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Redemption Quest

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"Come. There is a way to be good again."
Rahim Khan, The Kite Runner

Maybe your character was The Cape, but fell on bad times. Maybe he was an Anti-Hero who made a mistake and went flying off the slippery slope. They could even be a Villain Protagonist or Anti-Villain who is interested in redemption, either because they've kept their standards, or because they've been in conflict with an even worse villain and shown hints that there might be some good left in them after all. Whatever the case may be, the character is in a bad place but wants to do better, and they are granted one final chance to do so, usually in the form of a grand, nearly impossible task.


Maybe they're being asked to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, or to cure The Virus, or to stop the Evil Overlord. They may not be expected to live through this, but if they can pull it off, no one can say that they haven't cleared their name, regained their honor, or insured an afterlife in good old Fluffy Cloud Heaven. (That said, you may wind up with a case of Redemption Earns Life instead.)

Sometimes done in a quieter way as Character Development in a non-fantasy setting, where a character is looking to undo a past mistake or wrong to a love one that has haunted them or caused misery for people around them. Also known to happen in Sports Movies, where a character may see one last great year or performance as a redemption of their prior deeds or careers.

A Sub-Trope of The Hero's Journey and Must Make Amends. Usually follows a Heel Realization, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero or someone saying What the Hell, Hero?. Naturally, a staple of The Atoner. An alternative to Redemption Equals Death. Often a result of Go and Sin No More. Contrast Redemption Failure. Related to Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin's quest to protect people and fight for justice without killing is his redemption for all the lives he previously took as an assassin. Both in the anime and manga (but particularly in the anime, especially filler episodes or arcs whose stories were changed), he encourages other warriors to try to make amends and work towards making a better world rather than commit Seppuku when they fall into similar situations.
  • Dragon Ball: Piccolo and Vegeta are both initially introduced as villains, before later joining forces with the heroes after each go through their own redemption arc.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Edward Elric "I'm sorry, Al. This is all my fault. So I promise that no matter what, I'll get you your body back."
    • Hohenheim, in a much longer timescale.
    • Mustang, Hawkeye and Doctor Marcoh are doing it as well. Though from their point of view, they are past the point of redemption and can only make sure the next generation will not repeat their mistakes.
  • Being a deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs, Ramen Fighter Miki deconstructs this trope with Nishiyama Kankuro, who has come back from a local university to Hanami City to “stand up for himself” against Miki, his former bully who now is twenty and a Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up Manchild. Problem is, Kankuro is an Idiot Hero, and really wants to get Miki's respect, but Miki is incapable of respecting anyone weaker than her, and she is stronger than Kankuro: to beat her is truly an Impossible Task. Kankuro is trapped in a Cycle of Revenge. Here he explains why while we see a Photo Montage in a computer… complete with a delete trash can image:
  • In Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, Balsa works as a bodyguard to save eight lives to repay for the eight men her mentor had to kill to keep her alive. On top of that she has added the additional caveat not to kill anyone in the course of her quest, after her lifelong friend Tanda pointed out that killing people to save people is an oxymoron.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey has Lock, Shock, and Barrel offer to find Zero to make up for their betrayal to Jack in the original movie. Jack is naturally suspicious, but takes their offer so he can see to his duties as the Pumpkin King.
    Jack: You'll go straight to Zero and not get distracted by anything else?!
    • They keep it. Sort of.
  • In the eponymous VRMMO of Sword Art Online, players earn an orange color cursor due to assaulting (or worse still, killing) other players, which, in turn, prevents them from entering the safe zones in towns. They can restore their moral standing in the game by undertaking a specific quest, the difficulty of which depends on the severity and number of their crimes.
  • My Hero Academia: This is the goal of the Flame Hero, Enji "Endeavor" Todoroki. After subjecting his family to horrific mental and physical abuse in his attempts at being the top hero, he has a Heel Realization and seeks to atone for his past mistakes. Its Played for Drama as said family are...mixed to the say the least; His wife acknowledges his efforts to move forward but she still can't quite tolerate being around him, his second youngest son wants nothing to do with him, his daughter is accepting, and his youngest son is somewhere in-between where while he can't quite bring himself to forgive his father, he is at least willing to see his actions as a hero and a father.

    Comic Books 
  • Blue Devil in Shadowpact is assigned a Redemption Quest by the Catholic Church, to make up for selling his soul for fame in Underworld Unleashed - which led to the death of his friend Marla - and also to try and counter the message of a guy who sold his soul and subsequently gained demonic power being a high-profile superhero. It later turned out the Church couldn't do anything to help him... after he completed all the quests.
  • Anti-Venom (Eddie Brock, the original Venom) is on one of these to destroy the Venom Symbiote; and find some peace from the psychotic remnants of Venom locked in his mind from their bonding.
  • Incorruptible, the companion story of Irredeemable, has former supervillain Max Damage trying to be a superhero after The Plutonium, the Superman analogue, becomes a Fallen Hero.
  • This is what the 3rd Loki was aiming for in Loki: Agent of Asgard, and because with Loki nothing is ever simple things got complicated. From misunderstanding how redemption works (no, just erasing the past without facing it won't do it), to fighting themselves (literally!).
  • In Brody's Ghost, Brody is roped into helping the titular ghost Talia into performing a "life task," a very good deed, so that she can be allowed to enter heaven (which she was locked out of for reasons she doesn't divulge.) It turns out this entire story is bunk, however, as she's only interested in getting revenge on her killer.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Aladdin: In the original film, Iago was the loud-mouthed henchman for Jafar who went along with his plans to conquer Agrabah. In the sequel, The Return of Jafar, Iago leaves his master's side and fakes a Heel–Face Turn to gain Aladdin's trust. However, Iago grows to like Aladdin and his friends since they don't mistreat him they way Jafar did, to the point that he reforms and helps them defeat Jafar for good. He remains with the group as their Token Evil Teammate until the end of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, when he joins Cassim to travel the world.
  • ParaNorman looks like a typical zombie invasion triggered by a witch's curse until it's revealed that the zombies recognize that they've done something horrible and are putting themselves through a great deal of pain in order to find someone who can help the "witch" they killed (really an innocent 11 year old girl) to move on.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show serves as this for Eddy; first, he is forced to confront and admit the fact that his selfish and jerkass tendencies are unhealthy and at risk of costing him the only two friends he has, and then he admits to everyone in the Cul-de-sac that the only reason he acts like a jerk is because his brother did; he thought that his brother was "respected" and "liked" by the other kids (when in actuality they were afraid of him), and that if he acted like his brother, then the other kids would like him. Once the illusion falls off, he's finally accepted and forgiven by the other kids.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A frequent theme in the Rocky movies. Apollo pursues a rematch with Rocky in the second movie so he can regain any respect he's lost from nearly losing to a bum, Rocky goes for a rematch with Clubber in Rocky III to erase the self doubts caused by the dramatic beating he got in their first fight, etc.
  • The Replacements (2000) a Keanu Reeves comedy football movie, has this happening to Reeves' character Shane Falco. Falco had notoriously choked in the final game of his college career, and performed miserably in his little time as a pro, so this last chance at the game represents a chance for him to erase that image. At the same time, the film makes it clear that none of the replacement players, including Falco, became permanent professional players and went back to their original jobs (in one case, back to prison). This is despite the fact that they've accomplished what the original highly-paid "superstars" couldn't.
  • Played with but Deconstructed in the end in The Wrestler, where what would normally be the subject of Randy "The Ram" Robinson's Redemption Quest in most other sports movies (namely, his big reunion bout with his old sparring nemesis "The Ayatollah") in fact isn't; his real Quest is to redeem himself in the eyes of his estranged daughter and to make a connection with the stripper with whom he has fallen in love. He ultimately fails at both, and his decision to go ahead with the bout even if his heart problems mean it'll kill him is ultimately a symbol of his failure in this; he wins the bout, but it's heavily implied that he dies in the process.
  • The film The Fisher King has shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) helping the deranged Henry/Parry Sagan (Robin Williams) in getting a love interest and finding the Holy Grail, as a redemption for having inadvertently caused the death of Sagan's wife.
  • The film The Verdict starring Paul Newman as a middle aged, alcoholic lawyer taking a big malpractice case against a rich hospital.
  • The eponymous Mystery Team is out to regain the respect of their community.
  • In By the Sword, Suba is trying to make right what he did wrong at the fencing school he used to go to, what with him killing his maestro in a duel to the death.
  • Discussed in Tears of the Sun when the team decide Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!, and choose to save everyone they possibly can.
    Zee: L.T., those Africans are my people too. For all the years that we were told to stand down and to stand by, you're doing the right thing.
    L.T.: For our sins.
    Both: Hooyah.
  • The Color of Money is essentially about Eddie Felson's journey to redeem himself after the events of The Hustler (1961) and rediscover the unbridled joy of playing pool.
  • In The Mission, mercenary and slaver Rodrigo Mendoza goes on one of these after he kills his own brother.

  • A Christmas Carol sees the Villain Protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, undergoing from a greedy, bitter, and degenerate miser to a charitable, cheerful, and lovable person.
  • In his Back Story, Dragonlance character Lord Soth was given a chance to redeem his soul after becoming a Fallen Hero. At first he leaps at the chance, but turns his back on preventing The End of the World as We Know It to confront his wife about accusations of infidelity.
  • In The Kite Runner, Amir seeks to redeem his past actions towards Hassan by rescuing his friend's son.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel is Marguerite's quest to atone for unintentionally causing the execution of the Marquis de St. Cyr, one of the French aristocratic fugitives her husband Sir Percy has devoted his life to protecting.
  • The Silver Chair: Aslan assigns Jill the task of finding the lost prince Rilian as her Redemption Quest for causing Eustace to fall off a cliff.
  • Follows Lale's Heel Realization in The Assassins of Tamurin.
  • Severus Snape spends most of the Harry Potter series atoning for causing Lily's death by protecting Harry from harm and working as a double agent for both the Death Eaters and the Order.
  • Su Wukong (Monkey King) and the other bodyguards/traveling companions go along with the monk Tripitaka in Journey to the West to earn redemption for past misdeeds.
  • From A Song of Ice and Fire, while not originally intended as such, as Jaime Lannister was still his arrogant and scumbag self and Catelyn saw him as beyond redemption, his quest to return the Stark girls became this, after being inspired by Brienne's example and losing his hand in a massive Break the Haughty moment. Afterwards, he gains a genuine desire to be an honorable Knight in Shining Armor again and return the Stark girls to Catelyn to repay Brienne and atone for his many horrible acts. While this doesn't work out, he is going to every length imaginable to keep his oath to never raise his sword against a Stark or Tully again.
    • Similarly, Theon Greyjoy spends most of book 5 trying to rescue Arya Stark (actually Jeyne Poole) from the Boltons in order to atone for betraying Robb Stark and causing the Red Wedding.
    • Barristan Selmy considers his service to Danareys Targaryen to be atonement for failing to protect her father, Aerys Targaryen, during Robert's Rebellion. Or maybe it's for rescuing him from the Defiance of Duskendale, the Start of Darkness moment after which Aerys began to truly earn his epithet, "the Mad King." Either way, he begins to believe that Jaime Lannister (In-Series Nickname: "The Kingslayer") may have been correct to kill Aerys, and desires to serve a ruler who is worthy of the "My Master, Right or Wrong" trope.
  • The Licanius Trilogy deconstructs this with Caeden. While he tries his best to make up for his past atrocities, many characters (himself included) consider him beyond forgiveness, for the most part.
  • In The Crush, this is Kelly and Amber's entire drive. They lost half their team to the rogue James McTavish a year ago, and have been languishing in defeat since then. When they find out the latter is in their city, they jump at the chance to make it up to their fallen comrades. Both of them see it as a matter of honour to make good on their promise to protect their friends.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen sets out on this after getting his powers, with the setting's Sky Pirates and Sex Slavers being at the top of his list of targets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Caroline's idea to save $250,000 to launch the cupcake business, the driving arc of 2 Broke Girls.
  • Brilliantly subverted on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In the first season, Ward turns out to be a deep cover agent for HYDRA, turning on the team, killing Victoria Hand and Eric Koenig and dropping Fitz and Simmons into the ocean (the former suffering brain damage from it). When he's arrested, season two seems to indicate Ward is on a trip to regain the team's trust...only for them to make it abundantly clear they are never going to forgive Ward for what he's done and only see him as the enemy.
    • It's first shown when a captive Ward is giving up info to Coulson and talking as if he's still part of the team.
      Coulson: My team? Y-you... You are not, nor will you ever be, on my team. You dropped Fitzsimmons out of a plane. You murdered Victoria Hand and Eric Koenig. You betrayed every one of us, you deluded son of a bitch!
    • Breaking Skye out of of a jail, Ward gives her a gun, assuming they'll be fighting their way out together "like old times." As soon as his back is turned, Skye shoots Ward and runs out on her own.
    • Later, the team is forced to work with Ward to take on a mutual foe, Ward doing a talk on how he knows it'll be a long path to winning their trust back but he's willing to do it. The glares they give are pure death before asking if Skye can shoot him again, this time in the head.
    • Fitz is stunned that Ward truly believes that all it takes is an "I'm sorry" and all is forgiven. Instead, he tears into the hell Ward has put him through and when Ward protests that he still considers them friends, Fitz snaps back that he now realizes Ward was never their friend but playing a role and coldly dismisses him.
    • It takes being shot by Skye again for Ward to finally grasp there's no redemption for him and thus embraces being full-on HYDRA.
    • The writers have acknowledged that much of Ward's actions in season three are a deliberate Take That, Audience! to how there were still fans who believed in him (complete with a "Stand With Ward" hashtag). They thus had to push Ward with stuff from ordering bombings to personally killing Coulson's girlfriend to get the audience to realize Ward's journey was never one of redemption but falling into darkness.
  • Brimstone: This is the entire premise of the show, where Fallen Hero Ezekiel Stone gets a second shot at life and a way out of Hell if he returns 113 souls that managed to escape.
  • Doctor Who: It's suggested from his debut story "Deep Breath" onward that the Twelfth Doctor is trying to find ways to atone for the mistakes of his past incarnations. At the top of Series 9 (his second season) this trope is exaggerated when a new tragic mistake, a moment of weakness (though understandable), of his has cataclysmic consequences: When he realizes a trapped boy in a war zone is the future creator of the Daleks, the worst villains in the universe, he abandons him mid-rescue — possibly triggering the boy's descent into evil to begin with. When's he's called to face the person originally affected by this, the Doctor is ready to do so by way of facing the consequences and perhaps atoning for it, fully aware that it will probably be a case of Redemption Equals Death.
  • The Equalizer: A retired secret agent becomes a private investigator to help people who really need it. His past is never revealed, it's only hinted that he did a lot of amoral things.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • After returning to King's Landing, Jaime is making more of an effort to live up to his vows and duties as a Knight, telling people who consider him a failure and has-been that he still has time left. More specifically, while Catelyn didn't intend for it to be his redemption quest, seeing him as beyond redemption, after losing his hand and growing close with Brienne, Jaime shows a sincere desire to want to return Catelyn's daughters back to her. After Catelyn's death, he sends Brienne to keep them protected from Cersei and anyone who might hurt them.
    • To some extent, Jorah's loyalty and commitment to Daenerys is driven by his need to atone for souring his honor in Westeros and initially spying on Daenerys.
      Jorah: Better men than me have learned that what a man sells for gold, he can never buy back. He must earn it, by fire and blood.
  • Little House on the Prairie: What happens with the Olesons' two natural children – Nellie and Willie – in the later years of the series.
  • Lost's Michael has a redemption arc in season 4 after killing Ana and Libby in season 2. He manages to save Desmond, Aaron, Sun, and maybe Jin before dying in the season finale.
  • Basically the premise of My Name Is Earl: Earl did bad things, has a list of them, and is trying to make up for them.
  • This sums up the character arc of (former) Commander Michael Burnham in season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery. In the first episode, she commits mutiny against her captain in a desperate attempt to head off a war with the Klingons; despite her efforts, the war starts, her captain is killed and her ship wrecked in the ensuing battle, and she is court-martialed and imprisoned. Six months later, Captain Gabriel Lorca arranges for her to end up on his ship, USS Discovery, and enlists her to help bring an end to the war. Through a long and convoluted series of events (which include her exposing Lorca as an imposter from the Mirror Universe), she succeeds in stopping the war before Earth is attacked, for which she is pardoned and reinstated.
  • In the first season of Stranger Things, Chief Hopper's increasingly determined obsession to find and rescue the missing Will Byers, even if he has to beat up state troopers, break into secret government facilities, grapple with a sinister Government Conspiracy and enter a toxic upside-down alternate dimension filled with ruins, poisonous spores and bloodthirsty plant-demon-things in order to do so is all but outright stated to be an attempt at seeking closure and redemption over his inability to stop his young daughter from dying of a terminal illness, and his falling over the Despair Event Horizon as a result.
  • Sam Winchester from Supernatural. After breaking the final seal which unleashed the apocalypse on Earth, Sam spends all of Season 5 by trying to fix the mess he created. Season 5 is often viewed as Sam's redemption by many viewers.
  • Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. After becoming a blood-addicted Ripper who was controlled by Klaus for the first half of the third season, Stefan spends the other half of the third season trying to gain his free will back and turn on his humanity again. He tries to redeem himself for all of the immoral acts he committed during his Ripper phase by joining the fight in destroying Klaus.

  • Heracles had to do twelve of them after killing his family in a fit of madness.
  • Susanowo must make amends after throwing a dead horse (amongst other squicktastic things) at his big sister's court. He brought back the legendary Kusanagi to her. It's not known how much of it was kicking arses and taking names, and how much of it was genuine remorse.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sgt. Slaughter, following his (in)famous 1990-1991 Iraqi sympathizer heel gimmick that made him the most hated wrestler in the world - and it wasn't a stretch to say he was among the most hated men in the world in real life – he based his Heel–Face Turn on redeeming himself, first by saving Hacksaw Jim Duggan from a brutal 2-on-1 attack by his former cronies, The Iron Sheik and General Adnan.
  • James Gibson's stay in Ring of Honor was largely this. He wanted to be seen as a great wrestler again, after being repeatedly humiliated on television, and decided he was going to wrestle the best in the world until he got one of their title belts.
  • The 2006 Road Of Homicide was half this and half Roaring Rampage of Revenge as Homicide was tired of failing in all his efforts to win a singles title in ROH but his method was attacking everyone who had so much as annoyed him in the company.
  • Jimmy Jacobs went on one to purge all evil from himself in 2011 and eventually took Steve Corino along for the ride. It failed because of the meddling of Kevin Steen.
  • Sami Callihan claimed he would go on one to better himself after being suspended from EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA, following his attack on El Generico.
  • After Hiromu Takahashi returned to New Japan from ROH, joined Los Ingobernables de Japon and defeated KUSHIDA in record time at Sakura Genesis, KUSHIDA decided to return to ROH to reinvigorate himself, since it clearly did something for Takahashi. While there he decided he was finally going to win an ROH belt too, beating Marty Scurll for the television title before returning to New Japan to regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight belt.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons Plothook #309: "The cleric tells you that before he will cast atonement on you, he wants you to do this for him, to prove your remorse is genuine..."
    • This was a suggested method of restoring a character of an alignment-restricted class who broke his code, in earlier editions; the Player's Handbook specifically refers to fallen Rangers having to seek atonement through deeds.
    • Paladins both play it straight and avert it: if one commits a Chaotic act, she loses her powers and must go on a Redemption Quest, but if she commits an Evil act in 1st or 2nd Edition, she loses her powers and no amount of redemption questing will ever bring them back. Third Edition made it possible to Atone (via Atonement, as noted above) for committing an Evil act, and toned down the restriction on Chaotic acts so that it only applies for severe breaches of the Paladin's Code or being enough to shift the Paladin away from Lawful Good (both also solvable via Atonement).
  • This is a suggested plot thread for renegade Abyssal Exalts in Exalted. Redeeming the Abyssal Exaltation back into its original Solar form is explicitly possible- just very, very difficult. So difficult, in fact, that any PC who manages it will be, in the canonical setting, the first ever redeemed Abyssal.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade had Golconda, a state where the vampire no longer has the impulse to kill people and only needs minimal blood to live eternally. The exact ways of achieving it have always been left up to the individual Game Master but the general recommendation was to make it an epic quest, throughout which the vampire in question has to feel remorse for her past sins and make amends as best as she can.
  • A common plot in Warhammer 40,000 fluff is the "Penitent Crusade", undertaken by Space Marines who've majorly screwed up in one way or another. They typically involve recovering some lost relic of their Chapter and/or diving headfirst into someplace infested with Chaos/Xenos/something else nasty. These are typically started with the expectation of being a Suicide Mission, but Space Marines being Space Marines, they find a way to survive anyway, often as not.

    Video Games 
  • It initially appeared that this sort of redemption was what Athena and the other gods had in mind for Kratos from God of War, but it turns out that wasn't quite the case. They do forgive him. However, it was not forgiveness Kratos wanted, but to forget all the terrible things he had done. Gods do not grant him that. And that is why there are no more Greek myths.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Prince strives to redeem himself by undoing the damage he inflicted upon the time-space continuum by releasing the Sands in the beginning of the game.
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent: the plot of the game is about Daniel trying to kill Alexander to redeem himself for having killed lots of innocent people to keep himself safe from the shadow that haunts him.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Thane Krios has spent the last few years killing despicable, evil people in penance for the years he spent as an assassin for first the hanar and then private individuals and organisations. He is also dying of an incurable disease. When he learns of Shepard's mission to take down the Collectors, he signs up immediately, seeing as the best thing to do with what's left of his life. This also ties into his loyalty mission, which revolves around him and Shepard preventing Thane's son from following in his father's footsteps as an assassin.
    • Subverted in Tali's loyalty mission. The Admiralty Board gives her (and Shepard, naturally) the task of reclaiming a quarian ship that has been overrun by geth. If she is killed, the Board promises to drop the charges against her. If she survives and succeeds, she still has to deal with the charges but the act will lend credence to her side. The subversion comes in where the admirals prematurely pronounce her as KIA and one of them suggests exiling her posthumously, anyway. This being a Role-Playing Game, the final decision is left up to Shepard's diplomatic skills.
    • Downplayed with Mordin Solus, who has worked with the salarian government to ensure the Genophage — the population-control bioweapon they developed and used on the krogan — was still working as intended. He defends the Genophage as a means to keep the galaxy safe from the warlike krogan without committing outright genocide, but the effects the Genophage had on the krogan, turning them into a race of pessimistic mercenaries with a grim outlook on their own future, has weighed heavy on his conscious. Come Mass Effect 3, he gains an opportunity to make amends by curing the Genophage, reasoning that the krogan have suffered long enough (and their help against the Reapers wouldn't hurt), which, this being a Role-Playing Game, Shepard can help or hinder.
  • Although Cecil from Final Fantasy IV has his Heel Realization early on and, thus, has the "repair my past mistakes" part all throughout the first half of the game, it isn't until he's separated from all the allies he has made and ends up in the town he pillaged to start this whole war off that the "impossible task" aspect comes into play and he breaks out of Dark Powers Versus Evil.
  • Red Dead Redemption. John Marston, former outlaw, is sent by Federal agents to hunt down and kill members of his former gang. It seems like a subversion at first because the Federal agents are actually forcing Martson to leave his peaceful retirement on a small farm by kidnapping his wife and son and threatening to jail or kill Marston for his life of crime, but through the game Martson talks about his desire to atone for all the violence he's committed and how much he hates having to keep killing people.
  • Red Dead Redemption II also has this come up, particularly when players pursue a high Honor rating. Arthur Morgan, a member of the same gang John Marston ran with, is a complex man who led a life of crime, but when he contracts tuberculosis, he begins to reconsider his acts and taking steps to make amends. This comes to a head in the climax where, if the player so chooses, Arthur chooses to help John escape from the Pinkertons, forsaking a large sum of money in so doing, but completing his redemption.
  • In Bioshock Infinite, Elizabeth is an absolute darling; a kind, intelligent, perseverant young woman who sticks by Booker through thick and thin in their mission to take down Comstock and leave Columbia — by the end of episode one of ''Burial at Sea, however, she's become ruthless, manipulative, and so obsessed with revenge against every iteration of Comstock across the multiverse that she 1. murders a repentant version of Comstock who had been living with amnesia about his former identity for years and sincerely apologizes to her once he gets his memories back 2. uses a little girl, Sally, as bait to lure the aforementioned Comstock to his grave (she was his adopted daughter who he'd been searching for after she'd been kidnapped and turned into a Little Sister) and 3. abandons the timeline and leaves Sally to die a painful death once she's outlived her usefulness. Come episode two, we see that Elizabeth's been telling herself that she did nothing wrong in an attempt to alleviate her guilt, but she eventually recognizes the actrociousness of her actions — she has the Luteces bring her back to Rapture in the immediate aftermath of that moment, and the episode is spent with her trying to rescue Sally and make it right.
  • Tarnum from the Heroes of Might and Magic series spends his entire story arc trying to atone for the terrible deeds in his first life that barred him from entering the Barbarian afterlife. He was cursed with immortality and spent a thousand years fighting evil. Tarnum finally achieves redemption in Heroes of Might and Magic IV by guiding the young Waerjak as he unites the remaining barbarian tribes without repeating Tarnum's mistakes. However, when he is offered admittance into the afterlife he desired, Tarnum chooses to stay with his people, having found a new reason to live.
    • The first of the redemption tasks involves helping the soul of the man who killed him, the first Gryphonheart king. While Tarnum has reservations about this, he proceeds with the task, especially when he learns that the man's daughter, the current queen of Erathia, is Tarnum's own niece (yes, the entire Gryphonheart line is descended from Barbariansnote ).
    • Several of Tarnum's quests force him to confront the fallout of his own past tyranny, such as a Barbarian cult that worshipped a distorted image of Tarnum himself as the Barbarian Tyrant and freeing the people whom he enslaved in the past (setting them up as a Slave Race to others). The last entry of the Chronicles series has his past as the Barbarian Tyrant haunt him once more in the form of one of the rivals seeking the Sword of Frost: Kija, the wife of the new Ax-Crazy Barbarian King Kilgor whom Tarnum considered to be the final fruition of the example he set for his people as the Barbarian Tyrant. Kija ultimately claims the Sword of Frost for Kilgor, with world ending consequences.
  • Ben from The Walking Dead: Season One tries to set out on a Redemption Quest at the end of Episode 4 after his efforts to protect the group from bandits in secret led to Duck being bit, which caused Katja to kill herself. He's absolutely consumed with guilt, and is confused if you don't let him die in Crawford. Despite how awful he feels about what happened, he stands up to Kenny in defiance of the repeated abuse he's been given for what honestly was a misguided attempt at protection, and after Kenny realizes how much of a dick he's been, it looks like Ben's going to be able to turn things around, but come episode five, he's unfortunately injured in a way that pretty much signs his death warrant, and Kenny, to make up for what he's done to the poor kid, shoots him in the head before the walkers can get to him, since he had expressed that being eaten alive was his worst fear, and he would rather take any other way out.
  • Umineko: When They Cry This is pretty much what Kinzo's life turned into after him raping his daughter, her giving birth to Yasu and Yasu being thrown off the cliff by Natsuhi. He desperately wants to be able to say he's sorry and give Yasu his/her grandmother's gold. In an example of Redemption Equals Death, the moment Yasu manages to solve the riddle and Kinzo can say he's sorry, he dies.
    Genji: ...After some sad incidents, Master's life... was completely reduced to atonement.
  • Deconstructed in Spec Ops: The Line, one of the reasons Walker keep pushing to find Konrad and save the people of Dubai is he subconsciously views his mission as one of these, desperate to make up for the white phosphorus incident. However, his drive to be a hero just ends up making things so much worse. By the end, it's entirely possible that everyone in Dubai, including Walker himself, is dead because of his need to prove to himself that he's a hero.
  • Tales of Destiny 2: Judas is on one of these for having betrayed his friends and family in the previous game to save someone he cared about.
  • The DLC expansion duology for Dishonored, Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, focuses on Daud, the Professional Killer who kicks off the plot of the main game by assassinating Empress Jessamine. Soon after the assassination, Daud realizes that while he killed all kinds of nobles for money before, regicide was the final straw that pushed Dunwall and the Empire over the edge, and gets a chance to atone for it by saving his last victim's daughter from a Grand Theft Me. However, his real redemption comes from turning his back on his murderous ways and, in gameplay terms, going for a Low, rather than High Chaos playthrough, as doing so will prevent his Plotline Death at Corvo's hands after the last mission in TBW.
  • Randal's Monday: Despite how mean spirited the game can be, Randal's story is ultimately about him redeeming himself for his terrible choices and becoming a better person.
  • Pinstripe: It's revealed that the whole story is one for Ted, the player character. His journey forces him to confront the fact that his alcoholism led to the car crash that killed him and his daughter, and allows him to atone for his mistakes, rescue his daughter, and enter Heaven with her.
  • In The Enthralling Realms 2: An Alchemist's Journey Coral, after accidentally killing her sister Iris during an attempt to make a potion of eternal life, vows to bring her back somehow.
  • Strongly implied with the various heroes in Darkest Dungeon. Their motivations are implied by their backstories, with some of them explicitly seeking redemption. The achievement gotten from completing the final quest with the first two heroes you get also strongly implies that Reynauld and Dismas sought redemption for something.
    On the old road, we found our redemption
  • Hotline Miami: Although it isn't revealed until the second game, almost the entire first game is one of these for Jacket. It is revealed in the second game that Beard (the friendly clerk who Jacket visits at the end of almost every mission) was Jacket's close friend, and they fought together in the war. At one point in the war, Jacket was severely wounded by an exploding elevator. Bleeding out, he was carried to safety by Beard, who urgently radioed for help, effectively saving Jacket's life. Several months after the war ended, Beard was killed in an atomic blast created by a Russian nuclear weapon which was dropped on San Francisco. It is implied that Jacket decided to become a hitman for 50 Blessings because of his repressed regret over not spending more time with Beard while he was still alive, and/or possibly even because he felt that he never got to repay Beard for saving him. The first game ends with Jacket removing his mask and tossing a polaroid photograph of him and Beard (which Beard gave to him to "remind him of who saved his life") into the wind, likely feeling that he has finally fulfilled his favour and reached the end of the line.

    Visual Novels 
  • Marika's route in the fandisc of Princess Evangile doubles as this, as she learns to forgive herself while also getting closer to Masaya. It's heavily implied that the reason she never tries going after him in the original VN was due to her guilt in trying to have him kicked out of school by faking rape charges against him.

  • Sadick's search for his runaway sister in Charby the Vampirate.
  • Villainous and thus inverted example: the driving force behind all Dimension of Pain stories in Sluggy Freelance is Lord Horribus seeking redemption for letting Torg escape, by hauling Torg's soul back to the demons' dimension for eternal torment. The "redemption" theme is mentioned explicitly in "That Which Redeems", which also features another similarly inverted example bordering on deconstruction in the form of a story (presented as an analogy to Horribus) of a man who came to a Heel Realization about his terrible deeds, turned to a local notion of God to seek redemption, and went on a crusade in God's name to commit even more terrible deeds. "That which redeems consumes."
  • Similar to the Avatar example, in TwoKinds, Keith is sent into exile for killing his father (though this was more to keep his father's good name intact by avoiding a trial) and the only way he can return is to bring back the human Grand Templar with him (which is supposed to be an Impossible Task). He succeeds, though mostly by accident (he'd long since befriended Trace when the group discovered he was the missing Grand Templar)
  • Subverted by Miko in The Order of the Stick. After she falls from paladinhood because she killed Shojo she thinks that she can be redeemed by doing what the gods want of her. The problem, as it is explained by Soon's ghost before she dies, that she never actually atoned for her wrongdoings or considered that she'd done the wrong thing.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Initially inverted when Prince Zuko's Evil Overlord father banished him for not being evil enough, with a hopeless Redemption Quest to capture the Avatar being Zuko's only means of ending that banishment. Zuko's true redemption quest then comes when he realizes how worthless the redemption his father offered is and instead pulls a Heel–Face Turn in season 3, and sets out to train the Avatar to help him overthrow his father.
    • Aang and Sokka set out to redeem themselves for (different) failings in the third season. Keep an eye out for the telltale (shared) line, "I have to restore my honor."
  • Infinity Train Cult of the Conductor, follows Cracked Reflection's minor antagonists Grace and Simon of the Apex, introduced as passengers who rampage the train and terrorize the inhabitants. As they find themselves separated from their followers and journey the train to find them, they learn certain truths that begin to affect their worldview. Accompanied by Hazel as a Morality Pet, Grace ends up confronted by her past and comes to terms with the consequences of her actions along with Simon's eventual betrayal and death. In the end, she resigns from the Apex and begins helping her former followers find a way off the train.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Carmen Sandiego, started her life raised by V.I.L.E. faculty, but upon her revelation that stealing isn't a game and people are hurt by thievery, she turns against the only family she has known. Unbeknownst to Carmen, one of her teachers, Shadowsan, is the one who found her and brought her to the island after the death of her father when her father tried to leave V.I.L.E. Shadowsan was there to kill him, but other forces were pursuing him and shot him. Shadowsan secretly never wanted her to join as he could see the inner goodness in Carmen and to respect her father's desire to keep her away from V.I.L.E. When Carmen escapes the island, it became the impetus for Shadowsan's own redemption quest. He first tries to join Carmen in her escape, but his pretense to run after her boat with sword drawn scares her to not trusting him. By the start of Season 2, Shadowsan joins Carmen officially and uses his intimate knowledge of V.I.L.E. to help Carmen destroy the criminal empire. Along the way, Shadowsan reveals more of his own past and further sins he seeks to atone for regarding his own family.
  • After spending the past four seasons of South Park as a Trumplica performing actions raging from nuking Canada to destroying a potential COVID-19 vaccine lead, Mr. Garrison spent the Vaccination Special atoning for his presidency. Eventually, he gets in touch with the Hollywood Elite to ship vaccines from Israel to South Park, saving the day and getting his old job as a teacher back.

    Real Life 
  • An important aspect of restorative justice is about an offender making restitution to his victims. Unlike 'ordinary punishment', restorative justice is about making redemption voluntary and (hopefully!) genuine.


Video Example(s):


Assassin's Creed I

Most of the first game's story is him redeeming himself for his failure at Solomon's temple; not only was it a big important mission but he also got his two brother assassins killed and maimed, respectively; even worse, he broke all three of the Creed's Tenants in the process. So he has to complete nine missions with minimal assistance to regain his rank.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / RedemptionQuest

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