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Retired Monster

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"And for what?
It's been many years,
Yet the screams of the vanquished still ring in my ears.
And for what?
I've blood on my hands.
I wait for my place in the halls of the damned.
And if I could go back and make my amends,
I'd make all those mistakes again.
I'd kill every last one of those bastards, my friend!"
Alestorm, "Pirate Song"

The Retired Monster's past is full of evil and atrocity and he's okay with it. In fact, he caused most of it. When you first see him, he'll come across as Affably Evil at best; he'll also have experience and advice that he might give out to a young hero, although possibly the best he can do is "You should stay away from people like me". However, he'll be creepier than the Cool Old Guy or Retired Badass, and he'll tempt the young ones, giving them advice more on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. You see, he's not doing any gross evil acts now — he may not have done so much as run a red light in the past ten years — but that's only because he's tired. As the backstory of this character becomes known, we learn that they kicked the dog a number of times, perhaps took a hopscotch over the Moral Event Horizon, only stopping because for some reason they got sick of it.

Perhaps he finally came out worse for wear after a run-in with the guy who's now The Mentor. Maybe he was caught and sent into exile and now has at least enough fear of the authorities to not put a toe out of line. Then again, often, they have just literally retired, saying "I'm too old for this" and using their pension fund of Nazi Gold to support a life of margaritas on the beach.

They've never apologized (not sincerely at least) for their actions, there was no Heel–Face Turn, and they are not The Atoner who'll help to make up for some wrong. No, they'll just sit back, but if a character underestimates their evil, if they think that because they aren't as bad as the more active monsters, that they're OK, they may get a horrid reminder of what the Retired Monster is still capable of. Usually, they'll either be a mentor to the villain they're Passing the Torch to, or even a Token Evil Teammate if they are helping the hero.

It's not rare for this kind of character to produce copycat villains, either out of genuine admiration or because said villains are trying to throw the authorities off track by blaming the Retired Monster for their crimes. Usually, the Retired Monster is less than amused about this, and he will go straight back into action to either dispose of these guys personally or to help the heroes in apprehending them, as a way to "clean" his name of crimes he didn't commit. In any case, he has bucket-loads of Villain Cred.

Monsters who don't retire, or come out of retirement and continue to be evil in old age, can become Evil Old Folks. Sub-Trope of Karma Houdini, due to the fact that very few of this type of character are found in jail. Compare the Retired Badass, one of several good counterparts, and the Retired Outlaw, which may occasionally overlap. Contrast The Atoner, who said monster can become if he does end up regretting his past crimes later in his retired life.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon, Dutch discovers that their employer on the submarine job is actually a retired SS officer who set them up on a collision course with the Neo-Nazis in order to test the Neo-Nazis. Since they all died, he considers them to have failed the test. Their conversation alternates between surprisingly polite and monstrous, with the SS Officer praising Dutch and the Black Lagoon company for their talent at killing, and then saying that Dutch and his entire race are inferior beings.
  • Code Geass R2 reveals two spoileriffic examples at the end:
    • While Cornelia li Britannia has faced repercussions is some ways (i.e. deceased younger sibling that she cared about), she's not sorry about the horrible acts that she did, such as when she massacred innocent civilians and doubtless many other reprehensible acts committed under the banner of Britannia (including contemplating a Final Solution to the Area 11 problem). Even when she joined the Black Knights and Character Development kicked in, she didn't really pull a Heel–Face Turn. Now, she's just a regular civilian, demoted from her royalty status.
    • After spending her life manipulating and blackmailing her way to attain nobility, and screwing over Lelouch at every opportunity she has, and that's before taking into account that she was part of the Purist Faction, by the end of the series, Viletta Nu's happily married to Kanahme Ohgi, in spite of no actual redemption or atonement.
  • Cowboy Bebop's Spike Spiegel begins the show as a retired mafia hitman, who has become self-employed by becoming a Bounty Hunter instead. Although he's a slightly less morally dark character at present because bounty hunters have to take their target alive (and because Jet is rubbing off on him), Spike has mostly abandoned his past rather than face up to it and has no regrets for the things he used to do. True to form, his realization that he does actually have some things left undone in his old life leads him to try and set things right, (possibly) dying in the process.
  • Despite settling down on Earth and attempting to save it on several occasions, Vegeta of Dragon Ball Z has never explicitly been shown to express any guilt, angst, or shame for his decades-long life of murder, tyranny, and genocide. He eventually gets better. During the Buu saga, he makes this speech about how he wanted to go back to the days when he was a cold-hearted, ruthless brute who thought of nothing but causing pain and suffering to others. An episode earlier, when he becomes Majin, he proclaims to the Supreme Kai when he's told to be innocent and clear, "How can you say that! I'm not innocent!" He knows he was an evil monster once and wishes to let that monster inside him loose again. This is because he feels he's gone "soft" and that he could — and should — be stronger than he is. By returning to the old state of mind, he believes he'd be able to use his full power. There is a bit of a subversion, however, ironically enough, when Porunga was asked to revive all those on earth who aren't pure evil, Vegeta is resurrected. He then appears genuinely stunned at just what that means.
  • Lucy from Elfen Lied. In the years'-long era between her killings of Tomoo and his subordinates and her capture by the Diclonius Research Institute, she killed Kouta's sister and father out of a hissy fit of jealousy when Kouta lied to her about his cousin's gender (even if he explicitly told her about his cousin's real gender, someone was bound to be dead, anyway) and caused a series of heart attacks across Kamakura while infecting males with the Diclonius virus. While she does feel guilty (deep down inside) about the murders of Kouta's father and sister and tries to atone for it, when she comes out of retirement (by slaughtering several Diclonius Research Institute personnel), she proves herself that she's still excessively murderous... not that those Research Institute personnel didn't have it coming. Yeah, it's that kinda series, where being locked up in a Tailor-Made Prison that frankly has "Nazi Concentration Camp expy" written all over it is bound to mess one up (more than what she already was). She gets better at the end, via limiting most of her murders to people that actually deserve it. Needless to say, it does not work, but she goes out in a Heroic Sacrifice protecting her loved ones.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist's Giolio Comanche, a Colonel Kilgore and Sociopathic Soldier who thoroughly enjoyed the Ishvalan Civil War and the ensuing genocide. When we encounter him he's an old, retired man with a pegleg — who nevertheless cracks an enormous Slasher Smile when he gets the chance to fight Scar, an Ishvalan survivor.
  • Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) spent hundreds of years body swapping and sacrificing people to create Philosopher Stones in order to prolong his life. He eventually settled down and had kids, but ran off when his body started decaying.
  • Yoshikage Kira in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable attempts to do this once he changes his identity and hides in the suburbs. He attempts to blend into the life of the man he killed and impersonated, but the man's son is suspicious of him from Day 1. He even tries to overcome his murderous urges when he realizes he is starting to actually care about his "wife". Soon, Kira is unable to resist his Serial Killer tendencies and is caught red-handed by the boy during the process of murdering his targets, which soon leads to his exposure and death.
  • Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss used to be a ruthless demonic murderer, bandit/warlord before the Land God Mikage recruited him to be his familiar. He still isn't exactly a nice guy (just ask Kurama, Mizuki, or anybody else who has ever pissed him off) and sometimes dreams of going back to the 'good old days.'
  • Aya's mother in Master of Martial Hearts. A former Dark Action Girl, she used to partake in a girls-only Street Fighter Expy, under the direction of her husband-to-be. Doesn't help the fact that the girls she beat up and defeated ended up tortured, maimed, and sold into sex slavery (like it happened to Natsume's Cute Mute mother). However, with the Platonic Heart closed for the time being, she settled as your average, if slightly overprotective mom, raising her daughter. Under the mask, she's still as plucky and dangerous as she used to be.
  • Flit Asuno becomes one of these by Season 3 of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. A former Fallen Hero and Dark Messiah who took control of his country in a military coup at the end of Season 2, Flit's not sorry about having anybody who disagreed with him executed, continues to hope for a Final Solution to the Vagan problem, and after being dragged out of retirement, proves he's just as ruthless and brutal as he ever was.
  • Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya: Lorem was once a vicious, bloodthirsty demon who would kick the asses of any who dared to trespass on her territory. You wouldn't be able to tell that at all from her current behavior as a goofy, doting mother on her child. Just don't threaten him.
  • Naruto:
    • Madara went into hiding after his defeat by Hashirama. When he took in Obito, he was a one-eyed, decrepit man kept alive only due to a life support system he had jury-rigged from an experiment. He seemed largely uninterested in the outside world and was even helpful. In fact, he had spent the last few decades preparing his big comeback and Obito was just the final piece in his plan.
    • Danzo is suitably monstrous and pretends to be retired from his duties outside of acting as an advisor. Most of the cast knows he's still running Root and tasking them with black-on-black ops. He comes fully out of retirement when he becomes Candidate Hokage, only to have all of the enemies he's made come out of the woodwork when he steps out of Konoha.
    • Orochimaru becomes the Karma Houdini version of this by the end of the manga. While the Leaf Village keeps tabs on him and make sure he doesn't do anything too evil, he is allowed to more or less live in peace and perform (hopefully) non-evil experiments; he even keeps some of his own subordinates and lives in his old lair. Creepily, given his Body Surf tendencies, his physical appearance has changed yet again, leaving it as unclear if he managed to possess yet another person before his enforced retirement or if he used some other method. For a character that murdered numerous children, including BABIES, killed his own master, tried to start a world war by annihilating his hometown, and operated for decades as a Mad Scientist Evil Sorcerer Serial Killer, the fact that he is let off more or less scot-free is pretty amazing.
  • Claimed by Evangeline in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. Noble Demon attitude aside, it's actually not entirely incorrect: She has killed people and shows no remorse for anything she's done in the past. Though it is highly doubtful that any of her victims were anything near innocent (barring her family); in fact, if you read between the lines of her backstory, you can make a guess as to what kind of people wanted to pick a fight with an undying 10 years old looking girl, and the fact that the first century (or more) of her life was spent in Medieval Europe controlled by religious zealots should make the story even clearer…
  • No Game No Life: Jibril is introduced as a friendly and polite, if very condescending, bookworm. But Jibril is also a Flügel, a Proud Warrior Race of angelic Living Weapons created by a War God to wage war on other gods. She used to take the heads of her enemies as trophies, regards battles and massacres as fond memories, and once wiped out a massive elven city over a relatively minor slight. She is an unrepentant Proud Warrior Race Girl who sees nothing wrong with any of this, and the only reason she is retired at all is because a Physical God changed the very laws of the universe to create a world where conflicts are settled with games and killing is forbidden. The Big Damn Movie shows her in action in the era before the Ten Pledges, and we get to see her viciously slaughter one of the main characters, Laughing Mad as she does. Even by Flügel standards, she comes off as somewhat unhinged.
  • Butch & Cassidy from Pokémon: The Series were the more successful rivals to the Team Rocket trio. However in Pokémon Journeys: The Series it's revealed that sometime after their last appearance in Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, they decided to quit Team Rocket and went their separate ways with Cassidy opening a café and Butch a bakery.
  • Re:CREATORS: Altair/Military Uniform Princess basically becomes this at the end after she's reunited with her creator. She ceases to be an active threat once she's gotten what she wanted, but it's also clear that she's shown no guilt or remorse over all the havoc she's wreaked in order to attain her goals.
  • Sakamoto Days: Taro Sakamoto was once one of the most feared and skilled assassins in the underworld, though he was less of a "monster" than a Punch-Clock Villain who saw being an assassin as just another job. It wasn't until he met the love of his life and she convinced him killing was wrong that he gave up the business, settled down, and started a family.
  • The Way of the Househusband centers around the life of "Immortal" Tatsu, who used to be an infamous yakuza legbreaker, but gave up his criminal career to support his wife Miku, an aspiring designer, as a House Husband. As you can expect, the transition is a little rough: he's an amazingly capable cook and housekeeper, and his love for Miku is beyond question, but he approaches his chores as if he's still doing organized crime with his wife as his new boss.

    Comic Books 
  • Oswald Cobblepot — AKA "The Penguin" — became this in the Batman comics in the 1990s. Somewhere along the way, he decided he enjoyed being wealthy, having lots of famous friends, and being seen in the company of beautiful women more than he enjoyed being a crook — so he "officially" retired from crime and opened the Iceberg Lounge, one of Gotham City's most popular casino-nightclubs (and for that matter, he also stopped wearing his top hat). However, the Penguin didn't withdraw from crime entirely: while he never actively gets into mischief, he still runs a gang and has them do all his dirty work. Batman and other Gotham heroes tolerate this because Cobblepot sometimes "overhears" information they need in his nightclub that he's willing to share — off the record. So, Villain with Good Publicity meets this trope.
    • During Chip Zdarsky's run on Batman, Penguin takes this even further, faking his death, altering his appearance with cosmetic surgery and leaving Gotham, so that he can leave his self-destructive obsession with fighting Batman behind, instead settling for running a flower shop.
  • Sidewinder, a villain usually associated with Captain America, went into semi-retirement when he led the Serpent Society, being at most a non-action villain. He moved to full retirement after the Society double-crossed him.
  • One of the Fantastic Four's oldest enemies (the first, in fact) was the Mole Man. After years of trying to gain revenge against civilization for neglecting him by leading the giant beasts of Monster Island against cities, he decided he was tired of it, and retired from villainy. (For the most part. While he's had enough of being in the limelight, things tend to happen that drag him back into it from time to time....)
  • Thanos has done this on at least one occasion, retiring to a rural planet to become a farmer (although he did have a secret laboratory underneath his farm.) He came out of retirement when sought out by heroes who actually needed his help to save the universe.
  • The original premise of Nexus was that the title character was compelled by alien forces to seek out and execute mass murderers. Some actually were repentant or just old and tired, but the alien forcing Nexus to kill them didn't care. Nexus was not at all happy about this.
  • In Preacher, Gunther Hahn, the Angel of Death and, at the end of the story, the Saint of Killers all qualify.
  • In the [PROTOTYPE] comics, Alex's seemingly kindly father figure is eventually revealed to be this. Alex... doesn't take it very well.
  • Paul Moses from Red (2003) by Warren Ellis. At least at the start of the story. His last line is: "I'm the monster. Do your best."
  • Shadows of the Empire: Evolution: Massad Thrumble is a former Imperial admiral who ran the regime's weapons division and helped build the assassin droid Guri (although beyond that, it's unclear if he did anything really heinous). Now, he hangs around a backwater cantina (which he owns) while having drinks with a much younger girlfriend and avoiding working for either major faction. When Guri asks him to erase her assassination programming and memories, he agrees to help for the intellectual challenge rather than out of any sympathy for her (at least initially).
  • In the pre-Super Genesis Wave world of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), the immortal and ancient villain Mammoth Mogul eventually decides that trying to conquer the world while Sonic is still around to fight him is way too much trouble. The villain is content with running a casino while waiting for Sonic to eventually die.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Tinkerer gave up committing crimes himself after he barely survived a story where his Robot Buddy Toy was destroyed. He still works as a weapons supplier to any supervillain (and shadier hero) willing to pay.
    • Another Spider-Man foe that fits is Roderick Kingsley aka Hobgoblin (pictured above), who has a tendency to go in and out of retirement from supervillainy for months or years at a time during which he enjoys his ill-gotten gains. Every now and then, he goes back to being Hobgoblin, usually to defend his villain cred.
  • Super Crooks:
    • After spending many years as The Dreaded, The Bastard grew tired of villainy without a challenge, and retired to live peacefully in Spain with his riches.
    • The Heat was a legendary supervillain who made millions in bank robberies throughout the 1970s before retiring peacefully until he kicks off the plot by getting a team together for One Last Job.
  • Wonder Woman: While the "Golden Age" "Earth Two" Priscilla Rich remains the villaness Cheetah right up until The End of the World as We Know It and Cosmic Retcon that is Crisis on Infinite Earths, the "Silver Age" "Earth One" and Post Crisis Priscilla Rich both give up on tormenting Wonder Woman, committing any overt crimes or wearing the Cheetah suit. This isn't out of a desire to do good, but, in the case of the Earth One and Two Riches, The Cheetah being the result of a "split" personality that emerged from Rich's own insecurities. Both realize they can assert their self worth by applying their talents in legitimate business ventures, but on Earth Two the Cheetah defeats Priscilla, who while now interested has never had a real job, and establishes itself as the "true" Rich, while on Earth One, Priscilla Rich was a successful performer before crime, defeats the Cheetah and returns to her old ways. In the case of Post Crisis Rich, she's simply too old, and the Wonder Woman she REALLY hates has also retired from superhero duty, Hippolyta being Wonder Woman before Diana Prince as a result of the cosmic retcon. Silver Age Rich has to deal with new villain Cobra kidnapping and torturing her niece Debbie Domaine into his own personal Cheetah, with Debbie ending up in an insane asylum, with Post Crisis Rich is killed by a newer, completely unrelated Cheetah named Barbara Anne Minerva, who had been convinced Rich's continued existence was holding her back.
  • A future, senile version of Doctor Doom appearing in X-Factor has faded away into a quiet life in his empty, decaying castle attended to by robot servants. But he still builds the occasional Death Ray in his more lucid moments.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Conchy, Conchy's neighbour is a reformed cannibal, although not everyone is convinced he has given up his old ways.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU:
    • Scourge joins ThunderClan, where he lives a peaceful life despite his past as the ruthless leader of BloodClan (though he was never as cruel as he was in canon).
    • Runningnose lives on past the succession of Blackstar as leader, no longer doing any evil deeds for Brokenstar's sake anymore but knowing he's obsolete now that Blackstar has refused the help of the Dark Forest in favor of earning his lives the hard way from StarClan.
  • In the Crack Fic A Charmed Life, Light Yagami takes up gardening after shacking up with Ryuk.
  • In Conversations with a Cryptid, becoming one is All for One's true goal. He wants to retire from supervillainy and crime to spend time with his family whom he was forced to abandon to avoid them getting hurt in the crossfire. However, All for One deliberately raises Shiragaki as a scapegoat to pin his crimes on and doesn't even remotely regret any of the atrocities he committed.
  • After Nappa is brought Back from the Dead in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, he gives up the Saiyan lifestyle to become a Hollywood producer. He's no less of a jerk, though — in Dead Zone Abridged he swindles Krillin out of royalties, and a t-shirt ad shows posters for Pixels and Fantastic Four (2015) outside his office, implying he produced them. He also convinces Hercule to go against Cell, even knowing that Cell severely outclasses him. It's been suggested, thanks to Freeze Frame Bonuses in HFIL, that some of the therapy Goz and Mez put the villains (sorry, Morally Compromised Malefactors) through may have had an effect on Nappa, but since he was wished back to life before his reform was complete, he's still a jerk.
  • The End Of The World Fernwithy: Head Peacekeeper Cray was the second-in-command of his predecessor, Lucretia Beckett, during the Day of the Jackboot where they starved and browbeat the population of District 12 with nonstop whipping and hangings and occasional other acts of brutality like arson. In those days, Cray also engaged in random acts of cruelty for his own amusement, like when he forged a letter from ex-Peacekeeper Justinian Benz to Mir (Justinian’s daughter with a District 12 woman) and called her as a desperate, unintelligent, unwanted bastard who should go to work as a prostitute. By the time of the 74th Hunger Games (like in canon), Cray never bothers to enforce regulations against poaching and other crimes due to laziness and a desire to constantly stuff his face with contraband wild turkey and could almost pass for a benign Punch-Clock Villain if not for his dark past and how he pays desperate women to have sex with him when their only other option is starvation.
  • Loki the God of Destruction (maybe... he is kinda crazy) in Loki: Agent of Doomgard invoked Crazy Homeless People, because he found it an easy way to go unrecognized and be left alone, as it's kind of hard to retire from being an evil god otherwise.
  • Succubus matriarch Blacksky from The Return who believes world domination is just too boring these days.
  • In Seventh Horcrux, Harry Potter is possessed by a portion of Voldemort's soul when the killing curse rebounds off of him. Shortly afterwards, it is revealed that Tom Riddle's true love has always been teaching, something he lost all chances of doing when he declared himself the Dark Lord Voldemort. However, as Harry Potter, no such negative acts have been attached to his name, so instead of revealing himself and reclaiming control over his former minions, "Harry" decides to go through Hogwarts until he graduates so he can get a teaching position there. The problem is that the rest of Voldemort's soul isn't retired.
  • The Victors Project: Ahenobarbus starts out as an Ax-Crazy tribute and Sadist Teacher who relishes in brutality, but after he becomes a Relegated Mentor, he becomes mellow and compassionate toward his peers, casual in his retirement, but not really remorseful about all of the people he killed, the lives he ruined, or his role in allowing President Evil Snow to take over the country.

    Film — Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker reveals that Harley Quinn, after the death of her puddin', went straight and ended up not only having kids but being the grandmother of the villainous duo Dee Dee. She even fiercely chastises them for their life of crime, much to their chagrin. Whether or not she had kids with The Joker or someone else is left up to your imagination.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, the Dazzlings are Brought Down to Normal thanks to the Rainbooms and lose the ability to generate a Hate Plague. When they make another appearance in Sunset's Backstage Pass, the Dazzlings are performing as singers wherever they can just so they can get by in the human world. The Dazzlings don't feel remorseful for their actions in spite of their drop-in status; they show deep resentment about being trapped in the human world, call their fans "human scum", and insult Sunset Shimmer for being caught in a "Groundhog Day" Loop with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. It's this speech that makes Sunset have a Heel Realization about how bad of a friend she was being to Pinkie Pie, with Sunset deciding that she Must Make Amends and be nicer to Pinkie. However, the Dazzlings didn't intend for Sunset to do this; they just wanted to rub salt in the wound. This is the Dazzlings' final appearance in the Equestria Girls franchise, and they leave with no indication of becoming better people.
  • In a sense: The briefly-seen garbage truck worker cheerfully vibing to rock music while at work in Toy Story 3? Did you catch the skull design on his black shirt? Yep, it's Sid Phillips, the punk kid who used to torture his toys. Granted he didn't know they were alive, but even after realizing it, he seems to have forgotten that.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The film The Act of Killing follows two gangsters in Indonesia who extorted and killed at least a thousand people — they've now become leaders of a paramilitary organization, but aren't the muscle.
  • In Apt Pupil, young Todd Bowden discovers his quiet German neighbor is actually Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander and decides to blackmail him. This turns out to be a very, very bad move on Todd's part.
  • Avengers: Infinity War features two spoileriffic examples:
    • This is revealed to be the final fate of Red Skull after his presumed death in Captain America: The First Avenger; he became trapped in outer space and forced to guard the Soul Stone. By the time he is found by Thanos and the heroes, he is no longer the same megalomaniac as before, since he lost all ambition and ax-craziness after spending decades guarding it. In fact, he couldn't take the stone even if he wanted to.
    • By the end of the movie, Thanos becomes one after having just committed the single largest mass-murder in existence when he kills half of the entire universe's population with a snap of his fingers. He then retreats to a farm on a remote planet, having fulfilled his life-long mission before (as revealed in Avengers: Endgame) destroying the stones so that they can never be used to undo his own work. The enraged surviving Avengers eventually come for him, and even knowing what he's done...there's something strangely pitable about him.
  • In the altered 1985 at the end of Back to the Future, Biff is shown to be a nicer person, but it's heavily implied his kindness is just obsequiousness toward a wealthier and more assertive George than a genuine attempt at self-improvement. In the sequel, set in 2015, he behaves like a nasty grouch who acts the way he did when he was a teenager.
  • Big Stan: The biker Stan talks to about prison about is a perfectly laid back and considerate-seeming fellow who casually talks about partaking in Prison Rape during his own incarceration.
  • Con Air features a rather shockingly congenial former serial killer. Played by Steve Buscemi who pulls off a very creepy performance.
  • Helge Klingenfeldt-Hansen from Festen (The Celebration), a retired businessman celebrating his 60th birthday, respected for his wealth and conviviality, and who sexually abused two of his children for years, eventually driving the elder to suicide.
  • "Handsome" Freddie Mays in Gangster No. 1. The protagonist of the film is chagrined and insulted to discover that Mays has been set free from gaol and not tried to kill him. He hands Mays a gun and demands that he shoot him, but Mays refuses. This causes the Gangster to lose what little remained of his sanity.
    Mays: I'm just an old man in a cheap coat, and I like it that way.
  • Yoon Tae-goo "The Weird" of The Good, The Bad, The Weird turns out to be one of these. Part of the reason Park Do-won, "The Good", is hunting Park Chang-yi, "The Bad" (no relation) is because he believes Chang-yi is this notorious bandit known as the "Finger Chopper". While Chang-yi is a total psycho, it's ultimately revealed that Tae-goo was the Finger Chopper and Chang-yi lost a finger to him. This reveal probably has a lot to do with Tae-goo being an Expy of Tuco of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, right down to the similar names, and in both cases, the seemingly comic relief character has a rap sheet of some seriously awful crimes. The main difference between these two is that in "Weird", Chang-yi is more than just a one-dimensional villain who makes Tae-goo look worse in comparison.
  • Incendies: Abou Tarek, a former torturer and rapist in the Middle East, flees to Canada and works as a simple janitor under an alias.
  • John Wick was a hitman for the Russian mob but retired some time ago to live in peace with his wife, who died just before the movie begins. Unfortunately for him (and the Russians), events conspire to bring him out of retirement.
  • Kill Bill has a trove of these.
    • Esteban Vihaio, Bill's surrogate father. He was a pimp who lead a vicious gang consisting of his whores' children, but he's retired as of the movie. In reference to Bill shooting the Bride years before, he says "I would have just cut your face." Doesn't sound so bad compared to what Bill did, but just then he calls one of his girls over to the table sporting a hideous and disfiguring scar running across her mouth. He hands her a hanky to wipe off some drool, then she fetches him a drink. The man is only semi-retired. (Doesn't stop him from being the nicest gangland pimp you could possibly imagine, though.)
    • Pai Mei, an ancient Kung Fu master with a history of atrocities and bloodshed, who sports an unpleasantly racist and sexist worldview, along with the knowledge that he can do anything to anyone without fear since he is just too tough and skilled to die. Until Elle Driver poisons his fish heads in retaliation for snatching out her eye, that is. Ironically, Bill thinks that he's getting lonely because everybody is too frightened to approach him, and that's why he accepts apprentices he despises, even though it doesn't stop him from abusing them as much as he likes. Even more ironically, despite being a chauvinist who hates Americans, the Bride (an American woman) becomes his best student, and the only one he is willing to teach his most powerful technique to. She even starts to love him like a father, and eventually avenges his death by tearing out Ellie's other eye and leaving her to die in the desert.
    • Most of the Deadly Vipers themselves qualify. Bill had long retired from assassination work by the time Beatrix caught up to him, electing to raise their daughter instead, Vernita quit outright and preferred to try and build a family, and Budd was just living out his days in a trailer and working as a bouncer. Beatrix herself also qualifies, having a change of heart after getting pregnant and wanting to leave the profession and live in El Paso, though Bill would have none of it. The other two members, Elle Driver and O'ren Ishi'i, however, were still active; Driver was still doing professional assassinations and Ishi'i had taken over the Yakuza gangs of Japan.
  • Reverend Early Pride in The Last Rites of Ransom Pride. Graves and Matthew also apply, having all three been members of the same Confederate bushwhacker outfit in the Civil War.
    Early Pride: I thought you was dead.
    Matthew: You ain't the only one Jesus saves.
  • Captain Teague in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is heavily implied to be one of these. The Brethren Court, who are all pretty badass Pirate Lords in their own right, are scared by his mere appearance at the meeting, even though he immediately slumps down in the corner and absent-mindedly begins playing with a guitar. When one of them suggests not following the Code for the second time, one of his strings snaps and he looks up, terrifying them all into silence. He makes his appearance by shooting another pirate in cold blood, showing that he is only semi-retired, and naturally steals the scene since anyone capable of hitting someone in the chest from that far with a single-shot musket pistol would humble all around him.
  • Ran concerns a warlord with an extensive history of bloodshed and a long list of victims attempting to retire as head of his clan and hand off power to his sons. His retirement is anything but cushy.
  • Zachariah Rigsby and his wife from Seven Psychopaths would use to go on cross-country murder sprees, hunting some of the worst of the worst. They even got the Zodiac Killer!
  • The porter from The Seventh Seal establishes himself as this with one scene. He rescues a woman from an attacker, then off-handedly mentions that he could rape her, but he isn't going to, because participating in the Crusades has made him bored with rape.
  • Xu Wenwu, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of the Mandarins, is shown in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings spending thousands of years conquering every country coming in his way and being the head of the terrorist group the Ten Rings before meeting Ying Li, marrying her and starting a family. However, as soon as Ying Li is killed by former rivals, Wenwu takes up his role as terrorist and warlord once again.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter plays this role, but the cannibalistic serial killer isn't very committed to leaving his days as a villain behind. He just can’t do much while he’s inside a cell in a supermax prison.
  • Charlie Barrett in Suicide Kings is a former mob boss who used to have his enemies fed to their own dogs. Now, he's retired. Until he gets kidnapped by a group of rich kids looking to raise ransom money for one of their siblings.
  • In Ten Dead Men, Ryan used to be a Professional Killer working for London Gangster Hart. He quit after he fell in love with Amy. She is his Morality Chain who allows him to believe that he can be a better man and live a normal life. When his old life catches up with, and Hart has Amy executed in front of eyes, Ryan snaps and embarks on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, determined to kill the ten men responsible for her death.
  • Totally Killer has Doug, the original Sweet Sixteen killer. After killing the three members of the Girl Posse who got his girlfriend Trish killed, he seems to have settled down into a normal, peaceful life, even growing up to be a high school principal. He was never caught in the original timeline, but there's no indication he ever hurt anyone else once his revenge was complete. It turns out that Pam, who was friends with the victims and was the Final Girl of the original killings, was deliberately spared because she didn't contribute to Trish's death. Her death thirty-five years later is actually the work of a copycat, and Doug is shown trying to console Pam's daughter.
  • William Munny of Unforgiven is one of these, in a deconstruction treatment of Clint Eastwood's Western anti-hero roles. While it doesn't seem like he necessarily enjoyed killing, in his youth as a bandit, Munny was a cold-blooded mass murderer — killer of women, children, and animals. The events of the movie bring him out of retirement. English Bob could also be considered one of these. While at present, he plays the role of Remittance Man and is a sort of celebrity, it's indicated that he was previously employed killing Chinese laborers for the railroads, and the truth behind his gunfighter exploits is that he was a dishonorable Combat Pragmatist.
  • Played with in Urban Legends: Final Cut. In the final scene of the film, Solomon is in a mental institution where, after watching Amy's film, the nurse asks him if he enjoyed the movie. He is wheeled out by another nurse, who is revealed to be Brenda Bates, the killer in the original film, who says that they have a lot in common.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse sees Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto after trying to murder the president and start a civil war between humans and mutants in X-Men: Days of Future Past living a normal life in Poland under a fake identity, having started a family and working in a mine. Sadly, it doesn't stay long: When the other villagers find out who he is, his wife and daughter get killed which motivate him to once again become Magneto and work together with Apocalpyse.

  • In Stephen King's novella, Apt Pupil, the teenage protagonist is fascinated by his old neighbor, who took part in Nazi atrocities. His increasing fascination with the old man slowly brings back the monster in him.
  • In The Belgariad, Token Evil Teammate Silk comes across as a Loveable Rogue for the most part, but casually hints that in the past he's had people flayed and boiled to death, expressing enthusiasm for either but a preference for the latter.
  • In the Corvis Rebaine series, Corvis, Terror of the East in The Conqueror's Shadow until the Current Monster threatens his wife and kids. The remainder of the book is an illustration of why provoking one of these into coming out of retirement is a really bad idea! In the end, he is content with "merely" being a Man Behind the Man via Mind Control magic.
  • In the Craft Sequence, the Deathless Kings are a bunch of ultra-powerful sorcerers (Deathless because they've become liches as a natural part of their power level) who went to war with the gods during the God Wars. The Deathless Kings won, killing a number of deities in the process. However, they then realized that someone needed to provide the civic services like clean water that used to be the gods' responsibility. The most prominent Deathless King in the series is Kopil the "King in Red", who brutally slaughtered and enslaved gods after worshipers of one pantheon murdered his lover in a Virgin Sacrifice/hate crime. Afterward, like other Deathless Kings, Kopil refashioned himself into a combination of CEO and city-state ruler and is presented as a Benevolent Boss who cares for his employees and citizens, although still very much a fearsome figure. When a gentrification protest in his city goes bad and rioters begin invoking gods for the power to perform justice, the King in Red is frighteningly eager to fight the old war once again, even though it means deploying lethal military-grade weaponry against his own, civilian population.
  • Albert, Death's servant in the Discworld books, seems like little more than a crusty old Jerkass. The wizard Alberto Malich, however, was a tyrannical bastard who ran the Unseen University like a boot camp and happily cursed any Muggles who stood up to him into oblivion, before disappearing while trying to attain immortality by performing the rite to summon Death backwards. Having achieved his goal of immortality in a roundabout way, Albert is actually content just to serve Death and do nobody any harm, especially considering there's a very nasty fate waiting for him if he ever does die.
  • Decado in the Drenai saga, until he's persuaded to join The Thirty. Or rather, he has an epiphany moment where he realises that he's a murderer: his rationale is that because he's just that good, his enemies have always been defenseless.
  • Being Above Good and Evil, Emperor Mollusk from Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain rejects everyone else's moral standard and sees himself not as a Galactic Conqueror who is in denial of his own villainy, but an entity who just happened to commit a lot of crimes and now no longer does.
  • In The First Law, Black Dow is the Stupid Evil Token Evil Teammate of the Northern Named Men. About a decade later in The Heroes, he rules the North, and is implied to have spilled a fair amount of blood to achieve the position. Finding himself in a role where he has to use diplomacy and can't solve every problem with brute force, Dow has somewhat mellowed over the years and shows some sympathetic Hidden Depths, although he feels the need to retain his fearsome image in order to retain power. Fittingly, Dow ends up sabotaging himself in a situation where showing mercy would be the wiser, but doing so would hurt his "rep", coupled with the fact that Dow couldn't stop himself from being needlessly cruel.
  • Harry Potter:
    • After the Evil Sorcerer Voldemort died the first time around, many of his followers (known as Death Eaters) avoided imprisonment by claiming they'd been magically compelled to do his bidding. Law-abiding citizens on the surface, behind closed doors they regretted nothing and still held true to their genocidal hatred of both Muggles and Muggle-born witches and wizards, to the point where some were willing to occasionally put on the old Death Eater robes for the odd bit of Muggle torture like they did at the Quidditch World Cup. One of them, Walden McNair, loved killing so much he became an executioner of dangerous magical beasts for the Ministry of Magic. Unsurprisingly, when Voldemort returned, many of these retired Death Eaters returned to their master's side and had no problem resuming the war where they left off.
    • One such wizard is Lucius Malfoy. By the end of the series, he becomes one of the only known Death Eaters to avoid imprisonment for his crimes a second time, since he defects for the sake of his son Draco before the final battle and rats out his fellow Death Eaters after the war. He's still as prejudiced and unapologetic for his crimes as ever, and Draco's wife made a point of making sure none of Lucius's influence rubbed off on her and Draco's son Scorpius.
    • Igor Karkaroff escaped punishment after the First Wizarding War by informing on other Death Eaters. By the time the Death Eaters regroup, he doesn't return to them because he's quite comfortable as the headmaster of a Wizarding School called Durmstrang (with a campus in a decidedly Uberwaldian bit of Lapland and a reputation for teaching The Dark Arts), and because he squealed on so many of his former allies that he wouldn't last long if he met them again. It's later mentioned offhandedly that the Death Eaters hunted him down and killed him for his betrayal.
  • The Innkeeper Chronicles: Her Grace Caldenia ka ret Magren "Letere Olivione", responsible for the death of millions, is a deposed galactic tyrant living in exile under Gertrude Hunt's protection. Though she insists that she's "no longer anyone important", she delights in the chaos and potential for destruction when Dina sticks her neck out a bit. Her advice on how to deal with said chaos ranges from cheerful pragmatic amorality to downright appalling. Suggestions that a specific problem could be solved by adding a certain person to the dinner menu are not uncommon.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl, Fire-Queen Malveria is presented as a fashion-obsessed, matchmaking ditz, but this is because she's already killed all her serious enemies long ago and (currently) finds her title of "Persecutor of Mankind" to be boring. In Book two, someone from her evil days turns up as the Big Bad of the story to tell her Nice Job Breaking It, Herod.
  • Lampshaded by a nurse speculating about her patient's past history in Douglas Adams's The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, though Odin later comes off as more of a trickster than anything else.
  • Martin Beck: in Cop Killer, the perpetrator of the murder and posthumous rape of the victim from the first book reappears, having gotten out of prison and become a suspect in another murder (of which he is innocent). He never shows any regret for what he did and admits to still having darkly misogynistic thoughts about women, but those thoughts are less frequent and less consuming than before and he maintains a pleasant life selling smoked fish and keeping to himself.
  • Mass Effect Annihilation: Borbala Ferank, once one of the most infamous crime bosses of the Batarian Hegemony, is a passenger on the Keelah Si'yah. It's not a secret, either. Everyone knows who she is and what she's done. She got forced out of the life by four of her seventeen children ganging up on her and forcibly retiring her from the business. As the book goes on, however, it turns out Borbala was "retired" for saying the Hegemony sucked, and could've stood to do more worthwhile things like art and culture, rather than violence and slaving.
  • The German children's book Mecki Und Die Sieben Zwerge ("Mecki and the Seven Dwarves") has a literal one. Mecki, a hedgehog, is sent by the seven dwarves to slay an evil dragon who, in a quite civilized conversation, turns out to be pretty evil but too old to go out and raid villages anymore. Well, he is still fit enough to easily kill Mecki if the latter would actually attack, so the hedgehog sets up a fight against a dragon puppet for the dwarves to witness. The dwarves fall for it. In a strange turn of events, the dragon happens to witness the fight too — and dies from a shock-induced heart attack.
  • The Necroscope Saga has Faethor Ferenczy, retired due to death. In this series, that is no bar to being an active participant and spends his time being Harry's Spirit Advisor. His one attempt to come out of retirement does not go well for him.
  • According to The Onion's Our Dumb World, Argentina is full of retired Nazis that fit this description, who will not shut up about that one time they killed a Jewish girl by hitting her over the head with their rifle.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: In the original novel by Gaston Leroux, after his From Nobody to Nightmare phase, Erik, the titular phantom:
    Of course, he had to leave the Sultan's service for the same reasons that made him fly from Persia: He knew too much. Then, tired of his adventurous, formidable, and monstrous life, he longed to be someone "like everybody else." And he became a contractor, like any ordinary contractor, building ordinary houses with ordinary bricks. He tendered for part of the foundations in the Opera. His estimate was accepted.
  • The Rebus novel Black and Blue does this with notorious, never-caught Real Life Scottish Serial Killer Bible John, who comes out of retirement to find and eliminate a Copycat Killer named Johnny Bible. He is implied to have been living a comfortable middle-class life working a white-collar job for oil companies, but while he deigns to chat with Rebus (who doesn't realise it was him until afterwards), he manages to continue to evade justice. The TV adaptation uses fictional counterparts "The Apostle" (Bible John) and "The Disciple" (Johnny Bible), and this time Rebus manages to identify and confront him and he is eventually arrested trying to escape the country at the airport.
  • An odd example both for being a main character and for being relatively young is Chane the vampire from The Saga of the Noble Dead; in the series' first arc he was a sadistic Psycho for Hire, but ultimately had a Heel Realization and cut back on the sadism (because it meant he'd lost control; don't think for a moment he seriously regrets the deaths themselves). Currently the Token Evil Teammate trying to help stop the much, much worse things in his universe, and is working somewhat to improve his behavior, if only for the sake of his Morality Pet's sensibilities rather than guilt. Whether he'll ultimately backslide or get a Heel–Face Turn fully is as of yet unknown.
  • At the beginning of Shadow of the Conqueror, the eponymous conqueror is an old man, making his living fixing wagons and children's toys while remembering (with regret) the days when he was an Emperor Scientist who crushed entire nations to expand the Dawn Empire.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible's Baron Ether. He was the world's first supervillain, and he's committed every crime you can think of, now he's a wheelchair-ridden mildly senile old man.
  • Pieced together from the meager hints of the story, the titular character in The Terrible Old Man is implied to be a former pirate captain who through black magic keeps the souls of his former crew captive in jars on his desk. Unlucky burglars discover the hard way how a feeble, old man with no bank account, who pays for his meager purchases with old gold coins, can live quietly without fear of being robbed.
  • At the end of Timeline-191, Brigadier-General Clarence Potter becomes one of these. He's not sorry about any of the things he was a part of — the genocide of the black population, the near-destruction of Philadelphia by nuclear truck bomb, the torture of suspected spies, or the commission of war crimes. He is, however, old, tired, and fully aware that the Confederate States of America are no longer a going proposition, and once he's found not guilty of war crimes after the war, he settles down to write his memoirs.
  • Treasure Island:
    • Flint, the captain who murdered a good chunk of his own crew to hide the treasure's location, was afraid of Silver. Silver has been peacefully running an inn and living happily with his wife for some years when the story begins, and he continues this after making off with a part of the treasure in the end.
    • Billy Bones had also settled down quite comfortably at the "Admiral Benbow" and was quite content to drink and eat away his share of the plunder before his past caught up with him.
  • Zakalawe of Use of Weapons was once essentially an Evil Overlord, who committed acts of mass murder and was crazy enough to create a chair from his half-sister/lover's corpse and then darn the cushions with her skin. However, he ends up hating what he did, and going through a bunch of mental breakdowns before ultimately becoming Bored with Insanity enough to present himself as a relatively decent (if amusingly sociopathic) person. He does lean in the direction of The Atoner but is sort of in too much denial to make it.
  • In Villains' Code, Fornax was once the most dangerous supervillain in the world. No cape could bring him down. Until his climactic fight with Lodestar, that is. Now Ivan Gergardt lives the quiet life of a corporate middle manager in his suburban home and sees his kids once every two weeks (he's also on good terms with his ex-wife, who is well aware of who he used to be). While he's still involved in the Guild of Villainous Reformation, he does so as the representative of retired villains and does so as Pseudonym, not Fornax.
  • Sergeant Bothari in The Vorkosigan Saga is a fairly sympathetic example of this, having a traumatic and abusive childhood which left him with no sense of self, instead mirroring however others wanted him to be. Bothari is undisputably a sociopath, and when under the command of a sadistic officer, regularly followed orders to rape and torture prisoners. However, following a Sudden Principled Stand, he ends up as a trusted bodyguard/ Psycho Sidekick of Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan, as Cordelia is able to convince him to believe in an image of himself as an honorable soldier- and he doesn't really feel guilt for his past actions, as he sort of convinces himself that they didn't happen. His lack of true remorse is showcased The Warrior's Apprentice, in an incident where Miles had no choice but to let Bothari perform the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on an enemy soldier. Miles notes Bothari's unhealthy eagerness to obey this order, and Bothari proceeds to torture the man (to death, though it wasn't intended) with sadistic glee.
  • Whateley Universe: Not all the teachers and staff at Whateley Academy are retired superheroes. The story "Test Tubes Babies" ultimately reveals that one of the teachers we know is a retired supervillain and mass murderer. In "Mimeographic", we find out that the first house father of the school was a retired evil wizard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Deathwalker. She just wanted to get everyone else to do her dirty work.
  • Beforeigners: Tore Hund was, back in the 10th century, a notoriously brutal Viking. However, after being dropped in the present with no memories of his past life, he found work as a bike courier, married an up-time woman and dotes on her daughter. Several characters speculate about how much of this is due to cognitive damage, and he shows no remorse for his past actions, but even after his memories return he is far happier as a Happily Married modern family man than he ever was as a raider.
  • Ex-cartel capo Hector "Tio" Salamanca on Breaking Bad, who despite being crippled and mute after a stroke has not to lost a bit of the sharpness - or ruthlessness - that characterized his younger days. (Said younger days are occasionally shown in flashback.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Spike, after he got the Chip in Series 4, until whenever one times his having completed his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Dracula in Season 8. Yes, Dracula. Because he's most likely madly in love... with Xander. Dracula.
  • Played for Black Comedy in an episode of Community where Troy and Abed befriend a fellow college student named Lukka, who teaches them how to succeed at a spectacularly violent war videogame. After a date with him, Britta finds out this is because he's an unrepentant Sociopathic Soldier and Balkan war criminal who quite giddily participated in genocide. Needless to say, Troy and Abed are pretty horrified when they find out about their new friend's past.
  • Bill Jarvis (formerly "The Hollow Creek Killer") from the Criminal Minds episode "Haunted".
  • In an episode of CSI, a black janitor who befriended the murdered white supremacist student (who was trying to learn how to respect other races) turns out to be a leader in the Rwandan genocide. The student had found a picture of him in a book and was going to turn him in when the janitor murdered him.
  • Defiance: During the Pale Wars, Doc Yewll was a leading Mad Scientist among the Votan ranks, doing unthinkable things to human prisoners for the sake of furthering the war effort. Having a Heel Realization at some point along the way, she left it all behind after the war, retreating to the remoteness of Defiance to hide from her past. Later on in the series, however, we see her evolve into The Atoner and try to make amends for all she's done.
  • Grimm gives us several literal examples of this trope, monsters who have retired into quiet, suburban lives. The most prominent being Savage Wolf Monroe, who starts out as this but is eventually driven to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Samson Gray, Sylar's father, on Heroes. A sadistic murderer who retired to live a quiet life as a taxidermist because he just got bored of killing. Until Sylar showed up with the power of healing, and thus immortality.
    • Sylar himself retook the identity of Gabriel Gray in the alternate future of "I Am Become Death", having gotten bored with acquiring power and all the pointless killing. Due to a Noodle Incident, he now lives in the former Bennet house dotingly raising his young son "Noah" and once again working as a watchmaker.
  • Duncan from Highlander: The Series is surprised that his friend and Cynical / Big Brother Mentor Methos is one of these. Back in The Bronze Age Methos joined with 3 other immortals to form a marauding pack that killed and burned their way through the world. (Inspiring the idea of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse along the way; Methos himself was Death). Although Methos never says that he's sorry, he is more guilty about his actions than most, calling those years his "angry adolescence" (this was after all 5000 years ago), and when Kronos, another member of the Horsemen tries to get group together again, Methos plays them and helps Duncan bring them down from the inside.
  • Dennis and Dee's maternal grandfather in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, who is a former Nazi and proud of it.
  • Justified:
    • Wynn Duffy, a ruthless gangster working for the Dixie Mafia, retires from crime after the end of the series and spends his retirement surfing in Fiji.
    • Mags Bennett wanted to become this, leaving the marijuana business and criminal activities to her boys and her surrogate daughter while retiring to the countryside to spend it with her grandkids and not regretting her life of crime. In the end, Coover's death and Dickie's screw-ups, combined with the renewed Givens/Bennett feud convince her that she was kidding herself, and she takes the family's reins once again.
  • In Kings, Vesper Abbadon seems like a doddering old man, but there is a very good reason why he was called "the bloody King of Carmel." It's the same good reason why he's spent the last 30 years locked in a stone box with minimal human contact.
  • Luke Cage (2016): It's implied that Black Mariah's grandmother Mama Mabel Stokes became this in her final years. She's long dead in the present-day, but she was the ruthless queen of Harlem's underworld and only stepped down after having a stroke, and she died of old age without ever facing repercussions for her crimes.
  • Mr. Robot: In his second-to-last appearance, manager Irving coerces Dom into working for the Dark Army, punctuating his point by driving an ax into the chest of her FBI supervisor Santiago. In his final appearance, most of a season later, she sees him at an airport bookstore promoting his memoirs. He's out of the DA, has no intention of stopping her from leaving the country, and voices his approval at her killing her "pain in the ass" handler Janice.
  • Granny in Once Upon a Time, who used to be The Big Bad Wolf.
  • On Rookie Blue Jamie Brennan was a feared gangland enforcer who was infamous for using power tools to torture his victims. After a small stint in jail on relatively petty charges, he got married and went straight. When his family is killed in a suspicious car accident he kidnaps and tortures an undercover police officer to find out if the police were covering up what really happened.
  • How some of the older members of the mob end their careers in The Sopranos - the lucky ones. Then again, Uncle Junior's gradual descent into dementia, eventually rendering him a frail, senile husk of his former self condemned to spend the remainder of his life in a dank state-run facility unable to even recognize his family or recall his own accomplishments is one of the most depressing and haunting plotlines in the show.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: "The Conscience of the King". There was Kodos the Executioner, a notorious tyrant who had murdered thousands in a massacre decades before the date of the episode. (The true villain of the episode, however, is his daughter, who tries to kill every remaining witness of the crime — this includes Kirk — to prevent her father from being arrested for it; Kodos dies when she tries to kill Kirk, taking a laser blast meant for him, making him a somewhat tragic figure as his past crimes not only catch up to haunt him but to destroy the one thing in his life he had hoped to keep pure and untainted.)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • In "Duet", the protagonists meet a Cardassian with a similar background, being the brutal camp commandant of a forced labour camp, brazenly flaunting his guilt... or was he? Turns out he was merely a filing clerk who had assumed his identity, having been driven mad with guilt for all the atrocities committed there. His goal was to be executed as penance for never speaking out against the brutality, and to shine a light unwanted by the Cardassian government on the atrocities committed.
    • Garak is a complicated subversion. He was caught and exiled for an unspecified crime (hinted to be some kind of treason or betrayal of the Obsidian Order) and he has a reputation for being a very dangerous man who shouldn't be trusted. However, as the show progresses, it becomes less clear that this reputation is as cut-and-dried as it first seemed. Eventually, it becomes clear that he's not so much heartless about the past, and he may not easily admit it or apologise for it, but he's carrying at least some guilt about it. His motivation for everything he did in the Order was a bitter and cynical I Did What I Had to Do, and he wasn't above sacrificing his own sense of morality for his job or Shooting the Dog if he had to.
      • He became a part of the Obsidian Order in the first place because his father, Enabran Tain, was trying to mould him into the perfect operative... and he succeeded. However, although Garak has done many morally ambiguous things in his life and was even brought up to enjoy performing Cold-Blooded Torture, he doesn't feel that good about it in retrospect, and it's clear that the main reason he did what he did was his acute loyalty to Cardassia and the belief that he was doing what he had to do for his people. His observation of some of the worst that sentient creatures — Cardassian and otherwise — are capable of in the murky underworld of covert operations has made him incredibly cynical but also fascinated with the Federation, particularly Julian Bashir, whose compassion and desire to help people is completely alien to him. Although he is incredibly dangerous if you get on his wrong side, his enforced "retirement" and consequent exposure to the Federation has allowed him to learn compassion and to lose his taste for the more unsavoury aspects of his job description. His moral compass has definitely been pulled a certain way since he was exiled, leading him to act more like a Sociopathic Hero than a Retired Monster.
      • The show hints that he's been hiding dissident sympathies. When trapped between obeying the state (killing them) or letting them go free, he acknowledges it's against his better judgement to oppose them and eventually lets them go free. It's not the last time he helps dissidents either, much to the consternation of an old Obsidian Order colleague of his.
      • To Enabran Tain (who exiled him) he is clearly very upset over how things turned out between them (but then, we don't know the circumstances to know why).
      • When he is ordered to torture a captured prisoner (Odo) in "The Die is Cast", he's uncomfortable with the idea but carries it through. He succeeds in torturing himself almost as much as he tortures Odo, begging Odo to give him even the smallest bit of information so he can have an excuse to stop the torture. Afterwards, he apologizes to Odo and from it, an Odd Friendship is born.
      • When he's commissioned by the Federation as a code-breaker in the fight against the Dominion (and therefore Cardassia), he suffers a claustrophobic breakdown which turns out to be as a result of him bottling an immense guilt over the role he's playing in the fight against Cardassians.
      • In "What You Leave Behind", he gives a speech observing how the decimation of Cardassia could be considered payback for the awful actions they've committed against other species during their military expansionist phase.
    • Enabran Tain, Garak's superior and father and the man who ran the Obsidian Order for twenty years, is completely unrepentant of his crimes and killing whomever might be a threat (while Garak seemed to be always looking for excuses to not kill someone, Tain seemed to be looking for excuses to kill). It's his missing the old days which prompts him to actually come out of retirement and forge an alliance with the Tal Shiar to strike at the Dominion preemptively. This doesn't end well.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The Maquis crewmembers could also be considered a variant of this, as they were all former resistance fighters and terrorists who had done some unsavoury things to the Cardassians in the past. The most egregious example would be Lon Suder, who only joined up with the Maquis to satiate his need to kill.
  • Season 12 of Supernatural reveals the existence of the Princes of Hell, the first generation of demons created after Lilith, who were meant to act as Hell's generals. Azazel, the Big Bad of the first two seasons, was one of them, but the other three (Ramiel, Asmodeus, and Dagon) view him as having been a fanatic, as they themselves have long since grown disillusioned with Lucifer's war with Heaven. Since then, they've all lived in comfortable retirement. That being said, Ramiel still takes the occasional Virgin Sacrifice, and he mentions that Asmodeus has "hobbies" and Dagon has "toys" (this is never elaborated on...which is probably for the best) so how retired they are is debatable. Asmodeus ultimately comes out of retirement in Season 13, to fill the Evil Power Vacuum in Hell caused by Crowley's death and Lucifer being imprisoned in an Alternate Universe. He's very much a fire and brimstone traditionalist who turns on his former boss after Lucifer has been temporarily depowered.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Charles Fischer came back from a future in which he helped the machines to understand humans by torturing them to get inside their heads. He claims that he was sent back to the past as a reward for his services, and doesn't do anything particularly malicious. Subverted at the end when it's revealed that he accessed a computer system at his younger self's place of work in order to aid SkyNet.
    • Also to ensure his past self is in position to become him.
  • In the live-action version of The Tick (2001), "The Terror" is an elderly old supervillain who was former buddies with Stalin. These days he's just a crazy old guy in a hospital whose antics amount to little more than throwing blood bags at Arthur. Considering Arthur's crappy level of fighting competence, that is actually a genuine challenge for him.
  • Gunther Lutze from The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Deaths-Head Revisited": He shows sick enjoyment of his crimes even years later, and feels no guilt.
  • The X-Files: In "Aubrey", evidence links a rape/murder and an assault to a man named Harry Cokely, who was released from prison a couple of years earlier after serving decades for rape, but who had also committed a number of other rapes and murders that the FBI was unable to link to him. He insists he's innocent of these new crimes, but only on the grounds that he's no longer physically capable of having committed them.

  • Alestorm's song Pirate Song seems to be about an old pirate regretting his evil days, which continues until the first chorus...
    And for what?
    I've killed and I've shot
    And reddened the cold tears of children with blood
    And if I could go back and make my amends
    I'd make all those mistakes again
    I'd kill every last one of those bastards, my friend!
  • A song from Leslie Fish's retro sci-fi album Carmen Miranda's Ghost, titled "New Sins for Old", is similarly about an aging pirate, but this time it's the space-faring variety.
    Oh, what's the use of this looting and pillaging
    Swinging my ray-gun through blood, guts, and gore?
    Raping and robbing and boozing grow boring
    The life of a pirate's no fun anymore
    No fun anymore, no fun anymore
    It's only a job, it's no fun anymore

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The demon lord Pale Night is an ancient being that many other demon lords claim is their mother (and some claim the current race of demons can trace their bloodline back to). Nowadays, she tends to stay in her palace, distancing herself from the mortals, the Blood War, and other demons... But, may the gods help anyone she catches trespassing on her property. Some she turns into soulless husks whom she keeps as trophies (and guardians) while others she lets go, only to live with the horrors they've seen forever.
    • Another ancient demon who is now retired, but not by her choice, is the Queen of Chaos. In the mythic Age Before Ages eons ago, she ruled the obyrith, the race of demons that first populated the Abyss, and led them on a war of genocide against the Wind Dukes of Aaqa. She was such a monster, she murdered any obyrith who refused to join her forces. Eventually, however, her army was defeated by the Wind Dukes due to the creation of the Rod of Law (later the Rod of Seven Parts), her second-in-command and consort Miska the Wolf Spider was banished to Pandemonium, and the obyrith nearly driven to extinction as a result. Neither the Queen nor the obyrith ever recovered; since then, she has laired in the 14th layer of the Abyss, known as the Steaming Fen, licking her wounds, dreaming of freeing Miska and returning to glory.
    • The baernoloths are the creators of the yugoloth race (until the 4th edition, where the yugoloths were included among demons via retcon) but long ago entrusted leadership of the race to the ultraloths and retreated to the farthest locales of the Grey Waste. The few encounters that mortals have with these ancient fiends have yielded reports of horrid and blasphemous experiments, but fortunately, the baernoloths don't seem to have the great power they are said to have once had.
    • Also, there are the Rabble of Devilkin, powerful unique devils who reside on the first layer of Hell. Technically, they are exiled, not retired, formerly being Dukes of Hell (or in the case of Moloch and Geryon, rulers of whole layers) who were stripped of their position for some reason, but spared death for other reasons. Most are content to simply stay in their lairs and keep to themselves, but a few have made vain attempts to regain their former positions, so much that in such cases, their names have been stripped of them to prevent mortals from summoning them. One notable Rabble is Armaros, a being who is believed to be the most powerful devil in existence and a wizard with godlike magical power. Only Asmodeus himself is allowed to visit him (which he does quite often, possibly for advice) and no one else dares disturb his magical research.
    • A few ancient evil gods match this Trope; legends say they were once powerful gods, but because this cosmology is one where Gods Need Prayer Badly, these gods suffered as their races became weaker and lost their influence on mortal worlds, becoming slothful and neglected due to the lack of worship. (This happens to non-evil gods too sometimes, but not as often, for some reason.) Examples include Ramenos, the frog-god of the bullywugs, Merrshaulk, the god of the yuan-ti (a race that challenged humans for dominance and lost), Laogzed, the deity worshipped by troglodytes (now little more than a giant lizard that other gods think of as a divine garbage disposal), and Gorellik, who used to be the patron deity of gnolls until that position was usurped by the demon lord Yeenoghu, causing him to wander the lower planes, seemingly with no purpose.
    • Jergal of the Forgotten Realms is a literal Retired Monster. He was once a Greater Deity who commanded the portfolios of Murder, Strife, and Death. But over time, he grew weary of his roles. So when a trio of ambitious mortals demanded that he give his power to them, he agreed. And that's how Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul came to be. Jergal now serves a more humble role as the seneschal to the Lord of the Dead.
    • The Tome of Magic mentions Andras, the Gray Knight. He was once an elven paladin who crusaded for good, only for a series of misfortunes to prompt a Crisis of Faith, driving him to become a blackguard just as vile as the hero he once was. But after three hundred years of service to both good and evil, Andras grew tired of both causes, and in the middle of a pitched battle, he just dropped his sword and quit the field, never to be seen again. Since no afterlife would welcome his soul, Andras was condemned to become a vestige.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Liliana Vess swung back and forth between villain and anti-hero, but either way she's got centuries worth of bodies behind her. After the traumatic events of War Of The Spark however, namely Gideon sacrificing his life for hers and burning the last of her bridges with her friends in the Gatewatch, she decides to retire to Strixhaven, as the new professor of Necromancy. Partly out of guilt for everything she did, partly because she's now the most wanted planeswalker in the multiverse and needs to lay low, partly in hopes of finding a spell to resurrect Gideon. She even briefly serves as a mentor to Will and Rowan Kenrith, two young new heroic planeswalkers.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Some Primarchs of the Chaos Space Marine legions are effectively retired after their revolt during the Horus Heresy. Examples include:
    • Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, was the one who instigated the crippling Horus Heresy and turned several Space Marine legions to Chaos worship to begin with. He is currently isolated meditating in his temple on the planet Sicarus, far from any battlefield. That being said, there are rumors that he is leading armies of Word Bearers into battle now.
    • Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children, was one of the earliest and most effective leaders of the Heresy who brought his legion to serve the dark god Slaanesh. For his deeds, Slaanesh gifted him an entire planet of unending pleasure named Callax to live it up. Much like Lorgar he has made a bit of a return, but only after his arch-enemy Roboute Guilliman (who he could have sworn he killed millennia ago) came back.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Haunted Mansion: The infamous Hatbox Ghost, real name Randall Pace, was revealed in The Haunted Mansion comic book series to have been the ghost of a pirate betrayed by his fellow crewman, Master William Gracey. Out of revenge, he, other ghosts, and Madame Leota murdered Gracey's fiancee, which caused Gracey to take his own life. His revenge having been fulfilled, the Hatbox Ghost traveled around the world scaring people and eventually retired into the mansion's attic, where he can be seen in the ride.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires II: In The Conquerors expansion's Attila the Hun campaign, the framing device is a nameless narrator asking a priest why he keeps a grisly relic in his room, a skull on a stake. The priest goes on to describe the Huns' invasion of the Western Roman Empire, and how he himself was captured after the Battle of Catalaunian Fields, but was spared by Attila and forced to join the warlord's retinue. In the campaign's epilogue, the priest reveals that he did more than just witness Attila's atrocities, he actually participated in the carnage, and "Sometimes... I miss it."
  • Brawlhalla: Azoth once was a tyrant who swore his kingdom would last forever and used magical soulstones that when gathered would bring him back to life as a Lich Lord so he would become the scourge of the living once more. After a long campaign, he was barely defeated by a group of adventurers and ended up in Valhalla because of his battle prowess. While he seems to enjoy just fighting in the tournament, read a good book, and looking after his cat, cults dedicated to him still look for his soulstones to bring him back to life and become an evil emperor and he has no choice but to stick to his old oath. (Unless he does ten thousand acts of uninterested goodness. If pet care counts, he's done one).
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Almira is a succubus who defected from the Black Ring Apocalypse Cult when she fell in love. She's very much Reformed, but Not Tamed, but if the player character helps her and her lover, they end up retiring to a small town in peace. In one of the endings, she believes that she's enthralled her neighbours, but they actually just like her.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds; infamous in legend for the countless atrocities she has committed throughout history. Most of them are false- she scoffs at the one about her eating babies, claiming she has better things to do- but in some cases, the truth is worse. She's a fusion between a normal woman and the Elven goddess Mythal. Turns out, the Elven pantheon were actually slaveholding overlords with god complexes, and while Mythal was the most reasonable one, she still had slaves and most of the information about her comes from her old best friend. She's mostly done with the whole evil magic overlord business and her aid to the player is genuine, but she is in no way a nice old lady.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Paarthurnax, leader of the Greybeards and former right-hand man of Alduin, who turned against the rest of Dragonkind and sided with Humanity during the Dragon Wars, teaching the Ancient Nords the art of the Thu'um. When questioned about his former crimes and his reformation by the Dragonborn, Paarthurnax admits that he can never truly reform and after several millennia, he still has the innate urge to conquer and destroy as all Dragons do, but has merely learned to suppress it with daily meditation and intense self-control.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3: Jericho used to be a raider, and expresses some interest in taking up the life again, but spends the game just bumming around Megaton like every other NPC... at least until an evil Player Character convinces him to give it another shot. There's also the weapons dealers Flak and Shrapnel in Rivet City, a retired slaver and raider, respectively.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • Level 50 characters with Evil or Very Evil Karma can take the "Ain't Like That Now" perk to restore it to Neutral levels and gain a bunch of bonuses. The name of the perk comes from a quote from the aforementioned William Munny.
      • Orion Moreno, one of the refugees from the Enclave's fall in Fallout 2, is this. The other members of the Remnants were either Punch Clock Villains who were only in it for the action or Minions with Fs in Evil who regularly subverted their orders, but Orion was and is a true believer in the Enclave's fascist outlook, he loved the violence of his job, and he's damn proud to have served. However, he's also portrayed as a somewhat tragic figure, being a patriot who saw the nation he loved burned to the ground and to this day is still harassed by the NCR.
      • Marcus was a devout member of the Master's Super Mutant Unity in the first game. After the Master was defeated, he retired to a (mostly) peaceful life of non-violence and has become a major proponent of coexistence between humans, ghouls, and Super Mutants. However, despite being a genuinely moral All-Loving Hero, he has no real remorse for his time in the Unity; he genuinely believes that the Master's plan would've saved the world if it had been carried out, but also knows that it's not really feasible now so there's no point in carrying on old feuds. He notes that he both hates and deeply respects the Player Character of the 1, blaming them for many of the bad things that have happened in years since, but also feeling that if all humans fought for their beliefs the way he did, the Unity wouldn't have been needed.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has this with Novv, the leader of the friendly Sahagin beast tribe faction. He was the former Scarlet Sea Devil. When he came back home from a hunt, he found the bodies of his children piled on top of each other, leaving him to wail out. He took what surviving eggs and sons he could and gave up being the monster he is.
  • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade: Karel is a calm, easygoing mentor for several younger characters... yet he reveals in his supports that he used to be known as the bloodthirsty Sword Demon, a monster who only cared about killing strong opponents and made it a point to kill at least one person wherever he went. In the prequel, we get to see him in those days, but we also see him slowly begin to regain his humanity during his supports with other characters.
  • God of War (PS4): Kratos has long since cast aside his anger and need for vengeance to live a life of quiet and isolation. He doesn't try to pretend that he has become a better person or that he can escape his past as the monster who almost single-handedly brought the entirety of Greece to ruin, but he does try to at least raise his son Atreus to be better than he was. And if you try to harm a hair on Atreus's head, he will show you exactly why everyone fears him. Downplayed in that he holds virtually nothing BUT remorse for his past actions, and his shame of and reluctance to discuss them is a major factor in his strained relationship with his son.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Michael Townley, who was one of the most prolific bank robbers in the Midwest. He managed to cut a deal with Agent Dave Norton of the FIB, which allowed him and his family to retire to the West Coast under an informal Witness Protection and a good stipend while living under the assumed surname "De Santa". Eventually, the plot starts when circumstances force Michael back into his old profession after nine years.
  • Helen's Mysterious Castle: The Undead Knight and the Demon King were some of the most powerful monsters used in the war a long time ago. Currently, they're much calmer, don't want to get into any more fights and just want to relax in the Castle.
  • Imperium Nova: The Vampire Count Sergio Von Carstein announced his retirement at the age of 74 after a number of evil acts, including brutally suppressing several human and vampire rebellions, engineering a plague so he could reanimate the corpses to work his farms, attempting to brutally murder several fellow nobles, hooking up hundreds of thousands of humans to blood extraction machines, creating a gigantic zombie horde out of a military cemetery, and a career in organized crime.
  • Jade Empire:
    • Sagacious Zu used to be a Lotus Assassin. Even though he quit over a case of Pragmatic Villainy (he was ordered to kill the family of the emperor's brother as a punitive action, which he argued was pointlessly cruel), he seems to have no regrets about any of the other things he did up until that point.
    • Subverted by Master Li. Formerly known as "The Glorious Strategist" who was the mastermind behind most of the successes of his brother, the Emperor, including ending the drought that threatened to destroy the empire, he retired to the sticks to teach martial arts. Subverted when you find out he was never retired, and everything that had happened since he helped end the drought was one more glorious strategy to become Emperor himself.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Kreia. Once a Sith Master, she taught the two Sith Lords currently hunting the player. Throughout the game, she insists she is Above Good and Evil but her teachings of individualism and control inevitably lead toward the Dark Side. Eventually she comes out of retirement and becomes the final boss. Mandalore also counts, though he doesn't "mentor" you as much as the other one. He does share his cynical worldview with you though and has no regrets about the violence he has partaken in.
  • Legacy of Kain: The vampire Vorador spends most of the series as a Retired Monster, having given up on the mortal world after the murder of Janos Audron — though not before killing off most of the Circle of Nine in revenge. He's clearly still as hedonistic and depraved as ever, living in a luxurious mansion (complete with a torture chamber), surrounding himself with brides, drinking the blood of human captives from golden goblets; nonetheless, he advises Kain to avoid meddling in the affairs of mortals. If only he'd listened....
  • MadWorld states that Jack was a lesser form of this, being the former Grand Champion of the Deathwatch games, only quitting due to being tired of the games' reign of death. He does come out of retirement since he's sent to save the Mayor's daughter (until he learns she was never in any actual danger, and that in fact the Mayor and several of his friends set up the whole Damsel in Distress ploy for their own entertainment) and later to take down the games with the help of XIII.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2: A minor character, a krogan referred to as "the Patriarch", fits. After being soundly defeated and crippled by current boss of Omega Aria T'loak, he can be found serving as her advisor in Afterlife, clearly broken and longing to return to his bloody glory days, when he was respected and feared. In a sidequest, Shepard has the option of coaxing him out of retirement in a couple of different ways.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The ancient krogan warrior Drack admits that he helped destroy at least one culture back in the day, but he's 1400 years old and is running a bit short on internal organs. He mostly just wants to see krogan society develop into something new before he takes his last nap.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: In Mask of the Betrayer, Myrkul, the former God of the Dead, is encountered at the climax of the second act and gleefully confesses to his role in the story; he has never directly opposed you at all (and indeed provides the advice needed for you to proceed), but everything that has happened to you up to that point (and will happen to you for the rest of the campaign) can be laid at his feet due to atrocities he committed centuries ago.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Travis doesn't even remember the first assassin he killed when his brother comes for revenge. Well, he is this to a point... He most likely still hasn't gotten past how he dishonored Holly Summers by not killing her in battle when she wanted such a fate. Otherwise, he doesn't care to get back into the games until Bishop is killed and Sylvia "convinces" him, perfectly fine with his pathetic lifestyle. It's mainly because killing has become boring to him after killing the best of the best. He does regret killing Charlie's cheerleaders but that and Holly seem to be is only two regrets. He gets a few more moments, such as being enraged at Sylvia for shooting the dog when he wanted an honorable duel with Ryuji, preventing the UAA from tampering with Captain Vladimir's corpse, honoring Margaret's last request to memorize her song, and simply venting his disgust and anguish over the death of Alice, the one Assassin in the game whose predicament best mirrors his own and who desperately sought to escape the UAA. That last one, in fact, marks the biggest milestone in his character progression; from that point on, Travis vows to become a real hero, starting by ending the perpetual bloodshed brought by the UAA and their twisted fights.
  • Planescape: Torment:
    • Fhjull Forked-Tongue, an unrepentant devil who was tricked into signing a deal with an angel that obligated him to do good. This got him thrown out of the hellish hierarchy, mutilated, and led to him hiding out in a place where NO ONE could find him just so that he doesn't have to actually abide by the contract (which roughly says "Give charity to anyone who asks.")
    • Ravel herself.
      No... this world is full of thorns and Ravel has spent more than enough time a-picking them from her skin.
  • Team Rocket Boss Giovanni in Pokémon. After being defeated by Red, he disbanded Team Rocket and left to dedicate his life to training, ignoring his son. After being defeated by Ethan/Lyra during his seclusion at Tohjo Falls, he gives up on crime completely and resurfaces at the Pokémon World Tournament in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 with the intent of proving his strength.
  • Red Dead Redemption: John Marston, the main character, is considered by Edgar Ross to be this. Ross fails to see the irony or hypocrisy of the fact that Marston is trying to stop killing people and Ross is forcing him to keep killing people. And that he becomes this trope as well.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: There's a Stranger quest where a destitute old drunk in Rhodes asks Arthur to break into an old foreclosed house to retrieve some belongings: an old pistol and a couple of books. One of the books is the man's old journal, which reveals he was a bounty hunter during the Civil War who tracked down fugitive slaves, including mothers and their children. When Arthur returns to him, he tosses the belongings into the old man's campfire and walks away in disgust. Even if Arthur is Dishonourable, and he's one of the few Strangers in the game where you get positive Honour if you shoot him.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: Gig once nearly destroyed the world. He wants a do-over, and this time, he'll spare nothing (except some hotpods, they're delicious). And he does not hide from the protagonists that this is his plan, or that taking advantage of his powers too much will release him, even though a little bit of deception would have him freed much quicker. And he's quite gung-ho about going off to kill Feinne, his former ally (though Feinne is far too powerful at this stage for them to succeed). And he'll chew you out for even suggesting he's not a bad guy. This gets played with a bit later when we find he was actually Brainwashed and Crazy and while he never reverts back to his original personality (in the Normal route at any rate) he does get enough Character Development to pull off a Heroic Sacrifice against the Big Bad. And then Redemption Equals Life.
  • Stellaris: Militant Isolationist fallen empires. A Vestigial Empire by the time the game starts, the Militant Isolationists ignore anyone who respects their single commandment: do not settle on our borders. Various archaelogical events near the Militant Isolationist, however, make it clear that at their prime, they actively exterminated other species, and were especially cruel towards pacifists.
  • Yandere Simulator: Ryoba Aishi was once a Yandere who removed rivals to get to Senpai much like Ayano (she's the reason that there's a ghost in the third-floor bathroom - poor girl was once a rival). Then she succeeded, married her Senpai (after inducing Stockholm Syndrome to get him to love her back), and settled down to have a normal life. But she's coming out of retirement to chase down the journalist who tried to expose her back when she was in school.

    Visual Novels 
  • Caster in Fate/hollow ataraxia. Her only goal during the Holy Grail War was to find a way to live a normal life with her Master and husband Souichirou. She did some horrible things during the War, has lost very little sleep over them, and would do it again without issue if the need arose. Now things have calmed down, she's perfectly peaceful, if a bit possessive. After all, she has everything she wanted anyway, so what need is there to keep causing problems?
  • Umineko: When They Cry has Featherine Augustus Aurora. In the story, she appears a bit pedantic and unpleasant and is constantly referred to as a monster by her fellow witches, but really doesn't seem like a bad person... and then Bernkastel says she "learned a lot from her" in terms of cruelty. Yes, that Bernkastel; Featherine used to be the Evil Mentor to the Witch of Miracles. This in and of itself probably means her past is best left alone... She gets a chance to remind Lambdadelta why everyone still calls her a monster near the end of the story. The poor girl never even gets a shot off.

  • Mr Garrott (the eldest), from The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred. The patriarch of a family that employs people who could be supervillains in their own right as household staff. Just how terrifying he can be is demonstrated when, while he expresses his displeasure with several members of the household staff, it cuts to two characters who were watching him discipline members of the staff, One asking, "Is it over yet!? I'm not supposed to be seeing this stuff live! I read about it later! He's supposed to be retired!" Meanwhile, the other person watching comments on how, asides from the gray hair, Mr Garrot has not changed at all since retiring thirty years ago.
  • Daily Grind: Tharka, at first. He started out as an augmented demon mercenary (Devil Bunny) in employ of The Devil. After conquering the setting's epic equivalent of World War II, being a mass-murdering demon soldier wasn't every entertaining or fulfilling anymore. After a while, he got bored, started dating, and switched over to the good guys. Mostly for the challenge. Subverted when he finds an even bigger challenge in defying the devil and making the world a better place; it feels good, and it's even more fun.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Dan has a mother who might be this. Dan has never known her except as his and his half-sister's loving mother, so he was pretty shocked to find out what she used to be like. Dan's mother was a monster, but why she apparently stopped and how she feels about that time has not been explored. And it seems she might not be so "retired" considering she sent a hit team after Abel, considered her stepdaughter acceptable collateral damage, and is plotting the genocide of the dragon species.
  • In the setting of Grim Tales from Down Below, Aku has retired from conquest and tyranny of the human worlds and has settled for ruling his own personal corner of the underworld, the City of Aku, while raising his daughter Chi.
  • Auntie Maya from Kill Six Billion Demons, a perpetually drunk, mostly cheerful, and slightly overweight beggar knight, who according to her original character sketch was known as "The Destroyer" and conquered 20,000 worlds during the Universal War. The comic would go on to reveal she was the general of the Middle Army of Vesh during the War, ended up on the winning side, and would have become one of the Seven Black Emperors had she not abandoned her Army and given away her Key to Incubus at some point before the War ended. Maya hasn't so much 'atoned' for her earlier actions as 'gotten drunk and stopped doing that stuff', and it's implied she's hunting Allison so she can somehow get revenge on Incubus for his later actions.
  • In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Gannondorf is more or less like this: after countless cycles of reincarnating only to get sealed away by the latest incarnations of Link and Zelda, all he is at this point is tired, and he's content with having a simple office job. He's not above trolling Link (and Ghirahim) for funzies, though.

    Western Animation 
  • In Animaniacs, Slappy Squirrel is, herself, a Retired Badass, and a lot of villains from her old cartoons are still around, the most prominent ones being Beanie the Braindead Bison, Sid the Squid, and especially Walter Wolf. While technically retired, they still hatch an occasional plan to get even with her - often with disastrous and humiliating results (for them).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Yon Rha, retired Fire Nation soldier who killed Katara's and Sokka's mother. By the time that Katara confronts him he is long since past his Glory Days and now spends his days being hassled by his overbearing mother. He's still a very bad person though, not only attempting to burn anyone who attempts to ambush him, but also offering up his own mother to Katara in an attempt to make them even. Seeing how pathetic he is causes Katara to leave him to his fate in disgust.
  • Batman Beyond: In "The Winning Edge", Bane is revealed to have become a crippled old man thanks to his constant abuse of Venom. Being forced to trust his caretaker with the formula for Venom is what allows the man to flood the city with it in the form of Slappers, nicotine-patch-like stickers that give users a brief but absurd strength boost when applied.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • Golden Age villain the Weeper is portrayed as this, being titled as the first supervillain before he was arrested by Bulletman and sentenced to 30 years in prison, leaving behind a Villainous Legacy that inspired generations of evildoers. He attempted to go straight in his old age but was persuaded by the Joker to join him for One Last Job as a Gleeful and Grumpy Pairing. He then betrays the Joker and tries to kill him to take over Gotham, but Batman stops him which leaves the Joker distraught over having his "greatest prank" ruined.
    • In "Menace of the Conqueror Caveman", Booster Gold recognizes a photo of the millennia-old conqueror/supervillain Kru'll and claims that they had some fights in the 25th century before Booster went back in time. A flashback shows Kru'll, apparently retired from villainy, minding his own business in the museum where Booster works as a janitor, with the two bumping into each other and spilling Kru'll's coffee because Booster is distracted talking on his phone. Kru'll is annoyed, but doesn't attack Booster even after recognizing him as a superhero whom he fought with in the 21st century.
  • In Castlevania (2017), Dracula himself begins the series as one of those. When Lisa brings up the hundreds of impaled skeletons around his castle, he mentions he "gave that up a long time ago", but he doesn't actually seem repentant for any of it. Thanks to Lisa, he slowly starts moving towards truly being reformed... and then the Church burns Lisa at the stake as a witch. Oops. Needless to say, Vlad comes out of retirement right quick. This takes effect again in the series finale when he and Lisa are both returned to life and are eager to get a fresh start.
  • Family Guy:
    • Stewie Griffin is one, best seen from his future self from Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (or "Stu and Stewie's Excellent Adventure" when re-edited to air in three parts). In his self-future, he is not violent, and all his plans for world domination were scrapped by himself. Lampshaded by Brian in "Stewie Kills Lois" when he points how, despite all his boasts and blusters, it's been ages since actually attempted to kill Lois and/or take over the world. This ends up incensing Stewie, prompting him to prove he's still got an edge. Subverted when it turns out to be a simulation Stewie ran to see how it would play out. Given that it ended with Lois surviving and killing Stewie in revenge, it presumably convinced him to give up on that line of thought.
    • In "German Guy", Chris makes friends with an old puppet store owner who turns out to be a Nazi.
  • Grim is one in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy; he's mellowed since meeting Billy and Mandy, but flashbacks have shown that he could be very evil in the past (and he still can be if he wants to, but you'd really have to make him angry enough). Mandy is the more active Villain Protagonist on the show.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Yakone, a vicious Bloodbending crime lord, gets de-bended by Aang, and he disappears into the Northern Water Tribe after escaping and having face alteration done. Eventually he meets and marries a woman, and sires two sons: Noatak (later known as Amon) and Tarrlok. After finding out his sons are Waterbenders like he was before being de-bended, he trains them in Bloodbending without the empowerment of a full moon in order to turn them into instruments of his revenge under a harsh, abusive training regime.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • The title character of "The Tale of X9" fits the trope, being a former robotic assassin and cold-blooded killer. You can't help but feel sorry for him, though, seeing as he retired out of his love for a puppy (and is only capable of feeling love due to an Emotion Chip) and comes out of retirement because said puppy has been kidnapped. Despite his past deeds, the situation makes him a very sympathetic figure among fans, who regard his death at the end one of the saddest moments of the whole series.
    • Aku during season 5. After destroying the last time portal, Aku was content to hide out in his lair until Jack inevitably died of old age. Unfortunately, he discovered that, as a side effect of time travel, Jack was turned into The Ageless, leaving Aku to wallow in despair. He quickly jumps back into action the minute he hears of a chance to kill Jack once and for all.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The Atomic Flounder was once one of Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy's arch-enemies. He's retired from committing acts of felony but is still as evil as he was before.
    Atomic Flounder: Get off of me! If I weren't retired, I'd, I'd... [roars, releasing atomic energy at Barnacle Boy and leaving his head glowing red from radiation before it goes up in a miniature mushroom cloud, leaving it charred] that! Out of my way, punk!
  • A number of villains manage to pull this off in The Spectacular Spider-Man. As Norman Osborne is revealed to have survived after his "death" which has pushed his son toward villainy and Sandman managed to survive his otherwise poignant Heroic Sacrifice, it's very obvious these "retirements" were added at the last second to avoid having any of these characters actually die.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Retired Complete Monster


Sometimes... I miss it

Upon concluding his tale about his time as a captive of Atilla the Hun, the old monk, Father Armand, makes a bonechilling confession to his young listener.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilAllAlong

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