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A rare occurrence which is in some ways the inverse of Anti-Hero Substitute, this is a Comic Book trope wherein one holder of a certain identity (usually a Legacy Character) is a hero despite all other versions of that character being villains.

Sometimes the character taking on this persona will speak of a desire to "redeem" that identity, especially if they are a child of the villainous wearer of the costume. Arguably, this trope happens for similar reasons as the Anti-Hero Substitute. The Anti-Hero Substitute aims to make a hero "cooler" by having a character with the hero's powers but less restraint in using them. In a similar way, Evil Is Cool, and this trope allows villain powers to be showcased, but by a character with heroic aims.

By definition, all previous holders of the position would be a Hero's Evil Predecessor.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In a way, Dark Schneider in Bastard!! is one of these. The original Dark Schneider was pretty much an Evil Overlord, but then was sealed in a young boy. Thanks to the goodness of the "container", while the new Dark Schneider has the personality of the original (a lecherous egomaniac), he is a saint compared to the original.
  • This is largely Sai Akuto's goal in Demon King Daimao. Of course, it's rather hard to win the trust of the people when the Sorting Hat vocational raven says that you're going to be a Demon King. Things aren't as white and black as they seems.

     Comic Books 
Marvel Universe
  • In Spider-Man,
    • Phil Urich stumbled on a Green Goblin costume and got doused in the Super Serum (note, it was explicitly this — unlike the earlier Psycho Serum, this one didn't make you insane), producing the irony of a guy a lot like Peter Parker (snarky journalist Unlucky Everydude) taking on the identity of Peter's worst enemy. In the main Spider-Man series, Urich did end up suffering from mental problems and ultimately pulled a Face–Heel Turn.

      In the Spider-Girl series, things went better, and he is an Honorary Uncle to the heroine, and has moonlighted as a superhero in both his Green Goblin costume and as the "Golden Goblin" (basically a Palette Swap Hobgoblin).
    • Also in the Spider Girl series is Normie Osborn. Following his father and grandfather, he took on the Green Goblin identity as a villain, but after conquering his demons ended up being a Redeeming Replacement for Venom (although he doesn't call himself that)- he was forcibly merged with the symbiote but managed to stay mostly sane with it and fight crime. Similarly to the irony with Urich, Normie is a friend and love interest to May Parker, despite running around in the costume of one of her father' worst enemies.
    • And the series has another example in Brenda Drago, Raptor, who ends up marrying Normie Osborn. She's the daughter of Blackie Drago, the second Vulture, and started out as a criminal, but then reformed and became an antihero.
    • Back in the main Marvel Universe, the Venom symbiote spent some time as a US military asset bonded to Flash Thompson, who took the job because it was a chance to be Spider-Man.
    • The first Wraith was Brian DeWolff, a powerful psychic who had a Heel–Face Revolving Door, but is mostly remembered for attempting a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the police department when his sister, Detective Jean DeWolff was killed, only to be immediately shot by the Scourge of the Underworld. His successor is a heroic vigilante who uses Spider-villain technology to pose as Jean's ghost.
  • The versions of Sabretooth and Mimic that were members of the Exiles were heroes from alternate realities. However, the original Mimic isn't so bad these days.
  • While on his deathbed, B-List supervillain the Black Knight begged his nephew Dane Whitman to restore honor to their family legacy and to atone for his crimes. Whitman did so, becoming a heroic Black Knight still active to this day. The villainous Black Knight is also something of an inversion: he based the identity and his equipment off of his heroic ancestor, the medieval Black Knight.
    • Dane Whitman's debut also deconstructed the concept: when he first tried to join the Avengers, they immediately attacked him assuming him to be his villainous uncle (understandable, since he kept the full-face mask).
  • Loki:
    • Loki's various deaths and rebirths since the Siege are in-universe attempts to create one of these, as evil is predictable, Loki would rather die than be predictable, and that's very literal. Turns out it's not as easy as it sounds, mostly because Loki is Loki and dreadfully prone to sabotage themself.
    • First the evil one died in a Heroic Sacrifice and was replaced by the Kid Hero Kid!Loki. Then, just when things were looking up for him, Siege! Loki screwed the new version over from beyond the grave by trying to usurp his good name with a Cloning Gambit. This backfired, creating Agent Loki. That version then had to deal with an evil future self trying to force them back into their old ways. All this just served to create a fourth Loki, who was last seen stepping outside the universe to whatever's waiting after Secret Wars (2015).

DC Universe

  • One version of Toyman is a young Japanese genius, while the other versions of the character are all villains. Unfortunately he, like all other versions, turned out to be a super-advanced android, created by the one and only original Toyman. However, the New 52 Cosmic Retcon saw him back as a human and as a heroic Toyman.
  • The Red Hood, which is generally told as being an identity of The Joker before he became a Monster Clown. The identity is also used by some of the Robins, mainly Jason Todd, typically when acting as anti-heroes.

    And in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, it was the identity of a good Joker from an Alternate Universe.
  • Also in Batman, Dick Grayson wound up being this to Jean Paul-Valley. In "Prodigal", the direct followup to the "Knightfall" saga, Bruce takes a sabbatical not long after reclaiming the mantle of the Bat from Valley in order to avoid burning himself out again. Dick takes over during in his absence and explicitly makes sure to remind everyone that there's still a Batman who can show compassion and has rules when it comes to the law.
  • The female Dr. Light, who (like the Toyman example above) is a Japanese genius. She's also a Hot Scientist and Mama Bear - as opposed to the first Dr. Light, who was a man, a villain, and a rapist (by retcon).
  • Legion of Super-Heroes,
    • This is the basic idea behind Brainiac 5, descendant of Superman villain Brainiac. (There are intervening Brainiacs of varied morality, but they weren't really focused on until well after B5 had been introduced.)
    • Also from the Legion, Danielle Foccart assumed the codename "Computo" in the V4 era when she gained Technopathic powers — after the villainous AI that possessed her in her first appearance (her brother Jacques' origin as the second Invisible Kid).
  • Faust, a (generally) heroic magic-user in the DCU, is the son of Justice League of America villain Felix Faust.
  • The Golden Age villain Brain Wave had a son that called himself Brain Wave Jr. and became a member of Infinity, Inc.. Of course, he's now gone a long way from being the hero that he was.
  • Owen Mercer, the son of the first Captain Boomerang, tried to be one of these.
  • One story in the Kingdom Come universe had Iris "Kid Flash" West encounter the Fiddler's great-grandson, Iowa Bowin, who believed his ancestor had "a headful of bad wiring", and wants to use his guitar version of Isaac's weaponised violin to be a hero.
  • The original Terra in Teen Titans turned out to be The Mole for the team and an unrepentant villain. Her first successor was a deliberate attempt to show a heroic version of Terra, to the point where some DC editors and writers even wanted her to be the original resurrected (this wound up averted in the end). The third Terra (who was originally planned to be an unrelated character) was even more of an example, as she lacked the second Terra's identity crisis issues and the original's sociopathy, and was a much more idealistic hero without much angst at all.
  • You wouldn't think Superman would need one of these, but in the Injustice 2 comic, Conner Kent ends up donning the classic suit (red trunks and all) years after the original went Knight Templar.

Other

  • In Astro City, the heroine Quarrel is the daughter of a super-villain who was also named Quarrel.
  • There's an example of this in Watchmen where at the end Laurie discusses a change of costume design into one that looks like that of the Comedian, her father. While the Comedian was technically a hero, being the Token Evil Teammate of the original team of heroes, this example probably still fits.
  • In The Incredibles comics by Boom! Studios, the Parr's new neighbors turn out to be Elastigirl's old nemesis, Mad Scientist Organa, and her family. Eventually, Organa's son Xander turns out to have inherited his mother's skills and becomes a superhero, using a modified version of her old costume.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Pony POV Series:
    • Cadence in Dark World serves as this for Queen Chrysalis after defeating her and taking over the Changelings. From that point to her death, she turns the Changelings from vampiric parasites to symbiotic heroes who form a large part of the resistance against Discord. Cadence ends up replacing Chrysalis in the main timeline too.
    • Minuette is this to the Master, being a female regeneration of him using a fob watch. Once she learns of her true nature she fully rejects the Master's evil ways and ultimately feeds him to the Blank Wolf, erasing him from existence and sealing her status as a good guy.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: Vaati, long since having had a Heel–Face Turn of his own, ends up becoming one to Ganondorf as of the end of Season 2 when a dying Ganon passes the Triforce of Power on to him.
  • Rosario Vampire Brightest Darkness: Hothorne Tamaka, the head of the HDA from the mid-point of Act VI onwards, is a Reasonable Authority Figure who meets with Moka to negotiate and actually believes that some monsters can be good. He serves as this to his predecessor Jenner Rythmore, a General Ripper who automatically assumed that all monsters are evil and eagerly took the first possible excuse he could find to declare open war on the monster world.

    Film 

     Literature  
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, when Joffrey is killed in the Purple Wedding, he is succeeded by his younger brother Tommen Baratheon. Tommen is a nice innocent boy, and is nothing like the cruel and sadistic Joffrey. Because they live in a Crapsack World, this ends badly for Tommen.
  • In Dragon Bones Ward takes over the title of "Hurogmeten" when his cruel and abusive father dies. Many of his subjects consider him a Redeeming Replacement. Some nobles, on the other hand, are not so pleased with his stance towards slavery and the like. While he doesn't have superpowers as such, Ward does own castle Hurog, which is Powered by a Forsaken Child, and the enslaved boy, Oreg, by whom it is powered. Oreg is a powerful mage, but subject to the will of the castle's owner, and probably the one who is happiest about the replacement.

     Live Action TV 
  • Thanks to The Nth Doctor and the Timey-Wimey Ball, the Doctor of Doctor Who sometimes functions as one of these to himself. For example, the expanded universe often shows Eight deliberately rejecting Seven's chessmaster tendencies.
    • Taken to the extreme with regard to the War Doctor, a regeneration between 8 and 9 which all subsequent regenerations (as well as himself) refuse to recognize as being The Doctor for what he did during the Time War.
  • Game of Thrones: Played with with Viserion. He's the most allowing of strangers in his midst, out of Dany's children, but his namesake... wasn't. His resurrection by the Night King upends this, instantly turning him into an Enemy to All Living Things, and an even greater threat than anything the original Viserys ever imagined himself being.
  • Paladin of Have Gun – Will Travel is an interesting twist. Paladin was hired by a Cattle Baron to kill a gunslinger called Smoke, because he claimed Smoke was terrorizing a small town. As he lay dying, Smoke proved that he had been hired by the town to protect them from the cattle baron's thugs and called Paladin "Paladin" ironically. Paladin adopted the name "Paladin" and Smoke's all-black "working outfit", and set out to atone for his mistake.
  • Kamen Rider
    • Wataru, a.k.a. Kamen Rider Kiva is not this, despite there seemingly a tie between him and the Fangire King. However, his half-brother Taiga (full-blooded son of the King) definitely qualifies; not only is he more qualified for the throne, Taiga would later adopt his father's alter-ego, Dark Kiva, for the finale, just in time to work together with Wataru to battle the resurrected King. The series ends with the brothers in good terms, working together to create a peaceful co-existence between Fangire and humans.
    • The first Kamen Rider OOO, an ancient king described as "desire incarnate" and creator of the Greeed, would be succeeded centuries later by Eiji Hino, Beware the Nice Ones (and also a bit silly) personified.
  • A variation in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy with Magna Defender, who wasn't evil, but was extremely unscrupulous, not hesitating to fight against the Power Rangers or even shoot into a crowd of civilians if there was an enemy among them to avenge the loss of his son. After his death, the Defender passed his sword to Mike, who became a more heroic Defender to make up for the deeds of his predecessor.
  • In The Flash (2014), Harrison Wells turns out to be the Big Bad of the first season. He is eventually replaced as The Mentor by another version of himself from another dimension. "Harry" turns out to not be without his secrets, and just as big of a prick as the original Wells at times, although he's firmly a good guy through and through, and eventually develops genuine camaraderie with the team.
    • The Flash of Earth-2, "Jay Garrick", is in reality merely a time remnant clone of The Dreaded Zoom working in tandem with Zoom. He is "succeeded" in the same capacity by Harry's daughter Jesse "Quick" Wells after she gains superspeed. Meanwhile, the real Jay Garrick turns out to be the Flash of Earth-3 and Barry's father's doppelganger of that world.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Hunter: The Vigil: The life tenet of the Lucifuge is basically "we are Satan's children, but we protect humanity from the darkness". They are also the nicest Hunters when it comes to dealing with the more decent supernaturals. The other children of Satan, however...
  • Exalted:
    • Some of the modern Solars try to be this. Even the Abyssals and Infernals can at least try.
    • Amongst the canonical Exalted, the best example would be Swan, who is the Nice Guy of the iconic Solar circle. The previous incarnation of his Exaltation, a fellow by the name of Desus, was not.
  • Magic: The Gathering: In Ravnica several of the guildmasters receive more benign replacements at the end of the original block or in Return to Ravnica -
    • For the Simic the genocidal Momor Vig, who wished to destroy all life and start over again, is replaced by Prime Speaker Zegana, who brought a new philosophy reemphasizing their lost connection to the natural world.
    • For the Boros the warlike Razia is replaced with the much more compassionate Feather. However, she was promptly overthrown by Aurelia, who is more personable than Razia but has the same brutality.
    • For the Azorious Grand Arbiter Augustin IV was murdered while attempting to seize control of the plane, and his role split in two. Grand Arbiter Leonos II is a heartless bureaucrat, but the new guildmaster Isperia appears to have good intentions.
    • For the Golgari the ancient necromancer Svogthir was overthrown by the power-hungry Sisters of Stone Death, who were overthrown by traitor to the guild Savra, who was murdered and then possessed by Svogthir's spirit, who was slain (or at least deprived of a working body for the third time) while conspiring with Momor Vig to destroy all life. Finally, Savra's brother Jarad ascended to leadership with a policy of less pointless conflict.

    Video Games 
  • Injustice 2: Seeing how far Superman has fallen, Supergirl ultimately decides to bring honor back to the House of El. It happens in both her Arcade ending and the Absolute Justice ending.
  • Mass Effect 2 has Legion, a geth platform. While Commander Shepard has blasted through enough of these things to melt them down and rebuild the Normandy, Legion is a member of the true geth, which regards the geth Commander Shepard is familiar with as "heretics". These geth just want to be left alone, rather than leaving geth space and attacking.
  • In Mortal Kombat, in both the games and the Lighter and Softer (but still accurate to continuity) animated series, the original Sub Zero was a villain/Anti-Villain, and is succeeded by his younger brother, who fights on the side of the heroes.
    • Mortal Kombat X introduces Kotal Kahn, who took Shao Kahn's place as ruler of Outworld after the latter's death. Despite a temper problem and a bad tendency to grab the Idiot Ball when he loses his cool, Kotal is by far a more benevolent ruler than Shao (and his interim replacement Mileena); treating his underlings well, possessing a strict code of honor, and showing no interest in conquering other realms.
  • Jake Muller from Resident Evil 6. His strong physical resemblance to his father Albert Wesker is about the only thing he has in common with him by the end of the story:
    Jake: "You know what? I'm not my father, and I'm gonna make damn sure it stays that way!"
  • Rugal Bernstein from The King of Fighters is a bonafide evil character. He's then succeeded by his son Adelheid, who did inherit his fighting prowess... but none of his evilness, making him a Noble Demon.
  • In City of Heroes, Bill "Faultline" Temblor was a hero but is largely remembered as a villain for destroying an area of Paragon City. After his son Jim learned that Bill was mind controlled when he did so, he embraced his own powers and took up the Faultline mantle as a hero.
  • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, the kingdom of Gra is ruled by the tyrant Jiol. He is succeeded by his daughter Sheena in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, and she's nothing like her father: She's charismatic and protective to her people genuinely, making her a popular ruler and eventually joins Marth... if he doesn't harm any of her men on his way to her.
  • In one possible version of the Modular Epilogue of Pillars of Eternity, Aloth takes control of the society led by the Big Bad, whose arguably noble goal is to protect the world from truths deemed to terrible to release. However one feels about the aims, it's made clear they intend to pursue much more benevolent and restrained means than their utterly ruthless predecessor.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the Emperors of Tamriel have often been served by someone in the position of Imperial Battlemage, essentially a Court Mage and advisor on all matters magical. Given the nature of the position, it has long been a breeding ground for Evil Sorcerer types who go on to become Evil Chancellors. Jagar Tharn, the Big Bad of Arena was Emperor Uriel Septim VII's Imperial Battlemage before usurping him. In the prequel The Elder Scrolls Online, Mannimarco doesn't officially have the title, but serves in a very similar role to Emperor Varen Aquilarios and betrays him. In the main series' time period, Uriel VII replaces Tharn as Imperial Battlemage with Ocato of Firsthold, who already served Uriel VII as High Chancellor. Ocato is very much a Reasonable Authority Figure who holds the Empire together for the rest of the series until his death, holding the Empire together for 10 years after Uriel VII's death while serving as Potentate. (He was actually doing such a good job that the Thalmor had him assassinated so they could rise up.)

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the current Stuntman (a hero) is the only son of the original Stuntman (a villain). The father of Dream Catcher, a psychic hero with the power to turn dreams into reality, was active as a villain in the late 1970s/early 1980s and used the same name and the same powers (he's now in a mental institution).

    Western Animation 
  • Hot Wheels Battle Force 5: The Red-Sentients are the more war like race of Sentients (having been frozen to stop the war), and Krytus, their leader, becomes the Big Bad in season 2. When they are unfrozen, they exile Krytus as they are sick of war, and two new Red Sentients become part of the ruling council Korosivash and Karmakaris. While the former is kind and wants to help the people, the latter is arrogant, and looks down on his blue counter parts. However in the final act, he personally leads a brigade in to stop the Antagonists, and launches the hero out to beat the new Big Bad, cementing his own position as a good-guy, and as the new ruler of the council, washing away the treachery and evil Krytus brought to their species.
  • The Venture Bros.: In the show's backstory, SPHINX was a COBRA parody and terrorist organization that was wiped out by the OSI. In the show proper, SPHINX gets revived as a peacekeeping organization by former OSI agents disillusioned with the current leadership. In this case, they just used the old organization's name because their old stuff was lying around.
  • The Legend of Korra: The Fire Sages are peaceful, and they immediately try to get Korra help when they find her, their Shaman setting her down in a spiritual place so she may recover from whatever has harmed her. This contrasts the original series where the Sages were completely loyal to the Fire Nation and stood against Aang and the protagonists, bar their youngest member Shyu. (Though, as he noted, the Sages of his era were a corruption of what they were supposed to be.)
    • And of course, the series confirms that Zuko managed to be this for Ozai, Azulon and Sozin, with his daughter continuing the position. (Indeed, the Fire Nation's history leaves her reluctant to even lead it into a justified war.)
  • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends: Francis Byte is the first Videoman to be a hero instead of a villain.
  • The Lion Guard: It's revealed in the pilot that Scar led the Lion Guard under Mufasa's regime, and was blessed with the power of the Roar of the Elders. However, the power went to Scar's head and he vainly believed that with this power, he should be king instead of Mufasa. But when the rest of the Lion Guard refused to help him, Scar furiously used the Roar to destroy them. Due to using his powers for evil, Scar lost his power completely and descended further into depression, becoming shriveled and horrible. In the present, Kion leads the new Lion Guard, and takes his power and duties very seriously, not wanting to end up like Scar.

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