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Redeeming Replacement

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Supergirl: This symbol should give people hope. He made them fear it.
Batman: That symbol's meaning is up to the person who wears it. When Clark and I founded the Justice League, we didn't govern people; we protected them, plain and simple. Maybe the world could use a team like that again. Welcome to the circle of trust.

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 characters taking on this persona will speak of a desire to "redeem" that identity, especially if they are children of the villainous wearers of the costume. Arguably, this trope happens for similar reasons as the Anti-Hero Substitute. The Anti-Hero Substitute aims to make heroes "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 which could mean an instance of A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil is in play. Then when someone like a Naïve Newcomer or Heroic Wannabe shows up but also happens to have The Gift or is Unskilled, but Strong The Mentor might appear and take him in seeing the chance to train the new guy as My Greatest Second Chance. The new guy becomes his Mentor's New Hope and will often lead to a clash with the guy who the new hero succeeds.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bastard!! (1988): 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. It's rather hard to win the trust of the people when the vocational raven says that you're going to be a Demon King. Things aren't as white and black as they seem.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Giorno Giovanna, the main protagonist of Part 5, is the son of the late Dio Brando, the main antagonist of Part 1 and Part 3. Unlike his villainous father, Giorno is rather heroic and loyal to his gang of friends. He even felt devastated when an innocent man gets killed. He even got revenge on his killer!

    Fan Works 
  • Cheshire (Miraculous Ladybug): The core conflict of the fic throughout its first season is how every Black Cat wielder in history has been a murderer, thief, etc. Marinette is the first person in millennia to use the powers of destruction for good, but since the relic has long since developed a reputation as being either The Corruptor or drawn to vile people, none of the people who know the Black Cat's sullied past even entertain the thought that Marinette is any different.
  • In Civilization V: Peace Walker, the whole scenario is a test to see whether an AI construct, based on the Legendary Mercenary just before he became a villain, would repeat the real Snake's actions or choose a different path. Sure enough, Snake has a Heel Realization after seeing elements of himself in his various enemies, so by the end of it, the Kaz AI gives him a new moniker: Plastic Snake. "It's synthetic, but based on organic material. It's strong, flexible... better than the real deal in a lot of ways."
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Three of the Powers get passed on to new and more suitable Bearers over the course of the series. While the new Self-Centeredness isn't identified, Aria Blaze is this trope for Adagio Dazzle when she becomes the new Lady of Hatred, and Pharynx is this for Umbrea, former Lady of Nightmares (whose mantle was actually held by Luna after Umbrea's soul was ejected from Luna's body).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dave is about the United States President being replaced by one of these. Not only is Dave much warmer and good-hearted than the President he's acting as a body double for, but said President also turns out to be quite corrupt as well.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Invisible Man is one Rodney Skinner, a Lovable Rogue cockney thief who apparently stole the formula from Griffin of the novel, a psychopathic Invisible Jerkass.

  • Chiffon Nox of Beast Tamer. Where Arios Orlando was a Nominal Hero and The Poorly Chosen One, only being the hero because he was the only one with the class, Chiffon is an All-Loving Hero who truly believes in helping others and treats her comrades like True Companions instead of disposable pawns.
  • A Deal with a Demon:
    • Azazel, current leader of the Bargainer Demons, is manipulative and amoral, but he's way less evil than predecessor and actually wants to help ensure the demon realm is at peace. He ensures all his bargains are fair and keeps his word to anyone who makes a deal with him without resorting to Exact Words or tricks like his predecessor.
    • Bram, the current king of the Gargoyles, has replaced his father, who was a far more vicious ruler. Bram is more willing to let there be peace between the various demon races and cares about his people.
  • 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.
  • Fun Jungle:
    • Tracey Boyd, who succeeds Martin Del Gatto as park manager, actually does love animals, is willing to give Teddy a lot of leeway, orders the security force not to automatically assume his guilt in the koala theft, and while she does threaten to fire Teddy's parents, only does so on J.J.'s orders (something she doesn't reveal to Teddy when it would have been easy to try and paint J.J. as the bad guy). Unfortunately, she ends up suffering a nervous breakdown between books, causing her to leave the park.
    • Chief Honneker, the third chief of security of the park, is somewhat stiff-necked, but ultimately an honest man who is willing to hear out Teddy's theories, and good at responding to threats in the park, putting him ahead of his two predecessors (one of them was an Inspector Javert, the other was corrupt).
  • Hazuki Kudo in My Happy Marriage is this for her sister-in-law, Miyo Saimori. In the past, Miyo was mistreated by her family, especially her biological sister, Kaya. Shortly after officially becoming engaged to Kiyoka Kudo, Miyo wishes to restart her education, so she can be a good match for her future husband. Kiyoka introduced Miyo to Hazuki, and she quickly develops a teacher/sisterly bond with Miyo. While Miyo is still traumatized by the abuse her sister put her through, she comes to quickly accept Hazuki as a part of her life.
  • 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.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Admiral Laryn Kre'fey isn't evil, but he is impulsive and incompetent, rushing into the Battle of Borleias with little preparation and inadequate intelligence and getting a lot of people killed, including himself. Because of Laryn's failure, his grandson Traest Kre'fey ended up getting sent to a less prominent satellite of the main Bothan military academy - where he met a teacher who not only turned him into a highly effective (if unorthodox) tactician and strategist, but opened his eyes to the failures of Bothan society. He went on to become one of the great military figures of the Yuuzhan Vong War.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Thanks to The Nth Doctor and the Timey-Wimey Ball, the Doctor 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.
  • 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.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Played with after Daenerys names her three dragon hatchlings Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion after her late husband Drogo and her late brothers Rhaegar and Viserys, the latter of whom had lost the plot before he died. Viserion is the most welcoming 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.
    • Deconstructed with Tommen. He is a sweet and kind-hearted boy who wants to be a good king, but he's hindered by his indecisiveness and lack of experience. All the adults in his life who could help him learn to rule see him as nothing more than a chance to control King's Landing, and thus refuse to teach him what he needs to know. This eventually leads to him being very easily manipulated by the Faith Militant and causing the majority of the conflict in Season Six, and ends with him being Driven to Suicide after things go horribly wrong.
  • 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 on 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.
  • Legends of Tomorrow:
    • Rip Hunter used to be a member of the Time Masters, an Omniscient Council of Vagueness Time Police that doesn't want anything to do with his vendetta against Vandal Savage, and in fact the latter is in league with them, and instead oppose Rip's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in every way. Near the end of Season 1, the Masters were wiped out, and Rip decided to officially make the Legends the true Time Police and they join him to continue protecting the timeline. Then, at the beginning of Season 3, Rip (who left the Legends) has founded another Time Police organization, the Time Bureau. While the Bureau finds itself at odds with the Legends, they are a lot more willing to put their differences aside and work together against dangerous threats.
    • The Fairy Devilmother is a Jackass Genie and one of the main villains of Season 4. Nora Darkh takes her place late into the season (although the former is not killed until the season finale), but she does put better effort into the job, becoming a proper Fairy Godmother.
  • 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 Stranger Things, Dr. Sam Owens serves as this for the US Government, and Hawkins National Laboratory, in season 2. After the Abusive Dad tendencies of Martin Brenner in season 1, Owens is initially presented as a replacement character, but after showing compassion and helping the main characters on several occasions, it becomes clear that he genuinely wants to help.
  • In Supergirl (2015), Winn Schott Jr. is the son of the original Toyman, a well-known supervillain, but is firmly a heroic character, to the point that, at the end of Season 3 he's recruited by the Legion of Superheroes in the future. At first he's nicknamed "Computer Lad" by one his teammates, which he acknowledges is a pretty sucky codename, but after confronting an evil doppelganger of himself and being saved from him by a digitalized copy of his father's consciousness, he decides to adopt the name Toyman to redeem it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 so horrendously evil that his actions alone are considered one of the reasons of the Usurpation and the Solars' fall from grace.
  • 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...
    • To a lesser extent, the Loyalists of Thule, who seek to make up for the Thule Society's role in the Holocaust. Because most of the people involved in that one are not around anymore (seventy years is a long time), they recruit other people who have screwed up messing about with magic and gotten people hurt.
  • 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 (although Aurelia has lightened up a lot since then).
    • 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...and then undone in the third Ravnica block, with the new guildmaster being Dovin Baan, an agent of Nicol Bolas.
    • 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...only to be cast down again by Vraska, another agent of Nicol Bolas (albeit one with memories of a Heel–Face Turn just waiting to be unlocked).
  • Omnitron-X in Sentinels of the Multiverse is a future version of Omnitron, an iteration where it attempted to finally gain victory over its enemies by emulating human empathy...only for the new version with the Heart Drive to travel back in time and start fighting against its earlier selves.

    Video Games 
  • 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 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.)
  • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & 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 the first Galaxy Angel, the leader of the Transbaal Imperial Fleet, Admiral Sigurd Sidmeyer, was more concerned about getting in the Empire's higher-ups good graces than the good of the Empire itself, and he thought his fleet could easily beat Eonia's just by winning a few skirmishes, only to get a very rude awakening when the Black Moon shows up and his entire fleet gets decimated. He's then replaced by Comodore Luft Weizen, who quickly proves himself a more capable and more effective leader.
  • 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.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Rugal Bernstein 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.
    • Clone Zero is a treacherous psychopath who went so far as to nuke a city via Kill Sat. The redeeming replacement here is, uniquely, the original Zero, who is not happy about what his clone was up to and, when defeated, goes down with both his ship and dignity.
  • 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.
  • In Persona 5, every police officer encountered was rude, incompetent, corrupt, or some combination thereof. Persona 5 Strikers introduces the character of Zenkichi Hasegawa, an honest police officer driven by a sincere sense of justice and duty who not only becomes a close ally of the Thieves' but even becomes a full-fledged member of the team himself. He's later joined by his superior, the Director of Public Safety herself.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • When first introduced in World of Warcraft, the Four Horsemen were the royal guard of Kel'Thuzad and loyal agents of the undead Scourge. Years after their death in the Legion expansion, the Knights of the Ebon Blade create a new generation of Horsemen to serve as Azeroth's protectors.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, the Heterodyne boys were really stand-up guys... but their ancestors... not so much. Bill's daughter Agatha is also trying to redeem the family reputation — which is a bit hard when they've even made toasters that can kill people.

    Western Animation 
  • Aladar from Dinosaur is proven to be a far better leader of the Herd than their previous leader, Kron, who cares very little about the dinosaurs he is supposed to protect, and would prefer to sacrifice those unable to continue to the Carnotaurus just so he can get them all to the Nesting Grounds faster, but at the cost of their safety.
  • Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5: The Red Sentients are the more warlike 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 counterparts. However in the final act, he personally leads a brigade 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 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.)
      Izumi: The Fire Nation has spent too much of its history fighting nonsense wars, and I refuse to drag my nation into another one unless there's no other choice.
  • 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 evil, 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. Kion is successful.
  • While it's only revealed in supplementary material, Jordan C. Wilde from Ōban Star-Racers turns out to be this for his grandfather, William J. Wilde. William was one of the first humans to encounter aliens, but it's implied that he later turned traitor. Jordan received a lot of bullying because of it, which motivated him to join the army and, eventually, become the new Avatar.
  • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends: Francis Byte is the first Videoman to be a hero instead of a villain.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In Season 4, Karai forms her own Foot Clan separate from Shredder's, seeking to be this to Shredder and his own clan. In "City at War," she makes it clear that she wants to rebuild the Foot under better circumstances and restore its honor after everything Shredder did to pervert it.
    Karai: I want to rebuild the Foot. Bring back honor to a clan that Shredder poisoned for almost two decades.
  • The Venture Brothers: 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.
  • Played with in Young Justice. During season two, Artemis goes deep undercover with the villains, claiming to be an assassin named Tigress. After the final battle and her boyfriend Wally's death, she decides to use "Tigress" as her new superhero name.