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Sanity Strengthening

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"Forget all my psychoses, my therapy's kicking ass!"
Eren Jaeger, Abridged on Titan, "F**k It"

Over the course of a story, insane characters actually become less insane and more mentally stable as time passes. The opposite of Sanity Slippage. These characters may start out sane and become insane before becoming sane again. The point of the trope is that they ultimately end up as more or less sane, or at the very least saner.

Compare to Mental Health Recovery Arc, Restoration of Sanity, and Throwing Off the Disability. If it only happens briefly, it's likely a Moment of Lucidity. It may result in the character being formally declared Insane No More. It can also potentially overlap with Heal the Cutie. If a person does this because they decided they had enough of being crazy, see Bored with Insanity.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Harry in Outlaw Star. He starts off as an Ax-Crazy Stalker with a Crush to Melfina but as the series goes on he becomes more loving and gentle towards her and even makes peace with Gene his enemy before his death.
  • Anemone from Eureka Seven starts off as a violently psychopathic Tyke Bomb, but grows much stabler in the presence of her handler/guardian Dominic. Late in the series, he manages to restore her sanity completely through the Power of Love.
  • Naruto has Gaara. He starts out Ax-Crazy but is now a nice mentally stable guy and is actively trying his best to help Naruto, his friend who he once considered his enemy and tried to kill. Empathizing and sharing the burden of being a fellow Jinchuuriki helps.
  • Nina Einstein of Code Geass starts out sane, exhibits Sanity Slippage and and then in the beginning of R2 recovers much of her sanity. Later scenes indicate that her insanity was not so much defeated as it was redirected. Near the end of the series is where she starts to actually recover.
  • Hayato Jin in Getter Robo starts out as an insane student activist-terrorist with brainwashed followers and gets drunk with power the first time he pilots Getter Robo itself. Though his ruthlessness stays with him through the entire Getter saga, he becomes more pragmatic and well-adjusted.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In Dragon Ball Z, Kid Buu was originally an insane, uncontrollable, force of destructive until he absorbed Grand Supreme Kai and became the Obliviously Evil, child-like, sweet-loving Fat Buu. After an Enemy Without/Split-Personality Takeover incident, Buu's evil side became more dominant, resulting in him becoming Super Buu, who had a semblance of intelligence which became stronger after he absorbed Piccolo. After Vegetta ripped Fat Buu out of his mind, however, he turned back into the mindless Kid Buu.
    • Dragon Ball Super: When brought Back from the Dead in the Resurrection 'F' Saga, Frieza has suffered severe Sanity Slippage, due to PTSD from his defeat at Goku's hands and over a decade of torture in an Ironic Hell. Come the Universe Survival Saga, Frieza is considerably calmer and more stable than he was before. He was able to completely master his Golden Super Mode in Hell through intense meditation, and is far more pragmatic and patient, to the extent that he voluntarily heals Goku to get him back into the fight with Jiren. Also, when Whis revives him as a reward for his help in the tournament, unlike last time, Frieza doesn't throw it all away for the sake of revenge on Goku, and decides to just go back to space and focus on rebuilding his empire.
  • Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02: After being struck by Angewomon's Celestial Arrow and being seemingly destroyed, Myotismon revived himself as the towering VenomMyotismon, while being reduced to a mindless, ravenous beast. After the Digidestined defeated him and reduced him to a spectral mass of data, he managed to regain enough of sanity to find and possess Owikawa. Upon using the Dark Spores to properly revive, he became MaloMyotismon, and while he was a still bit unhinged and Ax-Crazy, he was still in his right mind enough to carry out his master plan of claiming both the Digital and Real Worlds.
  • In Monster Rancher, during his Bloodbath Villain Origin, Moo was hinted to have some intelligence due to being able to turn against his creators and finding a way to take control of all monsters, but didn't seem to have any real plan apart from causing destruction. After claiming Holly's father as his host, he obtained a sense of clarity and set out to Take Over the World with his army of Baddies. After absorbing too much hatred, however, he lost his mind and ended up becoming an Omnicidal Maniac worse than he was in the ancient past.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman: White Knight, The Joker is cured of his insanity and the authorities wastes no time analyzing his mental capacity. It turns out his CAT-Scan and IQ tests indicate he's scored beyond genius level intellect, and this has helped him become a very powerful man who can even challenge the GCPD.
  • Ultimate Vision: Rather than attack Tarleton, Vision removed the insanity induced by Gah Lak Tus. He got normal again... even if still an android, and still hearing Gah Lak Tus' voice in his head.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has Harry undergo a brutal Trauma Conga Line in the first arc of the second book, veering into insanity (as in, he becomes the Dark Phoenix). After that, the rest of the book is dedicated to him regaining his sanity, something which has a lot to do with relatively mundane efforts such as therapy and support from others.
  • In The Many Worlds Interpretation, the Bursar recovers his mathematical genius and mental acuity to the point he can hold a coherent conversation with Sheldon Cooper, after being dosed with thorazine.
  • In Constellations, Oni Lee starts recovering his missing memories after a chance encounter with Sunny.
  • The Dragon of Harrenhal sees Aerys II's sanity take a sharp uptick after meeting Carik, an actual sentient dragon who convinces him to start behaving like an actual king. This has the effect of restoring some of his wits and charm, making it harder for Rhaegar to get the support for the planned dethroning of his father.
  • Bitter Repercussions revolves around Bluestar recovering from her Sanity Slippage after her deputy Fireheart nearly dies in an attack she ordered in her paranoia.
  • The Raven's Plan: Viserys starts out as the same arrogant bastard he was before the Remembering, but after Daenerys hatches her dragons, he actually begins to be humble, realizes that he was wrong, reacts with shock and shame when he finds out why he died in the old timeline, and starts training to become a knight. With no other explanation, Daenerys decides the sight of the dragons must have shocked him back into sanity.
  • In Bequeathed from Pale Estates, Alannys Harlaw is left to fend almost by herself in the decaying ruins of Pyke, which takes a heavy toll on her body and mind, especially since she saw her husband and children die to a horrid plague and a brutal rebellion. When Theon collects her, she's very much The Ophelia, though as they leave the Iron Islands for the warmer South and he spends more time with her, she slowly begins leaving her shell.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • After undergoing Sanity Slippage in Thor and then diving completely off the deep end in The Avengers, Loki seems to regain his sanity over the course of the next couple of films. In Thor: The Dark World he's on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and somewhat unstable but not Ax-Crazy, and while he displays Death Seeker tendencies, these are subverted by the end when he fakes his death to usurp the Asgardian throne. After four years of peacefully ruling Asgard, by Thor: Ragnarok he's downright sane again, his manic tendencies all but gone in favor of casual charm, and his hatred of Thor has cooled to the point that while he still suffers from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, he even acts willing to share power and is much more patient and relaxed about getting it.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) in Arrow. He was driven insane by a combination of Psycho Serum and tragedy. Later on the serum runs out and he's become a lot of more understanding and remorseful.
  • Parker from Leverage fits this trope well. In the pilot, Nate actually says "Parker? She's insane!" And he means it. As the series progresses, she becomes more normal as a result of the family bonding the team experiences as they run jobs together.
  • River Tam on Firefly. Played for Drama as it just means her lucid periods get more frequent, so she's more often aware of her insanity.
  • Connor on Angel. He starts out a warped Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb raised in a hell dimension by a vengeful Knight Templar and gets worse. Angel then uses a Deal with the Devil to rewrite reality to give Connor a happy life and fake memories. Even after Connor regains his true memories, the knowledge of what Angel did for him keeps him stable.
  • Person of Interest: Root starts off as an incredibly chipper, sociopathic hacker and hired killer with absolutely no regard for human life. Her experiences with The Machine, Finch, and the rest of the team have started to bring her down to a much more stable mindset. She's still rather enthusiastic about violence, but she has clearly learned to care about what happens to people, and she's getting better and better as the show goes on. Or, she was, until Shaw went missing.
  • Downplayed, but still present for The Master in Doctor Who. The "Harold Saxon" incarnation of the Master was gradually becoming completely insane due to the drumbeat that the Time Lords put in his head, and by the time of his final appearance in the Tenth Doctor's run, he's outright EATING HUMAN BEINGS and running around as a complete Psycho Electro, taking Evil Is Hammy up to levels unbelievable even for him. However, after disappearing for several years (so long that he missed the Eleventh Doctor's entire tenure), the Master returns as her new incarnation "Missy", enemy to the Twelfth Doctor. While Missy declares herself "bananas" and is still quite the kook, she has noticeably calmed down drastically since her previous incarnation. She is back to the character's ordinary level of "crazy", not the exaggerated version she/he was previously at. Additionally, when the Saxon Master reemerges, he is much more cool and collected.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is what happened to Dean Ambrose after the break-up of The Shield. Originally his instability was worse than ever during his blood feud with Seth Rollins, but his lack of sanity ended up becoming a detriment, and Ambrose gradually learned to control himself better instead, which is what eventually allowed him to get revenge on Rollins at Money in the Bank 2016. He did undergo a bout of Sanity Slippage in late 2018 after Roman Reigns' leukemia announcement, but reconciling with Rollins and Reigns helped bring him back to his senses and he left the company on good terms with both. Since then, he's jumped to All Elite Wrestling as Jon Moxley, and while Moxley is an extremely violent individual, he's much, much saner and more stable than he was as Ambrose. Ironically, the Shield's breakup ended up having the exact opposite effect on his former stablemates in the long run, as Ambrose's departure and the end of any further Shield reunions were major factors in both of them making a Face–Heel Turn and going completely insane.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In The Dark Eye, this can be invoked by removing the character flaws you started out with by using the adventure points awarded at the end of an adventure. Within the game, there is the skill "soul healing", which is equivalent to psychotherapy, and can do this.
  • You can try doing this in Call of Cthulhu (requires Psychology skill), but ultimately it's just delaying the inevitable.
  • In Dark Heresy, you can save yourself from insanity by using enough experience points between adventures to remove Insanity points before you develop a mental disorder. This is seen as your character undergoing rites of purification, psychic surgery, scourging thyself or whatnot that safely restores their mind.
  • In Eclipse Phase this can be attempted with mundane therapy or "psychosurgery" that reprograms the software of the brain with nanites. Or failing that revert to an earlier backup.
  • In Exalted, Alchemicals who come into contact with Exalted whose magical material is identical to the Alchemicals Caste can reduce the Exalts Limit gain.

    Video Games 
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent: Daniels can regain sanity by staying in light, finding items or completing puzzles. There's also a sanity potion which was cut from the game, but is available for mods.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy has Dark Samus. In the second game Echoes she had basically one mode: Bat-shit insane. After being blown to pieces, left in a collapsing alternate dimension and regenerating thanks to Phazon absorption, by the time of the final game Corruption, she became sane enough to get the role of The Chessmaster, take over the Space Pirates, and start a plan for galactic domination. Note the word enough though, the game makes it very clear she's still quite mentally unstable, just toned down from before.
  • In the "Forgiveness" path of Tokyo Dark, Ayami saves the woman she murdered in a Mask-induced breakdown months before. Yet another ending ("Purification") involves her destroying the Mask permanently. Unfortunately, neither of these endings are the canonical one.
  • A very condensed version taking place over the course of single fight in Bloodborne during the battle with Ludwig, the Accursed. Formerly Ludwig, the Holy Blade, first hunter of the Healing Church, he was (like many other characters) transformed into a truly horrendous beast as he sank into bloodlust and corruption, attacking you like a rabid animal. Halfway through the battle with him, you knock him down and his Holy Moonlight Sword falls out of the sheath on his back, radiating light which actually restores Ludwig's sanity, causing him to take up the sword, rise from his Primal Stance to stand upright, and even recover his original title to fight the rest of the battle as a monstrous but powerful holy swordsman instead.

    Web Original  
  • In Worm the government retains the services of a psychiatrist called Ms. Yamada, who despite being a normal dealing with metahumans of all shapes, powers and stages of sanity manages to help a great deal of them. Her greatest effort is in the epilogues of the story, where she talks a villain contemplating killing everyone into becoming a hero.

    Western Animation 
  • Wanda Maximoff from X-Men: Evolution, who was sent to an asylum by her father Magneto shortly after her mutant powers emerged. Magneto eventually has Mastermind mess with her head, replacing all her bad memories with good ones so she believes he'd been a loving father. Ironically, she became less insane and more kind and gentle towards others.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    • Upon his initial mutation, Slash had been driven crazy and wanted to kill the Turtles, believing them to be holding Raph back from being a true warrior. When he returns in "Battle for New York", he's much more stable, explaining that the mutagen had messed with his head.
    • Leatherhead too. In his first appearances, just mentioning the Kraang sends him into a berserk rage. By the team season 3 rolls around, he still hates the Kraang, but he saves it for, y'know, the actual Kraang.
  • In ReBoot, Hexadecimal was overloaded by a surge of energy brought on by a game landing on Megabyte's energy cannon as she was about to use it. While it did not destroy her, Megabyte took her nearly destroyed husk and administered repairs (and a new and improved look), but overlooked a massive crack in her mask. This crack left her even more unstable than usual, eventually breaking free from his control and destroying his Tor before retreating to Lost Angles. When Bob returns to Mainframe (then renamed Megaframe), Hexadecimal holds him hostage. When he notices her damaged mask, he uses his new abilities brought on by merging with his key tool Glitch. Not only does it repair her mask, but takes it a step further and turns it into a fully-functioning face, complete with making her completely sane.


Video Example(s):


Naofumi Trusts Again

After having fallen into despair because of the slander spread by The Royal Family, and enforced by The other Three Heroes, Raphtalia is there to remind him that she will always believe him no matter what.

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Main / SanityStrengthening

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