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Redemption Rejection

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God: Alucard... you are forgiven. And if you are brave enough to accept it—
Alucard: Didn't ask; don't need it; go fuck yourself!

When that offer of redemption just isn't good enough, some villains will outright reject the chance. Sure, some people will do whatever it takes to wash away their sins and join the side of good after a lifetime of committing unspeakable evil. But not this character. No, when Old Lady Redemption offers them that Last-Second Chance, they tell her "forget it" and steal her wallet for good measure.

This trope is the opposite of a Heel–Face Door-Slam, where the bad guy is actively seeking redemption, but is denied it (though the slam can be self-inflicted into this). For this trope, circumstances go out of their way to give someone a chance at mending their wicked ways, only for the offer to be firmly refused. It's the villain being told "you can turn away from evil," only for them to respond "I don't want to turn away."

Maybe the bad guy doesn't see themselves as the villain, and so doesn't think redemption is necessary. Maybe they realize their own wickedness, but think after all they've done, redemption is impossible, and therefore pointless to pursue. Maybe their motives for doing evil are so powerful that a guilty conscience is a small price to pay. Maybe they think that if people are going to treat them as the bad guy no matter what they do, they might as well go in with a full head of steam. Maybe they just have no morals and think that Evil Feels Good. Or rarely, they are an honourable Anti-Villain with either Undying Loyalty toward their masters or possessing Villainous Valour.

Whatever the case, this is often a strong contender for the villain's Moral Event Horizon, the signal for the heroes to take the gloves off and give the villain what he now most definitely has coming to him.

Not to be confused with Reformed, but Rejected. Compare Ignored Epiphany (where the villain has a moment of self-realization but dismisses it), I've Come Too Far (where the villain feels that they've already gone too far down the path of evil to turn around), Redemption Failure (where the villain makes a sincere effort to reform but isn't able to stick to it), Beyond Redemption (where a hero decides that a villain isn't worth trying to reform anymore) and Villains Want Mercy (where the villain may now want or even demand the chance to reform but it's Off the Table by then).

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    Films — Animation 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Frollo fears going to Hell as much as any sane man, and he knows damn well that this will happen to him if he doesn't let go of his obsession with Esmaralda, but he throws away every chance to save his own soul.
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Batman attempts this on Owlman, saying he must have been a good man once.
    Owlman: No. Not good. Never good. After all, I'm only human.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • The first movie has a truly heartbreaking moment when Shifu apologizes to Tai Lung for helping to shape him into the monster he's become, saying that his pride blinded him to the fact that his pupil had a few darker tendencies that he should have noticed and possibly fixed. Tai Lung appears genuinely affected for a moment... and then angrily says that he didn't come here for apologies: he only wants the Dragon Scroll. It's at this point when the audience realizes that Tai Lung is truly beyond redemption.
    • This is repeated in Kung Fu Panda 2 when Lord Shen's fleet is wrecked, his weapons are destroyed, and Po offers him a chance to reject his philosophy and repent. He instead tries to kill Po one last time. It doesn't work any better for him, though unlike Tai-Lung he seemed to find peace right before the end.
  • Near the end of The Lorax (2012) all the townspeople partake in a musical number where they sing about the benefits of bringing back real trees. Eventually the main villain joins in. "My name's O'Hare, I'm one of you!/ I live in Thneedville too./ The things you say just might be true./ It might be time to start anew/ And change my point of view... Nah! I say let it die! Let it die, let it die, let it shrivel up and... Come on! Who's with me?"
  • In The Simpsons Movie, upon learning that the government is about to destroy Springfield, Marge tries to convince Homer to come with them by saying "In every marriage you get one chance to say, 'I need you to do this with me.' And there's only one answer when somebody says that." Homer's response?
    Homer: That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard!
    Marge: Homer Simpson!
  • Toy Story 3: When Lotso is about to be crushed by landfill machinery, Andy's toys go out of their way to save him. He repays them by trapping them in a certain-death situation, which they're only saved from by the timely intervention of the Little Green Men. This costs him.
  • In the original version of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, main antagonist Zira would have done this before her death. Kiara, Simba's daughter, attempted a Take My Hand! as Zira dangled over a cliff above a raging river. Zira, however, has harbored an irrational hatred of Simba since Scar's day, and verbally rejects Kiara's offer before letting go willingly. This was changed in the final cut for being too dark.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Li Mu Bai confronted Jen after she stole his sword, the Green Destiny. After handily defeating her, he offered to make her his student, admiring her talent as a fighter and recognizing that unless that talent was nurtured, she might become corrupted by Jade Fox. Jen bitterly denounced Li Mu Bai and his teachings.
  • In The Godfather movies, Michael is responsible for oh so many murders, earning him quite the guilty conscience. In the third movie a priest tells Michael that he can still make amends for his sins; however, the priest realizes that Michael won't believe his crimes can be forgiven, and so won't bother changing his ways.
  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers: During the climax of the film, Loomis tries to reason with Michael, proposing that he fight his rage and redeem himself through a positive relationship with his niece Jamie. It initially seems to work, with Michael calmly listening to Loomis and even lowering his knife, but when Loomis tries to take the knife away, Michael promptly slashes him across the gut and tosses him through the banister in a frenzy.
  • The Irishman: Nearing the end of his life, Frank is visited by two FBI agents who once again ask him what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. By this point everybody who had anything to do with the murder besides Frank himself is already dead, most of his family has disowned him, and even the mafia has basically forgotten he exists. Nevertheless, he still refuses to tell them anything rather than come clean.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers (2012), Thor tells his brother Loki (the villain) that it's not too late to stop his plan after unleashing an army of aliens on New York. For a second it seems like Loki will back down, but then he stabs his brother in the stomach and blows off his offer as 'sentiment'. This finally pushes Thor over the edge, and he quickly curb-stomps Loki.
      • Loki makes a habit of this, up until his actual redemption and subsequent death. In Thor: The Dark World, Loki is given a chance to help Thor avenge their mother by stopping the Dark Elves, and Loki, after much bickering, sincerely helps save Thor's love Jane and kills the monster that killed their mother. It appears to be a Redemption Equals Death moment...except Loki instead uses this as an opportunity to fake his death, return to Asgard in disguise, kidnap Odin, and assume his place as king. In Thor: Ragnarok, after this was exposed and the two ended up on Sakaar, Loki is captured by Valkyrie before he can turn Thor over to the Grandmaster, and offers Thor a means to escape back to Asgard. During this plan, however, Loki attempts to betray Thor just as they seem to have an understanding, only for Thor to see this coming and incapacitate Loki with the control disk previously used on Thor, allowing Thor to give him a speech where he points out that Loki is always squandering his potential with betrayals when he could be something more. Loki takes this to heart and arrives later to help evacuate the Asgardians, after which he sincerely redeems himself and rejoins his brother, later dying while trying to protect him from Thanos.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Nebula refuses the Last-Second Chance given by her step sister and exits the scene via High-Dive Escape.
    • Avengers: Endgame: The now-redeemed Nebula gives her past self from an alternate timeline the opportunity to join her and Gamora, and is forced to kill her when she refuses to betray Thanos out of fear.
  • At the end of Oz the Great and Powerful, Oscar tries to sympathize with the Wicked Witch of the West (Theodora), stating her Start of Darkness was not her fault, and should she ever find a speck of light within her rotted heart, he'd welcome her back with open arms. She replies with a Big "NEVER!", and flies away on a broom while cackling, setting her eventual fate 15 years later.
  • Amon Goeth from Schindler's List has two major redemption rejections in the film. First, Schindler convinces him that pardoning people rather than killing them for minor infractions is a sign of true power. Goeth tries this for a while before shooting a young man for not cleaning his bathroom properly. Second is his relationship with his maid, Helen, who he seems to care somewhat for and who almost convinces him that Jews are more than just vermin, but he ends up beating her mercilessly.
  • In Sodom and Gomorrah, after receiving a message from Jehovah about the impending destruction of the title cities, Hebrew leader Lot tries to appeal to Queen Bera of Sodom and her subjects to repent their sinful ways and join the Hebrews in following Jehovah to spare them from His vengeance. But none of the Sodomites are interested (one in particular tells Lot he's happy in Sodom and throws a goblet of wine in his face), while Bera tells Lot that she feels she has nothing to repent, and even a final warning from Jehovah Himself does not sway her.
    Bera: What you call sin, to me is virtue. And all-powerful Death, whom you hate, I worship. I turn my back on you, Lot. (stands up) On you... and your impotent god. (the Sodomites cheer as she turns to leave; Jehovah promptly signals that He means business with a bolt of lightning in a largely clear sky, and Lot looks meaningfully skyward, but Bera smirks defiantly) Clouds, lightning. Such simple wonders you teach your people to fear.
  • In the Star Wars series, The Heavy Kylo Ren does this twice:
    • The Force Awakens: Han Solo offers Kylo (a.k.a: his son Ben) a chance to reject The Dark Side and come home to his family who love him. Ren appears to consider it, shedding tears and even handing Han his lightsaber, but ultimately impales Han with it and throws his body into an abyss, saying his love for Han is a weakness he has to give up.
    • The Last Jedi: Rey offers Kylo the chance to join her after he kills his master, the Greater-Scope Villain Snoke, and they fight off his Praetorian Guard together. Instead, he tries to pull a We Can Rule Together on her and stays behind to take over the First Order.
  • In Tales from the Hood, the fourth and final story focused on a gangbanger named Crazy K. After getting shot by enemies from another gang, Crazy K is saved at the last minute by police and taken to prison. There he meets a Mysterious Woman in White who offers him a chance at redemption which he accepts. She begins by forcing Crazy K to witness the horrors he inflicted over his years of gangbanging. At the end, she puts him in an isolated room, where he sees visions of the many people he killed: enemies, friends, even an innocent girl who was a bystander during one of his many drive-by shootings. Ultimately, however, Crazy K rejects redemption, telling the lady (who was really an angel) that he doesn't give a fuck. The lady finally gives up and Crazy K, who really died from his gunshot wound and was given a chance to save his soul, was sent to Hell. Discussed by the Narrator who mentions that people like him are too far gone and can't be saved.
  • In TRON: Legacy, Kevin Flynn tries to talk sense into his creation, the Program Clu, who, in following Flynn's orders to create "the perfect system," turned the Grid into a dystopian society were Programs are oppressed. Flynn, having realized that such an order was doomed to fail, sincerely apologizes to Clu for giving said order to him (Clu, meanwhile, is bitter at his creator for breaking their promise of "[changing] the world together"). After apologizing, Kevin silently offers to give Clu a hug. Clu seems at first willing to embrace his creator... but then quickly kicks him to the ground, revealing that he will never stop in his quest for perfection.

  • In "Reviewing the Situation," from the musical Oliver!, Fagin briefly considers the attractions (or lack of same) of a moral and upstanding life, but ends up deciding that a comfortable old age is much more important to him.
  • Alluded to in "The Hounds" by The Protomen:
    If there ever was a time, if there ever was a chance
    To undo the things I've done and wash these bloodstains from my hands
    It has passed and been forgotten, these are the paths that we must take
    'Cuz you and I, Tom, we are men and we can bend, and we can break

    Myths & Religion 
  • According to Christian thought, this is what causes damnation as all other sins can be forgiven if the sinner sincerely repents. This sin is called Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Orthodox Christianity considers Despair, in this context giving up hope of salvation, to be the eighth and deadliest cardinal sin (while Catholic theology folds Despair into Sloth).

    Pro Wrestling 
  • After Kevin Von Erich defeated "Gentleman" Chris Adams, who recently betrayed him with a Superkick after aligning with Gary Hart, the former stated to the latter that he was willing wipe the slate clean on the condition that Adams got rid of his new manager. Adams responded with a brutal assult with a chair from behind.
  • After The Nation Of Intoxication destroyed the makeshift team of Drew Blood, Ron Mathis and Rory Mondo at the 2014 CZW Tangled Web, Danny Havoc was willing to apologize for trying to burn Mondo alive and put their bad blood behind him, with the crowd roaring his name in appreciation for the toughness he showed even though his team decisively lost the match...that was until Mondo cursed the name of Havoc, necessitating their feud continue.
  • The heroic return montage World Wonder Ring STARDOM put together for Act Yasukawa before the final match of the 2015 Five*Star Grand Prix, combined with a huge pop from the audience, actually brought her close to tears and had her spew a fountain of rum in appreciation... before she proceeded spit on all the audience members she could, reject Haruka Kato and Momo Watanabe's welcome then had Kyoko Kimura preoccupy the referee while she destroyed them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus: In the climax, the players have the chance to try to talk the Fallen Angel and archdevil Zariel into accepting the spark of goodness that remains within her old sword and turning away from evil. This is a challenging task, and if they fail she violently rejects the idea of rejoining the hosts of heaven and shatters her sword, putting herself forever beyond redemption.
    • Dragonlance: When the deity Mishakal offered Lord Soth a chance at redemption by stopping the Kingpriest of Istar and preventing the Cataclysm, he initially accepted the request but then put aside his mission to confront his second wife about her infidelity. As a result, he was cursed to become a death knight. While in Ravenloft, Soth was given an opportunity by the Dark Powers to put his evil past behind him; he rejected their offer and was made into the Darklord of Sithicus. After spending a long time with a magic mirror showing him all of the mistakes in his life, Soth finally accepts that all of his misery was ultimately his own fault. The Dark Powers send him back to Krynn since nothing they can do to him could be worse than his own guilt and apathy. When Takhisis comes calling again, Soth rejects her. She then restores his mortality and brings his castle down upon him.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: In the Gehenna sourcebook, one ending has the Antediluvians forcing open a gate into Heaven so they can devour God and become the rulers of the universe. An angel appears and pleads with them one last time to accept their Creator's forgiveness. They refuse and exultantly jeer that God MUST fear them, or he wouldn't be giving them a chance to surrender. They demand to face God. Their wish is granted, and they are wiped from existence in a heartbeat.
    • In a different scenario Caine (the Biblical one, here the first vampire) comes face to face with the ghost of his slain brother Abel. Abel says he forgives his brother and offers him the chance to move on together with him. While the notes state that the gamemaster could have Caine accept this offer it is much more in character for Caine to tell his brother to shove it. At several points the same sourcebook it also implies that Caine could end his vampiric curse at any time by accepting God's forgiveness but refuses to do so until God apologises first for setting him up to sin, although depending on one's interpretation of the Old World of Darkness version of God Caine might be in the right there.

  • Both Your Houses: Incorruptible Pure Pureness congressman Alan has a heart-to-heart with Corrupt Politician congressman Sol in which Alan appeals to Sol's better nature and says that he knows Sol doesn't really want to vote for the bill. Sol in turn tells Alan that it's way too late for him, that in his early days he had a Good Angel, Bad Angel thing going but the longer he stayed, the weaker the Good Angel got until it finally gave up.
  • Marlowe's Doctor Faustus wrings a lot of tension out of this trope as the time comes for the title character to relinquish his soul to the devil — he wants to repent, but is too afraid of the physical torture the demons will inflict on him if he does. He doesn't, and they do it anyway.
  • Heathers: Veronica pleads with J.D. to abandon his murderous desires, dismantle the bomb, and come with her before it's too late, saying she wishes things had turned out differently. He just snarls, "I wish I had more TNT." But when Veronica takes the bomb, intent on taking the blast to protect everyone else, J.D. has a genuine change of heart and rescues her.

    Web Animation 
  • Alucard of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged is on the Earth because Satan tasked him with killing worse monsters than himself, as he swore he would during his decapitation by God's worshippers, the same God whom he believed had been on his side throughout his mortal life. So when that very same God shows up to offer Alucard forgiveness, Alucard is having none of it and reads God the riot act before affirming, No, he does not need God's forgiveness, thank you very much.
    God: Alucard... you are forgiven. And if you are brave enough to accept it—
    Alucard: Didn't ask; don't need it; go fuck yourself!

  • In Earthsong, Willow offers the Mandragora the means to leave Beluosus service when she develops her stonecrafting ability, which allows her to remove his infection from their soulstones. Only one of them chooses this—the rest of them return to him with varying degrees of hesitation. Neuria and Jormand decide they want it after all once they learn that Beluosus consumed two of their comrades, but it leads to disaster.
  • Captain Estar Goes To Heaven (side-comic in Subnormality) is about a miserable, self-hating hired assassin whose latest target claims he found a shortcut to Heaven. She doesn't believe him. Soon after, she's hunted down and captured by other hitmen, who decide to go to the shortcut so they can loot whatever ambush was set up there, and then they visit the "pearly gates" for kicks. Turns out, it definitely isn't paradise and the hitmen are slaughtered by the natives - but they spare Estar. They then rewrite reality so she never screwed up her life, giving her a second chance to be a normal person. She flips them all off and goes straight back to killing, claiming that heaven and hell don't exist - you end up right where you belong, and what matters is how fast you learn to live with it.

    Web Video 
  • Just like its original counterpart, Undertale the Musical has Papyrus attempt to redeem the human during the Genocide Package, making up the collection's third song. He is repaid this kindness with a slash to the neck before his skull gets crushed into dust.

    Real Life 
  • The infamous pirate Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard) was at one point pardoned and had the chance to reform himself. Blackbeard soon returned to piracy and continued to plunder the high seas, and paid for it in what may have been one of the toughest battles the British navy ever had to fight against pirates.
  • Eddie Slovik (1920-1945) was the only American soldier since the American Civil War to be executed solely for desertion. During World War II, Slovik fled his unit in October 1944. He returned to headquarters later and, after admitting what he did, was offered not one but three chances to return to frontline combat duty without any punishment. Slovik refused and was promptly arrested; he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. The death sentence came as a shock to Slovik; he had honestly expected to be imprisoned.


"It's Far Too Late For That"

Batman offers the Joker a chance to turn his life around only for the Joker to solemnly say that it is far too late.

How well does it match the trope?

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