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Reformed, but Rejected

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Perhaps showing up at Thanksgiving with a Call-Back to X-Men 17 was not a good idea.

"It's not easy to regain trust once you've lost it."

Turning over a new leaf is hard. Especially when no one believes that you're sincere about it, and/or won't forgive willingly.

This is the companion trope to the Falsely Reformed Villain, who pretends to have reformed, but in reality is only biding his time while he plots his latest nefarious scheme. The hero, however, is not fooled. By contrast, the desire of the Reformed, But Rejected character to leave his evil ways in the past is completely genuine — but the hero still refuses to be "fooled."

Unlike The Atoner, this character is not necessarily overwhelmingly evil, and it is easier if he hasn't gone completely overboard. His sins could be more along the lines of "stole some bread" or "robbed a bank", than "destroyed ten inhabited planets and built pyramids of skulls while laughing wildly." Whatever the case, he is generally not of the opinion that he needs to spend the rest of his life and possibly his afterlife as well trying to make up for his misdeeds, and is in fact due some good karma. All he wants is a chance at a normal honest life. It's getting people to give him that chance that presents a problem.


Often the disinclination to believe that a character has truly become good is not limited to just the hero or heroes, but is the reaction of society in general. The reformed character can find this a bitter pill to swallow, particularly if they have "done their time" in prison or paid their debt to society in some other way, yet find that society is not prepared to let bygones be bygones.

On the other hand, there are times where this reaction may be totally reasonable. A long history of being a complete jerk and general thorn in the side of the heroes does not really do much to engender popularity with them. The villain may really want to reform and may have taken honest steps to do so, but the heroes may simply just be so sick of dealing with them and the messes that they cause (especially if they already have multiple failed attempts on their record) that they frankly just don't care. Like Then Let Me Be Evil, it runs the gamut from a cheap excuse to avoid taking responsibility, to an explanation that has some truth but still doesn't cut it, and all the way to a perfectly valid reason where the heroes are completely in the wrong and really have no one but themselves to blame.


In the best case, the reformed character finds the strength of will to withstand the scorn and derision of the heroes and/or society at large, and is eventually able to prove themselves truly changed despite the enormous pressure. They succeed in making a place for themselves in honest society, however humble that place may be. (They may even realize that their previous attempts were Buy Them Off and, if not spending the rest of their lives atoning, do more to make up for what they did.)

In the worst case, the pressure is too much and the reformed character's resolve falters and fails. He returns to his old bad ways, often ending up in jail again. He may even become so despairing that he takes his own life rather than live with non-stop contempt and derision. To rub salt in it, the heroes might take this as proof that he really had never changed at all, and in the case of bad writing, this will be how the story interprets it.

This character is prone to attracting the attention of an Inspector Javert, who is convinced that "men like you can never change." Javert is likely to hound the character non-stop, hoping to catch him in a criminal act, or possibly in the most extreme cases even goad him into committing one.

The greatest danger for a Reformed But Rejected character, however, is not Inspector Javert, but bad karma. It might be safer to just stay bad, though the opposite may happen too.

A character who reforms in a particularly unsubtle way and does not face rejection and scorn afterward, but instead finds the heroes welcoming him with open arms and perhaps a nice cake, has undergone Badass Decay.

A subtrope to Rejected Apology. Compare Accuser of the Brethren. Contrast The Farmer and the Viper, where someone given the opportunity this reformer seeks turns it against his benefactors, or Redemption Rejection, where a villain is offered a chance to reform, only for the villain to refuse. Also contrast with Easily Forgiven, where a formerly villainous character is quickly forgiven for any crimes they may have committed as soon as they start helping the good guys, no matter how serious they were. Compare Heel–Face Door-Slam, where the villain never even gets to start their journey to redemption (or attempts to, but is rebuffed because their old actions really were too far beyond the pale for anything resembling a convincing redemption (in the author's eyes at least)); Redemption Failure, where they embark on said journey but are turned around by external forces half-way through; and finally, Forgiveness Requires Death, where the price to earn the forgiveness of the wronged person is one's own life. See also Villain Ball Magnet and Trapped in Villainy. May result from a Third-Act Misunderstanding. If the heroes did forgive him, but still give him this sort of treatment, then it's Forgiven, but Not Forgotten. A Regretful Traitor may be a victim of this, since they genuinely regret having betrayed their friends, but the betrayal may have cut too deep for their friends to forgive them.

Like any trope dealing with Heel-Face Turns, this page is likely to contain spoilers. Tread carefully.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou, Judas was a member of a criminal organization called the Diamond Eaters. After meeting the superhero Earth-chan, he attempted to reform, but ended up drifting back to the Diamond Eaters because they were the only ones who respected him and his abilities. Judas eventually decided to turn good for real, turning on the Diamond Eaters and serving time in prison for his past crimes, but Earth-chan views him as an incorrigible villain and refuses to believe his reformation is genuine.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, even after Ken loses his Digimon and goes into an emotional breakdown after he realizes what he had done as the Digimon Kaiser, most of the kids are still very wary of his intentions. This is especially true when he has Stingmon kill a rampaging Digimon, rather than calming or trapping it. However, they quickly learn that the rogue Digimon was actually an artificial being created from a Dark Tower by a new enemy and Ken was truly trying to atone, and they slowly start trusting him more. Some sooner than others; the friendly and emotionally intuitive Daisuke is the first to believe in Ken with little more than a hunch and Ken's Crest calling out to him, while the younger and more logical and justice-oriented Iori struggles to accept him and needs a couple extra months to bond with Ken and finally consider him a friend.
  • An unorthodox example at the end of Danganronpa 3. While the Remnants of Despair have long since reformed for their actions with help from Makoto Naegi, they're forced to take the blame for Tengan's role in orchestrating the final killing game, which saw almost the entirety of the Future Foundation's leadership get killed. At the very least, while they do get to live their lives in peaceful exile on Jabberwock Island, they will never forgiven for their actions by the rest of the world. The fact they all suffered the Despair Event Horizon and were Brainwashed and Crazy only makes this more poignant.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta gets this treatment after the Frieza Saga. Aside from Goku and Bulma, not one of the other Z-Fighters can stand him and have no qualms against informing him as such to his face, not that he really gives a damn what they think. Case in point: after Vegeta is curb-stomped by Perfect Cell, Krillin tells him point-blank that he's only helping him for Trunks' sake and wouldn't care one bit if Vegeta did die. It's justified; even if he was technically on their side, Vegeta was still a self-absorbed Jerkass, and their Token Evil Teammate. He didn't pull an actual Heel–Face Turn until the end of the Buu Saga.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Iron Dragon Slayer Gajeel gets this treatment at first when Makarov lets him into Fairy Tail after his guild of nasty meanies has been destroyed. General incredulity is quelled after he unexpectedly appears in the talent show in a silly Nice Hat with a guitar and sings a heartwarming song about acceptance, but the main characters remain suspicious despite his total adorableness. Subverted in that just around the time the reader starts to like him, he seemingly betrays them, only to turn out to be a Double Agent who was on their side the entire time.
    • Jellal gets the same treatment. It takes multiple chapters to convince Erza, the only person likely to still have any faith in his ability to turn over a new leaf, that he's developed amnesia and believes from the bottom of his heart that he needs to help her cause. Granted, once she accepts him he starts to get a little more slack (barring needing to take a shot to the gut to convince Natsu to accept a powerup to beat the Arc Villain), until the new council says they don't care that he has amnesia and became good or that Nirvana would still be rampaging were it not for his aid and arrests him anyway.
  • In Fire Punch, Agni encounters the very man who destroyed his hometown and set him on fire, now running an orphanage. Although he tries to convince the man he's gone straight, Agni just can't believe him and murders him in one final fit of revenge. When it turns out nothing was being done to the kids and he really wasn't lying, Agni realizes what he did and decides to embrace his role as the "villain", wiping out the orphanage and getting the man's daughter to reignite him again.
  • In Gintama, nobody would hire Catherine after her release from prison. She almost went back to her old life of crime out of desperation, but was saved when Otose offered her a job to keep her off the street.
  • Habara from Daily Lives of High School Boys had not been the Enfant Terrible-grade The Bully known as Archdemon for eight years and is more a generically sweet girl... except all the teenage boys in town are still too scared of her old self to approach her, let alone ask her out.
  • Gemini Kanon from Saint Seiya tries to pull this and is completely honest. However, as he once was The Man Behind the Man and the Evil Twin to the Tragic Hero Gemini Saga, the Saints do NOT believe his intentions. Milo even subjects him to a brutal Secret Test of Character to make sure he's sincere.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS:
    • Regius Gaiz rejects Hayate in this manner, but this affects Gaiz more than Hayate since everyone who matters accepts her.
      • Auris notes after Hayate suggests correctly, as it turns out that Gaiz has ties to Scaglietti that while Hayate was a criminal 10 years ago, Gaiz has been serving for 40 years, although this seems mainly motivated by her being offended by the accusation. It's indicated at a few points that Hayate works as hard as she does in order to remove the stigma associated with her being at the center of the Book of Darkness incident.
      • It should be pointed out that Hayate didn't actually commit the crimes she was charged with. Rather, she willingly took responsibility for the actions of her family so they wouldn't have to deal with this trope.
  • One Piece: Hachi, in his original appearance, was one of Arlong's pirates and got his tail kicked by Zoro. When he reappeared later, he was much nicer, but it took a lot of effort on his part to get Nami (who went easy on him but still made it clear that she didn't trust him at all) to forgive him for the things that he'd done. He had to be shot down by humans and claim that this was fair punishment for the things he'd done to Nami, after she realized that the Arlong Pirates had just been mimicking humans all along.
  • During an arc in Pokémon: Best Wishes, Meowth claims to have been fired from Team Rocket, and Pikachu is suspicious of him much longer than the kids. He turns out to have been lying the whole time to buy time for Jessie and James to carry out their plan in Nimbasa City's subway.
  • On the rare occasions that Team Rocket from Pokémon are acting good, the protagonists don't usually buy it, even if they were being sincere. Oddly (or not), the weaker their disguise is when doing actual crime the more likely they are to fool Ash and friends. It seems they only really notice them out-of-uniform if they're doing anything other than evil. Team Rocket jumping to their death so Ash and Lugia live, and no-one even mentioning it: at the end of the movie (they survived), they are complaining about how no-one noticed their good deeds. Slowking then broke the Fourth Wall when he told them that lots of people (the audience) knew what they did.
  • Faust VIII from Shaman King went through this too after his Heel–Face Turn, specially in regards to Yoh's friend Manta Oyamada whom Faust had tortured very painfully in the past. A whole episode in the anime was dedicated to him trying to act more human towards Manta and Manta himself being, very understandably, shit scared of Faust. He only gains Manta's trust when, during his, Ryu, and Yoh's fight with some shamans that Manta had befriended a while ago, he refuses to kill their rivals and tells them to live for the sake of their son.
  • Starscream in Transformers Armada didn't technically pull a Heel–Face Turn, as he mostly joined up so he'd have a chance to kill Megatron (and because Megatron had tried to kill him). Most of the Autobots didn't accept that he could turn good, which is probably what prompted him to switch back.
  • In My Hero Academia, Endeavor, the #2 ranked hero in Japan, was introduced as a brutal man whose obsession with reaching #1 led him to drive his wife to a mental breakdown and father children with her solely to make someone with the right set of superpowers to let them hit #1 in his place. Following a Heel Realization, he’s since started making slow but genuine attempts to be a better person to his family. However, his children have varying reactions about it. Fuyumi hasn't forgiven her father but is willing to make peace for her mother's sake. Natsuo is the most vocally resentful and blames his father for Toya's death. Shoto is also conflicted but does seem to want to forgive his father. For Endeavor's part, he accepts that his children may never fully forgive him for his past abuse. As for Toya, better known these days as the supervillain Dabi, he feels nothing but delight in his father's attempt to redeem himself... if only that his fall from grace will be that much more higher and more painful.

    Comic Books 
  • In the "Tarnished Angel" arc of Kurt Busiek's Astro City, the former supervillain Steeljack emerges from jail tired of the supervillain life and seeking only to put it behind him and live normally. However, the only work offers he gets are for supervillain jobs. When he uncovers evidence of a truly evil plot, he takes what he has learned to the city's superheroes but is repeatedly rejected, scorned, and attacked. After many difficulties, he eventually manages to stop the actual villain, proving himself capable of true heroism in the process. While this does not make him beloved of the city's heroes or citizens, it earns him enough elbow room from them to start building a new life for himself.
  • Batman:
    • Averted in the comics, where the Penguin reforms, and is incredibly famous with celebrities and rich people wanting to hang around those they feel are "dangerous". He's also legitimately gone straight and makes a killing with his chain of nightclubs.
    • Another old comic had Batman opposing the ruling of the parole board and tracking the Penguin mercilessly. But when Batman cracks down on his suspicious-looking business, he discovers (to his chagrin) that the operation was almost legitimate... except for the security, who were fellow ex-cons that the Penguin had hired as a favour, to help them gain employment. Sadly, though, this violation of parole means that the Penguin has to return to prison... but Batman puts in a good word for him this time. (The Penguin's love interest also happens to be a honest woman.)
  • In Candor storyline Supergirl and Power Girl team up to save what they believe to be the Bottle City of Kandor -in reality, a psychic manifestation created by telepathic villain Saturn Queen- from an evil dictator, but Supergirl -who back then unknowingly suffered from Kryptonite poisoning which altered her behavior- abruptly and unexpectedly leaves. A while later Supergirl has recovered a bit from her sickness and gotten her head together, so she seeks Power Girl out and apologizes for turning her back on her. Her adult counterpart replies she can't forgive her or trust her.
  • After Civil War, Tony Stark had suffered a Heroic BSoD after Happy Hogan and Captain America, both of whom were very good friends of his, died because of his involvement, and tried to make amends to the superhero community he tore in half. While most Pro-Reg members suffered some stigma, Stark was the one most blamed. He ended up returning to alcoholism and didn't quite get everyone's trust again until Dark Reign, when he broke his own brain to stop Norman Osborn (who had taken over the system he established) from getting everyone's identities.
  • A sad form of this one is the original Tinkerer, a former mad scientist who served as Marvel General Villain (mostly the Fantastic Four), over a decade after he gives up villainy he's arrested for violating the Superhuman Registration Act when he uses some of his old toys to stop a robbery. It turns out he was protecting his two grandchildren that he had been taking to get ice cream.
  • Journey into Mystery (Gillen) dealt with this. Kid Loki, who was genuinely determined to be good, was universally distrusted and the general assumption was that it was all a scheme. And the assumption was right. But it wasn't Kid Loki's scheme: he was just its victim.
    • And then Loki: Agent of Asgard revisited it. Loki did win some acceptance thanks to Journey Into Mystery even if it came at the price of child murder that they regretted, long story, but it won't last. Ever. Asgard will never truly accept the god of lies. So Loki finally decides to stop caring about what they think.
  • Les Légendaires plays this trope straight (while mixing it with The Atoner) in the Anathos Cycle with Darkhell's daughter Tenebris when she joined the Legendaries. While most of them were at least tolerating her presence, Shimy was convinced keeping her in the group was a major danger, even going as far as scheming with Gryf in order to kill her when the other wouldn't be looking. Granted, considering Tenebris did commit horrible crimes as a villain and the Legendaries had suffered a case of Sixth Ranger Traitor in the previous book, her reserves were founded, but still...
  • The Red King was the Big Bad of Planet Hulk, a despotic tyrant who ruled over his entire planet with a level of ferocity and detached cruelty that seemed incalculable to any of his subjects. He was killed and replaced by the Incredible Hulk. However, after the holocaust that destroyed Crown City, his body was discovered by the roaming wildebots of the plains, who gave him new life as a cyborg and gave him perspective on the harshness of his actions as Emperor. His daughter, Princess Omaka, refuses to recognize him as a changed man; this is partially because he killed her mother and her brother and burned her arms off when he was king. Skaar, the son of Hulk, is much more understanding, but possibly only because he wasn't alive to see the horrors Red King wrought as planetary leader.
  • Deadpool gets hit with this thanks to the events of Secret Empire: he had worked hard to try to be a hero, even when some people thought he wasn't worth it and couldn't stand him being on the Avengers. He had unwittingly joined HYDRA because he followed Steve Rogers and opted to try to subvert many of their actions. However, he ended up in the crosshairs of Maria Hill, who ultimately dropped a parking deck on him just in case she'd thought he would try to double cross her. By the time he gets out, the final fight is over and HYDRA has been defeated, stealing away his chance to show he had truly reformed.
  • Throughout Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Snively attempts several Heel Face Turns. Due to assisting Dr Robotnik with conquering and robotising a great deal of Mobius along with being iconic for his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, he is naturally met with some wariness. The later rebooted series begins with Snively having already committed to good and defected to GUN. They accept his help, though due to his past and shady behaviour in the present, he undergoes interrogation several times however. When Knuckles recognises him as having previously stole the Master Emerald for Eggman he makes bluntly clear that while he'll cooperate in ties with GUN, as individuals Snively better stay the hell away from him.
  • Spider-Man: Eddie Brock (Venom) found himself affected by this at times, as whenever he does try to be a hero nobody trusts him and he usually ends up going back to "eat Spider-Man's brain" mode. But when you're renowned for wearing a malevolent alien parasite with a taste for human flesh, that's understandable. He finally gets his recognition in the Spider-Island arc, where he saves all of New York from being turned into spider-monsters.
  • The entire premise of Thunderbolts 10 - 70-ish is about this trope. After the team has been outed to be (former) supervillains, they instantly seem to end up on the most wanted list. It takes several heroic moments for them to be somewhat accepted (and not even publicly until either Zemo or Osborn takes care of that).
  • Tintin and Alph-Art by Yves Rodier: Played for Laughs, where it's revealed that Allan Thompson, who frequently acted as The Dragon to various villains in the series, swore off the criminal lifestyle after the events of Flight 714 and tried to make an honest living as a postal worker. The next panel then shows him being chased by a large dog, and evidently finding his new life no less stressful than his old one.
  • After his Heel–Face Turn at the end of Dark Cybertron, Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has Megatron undergoing one of these and joining the Lost Light crew. They're not very fond of him, though, and most tend to distrust and berate him for his previous actions (not without merit—dude has hundreds of billions of deaths on his shoulders). The fact he was made the ship's new co-captain does not help matters, with many viewing he was let off lightly. Heck, it's one of the driving factors behind The Mutiny that occurs at the end of the second season, as the mutineers want Megatron and his supporters off the ship. While it's hinted a few times that he might revert back to his tyrannical conqueror behavior, it sticks long enough that he kills the Decepticon Justice Division single-handedly to atone for creating them in the first place, and starts his revolution anew via peaceful means in the Functionist Universe. By the end of the series, though, in spite of everything he's done since, the Galactic Council sentences him to either death or infinite imprisonment, which he freely admits are the only two realistic outcomes for someone who'd committed countless atrocities across the galaxy for millions of years.
  • Watchmen. Rorschach continually harasses dying ex-supervillain Moloch because he's skeptical about Moloch's claims that he's given up crime. However, by that point the two are really the only two people in the world who truly understand each other and Rorschach seems genuinely disturbed by Moloch's death.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): While Diana and Etta forgive Barbara for her time as Cheetah, Steve Trevor doesn't.
  • X-Men:
    • Rogue suffered from this pretty badly when she first joined the X-Men. Professor X had to guilt-trip the team out of quitting when he took her in (Carol Danvers, attacked her on sight and did storm off) and it took multiple Heroic Sacrifice moments on her part to actually win them over. Moreover, after she had established herself as a loyal member of the team, Dazzler joined up complete with grudge for yet more drama. Carol Danvers was completely justified, considering what Rogue did to her powers and mind, but to this day they don't get along.
    • Things went somewhat easier for Magneto as far as the X-Men themselves were concerned (the transition aided by the end of their last battle and multiple Enemy Mine encounters since), but the treatment by the rest of the world in addition to his own instability kept things from sticking (at least, that was/is the official line).
    • Emma Frost. In Astonishing X-Men, Kitty is unconvinced due to the past between them (Emma is literally the first supervillain Kitty ever encountered). Emma takes advantage of this trope by recruiting her to the "Astonishing X-Men" team so that she'll notice she's not really redeemed after all. This doesn't help out the fact that this is Cassandra Nova's doing of manipulating her belief that she can't redeem herself leading to Kitty nearly killing Emma if it wasn't for Cyclops reminding her this is exactly what Emma wanted. It doesn't take a while in Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 that they have their moment of reconciliation before Kitty sacrifices her life in phasing the Breakworld's bullet through Earth.

    Comic Strips 
  • Possible example, as the plot hasn't finished: Luann has Dirk, a Jerkass Jerk Jock Testosterone-poisoned Domestic Abuser who was arrested after beating his girlfriend Toni and now works as a garbage man, coincidentally on the same block as his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend Brad (the title character's older brother). He claims he's found Jesus in jail and he'll be leaving, never to return (Brad thinks he's dying; readers think he might be joining the priesthood or simply changing shifts or moving). Toni's response is to threaten him with a creepy phone call he made and Brad has Luanne's classmate pretend Toni moved. Dirk is not convinced but doesn't retaliate; he even rescues Brad's mom after a bookshelf falls on her, causing Brad's parents to refer to him as a "creepy, evil superhero".

    Fan Works 
Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra
  • Repairs, Retrofits and Upgrades: A post-finale The Legend of Korra fic, which has this all over the place with Kuvira. Korra recognizes her as her Shadow Archetype and tries to be kind, but isn't her friend; Asami absolutely hates her, with good reason; the rest of Team Avatar dislike her but recognize her efforts to improve as genuine, while Baatar has mixed feelings about her given how she destroyed their relationship, but is sympathetic when he learns his "death" was used to break her, and may have lingering feelings. Inverted with her loyalists, who refuse to believe she isn't their Great Uniter anymore, and would gladly take her old dictator self back.


Disney Animated Canon

  • Common in many Prince Hans fanfics, where he's usually distrusted by the heroes for faking his romance with Anna so he could steal the Arendellian throne from her sister Elsa. It takes a great deal of an adventure for them to realize he has genuinely reformed himself. Not only this, Hans' Heel–Face Turn and redemption finally makes him understand there's more to life than just being obsessed with ruling a kingdom or being power-hungry in general and that Love Redeems. Part of the reason why he initially has trouble comprehending love is because his family constantly bullied and ignored him, causing him to wrongly assume Love Is a Weakness and that one needs to be tough-skinned in order to survive in what he assumes is a dog-eat-dog, Crapsack World.

Godzilla / King Kong / MonsterVerse

  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): San at first receives this treatment from Monarch, and especially from Madison and Mark, because they're all understandably wary of a former head of Ghidorah. Their reservations lower with time when they realize San's Heel–Face Turn and care for Vivienne are genuine.

Marvel Comics

  • A Prize for Three Empires: The X-Men reluctantly agree to give just-reformed villain Rogue a chance, but Carol Danvers refuses to. It took a long while for Carol to accept Rogue wasn't the same person who ruined her life, and even so Carol knew they would never be close.

Miraculous Ladybug

  • Back To Us: This happens to Chat Noir to varying degrees after he returns to Ladybug's side after a long stint as an anti-hero willing to kill akuma victims if it would end the threat, and he knows he has no right to expect otherwise. While Ladybug is ready to welcome back her partner with open arms after his heartfelt apology, Emerald Shell is grudging at best — he doesn't like him or trust him, but he's willing to work with him and see if he's serious about fixing the mess he created. The Paris public are largely hostile, with most former akuma victims still feeling betrayed (with exceptions such as Ivan and Alya) and the Anti-Akuma Taskforce feeling betrayed by his reformation, as they'd been following his example. Akumatized Victims Anonymous take it to the point of spraying insulting and threatening graffiti all over the city and burning him in effigy during a protest at City Hall.
  • The One to Make It Stay: All the Laughs We Had in the Past reveals that Aurore fears that ever since the Weather Girl Contest, the only thing others see when they look at her is Stormy Weather. To this end, she's been making considerable effort to clean up her image, but Chloe scores a critical strike by proclaiming that "Once a bad guy, always a bad guy."
  • Redemption: An AU story in which Adrien was caught transforming by his father immediately after getting his Miraculous and subsequently convinced to join his fight against Ladybug. The story opens after both have been captured and tried, but Adrien is given a lesser sentence than his father, with no jail time, due to showing remorse and cooperating with the police. One of the conditions of his release is that he attend public school for the first time — namely, Collége François Dupont, alongside a class full of former akuma victims who aren't ready to believe that he's changed. The exception is (of course) Marinette, who takes it upon herself to convince people, including Adrien himself, that he deserves a second chance.

My Little Pony

  • It's a Long Way to the Top: Has the Dazzlings seemingly reformed, but Rainbow Dash (the human one) is far from convinced until she finds out it was Sunset who reformed them.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • Advice and Trust: After finding out about her Heel–Face Turn and that Rei had personally forgiven her, Asuka refuses to let go of her grudge towards Ritsuko. Then again, Ritsuko doesn't expect to be forgiven that easily either.
    Asuka: I’m still not happy with her. I don’t care how guilty she feels now. She’s going to need a miracle to get on my good side again. She hurt you, Rei, and you know how I feel about people who hurt the ones I... care about.
  • A Crown of Stars: After a long talk with his wife, Gendo sincerely wants to turn a new leaf and make amends. However neither Shinji nor Asuka are willing to forgive him easily for years of abandonment, abuse and being turned into weapons to win a war.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion played with this. When Asuka's father wants to meet her and attempt to reconcile with her, Asuka is hugely tempted to tell him where he can shove his apology into, but she finally decides to be the best person and agrees to meet him and have a talk with him.
  • Scar Tissue: After realizing her actions' result, Asuka decides to make a sincere attempt to change. Most of the cast –- minus Shinji and Misato — sees her as an evil and abusive bitch that enjoys torturing Shinji, and at one point Asuka wonders if she has to almost die for her friends to give her a second chance. Rei in particular refuses even to believe that Asuka cares for Shinji.

Odd Squad

  • OSMU: Fanfiction Friction:
    • The Mobile Unit still treat Todd with suspicion despite him telling them that he is no longer a villain. To say nothing of Odd Squad as an organization (or at least Precinct 13579 in particular), as Owen has had his Home for Villains under constant surveillance ever since its opening. Chapter 11 has Orla in particular be very mistrusting of him.
    Orla: I still do not trust him.
    Oswald: Orla, honest. He's reformed! He's one hundred percent given up causing oddness! All the data I gathered proves it!
    Orla: I do not trust data. I trust my instincts.
    • Basil Valentine later uses this as a tactic against Todd in Chapter 13, when he traps him in order to find out the secret behind Odd Squad agents' Proportional Aging.
    Basil Valentine: What was the point of this? To redeem yourself? You should know that's impossible. You will always be remembered as the monster who betrayed Odd Squad. No matter what you might do from now on, that will be your legacy.
    Todd: I know that.
    Basil Valentine: Do you? Do you really? They'll never forgive you. They'll never stop hating you. They'll never trust you again. And they're right.


  • Continuance: While Izumi Seta, mother of the Persona 4 protagonist Souji Seta, isn't guilty of any crimes or villainy, she's been rather distant from her son for much of his childhood. After Souji returns from Inaba, Izumi gradually realizes the error of her ways, and tries to reconnect with him. Unfortunately, Souji is rather suspicious of her, even when she stops by Inaba to visit him, as well as Dojima and Nanako (her brother and niece), since he's worried that she'll try to meddle in his life, especially in his relationship with Yukiko. Izumi leaves him at a loss by asking him if he thinks people can change, but Souji still isn't fully convinced.

Tolkien's Legendarium

  • A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: In this The Silmarillion fic, Edrahil used to be an arrogant, conceited, self-centred bard. During the Crossing and the wars in Beleriand he realized his flaws and became humbler and less prone to gloat. When he returned to Aman, though, Finrod's fiancée and relatives had a hard work believing that he had changed. Edrahil's ex-girlfriend particularly does not know if she can trust him again after several decades of emotional abuse.


  • Jara from Kara of Rokyn was an abusive jerkass who beat up and humiliated Kara because the young heroine wouldn't sleep with her. Eventually Jara loses a wrestling match to Kara and decides to turn over a new leaf and become a better person. She is forgiven by her ex-rival but not by her family and friends, who don't want her anywhere near Kara.
  • Lessons from the Mountain: Although Maedhros has been tried for all of his crimes, from which he truly repents, Nimloth hasn't forgotten or forgiven the fact that he and his brothers invaded her country and directly or indirectly killed her husband, her sons and her people.
  • Mega Man Star Network has Pride. Despite helping take down Nebula, nearly everyone in Creamland is still wary of her. Even 20 years into the future.
  • Subverted in Once More with Feeling. When Shinji's grandfather apologizes to his grandson for never being there for him and states that he wants to atone for his neglectful actions and take him in, Shinji rejects him... because he knows his grandfather is not sorry at all and only wants to use him.
  • In Peace of Mind, Piece of Heart, Steven and Catra discuss this trope. Steven muses on the difference between redemption is different than forgiveness when talking about the broken pedestal he now holds for his mother, whom he is unable to forgive despite knowing she spent much of her life working to become a better person. When asked by Catra to elaborate, he explains that while one can definitely work to become a better person, no one is actually obligated to forgive you for any atrocities done prior to that. By the same token, he also acknowledges the exact opposite: that people can forgive you even if you think haven't done anything to deserve it.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Throughout most of Act IV, most of the other members of Tsukune's group refuse to believe that Akua and Kahlua can truly atone for what they did while part of Fairy Tale, especially since they nearly killed the group and were helping Kiria in a plan that would have destroyed the world. Moka and Kokoa themselves openly state that, as far as they're concerned, Akua and Kahlua are beyond saving and Tsukune is just wasting his time. Dark, having once worked for Fairy Tale and killed innocents himself, is more understanding, and the others agree to at least give them a fair chance after he reminds them that he worked for Fairy Tale once as well.
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: A very realistic and believable case when Gwen crosses paths with Heather again after several years. While she has changed, Gwen wasn't around to see it, and given just how bad things were between them last time they saw each other, it's hard to blame Gwen for being so suspicious and disbelieving. Even more so considering the fact that the second time they cross paths Heather is blackmailing her.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Kovu is a complicated example. He saves Kiara from a fire, but the fire was staged by his siblings and mother so that he would have an excuse to join the Pridelanders. He claims to be a rogue, and to want to join Simba's pride, but is actually joining on behest of Zira so that he can have an opportunity to kill Simba and take his place. However, he starts to genuinely turn good, and Simba starts to trust him. That is, until Kovu unintentionally leads him into a trap. The Outsiders attack Simba and try to get Kovu to do the same, but he refuses. Nuka instead leads the attack, and ends up dying. As a result, Kovu is considered a traitor by both sides and rejected by everyone except Kiara.
  • At the end of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Big Bad Sunset Shimmer sees the error of her ways thanks to the Elements of Harmony, and tries to become a better person. The sequel, Rainbow Rocks, has the character as this trope, with even those who don't constantly give her death glares and verbal jabs behaving passive-aggressively towards her, including her new friends. She ultimately does become accepted by the end of the film, and the rest of the Equestria Girls series has her as Forgiven, but Not Forgotten, though one of the latter specials has the villain's motive be that she thinks Sunset was Easily Forgiven.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Days of Wine and Roses, after Joe Clay joins Alcoholics Anonymous, becomes sober and tries to make amends to his father-in-law by offering to pay for the damage he did to his greenhouse. His father-in-law, however, is still very angry with him, not over the greenhouse, but because he was the one that introduced his daughter to alcohol (she never drank until she met Joe), and doesn't seem to want to reform. In his mind, Joe may have been willing to pay for the damages he caused, but the real damage couldn't be fixed.
  • Norman Bates. Easily Forgiven by his town, but not by the family of Marion Crane in Psycho II. Lila Crane and her daughter eventually play a huge part in driving him back to mania.
  • The plot of The Woodsman is focused on Walter, a convicted child molester trying to make a fresh start and live a reformed life after serving out his prison sentence. Almost all of his friends and family have abandoned him, and his past crimes make him the subject of a great deal of suspicion and hostility from the people around him. The frustration and despair nearly drives him to give in to temptation, but he manages to refrain.
  • In You Again, The Bride with a Past Joanna is trying to start a clean slate with future sister-in-law Marni, whom she ruthlessly bullied in high school. Unfortunately, she attempts to do this by refusing to acknowledge their past relationship and pretending that she never met Marni before (instead of, you know, apologizing). Marni's brother (Joanna's fiance) doesn't know that Joanna was a bully, despite them having gone to the same high school, and the rest of Marni's equally oblivious family adores her. Marni, still emotionally damaged from Joanna's abuse, is determined to protect her brother by exposing Joanna as a fraud through any means necessary.

  • Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files often finds himself in this boat with the White Council. He tries his best to live as an honest, if somewhat unusual, wizard but the Council is constantly watching him for a slip-up. They even term it the "Doom of Damocles"; one more mistake and they'll have him eliminated. He's freed of this at the end of the first book in the series; it's just that most members of the White Council of Wizards still think he's a ticking time bomb. And in Proven Guilty, the eighth book in the series, Harry does come under the Doom of Damocles again, indirectly. He takes an apprentice, Molly Carpenter, who is a warlock in the judgment of the White Council, and she is under the Doom; if she again commits an act of black magic, she dies, and Harry dies with her for failing to keep her on the strait and narrow.
  • From The Bible, Paul of Tarsus spent years persecuting the early Christians, but after a trip to Damascus and a case of divine blindness he was converted to the same beliefs of the people he was having killed. Needless to say, the early church was pretty suspicious of him at the beginning, figuring that he was just trying a ruse to infiltrate the community — especially since he was converted while travelling to carry out a warrant to arrest any Christians he found.
  • Bloodline: In the sequel, Reckoning, Quincey Harker—undergoing a crisis of conscience—attempts to redeem himself, including abstaining from human blood. Unfortunately, when he reaches out to his former enemy, Mary Seward, for help, she flatly rejects his sincerity. While she does reluctantly agree to help him, she spends the bulk of the book constantly suspicious and distrustful of his motives.
  • The Cloak Society:
    • In Jeramey Kraatz's novel Villains Rising, downplayed — but Amp still grumbles that they can't trust the former Cloak Society members.
    • In Fall of Heroes, Carla argues more seriously than you can't trust the kids who were just working for Cloak a month ago.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, the sociopathic protagonist Alex is released into society after having been subjected to a treatment which acts as a Restraining Bolt; though still evil at heart, he is incapable of committing violent acts and is therefore considered by the state to be reformed. He is turned away from his parents' house, gets attacked by his former victims and subjected to police brutality, unable to defend himself.
  • Xanth, from The Edge Chronicles is an example of someone who actually was that bad before his Heel–Face Turn, but still isn't accepted by anyone except Rook (The Hero) and Magda. They do form a solid Nakama, however.
  • In The Guardians of Time Trilogy by Marianne Curley, Marduke's trusted helper, Rochelle, suffers this big-time. Only trusted by Arkarian initially, eventually everybody by Ethan comes around, until the end, where he does too, getting together with her as his soulmate—only to be thwarted immediately by a Heroic Sacrifice on her part, and go momentarily bloodthirsty...only to let it go and decide to let the curse placed on anyone who kills her turn the murderer to stone at sunset. The only solace depressed readers have in the face of this possibly Bittersweet Ending-making even, as the trilogy ends right after it, is that at least they can be together in the heavenly realm after he lives out his mortal life.
  • Vanessa in Fablehaven is distrusted strongly enough by the main characters, partially for their actions as The Mole and partially because their means of doing so was quite insidious. Thus, when they claim to have changed (at least, when allowed out of their absolutely safe prison), including being genuine friends with one of the characters, no one believes them and most of the crew refuses to take them back. Eventually, they do so out of sheer desperation.
  • In Left Behind, once characters have accepted the Mark of the Beast, they are forever damned to Hell regardless of whether or not they genuinely reform. This leads to characters such as Krystall or Vasily Medvedev, whom our POV characters meet and interact with and are highly regretful, but have already taken the mark and thus cannot be saved.
  • Much of the main plot of Les Misérables is bound up with Jean Valjean's attempts to re-enter society after spending a ridiculous amount of time in prison after stealing a loaf of bread. The original Inspector Javert chases after him every step of the way. Eventually, Valjean is able to prove himself a decent — even heroic — individual, causing Javert to commit suicide because he simply can't deal with this concept.
  • Subverted in The Scarlet Letter. Shunned by the Puritans for her adultery, Hester is forced to bear an "A" on her dress. She continues to dwell near the community out on the outskirts to bear responsibility for her actions (and wait for her lover). The community later commends Hester for her charity work and resuming kindness in the face of her past sin. Double subverted in that Hester does not accept being accepted, loathes the idea that the magistrates consider having her remove her A, and looks to cope with her sin on her own. Considering it has plenty to do with the Defiled Forever trope, that's quite impressive.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime "Kingslayer" Lannister is first seen as a true villain who attempts to murder an eight-year-old boy in his very first scene. Through Character Development over the course of the next three books, however, he is revealed as more a deeply bitter and disillusioned man than a truly evil one. An encounter with a female knight, plus a personal tragedy, causes him to start re-evaluating his life and his actions, and he begins to try to reclaim the knightly ideals he abandoned as a teenager. His efforts to this point have been met with nothing but jeers and open disbelief on the part of everyone he meets, and whether or not he will succeed in reforming remains to be seen, but his intentions toward that end are genuine.
    • It doesn't help that although he shows signs of trying to act more honorable, he's still working on behalf of the regime that terrorized the kingdom. Edmure and Brynden Tully are somewhat astounded that he's trying to act repentant, considering that he's trying to get them to give up their castle and surrender to the family that committed unparalleled atrocities in the region, and under Cersei's rule is showing no signs of improving.
  • Happens a lot in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
    • Leia refuses to accept Anakin's Heroic Sacrifice as anything other than ten minutes of contrition that doesn't excuse two decades of atrocities. Almost no one other than Cade Skywalker believes that the Yuuzhan Vong are capable of reform.
    • Although Ben's erstwhile girlfriend Vestara and the rest of the Lost Tribe have done a pretty good job showing us that darksiders can be rational, and are not necessarily always outright Axe-Crazy evil villains. Though in true Sith fashion, they will do whatever it takes to get power.
  • In one of the St. Clare's books, new girl Mirabel is angry at being sent away to school, so she pulls every prank she can to annoy the teachers and hopes that the other girls will enjoy the pranks... which they don't, since she's simply making a nuisance of herself and holding up the classes (and occasionally gets them all punished). Finally, Mirabel realises what an idiot she was and tells the principal, Ms Theobald, that she intends to turn over a new leaf since she was tired of being silly. Ms Theobald gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that goes, "Oh, I see. You haven't really realised the errors of your ways at all, have you? No, you just got tired of having everyone think you're an idiot, so you've decided to play it nice. I really thought you had something more than this in you, but now I see that you're just a total cow, and you're not worth putting any effort into," in response, and Mirabel never gets to explain what she meant.
  • In There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, Bradley starts off as the most feared bully in the school. After a few sessions with Carla, the school psychologist who is the only person to have faith in him being a good person, Bradley vows to turn over a new leaf and be a better person. Unfortunately, his genuine but clumsy attempts to be kinder to his family and peers were chalked up as either more tricks or sarcasm at first. Fortunately everyone eventually accepts that he really is being a nicer person.
  • In This Is Not a Werewolf Story, Vincent, due to both misunderstandings and petty revenge, betrays Raul to the villain and gets him Shapeshifter Mode Locked; it's a couple of months before his guilt finally becomes so overwhelming that he confesses and helps Raul get back to normal. Raul admits that he wants to forgive him but finds it hard, as he still has nightmares about the experience.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In James Swallow's Deus Sanguinius, the Blood Angels decide at the end to execute all those who had followed Arkio. Some even argued for it for Rafen, who had served as their champion against him. Rafen gets their lives as his reward, though they will be subjected to rites of purification. (Mephiston warns him that many will not survive the rites; Rafen says that they will survive.)
    • In Red Fury, Ajir cannot comprehend how Rafen accepted two of these "penitents" into his company, and when one goes to help him, he bitterly rejects it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This forms the main arc of the first season of Better Call Saul. Jimmy McGill, a former con artist, earns a law degree and tries to earn a respectable living protecting the elderly from exploitation. He becomes an unethical defense attorney only after learning that several mysterious setbacks in his career were caused by his brother, because he believes that Jimmy isn't truly reformed and shouldn't be a lawyer.
  • The Deep in The Boys (2019). He had a history of being a womanizer and forced himself on Starlight after she joined the Seven. After she exposes him to the media he's Reassigned to Antarctica and goes into a downward spiral before eventually realizing the error of his ways. With the help of the local Church of Happyology he manages to get the public to warm up to him again but when he tries to rejoin the Seven Starlight and Stormfront, a literal Nazi, refuse to hear him out and Queen Maeve tells him she'll help him in exchange for favors but she still considers him to be "a piece of shit".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Even after his attempts at redemption, Spike is almost never really trusted by the Scoobies, who continually hound him with abuse and scorn. On the other hand, 120 years of him killing for fun.
      • When he was originally forced to beg for their help, he spent a lot of time telling them how much he hated them and how he was going to kill them all, first chance he got. The abuse and scorn weren't exactly one-sided. Even when he started trying to be what Buffy wanted, some of his attempts were... off, and the gang knew quite well that he was motivated by feelings for Buffy rather than a genuine desire for redemption. There's a difference. Even if he was planning not to repeat his past evil actions, he didn't actually feel remorse for them.
      • Even after Spike gets his soul, Xander remains wary of him (the years of antagonism between the two of them not going away that simply) while Giles spends a good amount of Season 7 dismissive of his capacity for change and instead criticizes Buffy for leaning so closely on Spike as an ally. It gets to the point where Giles, worried about the consequences of the First Evil's brainwashing effect on Spike (and annoyed that Buffy removed the chip in Spike's head after it started malfunctioning instead of installing a new one), decided to help Robin Wood in his attempt to kill Spike rather than trust that the vampire had the capacity to overcome the trigger.
    • Also, there's a lot of confusion about just how responsible vampires are for their actions. When soulless Angel kills Ms. Calendar, it's made arguably clear that Angel wasn't responsible, his evil counterpart Angelus was. This line gets a lot more blurred around Spike, because he doesn't even get a soul until the seventh season, by which point he's insane and being manipulated by the Big Bad anyway, so there's even less reason to trust him.
    • Faith is an interesting case in that she seems to have genuinely reformed post coma, being genuinely nice to Buffy in a dream sequence and telling her how to stop the ascension. However after recovering, being haunted by Buffy coming after her and traumatized by her father figure being killed causes her to Freak Out. Her reaction, to swap bodies with Buffy and act like a complete Jerkass and sleep with Buffy's boyfriend, is treated as the worst thing that she had ever done. After Faith gets her own body back, she runs to LA, where she goes on a rampage and tortures Wesley in a bid to be killed by Angel. He instead sees it as a cry for help and tries to put her on the path of redemption, however Buffy is having none of that and comes to town, still holding a grudge and intent on killing her.
    • Andrew in the 7th season possibly fits this trope, though most of the heroes just find him really annoying.
  • Cole from Charmed, to the point that he was eventually driven back to The Dark Side by his attempts to get back into the good guys' good graces. Probably didn't help that blasted witches couldn't decide whether they wanted to help him or vanquish him.
  • Days of Our Lives:
    • The residents of Salem had a really hard time believing Jack Deveraux's Heel–Face Turn after falling in love with Jennifer Horton. It didn't help matters that Jack had been a manipulative, sleazy politician, and that he'd committed marital rape against his ex-wife Kayla.
    • Chelsea Brady ran into this same problem too. It didn't help that she'd accidentally killed her half-brother and then lied about it, and tried everything in her power to break up Bo and Hope (including emotionally manipulating her mom Billie). So when she finally realized the harm she'd caused and then tried to redeem herself by revealing that Claire Kiriakis was actually Shawn's daughter and not Philip's absolutely nobody believed she was doing it out of good-will.
  • Degrassi:
    • High school student Rick had anger issues and pushed his girlfriend into a rock by accident, putting her in a coma. Came back a season later, having undergone anger management, but everyone hated him, to the extent that two students dumped a bucket of paint and feathers on him. Rick snapped, took a gun to school, paralyzed one of the students who bullied him previously, then died after a struggle with another student from his own gun. To be fair the hatred of Rick came mostly from the fact that he abused his girlfriend and started stalking her after she finally broke up with him. He wasn't completely rejected, either; he became friends with Toby, who actually came to his funeral.
    • Spinner, who was one of Rick's main tormentors (though not without reason —his anger was justified, considering that Rick put his friend in a coma.) After coming clean about his involvement in the prank that caused Rick to snap in the first place, he was expelled and spent the next season trying to find his way back into his friends' good graces. Jimmy especially wasn't convinced that Spinner had changed, and it took him longer than anyone to forgive Spinner, but eventually the two did make amends.
  • The Master in the Doctor Who special "The Five Doctors". Though his motives are more for personal gain than any kind of reformation, he does genuinely want to help the various Doctors in their current predicament, but none of them believe him. Ultimately, he decides it's easier just to be a villain. Five did admit his own fault and unlike the other Doctors, he showed remorse for disbelieving the Master on this occasion (of course, it's not like the Doctors had good reason to believe him in the first place).
  • Frasier: Martin's subplot in "A Day In May" sees him attending the parole hearing of the man who shot him in the hip, an act that ended Martin's career as a police officer. During the hearing the man explains how he's worked hard to better himself and genuinely regrets the actions that led him to the shooting. The parole board asks Martin if he wants to say anything but Martin declines. The board ultimately decides that despite his record of good behavor, the man hasn't served enough of his sentence and deny him parole.
  • Game of Thrones: Although far from totally reformed, Jaime knows nothing he can do will ever make some characters remember him as anything but The Oathbreaker.
  • Gilmore Girls: A romantic rather than villanious version with Jess. He started as Jerkass (albeit Jerk with a Heart of Gold) who lied to Luke, flunked high school, ran away, and broke Rory's heart. Later he turns his life around, having published a book, paid Luke back for everything, and convinced Rory to fix her own situation. Despite this, Rory kisses him and then leaves him for Smug Snake Logan, who was partly responsible for her current screw ups. Neither Lorelai, Stars Hollow, or anyone who despised him acknowledge his efforts, and it's implied they still view him as the 'young hoodlum'.
  • Boyd Crowder tries to go straight in the first part of S2 of Justified but Raylon thinks he's faking and other criminals try and get him to help them. Eventually he gives up on trying to reform.
  • This is a recurring theme on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. As in Real Life, sex offenders on the show are often unable to leave their pasts behind, even after serving their time. Detective Eliot Stabler also exhibits distinct Javert-like tendencies toward many of the perps on the show.
  • This forms a large part of the premise of Life, wherein Charlie Crews has been framed for murders he didn't commit, imprisoned for 12 years, and then cleared — but people either still think he did it or think he should just take his settlement money and go away. He's also trying to find out who actually committed the murders.
  • Don Draper in the season six finale of Mad Men when he finally hits rock bottom. He's already burned too many bridges to make a difference.
  • Levchenko (former war scout turned gangster) in the Russian mini-series The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed. Winds up doing a Suicide by Cop combined with Redemption Equals Death.
  • One Tree Hill: Dan Scott killed his brother Keith and framed it on Jimmy Edwards, because he thought Keith tried to kill him. When Dan found out it was Deb, and a witness told Dan's son Luke that Dan killed Keith, he confessed and went to jail for five years before being released for good behavior. He went on to save his grandson Jamie from Nanny Carrie twice, saved his son Nathan's career from getting destroyed, and eventually dies saving him from Russian assassins. It wasn't until the last one that people finally forgave him. Except Keith, whose spirit tells him how proud he is of the man he became and guides him to heaven.
  • In Going Straight, the sequel to Porridge. Fletcher is sincere in his efforts to "go straight", but no one really believes him. Additionally, as a middle-aged ex-convict, he is doomed to a life of low-paid menial work and finds the temptation to commit another crime pervasive. Ultimately averted as at the end of Going Straight, he rejects an offer to take part in a robbery. According to the follow-up mockumentary, Norman Stanley Fletcher: Life Beyond the Box, he stayed out of prison thereafter and ended up running a pub with his childhood sweetheart, before earning a £250,000 reward for helping the police recover some stolen jewellery.
  • Brody in Homeland, after he gets broken by the CIA in season 2. Sure he's working for them now, and he's useful, but that doesn't mean they're going to trust him.
  • Lionel Luthor in Season 4 and the start of Season 5 of Smallville. Eventually everyone gets over it.
  • The Supernatural episode "Metamorphosis" has an unusual case with the character of Jack. Instead of reforming after evil acts, he has yet to do anything wrong when the boys and the Inspector Javert Travis are planning to, um, accuse him, other then slowly becoming a Rugaru against his will. After the boys tell Jack what's happening to him, he makes a genuine effort to fight it, but said Inspector eventually lures him into feeding by threatening his wife, forcing Sam to take care of him.
  • This happened twice to Heroes villain Sylar. His Face–Heel Turn presumably stuck the second time, though.
  • Scoundrels (2010): Despite Cheryl being serious about reforming herself and her family, she's still hounded by Sergent Mack who doesn't believe they can ever go straight, because of thievery in In the Blood for her family. "Once a West always a West". Once he sees that she really means it, he realizes how awful his attitude was and apologizes.


    Video Games 
  • In City of Heroes, Julianne Thompson had trouble getting heroes to support her ideas for improving the world because of her criminal record charges... that had been manufactured against her by a crooked politician she was trying to expose. Obviously, at some point she snapped, because she eventually became Countess Crey, one of the game's nastiest enemies. You can meet an alternate version of Thompson in Another Dimension where Nemesis has taken over; there, free of her criminal background, she's one of the leaders of La Résistance.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins this is a possible fate for the game's first Big Bad, Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir. After being beaten in a duel by the Warden, Loghain surrenders peacefully and seems to express genuine remorse for his past actions. The player is then given the option to either execute him on the spot, or offer him a chance at redemption by allowing him to join the Grey Wardens instead. If allowed to join, Loghain is sincere in his desire to redeem himself and will even be willing to sacrifice his life to kill the Archdemon in the Final Battle. However, for many players (and Alistair, for whom Loghain's betrayal at Ostagar was personal) it was far too little far too late, and many players just cut his head off right there.
  • Final Fantasy IV has the main character Cecil undergo a transformation from a Dark Knight to a Paladin. The regular NPCs in the world don't care, but in the town of Mysidia, which Cecil helped attack in the prologue, several of the townsfolk are bewildered that he of all people managed to become a Paladin.
  • Definitely how Cyan views Celes in Final Fantasy VI, and despite his outward reactions, there's enough of this going on subconsciously that Locke initially believes it when Kefka spins some story about how Celes was a spy planted among the Returners (she wasn't).
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Genealogy Of The Holy War and Thracia 776 use this. The Loptrians are descendants of a Religion of Evil that forged a ruthless Evil Empire in the past. Despite abandoning the evil qualities of their worship or even trying to abandon the religion, the Loptrians were witch hunted and forced to survive in a barren wasteland. This resulted in the Loptr Church under Manfroy reviving their evil practices and once again trying to take over the continent.
    • Radiant Dawn has a non-villainous example in Rolf's mother, who abandoned him, Boyd and Oscar at a young age after their father became fatally ill. She reappears in RD, but Rolf decides he does not need her in his life.
    • Awakening gives us a rare male Broken Bird in the form of King Gangrel... yes, that Gangrel. Should you recruit him in his Spotpass chapter, the player will discover, via supports and quotes, that he regrets all of the actions that he did for the first part of the game on an incredibly deep level, and he has absolutely nothing left to fight for. The Avatar cuts him a break (moreso if a female Avatar marries him), and he even looks out for Emmeryn, the same woman he wanted dead, if she joins your group. Despite most of his actions being unjustifiable, Chrom is never able to forgive him. And Gangrel is painfully aware of how this is a consequence of his own actions — even when he had a bit of a Freudian Excuse of his mother dying, this is not enough of a reason for him to do the horrible things he did. (Walhart and Aversa, the other Atoners of the game, at least did the just-as-bad things they did after being brainwashed/manipulated by the Grimleal, unlike Gangrel who did them out of his own will.)
  • A non-villain example in Luke fon Fabre from Tales of the Abyss. Luke begins the game as a selfish, bratty, extremely naive Manchild Jerk with a Heart of Gold due to his sheltered and spoiled upbringing since his kidnapping and gaining "amnesia". After his My God, What Have I Done? moment where he is forced into destroying a whole town by the Big Bad, he spends the rest of the game trying to convince the entire world that he's changed his ways. The above quote comes after Jade shows that he clearly doesn't trust Luke after meeting up with him, and Anise has a similar reaction when meeting with Luke again. Considering Luke has been recently revealed to be actually seven as he's the replica of the original Luke and he was set up to fail from the start, this treatment can come across as extremely harsh to the audience.
  • Injustice 2 has Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (The Flash) have a Heel–Face Turn from the previous game where they willingly surrendered after realizing that serving in Superman's regime wasn't a good idea after all. Both men deal with the hardship of themselves trying to reform while the citizens don't trust them. Barry does his best to keep going despite the distrust while Hal is tired of everyone not giving him a second chance despite how much hell he had to go through to become a Green Lantern again. Barry convinces him to keep fighting for what's right no matter what, which eventually gets Batman to start trusting Hal again. Harley Quinn, who used to be the bad girl for the Joker, also deals with similar problems after joining Batman, but she doesn't let it bother her.
  • In The Legend of Spyro, even though she had been Brainwashed and Crazy under Malefor's control, there are still many characters who still distrust Cynder post-reformation, despite her and Spyro doing their best to save the world.
  • Mass Effect lets you do this to various people.
    • Subverted with Elnora, who puts on a façade of being an air-headed repenter, but in fact displays disturbing sociopathy in her Apocalyptic Log.
    • Most characters... Saren, or the Illusive Man, or even Harbinger or Morinth are people Shepard can at least be civil to. Not so with Gavin Archer: Shepard shows utter disgust that he tortured his autistic brother regardless of alignment, and if s/he sees him in the third game, s/he treats him like utter shit.
  • Murdered: Soul Suspect: The protagonist Ronan O'Connor is a Reformed Criminal who became a member of the Salem Police Department; regardless, his fellow officer, Baxter, adamantly refused to see him as anything but another crook.
  • In Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, one of the short stories Broken Bird Schiele tells your hero takes a particularly cruel twist on this: A reformed pirate raises several children he had orphaned, only to have them take out their revenge after reaching adulthood.
  • Soul Series: After getting over the influences of Soul Edge, Siegfried runs into this quite a few times, most often from vengence-seekers searching for Nightmare, the Azure Knight.
  • The aversion of this trope is notable in the Sith Warrior story in Star Wars: The Old Republic. After the betrayal of Malavai Quinn (in the beta you could kill him as a result but in the final game you can't kill your companions) there isn't even a hint in the conversations that the player character might not trust him because of those events, which would actually be very understandable.
  • In Trauma Team, Maria loudly and violently rejects CR-S01's genuine attempts to make amends for the crime he might have committed, driving him into a Heroic BSoD which he has to be talked out of by the agent who captured him. After this, he does manage to convince Maria of his good intentions, but the initial rejection was pretty harsh.
  • Valkyria Chronicles II has Sigrid Essel, a former member of the rebels join Class G after Reiner's event. As expected, no one in the academy is warm to his defection from the rebels, and his classmates question Avan's judgement in allowing him to join with them. He's even accused of being a spy for the rebels, which he has to endure day in and day out.
  • Happens to Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights even if the player character personally forgave her. Then it happens again before you meet her in Hordes of the Underdark.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • This happens for a short time in if you play a Death Knight. After the prologue area, you are teleported to Stormwind or Ogrimmar, and face lynch mobs demanding your death. Thankfully, speaking with Thrall or Varian provides enough reputation so this isn't too much of an issue for death knight players.
    • Later, in Borean Tundra, Thassarian is sent on a Suicide Mission by General Arlos (who is later revealed to have been brainwashed by a Scourge agent).
    • The Forsaken are undead who managed to break free from the Lich King's control through sheer willpower and simply want the right to exist. The fact that their own brothers and sisters want them destroyed has only made them more bitter toward the living.
    • This is also half the reason for the game's overall storyline; the Alliance understandably has a hard time accepting that the new Horde is ideologically opposed to the one that razed their cities to the ground. The fact that they're still a war-like people who raze their cities to the ground doesn't help.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Better Days:
    • Some time after Rachel had gotten dumped by Tommy for cheating on him, she decided to meet Tommy at his parents house to try to convince him that she had changed. However, Tommy couldn't trust her, and so he left the house telling her that he was now happy with 'someone else' (Lucy).
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Tess, who all the upperclassmen hate thanks to events that the main cast of the comic didn't witness.
  • General Protection Fault:
    • Trudy, who planned on a form of Redemption Equals Death by staying behind in a war-torn dimension under alien attack to allow her counterpart to live in the primary dimension, only for her counterpart to switch places with her and send her home instead after fooling the rest of the cast about her identity. She reluctantly accepts this, and Fooker, one of the few people who knows the truth, is highly suspicious of her, reminding her that he knows her identity and he will take action against her if he feels the need to do so.
    • Averted with Fooker. He suspects that his being (falsely) convicted of the shooting that the "Fookinator" performed will make things more difficult in civilian life despite having the charges cleared, because "exonerations make fewer headlines than convictions." While one of his employers at Regional Telecom (one of Dwayne's friends) briefly questions him about it, no one so far has viewed him as a murderer, and three systems administrators don't believe it, instead suggesting that while he was away, his programming skills deteriorated.
  • In the Paradox Space story Summerteen Romance Eridan tries to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow trolls by kicking away a bomb... directly into Gamzee's sandcastle. It doesn't work.
  • Scoob and Shag: After trying to capture Shaggy and attacking the resistance's meeting point, Ger eventually turns back to the side of the heroes, aids them in their future efforts and appears genuinely remorseful about his actions. However, the others still don't trust him, and consider him a traitor.
  • Slightly Damned: After his fight against Kieri, Kazai swallows his pride and apologizes for his actions to his sister several days later. However, while Kieri lets him join her group, she's still angry at him for attacking Buwaro, and coldly rejects his apology. Likewise, Rhea has grown to hate him and wants nothing to do with him. Ironically enough, it's Buwaro who treats him with the most kindness and sympathy, with J a close second.
  • Zebra Girl: After Sandra returns, the others naturally don't seriously consider the idea that she could have changed. Sandra was already aware that it wouldn't be easy, but poor communication, misunderstandings and overeager minions constantly conspire to make it even worse between then. As you might think, this leads to a lot of Dramatic Irony - like Sam's unwitting inversion of Oblivious Mockery:
    Sam (sarcastically): "Unless she had a profoundly enlightening experience she'll probably be even worse than we remember."

    Web Original 
  • Eret from Dream SMP. After betraying L'Manburg during the War for Independence when Dream promises him a position as king, Eret comes to regret his decision, but is despised and mistrusted by his former friends. When Wilbur and Tommy are exiled by Schlatt, Eret tries to serve as an ally to them, only to have his offers be rejected constantly by the two.
  • Lord Darigan from Neopets. Despite looking like an Obviously Evil Bat Out of Hell, he was in fact a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was trying to take back from Meridell and their good but incredibly selfish ruler, King Skarl. However, even though his side won, their land wasn't restored, and he underwent a Face–Heel Turn. Then, when he returned, he defeated Lord Kass and saved Meridell. You'd think he'd be in the Gallery of Heroes now, but instead he’s STILL in the Gallery Of Evil. Though this could be chalked up more to the creators just neglecting to update the Galleries.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Sahar, at Super Hero School Whateley Academy. A ruthless psychic who took advantage of every person she could find (male or female, since she's a gorgeous bisexual) who had a psychic ability she could learn to copy. But she fell in love with one of her targets, and never recovered... until she decided to try earning such skills with trades, and found one person who would trust her. Most of the school thinks she's just up to another ruthless scam. She's currently trying to make it up to every person she feels she has wronged over the last couple years, and she's got her loved one back.
    • Phase is also a good example. Formerly one of the heirs to the mutant-hating Goodkind family, the fact that his family has disowned him, stripped him of most of his inheritance, and conducted horrifyingly inhumane experiments on him apparently isn't enough for some students of Whateley, who either refuse to associate with him or are actively hostile. (Fortunately for his stability, there are also plenty with the common sense to realize that the above means he has even more reason to resent the Goodkinds and their policies than most mutants.)
  • Worm: The supervillain Skitter sacrifices all of her ill-gotten gains because it would give her the best chance to Saving the World from an unknown threat. She rebrands herself as a hero, but, predictably, isn't largely accepted. To be fair, she did murder one of the greatest heroes in the world and the director of a superhero team just before her Heel–Face Turn.
    • At the end of Worm, capes declare that there's an amnesty for all parahumans, effectively rendering all villains neutral unless they actively decide to continue as villains. A number of villains take this opportunity to become heroes, but the majority of the unpowered population oppose this, especially the anti-cape contingent. It's explained in the sequel, Ward, that the opposition feel that A, since the unpowered weren't consulted when capes decided to establish the amnesty, they don't have to accept villains becoming heroes just because the capes say so; and B, the amnesty essentially allows many villains who were never arrested or convicted of their crimes to get away with said crimes, even those who'd killed or inflicted large amounts of damage. However, they also oppose villains-turned-heroes who did serve time for their crimes and are truly repentant, which somewhat undermines their points.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Young proto-terrorist Jet decides to start a new life. He goes to the heroes with an offer of assistance, but is immediately attacked by Katara, who continues to be violent toward him even after he drops his weapons, raises his hands, and swears he wants to help. They continue to be mistrustful toward him despite Living Lie Detector Toph insisting that he is telling the truth. Eventually his good intentions are proven, immediately followed by... guess what. Justified by Jet having proven to be an adept liar, manipulator, charmer, and tale-teller in his first appearance and that the last time the Gaang and Jet interacted he tried to trick Katara and Aang into murdering a whole village of innocent people.
    • Later in the same series, this scenario is repeated almost verbatim with a repentant (though hopelessly tongue-tied) Zuko. Eventually, he comes to them peacefully, even going so far as to kneel before them in surrender, Katara still attacks him and chases him off, suspicious due to his earlier vulnerable moment. Later, after helping the Gaang defeat Combustion Man (that he himself hired a couple of episodes before to kill Aang), he is able to win grudging acceptance. Katara remains unconvinced and swears to watch him closely and take bloody vengeance if he screws up even slightly. A few episodes later, she does end up forgiving him.
      Zuko: Hello, Zuko here. But I guess you... probably already know me. Sort of. Uh, so... the thing is, I have a lot of firebending experience, and I'm considered to be pretty good at it. Well, you've seen me... you know, when I was... attacking you. Uh... yeah. I guess I should apologize for that. B-b-but anyway, I'm good now. I mean, I thought I was good before, but now I realize I was bad. But... anyway... I think... it's time I... joined your group and taught the Avatar firebending. (pull back to show he's talking to a frog) WELL? What's your answer?!
      Frog: [croak]
      Zuko: ...Yeah. That's what I'd say too. How am I supposed to convince these people I'm on their side?
  • Batman Beyond had Bruce doing this for a revived Mr. Freeze, while Terry thinks the man has honestly changed. He has, but unfortunately when his treatment starts to wear off and his benefactors betray him, Fries decides that he wasn't meant to have a normal life and goes after them, using a modernized version of his old suit. It culminates in one of the saddest moments in the Batman franchise where Freeze, having lost all will to live at this point, somberly remarks on how Terry is the only person who cares that he's going to die before he quietly lets himself be destroyed by the ensuing explosions.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Happened in an episode where The Penguin had come out of jail and finally decided to "go straight". Batman refused to believe such thing was possible, and hounded him mercilessly... eventually, he does return to his old ways, after being betrayed by a woman he'd fallen for, and Batman has to bring him down. While remaining subtly convinced that he never really reformed. However, Penguin proves to be an aversion of both this trope and Status Quo Is God: later episodes show that the Penguin really does go straight(er), and runs a legitimate upscale night club and casino called the Iceberg Lounge. He's still engaged in some morally and legally shady business, but Batman tolerates it in order to occasionally pump Penguin for underworld info.
    • In the episode "Harley's Holiday", Harley Quinn tried to reform. The chain of events that got her sent back to Arkham started with her panicking after setting off a detector in a department store. The clerk never got a chance to explain that they just forgot to remove the security tag on the dress she just bought. At the end of the episode, as she is being returned to Arkham, Batman gives her the dress, remarking that he had a bad day too, once. She kisses him on the cheek... then smiles, tosses the dress aside and kisses him full on the lips, a move that has both Robin and Poison Ivy looking on with some bemusement. Later sequels would show that when Harley did reform, she had to go into hiding owing to her part in torturing the second Robin on Joker's orders.
  • On Beast Wars, the Maximals grew to trust Dinobot, a former Predacon. But in Season 2's "Maximal, No More", Dinobot briefly redeclared his loyalty to Megatron and the Predacons when he believed Megatron was right after all. When he switched back, the Maximals were unsure of where he stood. It was only after "Code of Hero", as Dinobot single-handedly defeated the Predacons and died afterwards that he regained their trust.
  • A genuinely reformed Yuck from Yin Yang Yo! is suspected by the twins (and only them) of actually being a Falsely Reformed Villain... and their harsh treatment of him — up to and including beating him senseless and smashing a statue he'd made dedicated to their new friendship in the processfinally drives him back to evil. Nice Job Breaking It, Javerts!
  • Downplayed in the original Ben 10 episode "Kevin 11". After Ben does something that get his cousin and grandfather angry at him (get them kicked out of a luxurious hotel for sneaking in a VIP video game room), Ben tops off that selfishness show by running away for a while and ganging up with his soon-to-be Arch-Enemy Kevin 11, causing mayhem in an attempt to steal some video games with his new "friend" and then trying to stop his "partner" when he thought it was getting too far (killing train passengers to get money). The episode ends with Max telling a regretful Ben that he is still his grandson, but his trust is something he would have to regain. The following episode carries a few remnants of this, as Ben decides he cannot be trusted at all after Max gets injured during a fight with a female crook turned cyborg, prompting him to run away again.
  • In Code Lyoko, William's attempt to regain his old status with his friends was met with mostly cold shoulders. He starts regaining their trust by Code Lyoko: Evolution, but it's a slow process.
  • Dagur the Deranged in Dragons: Riders of Berk spent most of the series obsessively chasing after Hiccup and Toothless, eventually joining up with Viggo Grimborn and his Dragon Hunters. In the fifth season, however, he realizes that Viggo considers him — like all of his men — completely expendable, and he quickly deserts. After a chance meeting on a deserted island, Hiccup slowly comes to accept that Dagur's Heel–Face Turn is genuine, but when Dagur shows up on Dragon's Edge a few episodes later, he is understandibly met with distrust from everyone else, who believe that he might just be The Mole for Viggo, and especially his sister Heather, who is still furious at him for killing both her adoptive family and their father. Toward the end of the episode, he proves that he really did have a change of heart by flying straight into a trap that Hiccup and his friends didn't believe him about, seemingly sacrificing himself in the process.
  • Family Guy had James Woods terrorize most of the town, especially the Griffin family for several episodes. In the episode "And Then There Were Fewer," James Woods invites the Griffins and many other people to his mansion for a dinner in their honor. He claims that his girlfriend converted him to a Christian and he wants to make amends with everyone that he wronged. Naturally, everyone thinks he is lying. No one ever got to see if James Woods was true to his word since Diane Simmons killed him.
    • In "Ratings Guy", Peter gets shunned and abused by the town for taking over the Neilson box system and ruining television. Brian suggests just using the boxes to request everything back to normal, only for Mayor West to take revenge by destroying the entire lot of them before he can. Peter does later manage to redeem himself under far more complex manual methods, however.
  • Heckle and Jeckle sign a New Year's resolution to give up practical jokes in 1961's "Sappy New Year." But when their attempts to do good deeds are misconstrued as mischief, Heckle tries to revert back.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • Viper. In her first episode, she was a superthief who (mistakenly) stole the snake talisman from Jackie, double-crossing him after she discovers its power. After giving it back, she goes legit, working as a consultant for a security company, but whenever Jade calls upon her for help, Jackie always dismisses Viper for being a superthief, always prompting Viper to say "EX-superthief". Jackie eventually comes to trust her, however.
    • Twice in the series (once in Season 4 and once in Season 5), Finn, Ratso and Chow got themselves on probation and Jackie refused to believe they were reformed for real. Ironically, it was around the time Jackie really started believing them that they revealed that all it took to revert them back into their criminal ways was a chance to score big.
      • In the series finale, the Enforcers decide to assist the good guys a little bit, although they're still too cowardly to help that much. It seems to be implied that they turn toward the side of good, although whether that sticks or not is unknown.
  • Hawkg- er, Shayera Hol went through this a little, especially with Wonder Woman, upon her return in Justice League Unlimited after she had turned out to be The Mole for her people, who in turn, almost destroyed the Earth. WW and Shayera eventually came to see eye to eye, though they never exactly became friends again. In a subversion, though, she is not rejected by the League at large (Superman, Flash, and J'onn (or Batman) vote for letting her stay; GL withholds his vote but it's obvious that he trusts her) but she resigns voluntarily before they can announce the result of their vote.
  • In Lady Lovely Locks this trope is discussed, but ends up averted in "The Bundle," with Hairball taking advantage of Lady's kindness to betray her. Lady feels awful that Hairball was lying, but says that if they did think he was causing trouble and he wasn't, they'd feel even worse.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Played with during the third season, where it's revealed that Lin Beifong has a younger half-sister named Suyin, who's the head of a prosperous metal bending city she personally founded. Suyin was never evil, but she was a delinquent who committed petty crimes in her youth, with one incident — serving as a getaway driver and assaulting Lin when the latter tried to arrest her— resulting in Lin getting her scar and their mother Toph having to retire early as the police chief to avoid an embarrassing scandal. Suyin was exiled from Republic City, but never officially punished by the law, and she didn't apologize to Lin. Thirty years later, Lin still refuses to believe Suyin learned anything about responsibility when Suyin acts like they're cool, refusing to apologize still', and lies to Korra that they were just different people acting out in response to a neglectful mother. Lin is able to forgive Suyin after the two have a much needed "talk", though.
    • Similarly, Toph and Lin are estranged owing to what happened with Suyin, and that Toph is terrible at being a mother. It's zigzagged in that Toph doesn't understand what she did wrong, at first; she uses the same brusque attitude on her daughters that she does for her close friends. It's cute with friends, but not with family members that relied on you for physical and emotional security. They ally briefly to rescue Suyin and the other Beifongs from Kuvira's war camp, but when Toph tries to impress her brashness on Lin and assumes they're cool, Lin blows up at her and says this is why they didn't talk for decades. Toph gets a Jerkass Realization when Lin says they're done after they save their family, and works to make up for her bad attitude so they can part on good terms. It Runs in the Family, apparently.
    • Repeated in season 4 with Bolin, although he was never really evil, just gullible. Even though he turns against Kuvira and brings back vital intel on her spirit vine weapon, Opal is still furiously pissed at him until he helps her and Lin rescue the rest of the Beifong family; it takes risking his life to save Zhu Li to convince her that he deserves a second chance.
  • "Bully Goat" from the animated Llama Llama series has this briefly for Gilroy Goat when Nelly Gnu tries to stop him from playing in a game even after he had already apologized for being a meanie. Fortunately, Llama Llama puts the kibosh on it right away since it's fairly obvious his apology was sincere.
  • The Mask has an example with Peggy in the pilot episode. Despite the fact that she's no longer working with Tyrell in the movie, Stanley is really quite upset on that one.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • After having been the Big Bad for the series premiere, a reformed Nightmare Moon (now going by her original persona of Princess Luna), shows up on Nightmare Night in the second season's "Luna Eclipsed". Seeing how the day she appeared on was all about ponies fearing her old, evil persona, her arrival on a black chariot, her booming, boisterous, echoing voice that she insists all princesses must speak in for their subjects to listen to them, and her use of Spock Speak and Royal "We", has everypony is too frightened to even give her a chance. (The way her mood warps weather doesn't help either). Subverted in that the end of the episode reveals that every one knows that she's reformed and do fully accept her. They just figured she knew about the holiday and was having fun with it, leading her join the festivities with gusto.
    • Discord, the Big Bad of the season 2 premiere, is reformed by Fluttershy the following season, but she's the only person that gives him an honest shot, leading to a Redemption Failure at the end of season four where he joins up with that episode's villain. Ironically, it's the aftermath of this that finally makes the others accept him.
    • Despite turning over a new leaf at the end of "Magic Duel", Trixie notices that other ponies still avoid her and whisper about her past deeds behind her back. It also turns out that Twilight wasn't quite as forgiving to Trixie as she originally let on, though as she states when called out on it, she claims this is more to do with the fact that Trixie still kinda acts like a smug jerk towards her.
  • In The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob, after one of his many stints in prison, has legitimately reformed. However, Bart and Lisa don't believe it (with good reason, given past experience), and when Bob's brother's plot is foiled, they both get taken away to jail.
  • Jonsey of 6teen, when the Underground Video store was in trouble!
  • Peridot in Steven Universe, following her truce with the Crystal Gems in the latter half of season two. While she does undergo a Heel–Face Turn, her frequent unintentional insults, superiority complex, and inability to properly explain her intentions led even Steven to have doubts about her having changed for the better until the end of "Message Received", where she ends up insulting Yellow Diamond to her face.
  • WordGirl:
  • Xiaolin Showdown:
    • In "The Apprentice" episode, no one but Omi believes that Jack is really on the good side. It's revealed later that he didn't think any of the monks, Omi included, believed he could be good, even though his change was genuine, and he returned to being evil because he was afraid he would fail, as per everyone's expectations.
    • When Chase Young used a Shen Gong Wu to induce Omi into becoming Heylin, Kimiko commented, not knowing the truth about the Wu, that she'd expect Raimundo to betray them (as he had done before in Season One). Raimundo didn't take offense.
  • X-Men: Evolution:
    • Similar to Spike in Buffy, Avalanche once tried to join the good guys to get closer to Kitty, but Logan and Scott end up blaming him for some recent Joyrides. Justified however, in that Avalanche did everything he could to make them not trust him: He failed two tests on purpose for the sake of annoying Scott/showing off to Kitty, taunted Scott after his car was trashed and though he knew who was joyriding, didn't even try to defend himself from the accusations. Considering the way he always acted towards him, Scott's attitude and mild hazing is understandable and, while often forgotten, he did try to give him a chance at first but was put off by the fact that Lance was still fairly antagonistic towards him, and in he end apologized for acting unfairly. Not like the Brotherhood fans will remember that detail. Still, at least Lance did honestly try to help eventually.
    • Rogue inverted this trope in Evolution, refusing to trust the X-Men for most of season 1 for what she thought was a series of attacks on her. These were staged by Mystique.

    Real Life 
  • After WWII, a lot of people still hate Germans or call them Nazis, much to the chagrin of people who were never involved with the atrocities. This is true even if their parents and grandparents weren't involved, either. Basically, the whole country is trying to put the past behind them and Germans are still embarrassed if their flag is put on display for whatever reason, as WWII resulted from national pride.
  • Critics of publicly accessible criminal registries tend to cite this trope as a major contributor to high recidivism rates in jurisdictions that use them. Effectively, a criminal registry (and potential legal requirements to inform new acquaintances, romantic partners, or employers of their criminal past) can severely limit employment and socialization prospects for ex-convicts, even those who legitimately want to turn over a new leaf and are trying hard to do so.
  • During the nineties, David Brock was, by his own admission, an attack dog for the Republican Party, authoring The Real Anita Hill, which argued that Anita Hill was deluded when she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. However, in 1997, he suddenly switched parties, becoming a Democrat, releasing a largely sympathetic biography of Hillary Clinton, and later going on to found the unabashedly liberal Media Matters for America. While he's become very influential in the Democratic Party thanks to Media Matters, many rank-and-file progressives have not forgotten about his past behavior, and have not forgiven him for it.
  • In his Il Principe, Niccolò Machiavelli explicitly advocated caution towards former opponents who switched sides, because "someone who betrayed trust of his former allies may as well do the same to you".
  • It is not unheard of for school bullies to meet their victims in public many years later and apologize for their actions towards them. Sometimes the victim will refuse to forgive them and still think they're same rotten jerk that they knew back then, since the painful memories won't let them forget what happened. Similarly, internet trolls or those that engaged in cyberbullying may have a change of heart and find themselves being completely shunted by their former victims.
  • One could make the case that this trope extends to many a felon who has "served his time" in jail. While they are technically free, they will find themselves ineligible or at the bottom of the résumé list for a large number of jobs, since with a large pool of applicants, many companies will first whittle the list down by rejecting all ex-cons before an interview is scheduled. The lack of availability of work prospects drives many back to a life of crime.
  • Superstar QB Michael Vick, who was the most despised athlete in the country after he was jailed for two years for illegal dogfighting, in which Vick aided in both running a dogfighting circle and in the deaths of some dogs themselves. After his stint, Vick offered remorse in that he said he grew up in a "Dirty South" culture where it was not seen or understood as wrong and promised to use his experience to educate others in that culture about the inhumanity of dogfighting. Many felt he did not deserve a chance to go back into the NFL. Vick has managed to earn back the good graces of a lot of fans due to his cleaned-up behavior and work with the American Humane Society and his improbable revival of his career, becoming an even better QB than he was before jail. However, there is still a contingent of fans (especially in Atlanta, where nip departure sunk the franchise for a few years) who feel Vick will never change and/or does not deserve his second-chance opportunity.
  • This was the case when Frank Abagnale was originally released in that he wasn't trusted by anyone. One of his first jobs after being released from prison was at a supermarket. When he was about to be promoted to assistant manager, the store did a background check and immediately fired him. Fortunately for him, he was able to turn this into a career in that he began consulting as a fraud investigator for local businesses. This ultimately turned into an international business for him.


Video Example(s):



Zuko tries to convince the Gaang that he's reformed enough to join them.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ReformedButRejected

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