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Morality Adjustment

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We have the Face–Heel Turn, when a hero changes sides and becomes a villain. We have the Heel–Face Turn, when instead a villain abandons ship (no, not that kind of ship) to become a hero. We even have the Heel–Face Revolving Door, where they keep changing sides at the drop of a hat. But what about the part in between, when a character becomes more of either a Heel or a Face, but not far enough to leave the team?

That's what we call a Morality Adjustment. It comes in all different variations based on direction and extent, but we'll break it into four main flavours.

  1. A villain becoming more of a Heel. (eg: from Villain to The Sociopath)
  2. A villain becoming more of a Face. (eg: from Villain to Anti-Villain)
  3. A hero becoming more of a Heel. (eg: from Hero to Anti-Hero)
  4. A hero becoming more of a Face. (eg: from Hero to Ideal Hero)

Compare Villain Decay, Badass Decay, Messiah Creep. Contrast Heel–Face Turn and Face–Heel Turn. A subtrope of Character Development.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto, this happens to Kakashi. He changes from a by-the-book and cold-hearted (if loyal) Child Soldier who'd leave a friend to die in a heartbeat if he thought it'd be better for the village, into a man who is known for never leaving anyone behind, no matter the costs.
  • Xellos from the Slayers franchise. Although we're never exactly sure where he stands, he does skirt back and forth across this line while still facing the "I'm still evil but currently in a trend of doing good/evil things" line.

    Comic Books 
  • Justified by Mind Rape in The DCU: The villain Dr. Light was extensively brainwashed by Zatanna. She attempted to bring out his good side, but was ultimately only capable of turning him into a Harmless Villain. After Identity Crisis, the brainwashing unstuck and he reverted to his old nasty self.


    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • With the introduction of rogues and vigilantes in the Going Rogue expansion, characters in City of Heroes can go from hero to vigilante, from villain to rogue, from vigilante to villain or back to hero, and from rogue to hero or back to villain.
  • Characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic are locked into supporting either the Republic or the Empire, and since they are given objectives by their class and faction quests, their overall support of freedom vs. tyranny can't change. However, they are allowed to embrace the Light or Dark Side as they so choose, so a member of the Republic might be The Cape or an Anti-Hero willing to embrace Imperial tactics if it means winning the war. On the other hand, an Imperial character might be a traditional villain, or a Consummate Professional who eschews unnecessary cruelty and senseless violence. For instance, it is possible to rise to the Dark Council of the Empire as a Sith Inquisitor by taking an exclusively Light Sided path—and yet every LS choice will come across as a shrewd scheme that, first and foremost, advances the Inquisitor's agenda, and just happens to have an unintentional side effect of making life better for the others.
  • Arnie started out somewhat of a douchebag in Super Robot Wars UX, but after being captured by UX and seeing Richard, he realized there needs to be a justice outside of the laws like UX and aspires to become like Richard. The fact that he was willing to pilot the Orphes, knowing what it could do to his body is telling.


    Western Animation