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Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot

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Our protagonist is first introduced as a self-centered Jerkass who doesn't care about the feeling of others. Expect a series of scenes of our soon-to-be-hero being rude to subordinates, ditching his nerdy friend or kicking a woman out of his house in the morning. He is usually rich, good-looking, successful and/or charming, but lacking in friendship and love.

Then the plot happens, our hero undergoes some trial and tribulations, eventually saves the day, and in the process discovers how much of a jerk he's been, learning a lesson in humility and kindness. Yay! He'll also find love and/or true friendship in the process.


This is a specific Character Development plot and a subtrope of both Break the Haughty and Took a Level in Kindness. It is a form of redemption story where the protagonist was never actually evil, just self-centered and unpleasant. A Jerk To Nice Guy Plot is more common in one-shot stories such as movies or single novels than long-runners, such as TV shows.

This character arc is likely to happen to an Insufferable Genius or Jerk Jock. Compare with Defrosting Ice Queen, Sudden Humility and Redemption Quest. Often, when a sequel is made, the character suffers Aesop Amnesia and returns to the old, Jerkass ways (only to learn the same lesson again). This can be one explanation for a Bully Turned Buddy plot. Compare Pride Before a Fall. Contrast Took a Level in Jerkass.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Binbō-gami ga! is about Ichiko Sakura who starts the series as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who only wants to use her immense good luck for herself. The goddess of misfortune Momiji initially tries to take Ichiko's good luck by force, but then plays Trickster Mentor when she sees Ichiko is the way she is because of her loneliness. Ichiko slowly learns to care about others as she makes friends and comes to like helping people with her good luck.
  • Noelle Silva from Black Clover is the Deuteragonist, and much of the early series revolves around her evolving from a haughty royal to a friendly girl thanks to the efforts of Asta and her fellow teammates.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs:
  • Dragon Ball: Vegeta is introduced in Dragon Ball Z as an egotistical, genocidal asshole who loves murdering innocents and is perfectly willing to kill his own allies, and only hangs around with the heroes because he wants to defeat Goku. As the show goes on, though, he starts to soften, partly thanks to starting a family with Bulma and partly due to dying twice. In the Majin Buu saga, he performs a Heroic Sacrifice in an (failed, admittedly) attempt to stop Majin Buu's rampage and protect his own son. By the end of the series, and carrying into Dragon Ball Super, he's become a genuine hero who, while still prideful and occasionally prone to holding the Jerkass Ball, is more than willing to swallow his pride and help others in need.
  • Nitta and Hina from Hinamatsuri develop into nicer people during the course of the story. At one point a character even has a checklist that documents all the ways Hina has become less of a jerk.
  • My Hero Academia: The Deuteragonist, Katsuki Bakugo, starts off as the protagonist's bully who takes pride and joy in torturing and ridiculing him and destroying his things, at one point even telling him to go kill himself. After entering UA High, he becomes The Friend Nobody Likes because no one wants to hang with a bully, gets showed off by his former victim and the class's ace and gets kidnapped, unwittingly causes the retirement of his own childhood hero. While he's still greatly unpleasant to everyone but Kirishima, he is far more humble and less prone to violent outbursts.
    • Thus far, the biggest culmination of this character development is the Joint Training Arc, where he leads a team against a team from Class 1-B, led by one of their best strategists. However, said strategist's plan relied on Bakugo being the same nigh Leeroy Jenkins-esque loner he started the series as, expecting him to leave his teammates behind, and allowing them to get picked off one by one. However, while he's still a massive Jerkass about it, Bakugo has by this point at least learned the importance of helping his teammates, and in turn accepting help from them. Thanks to this, his team demonstrates incredibly cohesive teamwork that effortlessly plows through everything 1-B's team attempts, and defeats all of them in a matter of minutes without taking any losses themselves.
  • When Neji from Naruto first appeared he was a mean, cold hearted, arrogant jerk, who hated the other members of the Hyuga clan because he blamed them for his father's death, and was especially cruel to his cousin Hinata to the point where he nearly beat her to death during a match, he also lived by the philosophy that everyone was bound by destiny. After being defeated by Naruto he realizes that you are not bound by destiny and can exceed limitations, he works on becoming a better person and strives to fix his relationships with others, especially Hinata, he becomes so close to her that he eventually ends up sacrificing his life to save her.
  • In Naruto (1997), the titular character starts out as a much bigger jerk than his most popular incarnation, and the story is about him learning to make friends.
  • Failed Princesses shows Fujishiro becoming a better person.

    Comic Books 
  • Attempted with The Irredeemable Ant-Man, who started as a guy that did such things as petty theft and (on the series' advertisement) shrink in order to get on girls' bosoms, and eventually would become a more conventional hero. Unfortunately, Marvel's mishandled advertisement and the blatant, not-really-played-for-laughs-that-well Jerkassery of this opening part of the character's arc (he uses his shrinking powers to sneak into the Avengers' bathroom and peek at Carol Danvers taking a shower in the very first issue) meant that the series fell straight into Audience-Alienating Premise territory (Evangeline Lilly, who played Hope Pym in the Ant-Man movie, even went as far as saying on interviews that she had read the series for research and considered it "garbage") and the series got a pretty quick death.
  • The Flash: Wally West's run is one twenty-year-long example. As Kid Flash, Wally was a self-centered Jerkass with a nasty attitude. While becoming the Flash made him mature a bit, he was still arrogant, greedy, and lecherous. It didn't help that he won the lottery soon after gaining the title, and the money kind of went to his head. However, when he lost it all and ended up temporarily homeless, he gained a new sense of perspective, ending up befriending some of Barry Allen's old villains, becoming more of a Working-Class Hero, and generally mellowing out, though he was still a bit brash and rude. He further matured when Barry seemingly returned, only for it to be revealed that it was Eobard Thawne in disguise, forcing him to realize that he needed to live up to the name of the Flash and do it justice. Over the next decade he grew even more, and by the time Barry returned for real he was a complete Nice Guy and a loving father of two children.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Done to Peter Parker himself in Amazing Fantasy #15. After a childhood of bullying, Peter had a massive chip on his shoulder and little inclination to use his powers for something else than his family's benefit. Then he let a thief walk past him because it wasn't his problem, said thief murdered his beloved uncle, and Peter became one of the most selfless and humblest heroes in the Marvel Universe.
    • Flash Thompson. Originally nothing more than The Bully, Flash took the slow and steady path from jerkass to (more or less) nice guy, ultimately befriending his former victim Peter Parker and becoming a hero in his own right, first as a war veteran and then as an actual superhero, Agent Venom. He hasn't had the smoothest of character arcs — lazy writers have often succumbed to the lure of Status Quo Is God and reverted Flash to his original Jerk Jock characterization — but as Marvel redemption stories go, his is among the most enduring. He even tried to Save the Villain when Eric O'Grady, the Irredeemable Ant-Man above, inevitably went bad.
  • A fairly recurring plot in Supergirl stories. Peter David's series was a lenghty myth arc about Matrix bonding with a downright vile teenager and influencing her into becoming a hero. Sterling Gates' run had Kara, who had been depicted as an immature brat by preceeding writers, evolve into a kind-hearted young woman. In Red Daughter of Krypton, Post-Flashpoint Kara Zor-El learns how to move past her angry, rotten attitude and goes back to be the kind, nice girl she was before losing her world and most of her family.

    Fan Works 
  • Commonly used plot point in many Frozen Prince Hans' redemption fics. Exiled from home to become an unpaid servant as punishment for attempting to kill Elsa and Anna in a selfish desire to become the King of Arendelle, he starts out as a grouchy man who is baffled on how the sisters found happiness while he remains miserable, but as the fics progress, it takes a long adventure for Hans to realize how being deceptive and greedy made him an enemy of the sisters, that Love Redeems, and that he should enjoy life rather than be obsessed with power in general. Sometimes, he even gets a lengthy Kirk Summation from the heroes, with his response to this being a lame I Did What I Had to Do excuse. His Heel–Face Turn causes him to soften up towards the sisters, and he even genuinely falls for Elsa. The reason why he turned out this way is because when he was younger, he was often in the shadow of 12 older brothers, some of whom were Big Brother Bullies towards him, causing him to develop an obstinate desire to be the king of another country as payback for the years of humiliation he received from them. Given his backstory, Hans hasn't met too many nice people in his childhood, causing him to think Love Is a Weakness and Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!.
  • At the beginning of A Crown of Stars, Asuka is too psychologically damaged to open herself up to someone, let alone be nice. After much-needed psychological counseling and soul-searching she becomes kinder and less embittered.
  • Danny Phantom: Stranded: Star Strong, in the first two stories goes from a selfish, shallow, spoiled brat who looks down and bully those that are below her, to a kind and caring girl willing to defend those she once look down on.
  • Subverted in Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction Extremely Nice. In a plot to get Adrien back, Chloe turns to Marinette and Charisse to learn how to be likable under the guise of seeing the error of her ways.
  • In the Discworld tale Gap Year Adventures, by A.A. Pessimal, a sub-theme involves a classic Jerkass who has spent the previous seven years being utterly despised and derided by his peers at the Assassins' School, with good reason. When his path crosses that of two far better former Guild students than he was, he realises he is pretty much dependent on the goodwill of two people who have no particular reason to love him. The day is saved for him by his former student peers, in fact; his role is minimal, but earns him a little grudging approval. He inevitably grows up - a near-Death experience or two help - and a newer, better, version emerges at the end. The fact he is not-so-secretly in love with one of his rescuers adds a bit more bite - he realises he has to grow up and shape up, or lose her. Or she'll lose what wasn't a great amount of patience to begin with, and she'll definitively lose him.
  • In the Bleach Fanfic series Heirverse this is very downplayed with Aizen's arc but it's still the crux of the story.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Jasmine is introduced as an unpleasant, arrogant asshole who is perfectly willing to beat people up for turning her down. Through the first story arc, and as her dark and troubled past is revealed, the main character comes to pity her and want to reach her out. Jasmine starts to soften gradually, and at the end of the story she's a nicer and more understanding person.
  • Total Drama series Monster Chronicles is one for Duncan, as Voodoo's Disciple Duncan is a jerkass bully who cheats on his girlfriend. Then, when a supernatural serial killer has appears and forces Duncan to work for him, despite the danger he and the other contestants are in, Duncan is more concerned with his bad boy rep and avoiding being seen as good than using his knowledge to expose Cedric to the others. In the third act, he realizes how dumb that is and decides that stopping Cedric is more important then being seen as a bad boy, even performing a Heel–Face Turn. In the sequel, Malevolence Duncan has become nicer, become friends with Cody, broken up with Gwen but stayed friends with her, gotten a new girlfriend and it looks like he has turned his life around, unlike his canon counterpart.
  • A main subplot in Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton has Asuka gradually stop being rude and self-centered in an effort to become the courageous, selfless hero she believes her biological father would want her to be.
  • Supernatural Serial Killers ... Why Not?: At the start of the story, Yasuhide actively avoids spending time with his family and, despite claiming he wants to make friends, frequently treats others in decidedly negative ways (i.e. punching Yosuke in the stomach, causing him to piss himself). After confronting his Shadow, however, he is much more sociable and a generally nice person.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Beast's character arc in Beauty and the Beast is this. In the beginning of the movie, he's a selfish, vain prince, who gets turned into a literal monster until he can change his ways. First he is really harsh with Belle, but gradually softens up to her and becomes a nice, selfless person, ultimately breaking the curse.
  • The first Cars movie has Lightning McQueen start out as an egotistical rookie race car who clearly dislikes his job advertising Rust-eze medicated bumper ointment and having to be around rusty cars, and longs to be the new spokesman of the Dinoco gas station. He ends up lost in Radiator Springs and put on community service, and over the course of the movie, he learns to be more humble, becomes friends with Mater, a rusty tow truck, and turns down the Dinoco sponsorship when it is offered to him as a reward for helping Strip "The King" Weathers cross the finish line after a nasty accident.
  • Despicable Me: Gru becomes a better person and a father after he adopts three orphan girls, intending to use them for his evil plan.
  • Davey Stone from Eight Crazy Nights, at the start of the film he is a rude, obnoxious, trouble making, alcoholic jerk who bullies people and vandalizes property, he eventually turns around after getting a vision of his deceased parents and realizes how mean he is and he was acting out because he never got over losing them to a car accident when he was a kid.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Spoiled, vain Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama, has to endure a difficult journey to return home and makes friends with a peasant named Pacha, and becomes a better ruler in the end.
  • Isle of Dogs: Chief starts out as a tough and proud stray dog who wants nothing to do with being owned by a human. But then he reveals that he doesn't want anything to do with humans because he's afraid that he'll bite them like he did with a child who wanted to pet him. After bonding with Atari, he eventually sheds his gruff personality and becomes a kinder dog, ultimately becoming Atari's new bodyguard dog. It even shows with his Important Haircut: he starts out with black fur while being gruff, but then he has a more kinder and innocent look when he's revealed to have white fur.
  • The Jungle King is about Maximilien, a pompous lion that behaves as an asshole to everybody. After being kidnapped, escaping and saving his kingdom, he learns from his brother (who was impersonating him) thay he must be nice to his people.
  • Klaus: We're treated to the story of Jesper Johanssen, initially an entitled, smug jackass who was being pandered to all of his life, until a forced work experience causes him to rethink and change his behavior and makes him more compassionate as a result.
  • In The LEGO Batman Movie, Batman starts out as a selfish jerk who enjoys working alone, but he eventually learns to trust his friends and to bond with them properly, becoming a lot nicer by the end of the film.
  • Megamind: Megamind starts out as a jerk but through the events of the film discovers the power of good and realizes he is better as a hero. This is both a Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot and an actual Heel–Face Turn.
  • Jim Hawkins of Disney's Treasure Planet starts out as a cute urchin, then undergoes a fifteen year Time Skip to be seen as a sailboarding ne'er-do-well poised for juvenile incarceration. His trip to Treasure Planet as the ward of astrophysicist Delbert Doppler, and the time Jim spends as the ship's galley boy slowly file down his jerkass tendencies. Jim proves his mettle in saving the ship and surviving crew from certain doom, earning a place in the republic's starfleet academy. His mother beams with pride.
  • Missing Link: Sir Lionel Frost starts out as a self-centered Glory Hound who is willing to put others in danger for his own reputation, but during his journey with Mr. Link and Adelina, he learns to care about others and becomes Mr. Link's true friend.
  • Song of the Sea begins with Ben being a petty Big Brother Bully towards his sister Saoirse, mostly due to him blaming her for their mother's disappearance. However as Ben finds out what really happened to his mother, he ultimately realizes how wrong it was to bully Saoirse. By the film's end, Ben becomes a nice and more responsible big brother.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Vanellope when she first shows up comes off as, to be it in Ralph's words, rude since she heckled Ralph. We later see that Vanellope was just being lonely, she doesn't have a friend to talk to and that she's capable of showing Ralph the amount of affection and care nobody has ever shown him before.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Bronze: Hope goes from a spoiled, self-centered asshole to a mature, far nicer (but still prickly) adult over the course of the movie.
  • Clara: At the start, Isaac has become a bitter, unfriendly man due to losing his son. By the end, through knowing Clara, he's gotten over it and sees the brighter side.
  • Ghost Town (2008): Pincus is initially a jerk to everyone he knows. Over the course of the film, he grows into a nice man.
  • In the origin story of The Green Hornet, Britt Reid is just a Spoiled Brat that makes whatever he wants, usually parties, being a shame for his father, who wants to manage the family business that is the newspaper. When his father dies mysteriously, Britt not just get the newspaper business, also he becomes the vigilante known as the "Green Hornet". Also, during the movie, he changed his ways to be a better person and a best hero in general.
  • Green Lantern (2011): Hal Jordan learns a lesson about responsibility and being a better friend when he is chosen as the bearer of the Green Lantern Ring.
  • Groundhog Day. Phil Connors is contemptuous toward almost everyone and makes no attempt to hide it. Fate decides to put him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop (Trope Namer), causing him to re-live the same day over and over again. He decides to help other people avoid being hurt, betters himself by learning to play the piano and create ice sculpture, and falls in love. When he has improved his personality enough he's freed from the loop.
  • Happy Death Day: Teresa "Tree" Gelbman is a snooty college Alpha Bitch who finds herself trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where a masked killer stalks her on her birthday. Over the course of relieving her own murder many times she becomes a nicer, more sensitive person, finds true love and eventually defeats her nemesis. Amusingly, when another character in the story explicitly points out the similarities of her story to Groundhog Day a confused Tree doesn't get the reference having never seen the film.
  • Jesus, Bro! is about famous internet celebrity (and Jerkass Hollywood Atheist) Rick "The Rickhead" Whitehead who meets Santa Christ after passing out drunk. He becomes a Jerkass fundamentalist Christian who is set to convert all of his followers and accidentally causes the Rapture in the process. It is only then when he realizes the consequences of his selfish actions does he decide to be selfless and risk being damned for eternity by God when Santa Christ promises to save his friends if he takes the blame for his involvement. God hits the Reset Button and Rick learns that it does not matter what religion you follow or what God you worship, only that you are a good person in the end.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: After rich, egotistical genius Tony Stark is kidnapped and held prisoner by a ring of terrorists, he has a change of heart and becomes the superhero Iron Man, learning in the process how to be less of a jerk. On a greater scale, he also has one of these over the entire MCU, with a lot of ups and downs from film to film but a constant progression anyway. He's hardly a team player for most of The Avengers, and is an Unwitting Instigator of Doom due to his arrogance in Age of Ultron and Civil War, but by the time of Spider-Man: Homecoming he's developed enough to be full-on The Mentor, continuing to demonstrate his massively-grown heart throughout Avengers: Infinity War. The comes full circle in Avengers: Endgame.
    • Thor: After having been banished to Earth for starting a war with the Frost Giants, Thor has to learn humility and compassion before he becomes worthy of his godly powers again.
    • Doctor Strange: Having lost mobility in his hands due to a terrible car crash, formerly prestigious and arrogant surgeon Doctor Stephen Strange is humbled and placed back down to earth when he learns the Mystic Arts in Kamar Taj.
  • The Mighty Ducks: Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) starts off as a cocky, smug attorney who rarely loses a case until a DUI sentences him to community service to coach a misfit pee-wee hockey team who are perennial losers. At first, Bombay and the kids can't stand each other, but when he actually starts teaching them legitimate hockey, he begins to be kind, compassionate, and fatherly. By the end, Gordon and the team deeply love and respect one-another. Flashbacks reveal Gordon was a talented hockey player as a child and he Used to Be a Sweet Kid until a traumatic game-losing shot coupled with the death of his father made him abandon his pro-hockey dreams and hardened him into a Jerkass as he grew up. Being with the kids brought out his long-lost sweet nature.
  • Sam: In a variation, Sam is a He-Man Woman Hater who begins his journey to being a nicer person when he suffers a Karmic Transformation into a woman. He slowly goes from a woman-hating Handsome Lech to being the sweet-natured, thoughtful young woman Samantha genuinely in love with someone. She ends up choosing to stay as a woman, having both fallen in love with Doc and grown to like being a woman for its own sake.
  • Scrooged. In this update of A Christmas Carol, Frank Cross is a selfish, sleazy and greedy television executive. He's put through a series of ghostly encounters that teach him the error of his ways and becomes generous, honest and loving.
  • Zach Siler in the movie She's All That is a popular jock who makes a bet that he can turn the ugliest girl in the school into prom queen. He pretends to befriend Laney Boggs, who is a dorky artist. Zach's intentions change, however, after he falls for Laney.
  • In Trading Places, Louis Winthorpe III starts the movie as a classist and racist jerk who has a homeless man arrested over a misunderstanding. The Duke brothers, wanting to settle a bet over Nature vs. Nurture, arranged for the two men to swap circumstances, which involves ruining Louis' career, kicking him out of his home, and turning all his friends against him. Spending some time broke, homeless and friendless finally breaks down some of Louis' arrogance, and he starts becoming noticeably less mean.
  • What Women Want: Suave womanizer Nick Marshall gains the power to hear women's thoughts, and after a series of wacky misadventures resulting from his newfound power, he learns to see women as people and finds true love.

  • The titular character in The Adventures of Pinocchio starts out as a selfish Bratty Half-Pint who doesn’t appreciate what others do for him and would rather go off and do whatever he wants, as the story goes on and he suffers a series of mishaps and humiliations after his self-centered behavior gets him into trouble over and over, he slowly becomes a better person and by the end of the book he eventually earns the right to become a real boy.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire features Jaime Lannister, who — to grossly oversimplify his Character Arc — goes through this.
  • In Rafe Martin's Birdwing, Ardwin grows from a jerk who wants to lose his best friend so he can seduce a woman they're both friends with to a thoughtful person.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol may be the Trope Codifier- a classic christmas story about a rich old curmudgeon who is taught a lesson and learns to be a good guy and appreciate the joy of christmas.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Eustace Scrubb from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader starts off as a whiny self-obsessed jerk, but after getting turned into a monstrous dragon due to his own greed, he grows out of it and becomes much more helpful and considerate as a result, earning a transformation back into human from Aslan. In the later Narnia books, Eustace becomes unambiguously one of the heroes, transformed by this experience on the Dawn Treader.
    • Edmund Pevensie goes through one in the first book. At first, he lies to his siblings about having seen Narnia, not to mention wanting to sell them out in exchange for Turkish Delights. He grows out of it after The White Witch throws him in her dungeon for not bringing his siblings to her castle and then seeing her turn animals to stone for celebrating Aslan's return.
  • The Mr. Men series has a lot of these:
    • Mr. Uppity starts off his story as a Rich Bitch with no friends in the town he lives in, causing everyone to call him "Miserable old Uppity", but then he meets up with a goblin who punishes him by shrinking him every time he's rude to someone and and by the end of the book, he becomes far more of a nicer guy and makes friends with the people of Bigtown.
    • Mr. Mean starts off his story refusing to show any kindness and gives his brother coal as a gift, when he meets a wizard that transforms his body parts into other vegetables every time he's mean to somebody, he becomes a lot more generous by the end of the book and fixes up his house.
    • Mr. Grumpy is, well, a grumpy man who destroys a book and pulls flowers out of his garden because like doesn't like them and physically harms Mr. Happy when Mr. Happy tells him that people like him need to change their ways. After getting tickled by Mr. Tickle whenever he's rude to somebody, he calms down his anger and at the end of the story, he only tears one page out of a book instead of all of the pages.
    • Little Miss Bossy starts off her story bossing people about and telling them not to do stuff that they like doing. She eventually stops when a wizard makes her wear boots that don't listen to her and make her march across the countryside.
    • Mr. Grumble starts off complaining about everything regardless of whether or not it's a lovely day and complains about people having fun at a party. He soon stops when a wizard transforms him into a pig every time he grumbles.
    • Mr. Rude starts off mocking people for their flaws and hurling insults at people while driving around in his car, he stops being rude when Mr. Happy pays him a visit and slowly but surely, he starts showing manners towards him.
  • The Mummy Monster Game: In book 1, the story largely revolves around Josh undergoing character development, growing out of his obsession with always winning after realizing his attitude is a danger to himself and his family when they find themselves in an actual dangerous situation. It's also shown in his attitude towards the new kid in town — when they do an undeclared race, Josh doesn't care that the other boy fell off his skateboard. In the end, they meet up again, and Josh offers to just have a friendly skateboarding run alongside him.
  • In Natasha Friend's "My Life in Black and White", Lexi is so beautiful that she is on her way to a successful modeling career. She is very popular and charming, but she has become vain, haughty, and self-obsessed with her looks and is viewed as an Alpha Bitch by many of the less popular students at her school. She becomes permanently disfigured in a car crash, and all her beauty is gone for good. She at first laments the loss of her beauty and struggles to adjust to going from being the popular school beauty to being a lot less attractive than her former popular, pretty friends and even some of the girls she used to tease for their looks. However, she becomes a much better person as she learns that she is more than just a beautiful face.
  • The Reluctant King: Jorian goes through a lot of this, becoming wiser and more mature during his toils. When he ultimately learns that his beloved Estrildis found another paramour and got pregnant by him, he decides to let her live happy with him and wishes them both well, contrasting the very beginning of the novel where he swears to chop her hypothetical lover into ribbons.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Ronall slowly goes from being an abusive, lecherous drunk and becomes a hero.
  • Tell Me How You Really Feel: Rachel starts out pretty hostile and unkind to Sana, along with the people who work on her film project. Over time while getting closer to Sana she gets much nicer.
  • The Trials of Apollo: The overarching plot of the series centers around Apollo growing out of his self-centeredness and maturing.
  • Nils Holgersson from The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is a lazy, mischievous Bratty Half-Pint who torments animals just for fun. After a magical elf turns him only a few inches high and capable of talking to animals, and a flock of wild geese take him on a journey over Sweden, he learns humility and respect for nature, and becomes a kind and selfless person by the end of the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Community: Jeff Winger starts off as a walking Evil Lawyer Joke, a guy who is lazy, vain, and ruthlessly devoted to getting what he wants. Over the course of several seasons, he learns to respect others around him more due to his relationship with the study group, becoming less manipulative and increasingly takes the role of a leader who will go go lengths to protect his friends and help others.
  • The Good Place:
    • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist Eleanor starts out as an unrepentant Jerkass, but she slowly grows into a better person in an effort to learn ethics in order to hide her identity from the people in charge of the Good Place.
    • Michael invokes this via Near-Death Experience when sending the humans back to their lives on Earth. Eleanor (now back to her jerkass characterization in the pilot) is rattled enough by being saved from her death to legitimately make an effort to become a better person, which was Michael's intention.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid is this to Hiiro Kagami, Taiga Hanaya and Nico Saiba.
    • Hiiro starts out as cold, hypocritical Doctor Jerk scolding people for feeling anything only to fly off the handle the moment he sees Taiga. He picks up some social skills, humility and healthy ways to handle his emotions through the time, mostly thanks to his colleagues, Emu and Poppy.
    • Taiga is established as a cynnical Backalley Doctor and Hiiro's Arch-Enemy, who actively tries to remove other people from the game so he could be the Only One. This lasts only until he gets stuck with Nico. She made him care and resolved some of his selfloathing just by being with him. It all helped to dull his edges.
    • Nico is every bit as immature, irresponsible and selfish as her introduction would suggest. That is pretending to have contracted a lethal disease only Taiga and a few others can treat to see his reaction. Then, she inserted herself into his life because she wanted him to fight Emu to sate her childish grudge against the guy. She picked up something about responsibility and selflessness from Taiga (he is a complicated person) and became mature enough to work as his assistant and generally act like a proper adult instead of a Women Child.
  • The Outpost: Talon started off as a cold, cynical, loner-type of Anti-Hero who only really cares about herself, until she makes a few friends, in which she brightens up over time, becomes more willing to help other people, and ends up being chosen as leader of the outpost.
  • This is the premise of Schitt's Creek which follows the once-weathly Rose family after they lose all their money and move to a small rural town.
    • Johnny might be the most polite of the Roses at first, but he's still condescending and critical until he defends the town and his friends Roland and Jocelyn in his epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his former friends.
    • Moira is snooty, arrogant and makes suicide jokes the moment she arrives in town. She never truly adjusts, but she does gain affection for the town and its residents, showing compassion for and becoming friends with Jocelyn. When she does insult the town in later seasons, she's genuinely sorry for hurting people even if she isn't lying.
    • David does not hide his disgust and contempt for the town's aesthetics, insulting everything around him. He's rude, critical and condescending, even as he befriends Stevie immediately. He eventually opens his own store in the town and in the penultimate episode realizes that his Best Friend, his husband and his business are all in the town. He has an I Choose to Stay moment.
    • Alexis is the most outwardly friendly of the Roses, but she deliberately breaks up Mutt and Twyla so she can have Mutt, shattering her fiancé Ted's heart. All of this is done thoughtlessly rather than maliciously, and Alexis learns to be a kind, empathetic person who puts others first.
  • The Shannara Chronicles: Being around Amberle and Wil gradually changes Eretria from a selfish thief to a loyal and trustworthy friend.
  • Star Trek:
    • When introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q is an adversarial omnipotent entity who holds humankind in contempt and would love nothing more than to see the race wiped out. Over time, however, his interactions with Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise cause him to develop a fondness for humanity. While he still remains fairly unpleasant to be around, his demeanor changes from a Jerkass God to a Trickster Mentor (who still enjoys making Picard squirm from time to time).
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Ferengi that are introduced on the station start out as typical Ferengi: Quark, the owner of the station's bar, is a cutthroat capitalist while his brother Rom also aspires to be rich and take over his brother's bar, and is shown to be rather racist. Quark's nephew, Nog, is also introduced as The Napoleon; short for his age, loud-mouthed, and chauvinistic. Over the course of the series, their rough edges are smoothed out. Quark is shown to be not as cutthroat as others of his race, and while he is still interested in getting rich, he has business practices that are considered downright philanthropic, from offering credit to customers to giving vacations to his employees. Rom eventually gives up on becoming an ideal Ferengi to pursue his true calling as an engineer before being named the next Grand Nagus. And Nog becomes the first Ferengi to enter Starfleet, and is shown to be a model officer, even having a ship named after him in the Distant Sequel season of Star Trek: Discovery.
  • Troy: Fall of a City: For the first few episodes, Paris is a selfish, immature, man-child who starts the war because he's horny and then runs away from any real responsibility. However, after his duel with Menelaus he goes on a spiritual journey that results in him becoming much more serious, focused, and dutiful.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium", the title character David Wong is rude, obnoxious, self-centered and condescending. He is completely disinterested when Mrs. Whitford tells that she is in search of lost time. When the mice that she believes represent this lost time scatter, she breaks down in tears on the floor. David is entirely unsympathetic and makes no effort to help her. He similarly mistreats an elderly man who wants to regain his children's respect. When Melinda confronts him about his callous behavior, he admits that he is looking for his compassion, which he gradually lost because of the racism that he and other Asian-Americans have to suffer on a daily basis. After David helps her to find her sense of humor, Melinda is able to locate his compassion as well as his integrity and the details of his happiest childhood memory, a family picnic. David realizes all of the mistakes that he has made and decides to take over the management of the Lost and Found Emporium with Melinda's help. The two of them then help Mrs. Whitford and the elderly man find what they are looking over.
  • Why Women Kill: Simone starts out as a haughty, shallow woman who's very rude to most people. However, over the course of the series she grows into a much nicer person, and even becomes a philanthropist.

    Video Games 
  • DmC: Devil May Cry: The Dante from the 2013 reboot goes through this during the plot of the game. At first, he's only interested in defending himself and openly tells Vergil he doesn't care what happens to humankind. As the story develops, he begins to witness the way that humans are suffering too, not just him, and expresses sympathy. By the end of the game, he steps up to their defense unprompted.
  • Ratchet & Clank (2002): In his debut game Ratchet doesn't start out as a complete jerkass per say, rather he is more self absorbed and isn't interested in being a hero. The major reason he decides to help Clank initially is because he wants to see the rest of the galaxy outside of his home planet of Velden and often sidetracks their mission to find Captain Qwark for his own self interest (such as helping out Skidd McMarxx so he can get a hoverboard). However his personality changes for the worse after Clank inadvertently almost gets them killed by a trap set by Captain Qwark, who is working for the games Big Bad Chairman Drek, and for the second act Ratchet is more obsessed with getting revenge on Qwark then stopping Drek and starts bullying Clank, at one point telling him that he will sell him for scrap. By the games third act however, after seeing a planet destroyed because of his own obsession against Qwark, Ratchet finally realizes how important stopping Drek is, and apologizes to Clank before the two set out to stop Drek once and for all. By the end of the game their experience together turns the two into life long friends and by the sequels Ratchet has become a far more heroic and selfless hero.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Weiss starts off as a spoiled Jerkass who consider her teammates beneath her level and is openly distraught over the fact the young Perky Goth Ruby is her team leader. After being called out by Professor Port as a Spoiled Brat, she realizes that she should work in being a better teammate than try to be the leader. After that, she befriends the rest of the team and acts overall nicer to everyone, even becoming Vitriolic Best Buds with Ruby. By Volume 5 she's practically another person entirely: a pleasant girl who brings her friends coffee, offers them emotional support and endures gentle ribbing for how terrible she used to be with a smile.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: This is Belkar Bitterleaf's character arc, which comes into focus in books 6 and 7. For most of the story, he was a Heroic Comedic Sociopath who lived to annoy his teammates and amuse himself through violence. However, once he meets Lord Shojo and his Morality Pet Mr. Scruffy, he begins an arc towards "fake character development" that has him pretending to be helpful in order to get what he wants. But at the end of Blood Runs in the Family, after Durkon sacrifices his own life to save him, Belkar is stricken to the core, and beings to genuinely try to be better. Book 7 has a number of moments of him sincerely trying to be nice and helpful, and then humorously realizing he's not doing a very good job.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender features deuteragonist and Disc-One Final Boss Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation, who — to grossly oversimplify his character arc — goes through this.
  • Bojack Horseman: It happens very slowly, but the eponymous BoJack goes through one of these over the course of the series. He starts out as a selfish, rude, washed-up actor with alcohol and drug addictions, but after having to face how his behaviour ruins the lives of people around him as well as his own, he tries to genuinely change for the better. By the sixth season, he's basically a whole new person.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Squeaky Boots", Mr. Krabs tried shortchanging both Pearl and then SpongeBob by only getting a pair of $2 squeaky boots for Pearl for her birthday and then manipulating SpongeBob into paying off the shoes. But then the shoes are too squeaky, so he decides to get rid of them and in the process he redeems himself:
      1. He pays SpongeBob the wages he earned (he at first added a bonus, but retracted).
      2. He buys Pearl the glossy shoes she always wanted to match her friends' shoes.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Mitchell's character arc over the course of the show involves him going from an overly harsh and snarky detective wannabe to an intelligent yet shy ally to Team Propulsion. His debut episode, "Mindy's Moon Bounce House", establishes him as an amateur detective who isolates himself from the other neighborhood kids. Episodes following that illustrate his humongous ego and rude demeanor. As the show goes on, it's gradually revealed that Mitchell is a lonely kid who just wants to have friends, but he has very low self-esteem and a serious lack of social skills, so he builds up an egotistical, snarky front to hide all his pain deep inside. Jet, Sean, Sydney, and Mindy gladly welcome him into their circle. Mitchell is still snarky here and there, but by the end of the show, he's a sarcastic sweetheart with a true heart of gold and an Honorary True Companion of the team.


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