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The Corruptible

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"I believe most people are inherently good... but overcoming our nature is what separates us from the animals."

The prey of The Corrupter or The Corruption.

The role of this character is to be a constant threat of a Face–Heel Turn. While temptation sometimes happens to all heroes, it's more of a permanent condition with this guy. Whether it's a Superpowered Evil Side or a Fatal Flaw he needs to suppress, a personal interest in him by The Corrupter (often a family member or former loved one), or a deep dark past locked away by faltering Laser-Guided Amnesia, the corruptible will labour on, facing his personal demons alone.


If things go bad, expect a Face–Heel Turn, often into the Big Bad. If things go good, then usually the corruptible realises that You Are Not Alone, and defeats temptations with The Power of Friendship. At their most desperate, the corruptible may demand a Shoot the Dog, but usually granting this request is a bad idea.

Contrast Big Bad Friend, where the character is evil all along, and The Mole, where the character is evil all along and works to undermine the rest of the team. See also Token Evil Teammate. The opposite of Incorruptible Pure Pureness. A character with poor resistance to supernatural influence is Weak-Willed, not the Corruptible. See also Corrupt the Cutie, when a sweet and lovable character gradually turns to the Dark Side.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • The premise of Claymore is centred around a group of half-demon warriors who are susceptible to losing their minds to their demonic nature if they don't control their emotions well enough.
  • Soul Eater: It's said that while everyone has some kind of insanity in them, some are more susceptible to The Corruption of Asura than others. Stein is a prime example, as it takes a lot of effort from him and his friends to keep him from becoming a murderous psycho.
  • Sasuke from Naruto. What Itachi started with his return to Konoha, Tobi finished; Tobi is more than happy to take advantage of Sasuke's confusion and unhappiness after Itachi's death, and his reveal of the truth about Itachi pushes Sasuke right off the deep end.
  • In the manga Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, Shadow Link hoped Vio might be one of these. Turns out, he wasn't.
  • Griffith from Berserk is a prime example of this trope. While not wholly "good," Griffith's strongest trait was his love and loyalty for his men. Eventually he sacrificed his men to a horde of demons in order to turn himself into a demon-god.
    • And now, this is Guts whenever he is under the influence of his Enemy Within, the Beast of Darkness.
    • Farnese also had a bout of this during the Conviction Arc due to her only sexual release without breaking her vows to the Holy See being whipping people and whipping herself, which made her easy prey for possession by the demons after Guts when the Black Swordsman kidnapped her.
  • The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer has this for a bunch of characters.
    • Shimaki, the knight of the Cat. The Big Bad thinks he could be turned because he's most similar to him, being interested in the pursuit of knowledge. Nope!
    • Akane, the knight of the Owl, who starts off hating the world, and is urged to "choose the winning side". But he never really turns, and his theft of Animus's time manipulation skill becomes key to victory.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has the Puella Magi. Yes, every single Magical Girl in existence is subject to corruption, either by her own negative emotions or by expending too much magical energy. Being completely corrupted turns the girl into a Witch for other magical girls to hunt and kill. That revelation is so central to the plot that almost this entire entry had to be spoiler-tagged.
  • Light Yagami of Death Note starts out as this, though he doesn't manage to hold out through the first episode. Granted, the episode took place over two weeks... but still, he was overwhelmed by the power of the titular Artifact of Death almost instantaneously. This is implied to be the byproduct of a nasty combination of boredom, solitude, and purposelessness.
  • In Umi Monogatari, Urin becomes this as Sena plays on her fears, wishes, and feelings of inadequacy to lure her to her side.
  • Inverted in Hunter × Hunter with the Chimera Ant King. While introduced as a ruthless monster who exists solely to rule over everything, he is actually an extremely intelligent and philosophical man who is still coming to terms with who he is and what it means to be a king. It's teased that contact with the right people could lead him to walk the path of Noblesse Oblige and become a powerful force for good.
  • All Angel Digimon are capable of falling and a few Digimon such as GranDracmon are more than willing to help the process along.
  • Averted in My Hero Academia. The Villian Alliance assumed Bakugo would be this. But when they kidnapped him and offered him an invitation to their ranks, he flat out told them no way.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, Pronto proves to be this. He simply wants his powers back more than anything.
  • Star Wars Legends: Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos of the Republic comic series is a perfect example of this trope. He is constantly fighting his darker urges and experiences so many alignment shifts that halfway through the series you have no idea what side he's on...and neither does he. He even has several climactic battles with his inner darkness while fighting an external darkness at the same time. The kicker? His master tells him that, even after his major victory over himself and the enemy, he is still not free from The Dark Side. He will always struggle. What makes him a hero? He never gives up the fight.

  • Fade: Two examples.
    • Just like in canon, Light Yagami. However, the presence of the Kira story changes things. Since Light got the second half, he knows how far he fell and resolves to never become like the original Kira. While he isn't strong enough to stop using the Death Note (especially not with Ryuk threatening his life), he sticks to criminals that have been convicted and sentenced to death or have committed crimes worthy of the death penalty. He also hates manipulating people and refuses to use innocents to achieve his goals, even if they stand in his way. While still a Serial Killer and one at risk of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, he is far more sympathetic than he was in canon.
    • L, who, once he gets his hands on the Death Note, barely lasts longer than canon!Light before he starts going off the deep end and killing criminals from his own personal files. His half of the Kira story did not help at all — if anything, it made things worse. His half ends in his death, and L is so desperate to subvert his fate that he is willing to become Kira himself to do so. Of course, since L believes he is justice, he refuses to acknowledge the truth of what he is doing.
  • Red in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines is viewed in this light by Giovanni, at least compared to Ash. Glimpses of a Bad Future in a sidestory hint that the two ended up clashing against each other because of this.
  • Apotheosis (MHA): Nezu fears Katsuki Bakugou is this, which is why Katsuki has yet to be expelled despite there being more than enough grounds to. Normally, a student being this wouldn't be an issue with all Katsuki has done, but because he has such a powerful Quirk, he would be too dangerous to let out on the streets.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: Timmy, due to his insecurities and anger issues, is susceptible to bad influences. The Rainbooms observe this, while the Dazzlings are easily able to goad Timmy into being bad.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A Man for All Seasons has Richard Rich, a young acquaintance of Sir Thomas More, who asks Thomas to use his influence to secure him a powerful position at the Royal Court. More, however, knows full well that Rich is corruptible, and instead recommends that Rich accept a job as a schoolteacher, where he won't be tempted. In the end, Rich does get an important position- that of the attorney-general for Wales- given to him by More's rival and the villain of the piece, Thomas Cromwell. In exchange for the job, he commits flagrant perjury that sends Sir Thomas More to the executioner. More's response? "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"
  • The Matrix has Cypher, who is too cynical to believe that humanity has any chance of winning the war against the Machines, and turns out to prefer the Matrix to the real world, such that he eventually makes a deal with the Agents to betray the Resistance and hand over Morpheus to them in exchange for being permanently reinserted into the Matrix.
  • Anakin Skywalker being The Corruptible drives the overarching plot of the Star Wars series.
  • The World of Kanako: The narrator is basically a good, benevolent, harmless person who wants to be like Ogata and his friend Kanako wants to help him with this. He fails to see that Kanako has other plans and after some manipulation and drugs/alcohol, he finds himself capable of torturing another girl and finally wanting to kill Kanako, but he can't do it and is killed himself.

  • In the Ciaphas Cain books, Cain's enemies always assume that he is the corruptible. Fortunately, they are wrong. (At least, so long as Jurgen's around, and there's an audience armed with guns watching him.)
    • In "The Beguiling", Cain manages to resist a Slaaneshi sorceress's seduction attempts without Jurgen or an audience thanks to his powerful self-preservation instincts. Coward or not, Cain knows that Chaos would ultimately destroy him on every level possible.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Boromir is the member of the Fellowship most open to the Ring's seduction, though he's a good and honorable man otherwise. He does fall to it eventually, but is horrified by what he almost does and becomes The Atoner briefly before completely redeeming himself via Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Isildur himself — without his fall to the evil influence of the Ring, it would not have survived the fall of its master. The race of Men in general are easier to corrupt to evil than the other major races, though there are those who resist such corruption.
    • Gollum fell to the Ring's influence almost immediately after finding it and murdered his best friend for it.
    • Sauron's downfall was ultimately a consequence of his inability to conceive that any individual could defy this trope for long where the One Ring is concerned. He was almost right actually.
  • Sauron himself in The Silmarillion, actually. He starts out as a Maiar who resembles a giant housecat, and when he decides to bring some order to Middle-Earth, he thinks the best guy to help him is Morgoth, the Legendarum's Captain Ersatz of Satan! Naturally, this leads to him becoming a Demon of Oppression, and the archetypical Evil Overlord.
  • In Poul Anderson's World Without Stars, the crew of a crashed starship must survive among the primitive natives of a planet mostly conquered by a race of telepaths. Before meeting a group of these telepaths in person, the protagonist specifically explains to the reader that telepathic powers aren't actually that dangerous because "you know your own nervous system better than anyone, and you're closer to it". And then it turns out that one slightly odd member of the crew was the victim of a botched medical procedure on his brain which resulted in him essentially no longer being able to recognize himself. And so the telepaths are able to immediately convince him to switch sides.
  • Harry Potter
    • Peter Pettigrew was one of these, but his best friends never realized this at all. Some fanfics also subvert this trope by making the reason Sirius distrusted Remus either wrong conclusions due to mix-ups combined with Remus's lycanthropy, or having Remus be framed by Peter without Remus realizing it.
    • Surprisingly, Deathly Hallows reveals that Albus Dumbledore was this in his youth. He was nearly manipulated into making a Face–Heel Turn by his crush Gellert Grindelwald (the other major Dark Lord of the twentieth century and Predecessor Villain to Voldemort), and only rejected Grindelwald when those manipulations led to the death of Dumbledore's sister. Afterwards, Dumbledore became painfully aware that he was this, and as a result swore off love and stayed away from positions of power for the rest of his life.
  • Some Gospel passages in the New Testament have Judas be one of these, often questioning Jesus' teachings.
  • Assassin's Creed: Forsaken (a tie-in novel to Assassin's Creed III) reveals that Reginald Birch was the man responsible for turning Haytham Kenway into a Templar after he murdered his father Edward and sold his sister Jennifer into sexual slavery.
  • All male confessors from Sword of Truth are this, since they do not need the recovery time necessary to restore their powers as female confessors do, and in such develop this unquenchable blood lust even before they hit adolescence. Because of this, male infanticide is practiced, making the confessors a One-Gender Race.
  • Lionel is easily corrupted by his own paranoia in The Sea Hawk.
  • Scott Tyler from The Power of Five. Coupled with a stock crummy past like most of The Five except for Scarlett, Scott was pushed to the edge in the 3rd book when he was tortured and brainwashed by Night Rise to assassinate a presidential candidate. In the 5th book, Scott is identified as being the weakest link by the villains, invoking a Face–Heel Turn upon him. He just wanted the pain to stop.
  • The Dresden Files: Among the many mortal wizards living in the world, any who use Black Magic once, thus breaking one of the Seven Laws of Magic, is seen as this now and for good and quick assurance no further rule breaking occurs, the wizard is deemed a warlock and killed.
    • Titular hero Harry Dresden has been viewed as this since he was about 16 when he killed his first wizard mentor who tried to turn him into a brainwashed soldier loyal to him and him alone. Ever since, Harry has been tempted by the easiness of the dark side, the riches he could acquire if he was lax in his morals, the women he could buy, the power he could acquire. Harry knows this about himself and refuses the opportunities that have come up since.
      • Nicodemus, a roughly 2,000 year old evil man who works with a Fallen Angel, sees Harry as a prime candidate for recruitment and threw a Coin containing a dangerous fallen near Harry and a small child guessing Harry would grab the coin to protect the child. Once his flesh touches the Coin, the shadow of the Fallen Lasciel entered his mind to slowly work him over until he would fully accept the true Lasciel. This however, backfires as Harry is able to resist the Shadow for so long, the Shadow becomes her own distinct entity who eventually chooses to die to protect Harry.
      • Queen Mab, Queen of the Winter Court, inspiration for all the evil queens of folk lore and lesson giver to them, has had her eyes on Harry for quite sometime. After her current Winter Knight proves himself wanting in many areas, she has sought Harry to become her new knight. As an immortal being, she is content in waiting years, knowing there will be a time and a moment when all other means for power are blocked and Harry must choose her to succeed in some desperate goal. She is right. It takes the kidnapping of the daughter he just found out existed, but when Harry ends up in a truly bad situation, he finds himself before Mab asking for help. He notes, however, she is the least evil of his choices in this moment, another being calling on Lasciel properly and another is to kill thousands of people to become a necromatic god. Still, Mab is content for now she has time to work Harry and make him into her type of minion. Yet, still he resists inspired by two pieces of advice Harry was given by an Archangel of the Lord, Uriel. First, he tells Harry before the deal was struck, that whatever path he chooses, if it is done for Love then he won't go so far from the path he cannot find his way back. Second, he tells Harry that Mab cannot change who he is. These help him resist the corrupting nature of the Winter Knight's mantle.
    • Molly, Harry's apprentice and recovering Warlock like himself, is viewed by Harry as this. For that reason, he seeks to keep her away from either of the two stalking him with temptations of power because he fears she won't resist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dillon in Power Rangers RPM due to being a part machine hybrid with Big Bad Venjix's technology inside him. The threat of being taken over completely was a major theme of the series. Of course, given what kind of show it is, there was little doubt that The Power of Friendship and The Power of Love would win out.
  • Morgana from BBC Merlin was shown as independent, interested in gaining power, manipulative, self-focused (but not self-centered), and interested much more in personal consequences than political ones. None of this makes her evil, but the main character is an obedient/dutiful, not interested in power, politically scheming for the greater good young boy, whose moral views sometimes clash with hers. The writer had to make her evil, or to present her as an interesting alternate viewpoint, but their views are too contrary to Morgana's for them to choose this solution yet.
  • Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. He went from being the hero of the show to being the villain in season three. He became the Ripper, his sociopathic, remorseless alter ego without his humanity.
  • Zach on Bones becomes this in season 4. Turns out his hyper-rationalization and tendency to look up to those he respects means that he can be persuaded to become a serial killer's apprentice.
  • Supernatural:
    • Azazel (The Yellow-Eyed Demon) plays The Corrupter for the Special Children by manipulating their Fatal Flaws (killing or threatening family and loved ones, promising power and glory, or exploiting feelings of loneliness or a desire for revenge).
    • Ruby's functions as this for Sam her entire arc. It's unknown whether she is good or evil, despite being a demon, until it's revealed she was engaging in a long term Batman Gambit to train Sam to kill the powerful demon Lilith, which unbeknownst to Sam would free Lucifer from his cage.
    • Crowley's entire job is to convince people to sell their souls, and he attempts to corrupt many characters over the course of the season. He especially wants to corrupt Dean, with varying degrees of success.
    • Metatron corrupts Gadreel.
    • Lucifer corrupts his vessel, Nick.
    • Played With when it comes to Dean and Castiel. The angels absolutely believe that Dean corrupted Castiel, but since the angels are an example of Light Is Not Good, it's not portrayed as a bad thing. Early on, Uriel scornfully tells Dean that their superiors are concerned about Castiel's affection for humanity in general and Dean in particular. Later, after Castiel has become a Fallen Angel, Hester laments to Dean:
      Hester: "When Castiel first laid a hand on you in Hell, he was lost!"

    Video Games 
  • Riku in Kingdom Hearts, especially the first game. Ironically, he eventually manages to master the Darkness that corrupted him, so he can no longer be corrupted by it.
  • Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic. In her defense, at least part of this was due to her Force bond with a former Sith Lord. Non-Jedi Carth observes that the Dark Side's power seems to lure all Jedi, making all of them (potentially) Corruptible.
  • Kain from Final Fantasy IV.
  • Arthas in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Even before hearing the whispers of the Lich King, Arthas was a self-centered and hot-headed jerk with a bad case of More Than Mind Control that helped Ner'zul coerce him down the road towards picking up Frostmourne.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Neltharion the Earthwarder was the Dragon Aspect charged with maintaining the planet of Azeroth on the physical level, which gave him a spiritual connection to every rock, mountain, and cave. Unfortunately, this made him particularly vulnerable to the whispers of the Old Gods, who were sealed deep underground across Azeroth. Eventually they warped his mind, corrupting him into Deathwing the Destroyer along with the rest of the black dragonflight.
    • The marine nation of Kul Tiras has an order known as the Tidesages, mages and holy men who commune with the sea itself to maintain it as well as gain boons from it (such as blessing ships to be safe in the water or guiding fish into fishing nets.). But N'Zoth, one of the Old Gods, is imprisoned beneath the waves, so the Tidesages will always hear his maddening whispers when speaking with the sea. Though they train themselves to resist the insidious words, by Battle for Azeroth, many of the Tidesages have fallen to madness and now worship the Old God and serve his purpose.
    • Bolvar Foredragon spent years as the new Lich King, using the power of the Helm of Domination to control and hold back the Scourge to protect Azeroth. The entire time he wore the helm, he was assaulted mentally by the Jailer, the ruler of the Maw. The Jailer sought to turn Bolvar into his pawn to escape the Maw, but Bolvar held out. Even now with the Helm of Domination destroyed, Bolvar is susceptible to the Jailer's control and so cannot fight within the Maw itself. Even using clarvoyance to peer into the Maw risks the Jailer noticing him and taking control.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Almost every game in the main series features a Law Hero and a Chaos Hero to offset the Heroic Mime protagonist. Inevitably, each will be drawn into their designated faction, often by a combination of choice and circumstance... and then they'll try to draw the protagonist in too. These characters are never portrayed unsympathetically at the outset, yet they remain all-too-susceptible to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope when things get bad enough.
  • Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising: The entire squad (minus Davian Thule) becomes this via the Corruption mechanic, culminating in one getting revealed as the traitor, all for different reasons:
    • Thaddeus made a Deal with the Devil to save the rest of the squad (it's likely the daemon didn't have to do anything, and so the betrayal was All for Nothing).
    • Tarkus was corrupted by his Evil Weapon.
    • Cyrus did it to save the Chapter from appointing more incompetent officers as Memetic Loser Indrick Boreale.
    • Avitus crossed the Despair Event Horizon from serving a Chapter Master who turned to Chaos.
    • Orion was possessed by a daemon and has been Fighting from the Inside the whole time.
    • Martellus fell to Chaos to survive while trapped on a planet.
    • The Force Commander did it because... well, who can fathom the motives of a Player Character?
  • Divinity: Original Sin II:

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Marqua from Card Players which ultimately gets her killed.
  • RWBY: In "Necessary Sacrifice," Blake discusses this trope with Sun in regards to her Evil Former Friend Ilia Amitola. Blake has come to see Adam as the embodiment of spite and describes his way of thinking as "dangerously contagious." She can see that Adam's views are starting to rub off on Ilia, and wants to save her before she is corrupted fully and becomes exactly like him. As of "True Colors," she's succeeded in pulling Ilia back from the brink.
    Blake: That's what worries me about Ilia. She's not like Adam, not yet at least, but I don't know how long that will last.

  • Rachel from Tower of God. While Bam adores her, she is afraid of his overshadowing skill, fearing that he might take her place in the Tower and throw her back into the world they came from.

    Web Original 
  • In a comedic example, the Let's Player Jpw03 of Dem Salty Bois (LordMinion777, PatrckStatic, and Garuku Bluemoon) began recording when he was 16, and thus used to be extremely clean, but (due to playing with the rest, who are adults) slowly matured as he got older, losing some of his fragility and being more willing to make riskier jokes, to the point that "Jp's lost innocence" is a group in-joke.
  • Jay in Marble Hornets becomes this over the course of the series, slowly falling prey to the Operator's influence. By the final part of the last season, he's almost a wreck. Alex turns out to have gone down this road long before the series even started.
  • Sylvester in Twig is this due to his Blank Slate personality and tendency to adapt himself in the way he perceives his friends want him to be. When paired with any of his more monstrous family members, like Gordon, Mary, or Helen, Sy will lose any semblance of a moral compass and match any level of brutality they employ. It falls to the more kindhearted Jamie and Lillian to act as a Morality Pet, under which circumstances Sy can become one of the more heroic Lambs.

    Western Animation 
  • Bolin from The Legend of Korra is a cheerful guy, but easily falls victim to the schemes of Varrick (in Book 2) and Kuvira (in Book 4).
  • Heidi Turner from South Park, whose boyfriend Eric Cartman is slowly turning her into a female version of himself, by tricking her into eating unhealthy foods to make her fatter and convincing her that Kyle (and Jews in general) are terrible people (after Kyle nearly convinced her to leave Cartman).
  • Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels. He cares deeply for his family and the victims of the Empire, so much so that desires revenge on the Empire for those he's lost and power to protect those he hasn't lost yet, much like Anakin. Unlike Anakin, he has a strong support system in his adopted family, who help him deal with his emotions and call him out when he goes too far. He nearly falls completely when Kanan isolates himself from the group in season 3, but snaps out of it after nearly getting himself and his friends killed.
  • Raimundo from Xiaolin Showdown, whose temporary Face–Heel Turn is the main plot of the first season finale. After an attempt at "defying orders for the greater good" backfires and inadvertently helps the villains, Master Fung gives him nothing but harsh words while his friends get promoted. As Raimundo starts to question whether he wants to stay on the team, Wuya offers him a "more rewarding" path.

    Real Life 
  • When one applies for a security clearance, determining this is one of the reasons behind the gauntlet of paperwork and interviews. Someone with addictions, heavy debt, potential blackmail material, etc. might be more susceptible to selling out if someone can exploit these issues, even if the background checks are otherwise squeaky clean.
  • Most politicians, unfortunately.


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