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Heel–Face Door-Slam

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"Perhaps, if you had more time...But then again, perhaps not. Redemption is a rare and special thing, after all. It is not for everyone."
Soon Kim, The Order of the Stick

The much more vindictive brother of Redemption Equals Death, where you have a villainous character who is beginning to realize that the way of evil is not the way, and is attempting or planning to redeem themselves, but is killed or otherwise brutally rebuffed, either by karma, the heroes, or even their boss (the latter who most often crosses the Moral Event Horizon in doing so) before they can carry out their plans.


As a result, the character doesn't even get redemption, and they will never throw off the darkness of their past. This will almost always be the response given to a villain who expresses a desire to redeem themselves, but whose past actions were too far beyond the pale for anything even resembling a convincing redemption to take place. And even if they got the chance to redeem themselves, fearing the redeemed would turn their blades, they're immediately dispatched by the heroes.

Less lethally, a Quirky Miniboss Squad may find they've been effectively chained to the role, and no amount of Character Development or viewer sympathy can free them. In this case, they at least don't die, but are still doomed to a lifetime of failure and villainy and realize it. Compare to Reformed, but Rejected, a light version of this trope where the other characters are still distrusting, but the narrative still grants the ex-villain room to atone for their past actions, even if they can never completely convince the heroes that their new life is genuine. But if they can't convince anyone that they've changed, you could be looking at Redemption Failure, where the character actually goes clean for a while but has to revert back to villainy due to unforeseen circumstances. When it's played lethally, Heel Face Door Slam can straddle the border of Redemption Equals Death or Death Equals Redemption, depending on how close to redemption the character comes before they're offed. May be the result of a Last-Second Chance offer that is later taken Off the Table. This is often the result of a character who is Trapped in Villainy. Contrast Redemption Earns Life, Karma Houdini Warranty, and Redemption Rejection.


See also Rejected Apology for the verbal variant. The Regretful Traitor may be particularly likely to suffer this fate.

Contrast with Go and Sin No More.

Not to Be Confused with The Door Slams You, although it may happen at the same time.

Warning: While Heel Face Door Slam does not always involve a character's death, it often does, so here be spoilers.

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Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Afro Samurai offers a non-death variant. At the very start of his journey, Afro's obsession with revenge resulted in the death of all of his friends and his teacher. This is the one of two times in the series he actually shows regret for his actions, but he quickly accepts afterwards that there was no turning back at that point.
  • Deliberately invoked by Klaus Von Bogoot on Mary, Ibaraki and Oyamada in Cyborg 009. He had forcibly made them into Cyborgs, counting on them to kill their former friend 009... but the moment the kids couldn't bring themselves to kill him, he activated the bombs they had implanted in their bodies. The three look at each other in horror, then Ibaraki tackles Joe so he won't get close, and they hug each other as they say their goodbyes and die.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Invoked in the Buu Saga. Vegeta, who has spent most of the series in the Heel–Face Revolving Door, knows he's about to make a Heroic Sacrifice, and asks Piccolo if he'll meet Goku in the afterlife. Piccolo responds that Goku spent his life fighting for others and has more than earned Heaven, while Vegeta has spent his life fighting only for himself, and will not receive the same treatment. Fortunately, the Celestial Bureaucracy decides that Vegeta is too strong as a fighter to be left dead when the universe is at stake, and he's given a chance to return to Earth (while still being dead, like Goku was at the start of the arc) to face Buu. Vegeta does eventually make a genuine Heel–Face Turn, which is confirmed when he is resurrected by the wish that resurrects everyone who was killed by Buu except the evil people.
    • Subverted in the same saga with Fat Majin Buu. After meeting and befriending Mister Satan, Fat Buu learned how wrong killing people was and decided to end his murderous ways, only to experience a Literal Split Personality when a dog he adopted got hurt, with his evil side then absorbing him. Fortunately, Fat Buu eventually returned in the Final Battle with Kid Buu, with him helping the Z Fighters to defeat his evil counterpart, after which he went on to live on Earth peacefully.
  • In Fate/Zero, Saber launched Excalibur's Sword Beam at Caster. The light of the attack reminds him of the woman he loved, Jeanne d'Arc, and he suddenly realizes how far he's fallen from the hero Jeanne had been proud of. Before he can do anything, he's hit by the attack and vaporized.
  • Feng Shen Ji loves doing this to its villains:
    • Gui Mu, the Great God of the Plague Affiliation, was a murderous asshole for most of the plot who reveled in bringing people suffering. After the first defeat of the gods, however, he has a revelation and decides to devote himself to helping humanity by building his godson, the only person he ever loved, into a good ruler. Unfortunately, his godson betrays him and locks him up simply because Gui Mu is no longer useful to him.
    • Similarly, Bai Lian, Sage King and former Great God of the Plague Affiliation, murdered many people purely to torment the main character. After their final fight, Bai Lian has a revelation and realizes that he should reform his ways; before he can even say anything, however, the main character immediately kills him.
  • Fresh Pretty Cure! pretty much subverts this. When Eas finally discovers the meaning of true happiness, Clyne instantly kills her, crossing the Moral Event Horizon in the process, and Wester and Souler come in saying that Eas finished her life span. When all seems lost, the Akarun zooms in and she is brought back to life as Cure Passion.
    • Futari wa Pretty Cure does this with Kiriya in the first half. He takes on a human form to infiltrate the Boys' School adjacent to Verone Girls' Academy and spy on the protagonists, until he begins to learn the value of humanity and friendship from Honoka. However, since he wasborn from the darkness, completing his Heel–Face Turn *caused* his "death" in the form of having to "disappear into the darkness." He gets better, but only late in the second arc due to the barriers of realities beginning to break down. There is a possibility that he survived the Dark King's final demise. Maybe.
  • Future Diary: Yuki's father was an all-around horrible parent who not only tried to break Yuki's phone so his debt would get paid off, but also left his son to die, and killed his own ex-wife so she couldn't turn him in to the police. Still, he does realize that what he did was wrong and was going to make everything up to him by turning himself in and finally going to look at the stars with his son...that is, until he gets stabbed in the gut immediately after he declares this.
  • Inaba, in Gantz. He's a coward, and spends most of the time hiding when there's danger and badmouthing his braver team members when there is no danger around. It takes the sacrifice of a good man to make him start acting bravely. He finds the courage inside him, he starts fighting back the swarm of enemies he is facing, and he actually manages to kill several. Only to be squashed by a giant feet, seconds later.
  • Yamada gets this in Highschool of the Dead when he starts to show even the least bit of concern for his family. The entire Orgybus votes to murder him on the spot (read: leave him to the zombies). In the anime adaptation, Misuzu may have regretted killing Toshimi just as the zombie mob behind her crushed her own head.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • The Black Beauty Sisters in the Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch anime, and most to all of the first arc's villains in both versions.
  • Monster Rancher: Undine does this to herself. Upon realizing that Golem is willing to keep The Promise he made to protect her even after she betrayed and tried murdering the Searchers, to the point of standing against his friends and preparing to leave the team, she flings herself out of his arms and into the flames, burning alive while apologizing for her deceit.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, Kid Cortlaw turns against Buhpu and leads to his defeat after learning that he killed Ivy and lied that the MLS did it. He realizes that his allying with Ark to bring back his parents was wrong, but is unable to do anything more before he dies.
  • Naruto: A variant of this happens early on with minor villain Dosu, who realizes Orochimaru was using him and his team as pawns and decides to rebel. Then he promptly gets killed in an Out-of-Character Moment.
    • After Obito/Tobi has the tailed beasts extracted from him, he, Kakashi and Edo! Minato discuss what should happen to him next. Obito chooses to copy Pain and sacrifice himself reviving his victims. Zetsu interrupts, hijacks his body and forces him to use the resurrection technique on Madara. Not that it stops Obito, though.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, on the rare occasions Team Rocket attempt to go straight, Team Twerp blasts them into the sky anyway, sometimes completely by accident.
  • Jegan from Rave Master. After his defeat he realizes that nothing he can do will put him on the winning end of the love triangle and starts looking for a way to end his life when he's talked down by a girl who starts inspiring him to turn over a new leaf. Then we find out that Demon Card's new policy is to eliminate everything in a 5 mile radius of a member who failed his or her mission.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, after Senkaku escapes from prison, he reflects on the battle he had with Kenshin. Grateful that Kenshin spared his life, he decides to turn over a new leaf... only for Seta Sojiro to unceremoniously assassinate him for challenging his worldview.
  • Happened to Sailor Mnemosyne and Sailor Lethe in the Sailor Moon manga. They were this close to a Heel–Face Turn when Mnemosyne restored Usagi's memories, which were deleted by Sailor Lethe, who was also willing to make a Heel–Face Turn along with Mnemosyne after the restoration, but then they got killed off by their evil superior officers Chi and Pi.
    • It's worse for Kunzite in the manga who recovers his old memories of being Venus' lover in their past life but realizes he cannot betray Beryl because she controls Endymion. He's forced to fight against the woman he loves until she kills him. Made more evident in the musicals where he confesses to her just before she kills them BOTH with Crescent Beam.
    • Nephrite in the first season of the anime dies immediately after leaving Beryl's organization. Whether this is this trope or Heel–Face Turn + Redemption Equals Death is a real judgment call since Nephrite dies before having a real chance to turn against Beryl or do any substantive damage to her, but does at least manage to save Naru's life, and did so rather than kill Sailor Moon even though he had her right where he wanted her.
    • One daimon in S called Utomodachi didn't even get the chance to remove a Pure Heart from her victim. Rather than do that or fight the Senshi, she ran off crying. Unfortunately, she made the mistake of randomly going after Hotaru, an innocent party. Hotaru proceeded to attack with her powers.
    • Likewise, another daimon U-Ndokai refused to hurt Hotaru and noticed she had collapsed after grabbing a Pure Heart from athlete Shun. U-Ndokai advises her to go to a doctor. Bad luck for U-Ndokai that Hotaru is secretly both Mistress 9 and Sailor Saturn; she sends a wave of energy at the daimon, which allows Sailor Moon to hit her with Rainbow Moon Heartache.
    • Likewise, in the Sailor Stars season of the anime, Princess Kakyuu revealed that Sailor Tin Nyanko was once a heroic Sailor Guardian who had been brainwashed and corrupted by Galaxia. After Nyanko was partially purified by Sailor Moon, some of her original personality began to reassert itself, and she expressed sorrow and remorse for her actions. The Sailor Senshi resolved to help fully free her from Galaxia's mental control, but Galaxia herself soon arrived and murdered Nyanko in front of them.
    • All four Kings of Heaven are hit with this in episode 12 of Sailor Moon Crystal, when the Senshi finally get through to their memories and make them remember, for good, their roles as the knights who protected Endymion. Just as the four come to, Queen Metalia blows them to smithereens. However, they return in spirit form and save Tuxedo Mask at a critical moment, and later discuss the Black Moon's plans with him in Season 2, having returned to their role as his knights despite their deaths and subsequently being unable to fight for him.
  • At the end of School Days Makoto realized playing with girl's hearts for sex caused a lot of social and emotional damage for many girls involved, especially Kotonoha whom he really loved from the beginning. He decides to become the honest and sincere boyfriend she deserves...and proceeds to catastrophically screw up things with Sekai Saionji, who loved Makoto just as strongly and claims she's pregnant with his child. Handling his breakup with her in one of the worst ways imaginable, he then pressures her to get an abortion. Needless to say, Makoto's tactless, insensitive behavior costs him dearly when Sekai snaps and kills him.
  • Shinsen Tennozu of Speed Grapher is the head of both a legitimate multi-billion dollar organization and the shadier criminal group that helped make it so powerful. Also, she's a terrible mother. She gets a very Karmic Death at the hands of her Magnificent Bastard right-hand man, and as she's dying on the floor her daughter Kagura comes running up to her and tearfully reveals that Shinsen's lover (Kagura's father) hadn't abandoned her: he had been unavoidably delayed for their rendezvous and had subsequently been murdered by the secret organization he was working with. The look on Shinsen's face suggests that she truly regretted allowing herself to become the bitter and hateful person that she had, but it was too late to even try to make up for it and she died moments later.
  • Ikuya Asano from The Twelve Kingdoms, who had given into despair upon being Trapped in Another World and became a pawn in the Big Bad's hands because of that, is given a chance for a last mission which will help him redeem himself. He's killed in it, and his Last Words lampshading the trope: "Why did I come into this world? Will I just die for nothing?!"
  • In Tokyo Ghoul:Re, this is used for maximum drama and heartbreak. Takizawa betrays Aogiri, killing Tatara in order to protect his former comrades. He tries to reassure them of his good intentions, but his former mentor orders his squad to attack. After killing most of the squad, Takizawa strangles Akira while demanding to know why they tried to kill him — he'd saved them, and become a hero, after all. She tells him that he's a murderer, and the only kindness they can offer is a Mercy Kill. He's simply too far gone to understand that he's already crossed the Moral Event Horizon, and can never return to his old life. Later on, however, it's defied when Amon intervenes and causes Akira to have a change of heart. Their mutual desire to save him from himself leads Takizawa to undergo a genuine Heel–Face Turn and begin the process of regaining his sanity. He considers himself beyond hope of redemption, but others disagree.

    Comic Books 
  • Sometimes used in Chick Tracts, where a character is considering accepting Christ but dies before being able to act on it and ending up in Hell. The idea is that one can not put off accepting Christ as death may happen at any point but in typical Chick fashion, it comes off somewhat Anvilicious or even paints God as a bit of a Jerkass.
  • Deadpool tries really, really hard to be good. He does. Really. But it's just so much easier to kill people and he has no attention span and people are SO annoying and... That's not to say he's a Heel, but rather that despite all his attempts to be good, and all his actually good acts, he's still a nutcase killer-for-hire. It doesn't help that whenever he does something so good that he'd likely be recognized by the world for his heroics, there's typically either no one (reliable) around to witness it or some outside circumstance screws it up immediately afterward. This culminates in Secret Empire when Deadpool sides with HYDRA because Captain America Steve Rogers is there, slowly realizes he's made a mistake and makes the mistake of trying to help Maria Hill, who ends up dropping a parking deck on him. He escapes three days later, three days too late to make any difference as the heroes had saved the day by then.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: V4 has a wretchedly sadistic example in Sun Boy, a long-standing Legionnaire who'd been seduced into being the public face of the evil Earthgov. Faced with an impending disaster, he tried to put his costume back on and save the city, only to a) meet with public scorn and b) be caught in the explosion of a fusion reactor. Wait, we're not done: due to his powers, the explosion didn't kill him (actually, due to his powers the explosion shouldn't even have touched him; oh well); instead it left him a mangled, screaming, burning wreck. He then spent the next year and a half on life-support, in agonizing pain and reliving his worst memories, until finally he was shot by his lover/handler (who then killed herself). That door slammed so hard it broke.
  • In The Mastermen #1, Overman attempts to right the wrongs of his making Nazi Germany become the new world by lying about Human Bomb's physiological differences from most people. Unfortunately, Jürgen Olsen figures out that he's not in favor of Hitler's vision and has sympathies with the Freedom Fighters, and thus betrays him, leading to Overman's downfall.
  • In Nikolai Dante, during the Battle of St. Petersburg, a random mook suddenly had a change of heart and shoved a machine gun operator out of the way to stop him firing on the Romanov forces. Immediately afterwards, Jena, unaware of what he had just done, stabbed him in the chest.
  • The Powerpuff Girls refuse to believe that Mojo Jojo has gone straight and opened his own restaurant ("Monkey Business," issue #67), in spite of the fact that everyone loves his cuisine. Twice, the girls cause an alarm that sends everyone for the exits and subsequently publicly apologizing for it. The third time, though, is enough for Mojo. He quits his restaurant and goes back to being a villain.
  • Red Skull once had the chance to at least die repentant. After being locked in a shelter in the middle of nowhere for days, starving and alone in the dark, he finally resigned himself to his fate and for the first and only time in his life, felt remorse for his evil deeds and privately conceded that he deserved this fate. But even this would be denied him, as was rescued shortly after, regained his will to live after seeing Captain America and remembering how much he hated him... well, he forgot everything he had considered down there, and after telling Cap as much, began ranting about how he would get revenge on Magneto.

  • Spider-Man:
    • Mac Gargan, a.k.a. the Scorpion, ends up wandering the sewers at one point, depressed but with a clearer head than he had had for a long time. Eventually, his sanity starts to return, and he is about to make a Heel–Face Turn when Spider-Man having depression issues of his own, finds Gargan and attacks him savagely ignoring Gargan's pleas that he had changed. Gargan then goes crazy again to save himself and continues his life of super-villain debauchery, first as Scorpion, and later as a new Venom.
    • Another example was Shriek, one member of Carnage's group of killers during the Maximum Carnage fiasco. Some months after that fiasco, she broke out of Ravencroft Asylum and kidnapped Malcolm McBride (formerly Carrion, who was human at the moment, the virus inside him in remission) and stress caused by the ordeal caused him to become Carrion again. After seeing Carrion show some sympathy for his mother, Shriek had a brief moment of sanity, and actually tried to absorb the Carrion Virus into herself, trying to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save Malcolm. She did save Malcolm, but the virus didn't kill her... And for poor Shriek, this heroic act only made it worse for her. It drove her deeper into madness, making her think the virus inside her was an unborn child, and she spent her time in her cell eagerly anticipating the birth of her "baby" like an expectant mother. Eventually, the Jackal assaulted her to get the virus back, and when next seen, she was back with Carnage and worse than ever.
    • Older example: The Kingpin's wife Vanessa once told him he had to choose between her and his crime syndicate. He chose her. (She gave him twenty-four hours to tie up loose ends, and he may well have killed Spider-Man, had the deadline not come right before he was about to make the killing blow.) Nevertheless, he retired with her to the South Seas. But many other crime bosses he had bequeathed his empire to didn't like having to run it without him, and felt that Vanessa was the cause, so sometime later, she was apparently killed by an assassin's bullet. (She got better later.) The Kingpin returned worse than ever, not only seizing back full control of his former organization, but making sure the police ended up with incriminating evidence that led to the arrest of the ones responsible for his wife's apparent death (he hadn't been fooled for a minute) a true case of a plan Gone Horribly Right.
  • Star Wars Tales #10, "Trooper", tells the POV account of the first stormtrooper to rush into the Tantive IV in A New Hope. Desperate to leave his backwater, dead-end planet, he murders a subversive man as a loyalty test for an Imperial officer and leaves with them to become a stormtrooper. He has witnessed horrors, committed unspeakable atrocities, and, all this time later, is beginning to lose his cold, ruthless demeanor. He wonders if he hadn't made the wrong decisions, and begins to consider jumping ship and finding the Rebel Alliance. Then Princess Leia shoots him in the face.
  • In Pre-Crisis Superman comics, after a particularly ignominious defeat, Lex Luthor finally decides he can't go on like this any more. He travels to Lexor, a planet where a single uncharacteristically good deed in his part years earlier had made him their national hero. There he settles down with the Lexorian woman he loves, has a child, uses his brilliance to help the Lexorian people, and genuinely tries to put his evil past behind him. Except... to his own chagrin, he realizes he can't. Part of it's that he can't get over his obsession with needing to defeat Superman, but more than that, he psychologically needs dogs to kick. With ancient Lexorian tech, he builds a suit of Powered Armor in Action Comics #544: Luthor Unleashed, and uses it to become Lexor's first supervillain, the Mystery Marauder, for no other reason than to relieve his tensions by randomly destroying things. When Superman finally tracks Luthor down (ironically, one of Lex's old automatic systems had launched an attack on Metropolis without Lex even being there), Lex fights him using the armor. One of his blasts ricochets off Superman's invulnerable chest and strikes the Neutrarod, one of his inventions, destroying the entire planet, including his wife and son. Lex survives but vows to dedicate the rest of his life to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Superman.
    • In Brian Bendis‘ run, Mongul reacts to Superman revealing his identity to the world with shock and confusion as to why would he pretend to be one of the people he could’ve ruled over just like Mongul rules over his planet and begins to wonder if he himself could’ve chosen a different path… And is then immediately killed by his son, who proclaims himself the new ruler.
  • In Tales of the Jedi, Jedi Knight Ulic Qel-Droma was convinced to turn on the Jedi by the Sith Lord Exar Kun and waged war on The Republic before killing his own brother Cay. As punishment for his fratricide and war crimes, Jedi Grand Master Nomi Sunrider severed his connection to the Force. After realizing the error of his ways he exiled himself to the arctic planet Rhen Var. He later ended up training Nomi's daughter Vima, and found peace only to be shot and killed by a random spacer who wanted to be famous for killing one of the Republic's most infamous war criminals. However, Ulic was redeemed in the end and became one with the Force like all great Jedi Masters.
  • The original Thunderbolts were villains disguised as heroes, who eventually decided to become good themselves. But it didn't work so well with Karla Sofen\Moonstone, as karma was bad, and her own sociopathy and greed couldn't be dropped.
  • The Transformers (IDW): John Powell, the cop who holds Bumblebee at gunpoint, appears to be affected by the speech that Bee gives and may have had a Heel Realization. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a chance to lay down his arms, as Jazz blasts the officer into ash without knowing the full story, much to Bumbleebee's horror.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus refuses to help Norman Osborn kill Spider-Man. He explains that he is sick of being evil and wants to make a fresh start for himself. He also tries to convince Osborn not to kill Peter, since Spider-Man is their greatest "creation". Norman won't have any of that and kills Otto after a vicious fight.
  • Usagi Yojimbo features a story involving a crooked bookie who has employed a skilled former samurai to help him run a con; they hustle wandering travelers into fighting duels with the samurai, the bookie takes bets on the fight, hyping up the unskilled traveler as unbeatable, then they split the pot when the samurai kills the traveler. The samurai begins to feel bad about this dishonest life, however, and tells the bookie he's quitting. The bookie forces him to fight one last duel to pay off a debt to him, and said duel just happens to be against Usagi, who knows nothing of the con or of the samurai's intention to turn over a new leaf. They fight the duel, and Usagi wins easily, killing the samurai. The last page of the story shows the dead samurai's wife and son, unknowingly waiting for him to come home...
  • In V for Vendetta, Adam Susan is shot down by the time he began to ponder about his ways and the possibility to change them.
  • In West Coast Avengers, Ultron harasses Hank Pym after surviving an encounter with the Lethal Legion. Hank gains the strength to tell off Ultron and the encounter causes Ultron to rethink things. He evolves out of his hatred of Hank and humanity and resolves to be the son Hank should have had. Sadly, the previous Ultron model had returned from the Secret Wars and was so aghast at the thought of a human-loving Ultron, that he ripped his head off and deleted all data on him.
  • Wonder Woman (2006): When Theana, who has had no chance to learn anything other than a mass murderer due to her horrific upbringing and enforced isolation, steps back from attacking Diana after Diana is able to talk to her about her abuse and that she could be something more Theana's mother orders her executed immediately.
  • From X-Men: The Blob was the oldest-running villain to lose his mutant powers during M-Day, but afterwards, the future was looking bright for him; he had become a fitness guru in Japan, and would be starring in an upcoming movie filmed in San Francisco made by Kingo Sunen. However, he has since resumed his villainous ways, having been given the Mutant Growth Hormones by Mystique, restoring his powers. Clearly, super-villainy was just too much of a temptation for him.

    Fan Works 
  • Poor Ikusaba gets hit by this several times in the Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc fanfic And Again. In the final loop, she manages to make a full turn without getting killed for it.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Avatar: The Last Alicorn, Sweetie puts the breaks on Rarity's redemption due to her amplifying the darkness in her heart.
  • In the Rosario + Vampire/Ranma ½ crossover Big Human on Campus, the Holy Dragon enforcer was sincere in rejoining the Protection Comittee to make Youkai Acadamy a better place but was thrown of a cliff for his troubles.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Brave New World, after making it very clear that Oblivion's Shadow has completely and utterly lost, Mewtwo says that he could surrender, kill the Nihilators, and join Team Aurabolt to prevent the Ruler of Evil being released. Oblivion's Shadow considers this — and then the Ruler of Evil puts a stop to that.
  • Lude (APH Germany) starts to have a Heel Realization in the fourth story of the Hetalia: Axis Powers / The Hunger Games crossover fanfic What If, but dies before he can carry it out.
  • Umemoto in Dangan Ronpa Forever Despair. After turning a new leaf from their conflict-causing, disrespectful ways, they end up dead.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Denial has the tragic case of Fuyuhiko, who has a Heel Realization upon discovering the body and suicide note of the Imposter. Unfortunately, their resolve to make amends comes to nothing, as they die before they have a chance to act upon it.
  • Brolli from the Touhou Project fanfic Diamond in the Rough (Touhou) starts out as a prime candidate for turning into a power-hungry villain until he realizes the damage he could potentially do to Gensokyo. However, he realizes this just as Gensokyo is ready to watch him die.
  • In the Black Butler fanfic Diligo Victum Nusquam, Sebastian gets turned into an Empty Shell before he can redeem himself.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Kamen Rider Wizard crossover Friendship Is Showtime, Dryad arranges for herself, Harpy, Hellhound, and Minotaur to go into protective custody to protect themselves from the Higher Phantoms so they can live in peace. Unfortunately, Gremlin proceeds to corrupt Harpy, Hellhound, and Minotaur into berserk monsters via the Akumaizer's tomb and them murders them himself before they get the chance to join her.
  • Teased but ultimately averted with Malcolm in the Dragon Age fanfic Life on Thedas.
  • Nephrite in the Sailor Moon/Ranma ½ crossover No Chance for Fate.
  • In a flashback in Chapter 7 of the Monsters University fanfic PostMU: Life's a Scream!, Big Red attempts to visit Oozma Kappa at Squishy's mother's house for the very first time. He claims that he and the rest of Frat Row REALLY want to make it up to OK for laughing at them about the ROR prank as well as having rejected them since the fraternity's founding, announcing that a party is being made in their honor back at the JOX frat house. Knowing Terry had just delivered Johnny Worthington of all monsters a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, not only does he finally release his pent up emotions about what OK suffered even long before Mike and Sulley arrived, he makes it perfectly clear to the JOX president that he doesn't want to do anything with the Greek community (as well as the student body) any longer.
  • Relationship-wise, in the Pretty Cure/Cars crossover Piston Pretty Cure, Rod gets killed by Professor Z before he can really warm up to Hayward, who he tended to look down on most of the time.
  • Inverted in the Pretty Cure fanfic Pretty Cure Heavy Metal, where Cure Nirvana manages to use rakansen on the brainwashing machine before Lady Marilyn can finish turning Shugo evil, resulting in a Face Heel Door Slam on her own part.
  • Yayoi/Sunder felt a heavy amount of remorse for her actions toward the end of the Smile Pretty Cure!/Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover Respect. Mami offered her one last chance of redemption, but Yayoi's despair reached a peak. She vanished from the area, but it is implied she had just fled and turned into a Witch later...
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: Cree Lincoln begins to reconsider her feud and hatred of kids when she and her sister realize how petty it was during the Disasteroid crises. It was implied that she was starting to reconnect with her sister Abigail Lincoln, only for chapter 47 to revealed she was jailed for her connection to the secret war. Cree told Danny she got 5 years because of her dad and even admits that she deserves more time.
  • In the Mega Man Loops of The Infinite Loops, Bass was helping the Anchors (to impress Roll) when the reality warp hit. After that, Dr Wily reprogrammed him to be obedient.
  • This happens to Anakin in the Star Wars fanfic Passion Play.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians fanfic The Prayer Warriors: The Evil Gods Part One, Thalia Grace says she wants to repent, but Jerry kills her, believing that she'll go to heaven if she's telling the truth, and will go to hell if she's lying.
  • In the Storm Hawks fanfic The Strength in Weakness, whoever has been using Mind Control on Master Cyclonis has been keeping her from making good on her decision to end the war peacefully.
  • Late into Episode 1 of the Total Drama fanfic Total Drama: Some Stars, Mike's new demeanor is shown to even be bothering him in the confessional, but he winds up getting the boot without even being able to apologize for his misbehavior.
  • Blake from It's not the Raptor DNA started off as antagonistic towards Elise, allowing his alcoholism to become such a problem that he was a danger to himself, his co-workers, and the park. After a brief leave of absence, he comes back and says he's getting better, going to therapy and staying away from booze. Then he's shot dead by Bridges when he stumbles across an operation to raid the old Visitor's Center for embryos.
  • In this fan-animation of Sans' fake surrender in Undertale, it's made quite clear that Frisk genuinely regrets their actions and wants to stop fighting. Sans kills them anyway.
  • In A Brighter Dark, Hans (the Hate Sink of the of the original game) spends much of his screen time being encouraged (and often nagged) to become a better person through in interactions with Sakura, and despite all odds, it actually appears to be working. Then he's set on fire by Leo as retribution for a past crime. Tragically, if this hadn't occurred, it's likely he would have gone all the way with the reformation into a decent human being. At least, if his last scene is anything to go by.
  • The Subterraneans in One Punch Man: Hero's Harem gave up on their goal of destroying humanity and were coming around to the idea of living in peace with them, only to be slaughtered by the Monster's Association, leaving the Subterranean Queen as the Sole Survivor.
  • Bathing with Eradicons: After attempting forcefully to bond with Soundwave, Megatron realizes he crossed the line and is clearly remorseful when he sees Soundwave's face for the first time and when Soundwave manages to talk him out of it. Unfortunately right after this, he is shot by Shockwave.
  • In X-Men fanfiction Devil's Diary, Magneto briefly considers to drop his plans and lead a normal life the eve of his first terrorist act. Regardless, he suits up and attacks an army base only to be stopped by his erstwhile friend Xavier's team. In the aftermath, he swears he will be Magneto until his last breath. So it says in his journal:
    Eric Masters lies locked away in a hold deeper than Davy Jones's locker. I shall not loose him again.
    Resist the Temptation to Bend.
    And I shall be Magneto till my dying day.
    And long after Xavier's.
  • Subverted in Intrepid. When it looks like Rune was about to switch sides and revealed Dinah was there, Kaiser had her electrocuted unconscious. The moment she can move again, though, she finishes it.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fic "Stronger Together", Spike basically does this to himself when he allies with Darla to turn Buffy; while Spike tries to subsequently claim that he was never intending to let Darla go through with it, Buffy and Angel conclude that Spike's obsession with her has gone too far after he created the Buffybut, and so Spike ends up staked.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl faces off with her old enemy, neo-Nazi reality-warper Blackstar, who is now working for Darkseid. Upon realizing Blackstar is beginning to feel regret over her life choices, Kara tries to persuade her to switch sides and start atoning for her past actions; unfortunately, Blackstar has been a villain for so long she doesn't know how to stop, forcing Supergirl to stop her for good.
  • In the third chapter of Troll Fic The Darker Knight, The Joker declares he wants to help Batman and is now a good guy. The police still shoot him because he's a criminal.
  • In Man of Steel fanfiction Daughter of Fire and Steel, Kara tries to convince Zod to spare the humans by pointing out that Kal-El will let them have the Codex without further conflict if they leave Earth alone, and then she states Zod will be remembered as a bloodthirsty monster if he continues with his plan. Zod looks hesitant and shaken for some seconds, but he stubbornly clings to his original goals until the end.
  • In Change, Queen Imperatrix, the mother of Avia and Crudelis, starts as a regular Evil Queen who is cruel to her subjects and tries to teach her daughters that ponies are nothing but a food source to them. While Crudelis happily accepts her lessons, Avia refuses them and eventually leaves the Hive because of them. 155 years after Avia leaves, Imperatrix begins to grow tired of being an evil queen, realizing that all it did was cost her one of her daughters. Before she can make any attempt to improve herself or the Hive though, she is immediately murdered by Crudelis for betraying the beliefs that she taught her.

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has the Wolf Boss refuse to fire cannons on his own men with a firm 'No', only to be immediately killed by Lord Shen's throwing knives to the throat.
  • The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special: When Darth Vader hurls Emperor Palpatine down the reactor shaft, Palpatine sees the present Vader had given him for Life Day that he had previously mocked, but now sees it was a good present. He reflects on everything that happened and decides to repent, calling it a Life Day miracle. Before he can do anything, he is vaporized by the reactor.
  • Ringing Bell has this happen to Chirin at the very end. He kills the Wolf, but the sheep throw him out. Chirin is left with nothing. This is one of the contributing factors to the tragedy of the story.
  • In the climax of Ugly Dolls, as Lou is thrown to the robotic dog, Moxy and the other dolls discuss what to do with him. Lou pleads for a second chance, only to be thrown in the washing machine by Nolan (whom Lou called "Ugly" in his song "The Ugly Truth").

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The ending of American History X involves a particularly memorable one; the day after Danny leaves the Neo-Nazi movement, he is killed because he pissed off a bully (who happened to be a minority) he had a feud with (and for further irony, was probably pressured into it the same way Danny was pressured into Nazism and then out again by his own Big Brother Mentor). Some alternative endings have this causing Derek to revert to Nazism, undoing all the Character Development of the film.
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (the first movie), Number 2 pulls a gun on Dr. Evil, decrying his old-fashioned villainy and pointing out how he made Virtucon disgustingly rich through completely legal means. He starts to negotiate a surrender with Austin Powers, only to sit in the wrong chair... He returns in the next film, still on Dr. Evil's side and with just some slight burns on his face.
  • Avengers: Endgame: In the opening act, Thanos is moments away from some kind of reconciliation with his daughter Nebula when Thor unceremoniously decapitates him. Not that he didn't have it coming.
  • Batman Returns: Happens to one of Penguin's goons.
    Fat Red Triangle Penguin Goon: Ermm... Penguin? I mean, killing sleeping children... isn't that a little..?
    Penguin: [shoots goon with gun umbrella] No! IT'S A LOT! [kicks the dead goon into the sewage river]
  • Danger!! Death Ray, with a healthy dollop of Ho Yay beforehand.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins: Played straight when Joe Chill, who agrees to testify against Carmine Falcone in exchange for early parole, is assassinated by one of Falcone's goons immediately after the hearing.
    • The Dark Knight: Gordon's blunt dismissal of Maroni's indignation at the murder of Rachel Dawes by the Joker's minions. Subverted when Maroni goes ahead with ratting the clown anyway ("You want him, I can tell you where he'll be this afternoon") and later reveals to Harvey Two-Face the name of the other traitor in Gordon's unit, then ultimately left up in the air when Two-Face kills his driver.
  • Mental in Dumb and Dumber, a kidnapper who stalks and plans to kill Harry and Lloyd after Lloyd swipes a briefcase full of ransom money. He finally realizes that they're just a couple of idiots naively returning a briefcase to its rightful owner and not rival criminals — unfortunately, they accidentally poison him immediately after he figures this out.
  • In Four Lions one of the protagonists panicked and no longer wanted to be a suicide bomber, so he tried to turn himself in to the police. While he was yelling about how his costume was filled with explosives but he wasn't going to blow himself up, one of his friends blew him up to stop him giving the rest of them away.
  • Glass: In one of the most brutal examples, just as Casey manages to reach out to Kevin and he finally has the Beast and his other personalities under control, a sniper shoots him, and without the invulnerability of the Beast, he takes the shot like a normal human and dies in minutes.
  • The 1949 version of The Great Gatsby plays this to the hilt. In the climactic poolside scene, Gatsby tells Nick that he plans to turn himself in and take the rap for what he has (and hasn't) done, and go straight. The Door Slams him immediately afterward.
  • Hardcore Henry: Played literally and awesomely. Estelle turns out to have been Akan's wife and had been emotionally manipulating Henry the whole time. After a short confrontation on her escape helicopter, she winds up hanging out of the door by her fingers, and she begs for Henry to "listen to his heart". After a brief moment, he slams the door down on her and she plummets to her death.
  • In Jurassic World, just after the Indominus rex has managed to persuade the raptors to her side, Owen spots Charlie in the brush. The raptor regards him for a moment, as if seriously contemplating whether going against her Parental Substitute was a good idea or not... and then she's blown to pieces by an InGen trooper armed with a rocket launcher.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The pivotal scene of Sméagol's near-repentance on the stairs was omitted from the film The Return of the King due to the director feeling it necessary to maintain that Sméagol had never been redeemable in the first place. This decision to elevate Gollum from antagonist to outright villain was challenged by the writers, so the scene was replaced with another climactic episode in which Frodo spares Gollum and Gollum almost repents, but Frodo then admits the purpose of the quest to Gollum, at which he snaps and attacks Frodo again.
    • At the beginning of The Return of the King (in an extended scene), it looks like Wormtongue is about to accept Théoden's offer to leave Saruman and rejoin the heroes. Saruman responds by berating him and then strikes him across the face. Wormtongue is so upset by this that he stabs Saruman in the back and is shot down by Legolas, resulting in yet another point against diplomacy in Middle Earth.
  • In Manos: The Hands of Fate, the Crusty Caretaker, Torgo, decides he's had enough of being the cultists' whipping boy and announces his intent to help the family escape. Foolishly, he announces this to the cult's Master, who then hauls him off to be tortured before poor Torgo can put any of his plans into motion. He's able to escape, but that's the last we see of him, and he never gets a chance to come back and rescue the family.
  • The Patriot has two instances where it shows British officers being morally conflicted about their actions, but nothing is done with it:
    • First up is a lieutenant. The movie seems to make rather a big deal about him reacting with horror and distress at Colonel Tavington shooting Benjamin Martin's son Thomas and killing the wounded Militiamen. There is even a shot of him reacting to the sight of one of the younger boys crying before departing. But then the movie just kills him off in the very next scene.
    • Next we have Captain Wilkins, a Loyalist officer who joins the Green Dragoons and whose zeal leads him to boast that traitors to the crown deserve to die. However then Tavington tells him to burn a bunch of townsfolk in a church, he protests this as being dishonorable and murderous. Nevertheless Wilkins readily caves when Tavington bullies him into it, essentially shutting the door on his own redemption himself. Despite this, there still seems to be some hope for him, given how visibly upset he is watching the church burn, however nothing is ever done with him and apart from a few snarky comments aimed at Tavington, he more or less vanishes from the movie entirely in the final battle (the novelization gives him a small The Dog Bites Back moment, where he passes up the chance to shoot Martin as he and Tavington fight to the death).
  • Psycho starts off with Marion Crane stealing $40,000 cash she was supposed to lodge in the bank for her work. She flees all the way to a motel near Fairvale, hoping to see her boyfriend Sam. After a talk with the motel owner, she has a Heel Realization and is implied to be planning to return home the next day.note  Unfortunately, this is the Bates Motel, and she's stabbed to death in the shower the same night. Her sister, boyfriend and colleagues never find out that she was planning to turn herself in.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur, Nazi spy Frank Fry seems to have a change of heart in the final scene when The Hero Barry Kane tries to pull him back to safety before he falls off the Statute of Liberty; he begins to promise he'll confess to everything and clear Barry's name. Unfortunately, Barry's efforts go to waste and Fry plummets to his death mere seconds later.
  • In Shaun of the Dead, David has been a dick towards everyone (but especially Shaun) pretty much throughout the entire movie, largely due to his unrequited love for Shaun's girlfriend Liz. This culminates in David forcing Shaun to shoot his own mother (not without cause, since she was a Zombie Infectee, but his insensitive and smug way of handling it didn't help matters) and then trying to shoot Shaun himself. After being called out by his own girlfriend about his actions, David is on the cusp of sincerely apologising to Shaun for all he's done... when an army of zombies break through the window behind him, drag him out, tear him to pieces and eat him before he can actually say it. Ouch. There was an alternate version of the scene where he's killed just after he apologizes, but the creators decided it would be more shocking if he never got the chance.
  • In Six: The Mark Unleashed, one of the carjackers who decides to turn himself in along with the smuggler takes The Holy Implant near the end of the movie and regrets his decision.
  • We get a version of this in Skyfall, when Silva has M cornered and his gun in her face, when he realizes she's already mortally wounded and will die no matter what he does. He breaks down, puts the gun in her hand, raises it up to one side of her head while pressing his own head to the other side, and begs her to kill both of them with the same bullet. Then Bond barges in and throws a knife into his back. Silva gets demonstrably annoyed at this before keeling over.
  • In Twilight Zone: The Movie Vic Morrow's racist character, who was on a Quantum Leap-type trip inhabiting the bodies of various oppressed victims through time, is presumably on his way towards redemption; but real life writing the plot / Fatal Method Acting note  caused his character to be sent to a concentration camp, whence he presumably never returned.
  • Utu contains a rare villainous example, where a young Maori unsuccessfully tries to defect from the British Army to the rebels.
  • Talman in Wait Until Dark. He stops the con on Susy, promising to leave her and Sam alone and that she's safe... and is promptly killed.

  • Battle Royale: Lovable Alpha Bitch Hirono Shimizu is strangled and thrown into a well by Toshinori Oda. She then climbs out of the well and joins the protagonists, but it's suddenly revealed to be All Just a Dream.
  • In Astrid Lindgren's Kid Detective story series Bill Bergson, a Swedish inventor and his preteen son are kidnapped by (ostensibly) Soviet agents. However, one of them soon starts to get qualms about having to take the son away as well, and even tries to help the kid detectives. He gets a bullet in the back for his troubles, but ends up in hospital and lives.
  • In the Coldfire Trilogy, the Hunter, finally no longer undead and free to try to redeem himself, is promptly killed. Sort of.
  • Glen Cook wrote three short stories about a crew of pirates under a Flying Dutchman sort of curse. They realize in the second story that any of them who do something genuinely good can escape their eternal wandering, and the ship's captain sacrifices himself to destroy an even worse evil — leaving the narrator as the new captain, wondering what he did wrong that he wasn't freed as well...
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, when Bogardius, who until then has been Evil All Along, realizes that Raguel's presence means annihilation, he tries to oppose him, only for the latter to turn him into his puppet.
  • Dinoverse:
    • In the first book, Candayce lets go of some of her self-centered hostility and allows herself to care about people more. She has to ask help from someone she hurt badly. Janine closes her down harshly, saying it seemed like Candayce was actually concerned but it's really just because Candayce wanted something for herself. Within a few chapters they have a confrontation with Dramatic Thunder and it's all good, though.
    • This trope is much stronger in the last two books, Dinosaurs Ate My Homework and Beverley Hills Brontosaurus. JD Harms, made less physically powerful, claims he's turned a new leaf in order to become the leader of a stranded group of kids. There are hints that he's Becoming the Mask, but he loves the respect he gets and destroys the way to get home, then has the one kid who didn't believe he'd changed exiled. Then JD has a genuine change of heart and finds out something crucial, but the kids have found out and all stonewall him, even refusing to listen when he talks.
  • In Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Faustus begins to regret his decision to make a deal with the devil right before he dies and is carried off to hell.
  • Dragon Age:
    • A tragic example in The Stolen Throne, where Maric finds out that his lover Katriel is an assassin working for The Dragon Severan. However, while Katriel is originally supposed to kill Maric, she falls in love with him and reneges on her contract. Unfortunately, prior to that, she also leads La Résistance into an ambush that results in the Orlesians nearly wiping them out and killing Rowan's father, one of the leaders of the rebellion. Loghain convinces Maric that, being a king, he has no choice but to punish the traitor no matter his personal feelings. For her part, Katriel knows this is coming and still chooses to come to Maric. After a second's hesitation, Maric runs her through, though he feels dead inside.
    • In the follow-up novel The Calling, Maric and a group of Grey Wardens are trapped by a Lotus-Eater Machine. Maric's dream is that of a happy life with Katriel. It's never made explicit if she was just a figment of his imagination or Katriel's spirit that has returned from the Fade to be with him. However, she does help him free the Wardens (those who choose to leave, anyway), implying the latter. Oh, and she doesn't appear to hold a grudge over him killing her.
  • Cyric in the Avatar trilogy in the Forgotten Realms world has a brief battle with himself about his betrayal of his friends.
  • A close variant in The Four Horsemen Universe Short Story "Angels and Aliens". Jim Hawkins, a Catholic chaplain, is held at gunpoint by a Tortantula and Flatar and reasons that, death being apparently inevitable, he'd rather spend his last moments praying. This confuses the Literal-Minded Tortantula, who is curious about this god of Jim's who came back from the dead. The Flatar is only interested in killing him, but merc Charlotte Wicza, Jim's bodyguard from whom he got separated when the paradrop went wrong, is faster and kills both aliens.
  • Harry Potter:
  • The In Death series: In Ceremony in Death, one lawyer who happens to be a Satanic cult member gets evidence shoved into his face that one of his fellow cult members has been murdered. Later, he realizes that he's been having blackouts ever since he joined the cult...and that he witnessed that one cult member murdered in a sacrifice in one of those blackouts! He starts wonder what else happened in those blackouts. He ends up deciding that he can't defend the cult leader anymore and that he should tell Eve everything he knows...only to get murdered shortly after his decision. Now that's just harsh!
  • Stephen King's It had Victor Criss, the only one of the three bullies who seemed redeemable. At one point he warns the Losers of Henry's deteriorating insanity, and later on he sincerely considers joining up with them instead. Ultimately he goes with Henry out of loyalty and ends up killed by the eponymous monster.
  • In the Left Behind books, people who've accepted the Mark of the Beast and worship the Beast's image find themselves unable to repent however much they desperately want to. At one point a character tries to recite a prayer, any prayer, and can only recall the first line of "Now I lay me down to sleep".note 
    • Leon Fortunato, when he is brought before Jesus along with Nicolae Carpathia, tries to repent and gets the Heel–Face Door-Slam treatment from Jesus since He considers Leon long since sold out to Satan.
  • Of the less lethal variety we have Zaknafein from the The Legend of Drizzt books, who realized the evil in his society but was unable to escape it or to fight against it and became resigned to being the least evil he could get away with.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Sméagol's literal face turn on the stairs of Cirith Ungol. Sméagol's gentle touch of Frodo's knee is misinterpreted by Sam as an attack on his master (or molestation, as Sam's wording of it implies.) This marks the last point in the book where Sméagol had a chance at redemption...note 
    • Wormtongue appears to have one of these in the penultimate chapter. You can sense that he really does want to leave Saruman, but as he's hesitating, Saruman mocks him. This drives him to kill Saruman, and then the hobbits kill him.
  • An interesting posthumous example happens in The Reader. After Hanna passes away having killed herself just before she was due to be released, it's revealed that she'd amassed a huge amount of money over the years and she leaves a letter asking that the protagonist do with it whatever he feels is appropriate. He goes to the last surviving victim of Hanna's crimes, asking that maybe the money should be given to a Jewish charity... and she says no, because that would posthumously redeem Hanna, something which she refuses to do. He gives the money to a charity to do with helping Jewish illiterate people become literate instead.
  • Vermin in the Redwall universe can never repent, ever. Outcast of Redwall was a particularly strong example, where a ferret, Veil, raised in the abbey turns out evil, just because of his nature as a ferret. However, there is some room for interpretation: in the text, it is implied Veil’s turn to evil was influenced, at least in part, by the Abby’s inhabitants treating him as if he were born evil, due to their unshakable belief that vermin cannot turn out good.
    • But there have been a couple cases of vermin turning out good. In The Bellmaker, for example, the former pirate Blaggut ends up leading a life of peace at the end of the book. Most vermin with streaks of good realize it a bit late, however.
    • Then again, there are also many cases of antagonists not outright joining the good side, but abandon or otherwise inconvenience the bad side, and live to see the end. In the second book, for instance, The Smart Lancer at the side of the Big Bad runs off into exile when she gets too dangerous for him.
  • Shel Silverstein wrote a poem about two generals who didn't want to fight, but go to the beach together. They discussed it, thought about what people would say, and killed each other.
  • Theon Greyjoy in A Song of Ice and Fire seriously considers joining the Night's Watch, partially because it would help him escape the hundreds of people who want his head, but also because it would give him a clean slate. Cue Ramsay Bolton and his men... Subverted in that Theon gets a second chance to begin towards redemption, but only after being crippled mentally and physically.
    Theon Greyjoy: A black cloak can't be turned. I'd be as good as any man...
  • In The Stand, an especially ironic example is the story of Nadine Cross, who spent her whole life believing she had to save her virginity for Randall Flagg, who is revealed to be The Antichrist; when she falls in love with good guy Larry Underwood she initially rebuffs his advances, then desperately asks him to sleep with her to remove the spell, after he has fallen in love with someone else. When he refuses, Nadine falls in with Flagg. Later this turns into Death Equals Redemption when, after being impregnated by Flagg in his demon form and driven mad as a result, Nadine commits suicide by throwing herself and her devil-spawn off the balcony, pulling another thread in Flagg's already-unravelling control.
  • The Romulan Star Empire has one of these in the Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul trilogy. Praetor Neral is about to lead the Romulans into formalizing and strengthening alliance with the Federation (as well as lift many of the restrictions placed on the Vulcan unificationist movement). Neral has come to realize the Federation can be trusted and that they are worthy friends to Romulus...but he's unable to implement any of his new policies before he's killed off, replaced by conservative leaders who take Romulus back into hostile isolationism.
  • Jacen Solo from the Star Wars Legends continuity is an Aversion — while he had realized that he'd made a number of mistakes, he had no intention of turning back. It's just that what he was trying to do at the time of his death was a good thing.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, Jean de Vrailly finally begins to understand that he's been tricked by his supposed ally and that perhaps what he's doing is not the right thing. Unfortunately for him, he can't really let go of the need to prove himself and it gets him killed.
  • At the end of Warlord of Mars, the xenophobic Phaidor, who had long thought herself a living goddess who was above such petty things as morality and death, repents and apologizes to John Carter and Dejah Thoris for being such a jealous, psychotic bitch. She then resolves to start a new life... by diving off into a very deep crevice. She hadn't realized that the fall would almost certainly kill her. (An alternative and perhaps more likely explanation is that she knew very well it would kill her and was going for Death Equals Redemption.)
  • In Warrior Cats, when Beetlewhisker says that he's going to leave the Dark Forest because he didn't know that they wanted to destroy the clans, Brokenstar leaps on him and kills him.
  • In The Wheel of Time, according to Word of God, Asmodean was genuinely trying to switch sides — if only for lack of options — when he was killed.

  • HammerFall discusses this trope in "Last Man Standing." The song is sung by a man who gave up everything and refused to budge in his beliefs, only to now see that he's just about out of time to make things right.
    Seeing clearer what I've done, I refused to let things go
    I could never once admit I'm wrong, and what do I have to show?
    Seeing clearer what's at stake, and the things I have to change
    I just hope I can, it's not too late to get a chance to end this pain!
  • "Apologize" by One Republic (featuring Timbaland). The refrain says "I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late." Granted, it's probably less along the lines of "you can't have a chance to change your ways ever" and more like "this relationship is over regardless of whether you say you're sorry" or "if you want to have a relationship where you're not a traitor, it won't be with me."
  • George Michael's "Waiting (Reprise)"'s lyrics point to either this or a Heel–Face Turn.
    But you once said there's a way back for every man,
    So here I am.
    Don't people change?
    Here I am.
    Is it too late to try again?
    Here I am.
    • It can also apply to humanity as a whole in "Praying For Time".
    And the wounded skies above
    Say it's much too, much too late.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The Book of Revelation points out that once a person has taken the Mark of the Beast and has worshiped the beast's image, they're screwed for eternity.
    • After betraying Jesus and regretting it, Judas tried to get the Sanhedrin to reverse the transaction, but they would have none of it. He was Driven to Suicide as a result.
    • Two passages from the Book of Hebrews suggests this trope as a warning: God can forgive almost everything, but the sole exception is if you've already come into His light, experienced all of His blessings, and still turned against Him—not just growing inactive, but being antagonistic towards Him. Repentance after that isn't enough to erase that sin; diminish it, perhaps, but not erase it.
      • Hebrews 6:4-6:
      For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to be renewed once more to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and subject Him to public shame.
      • Hebrews 10:26-31:
      For if we willfully continue to sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who despised Moses' law died without mercy in the presence of two or three witnesses. How much more severe a punishment do you suppose he deserves, who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant that sanctified him to be a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine," says the Lord, "I will repay." And again He says, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
    • God's likely reaction to His people Israel, as voiced in Lamentations 5:19-20:
      You, O Lord, remain forever;
      Your throne endures from generation to generation.
      Why do You forget us forever,
      and forsake us for so long a time?
      Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may return!
      Renew our days as of old,
      unless You have utterly rejected us,
      and are very angry with us.
    • 1 John 5:16 in the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version says that "there is sin that is mortal" that believers should not bother to pray for, suggesting that whoever commits that kind of sin is doomed to Hell as opposed to those whose sins are not "mortal".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This happens a lot after someone rebels against a faction. After turning face, the wrestler gets a vicious beat down by the faction.
  • This was Owen Hart's justification for joining The Nation of Domination. He wanted a change in his life. The first change he made was trying "to be a nice guy", but since no one believed he was sincere he decided helping the Nation run roughshod over their opponents would be his change instead.
  • The Rock averted this happening to Hulk Hogan after defeating him and Hogan shaking hands with the Rock afterward. After that, fellow New World Order members Scott Hall and Kevin Nash started to beat down on Hogan until the Rock made the save and he and Hogan fought them off.
  • After Kevin Steen turned on El Generico and was ultimately kicked out of Ring of Honor for losing the resulting humiliating wager that came from the feud, Steen tried to get back into ROH by turning over a new leaf and behaving himself. Steen made the unwise choice of trying to prove how much better he had gotten by entering the services of Truth Martini, which resulted in an attack on Steve Corino that got Steen's ban extended. After that, Steen further invoked this trope by deliberately derailing the redemption quests of Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs to create S.C.U.M., a group dedicated to destroying the wrestling business, starting with ROH of course.
  • Sasha Banks in 2013 was a rookie repeatedly losing matches on NXT, and being taunted by Summer Rae about how she was too nice. After a hard-fought match against the reigning Women's Champion Paige, Sasha was visibly frustrated at her loss. Paige attempted to acknowledge her as a Worthy Opponent...but Sasha attacked her from behind to turn heel for the first time in her career. This was what led to the creation of her character 'The Boss', who would eventually become the top female star in the company.

  • In Dino Attack RPG, this was Pterisa's greatest fear. She knew that having a place in a post-war society meant that she had to make sure Dino Attack Team trusted her and knew that she was on their side; however, she feared that the reputation of Quasifigus Hybrids meant that, if they discovered her identity, she would forever lose her chance at gaining their trust. Once the Darkitect figured this out, he attempted to slam the door in her face by revealing her identity and reminding the present Dino Attack agents of the Quasifigus Hybrids' untrustworthy history. Fortunately, thanks to Andrew, Amanda, and Rex holding the door open, it didn't work.
  • Survival of the Fittest:
    • In v4, there's minor player Remy Kim. After leaving behind one person to die in a dangerzone after stabbing him and then also stabbing a battered girl, he runs into Sarah Tan, his friend from school, and has a Heel Realization. He vows to protect her, and it looks like she might be a Morality Pet — type figure... but not only is she angry at him for his actions, but he promptly gets headshotted midsentence by Ericka Bradley. Damn.
    • Lyn Burbank spends her early part of the game trying to play the game after killing her cousin, and even after she joins a group to repay being rescued from a nervous breakdown, it eventually falls apart, ending in her Mercy Killing one of the members and pulling a gun on the other one before leaving him behind, going on to return to playing the game. After she gets caught and brutally tortured by J.R. Rizzolo and left to die in a burning hanger, however, she gets rescued by her former party member, leading to her finally breaking down, tearfully admitting that she's sick and tired of trying to play the game and that she just wants to go home. Unfortunately, she ends up dying of blood loss shortly after.
    • Non-death variant; Reiko Ishida, after her murder of Carol Burke among other things, becomes more hesitant to play the game, and once she finds her girlfriend Sarah Xu, she's obviously happy. However when the escape boats arrive she is denied going with Sarah, on the basis that she was playing the game to begin with. It ends with Sarah going on the escape boat (though reluctantly) and Reiko staying.
    • In Program V2, Damien Stone has a breakdown after killing a third classmate, realizing that what he's doing is wrong, and resolves to change his ways. These thoughts are interrupted by Dylan Walker shooting him in the back of the head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: A hellbred is an evil mortal who repents shortly before death, and is granted a new life by direct intervention of a deity, a final second chance to avoid damnation. While some manage to atone, many cannot, but failure does not kill them nor cause them to lose the status of hellbred. Failed hellbred have been known to become fouler villains than before.

  • In The Crucible, Mary Warren told the judges and everyone that she and the other girls were lying about being attacked by witches. Then she got scared and ended up accusing John Proctor of witchcraft instead. Truth in Television: Mary Warren did this in real life, from what historians know. She admitted that she and the girls were lying, but then they accused her of witchcraft, saying she'd joined the witches so they'd stop hurting her. Mary confessed to save herself, and "confirmed" the girl's accusations as true.
  • Ebenezer has this happen with Jacob Marley's death. Terrified of the evil he's done and of dying alone, he begs for mercy and says there's still time for him to be good, but it's too late and he's dragged down to be punished.
  • In Giulio Cesare in Egitto by George Frederic Handel, Ptolemy goes back on his word to give Cornelia to his loyal (if a bit more soft-hearted) commander Achilla, who immediately switches to Cleopatra's side and plans to have a grand revenge against Ptolemy. Then Cleopatra's army suffers a crushing defeat, Achilla succumbs to a mortal wound, and the heroes throw his corpse into the sea.
  • In Shakespeare's King Lear, the villain Edmund, upon realizing he is mortally wounded, wants to do one good thing before he dies by rescuing people who he's ordered to be executed. He's too late.
  • A minor example in Les Misérables: Javert agrees to let Valjean take Marius to a doctor to save the latter's life, despite Javert's constant promises to arrest Valjean at the earliest opportunity. This shakes Javert's worldview to its core — how can a man he thought of as a criminal be helping an innocent boy to safety? — and he eventually kills himself because of it. At the end of the show, all the dead characters appear in heaven alongside Valjean ... except for Javert, who is nowhere to be seen. Especially impactful considering how fervently religious and certain he would get into heaven Javert was.
  • In the opera Susannah, Olin Blitch, the traveling evangelical preacher, forces the protagonist (who is not on good terms with the rest of the town) to have sex with him. Overcome with remorse, he tries to convince the people that she's not a bad person. They don't listen. He begs Susannah to forgive him, she doesn't. Then her brother kills him.
  • In Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride, Gryaznoy does it more or less himself in the end, not that there was an option. He schemes to slip a love potion into Marfa's drink, which leads his own Woman Scorned (whom he has treated terribly) substituting poison for it instead. When Marfa becomes ill, Gryaznoy blames her fiancé on poisoning her and executes him. And then he learns that it was him who accidentally poisoned the girl. He is overcome with remorse, but it's too late: Marfa dies in his arms, and he gives himself up for execution.
  • In Urinetown, Senator Fipp and Mrs. Millenium, realizing just how evil their boss Caldwell B. Cladwell has become, decide to leave him and run off to Rio together. At that moment, the blood-hungry rebel poor, on their way to the UGC headquarters to confront Cladwell, brutally kill them.

    Web Animation 
  • In Helluva Boss, I.M.P is sent to kill Lyle Lipton, an already suicidal old man and famous inventor whose life-changing inventions were paved (sometimes literally) on the backs and bodies of the poor and unwanted, including orphan children, and find that C.H.E.R.U.B is there because the people in Heaven whose lives were bettered by his inventions want him to live to the end of his life and find redemption. The two groups fight over breaking Lyle's spirit so he goes through with it and raising it so he changes his mind, until the very end when Lyle realizes that these two otherwordly forces openly fighting for him means there must be some good he can do with the rest of his life... right before a stray arrow one of the CHERUB members fired knocks a Piano on him, whereupon his misdeeds in life sends him right to hell... not that he minds, since he's back with his partner and able to keep inventing with even LESS scruples.
  • In the first season of Video Game Championship Wrestling, Little Mac quickly became the promotion's top heel after winning Money In The Bank under dubious circumstances, and very quickly aligned himself with Corrupt Corporate Executive and VGCW owner Baz McMahon. This prompted a long feud with Zangief, who felt that he should have been the winner. The feud ended on the season finale, when Little Mac won an Iron Man Inferno match over Zangeif 8-4. At the end of the match, Baz threw a chair into the ring and ordered Little Mac to finish Zangief off, but Mac had a change of heart, threw the chair back at Baz, shook Zangief's hand, and ended their feud on a high note in a showing of mutual respect. It looked like Mac had a career as a babyface ahead of him until he was the victim of a hit and run on his way out of the arena.

    What makes this worse is that afterwards, Phoenix Wright headed up an investigation to determine who was responsible, but at the end of the second season, his investigation's focus turned to finding the identity of Mr. L, while Mac himself became an afterthought. No one knew who was responsible for taking out Mac, and Mac himself has not been seen until Season 4 when he returned from his long recovery. The season also revealed that it was Phoenix who ran over Mac thanks to Time Travel.

  • Akuma's Comics: Dr Wily initially works for the Ministry, however he asks to retire from villainy as he's feeling his age and wants to focus on being a father. The Undertaker declares this out of the picture and Doc Robot ends up killing him.
  • The plot of Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell can be summarized as "futilely banging on the door." Darwin only made one mistake, but the laws of the universe aren't letting him make up for it, since the incredibly bad luck he's been cursed with applies even when he's trying to help other people.
  • Homestuck:
    • Vriska Serket began to regret the endless wave of pain and misery caused by her actions after killing a friend, and began opening up to John and expressing that all she wanted was to leave it all behind and take a few cues from mankind on how to live, but before all that wanted to confront Jack Noir to try and save her friends. Then Terezi killed her to prevent the doomed future that would've come from her attempt to fight Jack. An interesting and less-than-completely-arbitrary example, actually, because she didn't die due to bridge drop, but because she tried to make a Heel–Face Turn without overcoming her Tragic Flaw first -0 she was killed because she changed from Dooming-Us-All Evil to Dooming-Us-All Good.
    • When Jade was knocked unconscious after failing to disrupt Jake's hope bubble, she snapped out of her grimbark mode and, presumably, the Condesce's mind control. Then Aranea promptly dropped a house on her and rigged the God Tier clock to register it as a just (and thereby permanent-ish) death.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Played for laughs in Servants of the Imperium #34. A pair of dark eldar decide they don't like being evil torture-loving psychopaths and that they want to leave. Next panel the heroes machine-gun them.
    Brianna: I don't know what they were talking about, but I bet it was evil.
  • Seymour attempts to do this to Fuschia in the "Bad Behaviour" strips of Sinfest. If not for Criminy, it would have worked. Is a major reason why he has a Hatedom.
  • Played hilariously straight in Penny Arcade (in reference to Uncharted) where a henchman writes a letter revealing that he started a small group to usurp his boss that may be losing his mind over the Cincimati Stone. Before he could finish his letter, he's thrown off a cliff by Nathan Drake.
    Tycho: Nathan Drake continues to suffer from his unique sociopathy, the one which allows him to crack wise between genocides. As usual, we at Penny Arcade are swollen with concern for those on the periphery.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm this nearly happened to Skitter when she turned herself into the PRT. Despite being willing to go hero and help with the potential end of the world, Tagg wouldn't bend and Alexandria was trying to provoke Skitter into attacking so she could be sent directly to the Birdcage.

    Web Videos 
  • In "Star Wars: Retold", the uploader asks his friend to tell him what she knows of the plot. Once she gets up to The Empire Strikes Back, Amanda says that Lando betrays the heroes, "feels bad about it," then dies(apparently from being stabbed by an Ewok) "feeling bad about it."
  • There Will Be Brawl:
    • Link was going down this path, realizing that he and Zelda were going too far to get their hands on the Mushroom Kingdom throne. Then Zelda literally stabs him in the back with the Master Sword and leaves him for dead. He survives this however, and gets an actual Redemption Equals Death.
    • Zelda follows him down this road in the finale, in which she attempts to sacrifice herself in place of the "not yet dead" Link. Unfortunately, Ganondorf's attack is so powerful, it takes them both out simultaneously.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: For most of the season, the Piltover City Council members have shown themselves to be corrupt and selfish elists. In the final moments of the Season 1 finale, they unanimously vote for peace and accept Silco's extremely favorable terms for an independent Zaun. Seconds later Jinx's Hextech powered rocket strikes their chambers, leaving their fate uncertain, but peace off the table.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Fire Lord Sozin is a textbook definition of this trope. He wasn't all evil, but by the time he came to the realization that his actions were evil (leaving his best friend to die, committing genocide and launching a world war) and not worth it in the end, he was on his death bed, and his descendants largely carried on his genocidal work, while also dropping all the decent intentions that motivated him to his evil actions.
    • Jet started out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but through a series of events he was brainwashed by the Dai Li. When he finds out that he was brainwashed, he helps the GAang storm the Dai Li base under Lake Laogai until Long Feng activates a secret code phrase that causes Jet to attack Aang. Aang breaks him out of his brainwashing long enough for Long Feng to clobber Jet with a rock before escaping. An injured Jet ensures his friends that he'll be fine, but Toph knows he's lying.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In one episode, after the Penguin was released from prison, a wealthy socialite, on urging from her friend, pretended to have a crush on him, both of them thinking that associating with him would be good PR. The Penguin was actually happy for a while, and was considering going straight and giving up crime... Until he realized he was being used. Out of rage, he kidnapped the socialite, and tried to kill her friend when he delivered the ransom. Once Batman had apprehended him, she felt a little sorry for it all and tried to apologize... To which the Penguin responded, "I guess it's true what they say, society is to blame... High society..."
  • Batman Beyond: In "Meltdown", Mr. Freeze has his mind transferred to a new cloned body. Restored to normal, he tries to make a new life for himself and help the victims of his crimes. However, his body begins to revert to its cold-dependent state, and the doctor who did the procedure tries to kill him for study rather than help him. He escapes and goes back to his old revenge-seeking ways.
  • Ben 10: Invoked in the episode "Framed". During their second showdown, Kevin mockingly asks Ben if he just wants to try to help him; Ben promptly informs him that he's done trying to help Kevin, especially since Kevin had plenty of chances to get help before, and refused to take them.
  • BoJack Horseman: In a Season 2 flashback that made Sarah Lynn around 7ys/o, she asked BoJack where he went to college and expressed that she wanted to be an architect when she grew up. Flash forward to Season 3 episode "That's Too Much, Man!" –- throughout her month-long bender with BoJack, she gradually starts realizing how much she hates fame and what it's made her. She wonders how allowing children to act is even legal, equating it to child labor ("I didn't know what I was signing up for. I was three.") She expresses how nothing she does it /her/ right after winning an Oscar. BoJack takes her to the planetarium to calm her down, as she'd been suggesting they do the entire time, and she clues him in that it's not actually the trippy visuals that make planetariums interesting to her -– it's the domed design. She dies in BoJack's arms, her last words:
    Sarah Lynn: I wanna be an architect.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Carmen's father was one of V.I.L.E.'s top agents, and part of the organization's leadership. After the birth of his daughter, however, he tried to leave the organization so he could raise her peacefully, only to be killed in an Interpol raid before he could.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Happens to both Father and The Delightful Children From Down The Lane in Operation: Z.E.R.O.:
    • Father tries to redeem himself for causing the events of the film by joining forces with his younger brother to defeat their dad, but he immediately chickened out and went back inside to eat ice cream. He goes back to his evil ways after the events of the film never to attempt redemption ever again.
    • The Delightful Children From Down The Lane were cured from their delightfulization and recommissioned as the missing operatives of Sector Z. Unfortunately, since any reversion is temporary due to the delighfulization being permanent, they forcibly revert back to their delightfulized selves ruining their only chance at freedom.
  • DuckTales (2017): At the climax of "The Duck Knight Rises!", Jim Starling is preparing to kill the actor that replaced him in his most famous role when Launchpad interrupts with a Rousing Speech. Said speech (as well as the replacement's assertion that Launchpad is his biggest fan) induce a Heel Realization in Jim, leading to him seemingly sacrificing himself saving Launchpad and the replacement from an explosion. He doesn't die; however, that ended up becoming the last heroic act he performed before his mind was warped permanently, turning him into Negaduck.
  • After the Evil Con Carne organization went out business, Skarr just wanted to retire to a quiet house in the suburbs, where he could relax and do some gardening. Unfortunately, he moved right next to Grim, Billy, and Mandy, making his new leaf very hard to keep.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the TV Movie Channel Chasers. At the end of the movie, Timmy's Sadist Teacher Mr. Crocker was seen coming out of therapy, cured of his fairy obsession and decides to turn his life around. He even discovers a cold fusion! Then, even though he had nothing to do with the episode plot (in fact, his very appearance was probably just to show that he is a Cosmic Plaything), Timmy's wish that nobody remembers anything that happened affected him, reverting him back to his fairy-obsessed self who tosses away his cold fusion because he doesn't know what it is anymore.
    • Done again in the episode "Crocker Shocker" where Mr. Crocker is put under hypnosis by a desperate therapist to erase his belief in fairies. Among the changes he undergoes, he loses his hunchback loses and his ears moved from his neck to his head. Unfortunately, it turns out the Fairy Magic is powered by Crocker's fairy believing spazz attacks, so Timmy had to get him back to his old self. You know the universe is unfair when one person's sanity has to be sacrificed.
  • Final Space: Gary's mother Sheryl experienced this in the past. She was originally a spy who only got close to Gary's father to supply his confidential Infinity Guard plans to her employers, but she began settling down and experiencing Becoming the Mask although she still supplied her employers with info. When John found out, he was hurt and horrified (not least by the fact Sheryl had a child with him supposedly just as part of her job) and kicked her out. This led to Sheryl, who pinned all the blame for this on her son, being absent from Gary's life, and ultimately being manipulated by the Titan Oreskis into becoming an antagonist to her son and his team during Season 2.
  • Futurama: In "Benderama", a huge ugly giant with anger management issues chases the main characters off his planet after Fry accidentally insults his mother. Later, a bunch of microscopic self-replicating Benders convert Earth's water supply into alcohol, leaving the planet drunk. When the giant lands on Earth to apologize for his actions, the gang is hammered and drunkenly crack ugly jokes again. This puts him over the edge, causing him to ravage New New York before being put down by the microscopic Benders.
  • Simon Squealer in Geronimo Stilton experiences this thanks to a combination of Negative Continuity and Status Quo Is God. He pretends to be a superhero called the Gator Samaritan in one episode, and the heroic acts he performs are staged to sell issues of The Daily Rat. But after he rescues Thea Stilton from drowning, he realizes Good Feels Good and starts disobeying Sally and performing genuinely heroic acts independently of her paper-selling scam. Although Thea is grateful enough to him that she lets him go after he's outed as a phony, and he is clearly feeling morally conflicted over his continued involvement with Sally, the episode closes with him still under her thumb (complete with a humiliating joke at his expense), and, the next time he appears, he's back to his old sniveling, weaselly self.
  • Heckle and Jeckle give up practical jokes as a New Years resolution in 1961's "Sappy New Year." But when their attempts to do good deeds are misconstrued as more of their mischief, Heckle tries to revert back.
  • Jem:
    • After a near-death experience, Stingers keyboardist Minx vows to become a better person. But even though she meant well, Minx was a bit overbearing and in particular Aja was unwilling to forgive her or accept her change, though some of the things that went wrong when she tried to help weren't really her fault. She reverted back to her old personality after she was told she doing "too much". Fortunately, she redeems once more in the series finale.
    • A self-invoked version happened to Clash, The Misfits' designated groupie. In a final attempt to join the band, she disguses as a student making a documentary on The Holograms and in essence tries to record them at their worst moments and ruin theirs and her director cousin Video's career. However, in seeing how welcoming they are to her and accidentally getting footage of The Misfits at their worst instead, she is exposed and while the Holograms are still willing to accept her, she rejects them, refusing to believe that the Misfits aren't her friends. Her last moment of the series has her begging the band to let her be their friend and they driving off and leaving her alone.
  • The King of the Hill episode "Pigmalion" sees Luanne tangle with a pork magnate named Trip. Trip is crazy and wants to become a Pig Man with Luanne as his doting owner. He chases her onto a slaughterhouse conveyor, where he's shocked by a livestock stunner. This cures his insanity, but he only has a brief moment of clarity ("The voices have left my head... what am I doing in a pig costume?") before he's butchered alive.
  • In the Disney Direct to Video Compilation Movie Once Upon a Halloween, an unnamed villain obscured in shadow plots to take over Halloween and her cauldron shows her visions of other villains committing evil deeds. Upon seeing clips of the villains' defeats, she decides she doesn't want to go through with her plan anymore, but then the cauldron pulls her into itself, essentially punishing her simply planning an evil scheme before she could do it.
  • In ReBoot, the treacherous binome Cyrus was on the point of a Heel–Face Turn at the end of "Firewall" after the protagonists guided him through saving the day from the Game Cube Of The Week. He was in the middle of being lauded as a hero when the Big Bad showed up and had his goons drag him onto their side of the eponymous impenetrable wall; a couple episodes later he was shown about to be executed. One of the goons set him free, but he still didn't show up again until a cameo at the end of the season.
  • Robot Chicken: In "Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise", Starro attacks both the Justice League and the Legion of Doom and kicks everybody's asses. Thinking they are about to die, Superboy and Lena Luthor declare their love for each other. Starro is touched by this and starts saying he will stand down, only for Batman to impale him with a boat construct made by Green Lantern.
  • One episode of Samurai Jack features the robotic assassin X9, who was one of several murderous robots created by Aku, but was the only one given emotions and feelings (As he explains it, the scientist who built him "was funny like that"). After years in the service of Aku all the other robots of his series have been destroyed, but he has survived because of his emotions. However, when he meets Lulu he finally hangs up his assassin hat for good, determined to settle down and spend his time playing music. Unfortunately, when Jack arrives, Aku becomes desperate and decides that he has to pull his greatest assassin out of retirement by holding Lulu hostage. Jack knows nothing of this, and when X9 launches his attack he is quickly destroyed, his final words are asking Jack to finish caring for his now abandoned charge. Also notable for being one of the saddest things in the entire show.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Brother from Another Series", Sideshow Bob tried to go straight, but when his brother Cecil proved every bit as rotten as Bob used to be, Bob was arrested along with him, due to Chief Wiggum's utter incompetence. The next time Bob appeared, he had given up trying to reform, and it's hard to blame him.
    • The closest Mr. Burns ever came to turning over a new leaf was in "Rosebud". After trying every underhanded way he could think of to force Homer to give him his teddy bear Bobo (and finally hitting rock-bottom by trying to take it from Maggie by force and failing) he gave up; at which point Maggie gave it to him. Leading to this exchange:
    Burns: Smithers, I'm so happy. Something amazing has happened, I'm actually happy. Take a note! From now on, I'm only going to be good and kind to everyone.
    Smithers: I'm... sorry sir, I don't have a pencil.
    Burns: Oh, don't worry, I'm sure I'll remember it.
  • Smiling Friends has the Frowning Friends. At the end of their debut episode, they finally smile for the first time and decide that they enjoy it. Just as it looks like they'll break away from their attempts to spread misery and hatred throughout the world, however, they are killed by the Renaissance Men, who show up out of nowhere and baffle the characters with their sudden appearance.
  • The South Park episode "Free Hat" deals with filmmakers making revisions to their films with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as villains. Lucas briefly ponders giving the copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark to the boys so that they can protect it from Spielberg. However, when Spielberg demands that Lucas give him the film, he relents before complying. As he does so, he comments "It is too late for me". He is later killed along with Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola when said film is poorly received at its premiere.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "The Siege of Lothal", Minister Maketh Tua not only realizes that is she is at risk of terrible punishment for failing to stop the Rebels despite being a civilian official with neither the authority nor expertise to deal with such military threats, but that the Empire she's served so loyally is the type of government that would kill its own people for such reasons. She makes arrangements to defect to the Rebellion and deliver valuable intelligence to them ... and then her shuttle is blown up to frame the Rebels for her assassination, before she's even able to turn over her information.
  • Steven Universe episode "Change Your Mind" has this nearly happen to Yellow and Blue Diamond, but especially to the former. When they try to save Steven from White Diamond and then try to appeal to her for the Gem Empire not to be run with an iron fist, her response is to blast them with Projectile Spells and turn them into monochrome puppets completely under her control. Thankfully they get better later when White has her own Heel Realization.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Terra makes a Face–Heel Turn and joins Slade, becoming The Mole to the Titans. However, due to getting close to the Titans, she ends up regretting her actions, but doesn't dare to fully betray Slade. She just tries to spare Beast Boy, taking him on a date while Slade's army infiltrate the Titan Tower. Slade tracks Terra and Beast Boy down, revealing the truth to Beast Boy. An apologetic Terra breaks down sobbing, saying she's sorry and pleads with Beast Boy to forgive her, reminding him he said they'll be friends no matter what. An angry Beast Boy responds with "Slade's right. You don't HAVE any friends." As a result, Terra fully embraces being Slade's apprentice and becomes truly evil, and Beast Boy ends up kicking himself over slamming the door in her face earlier. In the end, however, Terra makes a Heel–Face Turn after all...but with a cost.
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • Starscream gets so sick of the being the Decepticon's Chew Toy that he tries to defect to the Autobots. Note that Starscream is not in any way repentant, he just figures he has a better chance on their side. Once it's revealed that Starscream killed Cliffjumper, Arcee goes ballistic and tries to avenge her dead partner. Starscream is driven off, and is convinced that he should become a neutral party in the war.
    • In the TV movie, Knock Out tries to do the same thing. He even has the same reasons at first. But unlike Starscream, he actually does try again, showing that he means it.
      Arcee: Why'd you do it, Knock Out? Why'd you turn against Starscream?
      Knock Out: Even if I had helped him seize this ship, he would probably just fire me out of the first airlock. Oh. And he's rude.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Face Heel Door Slam


Shazam's Death

Shazam starts to realize the Regime has gone too far but is killed before he can do anything.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeelFaceDoorSlam

Media sources: