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Conspiracy Redemption

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Frequently, a Hero (especially an Ordinary High-School Student) who gets his powers by accident or is granted them by some other force will meet and be recruited by the Army or an equivalent which wants him to use his power for the good of the world. After a few Filler episodes pass by in which The Hero gets to hang out and bash monsters with his new best pals (bonus points for alienating their usual group of friends in the process), several hints and a few subplots will start to appear that cast the intentions of "The Organization" into doubt. They will attempt to coerce the hero into doing morally questionable things (maybe discrediting him or branding him a heretic, inappropriate use of force, or threatening to take away his powers), and they will be doing some other evil deeds that betray the mission or ethics the company once proudly touted as "elevating it" above mere Men in Black.

Usually this comes as a shock to the member who first met and recruited the hero, as s/he and most of the junior officers are earnestly good people, and in many cases the hero was an exceptional member of the Organization. Usually the organizations as a whole are not really evil, there are only a few corrupt members (usually higher ups) who try to abuse their power, only to be defeated by the hero, of course. After that problem has been cleaned up (often with an astonishing lack of the organization falling to infighting in the wake of such an obvious coup), he is then accepted as a legitimate member with full rights to their powers.

Minor and major variations of this plot can be found in many different media, for all it seems to be a pretty new convention. Contrast Good All Along, Villain with Good Publicity, and Benevolent Conspiracy.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Digimon Tamers, the Hypnos organization really wasn't evil, they were just working on the government's behalf due to legitimate concerns - Yamaki is the only one who takes it personally. After it turns out Hypnos was doing more harm than good and they realize the Tamers are humanity's best hope, they turn things around and are vital to the heroes up to the very end of the series. Yamaki himself has a total change of heart and becomes the kids' strongest and most vocal supporter.
  • This becomes the entire second Arc of Bleach once the Ordinary High-School Student protagonists, the setting and basic premise are established. The full brunt of Soul Society's Celestial Bureaucracy is brought to bear against the heroes: lower officer Rukia because her emergency illegal act was declared an executable offense by the assassinated and secretly replaced Central 46, and the human kids because they try to protect Rukia from arrest and execution. Several members of the Soul Society hierarchy join forces with the main cast, some due to considering Rukia's sentence unjust and some for more personal reasons, promptly gaining roles as secondary protagonists in the process.
  • Buso Renkin: While there is little malice incolved in the decision, the second half of the series sees the Alchemist Army attempt to kill Kazuki because he will eventually become a Walking Wasteland, and a tremendous threat to everyone around him in six weeks time. Things change, however, once the Big Bad becomes a more immediate threat — and the resident Big Good gets the General Ripper under control — and the Alchemist Army lets Kazuki a spend his remaining time investigating possible cures, and he agrees to allowing himself to be killed if he hadn't found a way to stop or delay the transformation by that time.
  • Witch Hunter Robin does it. Solomon has national branches all over the world, and as a whole is fairly draconian since it kills witches, rather than capturing them like the Japanese branch (SNT-J). However, Solomon will not use inhumane experiments or genetic engineering, both of which the Japanese branch is heavily involved in. This is particularly subversive, since it seemed more humane, but its experiments on the witches it captures are cruel and madness inducing. In a variation, Robin is never truly acquitted by the organizations, but her father figure and leader of Solomon does forgive her, while asking for her forgiveness.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico, in which the Nadesico crew gets jerked around by factions within both Nergal and the UEDF.
  • This is almost exactly what happens to NERV in Neon Genesis Evangelion, except that Shinji, Misato and other initially-clueless-but-generally-good members do not prevent the higher-ups from completing their plans of questionable morality (well, at least Ritsuko tried to).
    • Rebuild of Evangelion plays with it: by 3.0, the good guys within NERV all separated into a Renegade Splinter Faction named WILLE and have spent the 14 years of the Time Skip fighting NERV and trying to prevent it from finishing the job in the post-partial-Third-Impact hellscape that Earth has become. However, their attitude on screen thanks to the hatred they feel for Shinji because he accidentally caused the aforementioned Impact is just as morally loathsome as NERV's was in the first two films. By the fourth film, they have managed to devise a method to undo the ecological damage from the Impact, putting them more firmly in this trope.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, we eventually learn that the entire state military is in fact a tool for the evil Homunculi, one of whom is in fact the head of the military. Though really, he is called the Führer. Idealistic members try to stop them from succeeding.
  • A somewhat darker variant appears in Darker than BlackThe Syndicate employs Contractors, but it ruthlessly uses those under its control to do all manner of dirty work for its own inscrutable benefit (and the Contractors are under no illusions concerning their work). Ultimately, the syndicate turns out to have an agenda involving exterminating the contractors as a whole by closing Hell's Gate (Evening Primrose beat them to Heaven's Gate). Both Hei, his True Companions, and November 11 become examples of this trope when they find out, and in the latter cases Conspiracy Redemption Equals Death.
    • The Syndicate is an interesting play on this trope, as on the surface it appears to be merely a criminal organization, while in reality it's controlled by the UN, as are most of the supposedly opposing groups.
  • In the Sonic X continuity, the military organization G.U.N (Guardian Unit of Nations) was responsible for the attack on Space Colony Ark fifty years ago, during which twelve year old Maria Robotnik, amongst many others, were killed: the incident was fobbed off as an accident and everyone who was connected or suspected of connection was either killed or discredited. Leaping forward to present day however, and we find the current members of GUN (including Agent Topaz) taking in their own past agents for their fifty year old Crimes.
  • Happens to several lower ranking soldiers on both sides of the Bloody Valentine War in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, after the full scale of their superiors' genocidal intentions are revealed.
    • Shinn Asuka from the sequel series is an aversion, and possible deconstruction, of this trope. His mess of anger issues keeps him from seeing anything but shades of black and white, and the resident Chessmaster and his Dragon exploit this. Shinn remains blind to their manipulations for almost the entire series, convinced that he's on some sort of righteous, world-changing crusade even when he's participating in missions that go against everything he claimed to stand fornote . To his credit, he starts having doubts near the end of the series, but by then he's become so reliant on their advice that this just makes him more deranged. He does realize what's going on at the very end, but it takes a pretty nasty beating from Athrun and the Infinite Justice to get to that point, leaving him unable to do anything except watch as the whole scheme goes up in flames.
  • The Warriors in Burn Up Scramble, though it shouldn't be too shocking, given it's run by an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Their own Commander ends up being the final boss, and the unit is disbanded in the aftermath of the final battle. However, it gets reinstated under new management in the end after the girls show that the Warriors do in fact fight for justice.


  • In Worm, this is in the process of happening to the Protectorate, with the removal of the Triumvirate and the purging of Cauldron's influence. However, many of the superheroes that were alienated by the revelation of the Protectorate's crimes remain wary and independent.

     Live Action Television  

  • Happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Season 4 with Riley and the Initiative. Riley was a loyal soldier for the organisation and attempted to recruit Buffy as well, but eventually learned that the Initiative was using Mad Scientists (particularly Walsh), boosting its soldiers' performances with drugs and cybernetic implants, and creating a cyborg Super-Soldier using demon body tissue. After Walsh tries to kill Buffy, and the Initiative captures and experiments on Oz, Riley deserts and joins the Scoobies. After the demise of the Initiative Riley is headhunted by a military demon-killing unit that's less morally ambiguous.
    • More subtly happened with the Watcher Council. After being increasingly shown to be doddering old men trapped in their old traditions unable to keep up with the changing of the times, in season 7 Buffy finds herself making many of the same decisions that the Council would have made.
  • SD-6 from Alias plays this card with its very first episode: a criminal organization masquerading as a black-ops unit of the CIA, wherein several of its recruits (Sydney, Dixon, and Marshall) are unaware of its true nature, and who are allowed to join the CIA once SD-6 is taken down. Granted, to many outside the USA, CIA Black Ops are bad, but SD-6 is even worse.
  • Inverted in Millennium (1996), where the Millennium Group initially helps police with criminal threats, expanding to supernatural villains in season 2. Then in the second Season Finale they release a souped up virus that kills Catherine Black.
  • The Department of Extranormal Operations in Supergirl was originally founded and run by xenophobes who were terrified of Superman and were willing to abduct Kara when she was a girl. After J'onn J'onzz secretly replaced Hank Henshaw, he began slowly refocusing the organization on actual threats instead of innocent aliens.
  • Torchwood is an entire series dedicated to this. The titular organisation began as an extreme British-nationalist group dedicated not so much to protecting the Earth than to robbing and murdering aliens regardless of their intentions, in the hope of getting the British Empire better weapons. After the majority of the organisation is wiped out due to foolishly screwing up and allowing alternate-universe versions of the Cybermen to invade Earth via their HQ, Captain Jack Harkness reforms the tiny Remnant into a more benevolent force protecting Earth from alien threats (although still extremely ruthlessly).

     Professional Wrestling  

     Tabletop Games  

  • In BattleTech, Precentor Martial Focht of ComStar tried to do this with the secretive, quasi-religious organization. However, unlike most versions, ComStar ultimately split into two violently opposed factions (Comstar and the Word of Blake) and their disagreement eventually erupted into a massive war that engulfed the entire Inner Sphere.

     Video Games  

  • UNATCO in Deus Ex follows this trope to a tee. JC Denton is recruited in from the start of the game under the impression he is stopping terrorists from stealing Ambrosia, a medicine for a wide spread virus. It turns out that the government is purposefully spreading the virus for their own agenda, and are withholding the cure for those who follow them, leaving the rest to die. The supposed terrorists are simply trying to spread the cure. JC is later captured and he escapes, and all his old friends join him if you talk to them on your way out.
  • Gabriel Logan from Syphon Filter ends up killing half the top brass of the Agency, witnesses the deaths of the other half, and becomes the new head honcho, giving him authority to reform it into the more benign International Presidential Consulting Agency.
  • Happens to Balamb Garden in Final Fantasy VIII. Well, when your higher-ups are trying to sell you to Obviously Evil Sorceress Edea to save their own arses after a failed assassination attempt against her, it's only right that you kick their sorry butts.
  • In Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising, it turns out the Blood Ravens' Chapter Master and Chief Librarian is tainted, and has spread his rot through much of the chapter. Third and fourth companies, who are untainted, officially rebel against him in the expansion pack's ending — depending on the party's purity level, this can be with the player's squad as the rebellion's most fervent supporters, or as another enemy for them to defeat.
  • In Tactics Ogre, the Walsta Liberation Army that recruits you in the beginning engages in a lot of morally questionable deeds, including massacring civilians to put the blame on Gargastan, which leads the Army to split into factions after the first chapter. If you stay with them and take orders (the Lawful route), then when Leonard kills Duke Ronway and tries to kill you, you defeat him, use him as a scapegoat for all of the Walsta Liberation Army's crimes, and unite the Walsta Liberation Army and Neo Walsta Liberation Army into a single mostly-good resistance force.

     Web Comics  

  • This happens to Riff, the Mad Scientist from Sluggy Freelance when Hereti Corp is revealed to be "the evilest corporation on Earth." He responds by handing in his resignation... and blowing most of Hereti Corp up on his way out.