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Revenge Through Corruption

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Instead of inflicting physical harm, the villain attacks the mind and soul. The intent is to get revenge on an enemy by making someone important to them evil, insane, under the control of the villain, hooked on drugs, or some other comparable effect — in essence, an engineered Face–Heel Turn or Face–Monster Turn. Victims may include friends, family, sidekicks, or even distant descendants. So long as the target's loved ones are shells of their former selves, than success is achieved.


A person that does this would probably be The Corrupter. See Face–Monster Turn and Mind Manipulation for a handy list of techniques that can be used to accomplish such an end. Compare Raised by Orcs and We Used to Be Friends. Contrast Evil Parents Want Good Kids.

Revenge Through Corruption is a subtrope of Revenge by Proxy and is related to Sins of Our Fathers. Sins of Our Fathers refers to revenge against the descendants of someone that is dead or missing. Revenge by Proxy refers to revenge by harming someone important to the living person instead of taking the option of going directly after the target of revenge. Revenge Through Corruption can overlap either trope. What distinguishes this trope is the method of revenge.



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  • Shigaraki in My Hero Academia is the grandson of All Might's mentor Nana Shimura, who All For One took in and raised to be a villain. Both as a means of obtaining a successor and as a final insult to his old enemy. He reveals this to All Might during their final battle to torture him, momentarily causing him to suffer a Heroic BSoD.

  • Norman Osborn also seems to like this one.
  • It also happened to Nick Fury's son Mikel.
  • Over at DC Comics, Wildcat's enemy the Yellow Wasp kidnapped his son in order to do this, but ironically wound up alienating his own child, who allegedly killed them both.
  • In Tom Strong, a Nazi villainess raises Tom's son — fathered without his consent or knowledge — as a racist psychopath. Even worse, it sticks.
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: In the past, Megatron recruited the-bot-who-would-be-Tarn into the Decepticons, shaping him into the head of the D.J.D. just to "prove a point" towards Optimus Prime. It goes more than a little horribly right, when Tarn's desire to hurt folk supersedes his fanatical loyalty to Megatron.
  • In Superman & Batman: Generations, Lex Luthor manipulates Joel Kent into hating his family by stoking the inferiority complex he suffers over being the Muggle son of Superman.note  Joel ends up murdering his sister Kara on her wedding day, thanks to a Super Empowering serum Luthor gave him...which was intentionally imperfect and results in Joel dying in his father's arms after Lex admits that he'd been lying to the young man all along.

    Fan Fic 

    Film - Animated 
  • The Incredibles: After the Parrs foil his scheme with the Omnidroid, Syndrome kidnaps Jack-Jack Parr, intending to raise him as a future sidekick.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Double-Subverted by Bill in Kill Bill, who kidnaps the child of his recent ex-lover and leaves her for dead only to give the child a perfectly happy, normal upbringing. note  Then the bride comes, and since she's going to corrupt the kid anyway, he unloads a revolver in their general direction. Possibly as a way of cutting ties before mommy dearest stabs out daddy's heart, but that's enough permanent psychological abuse to get her in the nuthouse.
  • Hook: Hook tries to punish Peter by turning Jack evil.
  • Played with in Sky High (2005) where the Big Bad plans to turn the heroes themselves into children again and raise them to be evil.
  • TRON: Legacy: Probably a factor in why Clu decided to twist Tron into Rinzler instead of just kill him outright.. It might also explain the "something special" in mind for Quorra.
  • Was a large factor in The Karate Kid Part III. After being humiliated by Daniel and Mr. Miyagi and losing his dojo, Cobra Kai master John Kreese turns to his millionaire friend Terry Silver for help. Terry moves into down under the guise of a middle-class karate expert looking to renovate the Cobra Kai school, putting himself in a position to help Daniel when a world-class martial arts expert that Silver recruited attacks him. When Mr. Miyagi refuses to help Daniel train for the tournament (seeing it as a frivolous exercise just to compete, as opposed to training for a purpose), Terry takes over as Daniel's coach. His purpose is three-fold: To put Daniel through heavy pain via harsh training methods, like punching and kicking hardwood targets; to corrupt him by promoting a far more aggressive attitude towards fighting, and to teach him specific moves and techniques that Barnes, his hired expert, will have knowledge of beforehand so that he could easily counter them in the tournament.
  • Satan in Devils Advocate intends to undermine the law and let the criminals run unpunished "until the stench of it rises so high it chokes the whole fucking lot of them!"
  • In both West of Zanzibar (1928) and the remake Kongo (1932), the Evil Cripple protagonist does this by taking the daughter of the man who stole his wife and crippled him, and turning her into an alcoholic prostitute. Or so he thinks.

  • Night Watch - Carcer toys with the idea of doing this to Vimes' younger self.
  • The Dresden Files - A Fallen Angel throws an Artifact of Doom where he knows the child of one of his enemies might pick it up. If the child were to pick it up, it would fall victim to Demonic Possession.
  • Harry Potter, Lupin says that he was turned into a werewolf by Fenrir Greyback, who had a feud with Lupin's father. Averted somewhat in that Lupin isn't evil unless he's actually a wolf.
    • It's stated by Lupin that Greyback is quite fond of kidnapping children after biting them, then raising them to hate normal humans, so it's likely he's played the trope completely straight in some cases.
  • The Hunger Games - the Capitol punishes the Districts by making their children killers (and praising them for it by turning them into celebrities!)
  • Wuthering Heights - Part of Heathcliff's revenge on Hindley Earnshaw includes treating Hindley's son Hareton exactly the way Hindley treated Heathcliff in hopes of making Hareton grow up as twisted as Heathcliff himself.
  • Paradise Lost depicts this as Satan's motive for corrupting humanity — revenge against God; Revenge by Proxy is intended to follow, as he intends for corruption to lead to physical suffering.
  • This is the entire plot of Mark Twain's The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg.
  • The Silmarillion - This is Sauron's plan for avenging the exile of his master, Melkor. He tricks the elves (mostly Celebrimbor) into creating three of the Rings of Power, while creating the remaining 15 rings himself and gifting them to the lords of Men and Dwarves. The rings were not only tied to the corrupting influence of Sauron's own One Ring, but were filled with such stupendous power that the Elves became thoroughly reliant on them to preserve Middle-Earth.
  • Star Wars Legends - Sith seek to turn Jedi to their way of thinking and Jedi seek to turn Sith against one another. Neither side prevails for very long, and anyone trying to Take a Third Option (like Darth Traya) gets destroyed in the crossfire.
  • The Wheel of Time takes this Up to Eleven. A group of male mages in the Age of Legends defeated the forces of the Dark One, a God of Evil, by sealing him outside Creation; in a parting shot, the Dark One corrupted the male component of the Background Magic Field. The group immediately went insane, followed by every other male mage on the planet, and their rampage ended the Age and caused the Breaking of the World; ever since, male mages are doomed to go insane and eventually rot alive. Until The Chosen One decides to fix things.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Holtz gets revenge on Angelus for turning his daughter into a vampire by kidnapping Angel's son Connor and raising him to believe his father is evil.
    • This is also the Senior Partners' stated reason for giving Angel control of Wolfram & Hart's LA branch. The chance to prevent major acts of evil done by the firm and to use its immense resources against other demonic threats is just too good to pass up, but the catch is that Angel still has to keep the branch running, with all that means in cooperating with shady people and making constant moral compromises.
  • Babylon 5: Centauri Emperor, who was being controlled by the Drakh through a Puppeteer Parasite, gave President Sheridan a gift intended for Sheridan's future offspring. The gift had another Puppeteer Parasite hidden within it.
  • Charmed had a rather interesting variation. Piper's son Wyatt from the future turned evil and wanted to take his toddler self and raise him(self) evil.
  • Invoked in Doctor Who series 6, where the Silence kidnaps Amy and Rory's time-headed daughter when she's a baby with the intention of bringing her up to be a weapon effective against the Doctor. However, this proves unsuccessful.
    • Of course, The Mistress proves to be better than most of The Doctor's foes at this. Crafting a Cyberman Army? Doable. Crafting it out of The Doctor's deceased friends and allies - including the Brigadier - and handing the controls over to him as a twisted "birthday present?" That's just cold.
  • Luke Cage (2016): When Mariah is arrested at the end of Season 2 and just before dying in prison she wills that control of Harlem's Paradise — the symbolic seat of power for Harlem's criminal underworld — be handed over to Luke. She explains that she's counting on him trying to control and minimize crime from the inside, only to find himself being seduced and changed by the power.
  • On NCIS, Serial Rapist and killer Kyle Boone tries to do this to Gibbs, with the aim of getting Gibbs pissed enough to murder him and ruin his own life. He fails.

  • The theme of the song "Mordred's Lullaby" by Heather Dale: Morgana is raising Mordred as a villain in order to satisfy her own desire for vengeance against Arthur and Guinevere.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One story from Werewolf: The Apocalypse included Iolani Darkmoon, the abused human wife of a werewolf. No one in her community would help her (because they were all afraid of her werewolf husband), so when she got pregnant, she sought help from and gave her child to the Black Spiral Dancers, evil werewolves who have been corrupted by the Wyrm. She knows that the Dancers will raise her son as one of them and he will become the enemy of everything the normal werewolves fight for. At this point, she believes its inevitable that he will end up fighting his father, and which ever of them wins, Iolani's revenge will be complete.

    Video Games 

  • One of the reasons Malak turns Bastila into his apprentice in Knights of the Old Republic.
  • Tira of the Soul Series actually gets a double on this trope, first using her nemesis Sophitia's Mama Bear nature to manipulate her into serving Soul Edge because Sophitia's daughter Pyrrha will die without Soul Edge's power. Sophitia is unable to prevent Siegfried from destroying Nightmare, Soul Edge's incarnation, and has to commit suicide to save Pyrrha with the last piece of Soul Edge lodged in her heart. Years later, Tira does it again by becoming an Evil Mentor to Pyrrha, who goes on to willingly become the newest host of Soul Edge. Strangely, the light novel that details Sophitia's demise leaves it ambiguous if Tira ignored Sophitia's last request to keep Pyrrha safe, or if she tried to make Pyrrha into an insanely powerful Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds as a way to honor that request.
  • Manfred von Karma of the Ace Attorney series suffers a single penalty in his otherwise unblemished career as a prosecutor. He murders the attorney who penalized him, Gregory Edgeworth, and completes his revenge by raising his son Miles as a ruthless prosecutor who wants to see every defendant convicted. Unfortunately for him, Phoenix Wright undoes all his years of planning and helps Miles Edgeworth become an honest prosecutor who eventually dedicates himself to cleaning out the Prosecutor's Office.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time - "What is Life?" The Ice King tries to do this to Finn's Robot Buddy NEPTR.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - The Joker kidnaps Tim Drake and turns him into a mini-Joker with the full intent of using him to torment Batman. He even implants a backup of his own personality on a magic micro chip implanted in Tim just so he can make a comeback forty years on.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series - Tombstone forms a streetgang of teenage thugs to help him steal tech for the Silvermane family and makes a point of recruiting the son of Robbie Robertson whom Tombstone blames for letting him get caught robbing a grocery store in their youth and taking the fall (starting him down a life of crime). When Robbie confronts him, Tombstone takes great pleasure in showing him the video feed of his son robbing the facility and leaving his fingerprints everywhere.
  • Totally Spies!; the three part Blaine Arc was about recurring villain Geraldine Husk and a revenge plot against Clover, whom she blamed for her first defeat and arrest. (Despite the fact that said defeat happened because she turned Clover into a brainwashed cyborg to use against the other heroines). The first part was fooling a male spy named Blaine into believing Clover was a criminal who had to be eliminated; when this failed, she set in motion several projects bent on making Clover miserable and ruining her reputation, saving the lethal blow for last; she bought the members-only spa Clover belonged to, then opened it to the public, and bought Clover's favorite boutique and vegetarian restaurant, turning them into a thrift shop and steakhouse. Then she framed Clover for plagiarizing Sam's report, stealing Alex's car and trashing it, and stealing classified WOOHP weaponry, getting her suspended by Jerry. Her one flaw was underestimating Clover's intelligence; she realized the incidents were related, as did the other heroines once Geraldine's escape was reported. Thus, the final part of the villain's plan (kidnapping and killing Clover) didn't go as planned, and she was beaten again.


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