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Heel–Face Town

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"Several years ago, I and the little people of Tromaville succeeded in crushing all criminals and ridding Tromaville once and for all of evil and corruption. Tromaville actually became a nice place to live. With no criminals or oppressive politicians around, the people of Tromaville were once again happy. Once again they were free to devote themselves to their principle activities of dancing in the streets, tattooing, manufacturing orange juice, exterminating vermin, watching excellent movies and dancing in the streets."
Melvin Junko/The Toxic Avenger, The Toxic Avenger Part II

The quant little town of Tropeville is a den of thieves and scoundrels, an Army of Thieves and Whores, supervillains, and serial killers. That is, until something happened.

The right mayor got elected that actually has principles and could not be bribed. A cyborg cop built by the local MegaCorp to clean up the streets with mechanical efficiency. A superhero to inspire hope in the hopeless masses. Or maybe just a few reforms that prevented future crime by providing for the poor and unfortunate. Either way, by the time the sequel comes out, Tropeville has gone from being a spicy cesspool of crime and villainy to a mild-mannered beacon of hope that the world has a bright (and eco-friendly) future ahead of itself.

If the criminals were not eliminated executioner-style, then it is more than likely that the reformed Wretched Hive is partially populated by Reformed Criminals and Retired Outlaws.

Compare Shining City and Sugar Bowl. Contrast Soiled City on a Hill, Crapsaccharine World, Vice City, and Wretched Hive. Compare and contrast Villainous Gentrification, where the city is "cleaned up" by opportunists who have nefarious designs of their own.


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     Comic Books 
  • Subverted in The Punisher MAX: While the character first started operating in The Big Rotten Apple (with turf wars and gang violence aplenty) after returning from Vietnam, the MAX version (who is still a Vietnam veteran) says that you can rename the worst parts of town and gentrify it and clean it up but it won't change anything about the people in there. He says this just before a bomb goes off in the bar across the street to reignite a war between The Mafia and The Irish Mob. The very first arc involves him killing the centenarian mafia don Cesare, which has recurring effects for the rest of the series.
  • In Generation Zero, the city of Rook, Michigan used to be nearly bankrupt before its emergency manager turned it into a major cutting-edge tech hub. Of course, it's all Powered by a Forsaken Child...

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Tromaville in The Toxic Avenger is displayed as a corrupt little New Jersey town filled with cartoonishly over-the-top street thugs that seem to get away with terrorizing the innocent populous due to the machinations of the corrupt mayor and the Nazi police chief. After a "harmless" prank led innocent nobody Melvin Junko to fall into a vat of chemical waste, he turned into Jersey's first hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength - later referred to as "the Monster Hero" and officially "the Toxic Avenger" - and would go on to reform Tromaville one brutal criminal massacre at a time. By the time the first sequel starts, Tromaville has become so rid of crime that Toxie ends up feeling useless without any evil to fight.
  • In Batman Begins, Gotham City was already struggling in its recovery from economic depression and had only started to improve shortly before Bruce's parents were murdered. The city did try to continue improving in years after, but by the time Bruce returns from his years of training under the League of Shadows, Gotham was drowning in high crime rates and corruption. So much so, in fact, that Ra's Al Ghul admits to Bruce just incredibly easy it was for the League to infiltrate the city's entire infrastructure to renew their assault on Gotham. But, by the time The Dark Knight starts, Bruce's war on crime as Batman, and his alliance with Jim Gordon and Gotham PD, have very nearly rid the city of the Mafia's grip, dealing a massive blow to the city's crime rate in the process. As such, Gotham has not only visibly improved, but its citizens have a renewed sense of hope and faith, the first they've felt in years. And then the Joker shows up...

  • The fate of the titular housing estate in Acid Row. While it's still got a long way to go, following Bloody Saturday steps are taken to make Acid Row a better place. The cramped, damp, outdated houses on Humbert Street are bulldozed to make way for larger, healthier homes, with the streets redesigned to make it easier for emergency services to access the estate to prevent another incident like Bloody Saturday. Trees and shrubs are planted outside the local shops to make them more inviting. The hallways in the tower blocks get redecorated and the residents establish a cleaning roster; while some troublemakers still relieve themselves in the lifts, they get cleaned up quickly and now tend to smell more like disinfectant than urine. More people reach out to the elderly residents and bring their children around to hang out with them, establishing stronger bonds within the community. A youth recreation centre is also established as a safe place for kids to hang out, giving them healthier outlets and discouraging them from getting involved in gangs.
  • Discworld: While Ankh-Morpork may still be known as smelly, dirty, and rapaciously entrepreneurial, Night Watch reveals that it used to be much, much worse before Lord Vetinari came to power. What little civil order existed was employed solely to further enrich the city's most powerful citizens, especially the current Patrician, and enforce their homicidal whims. Vetinari ended the police reprisals, legalized the guilds and forced them to discipline their members, and limited the power of the aristocratic elite. Later, as Discworld's Medieval Stasis began to break down in the face of technological progress, Vetinari was able to make it not just tolerable but one of the most diverse and prosperous cities on the entire Disc.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy: The planet of Abregado-Rae (or at least its main spaceport) had a reputation not unlike that of Mos Eisley. Thus it's a big surprise to Han and Lando when they find a nice, clean, peaceful place when they land there, though planetary security forces are plentiful and conspicuous. When Mara Jade visits there later, she notes the subtle but telltale signs that the peace and cleanliness is imposed from above instead of the result of a genuine desire from the citizens.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In season 2 of The Mandalorian, while the Mandalorian is off having his own adventures, Greef Karga and Cara Dune buckle down and clean up Nevarro, turning it from a wretched hive of scum and villainy into a much more respectable town. One scene in particular shows that the seedy bar Greef operated out of in season 1 has been refurbished and converted into a schoolhouse. And then taken further in season 3 when Mando returns and the town has grown several orders of magnitude into a full blown city.

     Religion and Mythology 
  • In the Book of Jonah, the city of Nineveh is so wicked that when God tells the prophet Jonah to go and preach to it, Jonah tries to run away. When he eventually turns around and preaches to Nineveh, the entire city repents.
    "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?" Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
    Jonah 3:8-10, NKJV

     Tabletop Games 
  • Subverted in Warhammer 40,000. The primarch Konrad Curze was found on a planet of perpetual crime and started cleaning it up by basically becoming a mix of Batman and The Punisher. The Night Haunter's reign of terror did succeed in lowering crime (that is, people were too scared to leave their homes if they risked being found dismembered the next day), but as soon as Curze left the planet went right back to its old ways, which played no small part in Curze's Villainous Breakdown.

     Video Games 
  • In Saints Row 2, the title neighborhood of Stilwater has been taken over by the Ultor MegaCorp and turned into a shining business district with skyscrapers, clean streets, and private security enforcement. Whereas in the original Saints Row, it was the poorest and most crime-riddled place in Stilwater.
  • In Majesty, the quest "Urban Renewal" has the player enforce this trope upon a Vice City inherited from your late uncle, purging its Wretched Hive elements. Upon completion, your advisor congratulates you on making the town a "wholesome, safe, and... dreadfully dull place to live."
  • In Criminal Case: Grimsborough, the Industrial Area is shown to be a horrid place to live due to the abundance of poverty, gangs controlling the district, and drugs and murder lurking around every corner. When you revisit it five years later in Criminal Case: The Conspiracy, though, the district has become so gentrified and modernized by Hipsters, top-notch security, trendy business, and tech startup companies that the entire neighborhood might as well be an entirely new place, even changing its name to The Greens to reflect this.

     Web Animation 
  • Done by pure accident in Press Start Adventures. One episode has our heroes arrive in Freedomsburg, which is anything but. Zack and Sam decide It Is Beyond Saving, but Lin-ku stays in order to found his own criminal empire. His attempts backfired as after he killed all the crime lords, the citizens rose up and reclaimed the city, turning it into a Sugar Bowl. Lin-ku goes crawling back to the heroes since he no longer fits in.

     Western Animation 
  • Shogun City from El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera was once a Wretched Hive in Japan before its superhero the Seventh Samurai turned it into one of the most crime-free towns in the world by defeating the Ninja Monster Clan that ruled it.
  • The Simpsons has North Haverbrook, which had nearly all of its citizens move away and the remaining residents disillusioned after buying Lyle Lanley's scam in "Marge vs the Monorail." At the end of the episode, a mob of angry citizens came to assault and lynch Lyle when he suffered the misfortune of his plane making a layover in that same town. Cue many seasons later in the episode "Little Big Girl," where the town underwent a massive renovation with Lyle's money.
    • In "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", a flashback shows that Homer went to New York City in The '70s; while there, Homer got most of his possessions stolen (including a Corrupt Cop stealing his suitcase), got a load of garbage dumped on him by Woody Allen, and was chased by a pimp when a banana peel he flung landed on the pimp. Later in the episode the Simpson family visits present-day (1997) New York City, and it is shown as being greatly improved, much cleaner, and safer than the '70s flashback version.
  • In the Voltron: Legendary Defender episode "Space Mall", Coran takes Lance, Hunk, Keith, and Pidge shopping to locate scaultrite lenses for the Teludav in the Castle of Lions, believing the mall to be the Unilu "swap moon" previously located there 10,000 years prior. When they get there though, they find out that not only was it taken over by Zarkon Empire, but it was turned from a Black Market full of space-pirates and bounty hunters into a remarkably pleasant (and mostly legal) shopping mall. This is especially amusing when every other Zarkon-controlled area up until this point had been despotic hell-holes.
  • In the Distant Finale of Star Wars Rebels, it's revealed that Lothal went from a heavily polluted and exploited planet to clean, beautiful, and thriving after The Empire was kicked off the planet.


Video Example(s):



Safe to say, Tromaville has become a lot more habitable after the Monster Hero brutally killed the thugs and sex-traffickers that ran the place.

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