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Adaptational Sympathy is when a character who either had no motive in the original work or a more twisted motive is explicitly rewritten so audiences might sympathize with them better. If an author is underwhelmed by the motive of a villain in a story with Black-and-White Morality, they might take the opportunity to change it when adapting the work.

Maybe the villain has a brand-new Freudian Excuse in the adaptation. Maybe they're suddenly a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thinks the end justifies any means or a Tragic Villain acting because they have to, not because they want to. They might be Brainwashed and Crazy. Or maybe the world just kept treating them like crap, so they decided they might as well be the bad guy like everyone expects them to. If the hero was a Flat Character, they might get a new backstory to add dynamism. Or, Values Dissonance might come into play if the character's actions in the past would not fly today, so it was changed in order to avoid making it come across as stereotypical.

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In Fan Works, this can often overlap with the Draco in Leather Pants treatment, where fans will make a character more sympathetic than they ever were onscreen. Sometimes this will become Ascended Fanon when a Promoted Fanboy gets the chance to work on the franchise.

Compare Adaptational Heroism, which often overlaps, but makes a villain morally sound rather than simply sympathetic. Contrast Adaptational Villainy (where a character is made far less sympathetic at times, though not always), Adaptational Jerkass (where they're a lot meaner than they are in the original work) and Adaptational Nice Guy (where the character is nicer than they were in the original work). To see the Character Development variation of this trope, see Took a Level in Kindness, where a character is made more sympathetic in the franchise itself. See also Perspective Flip and Twice-Told Tale, where this can frequently occur, and Sympathetic P.O.V..

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For characters that audiences sympathize with when they aren't supposed to, see Unintentionally Sympathetic. For characters that audiences are supposed to sympathize with, but choose not to do so when their actions come across as otherwise, see Unintentionally Unsympathetic. For characters that audiences feel pity for, see The Woobie for typical examples and Jerkass Woobie for characters with a bit of a mean streak, yet still induce pity. For characters that are supposed to be the hero, but audiences see their actions as otherwise, see Designated Hero, or for it's opposite, Designated Villain.

No Real Life Examples, Please! This page deals strictly with fictional characters.


Examples

Franchises having their own pages:


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Erigor in the manga is a standard villain who resorts to mass murder to get back at a system that cracked down on his guild for taking illegal assassination requests, and disappeared from the story altogether after that. When he returns in an anime Filler arc after the seven-year Time Skip, it's shown that for all his crimes, he also cares for his True Companions, which helps him regain his memories after erasing them to gain more power.
    • The anime delves deeper into the personal lives of the Oración Seis at the Tower of Heaven, which are only hinted at in the manga, and how that ties into their "prayers" (with only Hoteye's search for his brother being clear): Cobra wants to hear the voice of his snake Cubellios because she was his Only Friend; Racer is obsessed with speed because he could never outrun the tower guards; Angel wants to fade into the sky because of how the world's sin and vice has corrupted her; and Midnight wishes to sleep because he could never drown out the screams echoing through the tower.
    • Acnologia is a Tragic Bigot who hates dragons so much that he eventually turned into one to kill them all, but the manga only barely covers his motivations for this hatred. The anime's second film and final season shed more light on him, revealing that he was The Medic who specialized in treating dragons, and that seeing how easily the dragons he trusted burned down his home—as well as cursing his own inability to save anyone—is what drove him to become a vengeful, power-thirsty monster.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) anime, while Shou Tucker still fuses his dog and daughter together into an abomination that needs to be put out of their misery, he's Spared by the Adaptation and gets a sort of redemption arc where he loses his mind trying to bring his daughter back to life.
  • Moriarty the Patriot adapted the Sherlock Holmes canon into Professor Moriarty's perspective in order to make him a sympathetic Tragic Villain.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the original Pokémon Red and Blue, Brock and Misty were both just gym leaders the player faced on their journey. The anime, which made both of them main characters and Ash's traveling companions, took the time to give them more motivation beyond giving out gym badges. In Brock's case, he wanted to be a Pokémon breeder all his life, but had spent many years having to take care of his siblings due to both of his parents being absent, only getting the chance to live out that dream when his father comes back. Misty, meanwhile, was the youngest (and most frequently picked on) of four siblings, and left so she could finally get out of her sisters' shadows as the best water-type Pokémon trainer in the world.
    • Sabrina from the same games was given a Freudian Excuse in a three-part arc in the anime, where she had become a cold and ruthless gym leader who physically claimed trainers as property whenever they lost to her extremely powerful Pokémon—something that never happened in the games. It turns out that she spent so much time on her training as a psychic, she missed out on her childhood, which manifested itself as an evil Split Personality that drove her into doing what she did. It took a Haunter that temporarily traveled with Ash to get her to laugh and restore things to normal.
    • The Shiny Gyarados, in a Pokémon example, gets put through some suffering too. In the games, it was just a guaranteed shiny the player could catch in the Lake of Rage. In the anime, it was a Magikarp that was forcibly evolved into a Gyarados—with its skin tone not changing with it—as a result of Team Rocket making a device that forced evolution on any Pokémon in the area. Consequently, it went on a mindless rampage until Lance and his Dragonite calmed it down and added it to his team, giving it a good home where it wasn't hurting itself.
    • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire presented May as either the protagonist and daughter of Petalberg Gym Leader Norman or Professor Birch's assistant and daughter, depending on the choice of gender the player made. The series held May to the former interpretation, but showed her as only becoming a Pokémon trainer due to the pressure of being Norman's kid, not really having an interest in them. It takes journeying with Ash to help her see the wonders of the Pokémon world, along with the trials she faces when she decides to become a Pokémon Coordinator.
    • This process would be repeated for Dawn from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, who in the games is either the protagonist or Professor Rowan's assistant, depending on the player's choice. The series establishes her as the daughter of a top Pokémon Coordinator who's own journey with Ash sees her struggling to compete early on. It too was redone with Serena from Pokémon X and Y by having her become a Pokémon Performer, while also giving her ties to Ash from when they both were kids, as well as giving her struggles with not wanting to follow in her mother's footsteps as a Rhyhorn Racer and become a Pokémon performer instead.
      • Another Sinnoh example, Maylene, the fighting type gym leader, goes from another game-based obstacle to a miserable wreck thanks to Paul pulling a Kick the Dog moment on her after he sweeps her gym and calls her "weak". The batch of episodes following Ash's battle against her sees the heroes as well as her Lucario help her snap out of her funk.
    • Pokémon Black and White had Iris as yet another gym leader, while the sequels made her the Pokémon champion of the Unova region. In the anime, she was Raised by Wolves, had No Social Skills, and had a particularly disobedient Excadrill and Dragonite she struggled to get to obey even the most simple commands.
    • Chairman Rose from Pokémon Sword and Shield is made into this during the Journeys arc. While the original game depicts him as wanting to unleash Eternatus in order to solve an energy crisis that won't occur until several thousand years in the future, the anime shows more context behind this reasoning; he lost his father in a mining accident, and he doesn't want to keep relying on fossil fuels that pose a dangerous risk to those extracting them.
  • Transformers: Armada: Starscream is the Trope Namer for The Starscream, and nearly all versions before and after have been the traditional back-stabbing schemer trying to take leadership of the Decepticons for himself. Here, Starscream's hatred of Megatron comes from being constantly mistreated in spite of his loyalty, leading him to temporarily switch sides when he can't stand it any longer. He also comes to recognize that the threat of Unicron is too great for both sides to handle alone, so he willingly sacrifices his own life to get Prime and Galvatron to start cooperating. Then, Transformers: Energon has Megatron bring him back without his memories, turning him into the traditional backstabber once again by the time of Transformers: Cybertron.
  • The novelization of Weathering With You does this to Hodaka Morishima, the movie's teenage protagonist. The original film depicted him as a runaway who just hated his home life for no specific reason and went out of his way to escape to the city of Tokyo where he meets new friends. The aforementioned novel gives Hodaka a Freudian Excuse as to exactly why he ran away: he was physically abused by his own father…among other reasons hinted at.

    Comic Books 
  • Darth Vader was made this, at least in contrast to the Legends version of the character, in the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith series in Disney's new continuity. Legends Vader's villainy, Depending on the Writer, depicts him as a ruthless killing machine who will tear down anyone who '''gets in his way, be they friend or foe, and really reveling in being evil. Canon Vader, though still a cold and merciless killing machine, is shown to have become evil because he feels like he has no other choice, using the guilt of having betrayed the Jedi Order and playing a role in his wife's death as the means to punish himself for his sins.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): Cobra Commander, one of the most ruthless terrorists in fiction, is depicted with much more sympathy here than he is in the cartoon that ran around the same time. The cartoon Commander was an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who audiences felt bad for due to him constantly losing thanks to his ridiculously short-sighted minions and his own personal faults, the comics Commander was a villain who became the way he did because the death of his brother (caused in part due to the trauma he suffered in Vietnam) drove him over the edge to seek revenge, drive his family away in the process, and subsequently blame his misfortunes on the country.
  • The IDW comics for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gives King Sombra a backstory that involves being born a shadow creature, and left outside the Crystal Empire in the form of a foal as part of his mother, Queen Rabia's, plan to free their kind from their prison beneath the Empire. The young Sombra grows up an outcast among the Crystal Ponies, with only one friend, a filly named Radiant Hope. After finding out the truth about his origins, Sombra loses his mind, becoming the villain he was in the show due to thinking it is his only reason for being. Funny enough, when IDW did a crossover with The Transformers, this added backstory wasn't mentioned.
  • Transformers
    • In IDW Publishing's first series of comics, Megatron is given more a reasonable desire for power than the original cartoon ever did. The original Megatron is a conqueror above all else, determined to see the universe in his grip. This Megatron is forcibly assigned as a miner and gladiator under a corrupt government that would happily stomp out anyone daring to challenge the status quo. Since this oppressive state was taking a toll on him and his fellow miners, he tries to peacefully protest this corrupt regime, only to have the crap beaten out of him, which leads him to try and forcibly overthrow the government so they can see exactly how things are from his perspective. Tellingly, all major Transformers stories pattern their Megatrons after this one.
      • Likewise, Thundercracker's original toy bio indicated he wasn't fully convinced of the Decepticon cause, but kept his head down so he wouldn't get in trouble. While all iterations of the character have been generic thugs for the Decepticons, the first IDW series explicitly adopted this old bio, showing him as having enough doubts during the events of All Hail Megatron that he finally ups and quits, getting shot by Skywarp in the process. The rest of the series would follow him recovering under the care of Marissa Fairborn and his dog Buster, developing a fascination with Earth and becoming a screenwriter, as well as a hero in his own right.
      • Starscream, as with the Armada example above, is still the same treacherous backstabber as ever, but this takes hold much later in the series run when he successfully begins to rule over Cybertron as their appointed leader. At first, he engages in his usual scheming, but along the way, he starts to develop a conscious and wants to be a genuinely good leader for his people. It's what convinces him to eventually step down after he confesses to his crimes, and gives his life to stop Unicron.
      • Shockwave, a Straw Vulcan driven by cold logic in most iterations, used to be a well-meaning Senator trying to push for a better Cybertron. Much like Megatron, the corrupt Senate resisted, only they went so far as to forcibly strip him of his emotions and remove his face and hands as punishment, turning him into the calculating monster he's known for. Everything that happens from there occurs all thanks to his manipulations—literally, as he goes back in time at one point to make the entire mythos of the Transformers universe happen under his influence.
      • Really, the entire Decepticon faction gets this treatment to an extent. Aside from being forced under Autobot oppression for a long time, many a story set after the war ends shows that they aren't at all as bad as previous media made them out to be; the Scavengers, for example, are just a bunch of guys trying to make ends meet instead of being ruthless killers and sadistic thugs, Tankor (or Fat Tankor, just not to his face) actually left Cybertron for a time because he and several others wanted out of the war, and even Swindle, a slimy arms dealer, gets turned into a vegetable by Starscream just for knowing too much, forcing his teammates to care for him in this state.
    • Megatron's descendant, the famous silver-tongued iteration of the Beast Wars cartoon, followed suit in 2021 with the Transformers: Beast Wars (2021) comic, showing that, unlike the power-hungry megalomaniac from the original series that would go on to develop a god complex and nearly commit multiple instances of genocide several times (being a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist everyone mistook as a common thief), this Megatron (formerly Galavar) is implied to have taken up this grandiose scheme so history won't forget him, as it did his predecessor.
      • The same series did this with Dinobot to a small extent. The original was a warrior with a Code of Honor—an ex Predacon who joined the Maximals when he tried and failed to stage a coup against Megatron, becoming the Token Evil Teammate amongst the heroes that frequently butted heads with Rattrap. This series shows he still has his honor, but his defection came from the Predacons being violent savages that tortured the Maximal Nyx for no good reason other than their own fun, and not only saved her life, but defected because he felt the only way he could continue to be an honorable warrior was to fight alongside those who shared his moral compass.
      • As revealed by Skold and Dinobot, the entire Predacon faction counts to an extent. As the descendants of the Decepticons, the original series depicted all Predacons as naturally evil, sneaky, and deceptive—even Dinobot's Heel–Face Turn did nothing to convince the Maximals he was completely on their side (Rattrap especially) until his Heroic Sacrifice. It's through Dinobot's own revelation that Predacons aren't evil; they're naturally built to face conflict head on, and do so in a wide variety of ways (including law and sciences, if not warriors and politicians), to the point that the Maximals mistreat them as second-class citizens for going against the status quo; Skold's Freudian Excuse for joining the Predacons is that the Maximals mocked her for wanting to be an artist instead of a warrior like it was commonly expected.

    Fan Works 
  • The Black Sheep Dog Series puts Sirius's parents, especially his father, in a much better light than the original novels. In canon, Mrs. Black is characterised as an extremely haughty and unpleasant harpy who is constantly screaming insults and abuse towards those she considers beneath him, including her own son; and while not much is said about Sirius's father, it is implied that he's not much better than his wife. The fic goes to great lengths to show that both Walburga and Orion do love their children, but due to their own warped upbringings and ingrained family values, couldn't express them openly. Orion, in particular, is portrayed as a Troubled Abuser with a Hidden Heart of Gold who is Secretly Dying, and overall has much more cause to angst than his wayward son.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged does this with Doctor Gero. While still responsible for the same acts as his canon counterpart his obsession with killing Goku stems from Goku killing his son in his attack on the Red Ribbon Army, while in canon his son died in an unrelated incident and his grudge essentially stemmed from Goku costing him his job.
  • Infinity Train: Blossomverse
    • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail
      • Downplayed and Inverted. As a whole, the Apex is treated with less sympathy in this story than in canon because of the scope of their crimes, and the traumas they cause are shown here where it was only implied in the show. While Infinity Train: Voyage of Wisteria does show them in a sympathetic light because they have realized what they're done, it also shows that they have a long way to go before they can be forgiven and make up for what they done.
      • Zig Zagging with Grace. Grace Monroe in canon is treated with sympathy when she realizes that she was wrong about the meaning of the numbers, forms a bond with Hazel, a little girl she discovers to be a denizen, who she once looked down on and kill without a second thought. She later learned the truth about the Conductor and the purpose of the numbers but her bond with Hazel became broken because she denied knowing the truth about Hazel's denizen form to save face (and even calling her a Null). Finally, for Simon, he was unable to accept the truth about what they were doing wrong, leading him to turn against Grace, attempted to kill her and then watch as he was killed by a Ghom. Throughout the trilogy, it is reminded that she still was a cult leader who committed many crimes, considering the size of her number. Her crimes were shown were in the prequel, where it was revealed that Grace casually murdered a Denizen in front of Tokio and plays it off as her "saving" him. Then it was revealed in Blossoming Trail that Simon ripped apart Lexi's pages while Grace gloated him on before they buried him alive to give Titus the middle finger. Despite that, she was still treated with some sympathy because she realizes the sheer scope of the trauma she causes, with her losing everything, her best friend, the Apex, and had to live as an outcast because of her actions. In the sequel, she was murdered by Ogami after being pushed to her breaking point. And while some said she deserve her death, they were gently call out by people who were not happy by her death, either because of standards or sympathy, with many people agreeing.
      • Inverted. For Simon Laurent, all the sympathetic traits he had before he went off the deep end in canon are gone. In canon, he did care for Grace, and even those he betrayed her when she saves his life, he was horrified with his actions, and it was clear that despite himself, he did feel guilty about what he was becoming and that he was destroying himself. His death was treated as a tragedy and was mourned by Grace and the Apex kids. In this story, he had no hesitation in making a deal with the devil, betraying Grace or murdering a little girl for kicks. He truly embraced being a monster and had no regrets, so his death was given no sympathy, and he was mourned by no one other than Grace and Samantha.
    • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: While Specter motives to follow Ryoken were mostly out of loyalty to the cause, the audience doesn't see him truly connect to the Ignis barring a single tear he sheds over Earth. Here, the cause of his train entrance is due to the fact he couldn't get a chance to bond with the Earth Ignis and is conflicted with his loyalties with Ryoken (who wants the Ignis eradicated no questions asked).
  • To The Stars, a fanfiction of Singin' in the Rain, explains why Lina is such a condescending, arrogant Rich Bitch by saying that she was unpopular at school growing up and so craved recognition.
  • Doctor Eggman, known for lacking any sort of Freudian Excuse for his actions and being defined as purely evil in the Sonic the Hedgehog video games, is portrayed as somewhat of a misguided scientist in Sonic Legacy, looking for a cure for death.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: Whereas Tom Riddle in canon was a megalomaniac sociopath with a veneer of Fantastic Racism, here he went into politics instead of terrorism, turning up the racism but dropping the other parts. Harry is astonished to learn that his ultimate goal is to avert a population implosion caused by magical inbreeding, by having purebloods marry half-bloods — but pushing Muggle-borns out, because he hates Muggle influence as much as ever. He genuinely believes that his actions are necessary, even though Harry's sure there must be a better way.
    Harry: What if he's right and wrong?

    Film — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast: The titular Beast winds up being played much more tragically than in the original story. In that tale, he was a good man overall, but his appearance came from being cursed for turning down a fairy's advances, and he was more of a Manchild than anything else. Disney's Beast, though given the Adaptational Jerkass treatment (and being cursed for being as much of a figurative monster as he eventually became a literal one to match), really didn't know any better; both of his parents are conspicuously absent, it was indicated he was cursed when he was eleven, and the writer's own confirmation indicates that each day he remains a Beast results in his mind slipping into the savage monster he appears as. Sure he's angry, short tempered, and violently destructive, but years of isolation, loneliness, and being driven mad from a curse he's had since he was a child has made him just as equally troubled.
  • Frozen:
    • Elsa is this, compared to the original story and various adaptations thereof, including an earlier draft of this very film. Most prior adaptations usually depicted the Snow Queen as an outright villainous character, who sought nothing but power, or, in the case of the original tale, made her a morally ambiguous party with questionable intent. In this film, Elsa does do harmful things, but she usually does them entirely by accident, having no idea how to control her powers, and is shown to be a good person who's afraid of hurting those she cares about, due to a childhood accident that harmed her sister.
    • Anna, who stands in for the original protagonist Gerda, has a different line of reasoning for being the hero. Gerda was trying to break a curse that had turned her best friend Kai into an evil version of himself, while Anna was trying to save her sister from herself and free the kingdom from an eternal winter. That and her finance turns out to be Evil All Along and leaves her to die so he can seize the kingdom for himself, after he manipulated her for most of the film.
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Knights does this to Laira Omoto's father Kentor in her story, which is adapted from the Green Lantern Corps Quarterly story "What Price Honor?" The original story had Kentor being Laira's predecessor as the Green Lantern of her Sector, who was booted out of the Corps because he'd rather be a harsh dictator than rule over his people fairly. The Emerald Knights version changes it so that Kentor was never a Green Lantern (Laira's predecessor here instead being Galius Zed), resented his daughter for being chosen to be a Green Lantern over him and ultimately feels remorse over having to fight his daughter, which ends with him being Driven to Suicide.
  • The Grinch (2018): Like with his live-action counterpart, the titular Grinch has a Freudian Excuse for wanting to steal Christmas beyond getting some peace and quiet. This time, it's a Trauma Button for him, caused by years of loneliness and isolation from his time in an orphanage around the holiday.
  • This is done for a few characters in the 2008 animated version of Horton Hears a Who!:
    • The Mayor, reassuming his role as Horton's friend from Doctor Hoovey, is made as an Innocently Insensitive parent to his son Jo-Jo, while also being constantly put down by the Jerkasses on the entire city council, especially when Horton's actions inadvertently endanger everyone.
    • Jo-Jo, to the same extent, is given this treatment since his father is trying to pressure him into being the Mayor of WhoVille when he clearly doesn't want to, and is often seen hiding away or slinking out in depression.
    • In the book, the Sour Kangaroo's joey was merely a Yes-Man who parroted every ideal his mother said. In the movie, the joey, here named Rudy, is clearly cowed by his mother and is more of a Guilt-Ridden Accomplice. During the final climax, it is he that saves the clover from being destroyed as part of his Character Development.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie:
    • All versions of Batman start off with losing his parents and swearing vengeance to become the Dark Knight. As a Deconstruction of the Batman mythos, this self-aware, snarkier interpretation is actually hurt deep down by the loss of his family, and is unwilling to let other people into his life because of it, devoting himself to being Batman full time. While other Batmen channel their pain into fighting crime or are surprisingly-well adjusted for having undergone such a traumatic experience, this Batman, Adaptational Jerkass aside, isn't as capable of handling the pain when he has no crime to fight.
    • Surprisingly enough, the film does the same to The Joker by focusing on his villainous relationship with Batman, and how broken up he is when the Dark Knight refuses to acknowledge the clown prince of crime as his greatest enemy.
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • In the original fairy tale, the titular mermaid wanted to become human, only to experience one of the most noted Downer Endings in fictional history after going through all sorts of hell to get there. Disney's version, named Ariel, wants to be human too, but it comes with the added wrinkle that her father is of the fantasy forbidding variety, having a strong bout of Fantastic Racism against humanity and a stubborn refusal to see things from his daughter's perspective.
    • The same goes for her father, King Triton, who's characterization in the original tale is changed to a deep-rooted hatred of humans—at least with the context of The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning in mind, as that film revealed his beloved wife Queen Athena died at human hands, making his hatred of them much more understandable, if very misguided.
  • Lightyear: Evil Emperor Zurg, the sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance, is a Card-Carrying Villain in both the Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command series, seeking the destruction of Buzz Lightyear and the conquest of the galaxy. In this film, he is Buzz, driven mad by an attempt to fix his mistake of stranding his team on a hostile alien world by traveling into the future so he could obtain the technology he needed to set things right.
  • The Lorax: The Once-Ler is always played as a Tragic Villain—a man who wanted to create the Thneed to sell to everyone before he chops down the last truffula tree and devastates the environment—but the original story simply left it where he's more regretful of his actions, and trying to tell the protagonist how to set things right. The original animated special gave him a little more sympathy by showing he didn't want to shut down the plant and cost everyone their jobs (which the Lorax even concedes). This one shows he came from a rather abusive family who always put him down for not accomplishing anything meaningful, and he actually tries doing things the right way until they pressure him into taking shortcuts. The results are still the same, but he's not entirely at fault this time.
  • Hilariously Inverted in Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension with Doofenshmirtz-2. Our Doofenshmirtz had a Hilariously Abusive Childhood ranging from being raised by ocelots after his parents disowned him, spending years as a lawn gnome, and his parents failing to show up the day he was born. And what Freudian Excuse drove Doof-2 to evil? He lost a toy train. That's it. Doof-1 is not very impressed, considering.
  • The Polar Express:
    • The titular Hero Boy (named Chris by supplemental material) was just along for the ride in the original book. The film adds the detail that he's lost faith in Santa Claus, so the titular train brings him aboard to help him regain that belief.
    • The train's Conductor (named James by outside material), in the original book, just had the job of keeping an eye on his charges. In the movie, he's hellbent on making schedule so the kids can see Santa, getting annoyed when a pulled emergency break and a stampede of caribou stop the train, and goes out of his way to keep his passengers safe when they derail on a frozen lake.
  • SCOOB! does this to Dick Dastardly. While still the film's antagonist and implied to be the same one in his previous Hanna-Barbera appearances; here he's motivated less by his own ends and wants to see his beloved dog, Muttley again after trying to steal Alexander the Great's treasure got Muttley trapped in the underworld before the film's events, and regretted it deeply.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, is cast in this light. All versions, most famously the one from Daredevil (2015), depict him as believing himself to be Necessarily Evil—a being who maintains his own criminal empire in order to reign in greater chaos that would be present without him watching. He still sees himself this way, but he's willing to risk breaking reality itself because he had lost his wife and son in a car accident when they ran away from him after learning about his criminal lifestyle, and was funding experiments into finding an alternative version of them from another universe so he could be with them again.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Series:
    • The Amazing Spider-Man: Dr. Curtis Conners is the alter-ego of The Lizard, the prime example of Reptiles Are Abhorrent and a monstrous creature who wants to turn people into lizards, with poor Conners being stuck in a Jekyll & Hyde situation—all because he was trying to regrow his own arm. The film adds the extra wrinkle that he worked for a Corrupt Corporate Executive under Norman Osborn, and that his desire to help others was being quashed by the evil within the company. As such, when he does become his villainous persona, he does so because he didn't want an untested serum used on wounded veterans, and his transformations are played more like a drug-addiction. Then this becomes Averted in Spider-Man: No Way Home when he's thrown into the MCU...and only wants to turn people into lizards.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
      • Max Dillion, aka Electro, was depicted in the comics as the victim of a freak accident with an electrical storm. This movie shows that he was a relentlessly bullied electrician mutated by electric eels on accident, and wound up being ostracized by New York despite Spider-Man's attempts to help him. The incident caused him to develop a Broken Pedestal to his former hero, and led him to try and take him down.
      • Harry Osborn became the Green Goblin in mainline comics continuity to seek revenge against Spider-Man for the death of his father, as did the one from Sam Rami's trilogy. This version instead walked down the path of villainy when he was dying from a rare genetic disorder, and Spidey refused to give him his blood to help find a possible cure.
  • Batman Film Series:
    • Batman Returns:
      • The Penguin gets this treatment by having been made a Tragic Villain. Unlike his previous appearance in Batman (1966), which establishes him as a Card-Carrying Villain who revels in every despicable act he undertakes, or in the comics, in which he is a self-proclaimed "Gentleman of Crime", this Penguin is callously abandoned by his parents for being a deformed freak and raised by circus freaks living in the sewer. It was this that led him to resurface years later, pull a Villain with Good Publicity stunt to become mayor, then kidnap every first born child in Gotham to drown them in the sewers, then bomb the city with penguin-propelled rockets.
      • The same film gives this treatment to Catwoman, the Trope Namer for Dating Catwoman and the femme fatale of Batman's rogues gallery. Her previous depiction in the 1966 series saw her as a Card-Carrying Villain, much like the Penguin, and tease the idea of redemption on-and-off, but always continue to straddle towards being a bad guy. In this film, she was the assistant of Max Shreck, who threw her out a window when she learned of his plans to turn a power plant he was building into a power drainer he could siphon off Gotham with. She survives, but is driven mad by the experience and becomes Catwoman to get her revenge.
    • Mister Freeze follows in the footsteps of his counterpart from Batman: The Animated Series in Batman & Robin. Instead of being a kooky mad scientist, he's shown as a Tragic Villain (albeit a more comedic one) trying to save his wife from dying from a horrific disease.
  • The Batman:
    • The Riddler is normally an Insufferable Genius who's Freudian Excuse stems from an abusive father making his intelligence seem inadequate, giving him a need to outsmart Batman at every turn and prove himself the superior mind. In this movie, he's an orphan who's waging war against the corrupt system Gotham is trapped under, and manipulated events to expose Carmine Falcone and the corrupt cops and politicians under him as having taken a charity fund that Thomas Wayne left aside for struggling orphans like himself. Moreover, he sees Batman as an ally in his plans, having been inspired by him to take action—though ironically he hates Bruce Wayne and sees him as part of the problem.
    • Catwoman also gets this to some degree. Her comics iteration had a rough history given how she lived as a street prostitute, both of her parents treated her like crap, and her becoming a burglar was her trying to survive—this combined with her belief that Carmine Falcone, Gotham's most notorious mobster, may be her father (although it's never proven). In this film, Carmine is her father, and he strangled her mother to death, leaving her to tough it out working in his very night club as a waitress for the most sleazy of clientele, and her campaign against him intensifies when he kills her best friend (and possible lover) for learning about a conspiracy Falcone has been running for years.
  • Bumblebee: The titular Autobot has had many a moments of suffering in his life, no thanks to most iterations of them having their voice box ripped out by Megatron, but the trauma of it is usually glanced over. This reboot of the Transformers film series places a greater emphasis on this trauma by showing how the poor scout was given Easy Amnesia thanks to Blitzwing being the one to tear out his voice, was largely lost in the world that his new friend and caretaker Charlie Watson was trying to help him understand, and was being targeted by both the US Military and the Decepticons manipulating them for a war he had no idea he was fighting.
  • In the comics and the MCU, the Red Skull is a heartless, unrepentant Nazi and one of Marvel's vilest villains. In Captain America (1990), while still the villain of the piece, the Red Skull is more of a tragic, self-loathing figure. Instead of a German man who eagerly worked directly under Hitler, this Skull was abducted from his family in Italy as a child and forcibly experimented on. He even is capable of showing a degree of love for his daughter, which Johann Schmidt most certainly never did.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins: Henri Ducard, a Composite Character of the original iteration and Batman foe Ra's Al Ghul, throws this trope onto The Demon's Head. While the original Ra's became who he is for varying reasons from story to story, Ducard ascended to become Ra's Al Ghul when he lost his wife and sought a new purpose after her death.
    • The Dark Knight: Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face is usually played with tragedy, and this iteration is no exception. The circumstances, however, add a layer of depth beyond the original's change by showing that this bright, shining beacon to justice in Gotham—and a key ally to Batman's war on crime—lost his way when corrupt cops on Maroni's payroll kidnapped Dent and his girlfriend, ADA Rachel Dawes, and strapped them both to explosives. Only Dent survived, albeit with his famous scarring, and The Joker used the opportunity to corrupt him further, all so he can prove that all it takes is one bad day to drive the sanest man alive to lunacy...and the people of Gotham will lose all hope knowing their shining knight has fallen.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: Bane's comic past is shrouded in mystery, with all that's known about him is that he was forced to serve a prison sentence for his escaped father when he was a child, was raised in a literal hell-hole, and survived through fierce determination alone so he can gain power and respect, culminating in him breaking Batman's back. This Bane was thrown in the hellish prison "The Pit" for reasons unrevealed, but when he tried to protect the young child of Ra's Al Ghul, all he got was a severe beating that left him on heavy painkillers fed through his mask to keep him functional. When he was freed, he joined the League of Shadows as a loyal servant, only to be excommunicated because he had grown too close to said child, Talia Al Ghul, but nevertheless continued Ra's mission to destroy Gotham.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman gets this treatment in regards to his battling of Superman. In The Dark Knight Returns, Superman is a government lackey trying to bring in the older and more embittered Dark Knight for acting against America's wishes, which Batman has no intention of standing down to. When he fights the Man of Steel here, it's because he witnessed Metropolis being turned into a war zone in Man of Steel, which saw his company's office in the city destroyed and hundreds of his workers killed by the battle between Superman and Zod. As such, Batman fears Superman is one day away from killing everyone, and his more brutal methods to fighting crime from having lost his allies in his own war have made him stedfast in that belief.
    • In Justice League (2017), Steppenwolf only seeks to unleash the Unity upon Earth For the Evulz, being an unrepentant conqueror that revels in the destruction he causes for his master. When Zack Snyder's Justice League was released, Steppenwolf is made much more sympathetic by giving him a clear-cut motivation: returning home to Apokolips by conquering 5000 worlds—a punishment incurred upon him by Darkseid for having partaken in a coup against him long ago. The same film also depicts him as constantly being put down by Desaad, and shows moments where the tired and weary Steppenwolf pleads to be allowed to come home.
    • SHAZAM! (2019): Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Shazam's earliest arch-enemy, was a Mad Scientist in the Pre-Crisis years who wanted Revenge against the world who had shunned him, a Lex Luthor-esque businessman who blamed Shazam for losing his power, and, in the New 52, a man who tried to save his family using magic. This Sivana is none of that, being the victim of an abusive father and a Big Brother Bully who taunted him as little more than a failure all his life, was coldly cast out by the Wizard and rejected to wield his powers because he was tempted by the Seven Deadly Sins, and was subsequently blamed for a car accident he had no control over thanks to the Wizard's rejection.
    • The Suicide Squad:
      • Robert DuBois, alias Bloodsport, turned to villainy in the comics when he was too scared to fight in Vietnam, resulting in his brother losing all his limbs when he went in Robert's stead. This Bloodsport had an abusive father who raised him into a killing machine, including locking him in a chest for 24 hours with starving rats just to teach him a point, to the point that violence is really all he's ever known.
      • Christopher Smith, better known as Peacemaker, follows closely in his comic counterpart's footsteps, except his father, like Bloodsport's, was directly involved in molding him into a killing machine, rather than subconsciously haunting him for being a Nazi Death Camp Commandant. While he is still a Well-Intentioned Extremist, comics Peacemaker was violent even to the point his superiors were scared of him, while this one let his patriotism to bury the US Government's involvement in "Project Starfish" cause him to kill Rick Flagg, though it's shown he's morally conflicted about it. His own self-titled series rams this further by showing how deeply messed up he is, and genuinely trying to make up for it in some way. Said series also shows his father, Auggie Smith, is a racist piece-of-shit who's the super-villain White Dragon, who made him who he is so that Smith could continue his crusade of white supremacy, and forced him to kill his brother in a fight while he and his friends chugged beers and watched, then had the audacity to blame Chris for the whole thing. All of this stunted poor Chris into believing he could only be loved from a man who clearly hated his guts.
      • Polka-Dot Man in the comics is an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who pales in comparison to the likes of The Joker and the rest of Batman's rogues, while also lacking much of a backstory. This version was experimented on by his mother to give him and his siblings superpowers (most of which didn't survive), sees virtually everyone as his mother, has to horrifically expel his powers from his body twice a day or else it would kill him, and has become The Eeyore as a result of his traumas. Tellingly, he's an Adaptational Badass in this series, as his powers actually make him a Lethal Joke Character capable of actually harming Starro himself.
      • Ratcatcher I, through his brief appearance, is shown to have a more tragic fate compared to his comics counterpart. While the original was a sanitary worker who was arrested for killing someone in a street fight, turning to crime as a result of seeking revenge, this one was just a poor man from Portugal trying to raise his daughter by using a special invention to control rats to help them. Sadly, he dies from a drug overdose, leaving his daughter to take up the mantle.
      • Starro The Conqueror is given this treatment. The original version was a ruthless being who used his spawn to forcibly turn people into his slaves so he could lay waste to entire planets. Here, he was the victim of cruel experimentation, having been plucked from his peaceful life so he could be turned into a weapon of mass destruction.
    • Wonder Woman 1984:
      • Most versions of Maxwell Lord are depicted as unambiguously evil villains with few redeeming qualities, especially the mainstream version best known for killing Ted Kord in Infinite Crisis and taking control of Superman before Wonder Woman snapped his neck. This Lord is shown to have grown up in a poor family, was implied to be a "Well Done, Son" Guy who could never live up to his father's standards, and is struggling to provide for his young son, whom he wants nothing more than to be the kind of father that would make his kid proud.
      • Barbara-Ann Minerva is the third iteration of The Cheetah in the comics, having served as Wonder Woman's archenemy for years. Her original characterization depicted her as selfish and conniving, having been turned into the Cheetah for coveting immortality, only for her more promiscuous life to make her transformations very painful. Her first encounter with Wonder Woman sees her try to trick the Amazon out of her lasso, which ends rather poorly for her. In the DCEU, Barbara's really a Nice Girl whom, like Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is treated with disdain by her coworkers except for Diana, and her becoming Cheetah is out of an admiration for Wonder Woman and the strength she possesses, though the cost for doing so is becoming much meaner in the process.
  • Disney Live-Action Remakes:
    • Aladdin (2019): Jafar is given this treatment by the addition of a Freudian Excuse, unlike the simply and inexplicably power-hungry version seen in the original film. While he still seeks to dethrone the Sultan, he feels his peace-loving philosophy towards a neighboring kingdom is flawed, as Jafar grew up there, living on the streets as a dirt-poor common thief (not unlike how Aladdin is now), and was always put down his whole life (to the point that being accused of being second best is a Berserk Button for him).
    • Beauty and the Beast (2017):
      • The titular Beast in the 1991 original is still more-or-less the same character here, being a spoiled and selfish prince who was cursed to become a hideous monster for being cruel to an enchantress, but this film adds one crucial detail: Here, he lost his mother to the plague and was raised by his cruel and unforgiving father, who is implied to have molded him into the person he is prior to meeting Belle.
      • Gaston also gets this to some degree, as, unlike in the original film, where he was depicted simply as a vain, self-centered and somewhat dimwitted brute, many of his actions in this versoin are implied to be because of PTSD from having served in a pretty brutal war. The same with LeFou, who was originally a Butt-Monkey in the animated film, but here he loyally serves Gaston (and is implied to have a crush on him, but ends up pulling a Heel–Face Turn when Gaston leaves him to die during the assault on the castle, and, in a scene cut from the movie, is shown to have a more deeper moral conscience when he asks the Enchantress if it was worth cursing the Beast in the first place.
      • The Castle Servants in the original film were transformed into anthropomorphic objects, attempting to play matchmaker so they could be restored to humanity, but their transformations were of little consequence to their overall well-being and actually made them immortal. The remake, like with the Broadway Musical, places them under the gun; should the curse fail to be broken, they will lose their humanity and become as lifeless as the objects they were turned into, making their efforts all that more urgent.
    • Christopher Robin: The titular Christopher Robin spent much of his childhood in the Hundred Acre Wood, playing with his friends and enjoying each other's company. This film throws in an added sense of tragedy in that he not only lost his father to World War I while he was sent off to boarding school, but the poor man fought in World War II and lost all sense of joy and wonder in his life, leaving him working at a job under a nasty boss and unable to spend his adulthood bonding with his own child. Fortunately, a willy-silly old bear comes by and is able to help him regain what he had lost.
    • Cinderella (2015): Lady Tremaine was little more than a Rich Bitch known for her Death Glare in the 1951 original. Here, her mistreatment of Cinderella stems from the fact that losing both her husbands — the first she married because she was genuinely in love, and the second so she could support her daughters — and not being able to stand the idea that her step-daughter has kept true to herself in spite of all the tragedy, while she was never able to.
    • Cruella: In 101 Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil is an insane, evil fashionista who simply wants to skin dalmatian puppies to make fur coats and she is an outright Hate Sink. In this film, Cruella has a legitimate Freudian Excuse for why she hates the Dalmatians: Her birth mother, Baronness von Hellman, ordered them to kill her real mother. Furthermore, she doesn't actually kill or skin the Dalmatians. Instead, she gives them to Roger and Anita respectively.
    • Dumbo (2019): The Ringmaster of the original story committed Villainy Free Villainy by throwing Dumbo's mom in a cage and making the poor elephant a clown. The film's version, named Max Medici here, is an Adaptational Nice Guy, but he's also struggling to make ends meet for his performers thanks to World War I, forcing him to cut costs just to keep business afloat.
    • Maleficent: The titular lead from the original film committed one of the biggest acts of Disproportionate Retribution in a film—cursing a baby to die before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday just because she wasn't invited to her christening ceremony—and was known as the "Mistress of Evil" for a reason. The film goes out of its way to show that she had plenty of reason to become evil, thanks to King Stephan personally betraying her by cutting off her wings, making her vendetta against him much more personal.
    • Mulan (2020): Böri Khan, the film's version of Shan Yu, has a gripe against the Chinese Empire for killing his father, whereas Shan Yu only fought them since he thought they were a Worthy Opponent.
  • First Blood Combines this with Adaptational Heroism for John Rambo. In the original novel, Rambo's PTSD turns him into an unhinged mass murderer who starts a war with a small town and ends up killing a good portion of the populace by the end of the book. In the film, Rambo is portrayed as an Anti-Hero who was physically abused by the locals after being arrested for vagrancy, and even after his mental breakdown he still goes out of his way to avoid killing anyone, with one confirmed exception.
  • Goosebumps did this with Slappy the Dummy. In both the book and the series, he is a sadistic Control Freak who tried to enslave his family and turn them against each other. In the movie, Slappy loved his creator R.L. Stine until he was imprisoned in one of his manuscripts while still conscious and unable to escape. When he finally got out, he was understandably pissed at Stine for trapping him all those years and believes his creator doesn't love him anymore.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (2000) does this to the Grinch, a mean old grouch who lives atop Mount Crumpit and spends his days hating the Whos who live in Whoville below. The original story, as well as the animated special, depicted him as a miser who just hates Christmas, and goes out of his way to "steal" the holiday so he can have some peace and quiet. This film gives the Grinch a Freudian Excuse as to exactly why he hates Christmas, since he was bullied and picked on as a child due to his unusual appearance, and his attempt to embrace the holiday ended in humiliation thanks to future Mayor Augustus Maywho. When another attempt to change his ways ends exactly the same way thanks to Maywho again, he loses it and decides to steal Christmas. It also falls into Jerkass Has a Point and Villain Has a Point territory, since the Whos undergo Adaptational Jerkass and become greedy misers obsessed with gifts and stuff for the holiday—a fact on which Grinch calls them out during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech against them following his second humiliation.
  • Joker (2019): The titular character is the Monster Clown, a self-described agent of chaos, and an unrepentant psychopath who's responsible for killing Jason Todd, crippling Barbara Gordon, tricking Superman into killing his wife and unborn child while simultaneously reducing Metropolis to a nuclear wasteland, and the occasional bout of littering. This film goes out of its way to show Joker (here, named Arthur Fleck) was just a man who wanted to make people laugh, but was constantly put down by society (including his own mother and his possible father Thomas Wayne) for having a mental illness, was beaten within an inch of his life several times, and never once given a moment of happiness. As a result, he decides to make Gotham City smile...whether they want to or not.
  • In Ophelia, Polonius comes across less as a Professional Buttkisser driven mostly by ambition (as he's often presented in Hamlet) and more as an ordinary man trying to keep his job, protect his family and not piss off an increasingly tyrannical king willing to kill anyone who threatens his power.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu depicts Tim Goodman this way: while both he and his counterpart from video game are in Ryme City to find out what happened to Detective Harry Goodman, the film adds the detail of him being a former Pokémon trainer who turned his back on the idea after losing his mother to an unspecified illness as a child and subsequently being estranged from his father.
  • In the novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Changez is depicted as a flaky, capricious sort of person, feeling pleased with the 9/11 attacks despite living in the United States and not caring much about Islam or the lives of Muslim strangers, with the implication that while he may not have always been a (possible) fundamentalist, he was never truly "good" by anyone's standards. The film adaptation makes him a victim of profiling after the attacks, which serve as his Start of Darkness.
  • Star Trek (2009): Captain James T. Kirk, The Kirk of Star Trek: The Original Series and The Ace of Starfleet in the Prime Reality, undergoes this treatment for his younger counterpart in the Kelvin Timeline. The original had already known loss; his brother, his son, and (for a time) his best friend and first officer. This iteration loses his father literally when he was born, and becomes a Brilliant, but Lazy recluse instead of the captain of Starfleet's flagship. To start with, anyway.
  • Queen Ravenna in Snow White & the Huntsman. In the original fairytale, the evil queen doesn't get much motive for trying to kill her stepdaughter and consume her organs beyond the fact she's a cruel, jealous tyrant who can't stand anyone being prettier than her. In this film, she's given a backstory in which she was taken away from her mother by a cruel king and forced to become his mistress; she also indicates she and her brother lived in poverty at some point "begging for scraps". Ravenna spent much of her life being used and abused by men, with her mother casting a spell upon her to give her everlasting youth and beauty as it was "the only thing that could save [her]", although she must still drain other people's lifeforce to maintain this eventually. The reason she wants to consume Snow White's heart is less from jealousy and more from the fact she would be eternally youthful and never have her power threatened again. Deep down Ravenna believes that without her beauty she is nothing, having apparently never grasped the concept of inner beauty.
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy:
    • Bugs Bunny, another heroic example, is known as both one of the quintessential cartoon characters and a Karmic Trickster who outwits various bad guys like Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam when they try to harm him (or just annoy him in general). This film shows that Bugs lost all his friends when the A.I. Al-G Rhythm tricked everyone into leaving but him, and him teaming up with LeBron James is to help get his friends back.
    • Lola Bunny also gets this treatment to an extent. The original iteration was treated as little more than eye candy for Bugs and the audience, and the version introduced in The Looney Tunes Show was rewritten as a Cloud Cuckoolander. Lola's story in this film is to try and break away from her past (both in a story and meta sense) by joining Wonder Woman and the Amazons, only coming back when she learns Al-G Rhythm has LeBron's son hostage.
  • Sony's Spider-Man Universe:
    • Venom (2018): Eddie Brock and the titular symbiote both have an Irrational Hatred of Spider-Man in the comics—the former for Spidey inadvertently ruining his journalism career by revealing Eddie had pinned the wrong man as the "Sin-Eater" serial killer, and the latter for being discarded as part of the wall-crawler's life when it made him too aggressive—and spent a good chunk of their time trying to destroy him. With no Spidey in his universe, the Eddie of this series ruined his own life when he tried to expose Carlton Drake as a fraud by disobeying orders from his boss and getting his fiancé fired for using her legal case files, leading him to getting dumped and winding up a destitute—which he blames on Drake until he accepts his role in the affair later on. Venom, meanwhile, is a loser back home, and is considered weak amongst its species, only bonding to Eddie entirely by accident. From there, the two get put through a few wringers, both against Drake and later Carnage, as well as against each other, but through heartbreak and hell, they emerge from it the Lethal Protector.
    • Venom: Let There Be Carnage: How does one describe Cletus Kassidy, better known as Carnage, in the comics? A violent sociopath and Straw Nihilist, a Self-Made Orphan, and one of Spider-Man and Venom's most deadly enemies, dedicated to killing as many people as possible because he thinks life has no meaning. In this movie, he's still all that, but he claims he killed his family for being horrifically abusive to him, and is shown to have a genuine love for his fellow cellmate Shriek, which causes conflict between Kassidy and the Carnage Symbiote.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Spider-Man: Norman Osborn, alias the Green Goblin, is the most infamous Corrupt Corporate Executive in the Marvel Comics, and an Ax-Crazy psychopath noted for flying around Manhattan on a glider throwing pumpkin bombs; that and also becoming the villainous director of national security for a time. In the comics, he grew up in an abusive household screwed over his business partner while also being neglectful to his son Harry, but here, though he's still mildly corrupt and a bit distant with Harry, he's a good-natured scientist who does care about his son, and his descent into madness came from him being forced out of Oscorp (albeit for very good reasons). His Goblin persona is also shown as a Split Personality, forcing him to do things that he otherwise wouldn't.
    • Spider-Man 2: Doctor Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, is an Insufferable Genius known as one of Spider-Man's most vicious enemies in the comics, raised by an abusive father and a manipulative mother (the latter of whom forced her to break off his engagement) before a lab accident fused his arms to his spine. This Ock, like with the above example with Norman, is much nicer, instead going off the deep end when a failed experiment kills his wife and fuses the arms to his spine—said arms then going rogue and convincing him to recreate his research by any means necessary.
    • Spider-Man 3: Flint Marko, alias the Sandman, is usually just a petty thief on a good day, made an angry and bitter man when he screwed up his own life. Here, he turned to crime to raise money for his sick daughter, and his transformation came about by accident (well, that and the people testing the particle accelerator thought he was a bird.) He also has a Dark and Troubled Past thanks to being Uncle Ben's killer in this series—an act of which he deeply regrets.
  • What Maisie Knew: A downplayed case, as while Maisie's parents still hate each other and want to take her away from the other, they are more affectionate towards their daughter than their literary counterparts and do want the best for her, despite their parenting skills not being good and being upstaged by Margo and Lincoln, who are better at parenting Maisie than her biological parents are.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batwoman (2019):
    • Like her comics counterpart, Alice, alias Beth Kane, is a violent sadist with no qualms about killing innocent people. Where her counterpart on this show differs is due to the circumstances of her kidnapping; in the comics, a terrorist group kidnapped the Kanes to force her and her sister Kate to take over their organization. In the show, The Joker drove a school bus full of kidnapped children into their car, and thanks to a faulty door handle, Batman's attempt to save them while chasing his nemesis led to Beth and her mother seemingly falling to their death. Beth then spent the next several years being raised by the psycho Augustus Cartwright so his son Mouse could have a playmate, and everyone in Gotham except for Kate thought she had died. She escapes, ending up on the island of Coryana, home of Safiyah, and falls in love with her trainer and Safiyah's adoptive brother Ocean. Instead, their attempt to leave and start a new life results in Safiyah, a Woman Scorned, to wipe their memories of each other as well as Beth's empathy, causing her to become a heartless psychopath.
    • Black Mask's comics counterpart is a Sadist, a Torture Technician, a horribly misgonistic person, and a genuine Bad Boss with a Hair-Trigger Temper. His counterpart on this show is most of that, but this time he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to rid Gotham of Batwoman and the Crows for the corruption he perceives both of them are responsible for creating. Much of it is motivated by his daughter being killed (or so he claims) by Batwoman following her being falsely arrested by the Crows.
    • The late Killer Croc is treated as such by having him take the Was Once a Man route, given his famous mutation well into his adulthood and slowly driven into a mindless monster rather than being born with his condition. His unfortunate predecessor is given a similar treatment when getting scratched by Croc's tooth turns him into a bad guy.
    • Poison Ivy undergoes her usual "college girl transformed into plant-human hybrid" origin, but it fleshes out her environmental crusade further by revealing that her family was always poor, and her brother died from poisoned water caused by the Gotham Industrial District because her family relied on herbal remedies in lieu of health insurance they couldn't afford.
  • The Book of Boba Fett: The famous bounty hunter Boba Fett has a more sympathetic backstory compared to his Legends counterpart. After he got out of the Sarlacc pit, that Boba was nursed back to health by Dengar, continuing his career as a bounty hunter and later the leader of Mandalore, dealing with the occasional health crisis and pulling an Enemy Mine or two with Solo and his allies in the New Republic. For his canon counterpart, this series places a greater emphasis on the traumas he experienced not just in being hurt by the Sarlacc (which he escaped himself this time around), but also his initial enslavement by the Tuskens before being welcomed into their ranks until they're sadistically slaughtered by the Pykes, and a Culture Clash in trying to rule over Jabba's criminal empire with a more honorable tact compared to his predecessor. And as Bo-Katan found out the hard way when the legendary hunter returned on The Mandalorian, do NOT insult his father.
  • The Boys (2019): In the comics showed every supe as a murderous or perverted bastard whose heroism is just a front for corporate sponsors. In contrast, most of the supes in the show used to be heroic people only to be corrupted by celebrity culture and their greed-driven corporate backers.
  • The Expanse: In the book, Captain Ashford was insane beyond insane, and a man hellbent about power above all else. The series rewrites him as a Reasonable Authority Figure who genuinely wants a better future for the OPA so they can be a power equally respected by—and at peace with—Earth and Mars. His actions in this series come not from a place of greed, but of genuine fear of the ring gates to the point he nearly dooms the entire human race when the events of the series cause all manner of hell for everyone there (though he fortunately comes to his senses).
  • Game of Thrones: In the books, Cersei Lannister only cares about herself, lets her eldest son Joffrey do whatever he wants which extends to committing cruel acts, and is quite abusive to her youngest son, Tommen, for trying to stand up for himself. In the show, Cersei was given sympathetic qualities where she does care about her children and loves them very much. She's even aware of Joffrey's actions and doesn't approve of them but she still loves him in any way. After Joffrey died during his wedding, Cersei becomes worried about the safety of her younger children, Myrcella and Tommen. And when Myrcella was poisoned by Ellaria Sand, Cersei is completely devasted and wonders why her sweet and kind daughter has to die. The deaths of her two children slowly made her unstable and by the time Tommen kills himself after she blows up the Sept of Baelor, she doesn't mourn for him and becomes crueler once she's crowned queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Gotham:
    • The Penguin gets this treatment as in Batman Returns, albeit in a different way. Having spent his life raising his elderly, kindhearted mother, he spends the entire series being pushed around, mistreated, having his heart broken, tortured, manipulated, losing both of his parents to self-serving criminals, and just generally having having his chain yanked when he gets a moment of happiness. Combine all of this, and his transition into Gotham's most notorious crime lord has a lot deeper meaning that just being a Card-Carrying Villain.
    • The Riddler used to be a nerdy and otherwise socially awkward forensic analyst for the GCPD, having a hopeless crush on a secretary. He learns her boyfriend is an abuser, so he kills him. Things start going his way, then he accidentally confesses his misdeed and strangles her to death, and it all goes downhill from there. A fractured personality emerges, leading to The Riddler, and he still gets put through the Trauma Conga Line over losing a girl who happened to look exactly like his dead girlfriend because of a jealous Penguin, being frozen alive, having his mind screwed with by Hugo Strange, and his brief fling with Lee Tompkins ending in both of their deaths and forced resurrection.
    • The Joker...possibly. As the series treated the Clown Prince of Crime as more of a legacy and less of a character, the two men presented in the possible identity—Jerome Valeska and his twin Jeremiah—as having been put through the wringer beforehand. With Jeremiah, he's always lived in fear that Jerome would kill him, and spent his entire life hiding out to stay alive. He does, and Jerome ends up dead, but he gets turned into the (possible) Joker as a "final gift". As for Jerome, it's indicated his parents were abusive, but it's left very ambiguous as to how bad his psychosis truly was, and whether or not the actions he's accused of were true.
  • Krypton:
    • 200 years prior to Krypton's destruction, the House of El had been destroyed by the House of Vex as punishment for defying their corrupt theocracy (as in claiming the existence of other worlds), becoming pariahs amongst the populous and making life difficult for Superman's grandfather, Seg-El, well before his son become the famous Ignored Expert who's warnings of Krypton's destruction fell on deaf ears.
    • The House of Zod, progenitors to General Dru-Zod and his ilk, threw in a surprising take on this with the man himself, having traveled back in time to prevent Krypton's destruction out of a genuine love for his people—even if it's mixed in with Zod's usual desires of conquest and power.
    • Even Doomsday is not immune to this—rather than being a creature of pure destruction made to be the ultimate killing machine and nothing more, the man who would become Doomsday used to be a man who willingly volunteered for various experiments conducted by the Houses of El and Zod to create a super-soldier capable of resisting any form of attack, only for all that Body Horror to twist him into an unrecognizable monster his own wife couldn't bear to witness.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a heartless woman who sought to kill her step-daughter for being prettier than her. This Evil Queen is shown to have lived under a particularly heartless mother who wanted her to act out of ambition and power above all else, lost her true love because said mother coerced a young Snow White into giving up his identity (and then subsequently killed him), and is forced to kill her own father to send everyone to the real world due to him being the only thing she truly loves.
    • Rumpelstiltskin, in his own fairy tale, was a little manipulative imp who could worm his way into people's lives and give them what they wanted in exchange for taking something from them, unless they figured out his name. With no motivation beyond that, the show went out of his way to put him through the Trauma Conga Line and set him on the path to villainy. In this series, he was a loving father and a devoted husband, who willingly injured himself prior to being shipped off to fight in the Ogre Wars so his son would still have a father to raise him. His wife calls him a coward, up and leaves him for Captain Hook, and he spends all of his days as a hobbling cripple whom the entire town hates for wimping out and not going off to fight. He then ends up becoming "The Dark One", the ultimate evil in the Enchanted Forest, and spends his days causing the events of the series so he can reunite with his lost son when his actions drive him away.
    • The original Snow Queen, aka Elsa and Anna's Aunt gets this treatment. As mentioned in the Animated Films section, the original tale made her an Ambiguously Evil character, while others had her go down the villainous route. This Queen was a bad guy because, much like her niece, she was mistreated for her powers, and accidentally killing her sister led her to be sealed in a special jar for something she had no control over.
    • Ursula in The Little Mermaid is a power-hungry sea witch who only seeks the Atlantican Throne from King Triton for no other reason that to have control over his domain and be free to do whatever she wanted. This version was a mermaid (and Poseidon's daughter) who borrowed some traits from Ariel in that she lived under a Fantasy-Forbidding Father who fell in love with a human and was willing to give up everything to be with him, including her singing voice. But, when said human ends up dead, she snaps and turns to villainy.
  • Preacher (2016) does this with the television series' interpretation of Odin Quincannon. While the source material consistently showed Odin Quincannon to be a deranged racist to the very end, the television series scales back his unscrupulous traits to simply being a Corrupt Corporate Executive and Hollywood Atheist who's the way he is because of his family getting killed in a freak accident.
  • There are quite a few of these in the Netflix version of The Sandman (2022):
    • Played with in the case of Roderick Burgess. The comic version of Burgess seeks to capture Death out of nothing but a desire for immortality, money, and power, while this one is at least partially motivated by hoping that his dead son can be brought back to life. The Netflix version of Burgess also doesn't engage in at least some of the various other crimes of the comic version, who liberally used blackmail, murder, and magical assassinations to his advantage. However, the show also goes to lengths to add or explicitly show Kick the Dog moments of his that were either not present or only implied in the comics, especially with regards to showing his abuse of his second son, Alex. He's also quick to drop all of his more sympathetic motivations once he begins using Dream's tools for material gain.
    • Alex Burgess is mostly just A Lighter Shade of Black compared to his father in the comics. While he stops the worst practices of his father's cult after taking over, he still demands the same things his father did from Dream. This version is shown from his early days as an abused child desperate for his father's approval, and repeatedly shows sympathy for Dream. After the death of his father, Alex doesn't demand immortality or power, only a promise that Dream not harm him or his lover Paul. Unfortunately this version of Alex did kill Dream's raven Jessamy right in front of Dream under pressure from his father, so Dream is not inclined to forgive and forget.
    • John Dee in the comics is the minor supervillain Doctor Destiny, who, while somewhat pitiable, was also an utterly mad megalomaniac who used the Ruby to initiate a worldwide wave of murder and madness for the fun of it. He also murdered Rosemary, a woman who had been helpful to him and he seemed to bond with, in cold blood and for absolutely no reason. The Netflix version is something closer to a Psychopathic Manchild who was severely impacted by his early life and upbringing, and has a Black-and-White Insanity outlook on the world. Also, instead of killing Rosemary, even though he has actual reason to be upset with her this time, he instead gives her his Amulet of Protection, acknowledging her as one of the few good people he's ever met.
  • In Sesame Street, the Three Bears from Goldilocks are main characters, and unlike their portrayal as antagonists in the fairy tale, here they're just a normal family that happens to be comprised of anthropomorphic bears.
  • Superman & Lois:
    • Morgan Edge was given this treatment. Though the original character underwent Adaptational Villainy following Crisis, and became a genuine Corrupt Corporate Executive in both the comics and his depiction in Supergirl (2015), the subsequent reset of the Arrowverse following its own Crisis saw him become this. He is Superman's brother Tal-Rho, son of Zeta-Rho and Lara Lor-Van, who was raised by an abusive father into believing that strength was the only way to live, and survived Krypton's destruction, only to be held hostage and experimented upon by the British government.
    • John Henry Irons, alias Steel, is given an entirely different backstory in this series. While initially touted as a version of Lex Luthor from another Earth, Irons comes from a reality where Superman bought into his brother's logic that humans are weak and need to be conquered, taking over the planet with an army of Kryptonian soldiers in a matter of weeks. Irons was part of a resistance against him, but lost his wife—his Earth's Lois Lane—and was apparently separated from his daughter during the events of Crisis. When he arrives on Earth Prime, he tries killing Superman, believing him to be the same monster, until that Earth's Lois talks him out of it and helps him move past his pain.
    • Bizarro is best known as a defective clone of Superman who runs on backwards logic, and can be friend or foe depending or not if someone with a bone to pick with the Man of Steel messes with his head. This Bizarro hails from a dimension that cult-leader Ally Allston's alternate counterpart has taken over, making him more of a Tragic Monster as he seeks to stop Earth-Prime's Ally from merging with her other self and becoming a god.

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • Morgan le Fay in general gets this treatment a lot in later adaptations of the Arthurian Legend. In the original stories and earlier adaptations she tends to be presented as just a power-hungry sorceress willing to do anything to destroy her half-brother Arthur, sometimes including tricking him into sleeping with her to conceive Mordred and raising him to be Arthur's downfall. Interestingly, in the earliest versions of the Arthurian Legend Morgan wasn't a villain, but she tends to be made a Composite Character with her and Arthur's other sister, the treacherous Morgause, so it could be argued the more sympathetic portrayals are Truer to the Text.
    • One of the earliest examples is the 1983 novel The Mists of Avalon. Here, Morgaine is presented sympathetically despite doing increasingly manipulative and questionable things, and is more of an Anti-Hero than a villain. She genuinely loves Arthur and only turns against him because he backs the Christian Church, who are persecuting her own pagan religion and destroying her culture (Morgaine is a priestess of Avalon, so it's kind of her duty to protect her people as well). Morgaine is also tricked into having sex with Arthur against her will by her scheming aunt and is horrified when she realizes what happened, even giving Mordred up for adoption (unfortunately, her wicked aunt raises him and is not a good influence).
    • In Merlin (2008), Morgana actually starts out as a heroic character before Slowly Slipping Into Evil. She was born with magic but tries to keep it suppressed because her guardian King Uther despises magic and persecutes anyone who practices it, so she lives in fear for years. Her half-sister Morgause manipulates her into turning against her friends; their own actions don't help as Merlin poisons Morgana to force Morgause into calling off an attack and Morgause subsequently whisks her away from Camelot for months, not allowing Merlin to explain. And then Morgana discovers Uther is actually her biological father via an affair with her mother but never told her this, so she's understandably upset and hacked off. She then decides she'd make a much better ruler than either Uther or Arthur, spurred on by Morgause.
    • In Camelot, Morgan was abused and all but disowned by her father Uther; after he murdered her mother to marry Igraine, who did little to intervene in the abuse, Morgan was sent away to a convent. When she returns to reconcile with Uther, he brutally rejects her, so she poisons him to finally claim the throne she believes is hers by right. Then at her moment of triumph she finds out she has a secret half-brother and he's ahead of her in the succession purely because he's a male heir.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the original Horton Hears a Who! and most adaptations, Jane the Sour Kangaroo was a heckling snob who belittled Horton's beliefs in a tiny civiliation inside a clover, and while she does relent when he proves it, she doesn't seem particularly remorseful about the hell she put him or the Whos through beforehand. The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss meanwhile still portrays Jane as a snobby meddler, but most of her worst actions are more down to her pomposity or lack of foresight snowballing disasters, with her usually repenting and trying to fix her mistakes when she realises she has hurt someone (especially if that someone is her beloved son, Junior).

    Theatre 
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which begins where The Deathly Hallows left off: with Albus Severus Potter boarding the Hogwarts Express to begin his first year, does this for Slytherin House. Albus not only winds up in Slytherin, he's someone the Sorting Hat considers a quintessential Slytherin, barely touching his head before placing him in Slytherin in much the same way as Malfoy and Voldemort. Malfoy's kid, Scorpio, turns out to not be a spoiled little shit like his dad and ends up being Albus's best friend at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, the other houses are wary of Slytherin House as a result of the events two decades prior, even when they're legitimately good people like Albus and Scorpio.
  • Sweeney Todd is motivated entirely by greed and cruelty in the original penny dreadful The String of Pearls. The play by Christopher Bond, which was later adapted into the Steven Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, gave him a tragic backstory and a revenge motivation.
  • Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier: Jafar from Aladdin was little more than a power-hungry maniac who sought to overthrow the Sultan so he could rule. This parodical version of the tale shows Ja'far as an outright good guy, trying his hardest to make the kingdom as prosperous as possible so everyone could be happy. It just happens that both Aladdin and The Sultan are the villains this time, and Jafar ends up having to be perceived as the bad guy so he can ensure his dream comes true.
  • Wicked provides an example for one of the most famous villains of film, The Wicked Witch of the West, showing that she spent years struggling as an outcast due to her unnatural skin color, and no matter what she tried, she could never get it quite right. Thus, her descent into villainy occurs after one too many tragedies.

    Video Games 
  • Black Mesa:
    • In the original Half-Life, the abortifacients were implied to be slaves to the Nihilanth, but this is mostly conveyed by the fact they appear to be shackled and do not try to harm Gordon when he encounters them late in the game. Since the sequel Half-Life 2 confirmed this to be canon, the Fan Remake adds in additional scenes and gameplay mechanics that emphasize this angle — the Vortigaunts are shown being bullied by Alien Grunts, being processed into Alien Grints via some kind of factory, and in sequences where Vortigaunts are fought alongside Alien Controllers, killing the Controllers causes the Vortigaunts to become docile.
    • The Gonarch in the original is something of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere that just shows up and starts attacking you. In the remake, while it still spends quite a bit of time trying to kill Gordon, this is because Gordon is forced to demolish parts of its lair to reach the Nihilanth's tower, making the creature's aggression come off as being in defense of its home. During the final confrontation with it, the Gonarch even attempts to flee after the floor falls out from under it, but ultimately collapses from exhaustion before going into one last fight with Gordon, forcing him to kill it.
  • Cadence of Hyrule: Though Ganon is the Final Boss of the game (as always despite Octavo being the primary villain), his backstory is a lot more sympathetic here. According to Fate, Ganondorf was corrupted into Ganon and turned into a slave by the Golden Lute, a stark contrast to his main counterpart who was always evil-hearted and willingly transforms into Ganon. You can actually find Ganondorf as a young Gerudo boy and despite being a prick, he comes across more ignorant than malicious, implying he might have turned out good for once had he not found the Golden Lute left by Octavo.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Ever since he became a playable character, Liu Shan's portrayal in the games is more sympathetic and tragic instead of being a cowardly idiot in most media. In sharp contrast to Cao Pi's and Sun Quan's positions as leaders, Liu Shan believes he doesn't have the confidence to be a leader and is Lonely at the Top as he doesn't have many friends with Xingcai being the only person who understands him. While he does want to fulfill his father's dream, the situation at hand made it difficult for him, particularly after Zhuge Liang's death. His surrender to Wei is more a desperate measure to save his people after seeing many of his officers dying. He is one of the few characters who get a sad ending in 9 where his people reject his choice to surrender by throwing stones at his carriage and calling him to never return.
  • The Final Fantasy III 3D remake does this with Xande. In the original, it is established that Xande is Doga and Unei's Evil Former Friend who went over the edge after his master gave him the gift of mortality, but is not really elaborated on beyond that. The remake re-contextualizes Xande's actions as stemming from a desire to not die rather than revenge, Doga and Unei speak of Xande more and in a more favorable light than the original script, and Xande's trap in the Crystal Tower stops simply at freezing the party in place rather than freezing them in place and feeding them to wyrms.
  • Friday Night Funkin': Corruption:
    • Canonically, Girlfriend's parents are bastards who only care about themselves and their daughter. While still true within the mod, Corruption forces them to deal with the consequences of their actions in the most horrific way possible, losing everything in the process. In particular, Daddy Dearest is genuinely distraught over how hellish the situation is, trying everything to stop Boyfriend and is so devastated over his wife's corruption he rapidly corrupts after being forced to fight her.
    • Within Friday Night Funkin', Senpai is a vulgar Sore Loser and Spirit, while understandable, is still trying to steal the body of an innocent person. In Corruption, Senpai's fear and Spirit's anger over the situation are highlighted as Boyfriend destroys the game from the inside out and neither of them can do anything to stop it.
  • Vs Cassandra: In Pico's School, Cassandra was the Penillian leader of a group of school shooters, who got fed up with the American education system and killed all of Pico's classmate. In the Friday Night Funkin' Game Mod, Cassandra is Girlfriend's sister who was treated as The Unfavorite and ran away. Soon, she was possessed by a Penillian and was forced to shoot up the school.
  • The Great Ace Attorney takes three of the most evil and infamous Sherlock Holmes villains and turns them into Sympathetic Murderers.
    • In the original Adventure of the Speckled Band, Grimseby Roylott is a violent, short-tempered, horrible human being who had killed one of his stepdaughters and intended to kill another to obtain their parts of his dead wife's inheritance; in here, Nikolina is a meek ballet dancer seeking asylum in America who befriends a man in the neighboring cabin, but accidentally injures him following a misunderstanding.
    • Ashley Milverton is the single most sympathetic interpretation of Milverton to date. Instead of a vile blackmailer out for himself and one of Holmes' most hated foes, Ashley was a struggling street urchin who sold government secrets to support his poor family, and murdered Magnus McGilded to avenge his father's murder at the hands of Magnus. He also did not mean to kill Pop Windibank and feels remorse for doing so, and loves the Skulkin brothers- his childhood friends- like family. If anything, Magnus himself acts more like the traditional Milverton, being a wicked rich man who blackmails people like Gina Lestrade into covering for him.
    • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Jack Stapleton/Rodger Baskerville is the single most evil character in the original mythos, being a Serial Killer who uses an abused hound to conjure up a scary legend or his own gain. "The Professor", the duology's equivalent, is initially built up as a similar character. The last case, however, reveals that Klint Van Zieks originally sought to kill an Asshole Victim of a noble, and was actually being blackmailed by Mael Stronghart (the Moriarty equivalent) into committing the other murders, something that left him wracked with guilt. In the end, he let himself be killed by Genshin Asogi as repentance.
  • Pokémon:
    • Maxie and Archie in the original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire had plans that even someone fresh out of the 3rd grade would call monumentally stupid. In Ruby, Maxie wants to expand the amount of land on the planet because he really likes land-based Pokemon and thinks all the Sea-based Pokemon in 7.8/10 Too Much Water Hoenn can shove it. In Sapphire, Archie wants to do the opposite: increase the size of the oceans to make things better for sea-based Pokemon at the expense of land-based Pokemon. In Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, while their plans remain fundamentally the same, their motives for doing so are changed so that one could see why their plans make sense to them. Maxie sees the land as the stage upon which all human development takes place, but it is becoming overpopulated, so he aims to increase the Earth's landmass. He believes that by doing this, humanity will enter a new golden age marked by scientific discoveries and technological wonders people in the Pokemon World could previously only dream of. Archie lost his partner Pokemon at the hands of selfish humans, and it broke him emotionally. He believes that by increasing the size of the oceans, he can return the world to a primal state where Pokemon will be free from the influence of humans like the ones who caused the death of his precious partner Pokemon
    • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon: In the original games, Lusamine cruelly disowned her children and it was mentioned that Mohn (her husband) went missing, but it wasn't an aspect that was bought to the forefront. In this game, however, Lusamine is given more sympathetic qualities. When she disowns Lillie and Gladion, she looks disappointed and hurt that they would steal Type: Null and Cosmog, and it's made clear that she's very distraught about the disappearance of her husband. Additionally, she does get to see Mohn again, but he no longer remembers her. She is sad, but she decides to let him go so that he will be happy.
  • Spider-Man (PS4) does this to quite a few characters:
    • Norman Osborn is best known as the Green Goblin—ruthless Corrupt Corporate Executive on a good day, and an insane, megalomaniacal pumpkin bomb thrower whenever he loses his already fragile grip on sanity—and media adaptations usually depict him as neglectful to his son Harry at best and outright abusive at worst. This Osborn, a mayor of New York City who's ultimately made into a Trumplica and is still corrupt, is a decent man at heart when you learn why he became the way he is: his wife Emily and later Harry both were afflicted with a genetic disorder that was killing them from the inside-out. Everything that Norman did, from making backroom deals with the Kingpin, to rushing the experiment that created Martin Li's alto ego Mr. Negative, to having Harry strapped up to VENOM while he pretends he's on business in Europe, and even making an accidental biochemical weapon, is to cure his dying son before it's too late. It doesn't excuse anything he did, but this is far from the Green Goblin fans are familiar with. It also helps that he isn't Gobby in this series... at least not yet...
    • Martin Li, aka Mr. Negative, was an identity thief in the comics that was used in a twisted experiment to give him his powers. This Li, operating as the public head of the charity organization F.E.A.S.T. (which Peter's Aunt May works for) is motivated to bring down Norman Osborn because the businessman rushed a desperate attempt to save his dying wife, as mentioned above, by testing a cure on Martin that caused him to develop his powers and kill his parents in the process. Like with Norman, no one excuses his actions, especially since they result in the death of Officer Jefferson Davis, the father of Miles Morales, but he has a much more tragic backstory this time.
    • Doctor Otto Octavius, thanks to not becoming Dr. Octopus until later in the game. This version, unlike his megalomaniacal comics counterpart who had to deal with Abusive Parents and has a very bloated ego, was a genuinely good man who gave into revenge. Here, he was friends and business partners with Norman until the experiment that turned Martin Li into Mr. Negative caused him to walk away. Envious that all the effort he put into helping people got him nothing while Osborn and his more morally dubious tactics have left him in the lap of luxury, especially as Osborn nearly got his work shut down. Thanks to Doc pushing his luck with an unstable neural controller, he winds up giving into revenge and unleashing a deadly bio-weapon on New York to get revenge on Osborn.
    • Peter Parker, the wall-crawler himself. This version has already gone through the motions of losing his parents and Uncle Ben like usual, as well as having to deal with J. Jonah Jameson slandering him all the time and fighting against the usual cavalcade of villains like his comics iteration. But this version has multiple problems that really put him through the wringer; Mary Jane broke up with him because he was getting too overprotective with her, his typical Parker luck is constantly making him late to work, he gets evicted from his apartment, and he has to deal with the rise of The Demons gang in New York following Wilson Fisk's downfall. And it gets even worse for him when both Martin Li and Otto Octavius, both men he openly admired, both turn out to be heartless villains driven to revenge—and the latter knew his secret identity and openly used that against him. And then his Aunt May dies thanks to those two unleashing a bioweapon. And then he learns his best friend is dying from a deadly disease, which is why said bioweapon was made in the first place. And then an old flame manipulates him and apparently dies. And then his Friend on the Force goes off the deep end and becomes a dangerous vigilante amidst a deadly gang war. Peter usually gets put through the wringer, but not to this level of tragedy.
    • Rhino, who in most versions is a Card-Carrying Villain who willingly subjected himself to the experiment that gave him his moniker in the comics, willingly joins forces with Doc Ock's Sinister Six so he can be free of the suit he's trapped in.
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales: In the comics, Tinkerer is just a Grumpy Old Man and a Gadgeteer Genius without much background information on why he became the premier budget-supervillain repairman, but is not without a heart and takes good care of his family. In this game, Phin Mason, the teenaged friend of Miles Morales, takes on the identity of the Tinkerer to take down Roxxon for killing her brother when he tried to expose their corruption.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain
    • The original show never dealt much with the Brain's motivations for taking over the world other than the occasional implication behind it—notably, one episode implied this was due to him being separated from his family, who lived in a can with a picture of the world on it—but nevertheless always kept him as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who only sought to take over the world so he could make it better. When Animaniacs, his parent show, was rebooted, the show revealed exactly why he sought to take over the world. As a young mouse, he was forced into a "learned helplessness" experiment where he was shocked every time he tried to eat a piece of cheese. He was so crushed by the experiment that he swore he would never feel helpless again, and decided to take over the world for that reason.
    • The reboot also does this to, of all characters, Chicken Boo. His original skit saw him constantly wander into town in a Paper-Thin Disguise as a famous figure, get exposed as a chicken, driven out thanks to the townsfolk who once praised his name turn against him without a second thought, and he'd wander off as if nothing else happened. However, when the reboot explicitly forbade him from coming back, as he was Hated by All, he snaps and (apparently) kills all the other cast members out of revenge for being left out, as he rants about how it's not his fault that he was made such a Flat Character.
  • Batman: The Animated Series probably has one of the most iconic cases of this trope, Victor Fries is revised from a standard ice-themed criminal into a scientist who is trying to cure his terminally ill wife. His transformation into Mr. Freeze was caused by a corrupted business man and any crime he commits is only done to fund his research for a cure for his wife. After this version of Mr. Freeze debuted, subsequent appearances of Doctor Fries usually give him a backstory or base him off very similarly to his Animated Series counterpart.
  • Homelander's Origins Episode in The Boys: Diabolical portrays him as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds whose Start of Darkness was instigated by the trauma of his lab rat childhood and Madelyn's grooming, while in the show he's a complete narcissist with few redeeming qualities (and even less in the original comic).
  • DuckTales (2017) does this to several characters from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, the 1987 series, and Darkwing Duck:
    • This includes Flintheart Glomgold, of all characters. The original Carl Barks comic treated him as an unambiguous villain right off the bat, as did the original cartoon. This show takes it one step further by showing that he was once Duke Baloney, a young shoe-shiner in Johannesburg, South Africa, who Scrooge stiffed on the job as part of an attempt to symbolically teach the young boy in the same way he was once taught to make a fortune. Baloney stole a wallet Scrooge accidentally left behind, and devoted his life to destroying him.
    • Magica DeSpell, whom, unlike in the original stories where she was just a Card-Carrying Villain, has every reason to hate Scrooge, thanks to him reflecting back a spell that turned her brother Poe into a raven, causing him to fly away and never be seen again. Notably, unlike a lot of other antagonists, Scrooge actually regrets this one when he's reminded of it.
    • F.O.W.L. is a typical villainous organization bent on committing acts of world larceny (hence their name being the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny) so they can enrich themselves further. When the group was added into the world of the DuckTales reboot, they still seek to enrich themselves, but their goal is to stabilize the world and rid it of constant chaos—or at least their founder, Bradford Buzzard does, as the rest of the group only seeks to act like typical supervillains and conquer everything in the most grandiose way possible. This is further hammered in the Grand Finale, where Buzzard reveals he wants to rid the world of adventure because his grandmother, Isabella Finch, took him on several daring (and highly dangerous) adventures that almost got him killed several times over, leaving him traumatized at the "chaos" he perceived, feeling the only way to rein it in is to get rid of it. This is in stark contrast to the nameless board of directors from Darkwing, who had no motivation beyond enriching themselves further.
    • Negaduck, of all characters, was given this in in the reboot. The original Darkwing depicted him as being its titular lead's Evil Counterpart from an alternate dimension, a Mirror Universe of swapped moralities know as the "Negaverse", and practically everything Negaduck does is to prove himself as the ultimate bad guy. In the DuckTales reboot, he used to be Jim Starling, the actor who played Darkwing in a TV show, until its cancellation (partially brought on by his own ego) left him without work and struggling to make ends meet, until learning he was being subject to The Other Darrin In-Universe for a rebooted movie of the show drove him over the edge and caused him to try to kill his replacement outright, only to have a My God What Have I Done Moment and sacrifice himself to save Launchpad from an explosion. Said Heroic Sacrifice inspires said replacement to become Darkwing for real... only for Jim to still be alive and twisted to become Negaduck himself.
    • Darkwing himself (and a heroic version at that). The original Darkwing was a glory-hound who, though fighting for the good of St. Canard, was clearly in it for the fame and glory he thought it would bring him, and had become a crime fighter for... reasons that have varied from story to story. With this new iteration, which treats Darkwing as a Show Within a Show, the young Drake Mallard was personally inspired by the show on how to be a hero, and though he develops a bit of an ego himself, his motivation is to inspire others the same way the show inspired him in the first place.
    • It's subtly hinted at with Bushroot, albeit in a different way. The duck/plant hybrid from the original show was socially awkward and not really a bad guy in the traditional sense that he just wanted to be left in peace most of the time, and his schemes weren't nearly as harmless as Quackerjack or Megavolt. The one from the DuckTales reboot took the And I Must Scream route by making him as a mindless, zombie-like creature whom, though intelligent, was lost to the plant monster he had become. Even Darkwing and Launchpad don't even consider him a villain.
  • In an episode of The Fimbles, Roly Mo tells a story that's a version of Goldilocks. In the original story, the bears are an example of Bears Are Bad News, but in this version, they're friendly, and Baby Bear in particular wants someone to play with and ends up making friends with Goldilocks.
  • Jellystone! has The Banana Splits appear as villains like the R-rated live action movie but it's implied here that the main reason they're evil is that they used to be cool in order to gain some respect.
  • In a rare heroic example, the 1991 animated adaption of The Little Engine That Could does this for its titular locomotive (here, named Tillie) as part of its Adaptation Expansion. The original, unnamed engine pulled the birthday train because she was the only one willing to do it. Here, Tillie is constantly put down by the Tower in charge of the rail yard where she works, as well as the snooty diesel engine Farnsworth, for being "too little" to handle trains, so she's motivated to prove herself as an engine beyond being a simple switcher.
  • Daffy Duck is famed as the Looney Tunes No-Respect Guy performer-wise, getting Chirping Crickets and pelting to the face from his audience simply for not being Bugs Bunny. Pretty much any work where his audience consists of franchise mainstays however makes their snubbing of Daffy feel far more justified, simply by virtue that most of them have dealt with Daffy's Jerkass behaviour and have a legit bone to pick with him. In The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie especially, Daffy spends the entire film leading up to his performance acting like a boorish Entitled Bastard, with most of the other irritated members being vocally clear he's doing no favours for himself popularity wise.
  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation:
    • Skeletor wasn't given much of a backstory in the original animated series, and most iterations are usually He-Man's treacherous Uncle Keldor. This iteration claims he's this, as he reveals to Andra that nobody cared for him, even when he was a man. The tie-in prequel comic also claims that he was tricked into the service of the evil Hordak to try and bring back his dead wife and daughter, only for Hordak to give him a Sadistic Choice and only lets him bring back one. However, as this version is Practically Joker (complete with Mark Hamill voicing him), it's very likely he's lying. Well, perhaps not about Hordak at least, as the season finale reveals the hard way.
    • Evil-Lyn is a more straight example of this trope. Her previous iterations had no backstory to speak of, but this one grew up as a street urchin when her parents tried to eat her on her birthday.
    • Prince Adam, alias He-Man, is this to an extent as well. His past versions are always on the giving end of Keeping Secrets Sucks, not able to reveal his secret as Eternia's defender to his best friend Teela, or his father King Randor, who constantly puts him down for not being "man" enough. As this series serves as a Deconstruction of the mythos, it showcases how badly it affected Adam to hide this—when he dies fighting Skeletor, Teela and Randor are furious at having been kept in the dark like that, with the former quitting the Royal Guard and wandering Eternia to foreswear magic forever, while the latter exiles Man-At-Arms and practically destroys his marriage by blaming Queen Marla (who had figured it out long ago) from hiding it from him. Poor Adam is crushed to see how him hiding the truth affected things, but his brief transformation into Savage He-Man reveals he has a very deep hatred for how his father kept putting him down, as Teela bringing up the man's name sends him into a frenzy until Randor apologizes for his actions.
    • Orko is perhaps the Trope Codifier for the Inept Mage, unable to cast the simplest of spells and making a fool of himself every time he tries. The original series showed he made up for this by having a good heart and being loyal to the people who took him in, but this show gave him crippling self-esteem issues from being such a constant screw-up
  • Rankin/Bass Productions would do this with several icons of the holidays.
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The original story and song merely depicted Rudolph as a target of mockery for his usual nose, whereas the special showed the deep psychological effects of being mistreated in such a manner, not just by the other reindeer, but by his own father, and even Santa Claus himself. Several other figures in his position, notable Hermey The Elf and the residents of the Island Of Misfit Toys, were shown to help further Rudolph's plight.
    • Frosty the Snowman: The original song didn't refer much to Frosty's plight other than his being threatened with melting in the heat. The special shows Frosty as being terrified of such a fate, his friends' efforts to help him get to the North Pole in time, and an evil magician who tries his damndest to steal Frosty's hat—the only thing keeping him alive—so he can enrich himself.
    • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town: Most stories involving Santa Claus depict him as a saintly figure who goes out of his way to make children happy (barring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, where he was a jerk to the poor reindeer). This special depicts his origin story, showing him as a good-hearted man trying to do the right thing for a miserable town under the cruel thumb of the greedy Burgermeister Meisterburger, who wants to make everyone as glum as possible simply because a toy broke his foot—and it just so happens Kris Kringle wants to deliver them to the good little children. It also shows that his kind-heart does in fact have an impact on others, as he got both Ms. Jessica and the misery Winter Warlock to make a Heel–Face Turn and help him out, simply because he acted from the goodness of his heart.
    • The titular lead from The Little Drummer Boy didn't have much backstory in the original song other than going to Bethlehem the night of Jesus Christ's birth to play his drums for him in tribute. This version, named Aaron, lost his parents to bandits when he was a boy, and developed a hatred for humanity as a result. It takes him winding up at Christ's birth and playing his drums in tribute to help heal his heart.
    • The famous Meiser Brothers from The Year Without a Santa Claus are depicted as a pair of bickering brothers—one driven to make the world warmer and the other to cover it in ice and snow—who have no backstories beyond hating each other's guts. The sequel, A Miser Brothers Christmas (made years after the company folded), shows that their mutual dislike of each other stemmed from constant childhood squabbles, and it was this that caused Santa to always stick them on the Naughty List, thus never earning them any Christmas presents. It's this revelation, combined with their bickering seemingly injuring Santa in a sleigh accident and their mother forcing them to make up for it by taking over from him, that causes the two to finally reconcile.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series did this a fair bit:
    • J. Jonah Jameson gets one of his nicest incarnations. He's still a sensationalist blowhard who runs a smear campaign against Spidey, but he does care about the truth, and quickly issues retractions when presented with contrary evidence. He himself lost his wife to a masked shooter, and targets Spidey as part of a personal campaign to prevent anyone else sufferering the same fate.
    • In the comics, Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, is a deranged sociopath. In the cartoon, due to behind-the-scenes issues, he couldn't become the Green Goblin until some ways into season 4, which means we get three seasons in which he is a sane man who has gotten in over his head in working with the Kingpin, but sees no way out without putting his son in danger.
    • Even the Kingpin himself is shown to genuinely love his wife and son, and to be truly devastated when his life of crime costs him his family.
    • Spencer Smythe is only working for Norman Osborn to help his paralyzed son Alistair.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch does this for the entire clone army. In Legends continuity, the clones were rewarded for their services to the Republic by being transitioned into the Empire, aside from those that rebelled on Kamino and saw their homeworld destroyed as punishment. In canon, the clones are pretty much tossed aside in favor of conscripted troops—which can be hired for twice as many clones at half the cost—with only those remaining continuing to serve in their positions until they end up being phased out, and the Empire destroys the entire Kamino cloning facility to keep the technology exclusively in their hands. Tellingly, while the inhibitor chip is canon to both continuities, the effects of it were never explored that deeply in Legends due to its discontinuation, while canon shows that the clones that did have it were deeply horrified at what they had done when it was removed, in contrast to the clones who followed Order 66 willingly and continued to serve the Empire without question—much like Crosshair ultimately does in canon without his chip later in the show.
  • Star Wars: Rebels, along with the aforementioned Bad Batch and the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars gives Captain Rex a more sympathetic outlook. In Legends continuity, he had relinquished his command of the 501st Legion to Appo before Revenge of the Sith, with no mention to his post-Republic fate. All three shows reveal exactly that—and the trauma that resulted in his Character Development—by revealing he did stay on as a Captain, only for Order 66 to go online, which resulted in him nearly killing Ahsoka while under the control chip's influence. Though freed, he was forced to kill the entire battalion of clones trying to kill them during the duo's escape. Once back in the galaxy, he initially fought against the Empire, until an as-yet revealed incident led him to retire to the Outer Rim with fellow clones Wolfe and Gregor. He initially declines to aid Phoenix Squadron until the Empire drags him back into things, at which point he takes up arms again. After that, he has to deal with the Fantastic Racism of Kanan (who rightfully distrusts clones after Order 66 cost him his master) until the two becomes Fire-Forged Friends, and then supposedly the death of his old friend Ahsoka Tano, and later Gregor during their war.
  • Terra from Teen Titans was a psychopath who was the partner/lover of Deathstroke and had no regrets betraying the Titans. Because of the bad implication of putting the blame on a young girl being manipulated by an older guy, adaptations have portrayed Terra much more sympathetically.
    • In Teen Titans (2003), Terra is a runaway with zero control over her powers. While she does become friends with the Titans, she leaves when she thinks Beast Boy told them of her powers. Afterwards, Slade takes advantage of her and she becomes The Mole. And while she does betray the team, she is shown having some regrets and later performs a Heroic Sacrifice. Also, her romance with Beast Boy is shown to be genuine and not fake.
    • In Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, Terra is portrayed much closer to her comic counterpart but has a Dark and Troubled Past of being hunted down by a mob afraid of her powers. She then gets saved by Slade moments before getting shot. And while she does snark about the Titan gang, she is shown having genuine fun with them and also developing feelings for Beast Boy. And when she does betray the team, she herself is betrayed by Slade to Brother Blood.
    • Young Justice (2010) goes in a similar direction to Teen Titans 2003 to show that Terra was trafficked from her family at a young age and forced to do work for the League of Shadows, who then install her among the heroes as a spy. As she had a far healthier family life here compared to her comic counterpart, she is shown to have had family who cared for her, most notably her brother Geo-Force. Other heroes, like Tigress (who was once in a similar position to her as the daughter of Sportsmaster), also try to help her out, and ultimately, it's revealed many heroes knew all along she was a mole, and letting her know this allows her to perform a genuine Heel–Face Turn her other counterparts attempted but never survived.
      • Young Justice (2010) also depicts Cheshire in a more sympathetic light. In the comics, Jade is often portrayed as a sociopathic, untrustworthy murderer who cares for no one but herself. This show gives Jade a genuinely loving relationship with her sister Artemis and her husband Will. The show also delves into how Jade's abuse shaped her and shows her more vulnerable side.
  • Transformers: Animated
    • Optimus Prime, who in most versions before and after this show is depicted as The Stoic, A Father to His Men, and The Comically Serious most of the time, due in part to having undergone Flanderization during the course of the third season of the original series—a take of which almost every Optimus has been depicted as since. While most other stories usually give Prime sympathy by having him be allies and friends with Megatron until their inevitable ideological clashes drove them apart, with a lot of the consequences of the war weighing heavily on him, this Prime had the makings to be a hero, until he was drummed out of the Autobot Academy for an incident that apparently killed a fellow cadet—an incident of which his "buddy" Sentinel Prime let him take the fall for. This leaves Prime, who's now in charge of a ragtag bunch of misfts acting as protectors of the future Detroit, with doubts about his leadership capabilities and whether or not he has what it takes to truly be a hero. Over the course of the series, he would prove this to himself and to others by growing into the hero the world knows him as.
    • This also applies to the show's version of Ratchet, a grizzled war veteran who's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and suffers from a seriously bad case of PTSD for having fought in a horrific war, lost a patient to seemingly permanent Laser-Guided Amnesia, and essentially being forced to use a Tyke Bomb version of a WMD to end the conflict for good. His grouchy demeanor hides the scars of having gone through all that pain, but he's able to warm up and let go of his demons.
    • Waspinator, in a more traditional villainous example, gets hit with this to a very small extent. The original was a Butt-Monkey and a Cosmic Plaything who existed solely to get blown up, squished, trampled, or otherwise harmed in such horrific ways that he eventually up and quit. This Waspinator, once an Autobot named "Wasp", was framed for being a Decepticon spy, spent 50 years in the stockade going insane, and eventually was mutated into a techno-organic Wasp by Blackarachnia so he could get his revenge on the bot who put him there, Bumblebee. However, while he has a more tragic backstory than the original, some of the others (most notably Bulkhead) refuse to give him any sympathy, since he was a Jerk Jock back in bootcamp that always picked on Bumblebee and Bulkhead for no good reason (even removing Bee's limbs for fun one time), so he's not entirely innocent.
    • Blackarachia of Beast Wars fame was The Vamp, a keen example of Spiders Are Scary, had a Dating Catwoman style romance with Silverbolt, and only made a Heel–Face Turn because Megatron almost killed Optimus Prime as he lay in stasis on The Ark and nearly altered history, which would have killed her in the process. This version used to be Elita-1, a fellow cadet of Optimus and Sentinel's who apparently died on an unauthorized mission led by the latter to an energon-filled planet full of giant spiders. Her mutation into this form came about from trying to copy the spider's abilities, and threw her lot in with the Decepticons because her "comrades" would have dissected her, and is shown to have a similar dynamic with Optimus like the original did with Silverbolt, only with more of a tragic connection between the two.
    • Megatron is a downplayed example. He is still a ruthless dictator, though to some degree a Knight Templar who believes he is leading his Decepticons against "Autobot oppression" and is respectful or at least pragmatic enough to inflict sincere loyalty into his troops (or at least ones that don't betray him), while most other versions of Megatron are Card Carrying Villains who make as many enemies on their own side due to acting like petty volatile Bad Bosses. That and he gets slightly irritated at Lugnut's Undying Loyalty from time to time.
    • Prowl, for another heroic example, is better known as The Stoic in most iterations (aside from his IDW Counterpart, who's a Well-Intentioned Extremist on a good day and a Straw Vulcan who can rival Shockwave on a bad day). He's still a stoic bot here, but he was changed to a draft dodger taught the ways of the Cyber Ninja by Yoketron, only to lose his master to the bounty hunter Lockdown before he could obtain total enlightenment, and spent years wandering the stars until Optimus Prime's crew found him and gave him a place he could call home. Prowl spends much of the series with a I Work Alone attitude before he slowly warms up to his teammates and obtains the inner peace he long sought by the time the series ends, although it tragically comes with him giving his life to ensure victory against Megatron.
    • Zig-Zagged with Sentinel Prime. In all other continues, he's Optimus Prime's predecessor, with most media not giving him much of a backstory prior to this series. This Sentinel is...well, a Jerkass to the extreme, a Miles Gloriosus, The Neidermeyer, and an organic-hating racist who takes every opportunity he can to kick Optimus Prime when he's down. So what gives him any sympathy? His Freudian Excuse came from taking Optimus and Elita-1 on an unauthorized mission to an organic planet to snag some Energon, only for the three to be attacked by giant spiders. Elita apparently died on mission, haunting Sentinel and driving his actions from that point forward. Where he loses any sympathy is that he let Optimus take the fall for it, and he's still a jerk. Still, compared to other Sentinels, like his Hate Sink IDW-1 counterpart, or his Well-Intentioned Extremist Face–Heel Turn iteration from Transformers: Dark of the Moon, he's a bit more sympathetic here.
    • Omega Supreme, the ultimate Autobot Weapon, existed in previous stories as either an ancient being or as a creation of the Quintessons who gained sentience—the original series notably showed that he was a happy bot until Megatron corrupted his friends, the Constructicons, into the villains we know them as today, and drained his emotions trying to do the same to him. This Omega is a Tyke Bomb the Autobots built when the war dragged out too long, and assigned Ratchet to guide him when Arcee was rendered comatose. The poor guy did his job, confused as to why he must destroy like a Decepticon even though Ratchet taught him to think like an Autobot, and wound up being placed in stasis for centuries when his injuries sustained in the final battle proved too much for his systems.
  • Transformers: Cyberverse:
    • Astrotrain is best known as a getaway driver for the Decepticons, with the original cartoon having given him a bit of a power-hungry streak. Here, he was a victim of Megatron-X, a much more monstrous version of Megatron who not only won the war, but replaced all his Decepticons with Tarn-eqsue clones to serve as his foot soldiers when the rest of his troops were no longer of use to him. Kept imprisoned and tortured, he willingly flees with the original Megatron to another dimension so he can flee from his master's wrath, and gladly takes his revenge on Megatron-X when Optimus Prime bests him. Tragically, he winds up being slaughtered in the end.
    • Clobber, a Gender Flipped versioned of Animated Lugnut, undergoes this. The original Lugnut was a Boisterous Bruiser known for his Undying Loyalty to the Decepticon cause, a Battle Butler for an oft-exasperated Megatron, and gloriously destroying his enemies with his Punch Of Kill Everything. Clobber is more of a Butt-Monkey who gets caught between the aspirations of Soundwave and Shockwave, treated as little more than a goon to be disposed of, and genuinely fears for her life. It's no surprise that, when Season 3's Quintesson arc has Hot Rod bring her into the fold to take them down, she defects to the Autobots when they don't treat her like crap.
    • Lockdown, another TFA veteran, has this to a similar degree as Clobber. His original iteration was a No-Nonsense Nemesis to Prowl and Ratchet, acting as a Bounty Hunter who gleefully took trophies from his captures and added them to his own body. Given that he's an Adaptational Dumbass who's just another one of Megatron's goons this time, like with Clobber, he's caught between Soundwave and Shockwave's aspirations for command and is scared he's going to be disposed of easily.
    • Subverted with Tarn, the antagonist of The Perfect Decepticon. His IDW iteration was originally an old friend of Optimus Prime's named "Glitch", who was corrupted by Megatron into serving as the head of the infamous Decepticon Justice Division so the Decepticon leader could spite his foe, and was a vile and ruthless bot that devoted himself to the cause fanatically. It seems like this iteration is portrayed as being Forced into Evil when he and his brethren were created by the insane Megatron-X of another dimension to act as his mindless foot soldiers, and came to Optimus for help in wanting to choose his own path. It turns out to be a trick set by the crafty Tarn to place all the other drones under his control, forcing Soundwave to make a Heroic Sacrifice to stop him for good.
  • Transformers: Prime: Another heroic example, this show's version of Arcee, whom, in the original series, largely benefited from The Smurfette Principle as the only Action Girl amongst a cast of almost entirely male robots, was shown to be a mix of Adaptational Badass, Composite Character with the Animated iteration of Prowl, and with a Dark and Troubled Past of losing both her partners (Tailgate and then Cliffjumper) to the war, causing her to develop an I Work Alone tendency in fear of losing anyone else. It takes the efforts of her human charge Jack to help her heal and open up once again.
    • Ratchet, again, gets this case in this series, shown as having harbored a great deal of guilt for failing to fix the damaged Bumblebee's voice box, and his eventual feeling of uselessness that culminates in him testing synthetic Energon on himself, causing him to become much more abrasive until he's convinced to flush it out of his system.
    • Megatron, as in the comics example, was once a gladiator and miner who was trying to overthrow an oppressive caste system that forced Cybertronians into roles based on their alt-mode, and worked with the young Orion Pax to accomplish it. But when the High Council granted the more peacefully-minded Orion the right to be the next Prime after Megatron flat out threatened to overturn the government, he swore off all ties with his former friend and waged a war that destroyed their home. There are some hints he regrets fighting against his former friend (now Optimus Prime), and has regretted their war has ravaged Cybertron to an uninhabitable wasteland, but still blindly believes his way of thinking is right, and goes to many monstrous actions to prove it. In the end, it takes death, resurrection at the hands of Unicron himself, and realizing what tyranny truly feels like does he renounce his ways and goes into a self-imposed exile.
  • Rabbit is a downplayed case in the Disney adaptation of Winnie the Pooh. In the original books, Rabbit was generally portrayed as a prying Jerkass who would at whim decide he didn't like newcomers like Kanga, Roo and Tigger and try to force them to leave or traumatise them into not acting so out of place. This is kept in the Disney adaptations, however in those Rabbit is treated as far more of a neurotic Butt-Monkey, who either has a genuine qualm with their behaviour (such as Tigger) or is paranoid they are something far more belligerent (such as Kanga and Roo). In all cases, he admits he was wrong and becomes friends with them.

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