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"Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause;
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs."


Sometimes the supposed "forces of good" in a story treat an "evil" character badly enough, for long enough, that the "evil" character just gives up trying to show the heroes that they are not evil and becomes a villain for real. Prolonged exposure to the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism has conditioned this character to accept the fact that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and if they want to get anywhere in life, they have to be every bit as dirty and cruel as they are.

The villain normally gets to this point by being rejected by the resident morality enforcers and treated to demonization and assumptive behavior. Whether it is due to being of a different nationality, hailing from a (stereotypically) Always Chaotic Evil species in somewhat more justified cases, having bad things happen wherever they go, or having had a few evil moments in the past, they just cannot get a break; even if they try to do good deeds, it will only lead to being horrifically punished for them at worst and having them be disregarded or treated as insincere attempts at fostering good will at best. As they see it, their reputation is so tarnished that there is absolutely no way of changing anyone's mind that they are not a monster. So what is the use of trying to be anything other than the monster which they are already seen as?


In some cases, a genuinely innocent person being repeatedly framed up for committing things they never did into a stage where they have no chance to redeem themselves might as well become exactly what they are being framed as and repay their favors onto everyone.

Once this trope has been declared, unlike a lot of Ambiguously Evil characters, the new villains won't be redeemed in spite of their sympathetic traits — this is largely because it took a lot of work to turn them evil in the first place. Interestingly, in spite of all this, they don't look for excuses to kick puppiesthey still have morals, they just exercise a (much) more cynical variant of The Golden Rule. That is not to say that they won't do terrible things — indeed, a Moral Event Horizon may follow. The difference is that while they may wind up doing something truly heinous or, at the very least, becoming horribly callous and ruthless, they won't go around engaging in wanton acts of needless cruelty For the Evulz. However, they tend to be good at being their chosen brand of evil, often to the regret of those that forced them into the trope.


The trope can be played to be more or less convincing for the audience depending on what point the writer wants to make. You can have the statement come across like a cheap Freudian Excuse such that it feels just like the villain is not truly owning up to their own part in their villainy. You could have it come across as a genuine explanation, but still not an excuse; either their actions were too far beyond the pale, or it is a case of "too little, too late". And then again, it could be used as a genuine exposure of mistakes society has made, or even an outright exposure and commentary of the other characters' hypocrisy.

This trope is often a perfect point for the audience to begin Rooting for the Empire; after all, if the character's ascended to the status of a main antagonist because of them being subjected to prolonged (perceived or actual) Jerkassery, then what's the harm in wishing they might finally get a chance to succeed in their new role?

At that last point, you might start wondering who the villain really is, and the trope enters into Designated Villain, Villain Protagonist, and Hero Antagonist areas. You might have fun arguing with people over the authorial intent. There are also quite a few non-evil examples on this page, whose cynicism and bitterness makes them adopt a harsh exterior to hide the kindness that they were never rewarded for.

Compare Driven to Villainy when a traumatic event causes one to become evil. Related to Heel Realization, Internalized Categorism, He Who Fights Monsters, Reformed, but Rejected, Heel–Face Door-Slam, Cycle of Revenge, Trapped in Villainy, Not Helping Your Case, Interrupted Cooldown Hug, Fully-Embraced Fiend, Who's Laughing Now?, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Gone Horribly Right, Monster Façade, and Big Bad Slippage. Contrast You Are Better Than You Think You Are and Becoming the Mask (when a character pretends to be a good guy and gets treated like a good guy long enough that they actually become a good guy.)

See also Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Create Your Own Villain, and Nature Versus Nurture.

SPOILER WARNING: due to the nature of this trope, spoilers abound. You Have Been Warned!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan kept lauding the statement that the Titans, also called the Subjects of Ymir, are evil and will destroy humanity if they are not eradicated. This message eventually evolves into specifically calling Eren Yeager the devil Titan that will cause the end of humanity. Said character was already going through a phase of Sanity Slippage over the past few years, and the latest rendition of Eren Yeager is the devil that will destroy the world' resulted in them going through with their attack and killing innocent civilians. The world wants to see them as the devil? They will be the devil and start up the Rumbling to ensure that the people he grew up with in the Walls will finally live in peace and without fear of being hounded.
  • Diva from Blood+ was locked like an animal in a tower, and used for various experiments. It certainly did a lot to make her evil.
  • Played with by Lelouch of Code Geass, especially towards the end after things go south for him. He says this after the death of Euphemia.
    • His mindset when he begins his scheming. He is willing to commit evil if it means taking out greater evil in so doing, or when pushed past the brink. Ultimately, after the Black Knights betray him on suspicion of using them for sport, he loses all restraints and allows himself to become the most despised person in the world... so that the world would focus all their hatred on him... so that his death would remove that hatred and provide a chance for the world to rebuild more positively. One of the best ways to unite the world, he figures, is to give them a common enemy to kill, and since by this point he feels he has lost his reasons to live...
  • Played with during the climax of Devilman Lady. Lan Asuka, having revealed herself as the real Big Bad, has transformed into a godlike being, brainwashing most of the world into loving her. Meanwhile, protagonist Jun Fudo/the Devil Lady has been cast into a giant (possibly metaphorical) pit, but she manages to rally her strength and declares that if Asuka is "the Child of God". then Jun will become the Devil to destroy her. Note that she is still the Nice Gal she always was, she just fully embraces her dark image to combat the angelic Asuka.
  • Dragon Ball Super: A flipped version occurs during the Future Trunks Saga, in that it's the villains deriding Future Trunks for his time-traveling turning into Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Goku Black and Future Zamasu declare that their genocidal rampage against mortals is all Trunks' fault because he went back in time and saved Goku from the heart virus, breaking the gods' time travel taboo in the process; had Trunks just let Goku die as he was originally supposed to, then Goku never would have met Zamasu, Zamasu would never have stolen Goku's body, and Black himself would have never existed. Hearing this, Trunks hits his Rage-Breaking Point and reaches a new level of power, outright saying:
    Future Trunks: You say my choices make me evil, THEN THAT'S WHAT I'LL BE!!!
    • Parodied during the Universe Survival arc when Ribrianne labels Android 17 as a villain for attacking her mid-transformation and eliminating two of her teammates. He proceeds to ham it up and present himself as a Card-Carrying Villain for all future fights with the maidens, just for shits and giggles.
  • As a child, Lucy from Elfen Lied is bullied/persecuted mercilessly for being a Diclonius, a horned, superpowered girl who may one day destroy the human race... Yeah. Nice going there.
  • Fairy Tail has the Black Wizard, Zeref. Supposedly the most powerful and most evil mage in history, in reality a self-hating, Really 400 Years Old Bishōnen Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who desperately wants to die. The most brilliant student at the Mildian Magic Academy, the only reason Zeref even bothered with black magic was to find a way to bring his deceased younger brother Natsu back to life. To that end, he pissed off the god Ankhseram in the process, and had a Curse placed on him as a result. The more he valued life, the more everything around him would die; the less he valued life, the more control he had over his powers, but because he didn't value life, he would probably end up killing people anyway. Isolating himself away from humanity due to facing constant rejection, having his life's work be misused, and witnessing the human race making the same mistakes over and over again eventually pushes him over the edge in the current storyline, and he finally decides to take over as the Big Bad to wipe out humanity. Chapter 450 reveals that the last straw was Mavis's death — having finally found someone who understands his pain and suffers as he does allowed Zeref to believe that there was someone he was finally allowed to care about. Her kindness and willingness to stand beside him and find a way to break the curse causes him to fall in love with her, culminating in The Big Damn Kiss. However, since Ankhseram is intent in making sure he can never be happy, his love for her is enough to bypass her curse and kill her. For the first shred of happiness he has ever had to be so cruelly taken away from him and so quickly too... one cannot blame Zeref for finally snapping after that.
  • Though he was already an antagonist from the start, Raoh from Fist of the North Star didn't exactly agree with this at first, taking an interesting spin on this trope. Believing himself to be a savior who would reunite the ruined world and aspiring to become powerful enough to challenge the heavens, he went on an endless conquest with his army. However, the combination of his army's frequent corruption and his questionable sense of morality led his name to become feared worldwide, particularly among the people of Shura (who feared that he would one day cause their genocide). When Kenshiro popped up to challenge him and acquired the powers of Musou Tensei, Raoh realized that he would have to become a demon in order to fulfil his ambitions and defeat Kenshiro. However, he eventually reforms after his final confrontation with Kenshiro, when his defeat allows him to admit that he still had some compassion left inside him.
  • The protagonist of Great Pretender, Makoto, was constantly dragged down by his father's reputation as a human trafficker and tried to live an honest life as a salesman. Unfortunately, the company he worked for committed fraud, and nowhere else would hire him due to the criminal charges put on him for his role in it. Eventually, he got so sick of everyone assuming he was a swindler and not giving him a chance that he decided he might as well become a real one.
  • Sports manga and anime Haikyuu!! is prone to exhibiting dramatic tropes in the most low-key way possible, since it is just about high school volleyball, and its villains do nothing worse than wanting to win at sports, while being kind of mean about it. A good example of this is Tendou Satori from Shiratorizawa— he is shown in a flashback to be made fun of apparently for being weird/creepy looking, and then deciding to fulfill this by purposefully being mean and acting the way they expect him to. This only extends to matches, however, and he is shown getting along with his teammates well.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Shion does this to herself. During her Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Meakashi-hen, she kills Satoko only to remember a promise she made to Satoshi to protect her. She immediately decides that since she's lost any chance of happiness, she may as well become a demon.
  • The titular hero from Inuyasha has been maltreated by both youkai and humans throughout his life because he is a hanyou. This eventually led to his personality changing to evil. He was never severely evil, and Kikyo initially dragged him back into somewhat neutral before her first death. And after finding true friends, he becomes a real hero.
  • Liliruca from Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is badly treated by her family, and eventually develops an aversion to adventurers. In an arc, this becomes particularly clear. But with the help of Bell she finds herself back on the side of the good.
  • Saruhiko Fushimi in K. The side he switches to before the series isn't evil, but to his now-ex-best friend Misaki Yata, they are. Misaki sees him as a dirty, evil traitor, and Saruhiko's feelings for Misaki end up making him see himself that way until Misaki gets over it at the end of Season 2. Whenever he sees Misaki, he brags about how much more power he's been able to gain from switching sides, and how he doesn't care about friends, he just wants to control people (all lies).
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, Hakuryuu Ren does something like this. The young prince had a terrible past; watching his brothers die in a revolt, and learning it is his own mother who orchestrated the massacre. Needless to say, he has been plotting his revenge against her ever since. Then years later, when he confronted the physical manifestations of his conscience while trying to conquer a dungeon, he was told that no matter the tragedies he suffered, he should simply accept it, forget his vengeance, forgive his wrongdoers, and move on, since that is how the world works, and that is his destiny. Angered by this, he curses the entire world for his suffering, and chooses to fall into depravity instead, while stating that if the world will reject his revenge, then he will destroy the world and recreate it in his image.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing we have Wu Fei, who comes from a very martial space colony and is the epitome of Arrogant Kung-Fu naturally he has a few personality conflicts with the other Gundam pilots and their Martial Pacifist ally, all of whom want to end the cycle of war, peace, and revolution. So in The Movie, Wu Fei sides with the bad guys and comes into direct conflict with the other pilots. He even outright says it:
    Wu Fei: I need to determine for myself whether or not peace at the expense of lives can really be defined as peace! And I will become evil itself to find out!
    • The midquel manga add a bit more information to this; in Battlefield of Pacifists Wu Fei befriends an OZ soldier who believes that war drives humanity to new heights, and his personal goal is to encourage deep space exploration by setting a Mecha-Mook factory in the outer solar system. When said soldier is killed, Wu Fei promises to become "the threat that makes humanity grow".
  • Gentle from My Hero Academia wanted to be a superhero, but failed the license exam four times, and the one time he actually tried to save someone, he not only failed but interfered with an actual hero's rescue attempt, landing him a criminal charge for obstruction. The failure of his lifelong dream, coupled with a crippling fear of dying without accomplishing anything, led him to switch from hero to villain.
    • To a certain extent, Stain as well, through a combination of a Quirk that didn't seem particularly heroic and his wishes for a better world going unheeded for years. There's room for debate on if he's truly evil, acting For the Greater Good.
    • Hitoshi Shinso, one of the students at UA steadfastly rejects this idea. His quirk lets him take control of anyone who answers a question he asks, and throughout his youth, people would comment on how it sounds like a great power for a villain.
  • My-HiME:Subtle, and brief. Shizuru believes being a lesbian makes her "wicked." When she's forcibly outed to Natsuki, and witnesses Natsuki recoil in horror (Natsuki had just overheard Yukino accuse Shizuru of doing something to her in her sleep, and Shizuru hadn't denied it), Shizuru determines to defeat the other HiME, slaughter District One, and make Natsuki her own. Four episodes and a Big Damn Kiss (which Natsuki initiated) later, a speech from Natsuki about how she does love her, in her own way, a brief bout with death, and she's a weeping, repentant mess begging for Forgiveness (which she immediately recieves
  • Gaara of Naruto was originally a sad, lonely boy who simply wanted a friend. But the villagers feared his power, and hated him because of its source. Finally, after Yashamaru tried to kill him, on orders of Gaara's father no less, Gaara becomes exactly what Yashamaru and the villagers had always said he was: A monster that loved only itself. Fortunately Defeat Means Friendship, and after fighting Naruto and losing, Gaara eventually regains his sanity and learns to trust and love other people again. He later even becomes the new Kazekage, and is now revered by the villagers as a hero.
    • In the Fourth Ninja World War, Gaara's father, the 4th Kazekage, has been brought Back from the Dead... and revealed that Yashamaru never believed a word of his Hannibal Lecture. He only told Gaara that nobody ever loved him, and that even his own mother hated him, because they thought the shock would make him easier to kill, an order given only because they thought he was too unstable because of the demon placed within him. When the Kazekage sees all that his son has accomplished in spite of all this, he tells him that both Yashamaru and his mother always loved him, that he is sorry for ruining his life, and that he has never been prouder of him and should have had the faith in him that his mother did.
    • This may be part of Madara Uchiha's motivation for his Face–Heel Turn after having co-founded the Hidden Leaf Village with Hashirama Senju. Tobirama constantly made moves to limit the power of Madara and the Uchiha clan, which convinced Madara that the old hatreds wouldn't die out. After reviewing the legend of the Juubi, Madara decided to follow a different route to peace.
      • And later, the Uchiha clan as a whole followed in his footsteps. After the Nine-Tailed Fox attacked Konoha, the village leaders concluded that the Uchiha had to be responsible (as the Sharingan can influence Tailed Beasts).note  While outwardly the clan still seemed to still have a position of influence and power, they were being marginalized behind the scenes and feared being driven out of the village. They decided in response to seize power in a coup, something that had been feared by some (such as the Second Hokage) since the day the village had been founded. This... did not end well for the Uchiha clan.
    • The Tailed Beasts are heavily implied to have originally been peaceful beings, but being unable to control their massive powers, were either feared or treated as weapons by humans and so grew to hate them and live up to the reputation of being monsters.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has a downplayed example. Years of abuse and torment, compounded with most of the main cast using, manipulating and abusing him, leads Shinji Ikari to give up on all of humanity. When given control of Third Impact, his exact words are "Nobody loves me, so they can all just die." Instrumentality follows shortly afterwards, and it's horrifying. It's downplayed in that Shinji technically didn't kill anyone, and left the door open for humanity to come back, if they have the will.
  • In One Piece: A child named Charlotte Pudding snaps after being called a monster one too many times over her Third Eye. During the appropriate flashback, she cries Berserker Tears as she chases the bullies with a knife.
  • Though a bit of a meta-example, this is what happened to Momonga and his guild members in Overlord (2012). Originally, he and his guild of heteromorphic-race players believed that having a guild that was exclusive to non-human PCs was a fun idea merely because it was cool and set them apart. However, over time the other players of YGGDRASIL came to view Momonga's guild (Ainz Ooal Gown) as being evil and monstrous. As Momonga and his friends were heavily into role-playing, they felt it was only proper to respect the other players' feelings and start acting evil and monstrous. Eventually, this led to them becoming one of the most well-known and respected guilds in the game.
  • Princess Tutu: When her Kraehe persona resurfaces, Rue initially fights back, struggling to maintain her identity as a human being. However, Fakir continually fights her and treats her as a villain, until she finally snaps and lets the Crow Princess take over.
    Kraehe: That's right. I am a crow.
  • This is a major reason people judged to be "latent criminals" in Psycho-Pass become actual criminals. The culprit in the first episode specifically mentions that since he was scanned with a high enough Psycho Pass, his life is basically ruined at this point, so he might as well beat and rape his hostage.
  • Rave Master gets hit with this two to three times. The first Big Bad, King, is a questionable case. He starts off more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist before the government rather harshly puts a stop to him, spurring him to go into full on terrorism. Lucia and Doryu make for much clearer cases. Despite being a demon lord, Doryu came to the human world hoping to create a place where all species could live in harmony. When Fantastic Racism became too severe and he was locked away by the people he sought to help, he lost it. Lucia had a similar fate. Coming from a family with a history of villainy, the Empire decided to get it over with and preemptively arrest him. When he was six. That he went to prison because he was expected to become a villain is, ultimately, his motive for becoming a villain.
  • Trigun's Livio seems to have reached this point due to the confluence of a Superpowered Evil Side that got him rejected everywhere and...uh...torturous retooling at the hands of a Murder, Inc.. It took murdering his childhood friend repeatedly as he burned his body out regenerating the damage while giving him a Shut Up, Hannibal! for a volume and a half to get him to Heel–Face Turn again. And then Wolfwood was dead, and Livio and Vash ate spaghetti.
  • Lilu in Watashi No Messiah Sama. It's made a bit worse by the fact that she was in fact originally supposed to be the Priestess of Salvation, but because of a wish Haruna made, she had the position stolen from her and forced into the role of Priestess of Domination. Said wish was made by her best friend, the original Priestess of Domination, and forced her into a life of horrible treatment, at the end of which she just snapped.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V:
    • A lighthearted version plays out in the second episode. After Yuya created Pendulum Summoning he draws a big crowd to where he and Yuzu are dueling. The crowd all came for Yuya and couldn't care less about Yuzu and they end up disliking her over her chewing out Yuya for getting a big head. This leads to Yuzu declaring herself the villainous heel of the game, and allows Yuya to trade quips with her.
    • A far less humorous example is Zarc, who was Judai-level nice before entering the Duel Tournament because of an accident in which he hurt his opponent; the public wanted more danger and violence, so he gave them what they wanted, leading him to become Supreme Dragon King Zarc and destroy the world in a 'Duel'. The roaring masses who cheered for him wanted an unbeatable Duelist, so Zarc warped his very nature to become said being.

    Comic Books 
  • Some authors give Poison Ivy this treatment in Batman. In both of her origin stories, she is forced into gaining her powers. Pre-Crisis, she is coerced into helping a criminal steal some rare herbs, only for the crook to poison her with them and cause her transformation. Post-Crisis, she suffers a traumatic childhood thanks to her distant parents and gains a Ph.D. in botany, only to be seduced by Dr. Jason Woodrue and forcibly injected with toxins and poisons as a cruel "experiment." She has repeatedly attempted to go straight and focus on creating botanical paradises, only for various villains, such as a Corrupt Corporate Executive firebombing the island she was living on or Clayface taking over her plant operations, to ruin her genuine attempts to help the world (or at least stop hurting it) and drive her deeper into insanity. It doesn't help that her powers have given her a toxic kiss, making relationships extremely difficult, and a "hyperactive immune system," which means that she can never have children. The years (and in some cases decades) of emotional (and sometimes sexual) abuse at the hands of men have only furthered her problems, to the point where she has essentially given up on aiding humanity at all and instead focuses strictly on the plant world, making her a kind of Well-Intentioned Extremist (who is still criminally insane). It is lampshaded in one story, when Harley Quinn (one of her few friends and occasional lover) points out that Ivy's created plants that are stronger than steel and can generate natural light, would be a huge boon to construction projects and energy crises. When asked why Ivy doesn't share these specimens with the world, or at the very least sell them for a profit, Ivy bitterly replies "I don't do that, Harley—I don't save people. I'm poison, remember?" In essence, people keep stopping her attempts at doing good and treating her like a villain, so she has resigned herself to being one.
  • Green Lantern: When the Guardians of the Universe stripped him of his rank as Green Lantern for turning his world into a dictatorship, Sinestro declared that if they were branding him an enemy, he would be their greatest one...and lived up to his vow.
  • The Maestro is a Bad Future version of the Hulk who, after surviving a devastating nuclear war, decided to become the monster that everybody believed the Hulk to be, ruling over the remnants of humanity as a cruel tyrant.
  • Irredeemable: This is one of the motivations behind the Plutonian's Face–Heel Turn. In his mind, if the world is just going to fear him like a giant ticking bomb after all that he has done for them, then why not give them what they expect?
  • Magneto has generally been written as a Well-Intentioned Extremist for a few decades now, which makes the name of his old supervillain group, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, seem a little strange. It has, therefore, been stated that the name invokes this trope. The way he sees it, humans will always be afraid of mutants... so he is going to give them something to be afraid of.
  • In the Mexican comic Memin (about a poor Black boy) a story had some bullies convince him that Black people never go to Heaven, no matter how good they are (claiming that the fact there are no pictures of Black angels proves it). Memin is so angry that he swears that if he's going to Hell, he'll rule it by being the most evil kid in the world! (being a preteen his idea of evil acts are things like disrespecting his mother.) His friends hatch a plan to reform him by painting one of the angels in a Church (with the clergy's permission) Black and then show it to him. It worked.
  • Loki from The Mighty Thor fits, Depending on the Writer. It is almost always more that Loki THOUGHT that the Asgardians didn't trust him and that he was The Unfavorite compared with Thor (combined in some continuities with the reveal that he is a Frost Giant, an Always Chaotic Evil race) that caused his Start of Darkness, not that he was actually disliked/hated. Thor, years later after fighting as the hero to his villain, still cares enough about him to get him reincarnated after Loki engineered the near fall of Asgard and helped save it in a last-ditch Heroic Sacrifice. Enemy Mine has been a recurring thing for Loki when the threat gets too great for a long, long time.
    • Since Thor destroyed the fate of the gods, and his death and rebirth even after the child murder, body snatching and guilt complex over it, long story, Loki is determined to not become evil again, or at least not go quietly into any box others build for him, because there are forces, some even on the side of good like the All-Mother of Asgardia, who want the status quo back and actively make his life miserable for this reason. Yeah, if he would snap now he would be perfectly justified.
    • In Jason Aaron's run, he stabs Freyja with a poison knife during a civil war on Asgard between her and Odin. Freyja lives, but barely, and is in no condition to rule. Odin's brother Cul — who has a certain insight on being an evil prince — notes that to just barely keep somebody alive, Loki must be either very bad at poisoning, or very, very good at it (and as it turns out, he's right). But thanks to Loki's actions, the civil war in Asgard is over, the Asgardians are united against coming threats, and Loki is the most hated man in Asgard, not Odin or Cul. As usual for Loki, he appears to be playing both sides, but making sure to give the Asgardians the villain they desire. It later turns out that he'd settled on the side of good, ultimately cutting his way out from his Laufey's stomach and becoming the mostly heroic King of Jotunheim.
    • Mostly these days, when he plays the villain, it's with an additional purpose — when Tony Stark assumes that Loki's pulled a Face–Heel Turn again, stating that his 'phase' as an 'emo anti-hero' is over, T'Challa points out that Loki's latest scheme (involving the Celestials and the Final Host), erased the Final Host as a threat and created a new Avengers team with a giant dead Celestial as their HQ. As he once put it in Young Avengers... "putting together the Avengers. It's Loki's greatest hit."
  • My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic does this to King Sombra, of all Ponies. He is an artificial, Living Shadow Pony created by another Sealed Evil in a Can entity in order to conquer the Crystal Empire via The Power of Hate. And despite him having an Only Friend/Love Interest, all of the other Crystal Ponies shun him; and the annual, Light Is Good Crystal Faire only causes him near-fatal pain despite his desire to attend (thus giving him a Dream-Crushing Handicap too). This, combined with him eventually meeting said entity and learning about his true nature, makes him finally snap and embrace Dark Is Evil — turning him into the Evil Overlord that we see on the show. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) Issue 34 to 37, he actually gets better in the end: Not only does he invoke Heroic Sacrifice against his creator because Being Evil Sucks, but he also gets a new (i.e., non-Living Shadow) body via Redemption Earns Life. Furthermore, he is last seen Walking the Earth with his aforementioned Only Friend/Love Interest, while they seek to repair the damage that he previously caused throughout Equestria.
  • Paperinik New Adventures examples:
    • Angus Fangus is implied to be this. While he has always been a jerk, in his youth he used to be a genuine Intrepid Reporter, with his first claim to fame being exposing a traffic of nuclear weapons (made more notable by the fact the traffic was happening in the United States and Angus hadn't left New Zealand yet), but constant insults on his workplace and a colleague stealing his Pulitzer-winning investigation eventually turned him into the Jerkass that picks on Paperinik just to gain more fame. He still keeps some of his past goodness and courage (he left New Zealand for the consequences of how he saved his ancestral lands, and going after Paperinik requires a lot of courage), but he is nowhere as good as he used to be.
    • Defied with Paperinik: he once admitted, at least to himself, that his poor reputation as a hero and the constant mistreatment which he suffers in his civilian identity tempts him to throw away everything and either retire or even become the villain, but he will not do either.
    • Paperinik is often tempted even in the 'classic' continuity, and was extremely close to this in his early stories, making people pay for the mistreatment he suffered in his civilian identity of Donald Duck. Eventually he became a more heroic character, even if he is still someone you should not provoke lightly.
    • Fittingly, it is actually Invoked by lord John Lamont Quackett, AKA Fantomius the Gentleman Thief, whose journal would later inspire Donald into becoming Paperinik (even using his costume and, early on, his gadgets): having moved to Duckburg from his native England, the local high society treated him as a lazy do-nothing because he didn't lower himself to their hypocrisy. The day he saw one of the most important members of Duckburg's high society frame Gyro Gearloose's great-grandfather for a theft he himself had committed made him decide that the best way to deal with thieves masquerading as gentlemen was to be an actual gentleman masquerading as a thief... And on that very day he first wore the costume of Fantomius, exposed the frame-up, and stole the diamond himself.
  • Sabretooth seems to qualify. At one point, he mentions all the bad which he has done is on him, but his father showed him the ropes. When he was a child, his father kept him chained in a cellar and would routinely pull out his fangs and claws with pliers. Birdy, Creed's short-lived henchwoman, even says that it seems he was hurt too much as a child. His father constantly called him a monster and animal -even keeping a muzzle on him at one point. After escaping, Creed killed his father and continued to live like the animal his father treated him as -openly declaring that he is a loser and a beast.
  • During a visit to Hell, Bane of the Secret Six discovered that despite being a Noble Demon (at least what he thought was one) he was still damned. He figures that since he is beyond redemption anyway, he might as well stop trying to be a half-assed antihero and embraces villainy. First order of business? Settle the score with Batman once and for all.
  • Marv wonders if he is unknowingly following this trope in both the film and comic version of Sin City. All his life, people told him that he would grow up to be "a psycho killer" and he contemplates whether or not it is happening to him.
  • Spider-Man:
    • While it never actually happens, Spider-Man comics have repeatedly teased the reader with the possibility of Spider-Man becoming a menace due to the All of the Other Reindeer mentality of the world around him. In the Ultimate Spiderman comics, Nick Fury was particularly worried that all of the tragedy and bad publicity in Peter's life would drive him to villainy — and given the combination of Peter's intelligence, determination, and superpowers, that would be a very bad thing.
    • The closest it came in the mainstream Marvel Universe was during the Acts of Vengeance, when he gained the godlike powers of Captain Universe, which he could not control, making the New Yorkers more scared of him than ever. The fact that super-villains were attacking him for no seemingly reason at all (something that was happening to the entire hero community during the crisis) only made him angrier. Finally, during his battle with the robot T.E.S.S. One, the insults from the people he was trying to help made him lose his temper, and he screamed, "You want a menace?? I've got your menace right here!!" And then he blew T.E.S.S. One to smithereens. (He may have eventually truly fallen into this trope had he not been able to win their respect by saving the city and winning their respect again — at least for a while.)
    • The Scorcher, a Spider-Man foe, reportedly started out like this. According to his origin story, research scientist Steven Jamal Hudak was framed for embezzlement by a co-worker and had to go into hiding to avoid his arrest. Being a wanted man with little chance of finding work at his chosen field, Hudak used his scientific knowledge to build a Powered Armor and started a career as a freelance mercenary.
  • Superman:
    • This happened to Supergirl of all people in Action Comics #362 (April, 1968). A descendant of Mxyzptlk commands everyone in the 40th century to believe that Supergirl is a criminal. Supergirl is captured with Kryptonite, tried, and sentenced to have the word "OUTLAW" branded on her forehead. Afterwards Kara is marginalized, insulted and bullied until she cracks and decides that "[She's] been branded an outlaw, so [she'll] be one!" Subverted, since she had realized that Mxyzptlk was behind everything, and she pretended to crack to fool him.
      Supergirl: All right! I've had it! I've been branded an outlaw, so I'll be one! I'll pull a robbery right now!
    • Subverted in The Girl with the X-Ray Mind. After being rejected by the F.B.I., Lena Thorul (born Lena Luthor) gets a job offer from a criminal boss. Lena angrily takes up his offer, stating she will become a criminal since the authorities do not want her on their side. However, it turns out her true goal was to destroy her "employer's" criminal gang from within, hoping to prove she can become an asset for the F.B.I.
      Lena Thorul: I wanted to devote my talents to the law, but the F.B.I. turned me down! Very well then, I'll go where I'm appreciated! I'll join the underworld.
    • What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?; a group of Anti-Heroes called the Elite challenge Superman, saying his Good Is Old-Fashioned ways are not suited for the realities of the modern world, specifically targeting his reluctance to kill his enemies. After a severe beating at their hands, Superman snaps and decides to embrace their teachings, brutally killing all of them and leaving their leader powerless... Except not really; Superman used his impressive array of technology and skills to make it appear as though he killed the Elite when he really just temporarily depowered them, using the experience to show them why he holds so many rules and why they shouldn't try to see him break them.
    • In The Plague of the Antibiotic Man, Nam-Ek travels to Earth to warn Superman of Amalak's scheme to unleash a plague; but when Superman disbelieve that Nam-Ek is not involved in the plague, the latter declares that if Superman will treat him as a villain then he will be one. Subverted because Nam-Ek barely makes a token effort to convince Superman that he is not his enemy.
      Nam-Ek: "I went to Earth after defeating warn the Terrans— and Superman— of the impeding plague! But he refused my efforts— turned against me! So now I shall turn against him...and join forces with you— Amalak, the Kryptonian-Killer!"
    • Superman (Rebirth): After a turn as a genuine Anti-Hero, Lex Luthor got so fed up with Superman's suspicions (especially what he perceived to be Superman abandoning him on Apokolips) that he rips the S emblem off his super suit and all but declares himself a villain again.
  • Teen Titans: The original version of Blackfire. As the first princess born from Tamaran's royal family in centuries, her birth was supposed to be a joyous day. Then the day she was born was marred by the Citadel destroying a city and slaughtering its three thousand inhabitants in her name, and a childhood illness robbed her of the ability to fly. Because of this, everyone hated her, treating her like a villain and passing her birthright to her little sister Starfire, who became the focus of Blackfire's rage. Then one day she snapped during training and tried to kill her sister, and was exiled... And when she returned on Tamaran, she was leading the Citadel's armies to conquer the planet, relenting only when Starfire too was stripped of her birthright and made her sister's slave. To add salt in the wound, it is eventually found out that Blackfire is a born queen, as shown when she takes over Tamaran and quickly becomes a much better ruler than her father ever was.
    • Arsenal's evil ex Cheshire also has this issue, mainly due to the fact that her determination to prove how dangerous she is resulted in her dropping a nuke on the country of Qurac and laughing as it burned. That's not something a person simply walks away from and it's been held over her head ever since, to the point she finds it much easier to keep living as a remorseless sociopath than feel guilt for the thousands of people she murdered.
  • The Unbelievable Gwenpool: Future Gwen claims that the universe itself was setting her on a Start of Darkness by killing her friends and constantly getting her punished for trying to commit heroic acts, along with giving her evil-aligned powers. So she decides to be evil and finds it quite a bit of fun.
  • X-Men member Nightcrawler's father, Azazel, was a mutant during Bible Times who was thought and treated like a demon by many people. Because of this Azazel himself thinks that he is a demon.
  • Cyclops, after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. At first it seemed that he would surrender and stand trial for the murder of Charles Xavier, but after spending some time in prison and seeing a fellow prisoner and newly manifested mutant who he tried protect be murdered by his fellow prisoners, he decides that he is more useful outside bars, and since he and his "Phoenix Five" team are already fugitives believed to be guilty, why not take advantage of that to go where the regular X-Men can't go, and operate outside the law?
  • In the mini-series Fallen Angels, Professor X suspects that one of his students, Sunspot, might follow down the road of his villainous father. Sunspot learns of the professor's opinion just after giving his friend an (accidental) concussion, leading him to believe that he is destined to become evil. He leaves the New Mutants and embarks on his new life as a villain... and over the course of the series realizes that he is not very good at it. He eventually returns to the side of good.

    Fan Works 
  • Business shows the results of Harry Potter always being told he was a criminal throughout his childhood. By the time he's 14, Harry (or rather his alter-ego James Moriarty) runs a criminal empire so successful that he functionally owns Wizarding Britain.
  • Child of the Storm has Harry teeter right on the edge of this at the end of the Forever Red arc in the sequel, nearly becoming the Dark Phoenix. Given that it's a Trauma Conga Line unequalled in the story (which, considering that he's previously been possessed by an Eldritch Abomination, seen his father put in a coma by a bullet that should have killed him and even killed, takes some doing), and he's only 14, caught up in a horrible mixture of grief, pain, guilt, and rage at himself and the adults he believed failed him (the truth is more complicated), this is not surprising. Thankfully, he is talked down - barely.
  • In Daughter of Fire and Steel, when Kara tries to appeal to Zod by saying that if he succeeds then the future generations of their people will see him as a monster, he hesitates, but ultimately decides that if he must be a monster to ensure his people's survival, then so be it.
  • Death Note Equestria: This is invoked by Twilight at the end of Season 2. Realizing that by this point, Kira will never be viewed as the shining beacon of justice Twilight was originally aiming for, Twilight decides to build up the image of Kira as an almost mythical epitome of evil, a monster who targets other evil-doers, in order to scare anyone out of ever breaking the law ever again. Coincidentally, this coincides with Twilight's slip into full-on A God Am I territory.
  • In The Devil You Know, Loki puts it quite simply.
    Loki: I've always thought of myself as a monster and acted accordingly.
  • In Devil's Diary, Magneto states that if the world regards him as "evil" because he'll take extreme measures to protect his people from a hypothetical genocide then maybe they shouldn't have treated him and his Jewish kin as "something to be gassed, processed, and burned".
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Once And Smurfy King", which adapts The Smurfs comic book version of "King Smurf", Lord Smurf the First continually suffers the slander of being called "Lord Smurf the Worst" by the rebel Smurfs, who see how terrible he is as a king, so eventually he decides to adopt the title "Lord Smurf the Terrible".
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, Princess Luna, upon realizing all the things that she had done so far in the Equestrian Civil War, believes her redemption to be impossible and that she could no longer turn back from her path to darkness.
  • Equestrylvania: Dirt Nap invokes this trope by saying that since everypony always mistreated him just because his special talent is for handling dead bodies, he's going to make them pay by joining Dracula. The trope gets deconstructed however, when Twilight gives him a pretty righteous "The Reason You Suck" Speech (among other things, he never acted friendly to anyone else, so everyone just assumed he preferred it that way) that sums up why no sympathy is given to him.
  • Faith in the sequel to Faith and Doubt. The other Elements of Harmony spend the entire fic claiming he must be evil, never forgiving him for his past. When Laughter makes him believe he has a child and a family, only to rip it away from him, he decides to revert back to his dark self and show the Elements why it wasn't smart to poke the dragon.
  • Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons: Villain Sanguinius had this as his motivation. After being looked on as a scumbag for attempting to get off the front lines by helping one influential soldier instead of five others that died because he burned his horn out on the first, he decided to eventually become the monster they thought he was.
  • Fate/Black Dawn: Shirou has to join with Morgan le Faye, the infamous witch, and fight King Arthur in order to save Arthur from the destined fall of Camelot. He eventually embraces his identity as the Black Dragon, the Tyrant King Who Destroys Utopia, who leads a war against Camelot and personally strikes down Arturia when she is the insane pseudo-goddess Rhongomyniad.
  • The Hands of Fate: Invasion has something similar to X-Men. On Earth-2, Metahumans are stripped of their rights by the U.S. government (with the U.N.'s blessing), locked up, rendered sterile (the men through chemical treatments, the women have their ovaries removed), and brutally experimented on, all out of fear of what they may do. Unsurprisingly, upon being freed by Zoom, the Metas decide to be the monsters society treats them as and start fighting back.
  • Harry and the Shipgirls has an incident of this in the setting's backstory. Once, the Huli Jing Su Daji was living a quiet life with her husband Jiahao and their friend Lianhua in their village. However, some Ungrateful Bastards who viewed her as a demoness told the Taoists, who view the union of human and nonhuman as a sin, about their relationship. Daji was wounded in their attack, Lianhua and the child of Daji and Jiahao were killed, and Jiahao was tortured with the intend of making him disavow his marriage to Daji, with him being burned alive when he refused. Daji decided that if the other villagers would do that due to viewing her as a demon, then a demon she would indeed be.
    • Eventually, after toppling dynasties in China and causing the downfall of the Roman Empire, Daji was forced to flee, assuming spirit form and possessing a Japanese girl who was stillborn in her mother's womb. Now known as Mikuzume, she quickly became a favored child of the Imperial Court, together with her retainers Chūjitsu, Momoiro, Midori, Kiro, Murasaki, and Aoi, with the first two being her Love Interests. Mikuzume by this point was seriously considering putting a stop to her path of toppling dynasties. Then an assassin from the Fujiwara Clan killed Chūjitsu and Momoiro, attempting to kill Mikuzume as well. When Mikuzume learned that the Emperor was fine with this because it would give him a chance to bed her...she was later known by another name, specifically Tamamo no Mae. That name is all that needs to be said about her reaction.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: As a student, Voldemort once begged Dumbledore to let him meet Nicolas Flamel so that he could make a Philosopher's Stone. He claims that that was his last attempt to be a good person because Dumbledore refused and told him that fearing death was wrong, which led him to conclude that, if he was going to be called evil for trying to stay alive, he may as well embrace it.
  • After centuries of being built up as the villain by the gods, Loki from Hecate's Orphanage decides that he's finally had enough, and that he's going to destroy all the worlds.
  • Theodore Nott in I Am What You Made Me wanted to become Minister of Magic when he was a child so he could fight for equality. Because his ambitions got him sorted into Slytherin, he spent his entire school career being told he was evil, which eventually caused him to willingly join the Death Eaters.
    "If the outside world comes to see me as a man of Hell, they should know that Hell was the forge they fashioned."
  • J-WITCH Season 1: The Frame-Up blaming Prince Phobos for the death of his parents was effective enough that despite his genuine attempts to maintain order in Meridian and find Elyon, he ended up going Knight Templar as a result, determined to claim Elyon's power for himself so he can use it to end the conflict. Averted on a personal level, though; he makes it very clear to Cedric that he has no intention of doing anything worse than wiping Elyon's memories and sending her back to Earth after he acquires her magic, because she's the only flesh and blood family he has left and he refuses to become the heartless monster the Rebellion views him as.
  • Komorebi is a partial example: Shinsou pretends to have finally embraced being the villain people assumed his quirk made him, but it's all a ploy so he can become The Mole in the League Of Villains.
  • In The Last Adventure, Discord has become a pariah after the entire Ponyville learned that he had been responsible for reuniting Tirek, Chrysalis and Cozy Glow and put Equestria in danger once again. Having had more than enough of being called a "monster" , he decides to flood Ponyville with a storm of milk chocolate. Subverted, because Discord realizes that would break Fluttershy's heart -again- and starts to wonder if the other ponies wouldn't be right when they insisted that he never would change. Devastated, he cancels the storm and exiles in the Everfree Forest.
  • In The Last Son, Superman pulls a Fake Defector version of this. He pretends that he's joining up with General Zod on the grounds that he did his best to do good despite the people who mistrusted or even tried to destroy him. Power Girl also adds to Nick Fury that "You treat someone like an enemy for too long, and eventually, they'll be one".
  • Recommencer: This is what spurs Ringleader's akumatization; sick of Lila constantly getting away with her Blatant Lies due to the apathy of those with the authority to do anything about her, she decides to take matters into her own hands. If Lila wants to play the victim so badly, then fine! She'll be her villain.
  • In The Rise of Darth Vulcan, the Flim-Flam brothers reveal that this is the reason they became con artists. They spent years trying to bring technological innovation to Equestria, but the country's dedication to Medieval Stasis stymied them at every step, with everyone treating their work as junk. Ultimately, they decided that if everyone was going to treat their creations as junk, then that'll be what they give.
  • That Glorious Strength: As per canon, Remus Lupin tried to be as civilised as possible despite being a werewolf — until James and Lily were murdered by blood supremacists who objected to a pureblood marrying a muggle-born. On the following full moon, Remus fully embraced the wolf and its desire for slaughter, giving him the ability to transform at any time, retain his mind, and enhance his wolf body with his magic, and he announced that if Harry were harmed, he would go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    Tom: He made himself into the demon of their worst nightmares.
  • Marinette spends the first half of Truth and Consequences tying herself in mental knots to justify her Face–Heel Turn as "the right thing to do." In Chapter 16 however, she finally breaks down and admits that, no, it isn't the right thing to do, and she's being utterly selfish in her choices; after sacrificing her own personal hapiness and goals since she was fourteen, all to protect Paris, hasn't she earned the right to be selfish about this one thing? And if that makes her a villain in her former friends' eyes, than a villain is what she'll be.
    Marinette: "No, I don't think I'm doing the 'right' thing. I don't think I'm being just or righteous or pure or selfless; I'm not going to lie and say this is objectively the right thing to do because it isn't! But you know what? It's the right thing for me ...just once...this one time, we're doing the right thing for me...even if I'm the only one who will..."
  • In this Miraculous Ladybug post, fittingly titled Queen of Mean, Marinette decides that if her classmates are going to see her as a heartless bully, then that is what she is going to be. And she is going to start her reign of terror by ruining all of her "friends".
  • Why Am I Crying?: Diamond Tiara was bullied mercilessly at a corrupt summer camp and was falsely accused by her old friend Apple Bloom (who forgot who she was following a long absence) of bullying her friends all because she was perceived as a Rich Bitch. After the latter incident, she decided that enough was enough and become what everypony expected of her, and she vowed to make Apple Bloom and all her friends pay dearly.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Bad Guys, the gang consists of predatory animals that were villainized their whole lives, and chose to fit the mold society saw them as, becoming a crew of highly successful criminals. Their struggle to reform is coupled with wondering if anyone would believe their change is legitimate. Diane is a former example, as having been the Crimson Paw, she gave in to fox stereotypes of being thieving tricksters and was the world's most successful thief until she got sick of the lifestyle.
  • Frozen:
    • In the final version, Elsa is a completely different character from she was during development, but this was originally going to be a major part of her character. Late into development she was written as being an Aloof Big Sister to Anna with a temper. In her childhood others didn't trust her due to Elsa being similar to an old prophecy. This lead to Elsa being ostracized by most besides her family. Interestingly enough, they sort of had this in mind when they wrote "Let it Go", but its failure to convey this trope very well and its unexpectedly positive feel inspired them to rewrite her character as a troubled Classical Anti-Hero who never really turned evil at any point. Her unused Villain Song "Cool With Me", though, more strongly shows off this aspect.
      Elsa: Elsa's dead, now instead, you'll address me as the Snow Queen.
      Anna: [spoken] Nah, no way!
      Elsa: I got a gift, I'm a superstar.
      Anna: [spoken] And your point is?
      Elsa: That people should revere me!
      Anna: Yes, you're really quite the showman with these mean and mutant snowmen—
      Elsa: Hey, if no-one wants to love me, they can FEAR me!
    • This trope does seem to briefly come up in the final film, where Elsa snaps after two henchmen attempt to murder her and begins actively trying to maim/kill them (though she is initially acting in self-defence). However, Hans bursts in and says "Don't be the monster they fear you are!" which stops her in her tracks.
  • The Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons tries to use this as his Freudian Excuse. However, the flashbacks that accompany this prove that he's an Unreliable Narrator who refuses to see that his isolation was self-inflicted.
  • Megamind's reason for being a villain. As his inventions in childhood always caused trouble in school by accident leading to him getting punished, while the young Metro Man recieved constant praise for stopping them. After multiple instances of this, Megamind realizes that he is good at causing trouble, and so embraces supervillainy as Metro Man's rival.
    Megamind: "No matter how hard I tried, I was always the odd man out. The last one picked. [...] The bad boy. Was this my destiny? Wait. Maybe it was! Being bad was the one thing I'm good at! Then it hit me. If I was the "bad boy", then I was going to be the baddest boy of them all!"
    • He gets another one two-thirds in. He's this close to reforming and calling off his plan to fight a hero of his own making thanks to the budding relationship with Roxanne he has disguised as Bernard. But when she learns the truth and rejects him, he goes right back to preparing for his fight the next day.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Rameses is portrayed more as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds than anything, but grows more bitter towards his former brother as the plagues destroy his kingdom. Also a Shout-Out to The Bible, to which the movie in general sticks pretty closely: the book of Exodus states somewhere around the sixth plague that "Pharaoh's heart was hardened," causing him to stick to his guns and let the plagues continue. Passages like Exodus 4: 21, 10: 1, 11: 10, 14:18 cast further a Forced-into-villainy vibe to the deity, who is forcing the pharaoh to be the villain in-universe.
    Then let my heart be hardened,
    And never mind how high the cost may grow
    This will still be so:
    I will never let your people go!
  • Shrek provides a variation: the eponymous ogre is, gruff personality aside, a fairly decent guy. Unfortunately, everyone judges him on the fact that he's an ogre, and consequently treat him like dirt. He decides that as long as people are going to view him as a disgusting, horrifying, swamp-dwelling monster, he may as well bank on it. So, he sets up intimidating signs around his home and scares trespassers away, and in fact, he seems to get a bit of a kick out of it if the intro sequence is any indication. He gets better, though.
    Shrek: (to Donkey, remorsefully) They judge me before they even know me. That's why I'm better off alone.
  • Discussed but ultimately averted in Tangled. After Rapunzel calls her out, Gothel finally decides once and for all to forgo the pretense of being a good mother (which she was never really good at anyway) and shows her real face:
    "You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I'm the bad guy."
  • Zootopia: Nick is a non-villainous example. He initially wanted to be a good and honorable member of the scouts, but after he was ostracized for being a fox, with everyone having a preconceived notion that all foxes are sneaky and cannot be trusted, he decided that he can't really fight it, and just rolls with the shifty stereotype in order to survive. Judy helps him get better over time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spiderman 2 gives us the villain Electro. At first, he was just Max Dillon, an ordinary Oscorp electrician and powerless loser who nobody paid attention to, to where people even forgot it was his birthday. Then his boss forces him to work a late night shift, leading to the fateful accident that would give him his powers. When he got them, he was taunted and jeered as a freak of nature, which only got worse when an officer tries to snipe him just as Spider-Man was reasoning with him. Next he got experimented on (read: tortured) by Dr Kafka. By the time he escaped, he decided that if people wanted a monster, he'll show them what a monster was.
  • In Change of Habit, Julio's attempt at returning the church statue he stole only gets him arrested and blamed for breaking it, so he gives up on good and tries to rape Michelle.
  • The Creature from the Black Lagoon is given this treatment in the sequel Revenge of the Creature. A science team is sent to Black Lagoon to capture the Creature and bring him back for scientific study. Said "scientific study" seems to mainly involve whacking him with underwater cattle prods for reasons which are never explained. After watching the Creature be harassed and brutalized for no apparent reason in the first half of the movie, a modern viewer may have mixed feelings upon the Creature's escape, where he does, in fact, kill people, but at this point "man, Humans Are the Real Monsters" seems to be an appropriate response.
  • D.E.B.S.: This would be why Lucy decides to blow up Australia after Amy rejects her.
  • Descendants: After a misunderstanding at the big picnic, all the Auradon kids except Ben are convinced that the villain kids really are rotten to the core. Even the ones who tried to give them a chance have turned their backs on them. It is then that the four discard any previous doubts or guilt over their villainous plans and decide to show Auradon just how rotten they are. During the coronation, however, they have a full change of heart and choose to be good, saving Auradon from Maleficent.
    • Inverted in the third film; Audrey, Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, has strived her whole life to be the same standard of good as her mother and all the other fairytale princesses in Auradon. But after the villain kids choose to be good and save Auradon, everyone praises and adores them, especially Audrey’s boyfriend Ben, who ends dumping her for Mal, the daughter of her family’s worst enemy. Audrey is bitter that she has been the perfect example of good her whole life, only to be overlooked in favor of Mal and the VKs, who only recently became good and got everything she grew up expecting to be hers. When Ben proposes to Mal, meaning that Audrey has lost him for good, it’s the breaking point for the princess, and she decides that if Auradon wants a villain, she’ll be twice the villain Mal ever was.
      Audrey: If they want a villain for a Queen;
      I’m gonna be one like they’ve never seen!
  • Essentially the premise of Double Jeopardy. Since the protagonist has already been convicted for a murder she didn't commit (and which never actually happened), she figures she may as well go ahead and actually commit it, since she's told she can't be tried for it again (this is severe Hollywood Law though, as they would be legally separate offenses).
  • Played with extensively in Edward Scissorhands. Edward is sweet, harmless, and eager to please by nature but circumstances have left him with a skewed sense of morality at best. When Kim, the woman he has fallen in love with, asks him to help rob her boyfriend Jim's house (Jim having convinced her to ask Edward to do this), he does it — and solely takes the fall for it when he is arrested — simply because she asked him to. That she does not seem to appreciate his sacrifice, which turns the entire neighborhood against him, leaves him bitter. Later, he accidentally wounds her hand and Jim (who is jealous of Kim's growing concern for him) drives him away, telling him "You can't touch anything without destroying it"; Edward's response is to rage through the neighborhood destroying his own topiaries and the like, fully in this mode...but he near-instantly regrets this. He then saves Kim's younger brother from being run over by Jim's van, but accidentally wounds the boy and the neighbors are now in complete panic; after injuring Jim in self-defense he flees back to the mansion at the hill at Kim's urging. Both she and Jim follow and in the resultant confrontation Edward deliberately kills Jim — as much to protect Kim as himself. His last word to Kim is simply "Goodbye"; picking up on this she convinces the angry mob outside that Edward and Jim killed each other, which allows him to finally be left alone and safe, but with pretty much everyone except Kim believing he ended up evil.
  • In Four Lions, one of the protagonists (Hasan) complains about Muslims sharing his appearance to be generalized as bombers, and thus proceeds to blow himself up... with silly string.
  • In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, it is revealed that Godzilla and Rodan only hate humans because they hate them.
    Shobijin: Godzilla says he has no reason to save humans. They are always bullying me. Rodan agrees with him.
  • Girl, Interrupted has Lisa, a diagnosed sociopath, deliver this line when asked why she was reading aloud the main character's diary:
    Lisa: I'm playing the villain, baby. Just like you want. I try to give you everything you want.
  • The Hunt (2020): After they were accused of hunting people for sport as a result of a leaked joking text, Athena and her friends all got fired. They then decided to really hunt the people who accused them. Crystal points out how dumb this was-to avenge themselves on a false accusation, they made it true.
  • Arthur Fleck in Joker (2019) just wanted to add a little joy to a cruel, dark world by making people laugh. Unfortunately, he's a terrible comedian, he has no friends, and his mental issues and lack of social skills tend to alienate everyone around him. Nonetheless, he keeps on trying, but over the course of the film, misfortunes continue to pile up (he's fired from his job as a clown for bringing a gun to a children's hospital, the coworker that smuggled him the gun throws him under the bus to protect his own job, his medication is cut off, he finds out he was apparently abused by his possibly adoptive mother during his childhood, and his role model Murray Franklin mocks his standup attempt on national television), and eventually he can't take it anymore. Seeing how the Gotham public loves his clown persona (as he had murdered three rich Jerkasses in self-defence while in makeup, which was mistakenly seen as the act of an anti-elitist vigilante) but don't even know Arthur Fleck exists, he decides he might as well give the people what they want, abandoning his old life and name, rechristening himself as Joker.
  • In Let Me In it's heavily implied to be one of the reasons why Owen runs away with Abby at the end, despite her being a vampire who eats people. Near the end of the film, he has a phone call with his father asking whether people can be evil, implying he's not sure whether Abby's evil and he is for liking her. However, considering how cruel the normal "good" world has been to him (Owen's neglected by his parents and emotionally and physically tortured every day by bullies at school while Abby's kind to him, protects him and gives him attention/affection), it's rather hard to blame Owen for deciding he wants to live with her by the end of the film.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Loki, as discussed above under Comics. This one spends most of Thor alternately trying to be a worthy son and being an underhanded jerkass, while going steadily more insane due to Parental Issues and Internalized Categorism. This comes at the end. No one explicitly rejects him as such, but he goes through a number of felt rejections that...aren't false: 1) Thor selected as heir and generally adored, 2) Thor ignores him for whole opening when Loki doesn't catch him alone, and runs him down when he does, 3) Odin turns out to have adopted him for political reasons because 4) Laufey threw him away to die as an infant. 5) Everyone he knows is racist against Frost Giants. 6) All his friends distrust him. (They're right, but ascribe more sinister motives than his real ones.) Then he attempts suicide. In his subsequent appearances, he has embraced this trope.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has a song devoted to this, 'Let The Monster Rise'. It shows how Nathan allows his Repo Man persona take over in order to save his daughter.
    Nathan: Have I failed my daughter?
    Then let the father die!
    And let the monster RISE! [goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge]
  • In Se7en, John Doe attempts to use this as a rationalization. He explains that he's so sick of living in a Crapsack World full of evil that someone had to do something, and so he decided to orchestrate a truly horrific, disgusting murder spree to force people to awaken to the horrific nature of society: "We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed...forever." Granted, Doe is clearly viewing life through a highly distorted moral lens, but he's so determined to follow through on his ideas that he quite literally dies for them. The film refuses to make a statement about just how right Doe is—the "good guy" cops clearly agree that their world is an absolutely miserable one, Officer Somerset comments that people really don't seem to care and would rather slip into apathy and hatred because it's easier than loving and hard work, and the movie's final lines are Somerset remarking that the world may be "worth fighting for," but it sure as hell isn't good.
  • Anakin Skywalker's fall to the Dark Side in the Star Wars prequel trilogy is at least partially due to this. While he was lured to the Dark Side from Palpatine's manipulations convincing him he could prevent death, just about every circumstance built up to that moment. Born a slave, removed from his mother's care and later seeing her die, it was clear to him since the get-go that nobody on the Jedi Council wanted Anakin to be trained because he has the potential to become very powerful and evil. They only agree to train Anakin because Obi-Wan insisted, being the dying request of Qui-Gon Jinn. Throughout Anakin's career as a Jedi they keep him on a very tight leash and leave him out of the loop, when Anakin was placed on the Jedi Council at Palpatine's request, they denied him the rank of Master to spite him and Palpatine, which he took as a direct insult. Much later, he was actually on the brink of redemption with the Jedi when he informed them that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, but in a pitched battle Palpatine slaughtered several Jedi but was (at least apparently) at the mercy of Mace Windu. In an instinct, Anakin defended Palpatine, which only led to Windu's death. His reaction when it was over was an exhausted "What have I done?" and later pledging loyalty to Palpatine, with the implication that he had already gone this far, so there was no reason to stop, and he became Darth Vader.
  • The second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has another example with Luke Skywalker of all people in his influence over Kylo Ren. Back when Luke was teaching young Force-sensitives to become Jedi, he noticed that Ben Solo, Han Solo and Princess Leia's son, had the potential to become a very powerful Jedi, but that there was also a darkness corrupting him. Luke came to the conclusion that he will grow up to become just as powerful and dangerous as Darth Vader. So he decided to kill Ben in his sleep, but stopped himself at the last minute, realizing that he was doing the wrong thing. Unfortunately, Ben wakes up, sees his own uncle over him with a drawn lightsaber, and defends himself. He kills half the other students and burns down the Jedi school that Luke Skywalker was running. Luke's fear became a reality because he gave up on Ben out of fear, just like the Jedi Council never accepted Anakin out of fear.
  • Killer Croc is rather poignantly summarized this way when being introduced in Suicide Squad (2016), despite generally being a Flat Character within the film. Some comic books explore this aspect of the character in greater detail
    "He looked like a monster, so they treated him like a monster, then he became a monster."
  • The Usual Suspects: Keaton claims that he is really in love with his lawyer girlfriend and was trying to set himself up as a legitimate restauranteur. However, when the police bring him in for the line-up right at the beginning of the movie, arresting him at dinner with his potential investors, he realizes that his investors are going to back out of doing business with an ex-con, and he will never be able to set up a legal business. So, since the police will never let him put his past behind him, he might as well embrace it.
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Since Jane thought she had crippled Blanche, she apparently snapped and became cruel because she thought that she was a bad person and played the part of an evil sister. When she finds out she was totally innocent, she reverts to a sweet, innocent girl - note the use of soft lighting from then on.
  • The VVitch: Thomasin spends the entire movie being tormented by her mother who falsely accuses her of being a witch who is presumed to have killed her baby brother, ruined their settlement, and stolen her silver cup. By the end of the movie, she becomes a witch.
  • Wolves: Connor's backstory, in his version of events.
    Connor:They took away the woman I loved. So I became the monster they said I always was.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Erik Lehnsherr simply cannot escape his past as Magneto. Despite his best efforts, his family is killed because of said past and, afterwards, he surrenders himself to his pain and joins Apocalypse.

  • Atlas Shrugged is, in a way, about a group of very rich people — business owners, tycoons, etc., who got so tired of being called greedy and selfish by people in society who were mooching off them that they basically just "Hang it. You want to call us greedy and selfish? Fine, then we'll go off on our own where you can't find us and be exactly that and you can just see how you do without us. Goodbye."
  • The Bad Guys:
    • This is one of the reasons Mr. Snake insists that he can't be a true hero. He was seen as a bad guy to start, so he doesn't bother to change his reputation. This slowly starts to crack away throughout the series, as he becomes a truer hero.
    • "Superbad" reveals that the members of the The International League of Heroes were bad guys before they met each other, purely because others saw them like that to start, so they decided to fit the mold others saw them as.
  • Khalil Gibran's The Criminal has the title character declare "I asked for bread in the name of mercy and love, but humanity did not heed. I shall take it now in the name of evil!"
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden himself gets villains pointing this out to him, and, once or twice, almost considers it. But he's too stubbornly good to be intentionally evil, though Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is occasionally a concern.
  • Fate of the Jedi has Vestara, who pulls a Heel–Face Turn after being born and raised in a Sith society in large part thanks to her love for Ben. Towards the end of the series, she, Ben, and another Jedi are trapped in some caves on a world strong in the Dark Side, and confronted with a monster that seems impossible to kill. While Ben is unconcious, she sacrifices the other Jedi to save Ben, and decides that this puts her past the Moral Event Horizon. She then breaks free of the Jedi as soon as possible. To make it especially tragic, Ben and Luke might have forgiven her had they had the chance.
  • Piers Anthony's For Love of Evil has Parry, in the office of Evil known as Satan, trying to work fairly with the other Incarnations, but due to most of their past experience with the last office holder, Beelzebub, they treat Parry like dirt, humiliating him whenever he tries. Finally, he becomes even worse than his predecessor.
  • In Jerry Spinelli's Fourth Grade Rats, a boy nicknamed Suds faces peer pressure from a friend to be mean and unruly, compounded by younger kids' assumption that he already is, simply because he's reached the fourth grade. After one prank too many, he declares, "You want a rat? You've got a rat!" And acts accordingly.
  • Frankenstein abandons his newly-made monster in disgust at its uncanny looks, and everyone else who ever sees the monster reacts with horror. Eventually it decides to stop hoping for the best and start inflicting pain instead.
  • The Golem and the Jinni: In Schaalman's youth as an aspiring rabbi, his dream of an edenic garden is cut off by a voice proclaiming "You do not belong here". Whether or not it's divine in origin, he interprets it as God rejecting him and takes up self-serving villainy without a backwards glance. Turns out that his previous incarnations were just as depraved.
  • In the Gotrek & Felix novel Manslayer the mastermind behind an evil plot to sabotage the Empire's army with demon possessed siege engines is an engineer who has no particular affinity for Chaos. However, he's secretly a mutant, and knows he'll be killed if the truth is ever discovered, so his only chance at lasting survival is for the invading armies to defeat the Empire. Several of his allies and followers are also mutants in the same position.
  • Grendel is a Sympathetic P.O.V. reinterpretation of the famed Beowulf legends. In this version, Grendel begins as a Byronic Hero who develops a Nihilist worldview over time. This stands in contrast with the Danes, who are deeply religious and keep attacking him in the name of their King and God. He initially relates to them since he can understand their language and is emotionally swayed by their poetic songs, but turns on them in part because they keep attacking him.
  • This is basically the plot of I Am Mordred. The writer even includes an author's note in which she decries the assumption that kids are all budding juvenile delinquets and argues that treating them like criminals can only be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Huckleberry Finn, sick of being treated as a "wicked" boy who will never amount to anything, eventually declares "All right, I'll go to hell!" and "take[s] up wickedness" by helping his best friend Jim escape from slavery. Huck faces the moral quandary of seinding a letter to Jim's owners telling them where Jim can be found, or tearing up the letter and going to free Jim. Huck finds himself unable to send the letter, simply because he and Jim have been through so much that Huck simply refuses to betray his friend's trust. He believes he's 'bad' because he's defying the rules and will be punished, because he's coping with higher morality on an emotional level but completely lacks the vocabulary to deal with it. But Huck decides if this is being bad, then "I might as well go the whole hog" and be bad for the rest of his life.
  • In Journey to Chaos, recovery from the mental effects of mana mutation ("monsanity") is so rare that some people who sees Eric post-treatment think he's still a monster and could go savage at any moment. When even his Love Interest shouts "You're not Eric anymore!", he finally snaps and says they're right. This leads to an epiphany about how he is both a monster and Eric Watley.
  • The short story La Patente ("The Licence") has a character named Rosario Chiarchiaro, who has a fame as The Jinx, and because of this he was fired from his job and his entire family has had their lives ruined. The story is his attempt to get a sympathetic judge to give him a trial that will end with him declared a jinx, so he will be able to claim a Jinx Licence and make them all pay.
  • In Market of Monsters, the International Non-Human Police in charge of "unnatural" affairs maintain a Dangerous Unnaturals List — a list of species whose very existence (theoretically) requires killing humans and so killing them is classified as "preemptive self-defense", meaning it's not a crime. Adair helps the heroine Nita see that the logic behind the list is a load of crap, that the species on it don't match up with the purported definition, and it's really pull and popularity that gets someone automatically declared a monster worthy of death based solely on what they're born as. Kovit is a zannie (an unnatural who needs to feed on human pain), one of the species on the list, who decided as a child that if the world is guaranteed to see him as a monster because of his DNA, he might as well be one and torture innocent people for his food instead of finding passive ways to get it.
  • At the start of One Lonely Night, Mike Hammer is in a funk thanks to "The Reason You Suck" Speech he got from a judge after shooting someone. He spends the entire novel angsting over this, then he gets his hands on the MacGuffin the Dirty Communists were after and thinks how everyone will see him in a different light when he hands it over to the FBI...until he gets a phone call telling him they have his secretary Velda hostage and want to trade. Mike then decides that the judge was right and he is the evil that is used to destroy other evil men. Which he does.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain: After the main cast accidentally become supervillains, they try to clear their names, but fail. In the end, Penny decides that being a villain isn't so bad after all.
  • Post Mortem (2022): When Ralph discovers that he was a serial killer before losing his memory, he is horrified at first, but quickly decides to embrace it.
  • The eponymous Outcast of Redwall suffers from this. A foundling infant from one of the Always Chaotic Evil vermin races (specifically, a ferret) is raised in the Abbey and grows to be quite the troublemaker as a child. Even so, he is treated with little more than suspicion and prejudice by most of the local populace, and rarely, if ever, given the benefit of the doubt, even for his motivations (backfired attempts to do good are still punished without consideration). Ultimately, the message boils down to him still being responsible for making his own immoral choices; but he at least got more sympathy than any other vermin character when one considers what a slim "chance" the Redwallers ever gave him. His surrogate mother never gave up on him and her life is saved by his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • C. S. Lewis uses this in a speech given by Senior Tempter Screwtape in an epilogue to The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape comments that one of the results of the "You're no better than me" school of thought will be to turn anyone even remotely different from the mass public against them. If I will be called a fascist or a monster, I may as well be hanged for a ram as for a lamb, and become one in reality.
  • While it's hardly the only factor, this is one of the main reasons why Jaime Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire became the cynical and amoral monster he is at the start of the series: The entire kingdom looked down on him for breaking his oath and killing the Mad King Aerys, giving him the mocking name of Kingslayer and an undeserved reputation as a scheming, treacherous backstabber — even though Aerys was about to have all of King's Landing (the capital city, with a population of about 500,000 people) burned down out of spite. After years of being called a monster for what he rightly considers his "finest act," it is not hard to see why he eventually became one, although what fans sometimes seem to forget is that no-one knew what Aerys was about to do and Jaime never bothered to tell anyone (maybe they wouldn't have believed him, or discounted it, but he could have tried — his father could also have used influence to spread the true story and temper the hatred, had he known). It also happened at the same time as his father sacking the city after the war had in effect already been won at the Trident, making it look like a patently obvious attempt to get on the good side of the rebels and a pointless betrayal; another theory suggests that despite the killing being a good act, Jaime must have felt deep down he deserved the scorn for the betrayal regardless, or he would have attempted to defend himself at least (possibly because he felt guilty for having stood by for plenty of Aerys' other horribly insane and cruel acts). Recently, it seems like he might finally be turning his life back around, eschewing his family's toxic influence and taking a newfound pride in his honor as a knight.
    • Jaime's younger brother Tyrion seems to be heading down this road too. After being treated as a perverted monster for much of his life, he was eventually framed for murdering one of his nephews, denounced by most of his family, and branded an outlaw. This has caused him to lash out in vengeance, to kill some of his former loved ones, and to join with other outcasts.
      • Sandor "the Hound" Clegane probably qualifies as well. He is the younger son of a knight, but he was physically abused and scarred by his older brother Gregor Clegane during their childhood. Sandor has a jaded view of the world, and initially seemed content with being a hired sword for whoever happens to be in power. After losing his position in the court, he found himself targeted by people blaming him for either crimes which he committed while following orders or for the crimes of his brother. Despite his villainous reputation, Sandor is not nearly as ruthless or cruel as some of the other "knights" in this war. His reputation got even worse when a genuine serial killer impersonated him for a while.
  • The titular Space Brat, Blork, from Bruce Coville's series. He was labeled by the computer nanny as a brat soon after hatching from his egg, all due to his having a piece of shell stuck behind his antenna and crying in pain because of it. Since then, he was the boy who cried wolf, and constantly marked as an easy person to stick the blame on. After putting up with it for a while, he winds up throwing a temper tantrum at how unfair it all was, which was unheard of for his species. Which then gives him a very easy out for whenever he gets blamed for something from then on, leading to this trope.
  • In Steven Brust's To Reign in Hell, Satan follows a similar trajectory — pushed into his "evil", oppositional stance by the way Yaweh's followers have treated him. (But Brust masterfully makes this happen without any evil intent on Yaweh's part; in fact, Yaweh's plan is unquestionably a good one.)
  • Aeduen from The Witchlands has this moment in his backstory. Because of his peculiar brand of witchery, he's considered a demon by a lot of people, and his treatment in the Carawen monastery — supposedly a place that accepts everyone — made him decide that he might just as well embrace the reputation.
  • In The Obelisk Gate Nassun, a young girl, says "I've done bad things, Daddy, like you probably thought I would. I don't know how to not do them. It's like everybody wants me to be bad, so there's nothing else I can be." Right before she kills him in self-defense.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, President Charles Logan committed some horrible things on Day 5, but at worst he was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was trying to secure America's economic future. After he was forced to resign, he tried to atone for actions by helping Jack Bauer on Day 6. In the process, he had to meet up with his ex-wife who spent the entire time, not undeservedly, mocking his attempt at redemption and, in a psychotic break, stabbed Logan. That pretty much slammed the door on him, so when he reappeared on Day 8 he had shifted into being a straight up evil bastard, who was willing to commit any crime in the name of both killing Jack Bauer and regaining some good publicity to feed his ego.
  • Dylan in American Vandal is eventually exonerated of the crime he was accused of, spray-painting penises on cars in the faculty parking lot. However, after being told that he'll never be anything but a stoner idiot, he does spray-paint a penis on a teacher's driveway, reasoning that he might as well be what everyone thinks he is.
  • In Black Sails, it is revealed that Captain Flint is nothing more than a persona, adopted by him so that he might survive in the new world he was forced into, and so that his true self could survive what he was going to have to do to be a part of it. However, after revelations about the true nature of how he came to be exiled from England, and with the death of Miranda, James all but quotes this trope title, before escaping captivity and declaring outright war upon the rest of civilisation.
    • Interestingly, this is later turned around on him by Woodes Rogers, who is offering all that Flint ever wanted: unconditional pardons for all of Nassau. However, Flint has lost so much by this point that peace with England is an anathema to him. So Rogers has this to say:
    "If you insist on casting me as your villain, then I will play the role."
  • Breaking Bad has the protagonist Walter White. After watching his friends rise up in the world without him (an opportunity that he let go, nonetheless), and being stuck in two jobs to support his growing family (a teacher and a car-washer) and being appreciated in neither, when Walt tries his hand at cooking meth, he embraces it wholly despite it being seriously risky and life-threatening, because he finally found something that he truly enjoyed doing, and becomes comfortable with committing and ordering murders, to hell with the consequences.
    • Its prequel Better Call Saul shows how Saul Goodman (real name Jimmy McGill) began his law career, as an ex-conman trying to go straight and follow his brother Chuck's path as a legitimate attorney. However, Chuck believes that he'll never truly go straight and works to deny him opportunities at every turn, until Jimmy gives up on the straight and narrow and decides to do things his own, much darker way.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Spike tries to enlist in the good fight after falling in love with Buffy, who regards this Heel–Face Turn with suspicion, especially after discovering his true motive. However he gains some trust by protecting Dawn with his life in Season 5 and acting as her confidante in Season 6, but as Buffy finds herself growing increasingly attracted to him, she begins reverting back to treating him as though he was still a Big Bad. This includes all manner of verbal and physical abuse, the most significant of which being her continued insistence that he is a monster, a "thing", who cannot change—never mind the fact that he was a soulless vampire who had been putting active effort into defying his nature just because he loved her. As Buffy refuses to let him be good, he decides the only way to get Buffy is to drag her down to his level, leading to their Destructive Romance.
    • Faith is subject to this fate for a while. One night when she and Buffy are staking vampires, a human gets caught in the mix and Faith accidentally stakes him. Faith feels bad about it, but also really wants to move on and not dwell on it. Buffy and her friends however treat this behavior as sociopathy and continuously push the issue because she’s not expressing obvious grief over it. Eventually, because she’s continuously being treated as an uncaring monster over this incident, she eventually gives in and just becomes the evil she’s being treated as. A Heel–Face Turn eventually happens, but for a while she apparently took the criticisms to heart and truly believes that she’s incapable of being good, best seen when she breaks down crying and screaming “I’m bad! I’m evil!” after fighting Angel on his spinoff show.
  • In Charmed (1998), Cole may have been half-demon, but his love for Phoebe was enough to motivate him not only to wake up his humanity and then to fight the Source for control of his body, but later to amass enough random powers from other vanquished demons to escape hell and return to her after his death. However, no matter how he tried to convince her that he wasn't evil anymore, she and her sisters drove him away, and attempted to kill him, (which turned out to be impossible, even for him when he tried to commit suicide out of grief). All of this eventually drove him insane, and he started committing evil deeds again; sometimes in a misguided bid to reclaim Phoebe, and other times just For the Evulz.
  • In The City Hunter, Lee Jin-Pyo's sole purpose is to find and punish five corrupt and murderous politicians; not an unworthy cause in itself, although he knows from the beginning that his method of revenge — kidnapping his best friend's infant son and raising him as an instrument of vengeance—is unforgivable. But since that's what he started, he's damned well going to finish it.
  • One unsub in Criminal Minds is revealed to be this. The unsub had been arrested by the FBI years prior for murders he did not commit, which resulted in his wife and children leaving him, him losing his job, and the occasional beatdown from people who still believed him to be a criminal. This led him to murder several nurses years down the line, which caught the FBI's attention. Ironically, while he was a murderer, it's revealed that he was not the guy they were looking for this time either. (The unsub had no idea about another set of crimes the team was investigating) The guy overdosed on his medicine soon after.
  • In the Season 1 finale of Daredevil (2015), Wilson Fisk is talking with the FBI agents who have arrested him about the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. He reasons that for all his previous efforts to be like the Samaritan who cared for the injured subject of the parable by developing Hell's Kitchen, he ultimately ended up like the "man of ill intent" who robbed and beat the person in the first place. This is a Deconstruction; Fisk was already a ruthless evil crime lord; all that changes now is he gives up the delusion that he was ever a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • One arc on Desperate Housewives had Lynette trying to stir concern about the fact that there was a possible pedophile living with his sister on Wisteria Lane. However, the attempts to stir up hysteria drove the sister to suffer a fatal heart attack, at which point the guy told Lynette he'd kept his urges under control because of her. And now he was going to leave Wisteria, and had no reason to curb his impulses... and he wanted her to know it was all because of her (however, since it was never really confirmed that he really was a pedophile, it is possible he's just messing with her head).
  • The Flash (2014): This is eventually revealed to be Eobard Thawne/The Reverse-Flash's origin story. Born in 2151, Thawne admired the 21st century hero The Flash and wanted to be a great hero like him. He managed to acquire super speed and the ability to time travel. One day, his time traveling adventures revealed to him that he was destined to become Flash's arch enemy. Filled with despair and rage, Thawne declared that if he cannot become a hero, he'll be the best villain he can be, and be the Reverse of everything Flash stands for.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jaime's Jerkass personality partially grew out of this. He later develops a kinder personality, but after Myrcella's death in Season 5, he backslides into this rationale. In his own words: "fuck everyone in the world who isn't us."
    • Tyrion at his trial in the Season 4 episode The Laws of Gods and Men, after Shae testifies against him.
      Tyrion: I wish I was the monster you think I am. I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you. I would gladly give my life to watch you swallow it.
      • In The Children, he tells his father that he is Tywin's son, right before killing him.
    • In the final two episodes, Daenerys has almost made it to the very end of her campaign to take the Iron Throne, but after word about Jon Snow's parentage starts to get out, she feels she's been betrayed by everyone close to her (everyone that isn't dead, at least). In Season 8, Episode 5, she says to Jon: "I don't have love here. Only fear." When she's not satisfied with Jon's response, she drops this trope name, almost word-for-word: "Let it be fear, then." In the next episode, during the attack on King's Landing, she seems to snap, turning her dragon on the mostly civilian population of King's Landing. Although she did mention burning cities to the ground more than once...
  • In the final episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney goes back to his womanizing ways after his divorce from Robin. When Lily calls him out on it, he rationalizes that if it couldn't work with Robin, just let him be the guy that "straightens his tie, says something dirty, gives himself a self-five, and [hits on younger women]."
  • In Season 2 of Justified, Boyd Crowder finally gives up on going straight and conspires to rob a mine. When Ava asks him why after the fact, he explains: "Because it's what I do. It's who I am, Ava. As hard as I've been trying to pretend otherwise. Everybody else seems to know that but me."
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: Team Red Hot's reaction to the citizens calling the Beat Riders crazy psychotic monster summoners is to... well... be crazy psychotic monster summoners.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: After two seasons of being everyone's whipping boy, near the end of Season 4 Gary is revealed to have deep-seated resentment towards the Legends and the Time Bureau. This leaves him easily targeted by Neron, who convinces him to pledge loyalty in exchange for finally getting some respect (and regaining the nipple that a unicorn bit off at the start of the season).
  • My Name Is Earl: Grizelda Weezmer aka "Crazy Witch Lady" (played by Betty White) has spent years being tormented by the populace of Camden because she looks, well, like a crazy witch lady. After Earl comes to her asking for forgiveness, all of that pain is brought back, and Griselda lures her aggessors to her house, knocks them out and chains them in her basement, essentially becoming what everyone believed her to be. Then when the basement starts getting crowded, she decides to start killing them off. Thankfully, she is taken to a mental institution and is eventually able to reform.
  • Explicitly referenced in Once Upon a Time "Witch Hunt". By this time Regina has stopped trying to kill everyone and has become some combination of the Token Evil Teammate and The Friend Nobody Likes. However when everyone assumes that she must have cast the most recent curse and begins to turn on her ignoring her protests that she's innocent...
    Regina: If you all want me to be the Evil Queen then fine. That's exactly who you'll get. (causes an earthquake and then warps out).
    • And subverted in that that was just a show that she and Emma were putting on. In any case, it's repeatedly made clear that while everyone blaming Regina certainly annoys her she also doesn't particularly care what any of them think. The only person she does want acceptance from is Henry.
    • Invoked in the Season 6 midseason finale. Emma goes to a world where she wasn't the Savior, and, as such, is princess of the Enchanted Forest. Regina follows and tries to make Emma remember who she really is. When that reality's Rumplestiltskin points out Emma became the Savior to fight the Evil Queen, Regina begins to act like the Evil Queen (in all her glory) to do so. It doesn't work. Emma only remembers who she is when Henry is about to kill Regina, and acts just in time to save her.
  • A major theme in Smallville. Lex Luthor makes several efforts to do good and often helps Clark and others save the world, but several characters- especially Clark's parents, no less- treat him with suspicion at best because he is the son of local Corrupt Corporate Executive Lionel Luthor, who himself had been trying to mold his son into another ruthless Magnificent Bastard (whilst simultaneously letting Lex know just how much of a disappointment he was). The latter stuff really had put the seed of evil in Lex's heart- Oliver Queen knew Lex at school and saw him beat up his best friend (though Oliver had been a bit of a dick to both of them, mind), and a horrified Lionel covered up the fact that as a boy Lex had murdered his own baby brother though it turned out, Lex only took the fall for his mom, who wanted to spare the child Lex's horrible childhood. There is a lot of tension between Lex's natural bad side and his desire to genuinely do good getting screwed over; he is particularly annoyed that Clark, his best (and only) friend, is obviously hiding stuff from him- Clark, for his part, has thought about revealing his secret to Lex but has been dissuaded by, amongst other things, hallucinations, that make it seem like a bad idea. Not helped by the fact that the two of them are aware of a prophecy about a mortal man fighting a godlike alien and Lex believing that to Beware the Superman might actually be sensible; after all, how can anyone be trusted with that much power?
    • Several episodes are devoted to Lex's own internal struggle. One such story inverts A Christmas Carol- Lex, having been shot at Christmas, meets the ghost of his mother who shows him what happens if he changes his ways: he has a loving and happy marriage with Lana and is finally treated like a friend and family member by the Kents; Clark holds no grudge about the two of them marrying either and is happy for them and remains his best friend. Then Lana gets seriously ill and Lex can't afford it, so he goes back to his dad to ask him to help...and is promptly brushed off, meaning Lana (and their baby) both die because Lex gave up his money and his wicked father's fortune. When he wakes up, Lex decides that money and power are the only things that really matter in life, because then you can protect the people you love.
    • Lionel himself gets some of this. Early in Season 4 he is in prison, and tries to escape by swapping bodies with Clark. His plan fails and he ends up back in his own body by the end of the episode, but having Clark inhabit his body leaves him a changed man and after getting out of prison on a technicality anyway, tried to convince the rest of the suspicious cast, meeting the most resistance from Lex himself, who is also trying to earn everybody's trust. Things hit a head in one episode when Black Kryptonite splits Lex into his good and evil halves- the good Lex lets his father know he'll trust him and encourages him in his do-goodiness; the bad Lex goads Lionel into assaulting him with a poker, then says that proves he hasn't changed at all. Turns out Lionel really had changed, but by the end of that episode, and never finding out about the whole split-in-two thing, he tells the now whole Lex that he was right- "we're Luthors", and they should embrace the Card-Carrying Villain within, though to his credit Lionel is never quite as evil again and after being possessed by Jor-El in order to bring Clark back from the dead (and retaining his memory of the incident and thus knowing Clark's secret, despite feigning amnesia), generally deciding he'll help him from now on.
      • Eventually Good!Lionel becomes Clark's new father figure, and does all the things for Clark he never did for Lex, leaving by-now-lost-to-the-Dark-Side Lex justifiably frothing at the mouth at the unfairness of the universe.
  • The Sopranos: Tony Blundetto in Season 5. Once out of prison, he's the only one out of the Class of 2004 who tries to go legit and start anew. He tries to do so by becoming a professional masseur while also raising his two sons. However, it all eventually falls apart, and when Tony Soprano won't let him do more in his crew, he accepts an offer to assassinate Joey Peeps, and the resulting tension leads him to try and assassinate the Leotardo brothers, managing to kill Billy Leotardo and wound Phil. This eventually leads to Tony Soprano being forced to kill him in order to calm the tensions, and prevent Tony Blundetto from suffering a worse and more painful death at the hands of Phil Leotardo. However, Tony B's actions have a lasting impact, as they are the catalyst for the mob war in Season 6.
  • When Ashur of Spartacus: Blood and Sand gets berated at for his slimy Manipulative Bastard behaviour, he pulls this line of defense, pointing out that everybody treated him like pig feed and that nearly every git move he pulled benefited his master, doctore, and the ludus, so screw the gladiators and their honour.
  • "Michael" from Stargate Atlantis was a Wraith who the protagonists forcibly converted into an amnesiac human. The fact that Michael has to eat people to survive, and the virus that can transform a Wraith into a human (thus removing the need to kill people to keep him alive) inherently causes amnesia, explains why they felt the need to brainwash him, though. His introductory episode has the characters mistreating him for no clear reason (mainly Ronon, who utterly despises all Wraith due to their wiping out his planet and putting him through years of torture), before he realizes that he's a Tomato in the Mirror and breaks out to return to his people... but they won't accept him either, since he's still partly human. He desperately returns to the protagonists and offers valuable aid, just begging them that they don't brainwash him again. They brainwash him again. When he recovers again, he's fed up of saying What the Hell, Hero?, and he snaps completely and becomes an Evilutionary Biologist.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • There's "Waltz" where Gul Dukat tries to convince Sisko (and himself) that they really were friends all along and that he has always been misunderstood as merely an Anti-Hero, not a true villain. Eventually, with some subtle goading from Sisko to drop his facade, Dukat realizes that he has always been a villain and decides to embrace his role by destroying Bajor and everything Sisko cares about.
    • A variation also occurs in "For the Uniform" where Sisko goes after the traitor Eddington. He realizes that Eddington sees himself as a hero fighting for a noble cause and decides that he has to embrace his role as the villain in Eddington's mind in order to beat him. He eventually engineers a situation that plays to Eddington's nobler instincts, forcing him to turn himself in to stop Sisko's villainy. This consisted of poisoning a Maquis planet in such a way that humans couldn't live there (but Cardassians could), essentially just balancing out the nearby world Eddington had just poisoned to Cardassians but not humans, and then threatening to do so to every Maquis settlement he could find.
    • Winn Adami considers herself a very spiritual person, one who has sacrificed for her religion. In truth, she's a political manipulator, and because the Prophets know this, they have never given her visions. However, when the Pah-wraiths, the equivalent of demons in her religion, start giving her visions, she's terrified that this marks her as evil and corrupt. Kira tells her that she can achieve redemption simply by ceding her political and spiritual authority as Kai (the head of the Bajoran religion). Winn cannot bring herself to do this (couching her political machinations as "Bajor needs me."), and chooses instead to curse the Prophets and follow the path the Pah-wraiths laid out for her.
  • In Supernatural, Crowley is a crossroad demon and the current King of Hell, but he REALLY likes the Winchester brothers and wants to be part of Team Free Will with Sam, Dean, and Castiel. He spends several seasons doing them favors that actually work against his own interests, hoping it will endear him to then. However, in Season 10, despite all the favors Crowley has done, Sam attempts to kill Crowley in order to save Dean. This causes Crowley to experience a Villainous BSoD and decide that if being good doesn't garner loyalty from the good guys, what's the point?
  • In Those Who Can't, Abbey Logan tries to convince the new principal Cattie Goodman in the second season that she's not a witch. Eventually after a series of coincidences, she just declares "screw it, I'm a witch".
  • Used in the climax of the first season of The Umbrella Academy (2019): Viktor finds out that Allison was complicit in making him believe that he had no superpowers, and in a rage accidently slashes her throat with a violin bow, nearly killing her. Luther refuses to acknowledge the "accidently" part of it and locks his brother in a soundproof chamber, and once he breaks out immediately decides to use force to subdue him. This causes Viktor to instigate the apocalypse.
  • Adam Wilson from The Young and the Restless has ended up invoking this trope. It's hard to escape the fact that, before he came to Genoa City, Adam was relatively moral and well-adjusted. It was only after prolonged exposure to the chronic backstabbing and underhanded business dealings of the city that he started his horrific revenge plan — and at the end of that, he lapses into a My God, What Have I Done? moment and tries to reform. Then even this is completely undercut when the Newmans and Abbotts confront him in the cabin and treat him like a monster, even though they don't have any idea what he did — plus how hollow their moral superiority sounds, considering all the crimes they've committed in the past, which Adam and later DA Owen Pomerantz call them out on.

  • Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy":
    I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing / Till they got hold of me.
  • This is the ending of Tripod's song "Suicide Bomber"—the falsely accused bomber is awaiting release after repeated torture, and is already planning to blow up a bus.
  • Happens in Adam WarRock's song, "Sad Ultron"— All the newest incarnation of Hank Pym's Ultron wants is to hang out and be accepted, but because all previous versions of him went all Knight Templar and evil, everyone assumes he'll do the same- thanks to being shunned and hated, he turns evil on principle.
    "Sorry y'all, I tried to be a nice dude, fuckin' human intelligence made me wanna fight too/And that's ironic, isn't it? The fact that human indifference made a robot turn evil and villainous/Fuck it, I'm engaging a plan to kill Hank Pym/ Ask me if I'm one of those nice robots, I'm not him."
  • From Killer Mike's "That's life", where he gives his views on many of the current issues of the day and authority's failure to handle them
    Ask em am I a bad guy? "Ya Goddamn right!" I done seen how ya do a nigga when he doing right.
  • "Down With The Sickness" by Disturbed, especially the child abuse segment which is about "mother society beating down on the freaks."
  • "Meet The Monster" by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • One English dub of Servant of Evil has a variation:
    They say you are a lady of vice and disdain, then I am evil as well, with the same blood in my veins.
  • Eminem has explored this topic in many of songs, but it becomes a primary element in the sequel to his hit song "Stan", appropriately enough, titled "Bad Guy". The final verse really drives the trope home, with Stan's younger brother, Matthew, mocking the rapper, as the young man takes vengeance on Eminem, for driving Stan to suicide.
  • "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who. Townshend wrote it as a Villain Song for an abandoned concept album, telling the story of Jimbo, "forced into a position of being a villain whereas he felt he was a good guy."
  • Lil Nas X invokes this in the music video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)." After a lifetime of being told queer people were going to Hell, he films a music video where he rejects Heaven, slides down to Hell on a stripper pole, gives the devil a lapdance, then kills him and takes his crown.
  • In the iconic (and often misunderstood) Black Sabbath song Iron Man, a hero from an apocalyptic future is sent back in time to save the world. But the process turns his body to metal. When he arrives in the past, humanity panics thinking him some kind of alien monster. He eventually snaps and becomes the one who destroyed the world in the first place.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • La Parka Jr was antagonized by the original, for being an imposter, to the point L.A. Park joined La Sociedad. Cibernético and Los Bizarros antagonized La Parka Jr. for "betraying" AAA, even after he returned, almost as much as they did La Sociedad, who were actively trying to make a mess of AAA. After their mutual elimination from Copa Antonio Peña at the 2011 Héroes Inmortales, La Parka Jr. officially joined La Sociedad.
  • After Drew Blood was kicked out of CZW by Devon Moore, he decided that if he was going to successfully get revenge on the resident scumbag of the company, he was going to have to become the devil. He later recruited Rory Mondo to his cause, who had similar feelings about Moore's Tag Team partner Danny Havoc and Matt Tremont, whom he convinced had been abandoned by The Nation Of Intoxication and "the marks". Ron Matthis meanwhile agreed to join "The Forgotten Ones" in their "Devilry" so long as it got him on shows.
  • Kevin Steen was on board with Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino's efforts to reform him at first, but after Ring of Honor security kicked him out of the building upon his return to explain this, he joined the House of Truth in attacking Corino. This led Jim Cornette to proclaim that Steen would never have another match in ROH again, and that led Steen to convince Jacobs and Corino that Good Is Dumb and kickstarted SCUM (Suffering Chaos Ugliness Mayhem) and their effort to destroy the company and eventually the entire wrestling industry (Chikara was to be next on their hit list, and Jacobs almost did take it down with The Flood).
  • One possible interpretation of Muhammad Hassan. It seemed that the original intention of the character was as a face due to being constantly Mistaken for Terrorist after 9/11— but audiences kept treating him as a heel, and the character became exactly the sort of stereotype that it was originally meant to campaign against.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The fiend-blooded Tieflings are prone to this. While they are no more predisposed to good or evil than their human kin, enough people treat them as if their heritage makes them intrinsically evil that they often give up trying to be decent to their abusers. Compare their Aasimar counterparts, who sometimes get so worn down by the assumption that their celestial blood means they must be paragons of good and justice that they end up bobsledding off the slippery slope.
    • Warlocks are born with magical gifts from unspecified dark powers, ranging from powerful fey to actual demon lords, and are commonly treated as evil by default on the basis of their gifts being a bit spooky. Consequently, there are a lot of evil warlocks.
    • Chromatic Dragonborn will usually end up in situations like this, given that Chromatic dragons tend to fall between being instinctual feral beasts or Always Chaotic Evil pillagers amassing hordes and terrorizing towns, it shouldn't surprise anyone when being called a monster all their life makes them decide to follow in their dragon parent's footsteps. In some sources adopting this outlook will even cause their Dragon parent to finally acknowledge them as their offspring... unfortunately for their tormenters who while prepared to fight a dragonborn, probably can't fight a dragon.
  • Storytellers sometimes use this tactic in Hunter: The Reckoning. Since almost all of the mook monsters you meet actually have a measure of humanity and are enslaved to their natures or other, worse monsters, there is already a bit of a gray area to killing them in the first place. Since hunters constantly hound the monsters, cutting off their resources and food supplies, they can eventually get fed up or be driven to desperate acts of violence since their beastly side starts taking over. This could cause a normally nice vampire who only drinks just enough blood to survive, and only from animals, to become a raging beast draining the nearest humans dry. If the monster survives, you can bet he won't care much about keeping his humanity anymore. Expect angry party members who have more forgiving views of the monsters.
    • In the New World of Darkness there's the Refinement of Stannum in Promethean: The Created, which is centered around wrath and getting revenge on the world that scorns you at every turn. Prometheans eventually draw the wrath of humanity and the suffering of nature everywhere they go, and Stannum is about focusing that wrath where it belongs. Each Refinement is a philosophy that the Promethean follows during their Pilgrimage, and the various paths usually require some careful study before you can switch over. Stannum, however, can be entered instantly, and is usually entered when some Promethean goes, "Oh, fuck this shit."
      • And a step below that is the path of Centimani, the Refinement of Flux. Flux is a force of dissolution and mutation, and the Centimani themselves are focused on monstrosity rather than rebirth. Prometheans on this path have not only given up on trying to be good, they've given up on trying to be anything resembling a human. In a subversion, however, some Prometheans see Centimani as a way to humanity just like the others.note 
  • Legend of the Five Rings: It takes a lot for the samurai of Rokugan to betray their Emperor. The Code of Bushido is very clear— if you betray your lord, you must kill yourself to restore your honor. So imagine how bad Hantei XVI was to have his entire personal guard turn on him and slay him— in their minds, bringing dishonor on themselves and their family and having to commit seppuku was a preferable fate to letting Hantei XVI stay in charge.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperium loves causing this.
    • It is said that to betray the Imperium is the heretical work of Chaos. After all, the Emperor Protects, and His Imperium provides for all. So who cares if you grew up on a world with a 95% conscription rate, if your local sub-System governor cut off all incoming supplies to your desert planet because the local figurehead didn't want to marry off his only daughter to the guy, or if you only accepted the help of that one benevolent alien race in fighting off the far-less-benevolent alien race because the Imperial Guard/Space Marines wouldn't arrive for, oh, fifty years. The response will still be BURN, HERETIC, so if you'll be condemned for being a pawn of Chaos anyway, you may as well get the fun powers (and horrid mutations) that go with it.
    • Mutants usually arise from non-Chaotic sources, such as exposure to rubber-science radiation, but are at best barely tolerated and the victims of severe discrimination because it's feared that they will turn to Chaos. For some reason, having it made clear for your entire life that you're one slip-up away from the stake means that when a cult teaches your differences are in fact holy, you're statistically very, very likely to be on board with that - meaning that you do, indeed, turn to Chaos. Then again, many mutants do turn to Chaos or are tainted by Chaos at birth, meaning the Imperium's attitude is usually the correct one.
    • More than once, Space Marine Chapters have been accused of treachery on scanty evidence, leading to them ending up genuinely in the hands of the Dark Gods, most notably the Soul Drinkers (although they later gained a form of redemption).
    • More than one Primarch was a victim of this during the Horus Heresy.
      • Most notable was Konrad Curze, who was cursed with visions of the galaxy falling into eternal bloodshed and himself being executed as a traitor by an agent of the Imperium. After his one sincere attempt to seek help from his brothers was violently rebuffed, he decided to embrace his fate.
      • Part of the reason Mortarion slipped into heresy was his steadfast opposition to use of psychic powers, which he viewed as sorcery in all cases. When a daemon makes it clear that his "clean" wards and counteragents are useless, Mortarion unleashes his own sorcerous might to destroy it and vows to master the practice himself.
      • Magnus the Red seems to be slipping this way. He intended to let himself be executed for his defiance of the Decree of Nikaea, but when it came to the end watching his world and sons be destroyed angered him too much to do this. Since he's now banished, friendless and trapped in the power of the Chaos Gods, he might as well embrace it.
      • Alpharius may end up a victim of this. The Alpha Legion embraced treason for the greater good of the galaxy, but by the 41st millenium they all seem to be card-carrying villains. Of course with the Alpha Legion, who really knows.
  • Often the case in Warhammer as well. Village witches, alchemists, and various others are all too open to accusations of being in league with Chaos, at which point they generally have nothing left but to either die or actually go over to Chaos.
    • Those who start mutating later in life are usually hidden away by their families, until they get chased out by the rest of the townsfolk, join a band of mutants/beastmen, and lead them right back to the village that kicked them out. In the case of beastmen, mutants quickly find that they might have had better luck staying with the village, as beastmen view human-born ungors as expendable slaves and emergency food.
    • Archaeon the Everchosen combined this with You Can't Fight Fate. Archaeon was originally a devout Sigmarite who found out about a prophecy about the birth of the Everchosen, the greatest champion of Chaos ever to live. He travelled around the world trying to find and kill the child, only to realize to his horror that the prophecy was about him. He then tried to kill himself, but when he tried to stab himself and his dagger bent, he took this as a sign that he would never be free of Chaos, and might as well serve them as best he could.
  • Nemesis is a Traitor/Hidden Role game in which players must choose between a benign and traitorous role. Unlike other games of its ilk, players aren't assigned the traitor role. They have to decide to do it.

  • In Bat Boy: The Musical, "Apology to a Cow" ends with this.
    Bat Boy: "I don't want to harm you, I only want to KILL!
    You shall have your monster, I shall drink my fill!
    At last I am embracing my bloody destiny!
    Dear Mom and Dad this place will be
    The last thing that you ever see!
    Revenge will be a home for me!"
  • In Les Misérables Valjean briefly does this after society doesn't give him a fair chance for being on parole. This prompts him to decide to become a thief. Fortunately, the first person he chooses to rob is a very kind and forgiving bishop who covers for the theft and insists that Valjean pay him back by becoming a good man.
  • Shakespeare loved this trope:
    • Perhaps most famously, Shylock of The Merchant of Venice is often interpreted as this and provides the page quote. The play establishes early on that Antonio, The Protagonist, is at the very least verbally abusive of Shylock due to Shylock's Jewish faith. When Shylock sees the opportunity to get revenge on Antonio and do it legally, he jumps at the opportunity, even though he knows it is villainous: As he states at the end of his famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech, "The villainy you teach me, I will execute." Whether Shylock is intended to be this or an Anti-Villain Jerkass Woobie, and whether the play is truly anti-semitic or Fair for Its Day, is left up to modern scholars and audiences to decide - Shakespeare certainly isn't around to tell us.
    • Don John, the Designated Villain of Much Ado About Nothing. He protests his state thusly:
      "I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and seek not to alter me."
    • Similarly, the bastard son Edmund in King Lear laments that he is categorized as base and lowly since he is "illegitimate." Since he is going to be treated unfairly regardless of how well-behaved he is, he resorts to evil to try and increase his standing.
    • Richard III has the titular Villain Protagonist give his motivations in Act 1, Scene 1:
      "And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
      To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
      I am determined to prove a villain
      And hate the idle pleasures of these days."
    • Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus is not only happy to live up to the Roman's wicked expectations of him, in the end he finds he repents only the meager good he may have done.
    • Averted, however, by Iago and Caliban (of Othello and The Tempest respectively), who make comments to the effect that they're just born to be evil.
  • Similarly to "No Good Deed", Shrek: The Musical has "Build a Wall".
    Shrek: I'm gonna be what they want
    I'm gonna be what they say
    Hey world, I'll do it your way!
    You're looking for a monster, it's your lucky day
    I'll be what you want!
  • The titular song from Twisted quite fittingly twists this trope. After listening to the other villains from Scheherazade's stories, and learning that things weren't as black and white as he was led to believe, Ja'far realizes that he is destined to play the villain in his own story as well, and willingly will do so, if it means saving the Princess, the Magic Kingdom and everything he loves from a war with Prince Achmed and Pikzar, even if they all will hate him and remember him as evil.
  • Elphaba of Wicked, after having every good deed that she's ever done blow up in her face, declares this near the end of her BSoD Song "No Good Deed."
    Elphaba Alright enough so be it
    So be it then
    Let all Oz be Agreed
    I'm Wicked through and through
    Since I cannot succeed Fiyero saving you
    I promise No Good Deed will I attempt to do again
    Ever Again
    No Good Deed
    Will I Do

    Video Games 
  • Caelar Argent in Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is seen as a villain because she brings chaos and destruction in her wake as she leads the Shining Crusade. Caelar does regret the destruction she causes, but thinks its ultimately For the Greater Good. In the end, it's revealed that she was duped by her Obviously Evil subordinate Hepheranan and is about to release the devil Belhifet into the world. Caelar, realizing this was all her doing, can give herself over as a blackguard into Belhifet's service provided he kill Hepheranan first. As she puts it, she tried to do good and was utterly terrible at it, so it would be better to be evil, because at least she can wear that as a badge of honor.
  • In Bug Fables, ever since the gang of seventeen ladybugs were caught raiding the aphid farms, Queen Elizant II banished the entire ladybug species from the Ant Kingdom, with only few being accepted in, requiring special permits. Unfortunately, most ladybugs were not happy with her actions, and decided that, since they are all treated as outlaws, they will be outlaws, and became burglars — a deed that tarnished ladybugs' reputation even further than before.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Gabriel Belmont became evil because destiny said he would become evil.
  • In City of Heroes, Leonard "Frostfire" Calhoun (Yes, that is his real name) is explicitly stated to have "succumbed to a 'if you're going to treat me like a villain' mentality" after a botched attempt at vigilanteism. For this reason, Frostfire is one of the more sympathetic villains in the game, even delivering a crude Motive Rant when confronted. He even eventually tries to redeem himself.
  • Can be invoked by the player in Civilization. Once the AI starts denouncing you, it is very hard to get back in their good books, even if all you did was refuse to roll over and die when they shot first. This can lead a player to decide to show the enemy civilizations what a real bloodthirsty warmonger actually looks like.
  • Invoked by Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided when talking about an augmented-only ghetto.
    Adam: Treat people like animals long enough and they'll start acting like animals.
  • The whole Dragon Age series has this with blood magic. Even though it can be used innocently, using only your own blood and powering all kinds of magic, it is always claimed to be evil magic fuelled through harming others and used to control minds. Since the slightest hint of innocent use is an immediate death sentence, those who get caught tend to go all-in on the evil due to having no other choice left.
    • In Dragon Age II, almost all of Kirkwall distrusts the qunari and their leader, the Arishok, due to the qunari's reputation for being heathen conquerors. While the Arishok is by no means a nice guy, he and the rest of the qunari just want to mind their own business and leave Kirkwall as soon as possible. However, after years of unprovoked attacks by those who expect him to act against them, the Arishok finally has enough and tries to conquer Kirkwall.
      The Arishok: Fixing your mess is not the demand of the Qun, and you should all be grateful!
    • This also sums up why so many Circle mages turn to Blood Magic; they spend their whole lives effectively at the mercy of the templars, who tell them that the abilities they were born with are sinful and hold the threat of being made Tranquil over their heads, so what do they have to lose by dealing with demons? First Enchanter Orsino does this in the endgame - even if you sided with him.
      • Spelled out in the web series Dragon Age: Redemption focused on several characters trying to stop an escaped qunari mage, or Saarebas ("dangerous thing" in qunari). The qunari treat their mages way worse than humans. They sew their mouths shut and force them to wear harnesses that dampen their magic and can be used to shock them into submission. After finally stopping and collaring the Saarebas, Tallis asks him why he tried to cast a dangerous spell. His response is that he has been told for so long that he's a thing of evil that the only thing he could think about doing after escaping is the most harm possible. However, not all Saarebas are like that.
    • Anders especially emphasizes this point as the reason the Circle of Magi simply doesn't work-when you imprison and terrify a person with supernatural powers for the entirety of their lives, does the fault lie with the prisoner for eventually snapping and trying to take everyone down with them, or the system that forces them into that corner with no room for compromise? Doesn't stop him from yelling at the mages who made deals or turn into abominations, but he saves most of his bile for the Chantry. Hence his "nuclear option" attack on the Chantry after all his other efforts have been shut down.
    • Orsino's Despair Event Horizon also has him come to this conclusion, when, after Meredith's templars have killed the rest of the mages in the Circle, he decides that if he's going to die, his name slandered as a blood mage for a crime he didn't commit, then he'll use the blood magic he'd previously condemned to take as many templars out with him.
  • You can deliberately invoke this in Dragon's Dogma. Once you confronted Duke Edmun after slaying Grigori the Dragon, he immediately brands you as a traitor, and every guard along with captain Maximilian would make an attempt to kill you on sight whenever you entered upper Gran Soren. If a traitor is what they wanted, then why not become one? Now, you have the option to teach them a lesson and kill everyone on sight, yes, everyone but the Duke. This is for crossing with the Arisen, who will soon become your god!
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: While most of the game portrays necromancers as evil because they are necromancers, there are a few implications in the Mages' Guild questline and a few related books that one reason Mannimarco's evil Order of the Black Worm have had such a success in infiltrating and poaching from the Guild after necromancy was banned within the Guild is that more than a few previously ethical Guild necromancers and associates took Hannibal Traven (the Arch-Mage of the Guild) at his word when he lost them their specialization and potentially livelihood by driving through a hard-line anti-necromancy policy that painted it as inherently evil and connected to Mannimarco (an ancient arch-enemy of the Guild).
    • Khajiit are often subjects of Fantastic Racism outside of Elsweyr, stereotyped as thieves, skooma addicts, liars and generally troublemaking scum. Sadly because of this they rarely find meaningful employment and have to resort to criminal activity to survive.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The most commonly-accepted interpretation of Sorceress Ultimecia's motivations in Final Fantasy VIII is that she was discriminated against and persecuted by a society conditioned to assume that any sorceress runs the risk of snapping and trying to take over the world, until — shockingly enough — she snapped and decided to become the evil sorceress that history reviled. Her speech in Deling very heavily alludes to this.
    • Invoked by Snow and Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII in order to scare civilians out of harms way. Lightning toys with the idea after her sister is Taken for Granite and she herself is branded a l'Cie, which means everyone in the world will be hunting her down. She suggests making herself an enemy that they should really fear by destroying the chief god in the fal'Cie pantheon. Ultimately she doesn't go through with it, the reaction being mainly one of grief and rage rather than reason. Snow later announces that he is a Pulse l'Cie "here to kill you all" and shoots a machine gun skyward in Palumpolum so that a crowd of citizens will clear the area, saving them from getting shot down or Purged by PSICOM.
    • Final Fantasy XV Episode Ardyn reveals that Ardyn Izunia a.k.a. Ardyn Lucis Caelum was fated to fill the Big Bad role to Noctis' The Hero in Bahamut's plans to bring balance to Eos. When Bahamut reveals this to Ardyn, he snaps and decides he might as well embrace the role of an evil bringer of darkness. The Dawn of the Future novel (an adaptation of the cancelled DLC episodes Aranea, Lunafreya and Noctis) reveal an Alternate Continuity wherein he does his role too well, and Bahamut decides to resort to an alternate plan that eventually leads to Ardyn performing a Heel–Face Turn; basically, in accepting his role as a villain, he would have directly caused his redemption as a hero.
  • A minor character in the 'Completing The Mission' portion of the Henry Stickmin Series is Henry StickMAN, who turned to a life of crime due to constantly being mistaken for a criminal as a result of the other Henry's actions.
  • In Icewind Dale 2, the twin Big Bads Isair and Madae were treated as embodiments of evil their entire lives because they were cambions — half devil, half elf. After a lifetime of this treatment, with a cruel prank involving cakes baked with holy water as the final straw, they decided they might as well act like embodiments of evil. Iselore the Big Good remembers that he warned their foster mother (the only person who ever loved them) that "they are forged in evil and only evil can come from them" and sadly wonders if he helped make it true.
  • If you decide to take the villain route in InFAMOUS, Cole cites this as one of his reasons for slipping into selfish evil. The people already think he's a terrorist that blew up their city, and he has the powers to make them suffer, why not give them what they want? This is best exemplified at the end of the train mission, where even after saving their loved ones, the people still want Cole's blood, resulting in him zapping one of them to make them disperse. For reference, the good version of the same scene has them treat him like one of the family and marks his turn for the better in the public eye, so it mostly comes down to the reputation he builds in the interim.
  • Since the Jedi of Knights of the Old Republic considered any of their members who went off to defend the Republic against the Mandalorians as fallen (see their shoddy treatment of the Exile, who did return only to get Reformed, but Rejected from the Council), the fact that Revan went and became Dark Lord of the Sith is a cross of this and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • This is Demon King Odio's backstory in Live A Live. Even after Oersted was tricked into killing the king and branded a demon, he figured he could still be a hero, so long as one person believed in him. When that one person committed suicide as a direct consequence of his actions, he took up the demon lord's title and role, spreading pain and misery across the universe.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: In the ending, Big Boss makes a speech about how the world will view MSF differently as time goes by; either as revolutionaries, dogs of war or terrorists and he is willing to accept that role as a villain. Anyone who stuck with the series long enough will know this was how Outer Heaven was founded.
    • In some ways you already are that villain as you are spending the game kidnapping and converting members of the opposition, who may not know anything but their orders, to your line of thinking by unknown means. You also start to develop a weapon capable of launching a nuke anywhere on earth, and the whole premise is you making a military without borders down to the name, all in the name of some ideal state based on your character's view of their mentor's ideals. Just now your character has embraced it.
  • Namm, the Elder Power of Justice from Nexus Clash, is so obsessed with winning the war against the demon lord Tlacolotl that many of his followers have expanded their possible battlefield targets from actual demons to anyone who doesn't have a high enough score on the Karma Meter, and sometimes all the way to anyone who isn't an angel. Namm's behavior is the single best thing that ever happened to Tlacolotl's recruitment, as many characters figure that if they're going to be hunted like demons they may as well join them.
  • In Persona 5, this trope is a soft example of the creation of the Phantom Thieves; all of the founding members and most of the later members join because they were wronged by society or a corrupt individual in untouchable situations of power, and after being pushed too far by someone who made a personal nemesis of them, they decide they'll become what the world sees them as. However, rather than take revenge on everyone, they instead focus on their personal grudges, before moving on to various corrupt high-notoriety figures.
    • The protagonist saves a woman from being assaulted by a man with extreme power and influence, who threatens her into making false testimony against him, earning him an arrest, criminal record, getting him put on probation and ruining pretty much any but the slightest hope of a bright future. When he's about to be slain by Kamoshida's shadow, he becomes a Phantom Thief at the goading of his persona Arsene, who encourages him to thrive in the shadows because of the way the world turned on him.
    • In particular, this is the argument made to Ryuji by Captain Kidd — that since Kamoshida has gone out of his way to make Ryuji's life a living hell (amongst other things), Ryuji should not expect to reconcile with Kamoshida in any way and instead focus his energies on taking the bastard down. Downplayed in that, while Ryuji agrees and does just that, he doesn't go to extremes to get the job done, and has good intentions for the work he does with the Phantom Thieves thereafter.
      "Since your name has been disgraced already, why not hoist the flag and wreak havoc...? The "other you" who exists within desires it thus... I am thou... thou art I... There is no turning back... The skull of rebellion is your flag henceforth!"
    • Goro Akechi fashions himself as a Hero of Justice even as he commits murder and brainwashing for the sake of revenge against his father, Shido. However, it is made clear that at some point Akechi had a Heel Realization that he could have gotten revenge without becoming a murderer. But, because he can't handle that fact or that Joker is better than him, he buries it as he tries to kill the Phantom Thieves, no matter the cost. However, he does pull an Heroic Sacrifice, so he might have rejected this trope if given the chance.
  • Radiant Arc: Kagan was once a Lounan who wanted to figure out a way to control the Morians. When his fellow humans rejected him as a madman, he joined the Morians to get revenge on humanity.
  • SaGa Frontier: Asellus is the only Half-Mystic in the game due to being a human that got a blood transfusion by the lord of Mystics Orlouge. Other Mystics, save a few that are her friends, shun her, while other humans are scared of her. In the Full Mystic ending, Asellus snaps, proceeds to overthrow Orlouge, becoming the new Lord of the Mystics... And a worse tyrant that Orlouge ever was.
  • The lovable, kind Jack Frosts from the Shin Megami Tensei franchises occasionally, through self-discovery or negative experiences, realize they're a demon and decide to act like one, becoming the malevolent and extremely threatening Black Frost.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Ramirez's backstory involves a play on this trope. He came to Arcadia as a naive idealist with some lessons to learn from the school of hard knocks, but found one guy who seemed alright as a role-model/mentor. Sadly, he ended up getting played for a fool and humiliated when the guy turned out to be a dirtbag. So, he went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and gave up on his nice ideals. He was convinced that Humans Are Bastards was a universal truth and decided he might as well join them.
  • In Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan, recently de-infested and now aligned with the heroes, is actively trying to turn her back on her own potential to control the zerg, since she feels this might lead her back to her old self. Then, The Dominion attacks her allies, forcing her to take control of a feral zerg brood lest the Dominion shoot down her Love Interest, Raynor. She realizes during the fighting that she's at risk of giving in to her viciousness, and tries to curb herself. However, Raynor's ship never shows at the rendezvous and she overhears a news report that the Dominion captured and executed him before he could escape. (In fact, he was not executed, but is being held as a check against her attacking the Dominion.) She promptly declares bloody vengeance against the Dominion and Emperor Mengsk, actively seeking out zerg forces to command and becoming re-infested, after a fashion to increase her psychic power. Mengsk seems to realize that the whole mess is his fault (twice over; his betrayal got her infested in the first place!) when she kills him.
    Mengsk: I made you into a monster, Kerrigan.
    Kerrigan: You made us all into monsters.
  • Played with in Tales of Berseria. The heroes are an Anti-Hero Team, and several of them have no trouble identifying as Villain Protagonists.
    • Velvet bases her identity in this, knowing that her desire to kill Artorius is based on nothing more than a selfish desire for revenge, and that's before she learns he's become a Villain with Good Publicity that effectively controls the world. Velvet knows her motives are a PR nightmare, and isn't afraid to tell anyone who offers her aid that she fully intends to murder the Shepherd and has no plan beyond that. In fact, Velvet so completely thinks of herself as a vile, vicious, bloodthirsty monster that she'll often doctor the facts against herself - when recounting her escape from Titania, Velvet says she was freed by a rogue malak, and consumed her rescuer on the way out to awaken her powers. While this is true, Velvet leaves out that said malak was mortally wounded protecting Velvet from an attack, and begged to be consumed so her death would tangibly help. Velvet thinks her goals make her inherently unsympathetic, but when her full picture is finally made clear, an antagonistic teammate-by-circumstance completely loses any resolve to betray her, and Velvet has trouble understanding why.
    • Magilou self-identifies as a witch, and frequently says that she's going along with Velvet because she just has to see what happens. However, the glimpses of Magilou Beneath the Mask shows that she's a self-loathing cynic who believes the worst in people. Her backstory late-game reveals that she was exiled from the Abbey by failing a Secret Test of Character for showing too much attachment, which goes against the Abbey's vision of a world without emotion. Magilou thus decides that, if feeling emotion and rebelling against such ways of thinking makes her evil, then she will "live and die with evil as [her] mantra."
    • This way of thinking is ultimately what makes Eleanor turn her coat as well. She wholeheartedly believes the ideals the Abbey puts forth, even once she discovers the people in charge were using this doctrine as a smokescreen for a true plan they knew the public would never support. In the end she chooses to invert God Before Dogma, happy to be branded a heretic in the name of perpetuating their benevolent mission statement instead of the Abbey's real goals.
  • Watch_Dogs 2: The reason why Marcus Holloway becomes an outlaw hacker is because he was arrested for a crime he didn't commit, and was only arrested and punished because he "fit the profile", one that could have fit dozens of other people in the city. Because of this wrongful arrest, he is permanently tagged as a criminal, and whatever hopes he had for a bright future are ruined. He decides that if the system is going to treat him like a criminal, he will be a criminal who works to destroy the system that wronged him.
  • Syanna, the older sister of Duchess Anna Henrietta from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and primary antagonist in the Blood and Wine expansion, is treated like a pariah by almost everyone during her childhood for being born with "The Curse of the Black Sun". Despite being a world where magic and curses are demonstrably real, there are strong implications that this curse is in reality a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, and that Syanna's villanous nature is more a result of how people treated her on the assumption that she was destined to become evil than from any cosmic force.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dies Irae has Anna Maria Schwägelin, who ended up on the wrong end of a literal Witch Hunt in the late 18th century, making her The Scapegoat for all the ills to befall her village. She was imprisoned until Mercurius appeared and offered her a way out, and she leapt at the chance to accept his dark gifts and take revenge on her village, leaving not a single survivor. She then changed her name to Rusalka and spent the next 150 years honing her powers into being a bonafide witch.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • In life, the gods subject Caster aka Medea to a continuous cycle of betrayal, forcing her to love a man she doesn't know, and that same man eventually casts her aside to marry someone else. They make her a scapegoat for the evils of others, and it is a grand irony that, once she strikes back at the world, the title she receives is "The Witch of Betrayal".
    • For Rider, the Goddess Athena became jealous of her and her sisters for being perfect goddesses, so she cursed her alone by turning everyone's love for her into hate. Rider spends her days protecting her sisters and killing the men who come for them, gradually losing her heart and eventually turning into the monster Gorgon.

    Web Animation 
  • In Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware, during his Motive Rant at the climax, Benrey claims this was his motivation for turning evil. As with everything else he says, it's probably not true.
    Benrey: I didn't have a big plan. I was 'sposed to be nice, but you forced me to be BAAAAAAAD, so I gonna be baaaaaaaaad.
  • The very conception of the weird, boundary-pushing, memetically terrifying Haachama persona of hololive's Akai Haato was born from this conclusion vis-a-vis YouTube. As told in her appearance on Kiara Takanashi's HoloTalk, her original mainstay of ASMR streams were quite tame but YouTube's AI algorithm flagged them anyway and demonitized them, resulting in her getting no income from any of her streams for many months. In a case of Create Your Own Villain, she decided that if even that was going to be demonitized then there was no point in holding fast to the traditional cutsey and pure ideal of an idol; thus, she went full-throttle at going in the other direction and the spider-eating, NSFW-fanart-reviewing, no-way-in-hell-seiso Haachama was born.
  • RWBY has Ironwood, who spent a considerable amount of screentime trying his best to protect the world from Salem. However, during Volume 7, his plans of how to go about dealing with her are met with skepticism from multiple fronts, including RWBY themselves. The straw breaking the camel's back was when he finds that he is left with little to no options when he finds Cinder was on Atlas and Salem was on their way to Atlas, as his decision causes everyone not under his direct employ to instantly turn against him. However, he tried to keep it together until Oscar tells him that he is exactly like Salem for going through with this. After this moment, he drops any hesitation he had and, starting with Oscar, shot anyone who got in his way and resorted to Cold-Blooded Torture to get others to work with him.
    • Well before that, this was the explanation given for the White Fang wearing Grimm masks; “Humanity chose to make monsters of us, so we chose to don the faces of monsters.”
  • There's a Man in the Woods (link here) is about some sort of school administrator being fired after a child makes up a lie about there being a serial killer in the woods to get all the honeysuckle to himself, and the parents undergoing a moral panic and getting him fired for not properly dealing with the nonexistent serial killer in the woods. In the end, the man who has been telling the story is revealed to have gone into the woods in order to murder the child who originally made up the rumor while he is all alone, eating the honeysuckle where none of the other kids dare to go.

  • This scenario from Brawl in the Family follows up from the previous one, in an attempt to answer why King K. Rool has such a problem with DK.
  • In Girl Genius, Gil tells Othar that "If being like you is the alternative, I'll gladly take evil" before knocking him off of a dirigible. Gil prefers the lighter and softer approach, but lives in a world and time where that is seen as weakness, and has to be hard-hitting and ruthless just to keep up. Othar thinks he's being a Well-Intentioned Extremist by going around killing Sparks to "save the world" from their bouts of madness and plans to end his campaign with his own suicide -but Sparks are born, including to non-Spark parents, and Othar is either oblivious to or a hypocrite about that fact.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Molly the Monster briefly considers this, early on:
    Molly: "F-Freak?" He shot at me just for what I look like? Yeah? W-Well, if they want a monster, maybe I'll just give them one! Like Shelley's Frankenstein Monster, if I cannot give love to the world, then I will give it wrath! I'll... I'll... Aw, who am I kidding? I haven't got any wrath! Oh Dr. Poule, what am I going to do? Sob!
  • Redcloak of The Order of the Stick has this trait in his more sympathetic moments, most of which are in the prequel book Start of Darkness. As a member of the Always Chaotic Evil goblin race, if a "good" character murders him, any other goblins, or even any baby goblins for any reason, this is not treated as an "evil" act, even though the whole reason goblins are evil in the first place is supposedly because they murder without provocation. His example is particularly notable, as at one point he has a Heel Realization — about the way he mistreats other goblins. He never seriously considers the idea that he's giving humans any less than they deserve.
  • Joe vs. Elan School: A downplayed Real Life example. Right after returning from Elan, Joe finds pretty much no sympathy or comfort from his parents or law enforcement, so he starts smoking weed and drinking, because why not. Barely a year out of Elan and Joe has taken up chain smoking, alcohol, drugs, and tattoos as coping mechanisms to deal with the social stigmas and PTSD he's enduring. Effectively, the abuse, indifference, and lack of sympathy has caused Joe to fully embrace self-destructive vices; Joe's narration even points out that a year earlier he never would have imagined himself going down this path.
  • Pie Comic features an orca whale complaining that being unfairly labeled "killer whale" is what sets them off in the first place.
  • In Spinnerette, Dr. Universe says this to justify his status as a Card-Carrying Villain. He does not consider himself evil but rather an Übermensch with his own moral code (that he adopted after reading Ayn Rand). He acts with integrity, but his definitions of right and wrong do not always align with the rest of the world's. If this makes him evil in eyes of the ignorant masses, he will wear that label with pride.
    Tiger: A good deed by a supervillain, that's rich.
    Dr. Universe: Ask the average joe today who the villains are, and he'll name the banker! The scientist! The entrepreneur! Ask him who his heroes are, and he'll name an actor or a pop star! If that is the standard of the day, then I absolutely am a supervillain!
  • Occurs to Sandra years after she's transformed into a demon at the start of Zebra Girl. Frustrated at the downsides of her new bodyExamples  and waiting for an incredibly unlikely cure, she decides to throw it all to the wind and embrace it. She gets banished to another realm by her friends for her troubles, and thus far it appears that she's learnt her lesson.

    Web Original 
  • Happens to Sombra from Ask King Sombra. He's managed to get some character development, and is almost ready to apologize to the Crystal Empire- and then some guards sent out to meet him mistreat and spit on him, convincing him that being evil was the only thing he could do that would actually work out.
  • Carmilla the Series
    Mattie: You know, since I've arrived, I've been gracious. I've been reasonable. I've been civilized. But all you idiots do are accuse me of murder after petty murder. As if I would bother with one or two...or twenty. I'm going to carve a red swath through your army. I'm going to drink this nation dry. I am death on dark wings. You want to blame me for carnage? I'll show you carnage.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the titular Villain Protagonist was supposedly driven to supervillainy by the smug Jerk Jock attitude that his heroic archnemesis, Captain Hammer, takes toward anyone "nerdy" or "unpopular". Being both of those things, he was persecuted until he gave up on using his intelligence for good and adopted the Dr. Horrible Mad Scientist persona. Even then he's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain until one too many humiliations from Captain Hammer triggers a Not-So-Harmless Villain breakout. It doesn't help that he's not exactly getting good publicity because even when he was trying to be explicitly heroic, he was a Hero with an F in Good. He still wants to do long-term good, even as a villain, but he's not that great at it. His plan seems to be, "1. Take over the world. 2. Everything wrong with the world magically fixes itself because I'm in charge." Even then he was something of a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thought that he can fix the world by ruling. However, when his Morality Chain Penny dies in the end, he had nothing keeping him from becoming a true supervillain.
  • In Dragon Age: Redemption, this is the Saarebas's justification for his actions. The Qun teaches that all mages are inherently evil and must be kept in chains. So, after breaking free, the Saarebas did exactly what he felt was expected of him — do as much damage as possible.
  • The Elfslayer Chronicles involves a Dungeons & Dragons player who gets fed up with his Jerkass DM and her constant tirades about how elves are super-duper awesome and wonderful, while humans are evil, bigoted monsters. Sick of listening to it, he decides that if humans are supposed to be Always Chaotic Evil, why would his character be an exception? So, rather than play along with the DM's glorified morality play, he murders the prince he was supposed to save and frames the guy's elvish lover for it. The DM can't complain; she's the one who insisted that humans are all intolerant monsters.
  • The SCP Foundation has a weird example best described as "Then Let Me Be Euclid" in SCP-1337. Here's what happened:
    • 1337 was a Safe-classnote  SCP that manifested as a little girl. She would appear on a specific road [1337-Alpha] on every month's 19th, hail down a car, request a ride home, direct them to a cemetery [1337-Beta], leave behind her sweatshirt [1337-Gamma], and make the kind driver want to take that sweatshirt to her home [1337-Delta], where her parents would receive it. The Foundation had developed a system to stay aware of her properties; an agent drives down Alpha, picks her up, takes her to Beta, retrieves Gamma, and takes it to Delta, where her parents have been made E-class agents.
    • Dr. L______ defied orders, killed the E-class agents, and burned 1337-Delta to the ground, expecting a promotion.
    • 1337 now manifests as a little girl covered in ritual torture scars; 1337-Alpha is now an entire range of back roads; and 1337 will now warp into a vehicle with a lone driver and kill them the same way she was killed.note 
  • Appears in the Back Story of several characters in the Whateley Universe:
    • Some mutants became villains for revenge, while others complain that they were given no choice and still others are obviously just using this as an excuse. It's played out front and center with the "Bad Seeds", a long-established school clique composed of the children of supervillains who are banded together mostly out of self-preservation because everyone else seems to assume evil is in their blood. At least one "heroic" character (the "future heroes" clique essentially being a stand-in for the "Jocks" cliques found in normal high schools) recognizes this trope is in action and is trying to convince her fellow "Capes" to stop persecuting the Bad Seeds, with limited success so far.
    • One could argue that the most heroic character in the whole series is Jadis Diabolik, because she tries so hard to avoid being sucked into evil even though most people presume she's going to become a supervillain like her father. This is thrown into even sharper contrast when comparing her to 'heroes' such as Bravo, Gryphon, and Iron Mike, or even some of the other protagonists such as Team Kimba (some of whom have a lot of blood on their hands, unlike her).
  • In Worm, Taylor constantly worries about her perception in the eyes of the superheroes and her acquaintances, but ultimately embraces her villain identity. She realizes that her villain team contains the only real friends she has, and has been thoroughly unimpressed with every superhero she's met. Despite this, she continues to mostly fight villains as a supervillain competing for territory in the city, and has heroic goals of her own that will require time and resources to achieve..

    Western Animation 
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time resorts to this at times when his more diplomatic attempts backfire. Then again, considering he is often still trying to kidnap princesses...
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this is ultimately the trigger for Azula's actions throughout the series. She believed that her mother rejected her as a monster and preferred her brother Zuko. So she dedicated herself to becoming Daddy's Little Villain, proving to both her Mother and Zuko that she doesn't need their love, as being feared is the only thing that matters. It backfires on her tragically, resulting in an epic Villainous Breakdown.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In the episode "Harley's Holiday", former Joker minion Harley Quinn passes her competency hearing at Arkham Asylum and vows to live an honest life. Unfortunately, on her first day out, a series of mishaps to her still-healing sanity to snap and push her back toward villainy: "I tried to be good. I really did. But if that's not good enough, fine!" What makes it even worse is that the first incident, which led to all of the others, wasn't even Harley's fault (a sales clerk forgot to remove an anti-shoplifting device from a dress she bought, and the sight of a guard approaching her was enough to trigger a panic attack). Though Batman does bring her back to Arkham, he goes out of his way to keep from harming her, explaining that he knows what it's like to rebuild a life after tragedy. He even gives Harley back her new dress as a peace offering, and she's genuinely touched by his kindness.
    • In "Birds of a Feather," The Penguin gets released from jail to little fanfare, leaving him questioning his criminal endeavors. Meanwhile, Rich Bitch Veronica Vreeland and her equally-vapid friend Pierce Chapman decide to use Penguin to boost Veronica's social standing by faking romantic interest, despite Batman warning them that Evil Is Not a Toy. Even the Dark Knight is convinced of Penguin's honesty when he decides to give Veronica some expensive jewelry (which he bought legitimately) as a gift...but then Penguin overhears her and Pierce laughing about their trick. Heartbroken and furious, he angrily turns back to his criminal ways, and he throws the blame squarely at the two of them for treating him like garbage. Batman himself seems to agree.
  • Similarly in Batman Beyond, Mr. Freeze after having a new body constructed for him, decides to make amends for his previous misdeeds all those decades ago. Not many were convinced, and he even set up a charity to help the victims of his past crimes after one of them tried to kill him. Then his body starts failing, and his doctor/girlfriend decides to try and knock him unconscious and use his organs to see what went wrong. Freeze barely survives, and goes back to revenge again, killing his traitorous girlfriend, and planning to blow up the Wayne-Powers compound, threatening to kill hundreds more, with him along with it. While in the animated movie Sub Zero, which took place decades earlier, Freeze had finally achieved his goal of saving the life of his wife and seemed to have undergone a Heel–Face Turn as a result of that (he also tells Batman and co. to save some children rather than save him when he is badly injured on an exploding oil rig) in the following series, The New Batman Adventures, his body is falling apart and he decides that even though his wife is alive and happy, if he can't be happy with her he is going to make the lives of everyone in Gotham as miserable as possible, culminating in a Kill 'Em All plot. It's understandable if Freeze isn't wholly trusted.
  • And in The Batman, The Riddler's backstory reveals him to be a victim of Parental Abuse suffering because his father was jealous of his intellect. Slightly unhinged, the Riddler ends up finding love in college with his science partner. She ultimately ends up sabotaging him, sending him down a path of villainy all so she could take all the profit from the experiment for herself.
  • Camp Lazlo: In "Squirrel Scout Slinkman", Slinkman becomes a substitute scoutmaster for the Squirrel Scouts. After being tormented by them throughout the episode, he becomes about as nasty as Lumpus. He coldly brushes of their apologies and literally sends them up the creek with a paddle. He regrets what he did, however, and rescues the Scouts when a storm blows in.
  • DuckTales (2017): In the episode "The Duck Knight Returns", Jim Starling's last line in the episode, said as he's completing his transformation into Negaduck, heavily implies this trope.
    "They want 'grim and gritty', huh? Happy to play the part..." (Evil Laugh)
  • In "All Heated Up" from Elena of Avalor, Charoca of the monfuego is treated as a monster, but Elena tries to put a stop to it. However, when the royal forces attack anyway, he declares, "If they want a monster, I'll give them a monster." Fortunately, it doesn't stick.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", a homeless Brian tries begging a guy for change, but the guy assumes that he is crazy. Brian gets pissed off and shows him just how a crazy dog acts.
    • Similarly, after spending several episodes as a Villain Ball Magnet to Quagmire, and facing gratuitous outbursts and criticisms, Brian has started to snap back, committing genuinely callous acts against him such as stealing his dream girl or scamming him out his life savings, complete with Quagmire having the nerve to exclaim that he did not think he was that low before.
  • An episode of Futurama had the crew make a delivery to a giant ugly monster. Bender continuously insults him, but the guy remains calm and composed and takes the barbs in gentle stride. Fry tries to be compassionate, claiming he just inherited ugly genes from his mother. Too bad insulting his mama was his Berserk Button. Later, the giant comes to Earth to try and apologize for his outburst. Unfortunately, the world's water supply had been turned into alcohol and everyone acts drunkenly agressive towards him. The giant finally snaps and goes on a rampage.
    Giant: I won't stop until your whole planet is as ugly as you perceive me to be!
  • Barely averted in the first episode of Gargoyles. After the Gargoyles heroically fought to protect Castle Wyvern and the refugees inside from the barbarian hordes, Lexington, Brooklyn, and Broadway are treated with disdain and called monsters by the very people they risked their lives to protect. They conclude that if the humans are going to treat them as monsters, "Then perhaps we'd better live up to the name", and they begin to advance menacingly on the refugees. Luckily Goliath stops them before they do...whatever terrible thing they were planning to do.
    • Most likely a good-natured spooking. But you know, slippery slope and all that. A better example would be Demona: Humans not giving the clan respect? Horrific past experience with your very evil future self getting you down? Kill 'em all!!
  • Justice League: At the start of "A Better World", we see Justice Lord!Superman confronting President Lex Luthor when he along with Wonder Woman and Batman storm into the White House. Luthor starts taunting Superman over how the Kryptonian could have gotten rid of him any time he wanted, but didn't, and what stopped him wasn't the law or people's will, but his own ego at being adored as a hero, and no matter what he does Luthor will go back and they'll start all over again.
    Superman: I did love being a hero. But if this is where it leads, I'm done with it (Eyes glow with Heat Vision)
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness features Fu-xi, a cobra who once defended China from evil doers. However, the others that Fu-xi swore to protect feared him and his kind. Their betrayal led him to be racist towards the two-leggers.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • The poster girl for this trope is undoubtedly Chloe Bourgeois. While it was already spurred on from being The Friend Nobody Likes for so long and having an absolute monster of a mother. After numerous attempts to work with Ladybug and even resisting an akuma, Ladybug never answers the call and this partially caused Chloe to commit a Face-Heel Turn and work with Hawkmoth. It ends up getting her kicked off the team (supposedly) permanently. Many say she's responsible for her own actions, but there's also a fair bunch who blame Ladybug for her glaring ineptitude in handling the situation. So perhaps her actions weren't as unreasonable as one would think.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "The Times They Are a Changeling", a Changeling named Thorax wants to makes friends with others, unlike the rest of his kind. Spike meets him and agrees to help him make friends with the Crystal Ponies, but when Thorax's true identity is discovered before he and Spike are ready to reveal it themselves, Spike doesn't stand up for Thorax, so Thorax runs away. When Spike comes to apologize to Thorax, Thorax calls himself "an evil Changeling" apparently ready to give up on friendship. Luckily, Spike says that he is sorry and the two make amends, revealing their friendship to the empire; successfully convincing them that not all Changelings are evil.
  • South Park:
    • Scott, the Canadian dick, was an overbearing jerk that wanted Terrence and Phillip gone, but did nothing more than that other than being a jerk to people. Everyone else calls Scott a dick because of his jerkass attitude, which eventually got to him in "Royal Pudding" after he becomes a giant:
      General: You're a dick, Scott! You have always been a dick! And then you got radiation poisoning in Ottawa and now you're a GIANT DICK!
      Scott: Well, you kept calling me a dick, so that turned me into a dick! And then I got radiation poisoning in Ottawa and now I'm a giant dick!
    • This may also be the case for the Ginger Kids, after being ostracized and shunned for their appearances. They then formed the Ginger Separatist Movement, after being influenced by Eric Cartman of course.
    • Heidi Turner also had this case as well. After being mock by her friends for going out with Cartman, she lets him manipulate her and become his Distaff Counterpart. She snaps out of it in "Splatty Tomato"
  • Inverted on Steven Universe with the character Lapis Lazuli. She is a refugee from the Gem race’s Homeworld who has befriended Steven on Earth, but is horrified of being associated with Earth’s own Gems, the show’s heroes, lest she be caught up in another war. Near the end of Season 5, she finally pulls off a Big Damn Heroes moment against Blue and Yellow Diamond, reasoning that if Homeworld will punish her like a Crystal Gem anyway, she may as well embrace The Power of Friendship.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In the two-part episode "Blast From The Past", after being released from the Phantom Zone, Mala was legitimately trying to follow Superman's example. Unfortunately, after some collateral damage occurred while stopping a fairly routine robbery, and then a bad interaction with an especially catty Lois Lane, Superman begins to contemplate sending her back to the Zone. Mala is horrified by this and then releases Jax-Ur out of spite and jealousy to bring the Earth to heel, making her the villain the story needed her to be.
  • Tangled: The Series: Fans are divided on how sympathetic Varian really is for his Face–Heel Turn, but it is clear that he at least sees himself this way.
    Believe me, I know,
    I've sunk pretty low,
    But whatever I've done, you've deserved.
    I'm the bad guy — that's fine.
    It's no fault of mine,
    And some justice, at last, will be served!
    • In a Call-Back to the movie, Cassandra says Gothel's line word for word in the penultimate episode. Sadly fitting, as she is Gothel's biological daughter.
  • This was Jinx's motivation in Teen Titans (2003). Because she had the power to cause bad luck, she thought evil was the only option for her. Kid Flash eventually pulls her out of that belief.
  • Wakfu gives us a rare inversion: Rubilax comes from an Always Chaotic Evil race of demons called Shushus, but he gets no respect from his peers, who often mock him for being a softie and not being evil enough (despite proving that he can be quite evil), to the point that he gets fed up and pulls a Heel–Face Turn, arguing that at least humans respect him to some degree.


Video Example(s):


(Spoilers!) Upstanding Yuck

Yuck goes back to being evil thanks to Yin and Yang refusing to believe that he really changed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / NiceJobBreakingItHero

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