Follow TV Tropes


The Paragon Always Rebels

Go To

"Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell."
Malcolm, Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3

When the character leading by example rebels and does a Face–Heel Turn (or Heel–Face Turn) and others continue to follow his example and turn to the "dark side" (or the good side) along with him or her.

The Paragon isn't just a good guy, he's the good guy. Everyone looks up to him. He's at the forefront of every battle, gives the Rousing Speeches, and has probably personally trained most of the heroes.

What happen when a character switches sides?

So does everyone else.

However, this trope goes in two different directions:

On one hand on the heroes’ side, it is about when the brightest beacon of hope and good decides despair and evil are better options and manages to worm his way into the hearts of the men and women who look up to him, turning them to the dark side as well. This is the distinction from Fallen Hero: He's not just falling, he's making sure to take everyone else with him.

On the other hand on the villains’ side, the trope is about when the powerful warrior of evil decides enlightenment and good are better options and manages to convince everybody who look up to him, turning them to the light side as well. This is the distinction from Hope Bringer: He's not just redeeming, he's making sure to take everyone else with him.

Compare The Atoner, Ascended Demon, Fallen Angel, Fallen Hero, Broken Pedestal. See also The Paragon. Can also be a case of Big Bad Slippage. Expect him to be the Hero's Evil Predecessor (or Redeeming Replacement).

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Gunzou Chihaya from Arpeggio of Blue Steel. He was the second in his year of JMSDF cadets, but later rebelled and took a few of his fellow best students.
  • Yomi from Ga-Rei -Zero-, thanks to Trauma Conga Line. The OP song is even titled "Paradise Lost".
    • Kagura on the other hand doesn't rebel as much as she cracks under pressure, taking the world with her.
  • Orochimaru in Naruto, while lacking anything regarding morality, he certainly was considered one of the brightest minds of his generation. He pulled a Face–Heel Turn prior to the start of the story. Later on, Sasuke does the same thing.
    • The anime delves a little more into Orochimaru's backstory, wherein he starts as an orphan, developing into an obsession with rebirth and a desire to overcome death. It even adds a small moment where old Orochi is there when Tsunade learns about her little brother's death.
    • Itachi could be considered an inversion - in this case, The Paragon was the only one to not rebel. He did, however, betray his own clan, the Uchiha, by being loyal to the Konoha government. As such, this is also an example of playing it straight, since the Uchiha considered him to be their best. No wonder he seemed like such a troubled guy in the flashbacks. And no wonder Sasuke doesn't get what he's trying to teach him...
    • Nagato was seen as a Messianic Archetype, but personal tragedy transformed him into a Dark Messiah. The Hidden Rain village and Konan followed him.
  • Sailor Galaxia in Sailor Moon, though in the anime it's explained because she simultaneously extracted her own star seed and absorbed elemental chaos. She just got corrupted in the manga. And she cast it out to protect it from Chaos.
  • In Saint Beast, Lucifer refuses to stay as number two and takes Gabriel to hell with him. History then repeats itself with Judas and Luca, their students, whose motives are better but who also fall from the highest rank to ruling hell.
  • The plot of Tiger Mask centers around the illegal Tiger Cave that specializes in training wrestlers who are brutal even by heel standards, with the titular Tiger Mask being called as such for being their most promising student ever. And when he pulls a Heel–Face Turn, the Tiger Cave executives try to have him killed but ultimately can't stop many of the later Tiger Cave trainees from becoming baby faces too.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Sensui is regarded as a prodigy among Spirit Detectives; he was killing spirits before he got the job. When he shows up as a villain he recruits other spiritually powerful people by his powerful personality. He's an Evil Counterpart to Yusuke himself.

  • Deconstructed in Alexandre Cabanel's The Fallen Angel. The reason behind Lucifer's deep emotional turmoil is that he was God's right hand until he rebelled (along with some other angels). Lucifer was his brightest, most loyal angel, so it pains him greatly to be now lying disgraced, defeated, and banned.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern:
    • Sinestro, the best and brightest Green Lantern who turned to evil. Where do you think the other yellow lanterns came from or why they invoke his name in their oath? Depending on the Writer he may be a Well-Intentioned Extremist, with mixed results.
    • Hal Jordan fell from grace during the 90s when the Guardians refused to give him enough power to restore his home town (which had just been destroyed). Jordan did not take this well and went on a killing spree of his fellow Lanterns to amass enough power to do so, becoming the villain known as Parallax. Later it was revealed that Parallax was another entity which was covertly manipulating Hal.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us is set in an alternate universe where Superman suffers a personal tragedy and takes control of the world as its tyrant, and the entire Justice League (save for Batman) goes along with it either out of sympathy for Superman or trust that he has noble goals in mind.
  • Irredeemable: The world's biggest super-hero snaps due to his position's huge pressure (and his untreated psychological issues).
  • Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter: Ben is the most heroic of the main trio but becomes consumed with his need to avenge Jane in the final issues, which leads to his disappearance and assumed death. Richard falls into a depression and stops shaving or teaching lessons, Lady Shiva disappears and is implied to have had a hand in or at least knowledge of his disappearance. This is the point at which the series was cut short, and the next time Ben sees Richard following the series he's dragging him out of an underground fighting ring where Rich has been fighting people to their deaths each night and Shiva has become a proper irredeemable villain instead of staying the grey area she skirted for this series.
  • Secret Empire: Captain America again. In a tie-in comic, he manages to lift Mjolnir off the ground despite this being Hydra!Cap. This is the driving force behind why so many of the heroes ally with him against their better judgment, since you can't be worthy if you're not good (even though that's not what worthiness actually means in The Mighty Thor books, being more about bravery than anything else). Why no one assumes Cap simply has Villainous Valour is unknown. It's revealed that this is not the actual Cap, but a version from an altered timeline where he'd always been a Hydra agent, and him lifting Mjolnir is only possible because the parties responsible for that also changed the nature of the enchantment, but he's still presented as a real Captain America and nobody knows about the change to Mjolnir until it's restored to normal, so this trope ends up subverted and played straight at the same time.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • A'Sharad Hett, a Tusken Jedi in the Republic comic series, is considered one of the greatest Jedi of his generation, though he resents the status as it conflicts with Jedi ideals. Fast forward 150-some-odd years to Legacy, and he's become Darth Krayt, the Dark Lord of the Sith.
    • Tales of the Jedi has Exar Kun, one of the most impressive Jedi students of the age, who falls to the dark side and recruits many Jedi to his own cause. He then takes over the Sith, and proceeds to go after the Republic. (Granted, he was a jerkass to start with, but he was still highly respected.)
  • X-Men: Cyclops was once the leader of the X-Men, and so loyal to Xavier's dream that even the others considered him uptight. After a prolonged Trauma Conga Line, though he becomes a pro-mutant terrorist during Bendis' run, splitting the X-Men between those who despise Scott and those who followed him into rebellion.

    Fan Works 
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: The Sages said that Nerissa was the most powerful and gifted Guardian of Quintessence in several generations, and she ultimately turned on them due to being dissatisfied with Kandrakar's flaws.
  • This is pointed out as one of the big differences between RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse and Canon Friendship Is Magic. Celestia's transformation into the Tyrant Sun didn't drag all of Equestria into madness with her, but what it did do was hammer into the ponies' minds that anyone could turn evil. In canon, Luna was already kind of spooky, so her fall into evil isn't too surprising. But if you can't trust Celestia, the very personification of the life-giving Sun, then you can't completely trust anyone.
  • This is what happens to Raiden after he Came Back Wrong in Mortal Kombat: Desperation. He used to be the Protector God of Earthrealm, a mentor to many of his champions and fellow Earthrealm defenders (especially Liu Kang and Kung Lao, whom he regarded as sons) and one of the few gods in Mortal Kombat who was actively willing to help them, even if he had his own individual flaws. After his Face–Heel Turn however, he becomes a Jerkass God with a bit of the He Who Fights Monsters, Knight Templar, Omnicidal Maniac and Well-Intentioned Extremist traits, and later on, becoming a straight villain with sociopathic tendencies after crossing the line by mass-zapping Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei to a comatose state, with some of them being in their early teens.
    • Downplayed here in the fact that Scorpion and the Shirai Ryu align with him, but have a big Heel Realization when Raiden threatened Scorpion to torture Takeda (Scorpion's protege) the way he did with Cassie Cage if he betrays him. This ultimately forces Scorpion to pull off a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The unlinkable Monster Girl Encyclopedia series has this in the backstory: the Demon Lord's husband was the greatest hero of his age and was set to kill the new Demon Lord. Said hero instead harbored questions in his heart about if monsters and humans had to always be killing each other, and by some turns of events ended up marrying the recently ascended Succubus Demon Lord and helped her alter monsters into less aggressive, more Cute Monster Girl, a lot more horny forms. The Chief God was not amused, even less when the two drove her off when she personally came to smite both of them.
  • Fairies of the Shattered Moon: Both of Salem's Co-Dragons are revealed to be this, though it gets murkier due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the fic considering the uptake in Salem's moral character compared to canon.
    • Natsu Dragneel was once a shining example of the values Fairy Tail held dear to itself, inspired many members of said guild and others across Fiore, and saved Earthland countless times, most notably when he defeated both the Black Wizard Zeref and the Dragon King Acnologia. However, during the 100 Years Quest he was attacked and nearly fatally affected by Bane Particles from the White Mage, with Lucy only able to seal him and Happy inside a Fairy Sphere. Countless centuries later with Earthland having become Remnant, Salem found their sphere and, realizing they were in danger of dying due to the exposure, demonized both of them using Hell's Core to save their lives. In the process, however, his Superpowered Evil Side E.N.D. has risen to take control of his body. Now he is the Ophiuchus, the most powerful and trusted member of her inner circle who has worked with her to spread her will across Remnant and conquer it through either force of arms or making others question the way the world currently works.
    • Summer Rose was once the pinnacle of what it meant to be a Huntress, being the inspiration for Ruby's desire to be one, Team STRQ's emotional anchor that made Qrow decide to throw away the life of banditry to become a true Huntsman, and the one Ozpin believed would be The Chosen One to defeat Salem. When she learned Salem had Complete Immortality, she went on a one-woman mission through the Grimmlands to reach her with the intent of sealing her in stone with her Silver Eyes and having Raven teleport them back to Ozpin to end the war. However, Salem broke free and fatally injured Summer before reviving her as an Eclipse Etherious, and upon being told the Awful Truth of Earthland/Remnant and learning (and seeing firsthand) You Can't Go Home Again because letting Ruby and Yang know she was alive at this point before they time-traveled back in time to meet Sitara/Salem would cause a Reality-Breaking Paradox, she then joined Salem's cause believing it to be the only path forward for Remnant. Now she stands as Salem's "Black Queen" and major strategist in her war with Ozpin, working tirelessly to bring the rest of the world in line up to and including becoming the virtually-unopposed monarch-in-all-but-name of Atlas and Mantle with the intent of converting them all to Salem's side.

    Films — Animation 
  • Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Lefou even calls him a "pure paragon" during his musical number. Yet despite this, he is brash, narcissistic, and cruel, and when he seeks to slay the Beast out of envy for Belle falling in love with him, he easily sways the townsfolk to join his cause (though he does use the thin guise of the Beast's repulsive appearance to convince them that he's a threat).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Apocalypse Now, remarked with awe by Willard, who keeps poring through Kurtz's file in search of some sign of madness. Willard says that before he went off the reservation, Kurtz's record was flawless — a little too flawless, for his money.
  • In the theatrical cut only, Deckard in Blade Runner is allegedly the greatest Replicant killer around, but becomes a Defector from Decadence by the end.
  • In First Knight, Malagant was one of the greatest of the Knights of the Round Table, but he grew dissatisfied when he found they didn't share his beliefs that the strong can do whatever they feel like and terrorize anyone weaker than them. He gathered followers and rebelled against King Arthur's rule.
  • Happens in the movie Gabriel, which is all too appropriate considering the movie is about angels and demons. Michael betrays his fellow angels and assumes the identity of the fallen angel Sammael with the intent of making the souls in the purgatory dimension they're fighting over into his own kingdom with which to battle Heaven and Hell.
  • Interstellar: Mann was considered the greatest astronaut around, a hero, but he's the one who betrays humanity and activates his beacon so that he doesn't have to die alone on in inhospitable planet.
  • I, Robot Plays with this both ways. VIKI is the paragon of the three laws and Master Computer, becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist. On the other hand Sonny is a Super Prototype, and is able to be a paragon and true hero because he rebels.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, a series of terrorist attacks are carried out by Commander John Harrison, one of the best agents of Starfleet Intelligence, who has rebelled for reasons unknown. Subverted, however, when it turns out that "Commander John Harrison" is an alias; his real identity is Khan Noonien Singh, who was shanghaied by Section 31, and is most definitely not a good guy.
  • In the Star Wars movies:
    • Count Dooku was Yoda's finest student and one of the greatest Jedi before his fall. As a Sith, he manipulated thousands of star systems into breaking off from the Galactic Republic, sparking the Separatist Crisis and the Clone Wars, which in turn sped the rise of the Galactic Empire. The trope is explored in the Clone Wars series, where we have sympathetic senators like Mina Bonteri who joined the Separatists for honest reasons.
    • Subverted by Palpatine's rise to Emperor. He presented himself as a humble senator, reluctantly accepting ever greater emergency powers in troubled times; he created the Galactic Empire to general approval, and even swayed public opinion against the Jedi Order. Nobody but his apprentices knew that he was Evil All Along and a tremendously powerful Sith lord to boot.
      Padme: So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.
    • The Revenge of the Sith novelization revealed that Dooku had planned to invoke this with Anakin; his idea was that he and Sidious would turn Anakin to the Dark Side together, doing away with the Rule of Two, and Anakin would use his legacy and influence to rally as many Jedi as possible to Palpatine's side, converting the Jedi Order into a Sith order they'd call the Fist of the Empire. But as we all know, Sidious had other plans.
  • Sunshine: Pinbacker was The Ace chosen to lead the original mission to restart the sun on the Icarus, effectively being entrusted with the very future of humanity. And then he succumbed to the Space Madness, deluded himself into believing it was God's will for the sun to go out and humans have no right to fight that, and murdered his crew and disabled his ship. When the Icarus II comes along to fulfill that mission, Pinbacker decides to stop them as well.

  • In the Deathstalker series, Finn Durandal is a literal Paragon, an elite peacekeeper granted authority by the King himself. Among the Paragons he is viewed as the best of the best and everyone expects he will be named King's Champion when his close friend Douglas ascends the throne. However, Douglas once saw something ugly and cruel lurking lurking behind Finn's eyes one time and decides to choose his other friend, Lewis, instead. In response to not getting this one ceremonial role, Finn proceeds to usurp the throne, tear about the Empire's golden age, and commit numerous atrocities both personally and by proxy.
  • Inverted in Dragon Bones: Nobleman Haverness is the most honourable man known at court, and the most loyal subject of the king. However, the king is evil. When Haverness starts a revolution, all the people who had long waited for something like that to happen, follow him.
  • Paradise Lost helped codify the tradition that Satan was God's greatest angel, but rebelled against God's authority. Milton uses common tropes of classical epics to portray Satan in the same style as an epic hero.
  • Inverted in Caro King's Seven Sorcerers. The Bogeyman Skerridge is the paragon of evil, the best bogeyman in employ of Strood, and one of the most ruthless. Then he develops second thoughts, and rebels against Strood, causing many of Strood's servants to defect as well.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen Namaran was originally a war hero, Badass Normal, and The Ace, but after his Start of Darkness, he used his Loved by All standing to start a communist revolution and became an outright Evil Overlord, taking the new name Dayless the Conqueror.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Silmarillion:
      • Melkor was the greatest of the Valar, and when he fell, he dragged a number of the Maiar with him.
      • Fëanor, the most gifted and talented of all Elves, rebelled after the theft of the Silmarils, and drew the Noldor — the High Elves — with him from the Undying Lands to Beleriand, Middle-Earth, to wage war against Morgoth.
    • The Fall of Númenor: Ar-Pharazôn, the last king of Númenor, had it all: good looks, fighting prowess, charisma, wealth, power, well as a massive ego, overwhelming ambition and an overblown sense of self-entitlement which led him to declare war on Eru and the Valar because because why should the greatest of all kings die like a mere Man?
    • In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman was the leader of the wizards and widely considered the greatest among them, but was also the only known member of that order to become corrupted. He attempts to take Gandalf with him, but Gandalf sees through him; he still manages to turn his home of Isengard into a major stronghold of evil.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Mance Rayder was known as one of the greatest of the Night's Watch. He eventually grew dissatisfied with the restrictions imposed on the Black Brothers and deserted, becoming the King Beyond The Wall, the ruler of the Free Folk, who are the Night's Watch's main enemies. The Free Folk are made of many, many bickering tribes, but they chose Mance as their leader because he was able to unite them under a single cause.
    • Daemon Blackfyre, bastard son of Aegon the Unworthy and the causer of the so-called Blackfyre rebellion that tore Westeros in half. He was able to effectively contest for his trueborn brother Daeron's throne because he was seen as the greatest knight of his generation and given the Valyrian Steel sword Blackfyre by his father, whereas Daeron was a scholar with no warrior training.
  • Victoria: Captain John Rumford rebels against the corrupt system in the future United States. When we first meet him, he is clearly being groomed for greater things in the USMC, and as we later see, his intellectual, organizing and leadership abilities are in fact prodigious. However, his country boy values lead him to protest against feminism in the Corps, getting him cashiered. Then, after some floundering about, he begins his second career as a revolutionary.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Hive was originally created to be the leader of the Kree's Inhuman army. He ended up leading the Inhumans into pushing the Kree off of Earth.
  • Inverted with Doctor Who: It may be surprising, but the eponymous hero of of the series was originally a member of the ruling chapter house of the Time Lords of Gallifrey, raised and trained for leadership. Great things were expected of him, and then one day he stole a TARDIS and ran away.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.: A Squad, the top team of Rangers, join with Emperor Gruumm. The only explanation given for their decision is, in Red Ranger Charlie's words, "Everyone wants to be on a winning team."
  • Sadakatsiz: When Asya, an outstanding doctor loved by all her patients who also does medical research, decides to not resume working at the Asrin Hospital, her assistant Pelin quits as well. When she leaves Tekirdag altogether, two of the hospital's most iconic physicians, Turgay included, do too. Topped with the fact the previous director died, Asrin is nearly led to ruin. Played with as Asya hasn't turned evil but is merely standing up for herself and seeking healthier environments to live/work in.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "Whom Gods Destroy", Starfleet's fleet commander, Captain Garth, was badly maimed in an unspecific "accident" and restored to health by the aliens of Antos Four who taught him how to alter the cells in his body, which also gave him the power to shapeshift. After they then rejected his offer to aid them in conquering the galaxy, he tried to destroy the planet in a rampage (his crew refused to obey), restyling himself as "Lord Garth of Izar".


    Myths & Religion 
  • In Judeo-Christian belief, Satan is sometimes said to have been God's greatest angel, Lucifer (the Light Bringer), who sat at the right hand of God, but rebelled against Him. In some versions, it's out of jealousy over mankind.
  • The Bible: Subverted. When King David was on the run from King Saul, he pretended to serve the Philistines but was really attacking Israel's Enemies.
  • The Talmud: Elisha Ben Avuya, one of the wisest rabbis of his age, perhaps second only to Rabbi Akiva, he was the teacher of Rabbi Meir and - according to some legends - spiritually enlightened enough to enter Heaven while still alive. He then becomes a heretic and immerses himself in Greek philosophy, after which he is known only as The Other. Despite explicitly declaring I've Come Too Far, and being told this by God, he arguably achieves Death Equals Redemption thanks to his student Meir. An Alternative Character Interpretation views him as a rare non-consequentialist example of Necessarily Evil: his heresy is driven by an ultimately holy search for truth, but that doesn't make it less heretical. It does explain the Death Equals Redemption, though.
  • Subverted in Yazidism. The Peacock Angel Melek Taus, an emanation of God (equated to Lucifer either in error, or by those who are/were actively persecuting Yazidis) was among the Archangels commanded by God to worship no one but him. God created Adam and ordered the angels to bow to his creation. Melek Taus refused as doing so would violate the First Commandment. God rewarded the Peacock Angel for not being a Yes-Man, making him the leader of the Archangels.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Jack Pfefer in Illinois. A traveling promoter who helped launch the career of Buddy Rogers, who in turn brought an unprecedented amount of success to the Chicago territory when he was voted into an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match against Pat O'Connor in 1961. Not long after Pfefer was brought in and proceeded to run the territory in the ground by pushing poor man's versions of famous wrestlers, including what may have been a parody of one of the stars who helped the territory boom, "Bummy Rogers".
  • AJ Styles was known for his loyalty to TNA, having been one of the few constants in the ever-changing company. However, even he believed to be the ultimate company man could only take so much, as he had always said he worked for who was best for his family (read:who pays the most) and a pay cut in December of 2013 was the last straw, causing AJ Styles to depart, with no less than company founder Jeff Jarrett following him out the door, along with Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, James Storm and Eric Young left, leaving Abyss as the only TNA original, although James Storm came back, because it turned out TNA was best for his family.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Demon: The Fallen: Lucifer was canonically the most powerful and wise of the Elohim, second only to God Herself. However, in this case, his "Face–Heel Turn" was not caused by suddenly growing evil but by him shifting priorities from loving God to loving humans, just as God ordered him in the first place. Of course, this being the World of Darkness, things get worse and Lucifer remains a Hero with Bad Publicity.
  • In the Nentir Vale setting for Dungeons & Dragons, Asmodeus was the greatest angel leading the strongest army in the war between the gods and the primordials. However, after a while he stopped caring about the innocents that got between him and the enemy, and after arguing with his boss about it, was cast down. He then took a rod crafted of pure evil and struck down his master with it, but in doing so was imprisoned within his master's domain for all time, transforming it into the Nine Hells.
  • In Exalted, in a rare moment this was actually a good thing from the perspectives of most mortals. The Unconquered Sun was created by the evil Ebon Dragon to be The Paragon of virtue, since the Ebon Dragon can only exist in contrast to someone else. Since he's the Anthropomorphic Personification of dickery, he needed someone utterly pure and good to exist to define himself against. Somehow, he didn't foresee the god he created to personify (among other things) valor and conviction deciding that he couldn't allow Creation to be ruled by the Ebon Dragon and his fellow Primordials. Since most of those Primordials at best considered mortals useful power sources and at worst free will a mistake to be rectified, its easy to see how the Unconquered Sun convinced most of humanity to join the rebellion.
  • The Gates of Hell and other material by Dicefreaks feature at least three examples. Apollyon, who either fell with the main group of Fallen Angels or long before, was displeased at the Heaven's half measures, and so came to view all of creation as flawed and unworthy of existence; Eblis, the strongest of angels, became too proud and now seeks the destruction of Heaven, and Beelzebub, who was always viewed as the most perfect of angels, came to believe he needs to correct all else to match his own perfection.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy, the High Elven prince Malekith. Early in his life he was a paragon of virtue, an experienced and talented warrior and general, a philosopher, and a diplomat. He had the rare distinction (so rare that it made him almost unique) of being close friends with the Dwarfs, and was admired by pretty much everybody. Then, thanks in some part to an extremely ambitious and manipulative mother, he attempted to claim the Phoenix Crown and become king of the High Elves, but was deemed unworthy by the Elven gods actually making that call, was horrifically burned in the process, and started a massive civil war over it. His followers became the Dark Elves.
    • Aaaaand later it turned out that Malekith was the rightful king all along (that little hiccup indicating he was unworthy was a fluke; if he had powered through the initial shock, everything would have been fine). When this becomes common knowledge, it's also revealed that Malekith was (sort of) keeping the High Elven faith even while leading the Dark Elves, and he manages to unite most of the Eldar (High, Dark, and Wood Elves) into a single force, and becomes their Eternity King. Meanwhile, an entirely separate and distinct paragon of the Eldar, Tyrion, the Defender of Ulthuan, who has spent his whole life fighting Malekith, rebels against the new Malekith-centric consensus. Enraged, he takes up the Widomaker, and becomes the Avatar of Khaine, uniting the hard-line militarists and Khainists among the High and Dark Elves, respectively, into the not-at-all-egotistically named Aestyrion, reigniting the civil war.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Horus was the Warmaster of the Imperium and out of all the Primarchs, he was probably the one with the closest relation to the Emperor. He's also the person after which the Horus Heresy, the cataclysmic civil war that reduced the Imperium to an awful state, was named. Technically he wasn't the first Primarch to turn to Chaos (Lorgar turned before him, and orchestrated the corruption of Horus), but he was the one that caused half of the others to turn to his side and start the war. In a twist, Horus himself always considered Sanguinius to be the Paragon (and he was right). His fall was partly motivated by the feeling that he wasn't fit for the title of Warmaster with someone like that around.
    • Commander Farsight was one of the T'au Empire's greatest warriors, a brilliant Battle Suit pilot and strategist that helped spearhead many of the Empire's earliest conquests. Then a routine mission led to him discovering the Dark Secret the ruling Etherals had been hiding from the rest of the T'au: the existence of the Warp and all the nasties therein, since the T'au do not have a Warp presence (and thus can't use psychic powers) and official propaganda was that daemons were just particularly unfriendly aliens that allied themselves with humans. Farsight was outraged that the Ethereals would cover up such a massive threat and went rogue, setting up his own Renegade Splinter Faction to defend the Empire his way. Not that any of his former colleagues know this: for all they know, Farsight was their best warrior who suddenly snapped and is now a wanted traitor living on the outskirts of the Empire, disobeying the Ethereals for no real reason.

  • Henry "Hotspur" in Henry IV part 1. Probably the greatest fighter in England, Hotspur and his father were on Henry IV's side in Richard II, but become disillusioned sometime between the events of the two plays and rebel against the king. Notably, King Henry thought of Hotspur as the son he should have had (his own son, Hal, is a listless drunkard — although this turns out to be a massive case of Obfuscating Stupidity).

  • Makuta Teridax from BIONICLE was once the assigned protector of the island city Metru Nui, one of the most important places in his universe, a universe which he and his army once saved from ancient evil warlords. But owing to the Makuta race's powers being associated with darkness, and for doing tasks that most citizens took for granted (for example creating wildlife to preserve biodiversity, as opposed to performing heroic deeds in public), they mostly got ignored by society, though still remained respected and thought of as protectors. Teridax, being fed up with this role, then turned into the story's Big Bad himself, taking all of his brethren with him — and executing or imprisoning those Makuta that didn't choose to follow.

    Western Animation 
  • Kyodai Ken in Batman: The Animated Series. The star student of the martial arts school he and Bruce both attended, he decided that stealing the master's katana and wakizashi to sell them for the cash was a good idea. Bruce —not quite as skilled as Ken was— interrupted him long enough for the master to intervene. When Ken subsequently left/was expelled, several of the students went with him.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh 274 was The Ace of the organization. Then he frames our heroes (because Growing Up Sucks for the KND, and he's trying to hide the news of his thirteenth birthday) and very quickly becomes a recurring villain once the Revealing Cover-Up blows up in his face. Until it's revealed near the end that he was The Mole. However, he still plays this trope straight to an extent in that he genuinely hated Numbuh 1 because he was the better fighter.
    • Deconstructed with Maurice, AKA Numbuh 9, who can be seen in a similar vein to Numbuh 274. He was decommissioned when he turned 13 and Numbuh 5 along with the rest of Sector V watched him to make sure he wouldn't side with the Teenagers against the KND. Unfortunately, this ends up happening thanks to Cree, much to Numbuh 5's horror. It turns out that he was assigned the role as The Mole for the KND as well to spy on the Teenagers' antics.
  • Inverted in Ever After High. The main conflict is initiated when Raven (one of the few genuinely feared 'villains', who is destined to become an Evil Sorceress of unparalleled power) decides not to follow her destiny. After she proclaims this publicly, about half the student body note  follow her lead. The Headmaster's greatest concern is not that Raven is talking rebellion, but that people are listening to her.
  • Green Lantern: First Flight: Sinestro, who is seen by the Guardians of the Universe as the greatest Green Lantern they ever produced, rebels against them because they aren't doing a good enough job imposing order on the universe.
  • Parodied in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness where it turns out that, in each incarnation of the Furious Five, the strongest member has ALWAYS turned evil. This causes Po to worry that he's going to turn evil; and leaving to prevent himself from hurting anyone. Then he remembers he's not actually one of the Furious Five, and jokingly suggests that everyone should be more worried about Tigress instead.
  • From The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, there was Kai Yee. Kai Yee was said to be the greatest Te Xuan Ze who ever lived and was renowned for his unparalleled skill and sense of duty towards maintaining the balance of magic. As a result of a seemingly endless life of battle, he decided to attempt to become a Magical Elder to control magic itself in order to better combat its forces. For his insubordination, he was sealed away in stone until he was later released and sealed away again by one of his successors, Juniper Lee.
  • Alpha in Men in Black: The Series was once The Men in Black's greatest agent, but went bad when he started adding alien parts to his body in a bid for power and immortality.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Adora was one of the Horde's most dedicated and skilled recruits before her Heel–Face Turn, even being considered for Force Captain. In another sense, she is also the second She-Ra to balk at her purpose to fire off the Heart of Etheria into the universe and refuses to go along with the plan despite Light Hope's attempt to encourage her by stating she would be remembered as a hero for it.
  • Deconstructed in ThunderCats (2011) with the character of Grune, who always wanted to rebel and become his kingdom's usurper due to his limitless ambition, and realized that becoming a paragon by rapidly working his way up the military ladder to General was the best way to succeed.