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Reformed, but Not Tamed

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"Discord may be reformed, but he's not that reformed."

When it comes to characters turning from evil to good, you would assume that their character and personality have changed. This isn't always the case, and the change isn't always complete.

This trope is when a character can go from evil to good and still retain the characteristics they had as a villain. There are plenty of reasons for why their immoral or unpleasant behavior remains the same despite changing their alignment:

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  1. The reformed character may still harbor some form of resentment or disdain for the good guys, particularly The Hero.
  2. They are still hung on the ways of villainy, and they were very "sour grapes" on joining the heroes. Perhaps they may have been a Well-Intentioned Extremist who's now realized that their actions caused more harm than good, but they still hang on to their ruthless ways as long as it doesn't hurt others, or maybe their evil powers have enlightened them a lot, but they now agree to use it for the greater good instead of their self-serving reasons.
  3. They may be just naturally mean due to some Freudian Excuse or other reason and they will be an example of Good Is Not Nice for years to come.
  4. They are simply all too aware that they can never be a model of Incorruptible Pure Pureness. They'll still play dirty if it comes to that.
  5. They have changed their allegiance and goals without modifying their ruthless hardcore mindset.
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Very common in a setting of Black-and-Gray Morality. This type of character is more likely to become The Hero's lancer, especially when the former is an Ideal Hero or The Cape. When it comes to this trope, turning over a new leaf is more complex than people would want it to be, which can often invoke the thought that Humans Are Flawed or even bastards whether good or bad. Not to be confused with Reformed, but Rejected, where a character turns for the better, but others don't acknowledge it.

Also see Token Evil Teammate, Combat Pragmatist, Good Is Not Nice, or Vigilante Man. Subtrope of Quirky Good. Compare Hazy Feel Turn and Heroes' Frontier Step.

Here's a list of tropes which involve a character changing their alignment, but not their personality. In short, this is more of a character turning into "heroic" versions of what they started off as:

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Tropes:

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Vegeta pulled a Heel–Face Turn, but this was because he wanted to be the one to defeat Goku, in which he went as far as to temporarily turn Heel to do so. At the end of the Buu Saga, he pulls a genuine Heel–Face Turn by sacrificing himself in an attempt to kill Buu, then later reviving all of the people he has killed while he deliberately allowed himself to be hypnotized by Babidi's spell earlier as well as making peace with Goku. Even then, he still retains his gruff attitude.
    • Piccolo is the same way. Even though Gohan was the reason he softened up and became a part of the good guys, he still remains aloof and distant toward the other fighters. Even after it's clear to everyone that Piccolo is a genuine hero now, he still claims to be "the Devil", for example.
      • Though as of Dragon Ball Super, Picollo has mellowed out considerably, though he's still rather aloof. Apparently he actually spends time eating with Goku's family, and he babysits Pan when both Gohan and Videl are busy. Vegeta... Well, he's still very much Vegeta, but he cares deeply for his Earth family despite his attempts to not show it, and there are moments for him that border on Not So Above It All.
  • Sakurako Sanjou from Boys over Flowers is a Rich Bitch in Sheep's Clothing as well as very nasty when crossed. After her Heel–Face Turn, despite having a kinder disposition, she still remains spoiled and childish.
  • Sesshomaru started as a villain trying to kill his own half-brother Inuyasha, but turned into his protector due to taking a young orphan girl under his wing. This doesn't mean he really enjoys showing kindness to others, even Inuyasha.
  • Naruto:
    • The previously Card-Carrying Villain Orochimaru outgrows his fetish for fanning the flames of war and becoming a perfect immortal being, and now wants to trust his knowledge to the next generation and see what happens. His slithering snakes and creepy rituals, once used to terrorize the innocent and shake the foundations of nations, are now used to bolster faltering heroic forces and give confused teenagers history lessons. Orochimaru's former friend Tsunade — whose life he goes out of his way to save — uncomfortably accepts him as an ally again, but makes a point of asking "but why, Orochimaru? Why have you always been such an asshole? Why are you suddenly now not being an asshole? Are you aware of the fact that our friend Jiraiya may have still been alive if you had decided to stop being an asshole earlier?", to which Orochimaru basically replies with "don't nag me with your silly hypotheticals."
    • Double Subverted with Orochimaru's disciple, Sasuke. Sasuke's short term as apparently Reformed But Not Tamed is, to begin with, edgier and more fraught with reservations than Orochimaru's — which is very jarring given that Orochimaru was introduced as a villain with a capital V whereas Sasuke was a mere Rival Turned Evil who several times displayed redeeming characteristics. At first, we are led to believe that Sasuke has concluded that the best way to stick it to the man is to save the world and be elected for office, with only ominous hints regarding the mystery of his ultimate agenda; eventually, we find out that he does not intend to be elected, and instead his idea of "saving the world" involves killing the Kage to tick people off, thereby setting himself up as the ultimate evil and keeping the world united against him (he didn't trust them to stay united without a common enemy). Fortunately, Naruto's will to keep on fighting him for as long as necessary proved stronger than Sasuke's will to go through with this plan, and he gives it up as he finally concedes defeat.
  • Much like the game continuity, Shadow in Sonic X pulled a Heel–Face Turn by sacrificing himself to save the world from the Space Colony ARK. In the Metarex saga, however, Shadow returns (with his memories erased), still the Perpetual Frowner, still cold and aloof around others, and still ruthless in his goals, even to the point of fighting Sonic and his friends if it's necessary. Believe it or not, he's largely more ruthless and less personable than his game incarnation (who mellowed out a bit more after his own title game).
  • Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! was Faux Affably Evil at first. Even if he's undergone some Character Development and even if he's helped Yugi and his friends, he still remains a grumpy, arrogant, and insufferable Jerkass (and his heart of gold doesn't show that much unless it involves his brother Mokuba). Also, he is still obsessed with defeating Yugi.
  • Saint Seiya examples:
  • In Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Kaguya let go of her ambition to be President, and is proud to support people not like her father… but she still takes glee in intimidating political threats and is often inconsiderate of her personal servant. Her Character Development manifests as increased willingness to apologize and recognize her mistakes when people call her out for them, rather than never making similar mistakes again.
  • Hiei in Yu Yu Hakusho has this quality. When we first meet him, he tries to take over the human world with a sword he stole from Spirit World, so he starts off as the Villain. Then when we meet him again, he almost goes towards being a villain, but eventually becomes an Anti-Hero. He's still a rebel and doesn't like being told what to do, which ends badly for him at the beginning of the Chapter Black arc.
  • Magma in Dr. Stone was the Arc Villain of the Tournament Arc, whose goal was to become the village chief by any means necessary, including murder — the only thing keeping him from having an actual body count is the fact that his victim Gen hid makeshift armor and blood packs under his clothing. After he's been dealt with, Senku manages to win Magma over to his side by promising that science can show him wonders beyond anything he'd ever imagined; Magma agrees, but insists "If you show me any boring crap I'll kill you!". Even though he becomes a valuable member of the "Power Team", he's still a hot-headed Jerk Jock whose first impulse is to charge in headfirst and kill their opponents without regret, forcing Nikki to rein him in via Tap on the Head or Boot to the Soft-n-Danglies.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman villainess Catwoman develops into an anti-heroine who often at times teams up with Batman in his missions. Then there's that whole relationship status of theirs.
  • Deadpool debuted as a mercenary villain in New Mutants and in X-Force. After those events, he's still a mercenary, but evolves into a Heroic Comedic Sociopath who only does good deeds not because it was the right thing to do, but because either he felt like it or for selfish motives.
    • Although he has made honest attempts at being a hero at times, like during Cable & Deadpool.
  • On a similar note, Harley Quinn started as a Villain Protagonist in her first comic, and was mostly this in her 2014 series as well (albeit with some redeeming traits). As of Rebirth and beyond, she's become a more of an Anti-Hero and has started mainly doing straight up heroic deeds (often at the behest of the police chief). It's still pretty hard to say she's an outright good guy, however, given her general craziness and bloodthirstiness .
  • ThugBoy and Ninjette from Empowered started as Punch Clock Villains, but also thanks to the influence of the protagonist, they developed into Anti-Heroes.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW): In the two-part storyline "Tempest's Tale", Tempest Shadow (who served as The Dragon in the movie), while reformed, is still blunt and short-tempered. When she encounters Glitter Drops, one of her old friends, she wastes no time showing off her deep-seated resentment toward her for her part in Tempest's Start of Darkness, and practically explodes with fury when Glitter Drops saves her from an Ursa Minor, angered that she needed help from her.
  • In his short stint as a reformed detective, The Riddler, while for the most part working on the right side of the law, still retained his ego and need for attention, and at times cheated to get his leads. For example, one comic showed he would frequent chat rooms that gave theories on current crimes (one of which involved lilies that were left at the scene and random victims, with suggestions being things like a ritual killing, or a serial killer, or a cult, etc.), and if he felt a theory/lead was good enough, he would pursue it, and if it checked out, the Riddler would simply take the credit for himself. Of course, being as Batman often frequented those same chat rooms and shared some of those leads, it could have just as easily been a way to let the Riddler show off his "genius" to the media and feed his ego and need for attention while simultaneously keeping him on the straight and narrow.
  • Sabretooth was inverted into a good guy during AXIS. He genuinely wants to do good and atone for all his past sins — swearing to Logan that he will find the Spirit of a Wolverine. However, just because he's good & penitent doesn't mean he's a sweetheart. He still has the same gruff, temperamental, snarky attitude he has as a villain. And he's still violent, but now he's using it against bad guys to help, rather than for his own sadism.
    • In Weapon X 25, Azazel says he's still a monster on his way to Hell because of this. While he may work with the good guys, all his past evil is still in his soul & hasn't been washed away.
  • Exeter from Scion was a menacing minor villain, but becomes The Big Guy of the main group who is less merciful than Ethan might like.
  • Venom, who was a Spider-Man villain, became Anti-Venom, who tries to become The Atoner as well as graduating into a full-fledged Anti-Hero.
    • Then there's the Venom symbiote itself, after bonding to Flash Thompson.
  • Emma Frost from X-Men started as a villainess who is cold, aloof, arrogant, sociopathic, and likes to underdress. Even after she joins the team, nothing has changed about her attitude and behavior, although she seems to let her coldness melt a little and becomes slightly less sociopathic. Sometimes.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow can offer this take of Azula, who instigates a plot to financially bankrupt the new Ozai society all in the means of keeping Zuko safe from their plots. This, however, comes with an offset of massive child abduction and a shaky reasoning of Azula's own motivations to help out. Ultimately a weird case of "Girl's heart is somewhat in the right place, but god only knows where the hell the brain's at."

    Fan Works 
  • Loki in Child of the Storm is a hero, a kindly and indulgent uncle, and a patient teacher. He's also The Atoner and bitterly regrets what he did when he invaded Earth. However, he is also Asgard's spymaster, willing to use Cold-Blooded Torture to extract information, and is generally the sort of person you don't want to be on the wrong side of. Ever.
    • Magneto is no longer the mutant supremacist terrorist who rampaged across the world for decades, but he's still absolutely vicious whenever he's going up against an enemy, especially those who harm his loved ones. This is especially well shown during the Forever Red and Bloody Hell arcs; in the former, he devastates the Red Room's Winter Guard for what their organization did to his younger daughter and his old daughter's godson, and in the latter, he goes totally batshit on Voldemort (who indirectly caused the death of his wife).
  • In A Different Lesson, Tai Lung ends up as this by the end of the story as well, although far less so than most examples. Still, he retains his Deadpan Snarker nature (which is often very biting), continues to carry certain resentments, and will always have a belligerent temper and some degree of arrogance.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha fanfic Monsters runs off this concept, saying that as the Wolkenritter have killed in the past, they can be motivated to do so again under the right circumstances, namely their mistress, Hayate, coming to harm.
  • In It's not the Raptor DNA, Elise the Indominus rex may no longer be the nigh-unstoppable harbinger of death and destruction she was in Jurassic World, having finally attained the social structure she was missing throughout most of her life courtesy of Owen Grady and the three surviving members of the Raptor Squad (Blue, Echo, and Delta), but threaten her or those she cares about, and you'll soon wish you hadn't...
  • The heroes of Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, realize this is the case with Sarah, simply because while the ex-villain in question has been "nothing but helpful for over a year," that person also remains completely capable of killing and destroying everything. Though said character has changed of their own accord, Shepard realizes that such changes may not stick if positive influences such as herself are removed. Considering she, Flanders, and others essentially taught this renegade morals that make sense to the cause they are fighting for, Shepard is probably right. Finally averts Reformed, but Rejected — Shepard even lampshades this.
  • To an extent, Nao from Perfection is Overrated, who remains bitter and cynical compared to the others even after her Heel–Face Turn, although she no longer believes that hurting others in revenge is justified or eases her pain.
  • Bucky Barnes in Ain't No Grave is every bit as terrifying going after Hydra as he was fighting for them as the Winter Soldier.
  • Prince Joffrey Baratheon in Purple Days. The "Groundhog Day" Loop he's trapped in has given him the chance to begin the transition from Royal Brat and budding monster to The Wise Prince, but he still carries a lot of emotional baggage and still has some sadistic tendencies. He hates himself for it, but he's trying.
  • Zabuza Momochi in Son of the Sannin becomes an ally to Konoha, albeit at first only as a way to reduce his sentence after being jailed for collaborating in the Uchiha insurrection and is still as ruthless and bloodthirsty as a fighter as he was in canon. Jiraiya, however, is aware of his nature, and just as a failsafe, he placed a seal in Zabuza's body that allows for tracking and even killing him if he tries something funny.
  • Ask Brainy Twilight: Brainy Twilight has recently begun an attempt to reform a cannibal pony. Progress is... iffy.

    Films — Animation 
  • On Ice Age, Diego pulls a Heel–Face Turn after befriending Manny and Sid, and remains a sarcastic prick, but with a heart of gold.
  • Sunset Shimmer in the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls series. Despite reforming and joining the heroes as the Sixth Ranger of the team, one of her first responses to the newest group of villains in the second film is to corner them when they're alone and try to intimidate them, just as she tried with Twilight Sparkle when she was a villain. It doesn't work: they flip the script on her by pointing out she's Reformed, but Rejected. Even once she's fully accepted by the others and becomes the de facto Big Good, she still periodically displays a rather nasty temper and a bit of an ego when things go off the rails, be it major dimension-spanning threats or someone beating her at a video game, giving blistering The Reason You Suck Speeches or simply brushing aside their feelings in response.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Catwoman again in The Dark Knight Rises. Her Heel–Face Turn ultimately comes about by her expanding on her good traits, and Batman encouraging her to consider others more (though she always had a soft spot for the little guy). But even when she has fully completed her Heel–Face Turn and fights alongside Batman, she's still more than willing to use lethal force against lethal force, as opposed to Batman's Thou Shalt Not Kill and is the one to plug Bane with the Batpod's cannons.
  • The film adaption of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has the main character learning the true meaning of Christmas. Even so, he still behaves like a jerk, but his heart is still a half-size too small, so that's good enough for everyone.
  • The Raptor Squad from Jurassic World have been shown to be able to work with humans, but Owen stresses that is due to years of trust-building and training, and even then they are still aggressive predators that will attack their handlers the first chance they get. They ultimately do turn against the humans and slaughter a whole bunch of them, but they still show enough loyalty to Owen that they do not attack him at first sight.

    Literature 
  • Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index killed ten thousand cloned girls who were part of a Hive Mind as part of a monstrous experiment supported by the Academy City researchers and only agreed to it in the first place in the hopes that the results would make him so powerful that people would stop constantly picking fights with him, but transitions into The Atoner and even gets shot in the head and suffers permanent brain damage in order to protect one of them, which results in the remaining ten thousand girls letting him use their neural network to augment his damaged brain functions. He will do good to others, but he'll still behave like a utter jerk in doing so. In fact, he at one point states his intention to troll the very idea of heroism by saving a life in the most violent, bloody manner possible.
  • In C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund Pevensie is actually somewhat of an Anti-Hero, even after his Heel–Face Turn, because of his constant snarkiness to, his death glares towards, and his temptation to beat the crap out of his cousin Eustace. And he's almost always frowning or scowling at him! However, he is kind and polite with everyone else.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, Billy-Boy (novel)/Georgie (movie) and Dim become policemen after Alex is released from prison and proceed to abuse him when he encounters them.
  • Severus Snape from Harry Potter. Eternally loyal to Dumbledore after his Heel–Face Turn, but still a moody Jerkass (and Stern Teacher to an extreme degree), more than willing to punish Harry for the sins of his father and take revenge on his enemies, and blatantly biased against Gryffindor, but still on the good side.
  • Verchiel in End of Days and after is The Atoner and wants to be forgiven by God, but he's still a Politically Incorrect Hero and his methods of obtaining victory have not stopped their brutality.
  • As described on Nightside, Razor Eddie, "Punk God of the Straight Razor", is a reformed — but not retiredSerial Killer, who now targets those who threaten children and the homeless. He's been known to leave buildings soaked in blood but conspicuously absent of corpses; the narration calls him "an extremely disturbing agent of good. The forces of good didn't get a say in the matter".
  • Angelina in The Stainless Steel Rat enters the series as a ruthless, extremely violent criminal before Jim DiGriz was sent to bring her in. As a member of the Special Corps, she is marginally less ruthless and somewhat less violent, thanks in part to seeking out psycho surgery to take the edge off her homicidal tendencies and eventually falling in love with Jim. Still, there is a definite Morality Chain element to her relationships with her husband and children.
  • In Lucifer's Star, Cassius Mass, the protagonist, underwent a Heel–Face Turn (from the perspective of the rest of the galaxy) when he abandoned serving the Archduchy of Crius. He became a criminal instead and still holds the same disdain for the Commonwealth and other enemies of his nation from before the war. He does, however, do his best to fight against his people's The Remnant, though, since they're awful-awful people.
  • In Worm, Taylor defects to the superheroes late in the story, but retains her calculated brutality in spite of the Slave to PR tendencies of the heroes.
  • Daylen in Shadow of the Conqueror used to be an Evil Overlord who would order executions for the smallest infractions. After setting out on his Redemption Quest, he is determined to Never Hurt an Innocent, but retains his Hair-Trigger Temper and penchant for brutality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Faith post Heel–Face Turn is very much a darker version of Buffy, particularly in this spinoff, where to the series’ end she's immoral, rough 'n tumble, and aggressive. It would be exaggerated earlier in the comics before she takes a big dose of maturity, and is now regarded In-Universe as better than the main character (who went off the deep end in the previous season).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike started off as a villain in season 2, but by season 4 (partially due to a dose of Badass Decay) he sometimes worked with the Scoobies and he pretty much joined them during Season 5, while still keeping his mean streak as a vampire, which got even more of a showing in season 6 due to a mutally abusive relationship with Buffy before he went and got his soul back and remained on the side of good. Season 7 had him out of his mind due to said soul, but he stayed on the side of good, only to regress when on Angel and during the After the Fall comics. After a lot of soul searching in season 9, he rejoins the group in season 10 and has fully settled on good.
  • Farscape: Bialar Crais was the Starter Villain for the first season, chasing after the heroes until Scorpius came and took his place. While he underwent a Heel–Face Turn and backslid a couple of times, he never seems to lose his nasty streak.
  • Game of Thrones: Sandor Clegane is a better person after his near-death experience, but it hasn't softened him up very much. He even considers Beric and company "a bunch of Nancys" because they won't let him execute the outlaws who massacred his village with his axe. He didn't deride them as weak because they wouldn't let him execute them — they were going to execute them — he jeered at them for not letting him torture them a bit first.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Cara retains a strong vicious streak after her Heel–Face Turn. Understandable, considering that training Mord-Sith includes massive amounts of dog-kicking and cutie-breaking.
  • Once Upon a Time: Regina is an example of a character who undergoes a realistic Heel–Face Turn. She is still depressed and bitter, and still holds a grudge against someone who is innocent, and not a lot of people trust her. But she stops her daily Kick the Dog habits and doesn't act on her Irrational Hatred, and despite never returning to her sweet, childish pre-Face–Heel Turn persona, she shows that it's not quite gone.
  • On Orphan Black, after joining Clone Club, Helena goes from being an enemy Laser Guided Tyke Bomb to being an unscrupulously anti-heroic Psycho Party Member.
  • Revolution: Miles Matheson might seem like such a jerk at first glance. But as flashbacks reveal, he used to be far worse as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and Knight Templar. Now, he is a Pragmatic Hero lapsing into Unscrupulous Hero every now and then.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak is no longer an assassin and torturer for the sinister Obsidian Order, but to defeat Dominion (and thus free his beloved homeworld Cardassia from their rule) he's still willing to do anything, no matter how ruthless.
  • Meg from Supernatural allied with Team Free Will in Seasons 7 and 8 against Crowley, but remained very much a demon. She became a Heroic Comedic Sociopath, and her primary motivation was Avenging the Villain that Crowley had earlier helped the Winchesters defeat.
  • Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. He's a good guy, but he's definitely not a nice guy.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This is quite common in the professional wrestling world. A good number of wrestlers begun their careers as heels, but were so loved by the fans that they just have to turn face despite still behaving the same way they started. Basically the only change is that they start feuding with Heels instead of Faces, and stop insulting the audience in their promos. A noticeable example is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during the rise of his popularity.
  • Wrestlers who previously had a Face–Heel Turn, but then turned back into a face also qualify. The Rock started as the clear-cut face "Rocky Maivia", but wasn't well received. Then along came his heel turn and repackaging under his now-iconic gimmick as The Rock (which he's described as basically being himself with the volume turned up), and a lot of fans were behind him. He turned face after being kicked out of The Corporation, but still continues his backstage bullying and remains as one of the biggest trash-talkers in pro wrestling.
  • Ivelisse Vélez entered Shine Wrestling with two goals, to become the best woman wrestler in the world and torment the people who had wronged her friends. What initiated her official Heel–Face Turn was the realization that those she thought were her friends in the Valkyrie Power Stable were not as dedicated to her as she them and that the people worth being friends with were being constantly tormented by Valkyrie and two other stables. Her own power stable, Las Sicarias, had the exact same missions statement as Valkyrie but quickly moved away from abusing Shine management and officials to those actively imperiling her friends, friends she welcomed to challenge for title belts even if she held them. Still Velez's desire to the best occasionally became all consuming, allowing her enemies to stir up discension in Las Sicarias.
  • Mercedes Martinez had been wronged or let down by so many allies in her professional wrestling career that she became a vocal loner in SHIMMER until Cheerleader Melissa got her to chill out a little...not that that was a good thing. Melissa wasn't in SHIMMER's spinoff Shine Wrestling and it soon lost continuity with SHIMMER, exaggerating Martinez's antisocial streak. She basically ruined as many gatherings of baby faces as possible because getting together disgusted her while doing nothing about the rampaging heel stables because they weren't her problem. Her face turn came after an unsuccessful title match with Shine Champion Ivelisse Velez, whom Martinez had criticized for getting the belt through Valkyrie. Velez gained enough of Martinez's respect that when Valkyrie came to put another beating on Velez Martinez helped fight them off. Still, Martinez remained a vocal loner as a face and insisted on fighting the Valkyrie stable alone, to predictable results. Martinez continued to mock Velez's social behavior when she formed Las Sicarias Power Trio with Amanda Rodriguez and La Rosa Nega, to the point she shooed Velez out of the arena while Velez was watching the two in Tag Team match. Mercedes took pity on Amanda and La Rosa when members of the expanded VALkyrie ganged up on them to steal the match, so she hit the ring to try and stop the post match beatdown, to predictable results. Finally Martinez realized she couldn't beat an entire stable on her own and officially joined Las Sicarias. While proving vital in Las Sicaria's ultimate victory over VALkyrie, Martinez remained overly combative with a very patient Velez, contributing to Las Sicaria's ultimate defeat at the hands of C4. And even after realizing her mistake there, Allysin Kay was still able to take advantage of Martinez's abrasiveness to turn her against Velez. Then set up an ambush with Better Than You while Martinez was alone.

    Video Games 
  • Jin from BlazBlue didn't really start off as a villain, but he was a selfish asshole who was only really concerned about his own problems. He gets some Character Development in the second game and pulls a Heel–Face Turn to fight against the villains, along with taking several levels in badassery to boot. He's only slightly less of an Jerkass, though, and still treats people with both apathy and aloofness, especially if it's Noel Vermillion.
  • After the events of Devil May Cry 5, Vergil has become this. He's still Vergil the same ruthless, stoic Noble Demon that the fans know and love, driven by a desire to become stronger and surpass his Brother, Dante. It's just that he's channeling all of that in a much healthier direction. Case in point, his relationship with Dante has gone from the bitter, antagonistic, and somewhat tragic relationship that they had in the past, and has mellowed out significantly into a much healthier Friendly Rivalry.
  • Joshua Graham from Fallout: New Vegas actually had a Heel–Faith Turn after becoming one of the most ruthless and cruel men in the Legion. Even though he now fights for a noble cause, he still retains his ferocity and Kill 'Em All mentality. A Courier with a silver enough tongue may be able to stay his hand against Salt-Upon-Wounds and make him cool down his militancy, however.
  • Several Spotpass characters in Fire Emblem Awakening go this way, or Reformed, but Rejected. YMMV on which, especially as they have very different supports depending on the Avatar's gender.
  • Kirby
    • Susie from Kirby: Planet Robobot is usually this. She once started off as a villain but then she decides that she wants to stand up to Star Dream, so she commands Kirby to go after it. In Kirby Star Allies, it is implied that she still retains her traits from the previous game, but she's still civil, good-natured, well-meaning and friendly.
    • Marx made his debut as one of the central villains of Kirby Super Star and, after making a few reappearances since then, joined Kirby and his friends to take down a universal threat in Kirby Star Allies. Unlike Magolor (who has permanently joined the side of good) or Dark Meta Knight (whose motives are shady at best), Marx doesn't seem to have any particular allegiance, instead preferring to hang out with his friends, have some good food, and spread some mischief. The end result is a teammate who's simultaneously one of the most and least trustworthy.
  • Mega Man:
  • Various characters of the Sonic the Hedgehog series started off as enemies of Sonic, but even after they joined his side, they can still be found clashing against Sonic on occasion due to circumstances or contrasting lifestyles and personalities.
  • Magus of Chrono Trigger appears to be a stone-cold, intimidating villain before and after your first confrontation with him. Should you forgo the second showdown, Magus realizes that you and he share the same goals and he joins you — as a stone-cold, intimidating hero.
  • The Star Wolf team in Star Fox started as a mercenaries and Evil Counterparts to the Star Fox team. They even worked for Andross in Star Fox 64 to take down Fox. In the later games, they graduate into anti-heroes who will sometimes, and grudgingly, team up with Star Fox in their missions.
  • Sagat from Street Fighter aligns himself with Shadaloo after suffering a loss to Ryu in the first SF tournament. He realizes that his revenge-driven desire in defeating Ryu isn't the right path, so in Street Fighter Alpha 3, he reforms from his ways, but still retains a heated yet healthy rivalry with Ryu.
  • Wario of the Super Mario Bros. started as a villain in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins and as a Villain Protagonist in Wario Land. After that, while he isn't all that villainous anymore, he still retains his lust for money and is still a jerk because of it. The enemies he's pitted against in his own outings are usually far worse than he is, which, when coupled with Wario's own shortcomings and slapstick nature of his games, makes it hilariously easy to root for him as the "hero" in those situations.
  • Miles Edgeworth in Ace Attorney starts off as an arrogant prosecutor who always seems to be one step ahead of Phoenix and baits him into making a fool of himself with trap questions and evidence held back until just the right moment. After a Heel–Face Turn and a lot of Character Development... he does exactly the same, with the important difference that he is trying to make his best case that the defendant being guilty is the truth. If Phoenix can come up with a counter-explanation that satisfies him (especially if it points to someone else as the guilty party), Edgeworth will help him make his case, even though it means a 'loss' for him.
  • The Arkham Knight keeps his lethal ways after adapting the much more heroic Red Hood identity.
  • The player characters in Raid: WWII are criminals from their homelands that are drafted into service by the British military to fight against the Nazis. By doing so, they will be pardoned of all their crimes, but they won't be acknowledged as heroes in the public eye. They become the Anti-Hero archetype where they do anything to kill Nazis in any way possible to reduce Hitler's power. On top of that, the crew are also allowed to steal the Nazis' gold and other valuables to keep for themselves. While the crew are still committing heinous crimes, they are doing so for the greater good, since their enemy is far worse and are a huge threat to the world. None of the crew members mind being in service and prefer it over going back home and being jailed or executed for their original crimes.

    Web Comics 
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: Lewstrom the Lich King decides to turn over a new leaf when he realizes that being an Evil Overlord has (A) left him under the thrall of a goddess who doesn't actually care about his identity, and (B) he completely forgot all his original ambitions, including his reason to exist. That doesn't stop him from being an evil bastard who loves to experiment on prisoners, but now he gains power and status by working under contract with the kingdoms and killing worse psychopaths.

    Western Animation 
  • Iago becomes good in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, which continues through Aladdin: The Series, and while he no longer serves an evil vizier, there are still numerous times where his temper and insatiable greed gets the better of him. He rides into the sunset with Aladdin's father Cassim at the end of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, partially because said thief was "good, but not too good".
  • Angelica Pickles, in All Grown Up!, is much less antagonistic and considerably nicer than she was in Rugrats, even if still prone to mischievous and selfish behavior.
  • An anti-heroic example: Archer Took a Level in Kindness in Season 6 after becoming a father, but still retains his reckless attitude and Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Dinobot from Beast Wars was a Predacon who made a Heel–Face Turn and joined the Maximals right in the first episode. However, he did it for completely selfish reasons (seeking revenge against his former leader) and kept his Predacon philosophy and attitude even while working with the Maximals, frequently leading to arguments between them. Still, he also was a Noble Demon from the start, so he managed to get along with them eventually. As the story progresses, he go through a lot of Character Development and ends up doing a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Similar to Dinobot, Blackarachnia ended up joining the Maximals while keeping the attitude she had as a Predacon.
      "Even when I'm good, I'm still bad."
  • Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove is a lesser example. In the movie, he's a selfish, self-centered jerk who plots to bulldoze the entire village for his own profit and almost left Pacha for dead, but had a change of heart and becomes good friends with Pacha. In The Emperor's New School, however, he still behaves like a jerk and his heart of gold doesn't show very often.
    • In the series, his selfishness isn't as bad as it was in the movie, and it was out of his stupidity most of the time. However, by Kronk's New Groove, he finished his character development, but was still as flamboyant as ever. His selfishness, however, seems to have been toned down to a much more reasonable amount. Overall it seemed his ego and flamboyance didn't go away, but he's not throwing beggars off his castle an demolishing villages for ego projects anymore.
  • David Xanatos from Gargoyles arguably never had a Heel–Face Turn; he simply stopped being an enemy to the Gargoyles. (Granted, he was grateful they saved his son.)
  • Kulipari: Dream Walker has Pigo. He may have joined Darel's side, but as a scorpion, he still has a taste for dominance and violence.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series gives us mostly reformed evil super genius Jumba. Still loves mad science, but has a conscience now.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Discord, antagonist of the season 2 opener "The Return of Harmony", is reformed by Fluttershy at the end of the season 3 episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On", but clearly demonstrates afterward that he's still as big a Troll as ever. He slowly attempts to take on the role of a Trickster Mentor, with varying levels of success, and still has some villainous tendencies pop up whenever he feels his friendship with Fluttershy is being threatened in some way. Season 7's "Discordant Harmony" also shows that he has to act chaotic, or otherwise he would fade out of existence.
    • Princess Luna in the Season 2 episode "Luna Eclipsed". Princess Luna still speaks in her booming voice early on, left over from her time as Nightmare Moon. This, combined with her past reputation as Nightmare Moon, makes every other pony scared of Luna. She manages to soften her approach by the end of that episode, and later in the series she has escaped her 0% Approval Rating to be beloved by at least the children of Equestria, but she's still got an edge to her, handing out unvarnished truths and dire warnings whenever possible.
    • Trixie as well, at the end of "Magic Duel". Although she gives a heartfelt and very sincere apology, she is still as hammy and conceited as ever. Just more apologetic, that's all.
      Trixie: Don't you think the Great and Apologetic Trixie is the most magnificent and humble pony you have ever seen?
      Twilight Sparkle: *Rolls eyes, then smiles a little*
    • In the season 5 finale "The Cutie Re-Mark", Starlight Glimmer has a Heel–Face Turn and becomes Twilight Sparkle's student, learning about magic and friendship from her. A few episodes show Starlight's got a lot to learn, especially "Every Little Thing She Does", where she decides it's acceptable to use mind control to get a bunch of friendship lessons done at once.
      • In Season 7, Starlight has long learned her lesson about using mind control on others, but she still has something of a temper, and when she hears other ponies antagonizing Fluttershy in "Fame and Misfortune", she doesn't hesitate to levitate one of the offenders in the air and menace him.
  • The Owl House: Amity Blight started out as an Academic Alpha Bitch who would antagonize Luz and her friends. Following a Heel Realization in "Lost in Language", she starts becoming nicer. However, "Enchanting Grom Fright" shows that, while she's accepted that she needs to become a better person, she isn't magically going to completely improve immediately, like when she calls someone she bumped into a "Nitwit", or when she beats up Hooty for getting into her personal space.
  • Buford van Stomm from Phineas and Ferb started out as a stereotypical Barbaric Bully. He later became a much more sympathetic character and befriended Phineas and Ferb, but he still considers himself a bully and frequently bullies his vitriolic best bud Baljeet.
  • Asajj Ventress in Star Wars: The Clone Wars qualifies. She undergoes a Morality Adjustment, but openly acknowledges to Obi-Wan that the only side she cares about is (still) her own.
  • In the Grand Finale of Gravity Falls, Gideon Gleeful had a Heel–Face Turn and resolves to give up evil-doing... which doesn't stop him from siccing his prison buddies on a kid who made fun of him.
  • The Conductor/ Amelia of Infinity Train starts the show as the Big Bad and Greater-Scope Villain for latter seasons. She's responsible for hampering both the train's effectiveness and the Character Development of various innocent passengers for decades, all due to her own selfish obsessions. By the time she reappears in Book 3, she's cooled her jets significantly and is actively working to fix her mistakes... but not without some severe snark and cynicism.
    The Conductor: (reading a notecard with no enthusiasm) Every passenger is important. Their well-being and progress is what the train is all about. All aboard the growth train. (imitates pulling a chain) Toot-toot. Whee!

 
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The Owl House

Amity's character development before and after "Understanding Willow".

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