdered to protect himself. Crockett gives him a speech about their time serving in Vietnam: "The man I knew always did what it took and it hurt sometimes, but he did it... We refused to throw those POWs out of the choppers. No matter what the rest of the world was saying, we did the right thing." It works, and Robbie ends up sacrificing himself to protect the woman.

Video Games

  • In Kingdom Hearts II, after Xaldin takes the rose from the Beast and causes him to approach the Despair Event Horizon, Sora tells Beast on how he once bended time and space itself to save Belle from Maleficent, and helped Sora motivate his own desire to save Kairi. He then reminds Beast on how much the rose means to everyone in the castle, and how Belle's presence renewed their hope on breaking their curse. This causes Beast to snap out of his despair
  • Mega Man Zero 4: The Dragon of Dr. Weil for this game, Craft, used to be a heroic sort of guy who cares for the people, but he's convinced by Weil that the situation has become so bleak and desperate that Craft chose to side with him. He used to be close to a reporter named Neige, but they haven't talked to each other ever since he becomes Weil's enforcer and she arranges to help people escape Weil's reign. Later in the game, Craft assaults the refugee site where Neige is in and then kidnaps her; when you're asked to rescue her from her prison, there'll be a scene where she's talking with Craft, pointing out that he used to be a hero to the masses with good ideals, and how he had "gone low" to serve a tyrant like Weil. Before you and she escape the place, she managed to convince Craft that to Face Death with Dignity is better than "living a living death" - which later becomes the catalyst for his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Ratchet & Clank
    Ace: I'm Ace Hardlight!
    Ratchet: You were a hero once, Ace.
  • Resident Evil 4: Leon has such thoughts when examining Krauser’s corpse after his Boss Fight. Granted, Leon did not know the whole story, their partnership in the Darkside Chronicles gave him a decent impression of the guy.
    What happened to you, Krauser? You used to be a nice guy...

Western Animation

  • DuckTales (2017) the season one finale has Magica eventually give one of these to Scrouge. She couldn't even believe he was that down in the dumps at first and thought he was faking it.
  • The Milo Murphy's Law crossover with Phineas and Ferb, "The Phineas and Ferb Effect", has a very unusual inversion, as the target, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, has actually not become the hero that Cavendish admired yet. Fifteen years in the future, Doofenshmirtz will invent time travel and become Professor Time, which is why Milo, Dakota, and Cavendish sought him out to invent time travel early and prevent the Pistachions from taking over. Instead of taking the cause seriously, Doofenshmirtz is more concerned about orange soda and cup holders. When Doofenshmirtz, Dakota, and Cavendish finally strand on an island, Cavendish snaps and rants about his disappointment to Doof.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Bart to the Future" where Bart recurrently uses this phrase to try and guilt trip people to doing as he wishes. It has no real success until he tries manipulating the UN:
    China Rep: You pay now. Now!
    Bart: What happened to you, China? You used to be cool.
    China Rep: Hey, China still cool. You pay later. Later!

Feedback: 31 replies

Jan 11th 2019 at 12:21:06 PM

  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Bart to the Future" where Bart recurrently uses this phrase to try and guilt trip people to doing as he wishes. It has no real success, until he tries manipulating the UN:
    China Rep: You pay now. Now!
    Bart: What happened to you, China? You used to be cool.
    China Rep: Hey, China still cool. You pay later. Later!

Jan 11th 2019 at 4:27:36 PM

The Paragon Always Rebels, and is likely to be confronted for their fall in this manner afterwards. Some examples can probably be found on that page.

Jan 11th 2019 at 5:18:56 PM

@War Jay 77 I’m aware of that. That’s why I’m looking for a better name for this trope.

Jan 11th 2019 at 6:47:10 PM

^^ Yeah, jumped the gun a bit I admit. Sorry.

Jan 13th 2019 at 7:23:46 AM

Pierre to himself in The Great Comet, in the song "Pierre". "I used to be better, I used to be better, I used to be better... I used to be better, I used to be better, I used to be better..." Greek Chorus: "o-oh, Pierre, our merry, feasting crank!"

Jan 13th 2019 at 10:51:50 AM

Bombing only to balance out the hats, as the title needs to be fixed before this can launch. Once we resolve the issue I will remove the bomb.

Jan 14th 2019 at 11:31:39 AM

Guys, I don't want to sound rude, but I need to ask why this has three hats whilst the title is still poor. There's also only three examples on the draft and they come from two works...

I'm not saying this draft is bad and should be tossed in the trash, but shouldn't we actually fix the problems before deciding we're ready to launch this?

No?

Alright...

Jan 14th 2019 at 12:11:30 PM

At risk of seeming like a spammer with three posts in a row...

Maybe we can just call it "You Used To Be Better" Speech? At least until we get an even better idea...

Jan 14th 2019 at 3:08:33 PM

Compare Rousing Speech, of which "affirming someone that he used to be better" can be a form.

Jan 16th 2019 at 4:59:09 AM

  • The Milo Murphys Law crossover with Phineas And Ferb, "The Phineas and Ferb Effect", has a very unusual inversion, as the target, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, has actually not become the hero that Cavendish admired yet. Fifteen years in the future, Doofenshmirtz will invent time travel and become Professor Time, which is why Milo, Dakota and Cavendish sought him out to invent time travel early and prevent the Pistachions from taking over. Instead of taking the cause seriously, Doofenshmirtz is more concerned about orange soda and cup holders. When Doofenshmirtz, Dakota and Cavendish finally strand on an island, Cavendish snaps and rants about his disappointment to Doof.

Jan 23rd 2019 at 2:10:13 AM

Film - Live Action

  • Predator. Dutch and his hostage rescue team are hired to retrieve a cabinet minister and his aide from enemy hands. When they find the men, Dutch discovers that they're actually CIA spies, and the real purpose of hiring the team was to use it to destroy a rebel military encampment. Dutch challenges his old friend CIA operative Dillon, who tricked him into accepting the job.
    Dutch: What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be somebody I could trust.

Feb 7th 2019 at 10:38:59 AM

When Batman was recovering from his broken back during Knightfall, he went to Lady Shiva to get his fighting skill back to acceptable levels. After a test battle she expresses disappointment at his decline. Her unspoken sentiment is that had it been almost anyone other than Bruce, she would've killed him without mercy.

Feb 7th 2019 at 9:35:13 PM

  • Mega Man Zero 4: Dr. Weil's The Dragon for this game, Craft, used to be a heroic sort of guy who cares for the people, but he's convinced by Weil that the situation has become so bleak and desperate that Craft chose to side with him. He used to be close to a reporter named Neige, but they haven't talked to each other ever since he becomes Weil's enforcer and she arranges to help people escape Weil's reign. Later in the game, Craft assaults the refugee site where Neige is in and then kidnaps her; when you're asked to rescue her from her prison, there'll be a scene where she's talking with Craft, pointing out that he used to be a hero to the masses with good ideals, and how he had "gone low" to serve a tyrant like Weil. Before you and she escape the place, she managed to convince Craft that facing death with dignity is better than "living a living death" - which later becomes the catalyst for his Heel Face Turn.

Feb 7th 2019 at 10:10:19 PM

Comic Books

  • In Astro City, after dealing with his latest horrendously destructive scheme to ruin her life, Winged Victory laments that her arch-nemesis Karnazon has degenerated from lofty ambitions of taking over countries to a single-minded obsession with ruining her just to soothe his wounded ego.

Feb 13th 2019 at 8:49:18 AM

^ I...don’t get how that trope fits into here.

Feb 27th 2019 at 9:48:39 PM

  • In the Miami Vice episode "Buddies," Crockett finds out that his old friend Robbie Cann is the son of a mobster, that he borrowed money from his father to start his business, and that he's willing to let a woman get murdered to protect himself. Crockett gives him a speech about their time serving in Vietnam: "The man I knew always did what it took and it hurt sometimes, but he did it.... We refused to throw those PO Ws out of the choppers. No matter what the rest of the world was saying we did the right thing." It works, and Robbie ends up sacrificing himself to protect the woman.

Mar 2nd 2019 at 11:43:52 AM

@Nate The Great Where is this from? Please specify the work.

Mar 5th 2019 at 10:15:52 PM

Never mind. Found it. Still looking for more.

Mar 10th 2019 at 7:23:55 PM

"The usual result for this trope..."

A less usual result is if the character decides to Ignore The Epiphany instead.

Mar 11th 2019 at 2:10:46 AM

  • In Kingdom Hearts II, after Xaldin takes the rose from the Beast and causes him to approach the Despair Event Horizon, Sora tells Beast on how he once bended time and space itself to save Belle from Maleficent, and helped Sora motivate his own desire to save Kairi. He then reminds Beast on how much the rose means to everyone in the castle, and how Belle's presence renewed their hope on breaking their curse. This causes Beast to snap out of his despair.

Mar 11th 2019 at 4:36:23 AM

  • Duck Tales 2017 the season one finale has Magica eventually give one of these to Scrouge. She couldn't even believe he was that down in the dumps at first and thought he was faking it.

Mar 13th 2019 at 12:46:45 AM

The Resident Evil 4 example lacks context.

10 hours ago

Took care of that. Any new ones?

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