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Took a Level in Kindness

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Before and after Anastasia's Character Development
from Cinderella's evil stepsister to a kind sister.
"It's already happening. You've reverted back to what you were. You've gotten soft. You're like one of those police dogs who's released into the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something."
NewsRadio, "Airport"

A sweet trope in which a Jerkass develops a nicer attitude over time and becomes a genuinely pleasant person (or, at worst, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold). Usually this can be due to Character Development. A Heel–Face Turn may be involved as well. In some cases this may be a case of Characterization Marches On; as the series progresses, the writers realized that a nicer character fit the changing tone better than the original idea. This trope also covers situations where a character with a Hidden Heart of Gold feels safe enough to show his gentler side (in the presence of the main characters, anyway).

If done over the course of one episode or short story, this may have been to set up an Aesop. Also called a Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot.

Contrast Took a Level in Jerkass. Compare to Defrosting Ice Queen, which focuses on a specific Love Interest bringing an unfriendly character out of her shell. When a character becomes nicer in an adaptation, that's Adaptational Nice Guy.


Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Comic Books 
  • It has been noted by many that, in the New 52, Batman of all people has taken a major level in kindness, while others have become bigger jerks. Bruce is actively rebuilding Gotham, trying to move on from his parents' death and even seems to be one of the nicer members of the Justice League. While some of this can be seen as the result of The Return of Bruce Wayne, where he came full circle from his previous epic Jerkass characterization, even stories set before that happened have him as one of the nicer guys.
  • After mostly being an antagonist or even borderline villain in the Donald Duck comics he originated in, Scrooge McDuck had to be turned into a more heroic and sympathetic character when he began starring in his own spinoff title (though even in his own comics he always remained something of an antihero).
  • In The Incredibles, Organa becomes a much better mother after being turned into a monkey.
  • In Ms. Marvel (2014), Zoe Zimmer starts off as a mean and condescending bitch towards Kamala and Nakia, but over the course of the series, she slowly gets on better terms with them, culminating in her realizing that she has feelings for Nakia.
  • King Max Acorn in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), post-Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide. Once a fairly amiable guy, one trauma after another left him a crusty curmudgeon. When the Cosmic Retcon Button is hit by accident, he becomes completely mellowed out to the point where Sonic sees this change in attitude as a reason not to set things back to normal.
  • Spider-Man: Downplayed, as Mary Jane Watson was always fun and friendly, but the significant event that changed her from a flighty, self-absorbed party girl into a mature and compassionate woman, is the death of Gwen. With the death of her close friend, she realizes that Peter, having just lost one of the loves of his life, needs her to be a better person. In one of her most iconic moments, after Peter unloads on her in the cruelest way possible, to the point that she is sobbing, and he angrily demands she leave him, Mary Jane slowly walks towards the door, but instead of exiting through it, she shuts it and returns to comfort her grieving friend. From then on, MJ is portrayed as a supportive and kind-hearted friend to Peter, and of course, eventually a loving wife. Made even more clear in the Spider-Gwen alternate universe, where without the death of Gwen (or any association with Peter), while still a good person, MJ is a much more selfish and irritable girl, with a slight bitchy streak every once in a while.
  • In the Supergirl/Green Lantern crossover Red Daughter of Krypton, Red Lantern Bleez became somewhat kinder and nicer after joining Guy Gardner's group. Supergirl also matured in this storyline, getting over her anger and brattiness and becoming a better person.
  • In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Megatron undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, but starts out as really only a "face" in that he works for the Autobots now and has given up on waging intergalactic war - he's still dismissive of organic life and generally kind of a knob. Then comes the "Dying of the Light" arc, in which he's subjected to a psychic attack based on the dying screams of everyone whose life he's responsible for ending. He gets a lot nicer, and even proves willing to lay down his life to protect a handful of the organics he once tried to exterminate. When he's marooned in the Functionist universe, he attempts to start a peaceful revolution against the corrupt senate based on empathy instead of oppression, and is shown receiving a call from that universe's version of Optimus Prime.
  • Thunderstrike: In Marcy's first few appearances in The Mighty Thor, she's outright vindictive to Eric. Yet whatever feelings made her so bitter over their marriage ending, they are largely gone when this series starts, so she and Eric at least become friends before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Ultimate Captain America, sort of. Ever since Peter's death, his old-fashioned approach started to whither away. When he eventually returned and met Miles Morales, he was more accepting of the kid and eventually became his greatest supporter (he even had Miles fight alongside the Ultimates, which was something he deliberately banned Peter from doing). He reserves his initial gruff persona for those who waste his time (the representative of the then-defected California) or people who he knows can do better (the lawyers arguing for and against the incarceration of Bruce Banner). By the end of the Ultimate Comics run, Captain America is just a less tolerant but still heroic version of his 616 counterpart instead of a straight-up hero.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: In the original comic book continuity (which is different from the animated series' continuity), Vathek, one of the main villains of the first arc, is a cruel, aggressive and arrogant bastard. After half the arc, he's sent to spy on the good guys but ends up genuinely sympathizing with them and pulls a Heel–Face Turn. Character Development and Hidden Depths show their faces, and at the end of the arc, he's a real Gentle Giant.
  • Wonder Woman: While previous iterations of the Barbara Minerva Cheetah may have had moments of Even Evil Has Standards and feelings of a kind of kinship with Wondy in Vol 2 she was always an unrepentant serial killer who reveled in the human sacrifice required for her powers. The Wonder Woman (Rebirth) version of Barbara is far more sympathetic, genuinely befriends Diana and was tricked into the horrific need for human flesh and Body Horror which came along with becoming Cheetah.

    Fan Works 
  • In Faded Blue, Blue Diamond learned to empathize with others because of her relationship with Greg.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged: The abridged version of Kirito is an Adaptational Jerkass, bordering on being The Sociopath a lot of the time (not that he's the only one mind you), showing a lot less sympathy to others, and frequently threatening them with violence when they annoy him. This changes over the course of the first season, mostly due to his guilt over Sachi's death, and aided by his interaction with his friends, especially Klien and Yui. By the end of the first season, he's become a genuinely heroic character, albeit still quite a Troll, and far more violent and insensitive than his canon self. It culminates in episode 11 when he challenges Kayaba to a duel to get him to shut the Death Game down 25 floors early, despite admitting that he far prefers Aincrad to the real world.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series’ iteration of Calvin is much more likely to do the right thing than his comic counterpart.
  • In The Best Night Ever, a core focus of the story is Prince Blueblood taking several levels in kindness.
  • A Crown of Stars: After arriving on Avalon, getting therapy and counselling, Asuka -who had previously been a mass of rage, cynicism and bitterness due to be psychologically broken- starts being nicer as she gradually gets over her worst issues and learns she can trust other people (specially Shinji).
  • Advice and Trust: After she and Shinji get together, Asuka starts being nicer and kinder to Shinji and Rei because she knows she is not alone anymore and she does not need to push people away. Unfortunately she can not display it openly out of fear to be separated from Shinji in the event that someone finds out that they have become a couple.
  • The Child of Love: Due to the changes she undergoes through her pregnancy, Asuka's behaviour becomes softer. After hooking up with Shinji she is way nicer to him, at the beginning privately but later openly. When Touji muses Asuka is nicer than she used to, Shinji replies that is the real Asuka and the mean girl was a façade.
  • Children of an Elder God: After losing her mother and being ditched by her father Asuka's temper got real bad. Fortunately she got a decent foster mother raised her properly, and her behavior softened after a while.
  • Doing It Right This Time:
    • Ritsuko, upon discovering Rei is actually a clone of her mother instead of one of Yui, starts being kinder to her, even going so far as to treat Rei like a little sister.
    • Asuka, after returning to the past with full knowledge of how disastrous and self-defeating was her "drive everybody away in order to avoid pain" strategy, allows herself to be nicer.
  • Evangelion 303: Getting together with Shinji worked wonders on Asuka's brittle temper. She calmed down -a bit- and started being nicer to people she previously declared she could not stand like Rei or Kaworu. Several characters note that she has changed and is kinder: after finding out Shinji and Asuka are living together Misato mutters "Oh. So that is because she is nicer now". Shortly after Asuka praises Rei's performance during a volleybal match and Rei gets flustered and shocked.
  • Basically applies to all the main characters of Battlestar Galactica (2003) in "The Defector", when Major Sarah Inviere, a Number Six Cylon working as an aide to Roslin and attached to the fleet while supervising Galactica being converted to a museum, falls in love with Commander Adama and reveals the Cylon plan before the Fall of the Colonies. With Major Inviere as proof that the Cylons aren't all evil, the fleet as a whole are more lenient towards other Cylon prisoners, such as helping Boomer overcome her sleeper programming and only locking up the future Athena because she always knew she was a Cylon. When the Pegasus joins the fleet, the precedent set by Major Inviere leads to them immediately concluding that Cain and the crew have committed war crimes based on their treatment of Gina Inviere, as the legal precedent to classify Sarah as human explicitly grandfathers in the entire Cylon race.
  • In The Chosen Six, after her earlier Jerkass Realization, Moaning Myrtle (no longer moaning as much) receives an updated version of the school uniform and basically becomes a greeter for the first-year students, answering some of their immediate questions before the sorting.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Asuka becomes a bit nicer after undergoing therapy and being in a healthy relationship. This is made clear when she refers Rei as “Miss Ayanami”.
  • HERZ: Downplayed. Due to a being older, married and a mother, Asuka is nicer, less harsh and less mean that she used to when she was thirteen... although she is still pretty hot-tempered.
  • Higher Learning: When Kaoru starts working in the pilots' school his lessons teach Asuka to be less angry and less confrontational, and help her to open up. Her temper gets nicer and less pushy progressively, to the point she is capable of confessing her feelings to Shinji (after a bottle of sake). From that point she becomes kinder.
  • Last Child of Krypton: At the beginning Asuka was very angry and confrontational. However, exposure to Shinji -the nicest, kindest, less judgmental person that you will meet- helps her to improve her temper and let her nicer side out.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: After hooking up with Shinji, Asuka stops pushing everyone away. She even tries to be nicer to Rei for Shinji's sake.
  • Once More with Feeling: After returning to the past, Shinji knows exactly why Asuka is rude and and confrontational and what ticks her off. So that he makes sure showing her that he is there for her and not behaving as a wimp who apologizes for everything, never stands up and always backs off, to avoid pressing her berserk buttons. The result is she becomes more sympathetic and nicer. This is specially obvious in several scenes where she admits to Rei she screwed up during a battle or where she says it would be unfair going to Okinawa alone while Shinji and Rei stay in Tokyo-3.
  • The One I Love Is...: Rei and Asuka start fighting over Shinji, forcing the latter girl to acknowledge and display her feelings openly. Since she has to stop pushing him away, Asuka starts being nicer and less harsh. In chapter 6 Shinji notes she is really kinder now.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: This is in fact a plot point: When Asuka finds out about her powers and realizes what they entail, she strives to become a better, kinder person and be worthy of them.
  • Soul Chess has Soifon of all people take a few levels in kindness. The reason? Yoruichi took Soifon with her when she left Soul Society.
  • The Wizard in the Shadows has Denethor take one after a Heel Realisation.
  • Precia in Game Theory. At the very least, she makes an effort to act pleasant instead of abusing Fate, so she's already miles ahead of her canon counterpart, and she does seem to get somewhat genuinely nicer as the story progresses.
  • In Address Unknown, Rainbow Dash grudgingly agrees to take care of a temporarily blinded Derpy, who has recently started a relationship with Twilight. While trying to get to sleep on Derpy's couch, she is forced to confront her responsibility for contributing to Derpy's lifelong misery, and makes a tearful apology the following morning. Derpy forgives her and the two agree to start over.
  • Total Drama
    • In Courtney's Crusade for Redemption Courtney, due to learning from her past mistakes. Scott is also much less antagonistic, and even asks Sam for advice on how to ask Courtney out.
    • In Legacy, both Heather and Duncan have grown up, figuratively as well as literally, in the ten years since they were on the show. Duncan has even learned basic precepts of chivalry.
    • Total Drama Battle Of The Generations: While still not exactly a saint, Scott genuinely tries to redeem himself in the eyes of his teammates, who have a hard time trusting him after the events of season 4.
    • Total Drama Do Over: Duncan becomes more willing to join with the others to eliminate Mal, and calls the cops on him in Post-Plunker's Paradise. However, he reverts back to a Handsome Lech in Ridonculous Race Do Over.
    • Total Drama Legends: Deconstruction. After the two form an alliance partway through the merge, Amy genuinely starts to warm up to Samey, even sacrificing herself to help Samey win a challenge. However, Samey gradually grows uncomfortable with Amy's underhanded ways, and didn't want the alliance to be the way that Amy and Samey's relationship gets repaired. Eventually, Samey uses her sole vote to eliminate Amy, causing the latter to go back to her mean behavior.
    • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: Heather, often despite her own internal protests against it.
  • Bolt and Moondancer, two of Sylvia's brothers, in the story Sylvia the Sylveon.
  • In Fate Zero Sanity, Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi starts off very similar to canon, but ultimately develops into a sympathetic character, culminating in feeling genuine sorrow when his Servant dies. His last act is to give Waver Velvet his Mystic Code and make some amends towards him. This makes his death all the more impactful.
  • Faith and Cordelia both accomplish this in Faith: The Series much faster than in canon. The former due to being Happily Adopted by Giles. The latter due to being saved by Jesse, who she then started dating.
  • Escape From The Hokage's Hat: Played with in that while Sakura wasn't a complete Jerkass, she still wasn't a nice person either. Suffice to say after a few Break the Haughty moments and several reality checks, she reevaluates herself and tries to be both a better person and ninja even going as far as asking Lee out on a date and having a much needed Sorkin Relationship Moment with Naruto where she practically begs him to find someone who'll reciprocate his feelings rather than be her Hopeless Suitor.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Starlight: Not that she was a jerk before, but Homage comes off as much nicer then she is in Fallout: Equestria, often ending her broadcasts with saying how one can best help others.
  • Bonnie in the Kim Possible fanfic Vacation from the Norm is much kinder than she was in the series, largely due to her marriage to Senor Senior Jr. and the father/daughter bond that developed between her and her father-in-law Senor Senior Sr., who happily indulged her passion for refurbishing motorcycles. Bonnie, in turn, convinced SSS to do a Heel–Face Turn, and the Senior family formed their own hero team called the Upperclassmen to help Kim Possible out.
  • In the Twilight fic Luminescence, while Victoria still feeds on humans, she accepts Bella’s request not to go after children or anyone Bella knows, and later finds herself unable to feed on an old man she spots on a street because she starts thinking of him as a grandfather who has family who’ll miss him.
  • In Wonderful (Mazinja), Sophia is a jerkass, but she becomes gradually kinder and more tolerable after meeting Taylor.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji goes from being a Manipulative Bastard and an unrepentant, selfish Jerkass to being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and developing pity and empathy after getting a girlfriend, family and friends.
  • In The Second Try, after Third Impact, Asuka gradually gets over her issues, matures and becomes a mother, and in the process she becomes nicer and less bratty.
  • In Shinji's Nightmare, some time after Shinji returns from his month in Unit 01 as an Alicorn, Nightmare Moon develops from a former Big Bad into a surrogate mother for the boy. It helps that she created his new body, built in her image and gifted with her power, so functionally she is his mother.
    • Ritsuko warms up to Shinji considerably after he extends an open invitation to talk to him about anything or just to have a shoulder to cry on, even knowing that she's sleeping with his father.
  • In This Bites!, due to the conveniently timed SBS broadcast, Boa Hancock spares Marguerite after the latter reasons that she has Devil Fruit powers and that it was due to a Dark and Troubled Past. Thinking about the whole thing more, she realizes just how many of the World Nobles' habits she and her sisters had adopted, and decides she should listen to Elder Nyon and seek therapy.
  • In Sodor the Early Years, this happens with a fair amount of characters, but Diesel is definitely the most notable. He's close to his The Railway Series counterpart in the first few seasons, but as the seasons get more and more deep and complex, Diesel really becomes one of the family. He even apologizes to Henry, Gordon and James in 'Bad Apple', much to their shock. He also apologises to Duck the following day on a maintenance of way train (swapping duties with Bear just to do so), only to find Duck had forgiven him, much to his shock.
  • In Dueling Trigger Finger this trope befalls Kaiba of all people, likely to the absolute shock of no one. After watching Sonia get savaged by the Winged Dragon of Ra and administering some failed tests on Obelisk, he has decided to lock the god cards away forever, rather than want them for his deck. This is especially noteworthy, because it's something his anime counterpart would never even think of doing. Inherently though, on top of that, Kaiba is also highly respectful of Chiaki and even seems to have a soft spot for Chihiro Fujisaki. Chiaki states that she believes it's because Yugi and his friends piss Kaiba off so he's always in a sour mood when it comes to them.
  • A Fantastic Upheaval of Previously Held Notions: In the case of Strickler and Angor Rot. When Barbara learns the full story behind Angor Rot and the Inferna Copula, she has Strickler begrudgingly return the ring to Angor in exchange for him leaving the Trollhunter, his friends and his family alone. While confused at first, Angor agrees, offering Barbra the option to sever the magical link between her and Strickler should she ever need it and the Kill Stone as a sign of solidarity to Jim.
  • In Danny Phantom fanfic Resurrected Memories: After being saved by Danny and realizing that he and the others truly sees her as their friend, Ember simultaneously undergoes this and Took a Level in Cheerfulness as well.
  • Dev-Em in Hellsister Trilogy goes from smug bully to who puts others down to selfless hero who cares for and protects the innocent.
  • Carol Danvers in A Prize for Three Empires. After being called out by her mother on excusing her jerkass behavior on her past trauma, Carol stops pushing everybody away and apologizes to her friends for her earlier rudeness.
  • Jara from Kara of Rokyn starts off as a mean-spirited jerkass driven by jealousy and bitterness but later evolves to a calmer, friendlier person who is able to be friends with the main character instead of hating her for turning her down.
  • Common Sense: After she loses to Ash in the Cerulean Gym, Misty starts becoming increasingly dismissive towards his progress as a trainer, refusing to accept that he's grown stronger than her in such a short amount of time. She later has a Jerkass Realization when she sees Ash trying to hide his pain over not being able to save the Pink Butterfree from Team Rocket, admitting to herself that she's been hating him for little more than her own wounded pride. While they're nowhere near as close as they came to be in canon, she makes a genuine effort to be nicer to him.
  • After discovering that Taya was molesting Izuku in Quirk: Incubus, Bakugo becomes significantly nicer to Izuku, even giving him a pep-talk when Izuku is having an emotional breakdown about what happened.
  • Sasha and the Frogs: Thanks to the Plantars' influence on her, Sasha is showing some of her more likable traits earlier in the story.
  • In Patterns of the Past, Oprah finds that Olesya's personality has changed from her 32 years in retirement from Odd Squad, going from a Tiny Tyrannical Girl with a bad temper who alwayss seemed annoyed to a Nice Girl who is quick to smile and very benevolent.
  • In Read the Fine Print (Evangelion), Shinji and Asuka become pen pals when they are kids. Having an actual friend as growing up works wonders for Asuka's character; and although she is still short-tempered, she is less belligerent and somewhat nicer.

    Films — Animation 
  • The whole point of everything Lightning McQueen goes through in Cars is to persuade him to do this.
  • Anastasia, one of Cinderella's mean stepsisters does this in the sequels Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, to the point where she eventually pulls a Heel–Face Turn, and manages to earn Cinderella's forgiveness by the end of Cinderella III. This is also an example of Adaptational Nice Guy, because in most versions of the classic fairy tale, neither stepsister gets nicer and are basically The Dividual.
  • 'Baby' Brent in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, who starts being The Bully towards Flint, having also a Small Name, Big Ego personality. After his popularity fades away thanks to the FLDSMDFR, he decides to help the main characters in the most critical moment and eventually befriends them.
    • And in the second film, the FLDSMDFR itself has a Heel–Face Turn, starting to make life rather than trying to destroy it.
  • The Incredibles: Violet starts out as very distant to the rest of her family, and especially antagonistic to Dash in the first movie, but really steps up to the plate as the story goes on. In the sequel, while she is still shown to get easily frustrated and even gives frequent snarky lines, she is shown to be much more caring and compassionate to those she loves.
  • The Land Before Time: Cera started out as a stubborn, rude, egotistical and prejudiced brat. She even had the nerve to call Littlefoot's mother "stupid", despite the fact that she sacrificed her life to save her and Littlefoot. She spends most of the first film bragging about how she can take care of herself...until she nearly gets everyone killed following her way. In the sequels, while still egotistical and hot-headed, she has mellowed out greatly.
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Penny starts as an extremely abusive Alpha Bitch who tries to humiliate Sherman into acting like a dog; through her experiences with Sherman in the WABAC, she grows to see him in a new light and becomes a softer and kinder person as a result.
  • ParaNorman: At the beginning of the movie, Courtney is a bratty teenage girl who is aloof and uncaring to her brother Norman, and is not above mocking him and trying to prove he's a liar. In the middle the film, when she notices his ability to see the dead, and realizes how much pain he is in for being a outcast, and sees his life in danger, she becomes kinder, more supporting and protective of him, willing to put herself between her little brother and the mob that wants to kill him.
  • Ratatouille: Anton Ego is introduced as a gaunt Caustic Critic whose scathing review of Gusteau's indirectly led to the chef's death. But the first bite of Remy's ratatouille shatters him, leaving him openly smiling and writing a glowing review for the restaurant and meal.
  • Woody from Toy Story. He starts off in the first film being rather vain about his position as Andy's favourite toy, and shows an endless crippling jealousy towards Buzz when the latter becomes Andy's new favourite, but he does, of course, get better, and by the end, the two are each other's closest allies.
    • In the second film, he loses his arrogant nature but can sometimes make selfish decisions, such as when he stubbornly refuses to return home to Andy, having been convinced by Stinky Pete that there will be a time when his owner won't love him anymore. He does eventually realize how selfish that was and convinces Jessie and Bullseye to come with him.
    • By the start of the third film, he has grown out of his original Jerk with a Heart of Gold personality and frequently makes some of the most selfless decisions out of any of the characters, going as far as to give up his dream of going to college with Andy to spare the others from being left in the attic.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has the Sugar Rush characters who go through this twice. In the first movie, they start out as a Gang of Bullies who antagonize Vanellope over being a glitch, but once the memories locked by King Candy/Turbo are restored and they remember Vanellope is a princess they apologize and treat her like a friend.
    • In Ralph Breaks the Internet, while they are friendly towards each other, they are still highly competitive and bratty. At the end of the movie, after being adopted by Fix-It Felix and Sergeant Calhoun for just around 24 hours, they are shown to have become a lot kinder and taking both victory and defeat with grace.
  • Zootopia has Gideon Gray, a fox bully who picked on Judy and other prey animals when they were kids. But when Judy sees him again when they're adults, Gideon now owns a bakery and is already working alongside Judy's parents. Much to her surprise, he even sincerely apologizes for bullying her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ruthless People. Barbara. Even granting the understandable stresses she's put under she's a pretty horrible person at the beginning of the movie, and it's heavily suggested that her unpleasant personality was a factor long before she was kidnapped. Spending time with the Kesslers, however, and losing weight has an improving effect on her personality and she gradually becomes a much nicer person.
  • Onkel Sofus in most incarnations of the Father of Four movies, as his Character Development.
  • In Bad Santa, the main character starts being a complete Jerkass, but eventually becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Had Phil Connors of Groundhog Day not done so, he probably would never have broken out of his temporal prison.
  • The film Son of Godzilla is the start of showing the King Of The Monster's more loving fatherly side. Especially towards the end where he embraces his new son to keep him from freezing to death.
  • The whole point of the Film Thor, which is an inversion of Captain America: The First Avenger. Whereas Captain Rogers was granted power because of his kindness and decency, Thor had to learn kindness and decency first to be worthy of his power.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Downplayed with Loki. He is still evil, but is less evil than in The Avengers and he risks his life to save Jane Foster.
  • Pretty much every character who becomes a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. This is especially noticeable with Yondu and Nebula. Yondu moves from selfish space pirate to genuinely concerned about Quill's well-being. Nebula grows from single-minded obsession with Thanos and her sister to a genuine hero who works to save others.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Max starts the film looking out only for #1. He only agrees to aid Furiosa in her quest to rescue Immortan Joe's Wives out of a need for survival. Over the course of the story, he subtly becomes more protective of all of them, culminating in throwing everything has to keep them safe during the final chase and eventually giving some of his blood to save the life of a nearly mortally wounded Furiosa.
    • Pretty much a recurring theme for the character, except in the original where he went in the opposite direction.
  • Compared to his other appearances, the Alan Partridge who appears in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is just a little bit nicer. While he's still a large Jerkass, he's not quite the enormous Jerkass of his other appearances and seems more capable of empathy and kindness. The ending, where he shows clear pity for Pat on learning of the death of his wife, is one of the few times we ever see him show sympathy for someone else.
  • Trading Places: Louis Winthorpe started out as a snobby blue blood commodities broker with incredibly prejudiced attitudes against poor people. But after he loses his wealth thanks to the machinations of his bosses, the Duke Brothers, wagering a one dollar bet, he gets taken in by the hooker Ophelia, and he learns his presumptions about the poor were wrong, exemplified by Louis telling a cab driver to keep his change upon paying him while arriving at the World Trade Center to take down the Dukes.
  • A Simple Favor: Darren is a sarcastic tool, and mocks Stephanie behind her back every chance he gets, but after Stephanie's friend Emily is believed to be dead, he backs off, and goes out of his way to be nicer to Stephanie, particularly at the funeral. In the end, he winds up saving Stephanie's life, and makes it clear, even if they don't get along, she's still a part of the community — so he has her back.
  • In Little (2019), Jordan starts off as a jerkass Bad Boss who is unnecessarily rude to everyone. After pissing off a magician girl who wishes that Jordan was her age, Jordan wakes up as her 13 year old self again. After staying as a child for a few days and reliving her childhood, Jordan gets to discover who she truly is and lets her assistant April know why she was so nasty to everyone. When Jordan is turned back into an adult again, she become a lot nicer to everyone.
  • Rick Flag in The Suicide Squad compared to Suicide Squad (2016). In the first film, he gruff and distant at best with the squad and raises no objections over Waller murdering her entire support staff. In the sequel, he's introduced giving a friendly greeting to Savant and asking if he prefers his codename or real name, and later on cracks jokes with some of the task force. He also disobeys orders in order to let the world know what the US Government is responsible for in regards to Project Starfish.

  • This happens to the protagonist in the Ozzy Osbourne song "No More Tears." In the first two verses, he happily murders a prostitute. However, during the bridge and third verse, he finds himself feeling very guilty about what he did. By the end of the song, he actually falls in love with her (even though she's already dead).

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Shawn Michaels Took a Level in Jerkass after kicking Marty Jannetty through a window and became an even bigger jerkass after the screw job against Bret Hart. Then he retired. Then he came out of retirement to fight the seemingly never ending reign of Triple H, gradually becoming a nice guy who would try to help younger wrestlers.
    • More or less a case of Real Life Writes the Plot. He quit drugs, got married, had kids, and found religion. He doesn't deny his past, but has grown up and moved on. It's highlighted in him being one of the few wrestlers of his stature to actually stay retired.
  • Excepting promotions like WCW and USWA, where Jacqueline had proper heel face turns, this trope pretty accurately describes her career, as she rarely ever got them. Most promotions, be it FMW, TNA or what have you would start her heel or turn her into one and then gradually have her become more facey as she inevitably caught on with the crowd. In TNA she turned evil for no clear reason but nonetheless clearly transitioned from good referee to evil valet of Chris Harris and James Storm, but she proved an effective comical foil to Storm, who was something of a Spear Counterpart of her if not for the fact he took himself too seriously, then she started being nice to some of Storm's face opponents like Eric Young, then she tried and failed to redeem herself alongside OBD in a distaff pairing to Storm and Harris but she and OBD got treated as faces anyway despite regressing to their cheating ways against Velvet Sky, then just sort of defaulted to baby faces who enjoyed entertaining fans and rarely did anything malicious.
  • Annie Social changed much in the four five years between her WEW debut and the rise of new all women's promotions SHIMMER and WSU. She started out as a petty criminal out to cause as much ruin as possible, to finding a like minded friend in pro wrestling, then another, then before you know it she's best known for managing hot prospects and her tag team runs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Space Wolves in Warhammer 40,000. In the days before and during the Horus Heresy, the Space Wolves were ruthless warriors who took a perverse pride in being the Emperor's unfettered attack dogs, willing to destroy anybody and anything as he ordered. Fast forward ten thousand years, and the Space Wolves are arguably the Token Good Teammate of the Adeptus Astartes, along with the Ultramarines and the Salamanders, being dedicated to the lives and happiness of the people who live within the Imperium rather than the Imperium's twisted laws or ideals.

    Web Animation 
  • Weiss Schnee of RWBY started out as a bratty Rich Bitch who looked down on all of her classmates. She begins to show a softer side after losing the Team RWBY leadership race to Ruby. By Volume 2, she loses the more abhorrent aspects of her personality and becomes friendlier and more supportive to her teammates, most notably showing concern for Blake's moping. By Volume 3, she offers to treat her teammates to noodles, willingly risks herself to shove Flynt into a flame vent to stop him taking out Yang, and is the first of team RWBY to stick up for Yang against Ironwood after the villains frame Yang for assault. The only time she is shown getting angry in that volume is when another person's (a Faunus at that, the very people she ranted about in "The Stray") hurt by a robot, and she rushes at it armed with only her sword, to see her summoning abilities awaken for the first time.
  • Knife from Inanimate Insanity got this treatment in the midst of season two.
  • Agent Carolina from Red vs. Blue was originally a supportive leader for the other Freelancers, but constantly being overshadowed by Tex caused her to take a few levels in Jerkass, and almost getting killed by the Meta drove her straight towards Ax-Crazy. When she first encounters the Reds and Blues in the present, she is harsh, overbearing, and makes it perfectly clear she thinks they're expendable. Later, though, she gets a chance to open up to Church when he plays a few recordings of her old teammate Agent York, and is genuinely thankful to the Blood Gulch Crew when they help her with her encounter with the Director. By Season 12, she sees the teams as something of a second family, and while she is a bit blunt at times she is absolutely terrified of the possibility of losing them.
  • Downplayed with Max in Camp Camp, who starts out hating David and the camp, acting like a Jerkass to pretty much everyone, and showing little to no care about anyone. But by season two, while he still acts like a jerk a large amount of the time, he's shown to care about the other campers, at least somewhat and while he still hardly sees eye-to-eye with David, he doesn't seem to outright hate him anymore, and by the second to last scene of season two, he begrudgingly gives David a hug.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Lisa is a bit less antagonistic in 'The Camping Webisode', even going as far as to protect Koden's friends against Killer Monster, although she tries to justify it by saying she knows what he is going through. By 'Store Story', she has lost her violent tendencies and just sticks to being a Troll.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: Epic Fail, while always a heroic character overall, does have a specific instance of growing into a kinder person. He goes from being an Entitled to Have You Dogged Nice Guy in episode 6, to accepting that he can be Just Friends with his crush, growing to genuinely respect her, and making amends with her in episode 9. This is Lampshaded by Epically Avoids You, who comments “character development? In this series?!”

    Web Comics 
  • Big Ethel Energy: Cheryl Blossom in Archie Comics was a mean girl who often antagonized Betty and Veronica. By the time of the story, she and Betty are very close (in fact they were living together until shortly before the beginning). At the Homecoming game, Cheryl offers to set Betty up with her boss Seth, and there's no indication she's on bad terms with any of their other former classmates who turned up.
  • William Winsbury in Gunnerkrigg Court is introduced as an abrasive, bullying twelve-year-old brat. As he gets older and spends more time with his classmates, he loses his antagonistic streak, and is on friendly terms with them by the cruise at the end of Annie's third year.
  • Karkat in Homestuck becomes less of a Troll and more interested in the success of his prior antagonists. And if he's not a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, at least he's a shrewd enough leader to know when to play Team Mom for the other trolls.
    • Over the course of Act 6 Dave gradually drops his obsession with cool-guy irony and starts trying to focus on being a decent person instead.
    • Similarly, after Dirk recognizes that he's been a real asshole (especially to Jake), and also hears about how awful his alt-universe self was, he resolves not to turn into that person and becomes much nicer.
  • Haley, Vaarsuvius and (of all people) Belkar in The Order of the Stick. Haley lets go of her greed and paranoia and starts to open up to the group; V did some very bad stuff and learned some much-needed humility from the resultant overconfidence-assisted drubbing, leading to a much friendlier relationship with the rest of the Order, Blackwing, and even Belkar; and Belkar started faking Character Development and then it stuck.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • During the card game tournament, Larry takes all the pointers on his bad behavior to heart and not only apologizes directly to Sarah and Tedd for it, but promises to work on bettering himself so he doesn't do stuff like that again.
    • Diane was already shown to be less of an Alpha Bitch than she appeared, but "The Legend of Diane" has her realize how she comes across, and take steps to be better.

    Web Videos 
  • In Noob, Fantöm started out with an attitude about his high-level player status that bordered on Insufferable Genius. The franchise's Wham Episode enventually led him to let go of the insufferable part in the webseries and novels, while the comic is currently doing an Adaptation Expansion of the arc that led to the change.
  • Outside Xbox: In their Dungeons & Dragons campaign, Prudence the tiefling warlock has, while still being unapologetically evil, started to show a lot more care for her teammates. In one of the earlier stories, she bluntly tells Corazón to "shut [his] filthy mouth" when he's treading on her moment; in more recent ones, she tries to get Corazón to open up about his emotions, handles a difficult conversation with Merilwen as delicately as she can, and even seems to miss resident Butt-Monkey Egbert when he's captured, even though the two are polar opposites on the Character Alignment chart.


Video Example(s):


Anton Ego

Anton Ego reevaluates his career as a critic when he finds a meal that impresses him and the realization on who had made it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / TookALevelInKindness

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