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Forced into Evil

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"We don't want to go to war todaaaay,
But the lord of the lash says 'nay, nay, naaaay!!'
We're gonna march all day, all day, all daaaay,
Where there's a whip, theres a way!"
The Orcs of Mordor, The Return of the King

This character is someone whom the audience would consider a villain in any other story. They Kick the Dog, they Rape, Pillage, and Burn, they cross the Moral Event Horizon time and time again...because someone or something else is making them do it.

This type of character is similar to, but separate from a Necessarily Evil villain. A Necessarily Evil villain typically performs their heinous acts of their own free will, because they think an ideal solution isn't possible or because it's the path that guarantees the most success. Ultimately, they may be right or wrong, but the responsibility rests completely with themselves. They believe their actions will lead to a greater good, and they are carrying out their own will. No one made them do anything.

Not so for this character. These characters are villains because they truly don't have another option (that they know of anyway). Either they, someone they know, or even the world itself is in grave danger if they don't do what they've been told, and there isn't enough time or opportunity to find another way. They know that their actions are evil and will mean inevitable victory for the evil side, but their actions, no matter how horrible, mean the difference between evil winning now or evil winning later. Another example is that they may have Power Born of Madness or a Superpowered Evil Side, but have no choice but to use it to solve a bigger problem. Either way, all this person generally needs is to be freed from any external coercion or taught a better solution to their problem.

Given enough time, they may fall prey to Evil Feels Good, Evil Tastes Good or Evil Is Easy and make a full Face–Heel Turn.

Character types that usually fall victim to this are the Sympathetic Sentient Weapon, Tyke-Bomb, Friendly Enemy, Tragic Monster, Slave Mook and Anti-Villain (almost always the "Villain in Name Only" type). The Complete Monster will instead never be this trope, as they are not evil by force but rather by will. Situations like Explosive Leash, I Have Your Wife, Please Spare Him, My Liege!, The Commies Made Me Do It or An Offer You Can't Refuse usually turns into this (when The Hero is the pleading party). Also expect one-sided Teeth-Clenched Teamwork on the side of the forced, if they're told to fight alongside the evil. When the audience knows the characters are forcibly doing this but the protagonists don't, see Dramatic Irony.

May lead to a Faustian Rebellion. A character who is trying to fight back may be a Stealth Mentor for the good guys and/or a Sixth Ranger Traitor for the villains. This is a very good way to justify having a Token Good Teammate in the villains group.

Contrast with the Brainwashed and Face–Monster Turn tropes, where the character is forcefully modified and robbed of free will to be steered into evil, or Mind Rape where they were wrecked so hard their free will wasn't working straight to steer them into evil. In that case they didn't really make a choice and weren't really even themselves. Not so for this character, this character knows what he/she is doing and had their free will intact and straight, but still couldn't do a thing to resist the forcing... for the moment. They have a choice, it is just a very, very harsh one and possibly a choice to die. Also compare with More than Mind Control where the character is coerced mentally into believing that the only way available is something that he/she doesn't like, thus being forced to make a free will choice of steering themselves into evil. Minion Manipulated into Villainy is a more subtle way of converting a person into a villain.

Trapped in Villainy is a subtrope where forced is akin to having them and/or their loved ones threatened with death or worse, which can turn this character into a Regretful Traitor.

Since this trope covers villains who are forced to do evil, we strongly advise you to not add any real life examples to this list.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie are not carrying out their horrific mission because they want to do it. Their families volunteered them for it as small children, having been promised better treatment in exchange for their children's loyal service. Even when they later begin to doubt their mission, they know the cost of betrayal is their own deaths and A Fate Worse Than Death for their loved ones. They genuinely believe they have no other choice, and that it's far too late for them to consider other options.
    • Applies to the other Titan shifters under the Kingdom of Marley's military control too, most notably in the case of Zeke Yeager, Grisha's son. Reiner is trying to stop this from being the ultimate fate of his cousin Gabi, who is part of the next generation of Child Soldiers who will potentially inherit some of the powers of the Nine Titans once the current shifters reach the end of their 13-year time limit.
  • In Brave10, Ana's deeply traumatic childhood followed by becoming a ninja and being forced to do nefarious things by Hanzo in order to retrieve her family heirloom all push her to become The Mole and betray the Braves. Although she maintains an Ice Queen pretense and mocks the others for their naivete, deep down it's clearly hurting her even though it's all she knows how to do anymore.
  • Izumi Kyouka in Bungo Stray Dogs. She has killed 35 people since being taken in by the Port Mafia. She really doesn't want to kill people, but can't control her powers and has nowhere to run. Luckily, she is saved by the Agency and permanently switches to the good side.
  • While far from being a nice person even as a child, Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z. He spent years having to follow every one of Frieza's orders, just to stay alive.
  • Kagura from Inuyasha only serves the Big Bad Naraku because he holds her heart in his hands and he can kill her at any time.
  • In Koihime†Musou, Kouchuu is found first as a would-be assassin about to kill a high-ranking officer because several bandits (led by the fake Ryuubi) have taken her daughter hostage. Once the daughter is rescued, she ends up becoming one of the good guys.
  • The Wolkenritter in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. They spent centuries having to follow the orders of their masters to fill the Book of Darkness, and when they finally got a mistress who gave them a say in the matter, they still had to fill it because she would have died otherwise.
  • Yurin L'Ciel in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE allowed herself to get captured and get on a mobile suit used by Desil to empower his mecha through telekinesis... on the basis that if she doesn't comply, she'll never see Flit again. What results is her tragic death, by taking a blow meant for Flit, as well as the cementing of how utterly horrifying and despicable Desil is, as he passes it off like he just lost a toy.
  • My Hero Academia: The traitor in the UA who's been leaking intel to All For One turns out to be Aoyama, but not on his own volition. Turns out that he was born Quirkless, and while his parents loved him dearly, they were afraid he'd be an outcast because of this, and when they heard of someone giving out Quirks, they immediately jumped the chance to give their son one so he could fulfill his dream of being a hero. Since then, he's been forced to endanger his classmates lives on repeated ocassions, due to fearing for the lives of his parents.
  • In One Piece, Sanji's brothers are vindictive, unapologetic monsters who take pride and pleasure in abusing anyone they can...because that's what they were designed to be. Sanji's father Judge was a brilliant geneticist who wanted Tyke Bomb children, so he first modified his first daughter Reiju to have super-strength and always obey his orders. But that wasn't enough. When his wife Sora was pregnant with quadruplet sons, he decided to modify the boys pre-birth the same way...without the ability to feel empathy. In a bid to thwart Judge's mad schemes, Sora took a drug to combat the modifications, but it only saved Sanji. Ichiji, Niiji, and Yonji became ruthless jerks, completely unaware of what their father took from them. Reiju, meanwhile, knows just how far around the pale her family has gone, but is unable to fight against them directly, only capable of using Loophole Abuse.
  • The Mamas, Grandmas, and Sisters in The Promised Neverland. They are women who showed exceptional abilities and high scores in their farms as children, and were offered two choices: to die and be eaten by the demons, or to live on and train to raise more children as food. These women chose the latter, and became the farmers instead of the cattle. In the final arc, all of the Mamas and Sisters, led by Grandma Isabella, rebel against their demonic masters and help the children of Grace Field escape to the human world. Isabella ends up sacrificing her life to save Emma, revealing in her dying breath that she did indeed love the children she took care of in her own way.
  • Crona in Soul Eater is proven by the heroine, Maka, to be a kind and innocent individual only killing innocent humans because their evil mother manipulates them into it.
  • X/1999: Either Kamui or Fuuma are fated to become evil depending on Kamui's choice of becoming either a Dragon of Heaven or a Dragon of Earth. The one who becomes the Dragon of Earth will automatically change their entire personality into something twisted and evil and will kill their beloved Kotori (Kamui's love interest and Fuuma's little sister). In all media, it is Fuuma who becomes a Dragon of Earth, but he has no choice or agency in the matter because the choice is made by Kamui alone and neither of them can prevent Fuuma from turning evil. In what-if scenarios, Kamui would have turned as evil as Fuuma does whereas Fuuma would have retained his personality.
  • Carly Nagisa from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds definitely counts. A few other Dark Signers might qualify too. Misty, Kiryu, and Bommer weren't exactly willing recruits, and were tricked into serving the Earthbound Gods. This is the biggest reason why a lot of the Dark Signers ended up having second thoughts, and in two cases, tried to rebel against their masters.

    Comic Books 
  • Extinctioners: If a hybrid (an anthro animal with superpowers) gets captured and refuses to willingly join the humans invasion force, they get their memories erased via a mindswipe process and are then equip with a mind control collar that makes them unquestioningly loyal to the enemy. The only way to break out of the control is to tear off said collar.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel Comics), the Hellfire Academy student Tin Man has no interest in being a supervillain, but is taken against his will and forced to take classes along with the other students, and later made to battle the X-Men when they attack the Academy. He's unable to resist, or make any attempt to escape, mostly because he's too meek and spineless.

    Fan Works 
  • The entire main cast in Dear Diary. They are all kind Pokémon who would be ideal heroes if it wasn't for having to work for Blair. Even though they try their best to make what they do lead up to a better future for Unova, they still have to make some Sadistic Choices on Blair's behalf, whether out of loyalty or so worse things won't take his place. Especially Dreamtide, who was literally created to serve Reshiram and agonizes over how they want to help their friends but they simply aren't designed to choose their innate kindness over their "Lord".
  • A Different Miraculous Set of Circumstances... (Miraculous Ladybug): Adrien is brainwashed all the time, and sometimes literally beaten into obedience. He retains just enough sense of self to not target people with Cataclysm, and keep his Love Interest at arm's length.
  • Koops in Fallen Kingdom. He makes it painfully clear when fighting his fellow partners that he doesn't want to fight them and would rather not be a solider period, but due to Larry putting a Slave Seal on him, which will kill him and his family if he disobeys, he is left with no choice until Vivian burns it off.
  • In Total Drama fanfic Monster Chronicles While he wasn't the nicest guy to begin with, Duncan is clearly unhappy with being blackmailed into working for Cedric.
  • Resident Evil Abridged: Barry has no choice but to set up his partner Jill. Otherwise, their captain will show Barry's wife all the tentacle porn he has hidden in his browser history.
  • Being the kwami of the ladybug earrings, Tikki in Rise of Mariposa is forced to do what Lila says as long as she is the owner of said Miraculous. Because she is mishandling her miraculous for evil purposes (not to mention her rude and condescending attitude), Tikki isn't going to make anything easy for her.
  • In Sailor John: A Pirate's Vendetta, none of the diesels (except Diesel, 'Arry, Bert and Diesel 10) want to work for Sailor John, but he forces them to obey him by threatening to do something horrible but unspecified to them.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Beldam's henchmen creations in Coraline disintegrate into sand if they attempt to leave her world and rely on her magic to survive, forcing them to obey her orders. Some are intently evil and trying to trick Coraline, while ones like the Other Bobinsky apparently cannot comprehend why Coraline would want to leave in the first place. The ones modeled after her father and Wybie are clearly quite fond of her, and both side with Coraline knowing they'll die in the process.
  • In Shrek 2, part of King Harold's motivation for acting against Shrek is his fear of retaliation from the Fairy Godmother — long before the events of the first film, he's made a deal with her to turn him from a frog to a human so he could be with Lillian, on the condition that their daughter would marry the Fairy Godmother's son, Prince Charming. Unfortunately for him, Shrek had already rescued her before Charming could get there, and he and Fiona got married at the end of the film. When the Fairy Godmother finds out, she presses Harold into helping force Fiona to be with Charming, and when he shows doubts, the Fairy Godmother threatens to turn him back into a frog, which she does at the end of the film after Harold takes a spell meant for Shrek.
  • The page quote is from the song "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" from the Rankin-Bass The Return of the King adaptation, which suggests that a good part of Sauron's army are conscripts who are only marching against the west because bigger Orks with whips are ordering them to.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beautiful People (2014): Brett goes along with the home invasion, murder, and other vile acts with Nibbio and Testamento because Nibbio makes him. Though at the ending, completely out of nowhere, he rapes and murders Elena of his own volition.
  • The Seven Disfigured Swordsmen who serves the evil Jiuxian Witch from The Devil's Mirror are actually lawful warriors poisoned by the witch's Corpse Worm Pills, who ends up having their faces melted and would die agonizingly within days. They're forced to perform assassinations and theft under the witch's orders, where upon completing their assignment, the witch will give them half the antidote, prolonging their lives for a few more days, making them return to serve her later on. Near the halfway point of the film, two remaining swordsmen decide to pull a Heel–Face Turn to save the heroes, getting killed by the Witch's underlings in the process.
  • In The Fate of the Furious, Dom is forced to do Cipher's bidding because Cipher has Elena & Dom's newborn son held hostage, threatening to kill them if he doesn't obey her.
  • The Grey Zone: The Sonderkommandos are Jewish prisoners in the death camps who assisted the extermination process by marching the new victims into the gas chambers and then disposing of the corpses. The only reason they're doing this is because the Nazis literally forced them to at gunpoint, and eliminate the Sonderkommandos themselves at regular intervals. After what the characters have done and seen, most of them simply don't want to live anymore.
  • Lycan: Isabella turns out to have somehow been adopted by her parents' murderer. It's implied she was then raised to kill. Along with her self-loathing and final heroic act to help Blake escape while taking out her evil adopted mother, it keeps her somewhat sympathetic even after it's revealed she's a serial killer.
  • In Midwinter Night's Dream, Lazar was conscripted into the Serbian army during The Yugoslav Wars and forced to commit atrocities against civilians.
  • Mirror, Mirror: Brighton comes across as this. Similarly for the Queen's guards, who don't even stop Snow White from leaving the castle, and agree with each other not to tell anyone. It's indicated he only serves her out of fear, and they might too. Brighton also lets Snow White live rather than murder her on the Queen's orders, saying he much preferred her father.

  • Accidental Detectives:
    • Norbert and Jimmy from The Volcano of Doom simply did a minor job (which they suspected, but didn't know for sure was related to smuggling) for the money to pay some heavy debts but when the delivery failed, are threatened with death unless they retrieve it, leading to their run-ins with the gang.
    • Two minor henchmen who appear in one chapter of Madness at Moonshiners Bay are later mentioned as being ex-convicts who were blackmailed into doing so with the threat of being framed for parole violations.
    • In The Legend of the Gilded Saber an accomplice to the museum robber was deliberately and systematically bankrupted by the criminal (who tricked him into putting his money in all of the wrong stocks) to make him desperate enough to agree to let the guy spend a night conducting research in the museum without authorization in exchange for a little money. He had no advance knowledge of the theft, and only helps the villain cover it up (with no small amount of bitterness) because he'll be fired from the museum and/or arrested if the truth about how he unintentionally abetted the theft in the first place comes out.
  • Doum'wielle Armgo from Companions Codex of The Legend of Drizzt, wins a contest for the sentinent magical sword Kazid'hea against her brother, and it's all downhill from there. First, the sword makes her kill her brother in a fit of bloodthirst which leads her to flee her elven village. Then her father Tos'Un, former owner of the sword, joins her thinking his time among the surface elves is at an end and intends to return to Menzoberranzan with her in tow, not realizing that as a half-drow Doum'wielle will be treated like dirt. Sure enough, once they meet some other dark elves, Doum'wielle and her father are immediately roped into their machinations as pawns. From there it's a dark journey of killing, rape and emotional instability for her.
  • Played with in Dragon Bones: Oreg is a slave, who was Made a Slave by magical means, so he has no way out at all. The fact that he's trained as assassin hints at him having been used as a murder weapon - probably to murder innocent people too. Then there's Garranon, who's quite likeable on his own, but would torture puppies to protect his brother, and antagonizes the protagonist for that reason. The protagonist, Ward, feels forced to make a deal with the villain to protect the lives of those dear to him, at the end. He doesn't go through with it, as Oreg suggests to Take a Third Option, that consists of killing Oreg, which causes castle Hurog to collapse on the villains. Ward feels guilty about that, too, even though he believes it was the right thing to do.
  • Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series. He willingly enters the ranks of Voldemort's Death Eaters at the age of 16, after years of bragging about his pure-blood status and acting like an utter racist jerk against muggle-born and blood-traitor witches and wizards. He entered partly as a way of revenge against Harry and the non-pure-blooded wizard world in general for seeing his father imprisoned for his criminal activities, but quickly gets disillusioned when he sees the atrocities performed by Voldemort and his followers. He can't change his mind, however; besides the fact resigning from being a Death Eater equals death, Voldemort sets an impossible mission on his shoulders, including smuggling Death Eaters to Hogwarts and killing Dumbledore, as a way to make his family pay for his father's failures in case he fails himself. This makes him much less self-confident and arrogant, becoming extremely anxious and terrified of the consequences if he does not succeed, leaving him no choice. Although he succeeded with the former, he showed hesitation and finally lowered his wand when he was about to perform the latter.
  • In the second book of The Inheritance Cycle, Murtagh ends up serving Galbatorix after the latter discovered his True Name and magically bound him into serving the Empire.
  • From the same author, Fell in Pact belongs to a bloodline that has been magically bound into servitude by Conquest thanks to the impulsiveness of an ancestor. Conquest has total power over Fell's life, able to teleport Fell to his side at a whim, completely overrule Fell's own free will with a command, and denies him any obvious Loophole Abuse by compelling him not to deliberately kill himself, fight against anyone who tries to free/kill him and tell Conquest anything Fell doesn't want him to know. Fell will also one day be forced to assist in the enslavement of his descendants, just as his father was compelled to have Fell and help Conquest bind him when he came of age. Literally the only freedom Fell has is to drive like crazy while carrying out Conquest's errands, in the hope that he'll slip up and "accidentally" get himself killed.
    • On another level, the various magical families of Jacob's Bell find themselves in a similar situation; the Thorburns (whose bloodline carries both the bad karma and the personal animosity from the Sins of the Father,) are born surrounded by powers who hate them, and in a universe where cause-and-effect goes out of its way to screw them over to address the karmic balance, meaning simple survival for themselves and their children require dabbling in the same powers that their ancestors did and having to play dirty against their numerous enemies. The Duchamps and Behaims are not saddled with quite the same problems collectively, but individual members of both families regularly get forced to do things they otherwise wouldn't by the older generation "for the good of the family."
  • Xu Shu from Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of Liu Bei's earlier strategist and cornerstone of his survival against Cao Cao's constant attacks. Realizing this, Cao Cao arranges it that Xu Shu's mom gets under his captivity. Being a Momma's Boy, Xu Shu had no choice but to change sides into his enemy. However, as a Wei officer, he ends up being inefficient and faded from the stages of history, and before leaving, he did recommend to Liu Bei someone who's eventually proven to be far better than him as replacement: Zhuge Liang.
  • Subverted with Szeth-son-son-Vallano in The Stormlight Archive. As a Truthless of Shinovar, Szeth must obey any order given by the holder of his Oathstone, except orders to kill himself or surrender his Shardblade, while remaining morally responsible for all of his actions. However, there is absolutely no power except his honour preventing him from just saying no.
    Szeth: It is my punishment. To kill, to have no choice, but to bear the sins nonetheless.
  • Several examples pop up in Worm, including every single member of the Undersiders:
    • Regent was pressured to commit an escalating series of evil acts by his father, Heartbreaker. It's a Discussed Trope as the issue of how morally culpable he is for his previous actions is brought up a couple of times. The issue is further complicated by the fact that Regent's superpower seems to mess with his ability to feel empathy, he was raised in an environment devoid of love or any sort of moral foundation, and his power makes him so scary to the public at large that super-villainy is one of the very few career options available for him.
    • Rachel accidentally killed her foster family by empowering a puppy her abusive foster mother was trying to drown, and was immediately assumed to be a villain by the authorities after she ran away rather than surrender to their custody.
    • Grue needs a large amount of money and a legitimate-seeming paper trail to get his little sister away from her drug-addled mother and neglectful father. When she got superpowers of her own, letting her join the team was the only way he could keep an eye on her.
    • Tattletale was living off the grid to avoid her very wealthy and emotionally abusive parents, picking pockets to survive, when a group of mercenaries hired by Coil made her An Offer You Can't Refuse.
    • Skitter originally wanted to be a hero, joining the Undersiders as The Mole, but couldn't bring herself to betray the only friends she'd had in years.
    • Parian's family was disfigured by Bonesaw, and there was no legal way to get the money she needed to fix them.
    • Bonesaw herself was essentially kidnapped after being forced to tricked into extending her family's suffering and became a serial killer from a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and deliberate brainwashing by Jack Slash. A combination of being separated from Jack's influence and reminded of how her family died ultimately leads to her Heel–Face Turn.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Drakh use a parasitic Restraining Bolt to control their operatives, who are aware of their actions but usually unable to control themselves.
    • Londo Mollari was a 3-dimensional character who walked a tightrope that made him something of a Heel–Face Revolving Door. By the final series he's mostly settled into being a sympathetic character, which is tragically when the Drakh blackmail him into accepting a Keeper.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Gaius Baltar's bad actions are usually more misguided than actively malicious, but one example from the New Caprica arc definitively fits this trope. Baltar, as the nominal president of the 'Twelve Colonies', is required as a legal rubber stamp by the Cylons to give their occupation of the human settlement some air of legitimacy. They order Baltar to sign a mass execution order for Resistance members, but when he refuses, they shove a gun in his face while yelling at him to sign. He eventually relents after some guidance from Head Six.
  • In Diablero, it's clear from the beginning that Wences is a fundamentally nice person who has objections to Mama Chabela kidnapping and imprisoning the kids, but that he has some kind of vaguely defined mental disorder that makes it almost impossible for him to disagree with her. It also can't be helping that she uses him as a demon host, which Nancy recognizes as not his fault and pities him for.
  • In the Highlander TV series, at some point Methos is coerced with physical harm or death by Kronos into rejoining his evil old friends. However, this development only lasts a few episodes.
  • There were several victims of this in the Power Rangers franchise. Tommy is likely the most famous one, unwillingly brainwashed into becoming the Green Ranger by Rita; two seasons later, Rita repeated the same trick on Kat. Karone Power Rangers in Space and Ryan from Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, were both kidnapped as young children and raised to be villains. In all these cases, it ultimately led to a Faustian Rebellion.
  • Psych: Lou experienced this three times in the Back Story of "Santabarbaratown," with each example being worse than the last. First, he became a reluctant lookout for a drug operation to pay his wife's medical bills. Then, when his boss committed a murder, Lou refused to dispose of the body until his boss threatened to expose Lou's corruption and take Lou to jail with him. Finally, Lou experienced severe guilt afterward and thought about coming clean before the other criminals threatened his wife.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22), Jake is forced to help the Yellow-Eyed Demon who threatens Jake's family.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, devils have been known to alter a society's culture so that coming-of-age rituals involve acts that will send you to hell (or increase your chance of ending up there).
    • There's a spell in The Book of Vile Darkness called Morality Undone which can turn a victim evil against his or her will. (It does not make the victim loyal to the caster in any way or force him to commit evil deeds, but once the spell is cast, the caster may find convincing him to do that easier.) Fortunately, it's temporary, lasting ten minutes per caster level. (Still, being a 5th level spell, a caster needs to be around 10th level to use it, so that's often long enough to get the victim in some rather dangerous situations.)
  • In Exalted, many of the Abyssal and Infernal exalted are in situations like this, with their respective undead and demonic masters.
  • Any given Sabbat recruit in Vampire: The Masquerade will go through a period of this, assuming the creation rites don't drive them mad from the outset. They're made loyal to their pack through blood bonds, and are kept isolated from humanity and non-Sabbat vampires, so they have no choice but to go along with the pack. This eventually fades as atrocities blend together, and they grow to like evil.

    Video Games 
  • In the first Art of Fighting, Mr. Karate's identity is actually Takuma Sakazaki, father and master of the protagonist Ryo and Robert. He only became the Final Boss working with crimelord Mr. Big because they already took his daughter, Ryo's sister, Yuri, as a hostage and blackmailed Takuma to work for them unless he wants Yuri to bite it. By the second game, Takuma returned into being a good Cool Old Guy, and Yuri Took a Level in Badass.
  • In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, the ever-kind and compassionate Hospital Hottie Litchi Faye-Ling ended up in NOL thanks to the consummate troll Hazama/Yuuki Terumi, despite being able to keep her sound mind and resisting Hazama himself TWICE on him preying on her obsession with Arakune (her Fatal Flaw) by offering to cure Arakune. This was largely because of the corruption that she took to save Arakune alone was quickly catching up to her and she only had little time left until she loses her sanity or memory due to the corruption. So even if the decision was extremely questionable (and unfortunately pegs her as idiot because players are savvy enough that Hazama is not going to fulfill his bargain, and Litchi isn't\), she really had no choice but to join NOL except if she wants to just rot down, become a monster and eats the other people she loves.
  • Dracula, previously known as Gabriel Belmont, in the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series, believes himself to be this. Embittered towards those he feels drove him into evil, he decides to embrace it, at least at first.
  • In Dead by Daylight, there are three members of "The Legion", Julie, Joey, and Susie, who, from the instigation of Frank, were ordered to kill a janitor who caught them. Julie and Joey hesitantly went along, but Susie in particular had to have Frank grab her hands and make her stab the janitor in the throat.
  • This is the driving trope of the Weird Route in Chapter 2 of Deltarune. In it, the player forces Kris to gaslight Noelle into becoming a bloodthirsty murderer, messing with her psyche until she becomes single-mindedly focused on getting stronger. Through these actions, she gets manipulated into eliminating every enemy in Cyber City, murdering an Addison and her friend Berdly, and eventually going on a rampage in Queen's mansion that allows Spamton to take over. In essence, it's forcing someone into evil as a means of forcing someone else into evil.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the scientists who were kidnapped in the intro are forced into making what's essentially a killswitch for every cyborg on the planet...which also happens to be able to turn them into Technically Living Zombie by causing them to go berserk.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance: The Snowmarker enemies, clusters of aliens resembling white ghosts, usually seen flying around Moon Bases. They were a weak race that was conquered by Mensouma and forced to fight for Dark Force's cause. They seek to escape from Dark Force's army. Unfortunately they're hostiles on the battlefield all the same, giving contact damage to the player and just as susceptible to being blasted away even at low power.
  • Dr. Noore Najjar in Far Cry 4 was once a human rights activist working for the UN... until she insulted Pagan Min by trying to expose the human rights violations he was carrying out in Kyrat. He subsequently had her family kidnapped and placed her in charge of the Shannath Arena and Kyrat's prostitution and drug manufacturing industries, telling her he would have her family tortured and killed if she refused to cooperate. It's later revealed that her family were all killed long ago. Upon learning this, she realizes that she's been committing atrocities for nothing and proceeds to throw herself to her beasts.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, Cid Raines is pushed into villainy by his fal'Cie masters.
  • In Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage Dream Mode, the usually virtuous Rei ends up serving Thouzer as one of the Token Good Teammate since his beloved sister (and later, his lover Mamiya)is planted with a bomb in case he rebels. The other Token Good Teammate (Shew) has no such forcing.
  • Galaxy Angel II: In Zettai Ryoiki no Tobira, Forte Stollen, one of the heroines of the original Galaxy Angel trilogy and mentor to the new protagonist, Kazuya Shiranami, leads a coup d'etat on Planet Seldar. It's later revealed she'd been forced to do so by the game's true villains, as they were keeping the Seldar royal family and Milfeulle Sakuraba, Forte's friend and former wingmate in the Moon Angel Wing, hostage.
  • In the Bad Ending of Injustice 2, after gaining control of Brainiac's ship, Superman offers his cousin Supergirl a Sadistic Choice: either become The Dragon to his restored Regime, or be converted into a brainwashed cyborg. Being that she's depowered in a red sun cell, the corrupt Man of Steel notes that she'll join him one way or another. It's unknown what became of her in Superman's arcade ending, but it's implied she reluctantly joined him. Even then, who's to say her cousin turned her into a brainwashed machine just to keep her in line?
  • Kingdom Hearts has two examples. Kingdom Hearts II has Hades control Auron's mind/soul so Auron can fight and kill Hercules. KH 3 D goes on to show that Xehanort's ultimate plan involves making 13 of himself. While a few joined willingly, the series goes on to state that others were forced into it. For example, Isa has the mark carved into his face, and hates the other known Norts.
  • In Mega Man 4, the benevolent Dr. Cossack has to pose as the Big Bad because Wily is holding his daughter hostage.
  • In Mortal Kombat 9 this happens to all but three of the entire cast of Earthrelm's protectors when they are killed by Sindel, along with Sindel herself and the Outworld warriors who allied themselves with the Earthrealm after their souls are stolen by Quan Chi. By the time of Mortal Kombat X, a few are freed from Quan Chi's hold, while the rest are forever trapped as revenants following Quan Chi's demise leaving Liu Kang, Kitana, and Sindel as potential enemies in the future.
  • Oracle of Tao, the Big Bad of the first game (there's also a Playable Epilogue that has a totally different enemy) is basically sent out on an exploration mission for his fellow demons (they're in a Crapsack World and looking to escape). The very first town he visits, all the villagers treat him like a pariah and he is sealed in an urn. Needless to say, he quickly decides to do something not so good not long after, and basically decides he doesn't care enough to spare the world he visited, instead preferring to violently merge the two worlds.
  • In Jill's campaign in the first Resident Evil, Barry betrays the rest of the S.T.A.R.S. team to work with Wesker, spending his time in the mansion erasing evidence of Wesker's involvement with Umbrella and making multiple half-hearted attempts to kill Jill. But he's only doing it because Wesker is threatening his family. Barry ultimately decides enough is enough and turns on Wesker just before he unleashes the Tyrant.
  • Sophitia Alexandria from the Soul Series falls into this category during Soulcalibur IV. Her daughter has been captured and bound to the evil Soul Edge, meaning that if the sword is destroyed, so is her daughter's soul. Sophitia is forced to fight on the side of the villains and spill blood to save her daughter's life. The worst part of it is that her proximity to Soul Edge, her despair, her dread of doing something which can never be redeemed, and the overall exhilaration she tries to deny are all pushing her toward a permanent Face–Heel Turn. To rub salt in the wound, she's killed before she's ever got a chance to redeem herself.
    • As of Soulcalibur V, her daughter Pyrrha followed in her footsteps. Practically raised by Tira from the young age she was kidnapped at, once she grew old enough to have suitors, Tira killed every single one of them, giving Pyrrha a reputation as "The Bringer of Woe" and people everywhere incentive to kill her. Tira, being Tira, advises her to kill them all. After all, it's self defense, so it's okay. Of course, Tira's true goal is turning Pyrrha into the next host for Soul Edge. She succeeds.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic features this with a Light Side Sith Inquisitor. The character starts off as a Force-Sensitive slave and is forced to join the Sith because of their policy (i.e. join us or die). After completing training, they take regular jobs from the Empire, including stamping down slave rebellions, preventing the Republic from re-cultivating a devastated planet, crushing resistance groups, attacking Jedi enclaves, and testing superweapons on entire fleets. However, an LS inquisitor can state they have no particular love for the Empire, that they have options to minimize casualties sometimes implies they don't enjoy what they do, and they can also state they would prefer to change the faction from within to make it a more rational and peaceful organization. With later expansions, they can actively sabotage the Empire by ruining critical operations in their war effort.
  • Larry Koopa in the Super Mario Bros. series would rather hang with friends or relax, but always tries to do what Bowser says to avoid being yelled at.
  • Kukuru in Super Robot Wars Alpha 2. Her first on-screen debut, exclusively in Sanger Zonvolt's route, is... to blow the Earth Cradle to smithereens and even seemingly killed Sophia Nate, sending Sanger into a frenzy. Throughout the game, however, you find out that aside of becoming Sanger's rival, Kukuru used to be a princess of a kingdom and forced into servitude of the Jamatai against her honor and wishes when her kingdom's destroyed. Even if she refused to be pitied, Sanger does not face her with hatred. She's killed before she could turn around for good, but also revealed that she didn't kill Sophia, she just got her captured.
  • In Tales of Destiny, Leon Magnus' chief reason of betraying Stahn's party is that his foster mother figure Marian was taken hostage by Hugo Gilchrist. Depending on the version, he either subverts it or plays it straight: In the original, he's already been an incurable nihilist Jerkass, so he's not so much Forced into Evil, he's just playing along to vent his annoyance to Stahn's party. Then he got dropped with a bridge. In the remake, he genuinely did consider Stahn and co. his True Companions, but then was powerless to ask them for help, therefore playing it straight. Then comes the Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Tekken 6, after losing in the 5th tournament and seeing his master dwindle into an even worse state, Eddy Gordo becomes desperate in giving him medical treatment. Cue Jin Kazama, after he himself pulled a Face–Heel Turn into the head of Mishima Zaibatsu, offers him a medication so long as he joins the Zaibatsu. Without much choice, Eddy joins and turns from a model citizen in a soldier involved in many of the Zaibatsu's dirty works. Jin lied about the medication.
  • Tyranny deconstructs this trope (as well as many other tropes about evil in fiction), to the extent that it's ambiguous just who in Kyros the Overlord's empire isn't, to one extent or another, a victim of this trope (except for Kyros him/herself). It's certainly a valid interpretation of the Player Character's motivation for being Judge, Jury, and Executioner in Kyros' judicial system, given some of the roleplaying options you're given.
  • This applies to some of the characters in Warriors Orochi serving under the titular antagonist for various reasons, whether it be to save their people (Tokugawa Ieyasu) or their leaders (some Shu and Wu generals), etc. Those who don't count because they joined of their own volition are Maeda Keiji (Sympathy for the Devil), Sima Yi (opportunism), Date Masamune (loss of faith in humanity), Fuuma Kotarou (Ax-Crazy), Lu Bu, Achilles (Blood Knights), and Dong Zhuo (Card-Carrying Villain; inverted in 3 where Zhuge Liang forces him to join the anti-Orochi Resistance).
  • Rudy in Wild ARMs: Million Memories falls temporarily into this. Siegfried has him cornered in the Memory Maze, and given how powerful he is in this game, Rudy doesn't have much choice but to team up with him and reactivate the Yggdrasil System, destroying Filgaia. Things turn out to be less bad than they appear because the two of them have formed an Enemy Mine against Mother with Siegfried even sacrificing himself to keep Rudy alive. The rest of your party still chew him out over the deception though.
  • In World of Warcraft, while most of the Scourge are mindless corpses, some of the more aware members feel like this. Such as Anub'arak.
    Kel'thuzad: In return for immortality, you agreed to serve him.
    Anub'arak: Agreed implies choice.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: Phoenix usually only defends clients that he trusts to be innocent (and with his lie-detecting Magatama, he can usually make sure of this), but twice he has been forced to defend guilty clients because somebody kidnapped his assistant Maya and threatened to kill her if Phoenix didn't get the client off.
    • Lana Skye in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is The Dragon for a corrupt Chief of Police: she helps him forge evidence and frame the people he wants framed because he holds evidence that her little sister committed a murder. (It's forged evidence — he killed the person himself and set things up to gain a hold on Lana.)
  • The fourth case in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc starts with a message from Monokuma that amongst the students, there's a mole working for him. And that mole is... the resident Gentle Giant Lady Looks Like a Dude Sakura Oogami. She has shown disgust towards Monokuma, claiming that she won't stand for any other murders of her friends, but gets promptly reminded by Monokuma that he has her whole dojo hostage and in case a murder doesn't happen, she is to kill someone, causing people to distrust her. She solves this by choosing to murder herself and this manages to at least stop the remaining students from trying to kill each other.
  • Koihime†Musou: In the first game, Kouchuu/Huang Zhong first ends up as Kazuto's enemy because Enshou/Yuan Shao is holding her daughter Riri as a hostage.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has Zero/June being forced to mastermind a round of the deadly Nonary Game - in order to close her own Stable Time Loop in which her life was saved in a previous Nonary Game by communicating with someone playing in the future. Of course, she tries to minimize the actual danger to the participants, and takes the opportunity to toss the original Zero and his accomplices in there for revenge.

    Web Comics 
  • This is the premise of the webtoon Bastard. The protagonist Jin was forced from a young age to assist his Serial Killer father in committing murder even while knowing that it's wrong, the implication being that the moment he becomes a threat, he'll be killed.
  • Freefall: Clippy the Robot created the "Gardener in the Dark" plot, which threatens to inflict a Mind-Reformat Death on half a billion AIs, and expertly runs it at his Corrupt Corporate Executive boss's behest, all because his boss ordered him to and he's programmed to be Incapable of Disobeying. Law enforcement treats Clippy as an innocent, traumatized victim afterwards.
  • Homestuck: A female troll (possessing clockwork majyyks and other powers) was nearly single-handedly responsible for making planet Alternia an antagonistic, caste-warfare-torn hellhole. She rained so much destruction on Alternia that history remembered her only as a demoness, and mythology remembered her as Death's right-hand servant. And she did all of this because she was forced into it by a time-traveling, universe-eating demon.
  • Played with in I'm the Grim Reaper. While Scarlet is only a reaper to avoid being sent to the 9th level of hell for all eternity, it's noted only the worst of the worst are sent there, and she acknowledges it is her choice to kill people to save herself when she could've chosen to stay there.
  • Subverted in Kill Six Billion Demons. Mottom presents herself as a victim of this trope, forced to continiously strip worlds under her dominion to the bone and sacrifice blood tithes of her citizens to her husband's corpse to maintain her immortality because of the Evil Power Vacuum that would arise should her power or control slip but a little, leading to either Jagganoth or her Decadent Court killing her. Once Allison realizes the full extent of Mottom's actions (and that she's trying to pawn off all her responsibilities onto Allison) she rejects all of it, stating that Mottom is nothing but a frightened old woman deluding herself into thinking she has no choice when she is a demi-god and has almost every kind of choice available to a human being in The Multiverse. She simply chooses not to try to be better.
  • In Sidekick Girl, Isaruo/Coldfire was framed for an atrocity (or tricked into it; the narrative is vague on that point) in his home country. He fled to America and has to remain a member of the Villain Guild to keep from being deported.
  • Trapped: Chae-ah is tricked by Yunsu into burying one of his kills, and he catches her on video doing it. This, combined with her past as an ex-con, is enough to blackmail her into being his accomplice.

    Western Animation 
  • Lawrence the Lab Rat in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Pseudo Sonic" was forced to pilot the titular robot and frame Sonic for various crimes because Robotnik threatened to kill his parents with a surface-to-Sonic missile if he refused.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, the Delightful Children From Down the Lane were originally Kids Next Door Sector Z, who were victims of Father's "Delightfulization" machine, turning them into his minions against their will. Worst of all, when temporarily turned back to normal in "Operation: ZERO", they make it clear that their true personalities have been fully conscious the whole time.
  • The Urpneys only really seemed bothered about going after The Dreamstone because Zordrak will either turn them into stone or feed them to the Frazznats otherwise, making them essentially all conscripts. Co-Dragons Sgt Blob and Urpgor partly go after it for rivalistic sake though.
    • Subverted in a later episode, which makes clear that despite their unwillingness, the Urpneys would rather stay with Zordrak than get thrown out of Viltheed to fend for themselves.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Nooroo, like all other kwamis, would much rather do good than evil. Unfortunately, he is under a geas which requires him to obey his master, Hawk Moth.
  • In Primal (2019), Kamau the giant only fights for the Egyptian Queen because she is holding his daughter hostage, and he clearly hates the evil things that the Queen forces him to do. Spear and Fang end up in the same boat after the Queen snatches Fang's eggs, and together with Kamau they destroy several civilizations and slaughter countless people on the Queen’s behalf.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • This happens to any warrior defeated by the eponymous villain in the episode "Jack versus Demongo the Soul Collector", although Jack manages to release them all. (And likely give Aku a lot more headaches in the future, seeing as they were all his enemies.)
    • A most tragic version is X-9, a robot assassin who was given emotions, abandoned his life as an assassin and adopted a dog named Lulu. Aku kidnaps Lulu and forced X-9 to kill Jack. Unaware of the whole story, Jack destroys X-9, leaving Lulu abandoned.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Robin briefly joins forces with Slade because he injected his teammates with lethal nanobots that he could trigger and deactivate at will.
  • A Flashback episode of Transformers: Generation 1 (told to Optimus Prime by Omega Supreme) revealed that Megatron recruited many of the earliest Decepticons this way, using an insidious device to reprogram citizens of Cybertron. The Constructicons were the only known victims of this device who are still around in the present, and it is not known if any other present-day Decepticons were. When Megatron tried to use the device on Omega Supreme, he managed to destroy it before it completely took hold of him; Megatron was apparently either unwilling or unable to rebuild the device for some reason, so he lost this method of recruitment.
  • Sea Rogue in the TUGS episode, "Pirate" was forced to steal cargo for a pair of Green-eyed Pirates so they wouldn't sink his uncle.
  • Invoked, averted and parodied in the Wacky Races episode "Super Silly Swamp Sprint", where token villain Dick Dastardly laments that the other racers force him to use deadly tricks against them emphasizing the I don't want to... in a very unconvincing and pretentious tone. Yet he still carries out his deeds with villainous gusto.
  • Colossus in X-Men: Evolution is working for Magneto solely because his family was kidnapped.
    "I am not a lackey! I... I have no choice."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Pelagian Villain


The Cat

A male version of this trope called "The Cat" who's blackmailed into stealing other people's favorite stuff.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ClassyCatBurglar

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