Follow TV Tropes


Reformed Bully

Go To

"Hey, Judy. I'd just like to say I'm sorry for the way I behaved in my youth. I had a lot of self-doubt, and it manifested itself in the form of unchecked rage and aggression. I was a major jerk."
Gideon Grey, Zootopia

A mean kid from school or the neighborhood, who treated people like dirt and ruled over the class with an iron fist turns up again. They were pretty, petty, judgmental, quick to shove other hapless students in their own lockers or slander them to their faces, and now they're... apologizing?

Yep, that grade-A pain in the neck has seemingly turned over a new leaf. The reason varies from person to person. Maybe their victims gave them a taste of their own medicine. Maybe they graduated and realized the real world isn't as easy as they thought it would be in school. note  Maybe they did some soul-searching, became more enlightened or matured significantly and realized that's not the person they want to be. Maybe they were just tired of being mean. No matter what reason, they are trying to change for the better. Of course, not everyone is likely to forgive them, and they probably wouldn't blame them if they didn't.

There may be moments where they slip back into their scheming ways but they'll usually catch themselves in time before they do anything too awful. And of course just because they are nicer doesn't mean they lose their biting wit. (That is, if they had any in the first place) Also, if they're still a bit of a jerk despite changing their ways, then they fall into Reformed, but Not Tamed.

Often overlaps with The Atoner and may be the ultimate goal of a Redemption Quest. If the former bully somehow doesn't feel sorry for his past actions but stopped for some other reasons, he can be the child version of Retired Monster, unreformed on the inside and without repentance and only changing in the acts. Another overlapping trope is Bully Turned Buddy, where the bully may not be reformed, but does manage to befriend their former victim.

If they were initially mean and horrible...and didn't get any nicer (if not worse) as they got older, they're the Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up.

Compare Former Teen Rebel, where the character may have been rebellious but weren't necessarily mean or a bully. Also compare and contrast to the Lovable Alpha Bitch, who has enough nice qualities to balance out the bad ones, and the Lovable Jock and Dumb Jock, since the former is just a Nice Guy all around and the latter is probably too stupid to be mean. If they were always reluctant about bullying, see Peer-Pressured Bully. Compare also the Former Bigot whose Jerkass behavior from an earlier time came from bias and hatred of a catgorical class and which have since been renounced.

Contrast Used to Be a Sweet Kid when they start off a decent, kind individual, but then progressively took several levels in Jerkass maybe becoming an Evil Former Friend or may have even undergone a Start of Darkness turning into a Tragic Monster in the worst, most tragic cases.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bokura no Hentai: The Distant Finale final chapter features Marika's middle school bully greeting her in high school. He's a lot friendlier than he used to be. In middle school, he made fun of her for being feminine, and later living as a girl (with implications that he had a crush on her after she began living as a girl).
  • Case Closed: In an early episode, the Victim of the Week was one of these. After driving his victim to hang himself, the remorseful bully showed up to the victim's father crying and begging for forgiveness. The father not only forgives the bully but even lets him pet-sit the dog when the bully returns as an adult. But it turns out the bully actually never changed his ways, and prompted the father to train his dog to attack the bully.
  • Chihayafuru: Taichi Mashima was a bully in flashbacks, but reformed and is now a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys: Habara is a former bully who cannot shake off her reputation. It is said that it would be better for her to skip town.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Winged Braves: Thanks to Adaptational Nice Guy, Gusuke's bullies, Tsubakuro and Tobio reforms at the end of the climatic battle, putting their rivalries aside and even cheers for Gusuke in the finale. Averted in the manga where the bullies are absent for unknown reasons in the final scene.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Subverted at the very beginning of the series. Dio Brando has been an evil mastermind for most of his life, even in his childhood. When George Joestar adopted him, Dio used his guile and charm to poison all relationships that George's clumsy son Jonathan had, even to the point of killing Jonathan's dog. Jonathan is outmatched against Dio, but when Dio goes too far and steals his girlfriend's first kiss, Jonathan gets so angry that Dio can't even slow him down. After that incident, Dio stops his bullying altogether, and for the next several years, they seem like the best of friends. But Dio was simply biding his time for the opportune moment, and Jonathan never trusted or forgave him.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Arisa was a bully back in preschool, but she got that attitude slapped out of her by Nanoha (giving her the honor of being the first character ever befriended in canon). Her former bullying victim Suzuka ended up becoming her best friend (and possibly more), a friendship that is shown in the first StrikerS Sound Stage to still be going strong when they're in college.
  • Downplayed in Horimiya. Hori mentions in chapter 8 that the reason she helps out the Student Council when she isn't even a member is that she's trying to make up for how hard she was on her Childhood Friend Sengoku throughout their childhood (though she still messes with him from time to time when they're alone).
  • My Hero Academia: Played with in regards to Bakugo. He starts the series as a Smug Super who takes pleasure in bullying and picking on the much weaker Midoriya. A few chapters in and Midoriya has gained his own superpower and starts standing up to him at the same time that the two join a prestigious Hero Academy, which is unlikely to tolerate that behavior, and their classmates are not intimidated by him, with many being actually as powerful or skilled as him, sometimes even more. So he stops being a bully, but he maintains the same personality, except that he can't bully anyone anymore. He later starts befriending some of his classmates and even Midoriya, leading to him playing this trope straight, while still having quite an unpleasant personality. He finally becomes completely reformed in Chapter 322 after apologizing to Midoriya.
    • The first slight change in his behavior was noted in the Entrance Exams. By that point, Midoriya muses to himself that while Bakugo is still just as abrasive as ever, he lightened up immensely on the verbal abuse ever since the Sludge Villain incident. Before that, he literally suggested Midoriya jump out a window and hope for a Quirk in his next life. After that, all he does is pretty much a continuous "stay out of my way".
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is about a girl who gets reincarnated as the villainess in her favorite otome game, who bullies the protagonist. In the main series, Catarina gets her Past-Life Memories back at the age of eight and never becomes a bully, but in the On the Verge of Doom spinoff manga, this happens after she has bullied her adoptive brother Keith for years and while she's in the process of bullying Maria, the original game's protagonist. While Maria is willing to accept Catarina's change of heart, Keith is not.
  • Onani Master Kurosawa:
    • Sugawa. As middle school comes to a close and she becomes too worried about poor grades ruining her future to bully, and she shows Hypocritical Heartwarming towards her previous target Kitahara, as well as ultimately forgiving Kurosawa for his harassment and dating him.
    • One could also see Kurosawa himself as this after he admits to his sexual harassment of female students and decides to face ridicule head on instead of running away to reform himself.
  • A Silent Voice:
  • Wandering Son: Doi had bullied Nitori since elementary. They end up going to the same high school, away from most of Nitori's old friends, and end up becoming awkward friends.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: Takeshi used to pick on main character Yuri when they were children. Their relationship improved over time, and as an adult, he's now one of Yuri's most supportive friends.

    Comic Books 
  • Flash Thompson from Spider-Man bullied Peter in high school. He got better as he got older once the two entered college and they got along fairly well, and eventually became one of Peter's best friends. Joining the military also taught him discipline and mellowed him out a lot. He became a hero in his own right and eventually the fourth, and first straight-up heroic, incarnation of Venom and became an ally of Spider-Man.
  • A mid-eighties Daredevil issue has Matt encountering Stinky McQuade at the end of an unrelated adventure. Stinky claims to be the bully who ironically nicknamed Matt "Daredevil" and he apologizes for his treatment of Matt as a kid before walking away.
  • A one-off issue of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) focuses on how Twilight's brother, Shining Armour, met his wife. The story is a playful homage to every teen '80s film ever including a Jerk Jock called Buck. While he's definitely an antagonist in the past, in the present day he seems much more likable, and judging by the friendly gestures gets on a lot better with Shining.

    Fan Works 
  • Bridge to Terabithia 2: The Last Time, a fanfic follow-up that combines both the Katherine Patterson novel and the Disney adaptation, actually gives Scott Hoager, Jess' former bully from the movie version the reformed treatment. The story also includes a new character, Sonia Taylors, Jess' on-off girlfriend who is excessively manipulative, sadistic, ruthless, and especially takes delight in picking on Leslie, who turns out to be not really dead, but was kidnapped by an enemy of the Burke family and isolated from society for years before inevitably reuniting with Jess when both of them are teenagers. Sonia gets written off halfway through the story before showing up again in the Distant Epilogue, where she actually turns over a new leaf after she married Scott Hoager. The two ex-bullies had a son, Brandon, which becomes best friends with the daughter of Jess and Leslie, much to Jess' bewilderment. According to the daughter; "Brandon's mom is so nice to me..." and "Brandon's dad is a sergeant in the army"...
  • Danganronpa Yakuza Arc, after Natsumi Kuzuryu was saved by Hajime, he convinces her to better herself in Part 1, leading her to stop bullying people. She later apologizes to Mahiru and Sato, who she had bullied previously, and the latter of whom attempted to kill her for it to protect Mahiru. Mahiru accepts the apology and forgives Natsumi, with the two later becoming friends. Sato doesn't forgive Natsumi, but accepts her apology and ends their feud. Sato also apologizes for, you know, trying to bash Natsumi's head in.note 
  • The Day The Sky Fell (a Chicken Little fanfic): The main character and hero of the story is a grown-up Foxy Loxy, former schoolyard bully who now lives in another town and works as a police officer.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf: Hefty Smurf becomes this, particularly in light of his treatment of his young sister Sassette in "Little Sister Smurf Lost."
  • Everyday Life with Ultimate Girls: In light of her Attempted Rape, Hiyoko Saionji becomes this. She still occasionally calls her previously favorite target Mikan Tsumiki names, but she is actually trying to get her to stop being such an Extreme Doormat and fire back against those who mistreat her. She also drops her nickname of "Pig Barf", calling her by her real name.
  • Forewarned is Forearmed: In the first story, Akira deals with a relentless bully named Daiki who makes him a pariah at school, wrecks his things, and steals his shoes among other things. But after Daiki gets thrown into the TV World and Akira defeats his Shadow, he has a Heel Realization and apologizes. When winter arrives, they even become friends. And in the sequels, he even gets a Persona, Fezzik.
  • My Super Best Friend has Heidi Turner return to being a Nice Girl after breaking up with Eric Cartman. However, when she was Cartman's Distaff Counterpart during the time she was still with him, she bullied many of her peers, which she acknowledges and is trying to make amends for her wrongdoings. For the most part, Heidi does succeed but has a harder time earning Kyle's forgiveness who arguably got the worst of her crap. Luckily Heidi gives Kyle a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech that convinces Kyle to reconcile with Stan while letting go of his resentment of Heidi and be happy for her. It helps that Heidi tries to defend Kyle when her ex-boyfriend attacks him.
  • Nymph and the Corrupted Miraculous: Marinette saves Chloe from an incoming car but at the cost of becoming paralyzed from the waist down. Grateful for saving his daughter, Mayor Bourgeois repays her by helping with all expenses related to making Marinette's life wheelchair accessible and Chloe declares herself Marinette's friend. While nicer to Marinette, Chloe still acts like a brat to everybody else with Marinette trying to make her behave. It is not until Adrien practically yells at her in public due to her behavior does she realize just how toxic her behavior is.
  • Recommencer has Bella Allegri, a former Alpha Bitch who came to realize that she didn't care for the personal cost of her behavior. This spurred her to seek out professional help in countering her Lack of Empathy, including a form of training where her teachers and other trusted adults use a clicker to reinforce positive behavior, signaling to her when she's being too cruel. This makes her a prime Foil for Lila, who truly doesn't care about the impact her behavior has on others and happily continues being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • see it all in bloom: Bakugo Katsuki takes this trope and runs with it, to the point where will i ever be more than i've always been? focuses on his efforts to prevent other people from being bullied like how he bullied Izuku.
  • New Pair Of Eyes sees school bully Deborah Rust taken down by quite a few pegs by a previously disregarded classmate. After this, Deborah becomes more amenable to reason and follows Catherine's lead without complaint or argument.
  • Total Drama Legacy: Lightning. In Total Drama: Revenge of the Island, he was a Jerk Jock, but now, he's a caring family man.
  • Waiting is worth it: Bakugo accidentally cripples Izuku for life with his quirk, causing him to develop a Guilt Complex and overprotective streak, defending him from bullies and generally helping when Izuku needs him. While he still has his explosive temper and tends to snap at everyone, including Izuku, it is often Anger Born of Worry and he begrudgingly tries showing gestures of apology when it is necessary.
  • Why Am I Crying?:
    • Cheerilee was a bully in high school of Scootaloo's father Crimson. When she sees him again when Scootaloo had taken Silver Spoon to the hospital when he tries to leave she apologizes to him for everything she did to him. Crimson doesn't want to hear it but Cheerilee begs him to hear her out. Even offering to meet him somewhere to speak about it. He agrees then they get along better later.
    • Silver Spoon, who had bullied Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Applebloom, becomes better later on after Diamond Tiara is killed. She even becomes one of Scootaloo's closest friends in high school.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has "Baby" Brent McHale, whose fame as the mascot of Baby Brent Sardines gave him a huge ego and caused him to be a bully to Flint Lockwood starting from childhood and taking it into adulthood. When Flint's food rain causes him to become a bigger celebrity, Brent falls from grace and starts reflecting on his life. At the climax of the film, he decides to go with Flint and company to help stop the FLDSMDFR, wanting to make a change in his life and stop coasting on his childhood fame. Come the second film, he's become good friends with Flint. When trying to separate Flint from his friends, Chester V uses the fact that he used to be a bully to try and make Flint distrust him.
  • Lou (2017): JJ reluctantly becomes one, although he does eventually see the good side of being friendly.
  • Maya the Bee: The Honey Games, Violet is a former mean girl who bullies Maya and other bugs from the meadow by beating them in the games in order for Beegood to win. Near the end of the second film, after she was rescued by Team Poppy from Thekla, she apologises to Maya for abusing her and for cheating. Finally she becomes best friends with both Maya and Willy, also helps Team Poppy win the final race, and disowns Beegood.
  • Megamind: Downplayed with Metro Man. As a child, Metro Man (or Metro-Lad) was a Smug Super who relentlessly bullied Megamind after the latter caused an accident in class; constantly telling Megamind he was evil and making sure he was picked last in all games of Dodgeball. As an adult, whilst Metro Man is still a rival to Megamind, his rivalry with Megamind is far more friendly and he expresses approval about Megamind's Heel–Face Turn.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Sunset Shimmer is a nasty bully who uses her magic abilities to subjugate her high school after crossing over to the human world. After her defeat, she is reformed, but has a lot of trouble proving herself to her schoolmates. She does succeed in getting them to accept her and she subsequently became the main protagonist of the franchise.
  • Next Gen: Greenwood bullied Mai. At the end of the movie, they become friends.
  • Turning Red: Tyler Nguyen-Baker is frequently antagonistic towards Meilin Lee and her friends. When he learns of her Red Panda transformation, he tries to take advantage of her form by making her the attraction for his birthday party (though this later backfired horribly on him). During the 4*Town concert, when Mei and her friends discover he's also a fan of the group, they hug and welcome him into the "sisterhood". After the climax, it's revealed that he now hangs out with Mei and her friends, and he even wears a friendship bracelet that matches theirs, thus becoming a Bully Turned Buddy.
  • Zootopia provides the page image and quote. Judy was bullied as a child by a fox named Gideon Gray who beat her up and clawed her left cheek while mocking her desire to become a police officer. Near the end of the film, she learns that Gideon's now a top pastry chef and even does business with her parents, Stu and Bonnie Hopps. When she reunites with Gideon as an adult, he apologizes to Judy for how he acted in the past—Gideon claims that he had a lot of issues as a kid, but has ultimately come to realize that it was very wrong of him to take it out on other people, including her. This ends up helping Judy to forgive Gideon for how he treated her when they were kids. Surprisingly, alongside Judy's resignation to the police and going back to her hometown, Gideon provides the necessary information needed to uncover and solve the film's main conflict, enabling Judy to go back to the eponymous city to finally end the violent divide between predators and prey once and for all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • By the end of A Girl Like Her, Alpha Bitch Avery is so horrified by the video evidence of her treatment of Jessica that she breaks down in tears and admits she's a bully.
  • Biff is a subverted example in the best timeline of the Back to the Future trilogy. He never becomes a great guy, but after being humbled by George's fist, he's given up his meanest habits to the point that he has a friendly relationship with the McFly family. However, him calling Marty "butthead" before he recognized him in the third film, and the behavior of his older future self in the second might cast doubt on whether he's really reformed or is just scared of George (or possibly a little of both).
  • Gus from Benchwarmers was a bully in his childhood, who bullied one kid so much he became a shut-in in his mother's basement even into adulthood. In the present day, he is afraid to have a kid because he thinks they'll be bullied or become a bully, and joins the 'baseball team' The Benchwarmers (a couple of dorky adults representing the kids who never get to play baseball because they are deemed too wimpy or geeky or weird) and plays baseball games against little league teams of jock kids and their former jock coaches. Later in the movie, he tries to make amends and apologize to the kid he himself bullied as a child.
  • In The Wave (2008), when the kids write about how membership in The Wave has changed their life/perspective. One writes that he used to be a bully and is now ashamed of his actions.
  • By the end of Mean Girls, all of the 'Plastics', including the queen bee Regina, go through this.
  • Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, which lampoons every other teen drama trope as well. In one scene, Jake calls himself "the reformed cool guy", which implies this trope as he was a Jerk Jock.
  • Subverted in 13 Going on 30 when the main character discovers that her best friend seventeen years in the future and co-worker was the Alpha Bitch of her middle school, now much nicer...except she's also selling secrets to a rival fashion magazine.
  • Shane Hawkins in The World's End used to bully Pete to a horrendous degree. At first he ignores him, then approaches him later on to apologize. Under the circumstances, it's probable that part or all of his reformation is due to him being a robot controlled by an alien intelligence trying to get the cast off their guard so they can be caught.
  • In Billy Madison, Billy calls up an old high school acquaintance (played by Steve Buscemi) to apologize for treating him poorly years ago. After the phone call, a thoughtful look appears on Buscemi's face, and he crosses Billy's name off of a list titled "People To Kill".
  • Joanna in You Again was a horrible Alpha Bitch bully to the heroine Marnie during high school and spends much of the movie acting like the bullying was no big deal and they should just start over fresh, especially since Joanna is about to marry Marnie's brother, who has no idea that Joanna and JJ (the nickname she went by in high school) are the same person. When Marnie exposes Joanna's past to everyone, Joanna tearfully admits that she really does regret how she behaved back then and was inspired to change her ways after her parents died and she wanted to be a better person that they could be proud of. Her genuine apology cements her reformation and Marnie is able to accept that she truly has changed for the better.
  • Anger Management: David is forced by his anger management therapist Buddy to confront his old bully Artie Shankman, who turns out to have become a Buddhist Monk in the modern day. Subverted in that while Artie is initially willing to apologize for most of what he's done, he's completely unrepentant about the time he pulled David's shorts down in front of his childhood crush (a traumatic moment for David that crippled his self-esteem) and still insists it was hilarious, and it only takes a bit of goading from Buddy about his mentally-disabled sister for Artie to snap back into his old bullying mentality, leading David and Artie to fight it out.
  • It’s eventually revealed in A Christmas Story Christmas that Scut Farkus turned into this. After Ralphie beat the crap out of him in the first film, he was left humbled and decided to turn his life around and eventually became a cop. As a result, when he caught Ralphie breaking into Flick’s bar, despite having every right to arrest him, he instead takes him home and thanks him for what he did.

  • Bridge to Terabithia: Janice Avery, the eight-grade class bully who even forces other girls to hand over chocolate so she will let them use the bathroom (changed to a quarter in the movie adaptation), turns out to have a Freudian Excuse having been physically abused by her father at home. When Leslie Burke gives Janice some heartfelt advice and warms out to her, Janice eventually turns over a new leaf.
  • In the Discworld, Night Watch offers a glimpse into the shared past of Patrician Vetinari and Lord Downey, now Guild Master but then a contemporary of Havelock Vetinari when both were pupils at the Assassins' guild School. Downey is very much the undisputed School Bully and seeks to make life miserable for the seemingly weedy and ineffectual "Dog-botherer". Vetinari bides his time and comes up with a devastating counter-attack. In the "now" of the Discworld, some thirty years later, lord Downey is deferential and careful to be of service to the City's ruling Patrician. A school bully at the Assassins' School risks making some very powerful enemies who will have memories in later life - not forgetting and possibly inclined to forgiveness. Eventually.
  • In the Harry Potter series:
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix it is revealed that James was a bully in his youth, mostly targeting Snape because he was a Death Eater wannabe and friends with the girl James fancied. Sirius and Lupin reassure Harry that he grew up before Lily would date him and he became Head Boy, both of which happened in his seventh year.
    • Dudley apologizes to Harry for years of abuse at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and they still keep in touch as adults.
    • After the main events of the series, Draco Malfoy turns his life around and raises his son Scorpius to be a better man than he was.
  • N.E.R.D.S.: Jerk Jock Jackson Jones after losing his popularity and place on the football team overnight thanks to his new dorky set of braces. Even though he stops being a bully after losing his popularity, he only realizes his actions were wrong much later. From then on, he actively becomes The Atoner and tries to make peace with his former victims.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • When Firestar arrived in ThunderClan, he was bullied by Sandstorm, Dustpelt, and Longtail for being a former kittypet. Over time, Sandstorm started bonding with him after he'd saved her life in battle only to eventually become his mate, Dustpelt outgrew his bullying attitude and began to respect him as a leader despite occasionally disagreeing with him, and Longtail proved himself a loyal warrior who matured past his original prejudice.
    • Shrewclaw bullied Tallstar with the name "Worm", as a reference to his tunneler heritage. However, he got over this in the end after Tallstar helped in battle, even giving him a life during his leader ceremony to show he'd changed.
  • In Wicked, Glinda starts out as hating Elphaba's guts. She hadn't wanted a roommate and especially didn't want a nerdy, green girl as her roomie. Over the next year, she begins to slowly become fond of Elphaba, but she still pretends to hate her amongst her Girl Posse. After Elphaba is embarrassed at a gathering, Glinda shuns her friends and becomes besties with Elphaba. It's also all but stated that Glinda was in love with Elphaba.
  • In The Wish List, Brendan Ball, Lowrie's childhood bully, turns out to be this. Lowrie intended to face him again as an adult and clock him one good, but Brendan turned out to be friendly and remorseful for his past actions, and the two end up bonding.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Penny goes through a stage of repentance thinking of the girls she bullied in high school; this is prompted by her two best friends in adult life, Amy and Bernadette, both being exactly the sort of nerdy types she'd have made life difficult for.
    • A former bully calls on Leonard to help him with a business idea. Leonard confronts him on his behavior as teenagers and the man, who is drunk at this point, tearfully apologizes, and Leonard takes him home to recover. However, when he sobers up in the morning, he turns out to be just as mean as he was back at school.
  • In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will returns to his hometown, Philadelphia, and after getting his reputation mocked to his face for leaving and going to Bel Air (as seen in the opening credits), decides to confront his old bully. However, said bully is now a mentor for younger people and no longer willing to fight. Ironically, when Will tries to provoke him into a fight and threatens to ruin the bully's rep, the ex-bully is the one telling Will to grow up.
  • Girl Meets World: Harley Kiner, a tormentor of Cory during Boy Meets World, regrets the way he behaved as a young man and is now friends with Cory, who got him his job as a janitor, for which he is grateful.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl was a bully as a teen (and still a pretty mean guy into the first few years of adulthood) before he finally had a change of heart. Former victims of his make up a couple List items, most notably the first one he completes is Kenny James, a kid he used to bully in school.
  • In New Tricks, Sandra was a pretty bad bully at school, to the point that at her High School Reunion, someone had defaced her class picture with devil horns and a goatee, and also at the police academy where she wrecked at least one other career and caused another cadet to crash out of training and into a life of crime. Seasons one and two showed that she was actively getting therapy to deal with her vicious streak, and she definitely mellowed throughout her tenure on the show.
  • Riverdale: Veronica Lodge was a bully at her old school pre-series. Driving a girl named Paige into therapy was enough for her to realize the horrible things she had done to the girl. She's trying not to go back to being the Alpha Bitch she once was.
  • Patricia from House of Anubis started off the show by bullying Nina over her assumption that she'd done something to make her best friend, Joy, disappear. She soon moved past this, though her grudge against Nina didn't disappear fully until Nina agreed to talk to her in private and help her out with her investigation to find Joy. Her character arc was finished when she joined Sibuna and ended up becoming very close friends with Nina. Her reformation was proven in the next two seasons when, despite hating Eddie and KT just like she'd hated Nina, her actions toward them had never reached the point of genuine bullying like with Nina.
    • Jerome was a bit of a bully toward his best friend, Alfie, manipulating him for his own agenda and forcing him to be The Mole against Sibuna, who were all much nicer to Alfie than he was. Following his partnership with Rufus Zeno, Jerome had to turn to Sibuna for help once he realized how much danger he'd put himself in. Though he never truly turned nice or became friends with Sibuna, he'd become a better friend to Alfie and spent the next two seasons attempting to reform himself further.
  • I Not Stupid has a TV series adaptation that gives Chong Meng, The Bully to the trio Terry, Boon Hock and Kwok Pin, the Adaptational Nice Guy treatment, by giving Chong Meng a Break the Haughty moment where he fails his exams and is unexpectedly comforted by Terry. When Kwok Pin's mother is diagnosed with leukemia and the school is searching for volunteer blood donors, the reformed Chong Meng is the first upper-class student to raise his hand.
  • In Zoey 101, Vince Blake returns in one episode after being expelled from school in the previous season for beating up Chase, Michael, and Logan after Chase exposed him for cheating on a test. He is said to have changed his ways, but Michael and Logan don't believe him and try to get revenge on him. The girls are quick to forgive him, but Michael and Logan don't forgive him until the end of the episode when Vince gives them a genuine apology for his actions.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • In season 2 Johnny meets up with the rest of the Cobra Kai OGs, most of whom have turned into mature, well-adjusted adults. Bobby, who was the least jerkass of them, is now a pastor. Jimmy is a dedicated husband and father with nothing but contempt for the Cobra Kai ethos, and Tommy has made his peace with the world. The only exception is Dutch, who doesn't appear on account of being in prison.
    • Season 3 has Chozen, who was an even bigger a bully than Johnny, returning and confronting Daniel. He, like Johnny, initially appears to be a bit of a jerk towards Daniel, but it turns out to be an act, just for his own amusement. Once he is done trolling Daniel, he happily teaches him a secret martial arts technique. The two bond over and Chozen expresses regret over his past (read: murderous) behavior. Once Daniel forgives him, they part ways on good terms.
    • Eli goes full circle. He's introduced as a shy bullied nerd, then becomes an alpha bully after joining Cobra Kai and reinventing himself as Hawk. But in Season 3 he starts to become uncomfortable with his own actions and those of his fellows, especially after his former bullies join the dojo. The season finale has him turn on Cobra Kai and help defend the Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do students from an unprovoked assault.
  • Young Sheldon: In the Season 1 episode "Jiu-Jitsu, Bubble Wrap, and Yoo-Hoo", George Cooper, Sr. admitted that he was a bully growing up, but he's a reasonably good guy nowadays and is a loving husband and father and a hard-working family man for his wife and kids. In fact, George is played by the same actor as Leonard's former bully in the series' parent show The Big Bang Theory (see above).

    Video Games 
  • Groose becomes one as his Character Arc in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. He starts off bullying all his classmates (although he's not very successful where Link is concerned), but after he discovers the surface world and the evil that is brewing there, and finally accepts that Zelda isn't interested in him, he turns over a leaf and helps build defenses for the Temple of Light, which are ultimately vital to defeating the Big Bad.
  • In Them's Fightin' Herds, Tianhuo used to be an Alpha Bitch who bullied the weakest longmas, considering them a shame to their own kind. Then she had a Jerkass Realization after a prophetic dream in which the representation of both parts of her cultural legacy (a kind horse and a savage dragon) battled to achieve her inner peace. She apologized to her former victims and swore to use her strength to protect the weak.
  • In Lost Judgment, the resident Gang of Bullies of Seiryo High start off not only actively picking on Mami Koda but are also hostile to Yagami. Over the course of the game, they end up seeing the error of their ways and not only do they start to clean their act up but by the end they not only help out Yagami by distracting some cops sent by the Greater-Scope Villain to arrest him, the final scene has them standing up to other bullies alongside Koda, thus averting any potential future tragedies.

    Web Animation 
  • PRIVATE DIARY: Diego was a mean bully and used the fact that his mother is the principal to harass the other students. He softened up after he got to know Adele though and he even has reservations about his mother's plan to humiliate her by pouring goo on her when she rigged the election so Adele will be the prom queen.

    Web Comics 
  • Buckaress from League of Super Redundant Heroes was revealed to have once been an Alpha Bitch alongside her former friend before becoming who she is now. She was afraid of what her relatively unchanged former friend thinks of her, until it became apparent that she grew jealous at Buckaress's new life. Buckaress didn't notice the jealousy, however.
  • Pv P: Teezo Cunningham, Francis' high school bully, turns out to have become one of these when Francis meets him at their reunion. While he doesn't remember Francis specifically, he knows he was a huge asshole in school and went to the reunion specifically to apologize to everyone he tormented.
  • Questionable Content: Brun accidentally caused a Jerk Jock to become one of these with a single Armor-Piercing Response:
    Brun: [In Flashback] High school is going to be the best part of your life. Everything after now will be a slow slide into obscurity and misery. Enjoy it while it lasts.
    Renee: [In present] I looked Jed up a while ago and nowadays he's a pro wingsuit glider and motivational speaker. You gave that dude a complex.
  • Bruno the Bandit: Invoked in the "Sour Ron" story arc, where Bruno realizes he was the bully who caused Sour Rons Start of Darkness by stealing his childhood teddy bear (at the time, Ron had been an expy of Calvin, while Bruno was one of Moe), setting him down the path of becoming a nihilistic death metal superstar. While Bruno hasn't actually reformed one bit, being a professional thief as an adult, he invokes this trope to strip Sour Ron of his cynicism and destroy his career after Ron refuses to be blackmailed, heartfully apologizing for his behavior when they were children, and delivering the final blow by returning the teddy bear.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: E.Z. Ponder, the sheriff of Ray's old hometown in the South turns out to be this, as everything pointed to him being a Dirty Cop who was trying to steal Ray's brother's pot farm for himself. As it turns out, Ray's brother was lying, and Ray had just believed him because of what an enormous asshole Ponder had been in high school. In reality, Ponder had not only cleaned up his act and became an honest cop, he's also an elder of the local church, and had gone out of his way to settle the matter peacefully before being forced to use the law.
    Ponder: Why would I [steal the dope farm]?
    Ray: Well, you did used to pick on me a bunch in high school.
    Ponder: Well I'm sorry! I was a dick in high school!
  • Arthur:
    • Binky Barnes was never that bad a bully to begin with. He was actually good friends with Arthur and the rest of the gang, even when he picked on them (Arthur once lampshaded how weird he can be sometimes). He's even shown to be a very cultured individual who likes dancing, ballet, opera, and has a gift for musical instruments. Still, a number of episodes did center around him dropping more and more of his bully act over time, and eventually in Season 16, he and the rest of his "Tough Customers" crew, who had their own Hidden Depths, decided to quit bullying altogether.
    • As stated above, this extends to the other Tough Customers. Molly befriended Arthur in one episode (their younger siblings already being friends), and it was shown that she was actually amazingly polite. After this, she gave great advice to kids at school who needed her help. Ironically, she was the one who initially resisted the group's attempt to give up bullying completely, until she realized that she was setting a very bad example for her younger brother, James, whom she is very protective of.
    • Rattles is also this. He was actually one of the most intimidating Tough Customers. But in Season 16, the same season where he gave up bullying, he revealed himself to be an expert Chess player, surpassing even the Brain. He then gave Brain some training on how to defeat an opponent who had a reputation for never losing. Brain even called Rattles his friend when they met the aforementioned opponent for the first time.
    • While Slink also gave up bullying with the rest of them, when he finally gets his own episode in Season 22, it's revealed that he's having self-doubts over whether he has a special talent. Once he overcomes it by the end, he learns he's a very good paperboy.
  • Back at the Barnyard: In the episode "Brave Udders", Otis's childhood bully, Krauser Krebs, comes back to the farm after many years, and Otis assumes he's back to beat him up more. In actuality, Krebs came back to formally make amends to Otis (and everyone else he bullied back in the day) after getting help for his anger issues. Krebs still ends up beating Otis and his friends up because they didn't give him a chance to explain, provoking him.
  • Garfield and Friends: In the U.S. Acres segment "Hog Noon", Orson gets a letter from his childhood bully Hammerhead Hog and finds Hammerhead is coming to "settle with him"; Orson expects he wants revenge after being busted for repeatedly stealing Orson's lunch money and getting detention. When Hammerhead arrives, his method of settling with Orson surprises everyone - he's come to give back all the lunch money he'd stolen.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Pacifica Northwest started as your usual Rich Bitch and foil/rival for Mabel. Then in the second season, she got a bit of Character Development, explaining that her attitude was from her Abusive Parents pushing her to be cocky and selfish. By the end of the show, she is still a bit pretentious and prissy, but really warmed up to and became friends with the protagonists.
    • To a lesser extent, this could also apply to Robbie who was reformed by The Power of Love and had stopped being spiteful towards Dipper.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Gilda the Griffon was introduced doing things like roaring in Fluttershy's face and calling everypony in town (besides Rainbow Dash) lame, which caused Rainbow to stand up to her and break off the friendship. In "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone", Pinkie and Dash are sent to a griffon area where Gilda just happens to be living. Over the episode, Pinkie manages to draw out Gilda's better nature and she and Rainbow reconcile.
    • The Grrreat and Powerful Trrrrixie!! is a braggart and a bully to Twilight in her first appearance (possibly out of concern that Twilight would heckle her and mess up her image as a performer, as some of her friends were doing). Then Twilight accidentally shows her up in the process of saving Ponyville, and she skips town. In her next appearance, after she fails to get back at Twilight and spends most of the episode possessed by an amulet, she comes up to Twilight and apologizes. She further redeems herself when she becomes friends with Starlight Glimmer in Season 6.
    • Diamond Tiara, one of the wealthiest fillies in town, has been bullying the CMC over their lack of Cutie Marks (and Scootaloo's difficulty with flying) for whole seasons of the show. Then, after losing an election to a classmate and being called out and ditched by her friend Silver Spoon, she lapses into depression. The Crusaders follow her to see that she was all right, which leads to the group becoming unlikely friends and Diamond Tiara discovering that her Cutie Mark represents not richness, but leadership.
  • The Owl House: Amity Blight is introduced as the resident Academic Alpha Bitch, but by the end of the first season, not only is this revealed to be a front she puts on to appease her parents, but she manages to repair her broken childhood friendship with Willow and become good friends with Luz (developing a crush on her in the process) once she decides to become more cordial. By the midway point of the second season, Amity and Luz have become an Official Couple.
  • Buford Van Stomm from Phineas and Ferb is portrayed as a standard Barbaric Bully for an episode or two, but quickly ends up rounding out Phineas and Ferb's core Five-Man Band, reveals a soft heart and a surprising intellectual bent, and develops a Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with his default victim Baljeet, at one point even describing him as his best friend. An episode set ten years in the future shows that he's fully abandoned the trappings of his "bully" persona and become a film student.
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls (1998) Time Travel Episode "Get Back Jojo," we learn that none other than Professor Utonium is actually one of these. Back in his youth, he was a Bratty Half-Pint who loved to pick on the nerd in his class, but after being rescued by the Powerpuff Girls from a time-traveling Mojo Jojo, he developed his love for science and became the nice man we all know him to be.
  • One episode of Rocko's Modern Life features Rocko finding out that his old childhood bully is coming to visit, and thus he expects a showdown and trains so that he can fight back. When the former bully shows up, it turns out that he's found religion and has come to ask Rocko to punch him in penance. Rocko obliges.
  • South Park:
    • Heidi Turner becomes a Jerkass as she continued to date Eric Cartman right until she realizes Cartman's a bad influence for her and breaks up with him. By Season 22, Heidi is back to being a Nice Girl while ridding herself of any Cartman-like she had inherited in her past relationship with him and seemingly making amends with the people she had mistreated.
    • Eric Cartman himself managed to becomes this in Post Covid going from a vicious antisemite to a soft-spoken Jewish rabbi and family man. Though Kyle is suspicious of Cartman since he was a Manipulative Bastard who gave Kyle his worst treatment, Cartman proves that he did change his ways in the next special by sacrificing his prosperous life so Kyle and his friends can have a better future. This act ironically turns Cartman into Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up in the new future as well as a bitter and homeless alcoholic.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Played straight but cynically with Flash Thompson, who is an example of someone who doesn't really regret what he did and remains something of a prick and a coward. He did stop actively antagonising Peter and, ironically, openly worships Spider-Man.
  • Hey Arnold! reveals in the episode "Girl Trouble" that Arnold's Grandma used to bully Arnold's Grandpa the same way that Helga bullies Arnold in the present day. Somewhere along the way, she renounced her bullying ways, married Phil, and is a sweet (if senile) old lady.

    Real Life 
  • Sammo Hung used to beat up Jackie Chan while they attended the Peking Opera School. Years later, Jackie met him again, the two reconciled, and they teamed up with schoolmate Yuen Biao to become the driving force in Chinese action cinema.
  • This video has testimonies from a couple of former bullies. While one has his identity disguised, the other (Colleen Cross Carlson) is now a teacher who does her best to prevent bullying at her school.


Gideon Grey

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReformedBully

Media sources: