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Tragic Monster

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"In the future, our wounded often turned to Risen just as we were tryin' to heal 'em. It really stinks havin' to kill the very people you've been fightin' to save... Ya just gotta remember these folk ain't turnin' back, no matter what."

When a villain becomes a monster, you generally don't care. You just watch someone wipe the floor with them like they're nothing. But what happens when it's a character that the Main Characters have come to love and care about over the course of the work, or an Ineffectual Sympathetic Tragic Villain?

Nothing can wrench the gut of any character like being forced to fight a loved one or ally (especially if said loved one is weeping uncontrollably and begging for death as he/she tries to kill you). This isn't Brainwashed and Crazy, this is forcing the unlucky character to become a terrible beast or other nasty critter with no means of changing them back. Not that it stops the heroes from trying. In any case, the hero will do everything they can to avoid Staking the Loved One. Even if it means keeping them contained for their own safety while they hunt for a cure. To twist the knife even further, killing them might be the only way to grant them peace.

In many works, this can amount to a form of Player Punch. It's par for the course for any Zombie Apocalypse, since doubtless somebody important is going to get turned into a zombie.

May bring Dying as Yourself or Alas, Poor Villain into play.

If a loved one must kill the monster, see Staking the Loved One. For cases when it's only a monster imitating a loved one to benefit from the hero's emotions, that's Shape Shifter Guilt Trip. If the loved one was abducted by the Big Bad and turned into a monster, see Kidnapped for Experimentation.

Sub-Trope of Face–Monster Turn.

Compare Interrupted Cooldown Hug and "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight.

Not to be confused with a Tortured Monster, although they can overlap.

See also The Virus, Came Back Wrong, Was Once a Man, And Then John Was a Zombie, Resist the Beast, Tragic Villain, and What Happened to Mommy? . Defying this fate will likely take either being able to Find the Cure! in time or a lot of Heroic Willpower. Contrast Complete Monster, which is a monster with no decency to begin with and throughout.

Unmarked spoilers possible. Proceed with caution.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • AKIRA, when the main character Kaneda must battle his super-powered and tormented friend Tetsuo, who goes on a destructive rampage after his sanity is nearly split from the disturbing mental images that plague his mind after acquiring said super-powers. Eventually, Tetsuo loses control of his powers and transforms into a truly horrific amoeba-like blob of flesh and organs that consumes everything in its path. This is an unusual example in that while Kaneda and Tetsuo are best friends, they actually relish fighting each other (mainly because they're friends).
  • Attack on Titan uses this to deliver a shocking punch to Eren and the audience: Titans are humans turned into monsters against their will, and many of the recognizable ones throughout the series were comrades of his father. The Smiling Titan that killed Carla Yeager and Hannes turns out to have been Grisha Yeager's first wife, the ill-fated Dina Fritz. Even worse, her relentless stalking of the Yeager family was because her final moments as a human were spent promising to find Grisha again. The tragedy of it all brings Eren to tears.
  • Baldr Force EXE Resolution: Ren, who happens to be the dead little sister Tohru forgot he had. And while she's physically dead, her mind and spirit continue to exist, sans body, in the Wired, where her subconscious exhibits itself as a Planet Eater. This results in a major Tearjerker of a finale...
  • Kaien Shiba and his wife in Bleach. Infested by a parasitic Hollow, they have no control over their bodies and can only watch as the Hollow slaughters their friends and subordinates. In the end, Rukia had to impale her beloved mentor to kill the Hollow and him at the same time. It took years for the resulting trauma to fade.
    • Sora Inoue, Orihime's older brother. Consumed by loneliness and regrets as years passed, he transformed into a Hollow that sought to destroy everything that caused those feelings of sorrow, namely Orihime and her friends. Even when he temporarily regained control and apologized, he had to die.
      • A definite Player Punch for Ichigo. He had never realized until that point that Hollows were once people, and when he finds out it's while trying to stop a spirit who died at his family's clinic.
    • By the same ticket, many Hollows can fall under this category. Driven mad by sorrow and loneliness, they destroy everything they valued in life and (usually) only through the purifying blade of a Shinigami can they find release from that cycle. The only other options are to keep devouring souls (human or Hollow) until one becomes a Vasto Lorde (a feat very few ever live long enough or even have the potential to reach) or an Arrancar and having their human reasoning return.
  • Priscilla in Claymore. She is affected by Horror Hunger and remembers her parents getting eaten every time she eats someone. More recently, Cassandra.
  • Code Geass has Euphemia li Britannia, whose brainwashing by Lelouch drives her to order the systematic genocide of every Japanese come peacefully to the Special Administrative Zone of Japan, thus single-handedly destroying any hope of reconciliation between the Britannians and the Japanese. This all leads to her getting shot by Lelouch, and dying before Suzaku's eyes while fighting the Geass. It may all have just been a dumb mistake, but still.
  • Cyborg 009 has three of them: 0011 (a man who wanted to see his family), 0012 (a woman whose house and memories were manipulated by Black Ghost), and 0013 (who helps the innocent bystanders, punishes criminals, is a Worthy Opponent to Joe and is Driven to Suicide).
  • Similarly to Bleach, the human souls of Akuma in D.Gray-Man are invisible to everyone but Allen, and they can't stop themselves from killing dozens of people unless someone destroys them. Level 2 demons are intelligent, and they all have a tragic backstory attached. And worse, the more evolved an Akuma is, the more tortured and broken the soul gets. The first time he sees a soul attached to a Level 4 (which the audience never sees), Allen instantly becomes violently ill.
  • Shirley, as seen in the flashbacks to Kiritsugu's past in Fate/Zero. She grew very fond of both preteen Kiritsugu and his father while assisting the latter with his magic experiments, while Kiritsugu developed a Precocious Crush on her. However, curiosity gets the better of her and she takes some of Kiritsugu's father's experimental potion, which turns her into a Dead Apostle. She begs Kiritsugu to kill her before she hurts anyone, but he can't bring himself to, and their entire village is destroyed as a result.
  • Nina Tucker from Fullmetal Alchemist is transformed into a chimera by her father. The Elric Brothers are deeply troubled by this, their inability to help Nina becoming one of Edward's greatest failures. Scar gives Nina a Mercy Kill soon after, praying to God to watch over her in the afterlife.
  • Oboro Shirakumo getting turned into Kurogiri in My Hero Academia. He was Aizawa and Present Mic’s best friend who was killed in a building collapse that was actually meant to kill Aizawa and secure Erasure. Oboro’s death devastated the two and they’re horrified, outraged and heartbroken to learn what was done to him. They want badly to find out if anything of Oboro still exists in Kurogiri to ever reach but their first efforts seem to fail. Fighting him is painful for both.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sayaka Miki becomes a Witch in the main storyline, as does Madoka Kaname herself during one of the alternate timelines. Given the nature of magic and magical girls in the Puella Magi universe, every Witch counts as this. As of Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, Homura willingly becomes this.
  • Hans, the last of the Flamethrower Troopers in Pumpkin Scissors. He was told that the liquid in his armored suit would prevent the flames from hurting him — as it turns out, it just prevented him from feeling the pain. When the war ended, the other troopers took off their suits, and their bodies literally fell into pieces. Physically and mentally numb, he continues to kill on the orders of the Silver Wheel because starting fires is the only thing that still makes him feel warm, reminding him of the life he once had and the friends he watched die.
  • All of the zombies in School-Live!. We keep getting little reminders of their humanity. The zombie with the cell phone has pictures of her and her boyfriend on it, all zombies seem to have a vague sense of the timetable they used to keep (the mall is less dangerous during the week when people were less likely to be there, and the school has fewer zombies at night), and, worst of all, Megumi's thoughts are never far from the girls — even as a zombie. She somehow manages to keep herself away from them until they come blundering into the basement.
  • Soul Eater's Crona, an (if not the) audience favorite, is the Big Bad as of chapter 104. He/She gets reabsorbed by Asura not too long after, and ultimately saves the day by sealing Asura in him/her self.
  • Seidou Takizawa becomes one in the sequel to Tokyo Ghoul. Originally the Plucky Comic Relief of the CCG side of the story, he's seemingly killed off during the finale. In :Re, it's revealed that he was captured by Aogiri and experimented on, becoming a deranged Half-Human Hybrid utterly consumed by his Horror Hunger. His ramblings suggest he was forced to eat his parents, and he clearly suffers from Stockholm Syndrome after being subjected to extensive experimentation, torture, and abuse. When confronted by his old rival, he flees in shame rather than deal with her. Nearly a year later, he betrays Aogiri to save Akira and Houji... but his past crimes result in a Heel–Face Door-Slam. Rejected by his loved ones, he loses his last bit of remaining hope and snaps violently.
  • Witchblade has a very Tear Jerker version of this. Most of the show's monsters are Ex Cons, creatures made with Human Resources. It gets heartbreaking when you realize at least one of them not only retained its own mind but actually is horrified at what it had become and begs The Hero to take them down before anyone else died.
  • The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village has the Aburatori, a Youkai that represents the secret murder of children by their own parents. He is compelled by his very nature to hunt children and tear out their organs but he hates himself for it. Thanks to Shinobu he was able to transform into a Kaeshigami, becoming a minor deity who protects children.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City story "Pastoral", brushed on. Team Carnivore overtly states that they are abducting Roustabout so their bosses can take him apart and figure out why he worked — and so fix them. They are all Beast Man using Hulk Speak.
  • Batman:
    • Plenty of villains can fall into this trope, due to most of them being insane. The original Clayface, Basil Karlo, is an actor driven to insanity and eventually gaining shapeshifting powers; plenty of interpretations of the character play him as a Tragic Villain, like Batman: The Animated Series.
    • The Batman Vampire trilogy depicts Batman himself as this. During a face-off with Dracula, Batman manages to slay him, but not before Dracula bites him and turns him into a full-fledged vampire. Afterwards, he repeatedly struggles with his bloodlust, and briefly finds solace from it in his relationship with Selina Kyle... until Joker kills her. In a fit of grief and rage, Batman finally succumbs to his bloodlust and drains the Joker's blood; immediately horrified by what he has done, Batman arranges for Gordon and Alfred to stake him so he doesn't commit further murders. Sadly, Gordon and Alfred neglected to behead him after the staking, so Batman was paralyzed in a death-like state, fully conscious and aware of his body's decay and his rampant bloodlust. In the midst of a massive crime wave, Alfred becomes desperate enough to remove the stake in an effort to give Gotham a savior once more, but Batman has gone completely insane from the experience, and while he's lucid enough to be tormented by grief and guilt over the monster he has become, he's now nothing more than a slave to his vampire nature.
  • Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor in Creature Commandos (the other members also being monsters but not tragic). He was blown to pieces by a land mine, but army intelligence decided to use him for their "Project M", sewing him back together — wrong. This left him a mute, hideous Frankenstein's Monster. He attempted suicide once out of disgust for the creature he'd become.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Even at his most savage, all the Hulk wants is to be left alone.
  • The Marvel Zombies incarnation of Spider-Man fits this to a T. While he's just as ravenous and disgusting as the other zombies when hungry, he's nonetheless plagued by grief and guilt at his actions and Horror Hunger, but unable to stop himself. He's particularly tormented by the fact that he ate his Aunt May and Mary Jane, to the extent that he refuses to take off his mask so he can't look himself in the eyes again.
  • In Supergirl (Rebirth), the titular heroine fights Lar-On, a Kryptonian werewolf who suffers from lycanthropy due to Red Kryptonite poisoning. He's dangerous and uncontrollable, but has committed no crime and doesn't want to hurt anyone. Nonetheless, he's quarantined to the Phantom Zone where Kryptonians dump their worst criminals, and when he escapes that place, his family is gone and he's stranded in an alien world and attacked by hostile forces.
  • Spider-Man: While a lot of Spidey's villains have sad or tragic pasts, Dr. Curt Connors takes the cake. A war veteran who lost his arm in battle, Connors spent years working on a serum that he believed that would give humans a lizard's ability to regenerate lost limbs. Unfortunately, it didn't work the way he expected. The serum turned him into the Lizard, a giant reptilian beast who hates Spider-Man and craves destruction. Many arcs in the Spider-Man comics involve the web-slinger trying to help the doctor find a cure for his lizardiness. Oh, did I mention that Connors is a husband and father, who's kept from his family every moment he's a lizard?
  • Swamp Thing has the Patchwork Man and the Unmen, extremely grotesque formerly human quasi-undead horrors whose very existence is an unending nightmare, made/modified and enslaved by Mad Scientist and Evil Sorcerer Anton Arcane, one of the most depraved monsters of all fiction. That the Patchwork man was his own brother is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Fan Works 
  • Chrysalis from Diaries of a Madman was originally a kind alicorn midwife who loved children. After being corrupted by Discord, she's well aware of what kind of monster she's become.
  • Dissy, in Divine Jealousy and The Voice of Reason. Dissy Used to Be a Sweet Kid; he was kind, caring and beloved by many of the Paradise Estate Ponies, especially Celestia and Luna — before his Awakening to his true identity as an Avatar of the Cosmic Concept Discord.
  • Game of Touhou:
    • Soga no Tojiko. She was turned into a sentient wight by Seiga in order to serve her better, but after her downfall, she has no purpose until she participates the assault on Gengetsu's fortress, and encounters Futo leading to a heartbreaking moment before her death.
    • Selenion is another example, due to his violent dragon nature, and for dying following a bad order from her master, Yorihime. He was still loyal to her.
  • In Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls Adagio Dazzle becomes this after she makes a Heroic Sacrifice that ends with her being turned into a Hollow, though it becomes subverted when she's able to keep her reason thanks to her innate magic and eventually acclimate to her new life. She even ends up becoming one of the most heroic people on the Arrancar's side of the conflict.
    • This happened in the backstory with Applejack's father as well, who suffered a similar fate. Still, he went on to get a new home and family in Las Noches as the Fourth Espada, so he seems to have made the best out of a bad situation. That being said it's implied he hates life as a Hollow, with his reiatsu oozing regret for his new life.
  • Rin Satsuki in Imperfect Metamorphosis, she was mutated after years of Eirin's experiments, and then she absorbed and almost unleashed a Fallen Angel. In the end, she just wants to die.
  • Subverted in Infinity Crisis. When Bruce breaks it to Jennifer Walters that she'll never be able to return to her human form, Jen just relates that she loves now being a green-skinned powerhouse.
  • The Bridge has several, namely the sirens and Nightmare, but Kaizer Ghidorah gets special notice. The imperial ghidorah is extremely powerful, extremely violent on his quest to kill Grand King Ghidorah, and is effectively insane. But flashbacks and unlocked memories for Monster X reveal this is because he's on a revenge quest against Grand King Ghidorah and was effectively driven mad by his singular focus on it. On the inside, he's constantly grieving.

    Films — Animation 
  • Superman: Man of Tomorrow has Rudy Jones, an average joe who winds up being caught in a battle between two aliens and gets transformed into a horrific mutant.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Just about every Universal Horror movie monster ever. Except, and ironically given later portrayals, Dracula. Bela Lugosi's Count acted purely For the Evulz. Though even he has a wistful moment in the first film when he says: "To die.. to be truly dead... That must be glorious."
  • The depiction of Two-Face in The Dark Knight is particularly heartbreaking.
  • In Dust Devil, Joe tries to paint the Dust Devil as such, with little actual success. He claims that he only wants to go back to the spirit realm, but the sheer enjoyment that he derives from its basic human pleasures, coupled with the fact that he puts many innocents in harm’s way and persuades others to want to die, and the time he takes to seduce his female victims strongly suggest otherwise.
  • Jeff Goldblum's portrayal of the doomed Dr Seth Brundle in The Fly (1986). Much as he tries to hold onto his humanity, the cruel and heartless insect takes over and his desperation to stay human — just a little human, even — overrides his need to protect Veronica, the love of his life and the mother of his unborn child. The ending where he holds the gun to his head and silently begs Geena Davis to pull the trigger really drives this home, to the point that none of the four different hopeful epilogues for the other characters worked with test audiences because they were too saddened by Seth's death to care.
  • Most versions of Santanico Pandemonium of From Dusk Till Dawn fall under this. In the third movie, her backstory reveals she had the misfortune of being born the daughter of the queen of the vampires, to a human father who ultimately viewed her as an aberration and tried to kill her several times. Even with all of this, she seems like a decent and kind-hearted person, and it's generally fate and bad luck, as opposed to any malevolent desire on her part, that forces her to become Satanico. The series takes this one step further (assuming the character is not an Unreliable Narrator): in this version, Satanaico's only sin is being born pretty on a certain day. As a result, she gets the job of revered temple priestess who receives various sacrifices and offerings for the gods, something she was actually OK with until she started getting human sacrifices. When she tried to leave, the temple followers cursed her into becoming Satanaico.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla in general is incredibly tragic. Depending on the continuity, he is either a scared, confused animal (usually the Last of His Kind) just trying to survive, a once-peaceful being seeking revenge on humanity for destroying his home and mutating his body, or even the vengeful souls of those who died in World War II.
    • In Godzilla (1954), Godzilla completely decimates Tokyo, reducing it to smoldering rubble and killing thousands of people. However, his wrath becomes understandable when considering that he once was a normal dinosaur simply minding his own business before H-Bomb tests destroyed his habitat and mutated him into a radioactive behemoth. Godzilla's as much of a victim as the humans he terrorizes, and the point is driven home in the film's final sequence: As the Japanese prepare to deploy the Oxygen Destroyer, a super-weapon potentially even worse than the H-Bomb that created him, Godzilla is seen resting in Tokyo Bay, looking less like a terrible monster and more like a creature that just wants to be left alone. His final roar of agony as the Oxygen Destroyer dissolves him tops it off.
    • Biollante from Godzilla vs. Biollante is a fusion between human DNA, Godzilla DNA, and a rosebush with a human soul (her creator's daughter, who died in a bombing incident) who is most likely aware as she slowly degrades into a horrific abomination.
    • In a rare example for a Godzilla antagonist monster, the MUTO pair from Godzilla (2014) are subject to this. They indeed pose a threat to humanity and even more so if they reproduce, but the Pet the Dog moments they get make you feel bad for them. They care about each other and the well-being of their offspring, and it becomes clear that though destructive, they aren't evil or malicious at all, but merely giant animals, victims of circumstance, trying to raise a family in a hostile new world they no longer belong in.
    • Shin Godzilla: Godzilla is less of a giant dinosaur, and more like a twisted mass of cancerous flesh with a mouth that opens wider than should be possible, and his mannerisms imply that he is in constant, unbearable agony just from existing. The fact that he can regenerate and is functionally immortal makes it even worse, as his tormented existence is doomed to be a living hell for eternity.
      • His second form has a bloodlike fluid gushing from his gills and clearly has trouble walking, being barely able to move on land. In a deleted scene, his third form vomited a literal river of blood.
      • If that wasn't enough, then there's Who Will Know, a Tear Jerker of a song that relays what is like to live as this version of Godzilla.
  • Lord Humungus of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The gun case he carries contains a photo of who are most likely his parents or grandparents, which reminds you he was once a normal child before society collapsed, and shows he still fondly remembers his family. Originally this would have been hammered home even harder: in an earlier version of the script, he was actually Jim Goose!
  • In Night of the Living Dead (1990), Ben dies and turns into a zombie.
  • Resident Evil Film Series:
  • Shaun of the Dead: When his best friend is turned into a zombie and can't be turned back, Shaun, instead of killing him, locks him up in the storage shed and plays PlayStation with him. It's toyed with in this case: the implication is that Ed (the aforementioned best friend) is really no worse off than when the movie started.
  • Darth Vader of Star Wars counts in a physical sense. He became a bad guy before that, but his massive injuries and horrific reconstruction made him a monster that could never be fully whole again.
  • Ultraman R/B The Movie: Select! The Crystal of Bond: Toi, formerly Katsumi's best friend in his Elementary School days, was a harmless nerd and Hikikomori who became disillusioned with life after failing his dreams as a video game designer. He ends up being corrupted by the villain of the film, Ultraman Tregear, into becoming the rampaging monster Snake Darkness, which he designed himself as concept art for a failed video game. What ultimately snaps Toi back to sanity is his mother pleading with Toi (in monster form) to regain his senses.
  • This is the eventual result of the Zombie Apocalypse tape "A Ride in the Park" from VHS2. The protagonist has become a zombie and attacked a birthday party with the others, getting fended off at the last moment. When he falls to the ground, however, he accidentally butt-dials his girlfriend, who laughs it off and, believing that he's still just riding his bike, tells him she loves him, triggering a My God, What Have I Done? moment and causing him to commit suicide to keep from harming more people.
  • This happens near the beginning of Zombieland. Not someone the main character knew well but still played for drama, and a demonstration of the importance of Rule #2 (Double Tap).
  • The Incredible Melting Man: Dr. Steve West seemed to be a nice-enough guy before his mutation, especially given Nelson's positive statements about his friend. But his space voyage to Saturn caused his skin to start melting and forced West to hunt down and eat people to stave off the pain.

  • Diran's best friend from his acolyte days comes back as a werewolf (anathema to members of their church) in The Blade of the Flame books.
  • Vrasta the "Wrong One" Fammin in Chronicles of the Emerged World has feelings, dreams, and a conscience, but when his name is spelled he's compelled to obey orders and eventually kills his new-found friend Laio.
  • The novel for Coraline has The Other Father, who was created to love and care, and was mutated by the Other Mother to fight Coraline. This gets even worse in the movie since it's implied that all of the Other counterparts have been with the Other Mother since she started the eat-children's-souls thing, and have just been modified to fit their roles. They don't want to hurt anyone, just to fill their parts as people to care and love the children. Other Father gets mutated and forced to fight Coraline, Spink and Forcible are turned into taffy-like beasts, and it's implied that Other Old Man (Mr.Bobo/Bobinsky in the movie) was EATEN by his rats.
  • Many in the Deltora Quest series, the most prominent of which was the fate given to Doran the Dragonlover. He was forced to become the Guardian of a Sister — the very thing he set out to destroy many, many years ago.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Changes, Harry Dresden must kill Susan, the mother of his child, who started to turn into a Red Court vampire. Counts as an invoked trope, since Martin intentionally arranged circumstances to provoke the turn, as part of a long-term plan to destroy every Red Court vampire in existence.
    • In the following book, we find out Harry regarded himself as a monster for taking Mab's deal to be the Winter Knight, so he'd arranged for his own assassination.
  • Applies to all three main characters in Eden Green as they lose their bodies and minds to an alien needle symbiote.
  • It doesn't get more tragic than the Creature from Frankenstein. Created and immediately abandoned by its creator for being ugly, before it even really wakes up. Made innocent, his nature is soon twisted by circumstance into something horrible and evil, alone, wretched and violent. The worst part, however, is that he knows exactly how wicked he has become but knows he cannot change. After he has succeeded in destroying his creator during a hunt in the frozen wastes of the Arctic, he mourns the doctor's death. The Creature decides to end his own existence by building a funeral pyre for himself and climb on top of it.
  • Werewolf Remus Lupin in Harry Potter, although he's only like this once a month. The rest of the time he's safe, good, and in his right mind. Even then, it's only if he doesn't have any Wolfsbane potion that the wolf takes over. Too bad said Wolfsbane potion is a relatively recent invention that wasn't available when he was first bitten as a child.
  • In the H.I.V.E. Series, Raven has several flashbacks in Aftershock involving her being forced to kill her best friend, Tolya, who had lost his mind, watching her best friend Dimitri die, and being forced to become an assassin for the Russians at the tender age of eight.
  • Horus Heresy: This occurs in Galaxy in Flames, when Loken meets Kharn after the latter fell to chaos. Kharn had been previously established as a noble and loyal warrior, acting equerry to his Primarch Angron and tempering his rages. Now he's just a snarling, hate-filled... monster — for lack of a better word. When Loken asks what has been done to him, Kharn regains his sanity for a moment and expresses regret, but "there is no going back". Then he goes under again and attacks and Loken has no choice but to try and kill him (of course it doesn't take).
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles: The titular hound is a terrifying ill-omen that hunts people in Grimpen Mire, but it's a normal dog that the human villain is using in his schemes; the only reason it's aggressive at all is because it's abused and starving.
  • Feral humans in Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse are Technically Living Zombies, the descendents of humans who lost their minds and became flesh-eating wild animals. The Krakau came and after a rocky start started to cure individual adults. Monroe describes having to kill ferals with sorrow, unhappy about how they never got their chance to become people.
    • Extra poignant for Mops in the first book, after a bioweapon reverts most of the rest of the humans on her ship into ferals. They are her crew. She knows every one she encounters and is horrified for them, and reacts strongly to anyone, including a tech who was nearly eaten by them, saying they should be killed.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric sees a vision of a possible future where Nolien losses himself to his inner monster. He kills his family, savages his fiancé, and is finally put down like a rapid animal by city guards.
  • The Moomins has the Groke, who, particularly in her animated form, terrifies both the readers/viewers and the inhabitants of Moominvalley. However, as "Moominland Midwinter" proves, she's really not a bad person; she's just terribly cold and lonely, and all she wants is a friend, as Moomintroll himself realises. Unfortunately, she's apparently some kind of embodiment of winter, meaning she's freezing cold to the touch and can't ever be allowed to hug someone, or she'll probably freeze them to death entirely by accident. So she just roams silently through the valley, hoping to be warm but doomed to always be cold.
  • Season Of Migration To The North Mustafa Sa'eed is a heavily allegorical version of this, being a heartless monster towards women and a murderer but also deeply a product of colonialism.
  • Steel Crow Saga: The Splintersoul is a terrifying, implacable One-Man Army who uses the setting's most feared Black Magic... because he's desperate to regain the missing piece of his Damaged Soul, which causes him unbearable pain ever since Tala stole it from him.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Words of Radiance, we are introduced to Eshonai, the heroic Parshendi Shardbearer from the past book. We spend a couple of chapters seeing her desperately trying to find a way to keep her people alive and seeing her love for her mother and her friends. Then she gets tricked into trying to assume stormform, which leaves her under the domination of the God of Hatred.
  • Uprooted: The Wood Queen, the Genius Loci of the malevolent Wood that's been murdering or corrupting humans for centuries, is revealed to be this at the climax. She's the last of her kind, betrayed by humanity, unable to join her kin in eternal slumber and not knowing how to die; the corruption of the Wood is nothing more than her ancient rage and pain. When Agnieszka offers her the chance to transform into a tree and join her kin in dreams, she immediately accepts.
  • Dimitri from Vampire Academy fits the bill once he becomes Strigoi. He fights his own former-lover Rose and abuses her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Season 2 of The 100, Lincoln is abducted by the Mountain Men and turned into one of the cannibalistic Reapers. Octavia and the others work hard to try and turn him back to normal, even though the Fantastic Drug used to transform him has lethal withdrawal symptoms.
  • Mitchell from Being Human post Season 2 after killing the Box Tunnel 20 and slowly spirals out of control till his suicide at the end of Season 3.
  • Creepshow:
    • Gray Matter”: Timmy’s father Richie didn't intend to turn himself into a ravenous, blood-thirsty blob. He was just a broken man struggling with the loss of his wife. His Men Don't Cry mindset rendered him unable to open up about the heartbreak he was undergoing, and he turned to Harrow's Supreme as a means to numb the pain.
    • Drug Traffic”: Mai only transforms into a vampiric penanggalan and goes on a killing spree when she is denied her appetite-suppressing pills. Before she transforms, she's depicted as a deathly ill teenage girl.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Aliens of London" has a pig that was modified by a group of aliens to serve as a decoy, and forced to crash the aliens' spaceship in the heart of London. Poor thing ends up shot dead by a spooked soldier. The Doctor is not impressed by what was done to it.
    • "Arachnids in the UK": The mother spider lands in this territory by the end, since it is only acting out of a mixture of natural instinct, fear, pain and confusion, since its own overgrown body is suffocating it, and it can't understand why or alleviate its suffering. And unfortunately, before the Doctor can do anything to really help it, it's shot dead by Robertson.
  • One Grimm episode deals with random vicious Wesen attacks on young women at night. It's eventually turned out that the culprit is a normally peaceful old man with a cane. Unfortunately, he's also suffering from dementia and tends to wander off at night to look for his wife (since he doesn't recognize the old woman at their house). The dementia also results in fits of anger, causing him to woge and lash out at the women. It's also discovered that the Wesen community has a protocol in place for just such an event. A special kind of Wesen is called, who injects an enzyme into the dementia-suffering Wesen, allowing them to die peacefully. Nick is initially reluctant to allow the killing until he realizes that it's better for everyone.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The orcs burn in the sunlight, are shunned by the free races and treated like dirt by their masters. One gets the impression that with Sauron out of the picture, they'd have no ambition outside of terraforming the Southlands into a place for them to thrive. Unfortunately, sooner or later Sauron will enslave them again and lead them to ruin.
    • What it is even worse is that they were once beautiful Elves from Beleriand, enslaved by Morgoth and tortured entire centuries.
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: The Grendel. His wife died and he stole the Forget-Me-Knot from the Red Queen so he could see her through it; she punished him by turning him into a gruesome cannibal.
  • Season 8 of Smallville introduces us to Davis Bloome a likeable paramedic, and possible Love Interest for Clark's best friend Chloe Sullivan. Unfortunately, Davis has alien Serial Killer and Person of Mass Destruction Doomsday trapped inside of him. Davis shifts into Doomsday more and more frequently as the show progresses, all while trying to repress his Superpowered Evil Side while committing murders (of criminals) in his human form. Ultimately, it destroys his sanity and he has to be put down for his own good and everyone else's; Davis is killed and Doomsday is separated from him and buried alive.
  • In Star Trek, it's routinely brought up that the drones of the Borg are essentially slaves, having been forcibly assimilated into the Collective. Former drones likes Seven of Nine and Jean-Luc Picard constantly ruminate on the horrible things they were forced to do at the bidding of the Borg Queen.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Heart" (S02, Ep17), Sam falls for a woman who works in a law firm, only to find she was transformed into a werewolf. They first try to save her by testing a hypothesis that killing the werewolf who turned her would cure her. This seems to work until she nearly kills Sam the next morning.
  • Sweet Home (2020): Myeong-ja reveals she's infected after The Beefcake nearly kills her. As if her backstory isn't sad enough, the first thing she does just twists the knife: she asks Ji-su, who's ready to kill her if she fully becomes a monster, about the children she almost died trying to protect.
  • The Ultra Series is not above doing this for their kaiju. Ethical questions are often raised in these situations, and the monster will often die in the end to add to the Tear Jerker power. Some good examples are:
    • The original Ultraman had Jamila. He was originally an astronaut whose spaceship crashed on an alien planet and was left to die as the world's politicians didn't want people to know a man had become a victim of scientific progress. When Science Patrol learns this, they refuse to kill Jamila but are forced into it anyways. However, none of them are very happy once the deed is done.
    • In Ultraseven, the monster Starbem Gyeron was a peaceful alien that got mutated into a giant monster when Ultra Garrison used its homeworld as the test site for a planet-destroying nuclear missile. Dan is very reluctant to fight it, as he feels the creature should not be killed for what happened to it. He does eventually turn into Ultraseven, but only because the lives of innocent civilians and his friends soon came on the line during Gyeron's rampage.
    • Muruchi from Return of Ultraman was the pet kaiju of the benevolent alien Mates, going on a rampage when its master was killed by an angry mob that believed him to be yet another evil invader. Even MAT feels bad for the monster, and Goh refuses to become Ultraman Jack so as to let the villagers all be destroyed by the monster.
    • Muruchi II in Ultraman Ace also fits this trope; appearing suddenly during the battle between Ace, Alien Metron Jr., and Doragory, Muruchi sought to team up with the alien and his Choju subordinate and managed to land a few hits on Ace, before suddenly bumping into Doragory, who in a rage tore Muruchi to pieces. All he wanted to do was try to help them!
  • Happens to many characters over the course of The Walking Dead (2010). Given how often this happens in the show, it's still no less heartbreaking. Notable mentions include Shane, Amy (Andrea's sister), Penny (the Governor's daughter), Sophia (Carol's daughter), and most recently, Merle and Andrea. In Season 5, Dawn falls into this when she accidentally kills Beth.

  • The song "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm," first sung by Stanley Holloway, contains a lot of Black Comedy, but still shows a lot of sympathy towards its subject, the ghost of Anne Boleyn. The song is all about how Boleyn is cursed to haunt the London Tower because she was cruelly executed by her husband, Henry VIII. Boleyn tries to scare King Henry and tell him off for what he did to her, but King Henry simply doesn't care, even forgetting who she is. There's also a verse that describes Boleyn shivering in the cold, and calls her a "poor thing."

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In The Adventures of Rad Gravity, the apparent Big Bad is Agathos, a former human who has been mutated into a giant brain. After you defeat him, he returns to human form and reveals that the real big bad is your sidekick Kakos, who manipulated you into reactivating the evil Compuminds that Agathos shut down.
  • In Alien Syndrome for the Wii, you have to fight the terribly mutated form of the Aileen's husband.
  • The Beast that hunts Henri Clément throughout the entirety of Amnesia: The Bunker is actually Augustine Lambert, Henri's best friend and fellow soldier in World War I. When Augustine didn't return from a routine patrol his friend tricked him into taking, a guilt-ridden Henri snuck out into No Man's Land at night to find him and discovered him injured at the bottom of a pit. Seeing that his friend was weak, Henri gave him some water from a pool in the hole to drink before carrying him out. What he didn't know was that this water was infected with the supernatural mutagen from Amnesia: Rebirth, saving Augustine's life but also unwittingly turning him into near-mindless Humanoid Abomination.
  • Mithala in Aquaria was revered as the forefather of the Mithalan civilization. Then the local Path of Inspiration took over and the rites took a darker turn. Instead of food, they brought worshippers. Eventually, he was driven insane by hunger and accepted the "offering". The cult fed him the entire civilization, turning him into a Womb Level.
  • The game over screen for Area 51 shows the protagonist morphing into one of the alien mutants, having been infected with The Virus.
  • In Area 51 (FPS), one of your teammates succumbs to The Virus about 1/4th of the way through the game, turning into a mutant and forcing you to fight and kill him. You yourself partially turn into a mutant halfway through the game.
  • The monster who repeatedly chases the toddler protagonist in Among the Sleep? It's his mom. Or rather, how his young mind sees her when she drinks. Sadly, she's trying to be a good mom, but her alcoholism and the stress of going through a divorce causes her to lash out at her young son. Near the end of the game, when the mom slaps her son to the ground in a fit of anger, she's clearly mortified by her behavior and breaks down crying.
  • Estina from Astebreed is probably this due to experimentation. Oliga and Hugo from the prologue are also this, whose brain tissues were used for the Agnesi and Evolute bosses, respectively.
  • Asura's Wrath: Wrath Asura, the result of seeing a little girl that looked just like his daughter die after being slaughtered by Olga of the Seven Deities. Made much more obvious with his battle theme, Bonds.
  • Baldur's Gate II:
    • If your character has a romantic interest, and you're far enough along the romance storyline, they will be kidnapped and vampirised by Bodhi. While you will have to kill them, there's a way to bring them back: take their corpse and Bodhi's heart to the ruined Temple of Amaunator, then stick them in a specific idol — instant cure. You don't find this out until after you've killed them, though.
    • Using the Ascension Mod for Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal means the Big Bad turns your sister Imoen into the mindless Slayer form and sets her on you. She will revert and rejoin your party if you leave her long enough, unfortunately the Big Bad also sets Jon Irenicus, Bodai, and a fallen Solar on you at the same time. Taking on all four at once is very difficult, and she's the easiest to kill... This is also how Imoen dies in the novelization of the game.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine:
    • All of the creatures Henry meets in the studios are this, brought to life by Joey Drew's experiments with the Ink Machine. Some used to be people, turned into inky monstrosities, while some were born of the ink itself. Either way, they are brought into a world where they are trapped in the ruined building where they must struggle for survival.
    • In Chapter 2, Henry can listen to a recording by lyricist Jack Fain. Shortly after, he comes across the ink creature that Jack's become — with just enough personality left to still be wearing his hat. Henry ends up having to kill him in order to get closer to escaping the studio, and he apologizes for it afterward.
    • In Chapter 3, Alice sends Henry on a quest where she says he can see "an old friend". This friend, Norman Polk, is also character who's made audio logs that Henry can find in-game. However, Norman has been turned into a screeching ink monster with a projector for a head.
    • Bendy himself is the biggest one. Chapter 5 reveals he was the failed, first attempt to bring the cartoon character to life. Since he had no soul, it failed, but he only wandered around not harming anyone. However, due to Joey worrying he could scare people off, he was locked in the bottom of the studio.
  • BioShock:
    • The Splicers will attack you on sight, but the story behind them is quite tragic. They were ordinary people who took the Fantastic Drug ADAM, which gave them superpowers but was extremely addictive and detrimental to sanity. Rapture's extreme capitalist policies meant that there was never any control nor warnings about the dangers of ADAM until it was too late. And even those who didn't want to splice felt forced into it to protect themselves and their families from mad Splicers, which only got worse as Rapture fell into a civil war and splicing became both sides' weapon of choice. Now the non-spliced population of Rapture probably measures in the single digits, and the Splicers act as muscle for anyone who can sate their desperate need for ADAM. In their occasional moments of lucidity, they apologize to you for what they've done and are horrified at their current state.
    • The Big Daddies, human beings forcibly reconstructed into amphibious cyborgs and brainwashed into serving as guardians to the Little Sisters, are especially good at evoking this. Watching how gentle they can be with the Little Sisters has been known to give gamers pause in killing them, and the forlorn way they go wandering when no Little Sisters are around is just sad. The fact that they are brainwashed and not acting on their own choices, even when they attack you, just makes it worse.
    • BioShock 2:
    • The new Big Sister enemies were once Little Sisters who weren't saved in the first game. The onset of adolescence broke down their brainwashing and drove them insane, so they were locked in diving suits and pointed at whoever Lamb doesn't like. They're still teenage girls who've been exploited since young childhood, and they can't be saved like the Little Sisters can.
    • Meanwhile, in BioShock Infinite, two of the Heavy Hitters are these.
      • Handymen are cyborg monstrosities created from people who were sick, disabled, or invalid — sometimes against their will, sometimes in hopes of being cured. The result is a monster that knows what a monster it is, can no longer interact safely with humans, and is in constant (and vocal) pain thanks to the crude attempt at implanting its remaining organs into the new body. Worse still, they're also prone to fits of berserk rage induced by this pain, one of the reasons why they're so dangerous in combat.
      • The Siren is a "living quantum singularity" — a human woman who is trapped in a fluctuating position between life and death and left as a screaming, half-insane, enemy-resurrecting "ghost." What makes it even more unsettling is the Siren was originally Lady Comstock, meaning Comstock turned his own wife into this thing.
  • BlazBlue: This trope is the reason behind Litchi and Arakune's entire backstory. They were both scientists working under an organization, until an incident occurred in which Arakune lost his body and mind, continuing to exist only as an Eldritch Abomination who eats people. Litchi then set out to find a cure for Arakune, even willing to put him out of his misery herself if she has to. What makes it even sadder is that Arakune has occasional moments of lucidity... but only around Litchi. During these moments, he does nothing but begs her to stop trying to save him and go to their old superior to stop anything from killing her, as she's constantly exposing herself to the corruption that turned him into what he is. His wrong end in Continuum Shift even has him erase Litchi's memories of him, bring her back to her clinic, and watch over her in secret until the aforementioned superior and her assistant show up.
  • Bloodborne: The Beast Scourge causes this. Most people who use the Old Blood are normal civilians unaware of its dangers, the terminally ill desperately gambling on its healing properties, and hunters who just want to protect their loved ones from werewolves. But they fall to it all the same and become the monsters they fought against.
    • Gilbert. The first truly friendly person you're likely to meet, who sympathizes with your plight, gives you helpful advice and items, and has even found the silver lining to his chronic illness, that being that at least he'll die human. Except it turns out that he's suffering from the ashen blood sickness, the same sickness that took Old Yharnam. If you visit him after the blood moon rises, you'll find the bars of his window torn apart and a new beast nearby.
    • Father Gascoigne is a decent man with a wife and two daughters, and a summon for the Cleric Beast boss fight. Unfortunately, he's been at the hunt for long enough that by the time you meet him in the graveyard, he can no longer tell people apart from beasts, and he finally loses himself at the end of his fight.
    • Ludwig, the first Church Hunter, was a noble man who just wanted to protect Yharnam, but failed to realize the true corruption of the Healing Church. Now he's a horrible deformed centaur-beast trapped in the Hunter's Nightmare with the rest of his generation's hunters. After he has a Restoration of Sanity in his boss fight, he won't blame the player for leaving him as a severed head and will just ask them if the Church Hunters were the "noble Spartans" he wanted them to be. Telling him they were will let him die peacefully, while telling him they weren't will have him despair that his work was All for Nothing.
    • Laurence, the First Vicar, otherwise known as the fiery Cleric Beast in the Nightmare. He won't even fight you unless you have a specific item, his human skull, that he thinks will restore his humanity. And while he created the Healing Church, it's hinted he had genuinely good intentions.
    • The DLC's final boss, the Orphan of Kos, is the locus of the Nightmare, but he isn't its cause or even malicious at all; he doesn't really understand what's going on as he is a baby, and is merely responding to the curse the residents of the Fishing Hamlet (who themselves count for this trope, as they're only hostile because of the atrocities that hunters committed on them) placed on the Hunters.
    • The huntsmen are just (literally) rabid villagers trying to protect their homes and families, who think the player is one of the werewolves plaguing Yharnham. They even have moments of lucidity where they call out to God for help.
  • Bloodwing in Borderlands 2 was captured by Handsome Jack and experimented on, making them giant size and giving them all of the game's Elemental Powers. Since one of those elements is Explosive, Jack installed a bomb collar on her, which he detonates and blows her head off when Mordecai manages to take her down non-lethally with a tranquilizer, hoping to find someone who can reverse the transformation.
  • From Breath of Fire I, we have your angelic sister — she returns near the end of the game after having been absent since the prologue, but is under the Man Behind the Man's mind control, and is eventually slain by the heroes in her dragon form.
  • Castlevania:
    • Annette in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, if you fail to get her out of her cell beforehand.
    • And again in the remake Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, although the mood is kind of sidetracked since, instead of being turned into a skull sorceress as in the original, Annette is instead transformed into a Stripperiffic succubus in cleavage-baring black lingerie because Evil Is Sexy.
    • Dracula in many of the games qualifies as such, as he turned into him in the first place because of both loves of his life's deaths.
    • A main plot point of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. If you cannot obtain the healing spell, you have to kill Stella and Loretta to end the game.
  • Cave Story: Toroko, an innocent villager, becomes a raving monster after being force-fed a nasty red flower by Balrog under the wicked Doctor's orders. And she's not the only one that is transformed, either (though she's the only one with a name.)
    • And then you have the progenitor of those red flowers: Ballos. He used to be a kind sorcerer, beloved by everyone who's met him, with the sole exception of king of that land. Said king then proceeded to torture him to his limit, upon which Ballos let his magic run wild, to both his and the rest of the world's dismay.
  • Lynx of Chrono Cross. Originally the hero's father, Wazuki, he came in contact with FATE at the same time his son was healed by and genetically bonded with the Frozen Flame. This, combined with how close he came to seeing his son die while he was helpless to prevent it, broke down his willpower enough to allow FATE access to his heart and mind, until she was able to eventually corrupt him completely, turning him into her human incarnation and reshaping him to look like a demi-human via the DNA of the very panther demon that had tried to kill Serge. By the time of the game's events, absolutely no trace of his former self or personality is left — not only is he a complete and irredeemable villain, but he also initiates a Grand Theft Me to possess his own son's body. And in a twisted irony, the man who had been so determined to save his son's life he was willing to risk the creepy robot-manned city from the future ended up being the one who drowned him in Another World. You have to kill him, of course as FATE, never knowing who he was until an eleventh-hour Reveal after the fact.
  • City of Heroes does this in a few arcs.
    • The Terra arc features a strange case in which you must protect an environmental terrorist named Terra who used to know the Hamidon when he was still human. She is given a serum that eventually turns her into a monstrous Devoured and you have to beat her down. It's never explained if she can be helped at all.
    • The end of the Lady Grey taskforce forces you to fight the universe's greatest hero, Hero-1, who disappeared when he escaped to the Rikti homeworld and in the eight years since was turned into a horrific Rikti monster named "The Honoree". Not helping matters is that despite the extensive Rikti mind control in place, the act of fighting heroes starts to crack it, but only enough that he is helpless to stop himself from fighting you while crying out in horror at what has happened to him. Upon defeat the mind control is restored and the Rikti teleport him back, so he remains stuck with this fate for the present. The last issue of the City of Heroes comic book also features this story arc.
    • One Malta Ops mission arc has the player meet a woman who is trying to investigate the disappearance of her son Joe, a convict who'd begun to turn his life around in prison. Pursuing the investigation ultimately leads the player to a lab in which Malta Operatives have removed Joe's brain and put it into a Humongous Mecha. The player is then obliged to fight the "Titan called Joe" while Joe's voice cries out in horror from the robot. At the conclusion of the mission, the player's contact laments that Joe could not be saved.
  • This happens to Lance Bean in Contra: Shattered Soldier after he injects the Devil Emperor Gava DNA into his body.
  • In Dark Chronicle, after you defeat Gaspard at the base of Mt. Gundor, he sees the error of siding with Emperor Griffon and turns to walk away, wishing you well, but before he leaves, Griffon telepathically chastises Gaspard and takes control of him, and morphs him into Ultimate Flame Demon Gaspard, who you must fight to the death.
  • Dark Souls is such a Crapsack World that nearly every enemy in the game is a Tragic Monster. Even the player character is on the verge of becoming one thanks to the Dark Sign. The most noticeable example is Chaos Witch Quelaag, the half woman, half spider creature. The first time you fiught against her, you may assume that she's merely an evil creature protecting the bell from being rung. It turns out she's actually protecting her blind sister who's in need of humanity for easing the pain. And what's worse, the said blind sister is waiting for Quelaag, who's not coming back again. And she assumed the heartless murderer was her dear sister!
  • Suiciders from Dead Island are a horrific example of this. The Kuru virus turns them into a lump of disfigured, bloated flesh about to explode. Even worse, they are still alive even after the infection, and they will plea for help while slowing walking toward you and blowing themselves up.
  • Dead Space: All of the Necromorphs are horrifying in their own way, especially with the constant reminders that these things used to be human, but the Guardians are by far the worst. The entire time you’re fighting them, they’re screaming their lungs out, clearly feeling all the pain of their transformation. When you finally kill them, they actually give a sigh of relief that the pain is finally over.
  • In Digital Devil Saga, this happens not once, not twice, but three times. The first is when Jinana loses herself to hunger because she hasn't eaten since the events in the game began; the second when Lupa is hit with a nasty technique from Varin Omega that causes him to lose control and attack his own men, not to mention the protagonists; and in the second game Heat, after his Heel–Face Turn. Heat's case is particularly heartbreaking since it's implied in-game that he knows he's a monster and is committing suicide by True Companions. In the first and third cases, the only cure was to be heavily mortally wounded. In the second case Lupa was too weak to even manage that.
  • Doom³ tries to do this with Mission Control Sarge, who gets turned into a cybernetic tank demon about 3/4ths of the way through the game. It fails, since he was always a hardass who constantly railed on your character, and it's unclear as to whether or not most of your interactions with him were after he succumbed to The Virus anyway. It's heavily implied that Sarge nearly immediately succumbed to the virus and was leading your character (and the rest of the military force) on the entire time — however, there's also evidence that he was converted by Bertruger sometime after (one theory places the time at when his transmission is cut off while yelling at you for disobeying orders) and that his attempts to call for backup were just Genre Blindness.
  • Appears in Dragon Age: Origins — the taint can really mess you up.
    • The Dalish Grey Warden's game starts with them exploring with childhood friend Tamlen. Said childhood friend gets a little too close to an Artifact of Doom and the Warden wakes up three days later apparently found alone and with the taint and a high fever and is taken off by Duncan to be put through the Joining, which will suppress it (for a few decades, anyhow) if they survive — Tamlen gets left for dead not only by Duncan but his and the Warden's whole tribe. Guess who pays the Warden a surprise visit halfway through the game as a ghoul, going insane from progressive taint and begging his old bestie for a Mercy Kill?
    • Quite similar to the Dalish Elf's case is Danyla in the Brecilian Forest, a missing member of the Dalish clan from the "Nature of the Beast" quest whose husband asks the Warden to search for her as a side mission. She's succumbed to the werewolf curse and is still barely there when she's found, begging the Warden to put her out of her misery and take her scarf back to her husband before losing it and attacking.
    • And don't get started on Broodmothers.
    • Arguably the Archdemon himself. There are no reliable sources in the game describing what the Tevintran Old Gods were really like (the Chantry is hardly unbiased on the subject), but to reiterate the point above: the taint really messes you up.
  • Dragon Age II: The Legacy DLC has Larius, a half-insane ghoul who used to be the Warden-Commander of the Free Marches. He is the sad result of what fate eventually awaits all Grey Wardens and the reason why they embark on the Calling to prevent themselves from fully succumbing to ghoulification. He unfortunately survived this last stand and has been left to wander the Deep Roads, utterly ignored by the rest of the horde. His fate becomes even worse if Hawke allies with him against Janeka, as it's heavily implied that he becomes possessed by Corypheus, an Ancient Tevinter Magister and one of the first Darkspawn.
  • In Drakengard 3, dealing with one turns out to be the reason why Two becomes an Empty Shell after the game's prologue — her Magic Music fused all of the orphans she'd cared for into a monster that retained just enough of their memories to recognize her and cry out in pain during their Mercy Kill. Five also shows up as a shambling corpse in one route, and despite her crude and selfish personality beforehand, Zero and her party don't believe she deserved that. In fact, all of the Intoners could probably count as this, to varying degrees; they started out as innocent little girls who really did want to make the world a better place, but due to being creations of the Flower, they slowly succumbed to insanity and all of their actions only served to hasten the end of the world. None of them except for One are aware of this, so they believe their Fake Memories of Zero as a kind older sister and don't understand why she's trying to kill them.
  • Dying Light:
    • Virals haven't fully succumbed to the virus yet. Injure one, and there's a good chance they'll regain control of themselves just long enough to panic or to beg you to get away. Unfortunately, they don't have enough strength to regain control, and will attack almost immediately after this reaction. You can't save them.
    • Screamers are children who have turned, who live in a state of perpetual fear. When you encounter one they scream loud enough to disorient you, and their scream also attracts hoards of infecteds to your location. Worse, as one you encounter is actually laughing at cartoons on a television, it's possible they don't even realize they're infected and may instead see you as some sort of monster there to kill them. Like virals you can't save them, but you can get a Mercy Kill on one where you comfort it as you put it out of its misery.
  • In ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights, many of the spirits and bosses that Lily encounters were once brave warriors who were devoted to protecting the kingdom and the White Priestesses but became corrupted by the Blight and became monsters through no fault of their own.
    • Siegrid was a Guardian who took up arms to protect Lily in the sept but the constant fighting caused her to be consumed by madness, eventually mindlessly attacking Lily, the very person she was to protect.
    • Eleine was a gifted sorceress who did everything to protect the Coven from the Blight and her dearest friend Fretia. While she was able to protect the Coven, she was not able to help her friend.
    • Gerrod refused to be purified because he did not wish to burden the White Priestess anymore than necessary. He died a lonely death, defending the doomed citizens.
    • Silva was chosen to be the Priestess of the Fount's personal Guardian but failed and mentioned she had no choice but to "flee", implying she was forced to leave Fretia behind. She soon became Blighted and began killing others in the cathedral, aware of her actions but unable to stop.
    • Ulv was very loyal to Fretia who was the only one showing him kindness. Even after becoming Blighted, he protected the gardens that Fretia so dearly loved.
    • Hoenir was deeply dedicated to his kingdom and his last actions were to defend one of the White Priestesses, as well as guarding Fretia's location in the Verboten Domain to prevent others from finding it as her final request to him.
    • Julius was the Knight Captain who killed his own father, the king, whose obsession with immortality allowed the Blight to spread rampant across the kingdom. His words, when defeated, were an apology to adding the burdens to Lily.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: In the Shivering Isles expansion, your old mentor Sheogorath turns out to have been an alter ego of Big Bad Jyggalag all along and, due to a curse, he is forced to return to his original form of Jyggalag at the end of every era and destroy his own world. In the final quest, you have to kill him before he carries out these plans, although, this means "you kill a god". Also, on the way to the Arc Villain of the Mage's Guild quests, you are sent to rescue an informant who is spying on the necromancers. You find him... a little too late, after he's been turned into a zombie.
  • Fable III: The final boss is your friend and mentor, Walter Beck, who is possessed by the Crawler. His Boss Banter alternates between raving about how he is going to horrifically kill all of the people of Albion and begging you to put him out of his misery.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, Edge's parents are transformed into monsters controlled by one of Rubicante's minions. They eventually recover their minds and commit suicide. Rubicante does express sorrow for this and apologizes to Edge. The minion did this against the orders of Rubicante's, who implies he would have killed the minion for this were he still alive.
    • In Crisis Core, Zack has to kill his mentor, Angeal, who actually makes himself monstrous to make it easier for Zack to kill him.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The whale-like destroyer Sin is the shell around the Final Aeon that defeated it last; in this case, Tidus's father Jecht.
      • The summoner that died under Lulu's protection.
      • Yu Yevon may have been responsible for all the death and destruction for the past 1000 years, but that's probably because his mind died and mutated into something alien and unknowable a long time ago. That... thing that is left of Yu Yevon shows just how much he sacrificed to keep Zanarkand alive.
    • In Final Fantasy Adventure, Amanda gets bitten by Medusa and begins turning into a Medusa herself.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy:
      • It's hinted that Sephiroth is one, as Cecil, in a pre-battle quote against Sephiroth, mentions that there's "sorrow in (Sephiroth's) wintery eyes."
      • Kefka also gets this treatment in his final moments. Lamenting the pointlessness of life and how even destruction — his entire reason for being — is senseless.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles:
      • The player gets the option to become friends with De Nam, a selkie you meet in the Shella. He's a scholar and wishes to find a way for humans to live alongside the miasma, so he heads to the swamp areas of Conall Curach and starts drinking the miasma infested waters. He sends you letters, telling you how his research is going, being overall hopeful about the whole thing. His very last letter is written in a broken manner for you to come to Conall Curach. You can't find him there, but you can run around and beat the monsters as per normal. Eventually you come across a monster who, after you beat it, drops a "Worn Bandanna". Inscribed on the bandanna is De Nam's name. Guess who you just slaughtered?
      • Adding to the De Nam thing, it's heavily implied that the humanoid enemies, such as Skeletons and Sahagins, a fair bit of them are mutated humans, driven insane by miasma and hopelessness. Have fun playing through Tida and Conall Curach now!
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, the protagonist's brother Zalbag is teleported to a place of unknown horror by a Zodiac Demon. He reappears a few battles later and is forced by the Big Bad to fight his brother. Zalbag cannot control his body, but is still self-aware, and begs Ramza to kill him. Wiegraf could also qualify as one, although his status as That One Boss may garner a little less sympathy for him...
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Done very well in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance when King Ashnard of Daein uses Izuka's drug to warp the mind of the Goldoan prince Rajaion and force him to remain permanently in dragon form, so he could use him as a personal mount. This causes Ena — Rajaion's fiancée — to find work under Ashnard in an attempt to get close to Rajaion, which in turn causes Nasir (Ena's grandfather) to spy on your party for Daein. Ashnard took advantage of both Nasir and Ena, using the former to steal the MacGuffin he needs for his plans from your party, and the latter in a Uriah Gambit when he orders her to attack your party, thus bringing this trope into play as you're forced to fight Ena and treat your former friend Nasir as a prisoner of war.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, after Eliwood obtains the dragon-slaying sword Durandal, he is greeted by an enormous ice dragon and is driven by the sword to kill it. Then the Big Bad Nergal shows up to rub his face in the fact that he has just killed Ninian, the girl he (most likely) loved, but at the very least he knew she had trusted and loved him. Nergal had forced Ninian to shift to her true, dragon form, but despite having the mind of a beast, her desire to be with Eliwood was strong enough to make her seek him out. Still a Tear Jerker, even knowing the ending.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, it turns out that the Big Bad is actually the two main characters' meek childhood friend possessed by the spirit of an evil demon. To make matters worse, if you decided to follow Eirika, you learn that the villain is actually in love with her and, by the time the final chapter rolls around, they're forced to try and kill the other.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening:
      • The Avatar of the Bad Future is a tragic monster. They are forcibly possessed by Grima and murder Chrom along with all of his friends and bring about a hellish world where humans are on the verge of extinction. Bonus as an extra Player Punch if you married Chrom.
      • This is the Central Theme of the "Death's Embrace" Xenologue, in which the party is teleported to a parallel dimension where an entire village has been massacred and turned into Risen, albeit with a twist of magic that makes them Technically Living Zombies who are aware of their plight and desperately seeking the release of death. Most party members' pre-battle quotes express sympathy for them and vow to Mercy Kill them. Indeed, sometimes when you kill a Risen foe on this map, they will openly thank the party for killing them.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon: In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, you have to fight Sgt. Keegan, who has gained all your powers, turned into some sort of ghoul and is insane because Alma likes you more than him... while Alma rapes you.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • It's heavily implied (and eventually confirmed) via Easter Eggs and minigames that the original quartet of animatronics (and Golden Freddy) are haunted by the ghosts of children that were murdered by a Serial Killer in the establishment. Five Nights at Freddy's 2 adds in the Puppet, who is implied to have been the first victim of the Fazbear killings. Fortunately, by Five Nights at Freddy's 3, they (or at least five of them) finally get revenge on their killer, and all six are able to move on after completing hidden minigames, leaving the animatronics as lifeless husks in the good ending.
    • However, there's also evidence suggesting the Toys from 2 are haunted, as well.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location has Eggs Benedict a.k.a. Michael Afton. First, he ends up scooped by Ennard so said robot can wear his skin. Then he manages to barf up Ennard but is cursed to be an immortal, purple-skinned zombie by the spirit of his own sister.
    • Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator manages to bring every one together (possibly). Molten Freddy has the ghosts of some of the murdered children. Lefty is The Puppet, whose backstory is completely explained (she was locked out in the rain by some brats and by the time the security puppet found her, she was dead). Circus Baby, who's been possessed by Elizabeth Afton, has gone completely insane and now just wants to become Daddy's Little Villain. And it's hinted that the protagonist of this game is Eggs again. All end up burning alive, along with Springtrap, in order to release their souls, by Cassette Man (who happens to be the Puppet's father). It's noted that both the protagonist and Henry willingly died alongside them to lay the Fazbear nightmare to rest for good.
  • Freedom Planet: At the end of Final Dreadnaught round 3, when playing as Carol or Lilac, Meela (the third playable character) is transformed into a weird scorpion-tailed monster and made to fight the others.
  • Glory of Heracles III: The Climax Boss of Mount Atlas, Baor? That's the Protagonist, having been turned into a monster for the sins of his past self and sent back in time to be slain by himself and his party. Fortunately, you get to avert this when you relive the fight from the monster's side.
  • Golden Sun:
  • The final boss of the original Gungrave is actually Big Daddy, who in the main character Grave's human life was the closest thing he had to a father and a mentor figure. Harry, having overthrown and taken control of The Syndicate, had who-knows-how-many experiments performed on Big Daddy while he was still alive until he reached his present state — a giant, twisted blue monster locked up at the very top of Millenion's Tower. He no longer has any will of his own or memories of who he used to be — and now Grave must kill the father that never even got to really meet or know his own biological daughter (Mika), the very girl whom Grave serves as Guardian for her.
  • Definitely the entire point of .hack//G.U.. Let's start from the beginning: Haseo's best friend Shino is comatose, his newly acquired allies start suffering left right and center. The protagonist also becomes entangled in a Batman Gambit (and is an Unwitting Pawn himself), and finally he gets a shot at killing the true culprit after chasing false ends. This is what the true culprit, Ovan wanted from the beginning, launching a convoluted plan to have Haseo kill him. Why? The Corruption has gotten to him and has resulted in a comatose little sister. He has the required cure that will bring everyone back, but it requires a Heroic Sacrifice, and he knows that I Cannot Self-Terminate. By the time Haseo (and by extension, you, the player) knows about this, you cannot help but feel sorry for the guy.
  • Just Shapes & Beats: One character is painted from the moment they appear as a close friend of the protagonist, and quite cute besides — so the boss battle where they're infected by The Corruption is considered by many fans to be the most emotionally impactful, especially with how painfully obvious it is that they're fighting it with everything they have.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In the first game, Maleficent leads Riku on to believe that she can help him save Kairi and that Sora has abandoned him. He confronts Sora multiple times over the course of the game and eventually leads to Riku having his body taken over by Ansem when he agrees to give in to the darkness.
    • Then there's Roxas' fight with Xion from Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. After being forced to transform into an Ax-Crazy One-Winged Angel form, Roxas wins their duel to the death resulting in her being erased from reality.
    • All the Nobodies and members of Organization XIII in particular qualify, as they're the way they are not of their own choice, and most of them are shown to have been perfectly good people before they became Nobodies. Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] makes them even more tragic by revealing that they were all an Unwitting Pawn to Xemnas, Xehanort, and Braig/Xigbar, they were evil because they were told they had no other choice as heartless shells, but they develop hearts of their own given time. Ultimately most of their fledgling consciousness are snuffed out by the heroes, with the only bright spot being that killing them makes their Somebody come back.
  • In Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, after Leorina collects the four Elements, the power of sorrow engulfs her and mutates her into Cursed Leorina, a creature best described as a giant bird-like creature with small-fairy like wings and a and an extremely creepy roar. Thankfully, she turns normal after you defeat her.
  • Knights in the Nightmare has two prominent examples: Nordische gets turned into a werewolf and Pisce gets turned into a harpy. You're forced to kill them as well and only death turns them back to normal.
  • Legend of Legaia:
    • This applies to the vast majority of Seru. Before the Mist came, they were benevolent creatures who lived in harmony with humans and co-existed through mutualistic relationships. Once you learn about their past, it makes the Seru's involuntary madness and eventual extinction all the more tragic.
    • There's also Gaza, a mighty swordsman. After being defeated by the party, he is taken away by Songi, one of the main antagonists. Later, Gaza shows up again, this time under the control of Sim-Seru. He turns into a monster, which the party has to defeat. Gaza is injured fatally, but he makes a noble sacrifice to save his town in his last breath.
    • Depending on how you interpret things, Prince Cort is also an example of this. He might have been willing, though the game also notes that Rogue Seru are capable of possessing unwilling hosts as well. It never states clearly whether he was Brainwashed and Crazy or evil all along and really evil after getting a Rogue Seru. Fortunately for Noa, he gets a second chance after all, but at the time you fight the monster form in the last boss fight, the heroes are under a different impressio..
    • Thanks to the Mist being spread from the Absolute Fortress, the Sim-Seru presented to the King during Noa's backstory began to grow in an unstable fashion, eventually absorbing the entire town of Conkram. By the time you get there, everyone there has become a part of the massive beast, and the King and Queen both help the party prepare to storm the Absolute Fortress with full knowledge that the result is a massive Mercy Kill.
  • In one of the minor quests in Legend of Mana, one of the professors at the magic university is looking for his brother, who was out exploring a snowfield for faerie treasure. By the time we get there, the professor's brother has turned himself into a snow monster in order to survive, which you have to kill in order to complete the quest.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: All the generic soldier mooks, sort of. They're actually completely innocent people who are being forced to do evil because Agahnim's used magic to make them Brainwashed and Crazy. Yet there's absolutely nothing you can do to help them — you have to kill them, or they'll kill you. At the beginning of the game, there are several friendly guards who haven't been affected yet. One of them laments how his fellow men have lost their minds — and the fact that it is going to happen to him, too. The sequel replaces them with summons created by the Big Bad's Art Initiates Life power.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Online, the Ranger Amdir, who you spend the first parts of the game trying to help as a Hobbit or a Man after he is stabbed with a Nazgûl's morgul-blade during the introductory sequence, becomes one of the Cargûl, lesser wraiths in red who are slaves of the Nazgûl, after succumbing to the effects of the weapon. Book 1, Chapter 1, your very first quest in the Epic storyline after completing the Intro and the Prologue, consists of finding and killing Amdir, who has become lost to Darkness and is killing his fellow Rangers.
  • In the third party Marathon Expansion Pack, Marathon: RED, at one point the player is captured, infected with The Virus and mutated into a grotesque cyborg-alien hybrid known as the "Reaver", and then sent to kill the surviving humans, but then turns back against his creators.
  • A few of the villains, (hell an entire race) qualify as this in the Mass Effect series.
    • Matriarch Benezia is under Reaper indoctrination, meaning her free will has basically been destroyed by the Reaper. She joined Saren to try to persuade him from his dark path. If it hadn't been for Sovereign, it might have worked. The Collectors were once Protheans, the last race destroyed by the Reapers, who the Reapers corrupted and turned into bug-like monsters, forced to do their bidding.
    • Saren doesn't really count as he was a monster before being indoctrinated.
    • Many people think the Rachni were also victims of Reaper indoctrination.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the asari agent does state that the rachni queen's own memories and nature point towards the rachni having been mind-controlled, and Shepard's immediate suggestion is that the Reapers were responsible. Legion states that Nazara, aka Sovereign, did seek out other allies before coming to the Geth, so it's quite possible the rachni were an early, failed attempt.
    • David Archer from the "Overlord" DLC. Not only was he forced by his brother to become a VI figurehead in an attempt to unite the geth, he's also autistic, so he doesn't fully understand what's happening to him. The VI's shrieks of static you hear throughout the entire set of missions are "MAKE IT STOP!"
    • From Mass Effect: Andromeda, there's the kett Chosen. They used to be angara until they were taken, experimented on, and turned into more kett, all memories and connections to their prior life removed or suppressed, and made to assist in the systematic genocide of their own species.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Rundas, Gandrayda and Ghor in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Also, if you're not careful, Samus. To be more specific, in the beginning Dark Samus infects all four bounty hunters with Phazon.
  • As a game built around various environmental themes, it should come as no surprise that Monster Hunter would have some examples.
    • In Monster Hunter 4 monsters afflicted with Gore Magala's and Shagaru Magala's Frenzy virus become berserk engines of destruction, attacking anything and everything including their own kind until they die from the affliction. There's also Chaotic Gore Magala, a Gore Magala trapped in the intermediary state of its molting process into Shagaru Magala. Constantly in pain and lashing out because of it, the only thing anyone can do for it is put it down.
    • In Rise, there are the monsters involved with the Rampage, a recurring event in Kamura Village where countless monsters stampede across the land, wreaking havoc wherever they go. As victims of the influence of Wind Serpent Ibushi and Thunder Serpent Narwa, Fugen can't bring himself to blame them for the destruction they cause.
      • The Sunbreak expansion introduces the Qurio Affliction, a state similar to the Frenzy virus with parasitic Qurio constantly draining a monster of life and whipping them into a destructive rage. Like Frenzied Monsters, they have no choice but to keep attacking until they're either bled dry or put down. Malzeno can be seen as a downplayed case of this, since it's clearly suffered from the Affliction being weaker and more emaciated than its Primordial variant, but it also controls the Qurio instead of the other way around.
  • After the end of Mortal Kombat 9, a large majority of the Earthrealm heroes under Raiden, with the exception of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage (and later Jax, the younger Sub-Zero and Scorpion via resurrection in Mortal Kombat X), became undead revenants under the control of Shinnok and Quan Chi. Considering the fact that the only guy who can resurrect the revenants as living beings was killed off by Scorpion (mind you, Quan Chi had it coming for years), and the fact that Raiden has taken a darker persona after cleansing the Jinsei, it's very likely that this is permanent for the remaining fallen Earthrealm heroes.
  • Oh man, this is like the entire point of Mother 3. That cute little family of friendly dinosaur-dragons you play with in the prologue? One of the parents is turned into an aggressive, fire-spewing cyborg who kills your own mother, only about half a day since you saw it last. How about your excitable, friendly twin brother? Killed by aforementioned cyborg, is brought back to life as one himself with his emotions and memories wiped and forced to fight against his own father and brother. Plenty of other animals get this chimerical treatment — look at some of the enemies' faces and tell me they're not screaming. The song's called Tragic Reconstruction for a reason, y'know.
  • One boss monster in Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of the Betrayer is the long-lost mother of one of your party members. You don't find out until after defeating her, though. The bit while fighting her where she possesses one of your party members also qualifies.
  • NieR:
    • Kainé becomes this in the third and fourth endings as a result of the Shade in her body taking control. She becomes the True Final Boss in these ending paths. You then have the choice of either killing her and ending her pain as she had originally wanted or sacrificing your entire existence to restore her to a fully human form.
    • Several of the Shades fought as bosses also turn out to be a lot more sympathetic in New Game Plus, when you can understand what they're saying.
  • Odin Sphere:
    • Belial is a dragon who once liked humans but was magically enslaved by the Three Wise Men to be their attack-dog, forced to fight for them (including against the protagonists) and to eat humans. In the moments when he gets to actually speak, he expresses regret and anger at what's he's been forced to do and, in the end, pleads with Cornelius to kill him (and stop him from eating Velvet) if he truly feels any pity for his situation.
    • Ingway transforms into Darkova at the end of his sister Velvet's chapter to take revenge on Odin while also believing he deserved to die for his past sins; though able to return to normal form after the first transformation, Ingway fully transforms just in time for the boss run final book of the game ironically enough in a desperate attempt to stop the main villain with this power only to lose himself again. Oddly enough, to get the best ending you have to fight him with Cornelius, his sister's boyfriend. Fighting him with his sister will result in the bad ending — and fighting him with his love interest Mercedes leads to both the bad ending and a big-time Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter.
    • Another example comes in one of the bad endings if Oswald is sent to fight Onyx, eventually resulting in Oswald using too much of his power and turning into one of the ghostly Revenants that haunt Hornridge Mountain before he wanders off calling Gwendolyn's name.
  • In Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, you must fight Ohatsu when she has been possessed by the Genma. Tragic music even plays during the battle.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps:
    • Kwolok, the Guardian of the Marsh, gets possessed by the Foul Presence/Stink Spirit, forcing Ori to fight him for the Luma Pools Boss Battle. Though they manage to vanquish the parasite, Kwolok succumbs to his injuries and Disappears into Light afterwards.
    • The major antagonist Shriek hatched from her egg with her parents already dead and a body heavily mutated by the Decay that caused the other owls and most inhabitants of Niwen to shun her. A dying world is the only thing she's ever known, and despite part of her still longing for acceptance, she lashes out when Ori tries showing her mercy because she's too bitter to be capable of trust. Her last act as she dies is to drag her body to the corpses of her parents for the embrace she never got in life (and given her size in comparison to them, it's possible that, despite her monstrous appearance, she was still relatively young).
  • Parasite Eve:
    • The police dog Sheeva goes berserk from Eve's influence and mutates into a three-headed beast. To make it even more tragic, Ben, her 8-year-old friend is forced to kill her.
    • All Melissa Pierce wanted was to be a renowned opera singer — she was very excited about getting the role and easily manipulated by people she trusted. Makes one detest Klamp and Eve even more.
  • Penumbra:
    • A certain character is infected with the virus, forcing you to kill them. Subverted, as Clarence, your own lovely strain of virus, only makes Amabel look like one of the monsters. Once you bash her head in with a steel brick, Clarence reveals your tragic mistake, and crosses the line in record time. However, it's possible that Clarence, after killing Amabel, makes her look like her original form to try to muck with your mind, when in reality she was truly infected, possibly playing this trope straight.
    • It is also suddenly revealed that Red was also infected, which is why he couldn't commit suicide — the Hive Mind wouldn't allow it.
  • In Persona 3, Ryoji Mochizuki turns out to be the Anthromorphized avatar of the spirit of Death, Nyx Avatar. Fully aware that he's doomed to kill everyone on Earth, he gives your party the chance to wipe their own memories of the past year, just in time for the end of the world. Made even more tragic by the fact that he's actually rather fond of the world now, having spent 10 years trapped inside the main character. The battle against him has him spouting off Tarot card lessons in a defeated sounding, near-emotionless voice all while bemoaning how "It's useless." He's right. The new Persona 3 Portable throws an even more tragic twist into the situation: if you pick the female version of the Main Character, Ryoji becomes an S-Link with romantic potential. So, not only is he forced to bring forth the end of the world he's fond of, he's forced to fight the girl he loves as well, and she dies to seal Erebus just as the original MC from the original Persona 3 game did.
  • Subverted in Phantasy Star IV as Chaz has to fight an illusion of Alys to get the Megid spell.
  • In Portal, information on the turrets says that they have an empathy generator, which is immediately turned off by an empathy-suppressor when a human stands next to it. This means this only realize the gravity of killing and shooting someone until after they have done it. In Portal 2, they may say "Oh, no" or "She's probably fine" to themselves after killing you.
  • In Prey (2006), your girlfriend Jen's upper body is grafted onto the body of a monster. This is a very disturbing sequence, as not only was Jen the de facto Damsel in Distress up to this point, but she's also not brainwashed or possessed in any way. The monster half simply has a mind of its own, thus forcing you to kill your still very much alive girlfriend or be eaten.
    "Tommy? I can't feel my legs..."
  • Psychonauts 2: Maligula turns out to be one. She was Lucrecia Mux, one of the founding members of the Psychonauts, but between her mental defenses being lowered by Otto Mentalis' experiments and the stress put on her by the Grulovian War and becoming the enforcer for Gzar Theodore Malik, she became more and more cruel and violent. After she accidentally killed hundreds of innocent protestors (including her sister and brother-in-law) in a flood, she snapped completely and became the feared and dreaded monster the psychic community knew her as.
  • In Quake IV, Lt. Voss, your squad leader, gets Stroggified and turned into a mech-like boss monster about 1/2 way through the game. The stroggified Kane may be considered one of these, since his cybernetic makeover is permanent, although he still has control over himself, making him a Phlebotinum Rebel.
  • Resident Evil:
    • All the zombies/Ganados/Majini from all the games are these. If the viruses and Las Plagas parasites hadn't broken out, they wouldn't have become these... things... Special mention goes to the credits of Resident Evil 4, which shows a number of the Ganados living happy normal lives in a hand-drawn slideshow complete with peaceful music. About halfway through the music turns ominous, and you begin to see scenes of the villagers clutching their throats in agony and eventually killing one another.
    • William Birkin in Resident Evil 2 is kind of one of these, especially in the 2019 remake. Mortally wounded by Umbrella's agents, he injected himself with The Virus out of desperation, turning him into his tragic One-Winged Angel form. Mitigated somewhat by him being a downright evil man even before he transformed, though he nonetheless loved his family.
    • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, you encounter a UBCS officer named Murphy who is turning into a zombie. Either Carlos or Nicolai puts him out of his misery.
    • One of the bosses in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, "Nosferatu", is the product of a botched experiment with the Veronica-T virus on Alexander, Alfred's father. Steve is also infected with a form of the virus, mutating into a giant hulking monster that Claire has to take down.
    • Lisa Trevor from Resident Evil (Remake) puts all the above to shame, as she was the helpless 14-year-old daughter of the mansion's creator, and she and her mother were made into test subjects by Umbrella against their will. Her mother died from being infected with the T-Virus, but Lisa sadly survived and was then proceeded to be injected with the Nemesis virus (which was used to produce the walking nightmare in Resident Evil 3 of the same name) and upon its injection, it created the G-Virus in her body. Making matters worse, even with her mind completely deteriorated and now orphaned, she longed to find her mother in a mansion now completely ridden with monsters... alone....
    • The first Scagdead you fight in Resident Evil: Revelations is this. You first hear the Comms Officer mumbling a distress call over the radio and think he may be a survivor until you open the door and a bloated mutant comes out and attacks... and continues to beg you not to kill it as it chases you.
      Mutated Comms Officer: Mayday, mayday... This... is the Queen Zenobia... Emergency call number... I don't feel like myself anymore... Please stop! I'm human! I can't feel my legs... Let me talk...
    • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard:
      • Jack and Marguerite Baker used to be a nice, normal couple who were friendly and helpful. Then Jack rescued a shipwreck victim who turned out to be a Living Weapon created to Mind Rape civilians. It promptly took over the minds of the entire Baker family, turning Jack and Marguerite into raving, filth-eating lunatics who kidnapped and murdered people for the amusement of their tormentor, as well as mutilating and abusing themselves and each other. Jack doesn't even get the chance to rest in peace, instead being revived after his tormentor's death as an insane, hideously deformed "Swamp Man" who has to be killed by his own brother.
      • Eveline, or E-001, is a Tyke Bomb with a fixation on family. Even the In-Universe research documents aren't sure if that fixation is a result of her design or whether she genuinely wants that sort of family bond, but determine that it's useful either way. Her last words (prior to her becoming genuinely monstrous) are "Why does everyone hate me?"
  • You, any time your Space Fighter gets infested by the Bydo in R-Type.
  • Implied to be the case of the Final Boss in Secret of Mana. The Mana Beast looks a lot like Flammie, the Team Pet, who completely disappears from the game after the Mana Beast's destruction. This explains the main character's reluctance to slay it despite the Mana Beast posing a threat to the entire world. Well, that and the fact that it would result in his friend vanishing along with all the world's magic.
    Popoie: It's a Mana Beast!
    Purim: Isn't it... Flammie?
  • Shadow Hearts: From The New World:
    • Lady, a.k.a. Grace Garland. Sacrificing her soul to save her dying brother had the undesirable aftereffect of turning her into a soulless, almost mindless killing machine hellbent on destroying the world.
    • Edna Capone, Al Capone's sister. Her lover Ricardo must kill her after she is brought back as a creature of Malice by Lady.
  • Shadow of the Colossus: Basically, all of the colossi. Most of them are non-aggressive and react to the player character with curiousity until you start climbing them. Even the aggressive ones are only defending their personal space and their right to exist. Literally, none of them would be a danger to anyone if only they were left alone. Their slow death animation and the somber music playing really drives the point home.
  • Issachar in Shin Megami Tensei IV becomes a demon and forced to confront you, his best friend. As he fights you, you can try to invoke "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight. Be prepared for a horrifying Tear Jerker if you do — and it won't even work, anyway.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Most of the monsters can be interpreted this way. For all we know they're human souls bound to monstrous bodies as punishment. Even Pyramid Head seems to be punished by wearing his signature uncomfortable-looking helmet. It's even easier to see things this way in games where the monsters are easy to beat, as the player character rampages around, shooting any helpless freaks they find.
    • In the first Silent Hill, you have to fight the possessed Cybil on the carousel in the amusement park. You can either kill her, or for a better ending, splash the bottle of Applied Phlebotinum that you may have obtained in the hospital on her, to exorcise the parasite possessing her. Cheryl/Alessa becomes a tragic monster if you don't unlock the motorcycle gas tank and hereby allow Kaufmann to obtain the Aglaophotis vial. Cue Downer Ending. Luckily not as much a Guide Dang It! as the "+" ending.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Drachma spends most of the game chasing after an arcwhale that killed his son (in his introduction, he chastises the main characters because they needed rescue, and doing so caused him to lose track of the whale). At the end of the Purple dungeon, you find him sitting peaceably next to the whale as the whale takes his last breaths. He's finally realized he shouldn't blame the creature for his son's death — the ancient Purple civilization rammed their Moon Crystal into his forehead to make him their Gigas, and pain and immortality have driven him mad.
  • Splatterhouse: Your girlfriend transforms into the stage 5 Boss. In the sequel, fortunately, it was retconned so that that one was a monster disguised as her, and she and the protagonist have a child together by the time the third game comes out. The Japanese version of Splatterhouse 2 instead makes it clear that the monster was Jennifer, and that she did die. Either way, Rick fights his way through Hell to get her back.
  • In Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, the titular Spooky rallies somewhere between being the endearing kind of antagonist and a serious piece of work who traps people in her monster-infested mansion, abuses her employees, and wants to invade the human world and scare it to death because she hates being called "cute", but her backstory recontextualizes her as one of these: she was once an ordinary, happy girl who liked trying to scare people for fun — always being dismissed due to her being so gosh-darn cute — until one Halloween, she successfully scared her father... setting off his fierce PTSD, resulting in him accidentally shooting and killing her in a blind panic. Horrified and regretful for his actions, he spent the rest of his life dabbling in the occult in a desperate attempt to resurrect his daughter, and the Spooky we meet is her having come back wrong — everything about her original innocent personality and desires got warped into something far more ghoulish.
  • StarCraft: The original Kerrigan certainly wouldn't have approved of her infested counterpart's actions, but after a while, she has a Then Let Me Be Evil moment. While the original game largely avoids this, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty employs it with regards to Raynor's relationship with her. Especially prominent just prior to the campaign's finale when the remnants of Kerrigan's uninfested personality whisper encouragement to Raynor. Then promptly averted when they do save her. Though Kerrigan is indeed de-infested, she admits that she can still contact the zerg, and her relationship with Raynor is strained at best. (As for the rest of the Terrans, they're keeping her locked in a grade-A biological quarantine cell.) Then the Dominion attacks the facility, and while the two fight together well and the scars seem to be healing over, they are separated and Raynor is captured by the Dominion. Kerrigan wants to stay and wait for him, but the rest of her allies abandon her — and then a Dominion broadcast airs that claims that Raynor was interrogated and summarily executed. With nothing else holding her back, she goes back to the zerg, re-assuming her infested form by becoming the "primal Queen of Blades" on Zerus, the original zerg homeworld. However, she's clearly much more humane and restrained than before and no longer genocidal.
  • In Star Fox: Assault, General Pepper begs for you to kill him during the entire fight as his body and ship are controlled by the aparoids.
  • Shows up in Starlancer with Viper. The number of Chris Roberts games that don't utilize this trope can be counted on one hand.
  • In System Shock, you have to deal with SHODAN's minions, whom she infected with her mutant viruses. Edward Diego had you remove her ethical constraints, and how does SHODAN play him back? By making him one of her zombie slaves!
  • In System Shock 2, the Many has turned 98% of the Von Braun's crew into its mindless monstrosities. They weren't responsible for what happened, but you still had to kill them anyway.
  • Tales of Symphonia: The Exsphere monsters ("Exbelua") are regular humans turned into grotesque monsters. It's played with a bit as the first time you fight one, the characters don't know that they're fighting a friend (Genis' friend Marble) until it's mortally wounded, but they get hit hard by the horror once they find out and cannot bring themselves to fight any other hostile Exsphere monsters. it is played straighter in Regal's backstory, as when his love Alicia was turned into a monster, he knew it was her he was fighting. We also have (Kratos' wife/Lloyd's mother Anna) in a flashback. However, one of them (Dorr's wife Clara) actually can be saved in a sidequest.
  • Tales of Vesperia:
    • Belius is the epitome of this trope. From her, Estelle learns the hard way that her healing artes don't have a positive effect on an Entelexeia's sanity.
    • There's also the battle against a Brainwashed and Crazy Estelle near the end of act two. Fortunately, it's solved by Yuri simply beating the curse out of her.
  • The Tiamat Sacrament: One of Az'uar's brothers is mutated and driven insane by synthetic dragon DNA, courtesy of Ry'jin. All the party can do is Mercy Kill him.
  • Brink is an NPC who joins as an ally near the start of Torchlight. The Big Bad turns him into the first boss via The Corruption, and the player is forced to kill him. Partially subverted as the player character doesn't know Brink for very long at all. However, the NPC ally whom Brink was fighting alongside at the very start of the game definitely seems distraught after his death.
  • The Voids from Under Night In-Birth are Eldritch Abominations that are driven by powerful instinct to feast on the life energy of living beings and are an intense danger to everyone in the cast and indeed world. Merkava, however, is a unique Void that retains human sentience. He doesn't want to kill random people he comes across, but he can't stop himself because the Horror Hunger is too strong. And he's fully aware that no-one will ever sympathise or try to help him out, and that even if they did, he would likely end up killing them involuntarily. He's stuck in a great big Cycle of Hurting and none of it is even his fault.
  • Undertale: As revealed throughout the final moments of the Pacfist and No Mercy runs, the reason why Flowey is so utterly evil is because, despite being sapient and sentient, he lacks a soul and a heart. He is literally unable to feel empathy for anybody or understand why anyone would feel empathy for him. His creation was an accident resulting from DETERMINATION experiments, which is why he exists in this unnatural state. His original self, Asriel, was a sweet little kid who died because he wanted to help his human friend Chara, but it went sideways because Asriel was an Actual Pacifist and wouldn't kill the humans who attacked him in panic. He died and the flower that would become Flowey was grown from the spot, and later selected for experimentation by Alphys (who didn't know about its backstory). The result was a being with Asriel's mind but none of his heart, and his sociopathy combined with his ability to manipulate save files led to him treating the Underground with Video Game Cruelty Potential (and he says that he tried being nice at one point, but got bored of doing it over and over). When he returns to being Asriel in the finale, he eventually gives up the fight because he can't bear to hurt you.
  • Near the start of Valkyrie Profile, Princess Jelanda is transformed into some kind of undead demon, and you have to kill her. Then she proceeds to join your party. Later, Lezard transforms Lorenta's husband into a monster, and you are forced to kill him. Also, a certain boss in the first game is revealed to be a childhood friend of the main character of the prequel.
  • Vindictus: When Ingkells and all the soldiers of Ortel Castle become so overcome with despair that they drink a potion laced with Bloody Shade, Ingkells turns into a furious monster. Learning of this act is one of the most poignant moments in Vindictus' story. Ingkells, however, is unique in that he actually chose to become a monster. However, the fact that he felt enough despair and fury to be driven to such an action makes it all the more tragic..
  • Wing Commander: This trope makes an appearance in Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga with Hobbes, and is either played straight or subverted in Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, depending on when you choose to defect from Confed.
  • This happens to either Fergus Reid or Private Wyatt in Wolfenstein: The New Order, depending on which of them you choose to be dissected at the end of the prologue. Deathshead extracts their brain, and after keeping it in stasis for 14 years, implants it inside a giant Prototype Robot that you're forced to fight as the penultimate boss of the game. The robot continually begs for you to kill him during the fight, and the only way to stop him is to paralyze the robotic frame and destroy your friend's brain. The mission objective is even given as "End Fergus/Wyatt's suffering".
    Fergus/Wyatt: Captain Blazkowicz... please... kill me...
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Examples from The Undead include Thaddius (Those terrified screams in Naxxramas? That's one of the mutiple women and children' used to create him), Sir Zeliek, Madrigosa/Felmyst and the resident Dark Action Girl Sylvanas Windrunner (although she never does this as a boss).
    • Keristrasza knows that she's too far gone to be saved, and demands you kill her. "Finish it. FINISH IT! Or I swear by the Dragon Queen you'll never see daylight again!" Though she is not a victim of the Scourge, but rather of Malygos: the aspect of Magic, who has gone insane. He has enslaved her through magic and done some pretty messed up stuff to her.
    • Medivh has the ultimate Big Bad, Sargeras, mind-controlling him, but he has moments of lucidity and uses them to surround himself with friends who he knows will take him down. At one point, said friends do take him down after learning that he is responsible for the Orcish invasion. They end up having to cut off his head: although because of some magic shenanigans he does end up coming back.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1:
    • The faced mechon are homs subjected to Unwilling Roboticization, and if they attempt to resist, control of their body will be overridden. Later models have their mind suppressed entirely, they are still fully aware of what's happening, but unable to do anything about it.
    • The majority of the High Entia race ends up like this, being devolved into Telethia by the Big Bad and robbed of their sentience so he can use them to enact his plan to eradicate all life on the Bionis. Made more tragic if you had bothered to do quests for the victims beforehand, and still more tragic when their surviving friends and family ask you to give them a Mercy Kill, often after describing an account of said victims having protected them even in their warped state.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Heaven Feel's Saber Alter. Made much worse after knowing her past and having played the Fate route, in which she is the Love Interest.
    • Also Dark Sakura and her case is much, much worse.
    • The entire line of Avengers — from Angra Mainyu to Alcides in Fate/strange fake — are Servants who have been twisted into deranged psychopathic parodies of the people they once were, turning to mindless hate for the sake of hate. None of them want to be what they are, but they were all broken into what they are by circumstances beyond their control. Fate/Grand Order brings several more Avengers into the mix, Edmond Dantes, an evil version of Jeanne D'Arc borne of Gilles de Rais' hatred for humanity, a version of Medusa who has nearly become a Gorgon and Antonio Salieri (as a result of his legacy being irreversibly tarnished by rumors of him poisoning Mozart).
  • Tsukihime: Satsuki definitely counts as a tragic monster after she's converted into a vampire by Roa/SHIKI.

    Web Animation 
  • Hunter: The Parenting: One of the eyecatches points out that most Sabbat vampires, people-eating monsters that they are, were once normal people who were kidnapped and forced to be cannon fodder for a war they barely understood. And while Pyotr was a collaborator as a human and he and Apeboy are fully embraced vampires, Shitbeard and Kevin both despise their undead state and were both forced into it against their will- Shitbeard was kidnapped from a blood drive, and Kevin was forcibly embraced by the Camarilla to be their accountant, only to then be kicked to the curb when he told them things they didn't want to hear.
  • RWBY: The Hound only exists because of the experimentation that Salem inflicted upon it. Salem trapped a silver-eyed Faunus inside the body of a Grimm; the Grimm has human-like intelligence and the ability to speak, but the Faunus looks like it has been tortured, skin is stretched and torn across muscle and there is massive scarring across one eye.

  • In The Beast Legion, Xeus impulsively stabs a brute to protect a kid, later finding out that the monster is the kids' older brother.
  • Daniel: The title character rises from the grave as a murderous vampire who slowly loses all semblance of humanity and is driven to target his former loved ones. Nonetheless, when his former friend Christine learns about the horrifically cruel way her own Fetishized Abuser murdered him out of petty spite and jealousy, she breaks down in tears.
  • Everyone that's not Ace from Ruby Quest probably counts, as the facility used to be a place where the blind received medical treatment. Thinking about this too hard is not recommended.
  • Trace Legacy of TwoKinds was a pretty nice guy with incredible power. Then he lost the wife he spent so long getting... and then things got worse.
  • Wonderlab: After discovering the truth about Branch O-5681's Manager (that truth being that the Manager was Dead All Along), Catt breaks upon finding that their attempt to find any salvation or meaning in the suffering of them and their fellow Agents was all for naught. This is before they proceed to undergo a Distortion.

    Web Original 
  • One player in the first game of Destroy the Godmodder, Minor107, tried to use inFAMOUS's Karma Meter to empower him. However, it went horribly wrong, and he was forced to reluctantly fight the good guys. They had to beat him up a ton to return him to the light side.
  • Noelle of Worm drank only part of a Cauldron superpower serum. Given an incomplete serum, with the other portion likely containing the moderating agent, and her psychological issues the result was a massively disfiguring power. Her lower body transformed into a constantly growing monster largely controlled by her shard and Noelle herself would lapse into berserk rages if provoked. While Trickster wanted to save her the other Travelers gradually began to feel that the real Noelle had already died, leaving only her memories and personality in the monster Echidna.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-4504 is a man capable of manipulating all types of matter Gone Mad From The Isolation of the Foundation's captivity, as the supervisors assigned to him refuse requests for socialization or just see the outside world. Thus, his mental state collapses horribly, leading him to do horrible things to his body (first he asks another SCP to sever his hands, and then employs his powers to disfigure his body), and kill two psychiatrists and many researchers and guards, because as one interview makes clear, revenge is one of the few things that still makes him happy. And once the guy finally gets a shrink who decides that her predecessors were doing the wrong thing and he instead deserves a break, as 4504 manages to get a walk outside the facility, he cries profusely.

    Western Animation 
  • Rampage from Beast Wars is an immortal, cannibalistic Serial Killer... who's only like that because of decades of horrific genetic experimentation that turned him into a living weapon. His existence is one of constant pain, misery, and guilt, with violence being the only outlet he can find for his feelings. When he dies, he laughs madly the whole time, as if in euphoric bliss over his life finally ending.
  • Samurai Jack: In the episode "Jack and the Lava Monster", Jack is lured into a volcano by the titular creature, a massive rock warrior itching for a fight. Jack at first refuses to fight him, thinking he's just a cruel Blood Knight, but then the Lava Monster explains his backstory: he was a Viking warrior from a prosperous and happy land, but then Aku arrived and destroyed everything. The Warrior tried to fight back, but Aku encased him in stone and buried him in the mountain for eternity, denying him a chance to die a warrior's death and join his comrades in Valhalla. His rock body and the Death Course leading to him were a means to find a mighty warrior who could end his imprisonment, and Jack was the only one to make it that far. He then begs Jack to take up his sword and continue the fight; Jack obliges.
  • Steven Universe: Two separate varieties:
    • The Forced-Fusion experiments. They're made of the broken shards of all the fallen Crystal Gems, buried underground for thousands of years, and left to eventually merge as one. During the episode "Keeping It Together", they finally awaken. The results are random limbs mashed together into terrifying monsters, which scream incoherently, seemingly aware of their fate. For a while, the closest thing the series has to a main antagonist, the Cluster, is stated to be a massive one of these experiments, and while the small ones had around three to five shards each, this one is made of millions of them. If it does so much as awaken, it will immediately cause The End of the World as We Know It solely because its body would be several times the size of Earth. Peridot reveals that all of these experiments only attack Gems because their shattered consciousness is desperate to become whole again, and the Cluster wants to form for the same reason — though fortunately Steven manages to calm down the Cluster which agreed to be willingly bubbled for the sake of Earth.
    • The Gem monsters. At the end of the Gem War, the Diamonds unleashed a superweapon against Earth that corrupted every active (gems in items seem to have been unaffected) gem that wasn't protected by Rose (like Garnet, Pearl, and Rose herself), transforming them into near-mindless and usually aggressive monsters. This happened to nearly every Crystal Gem, as well as at least some Homeworld-loyalist gems that didn't manage to evacuate in time.
  • Steven Universe: Future: Steven's corrupted self is a pink Kaiju-like monster created from his guilt, trauma and out of control powers. While mindless and powerful in that form, he's not truly evil, as he only attacks whenever he's threatened, and after realizing his loved ones are giving him a Cooldown Hug, he stops struggling and actually starts to listen to their words of unconditional love and assurance.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Like in the comics, Doctor Connors was a kind, dedicated scientist who was Happily Married to his wife (also a scientist), a loving father to his son, and acted as a mentor to the three teenagers who interned at his lab (Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey, and Eddie Brock). However, he was desperate for a way to regrow his lost arm, leading to him using an untested formula on himself. It seemed to work... but, right in the middle of celebrating, Connors began undergoing further changes and fully transformed into the Lizard... while his horrified family watched.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): The Pulverizer in "Pulverizer Returns." He wanted to become a mutant so badly that he willingly subjected himself to the mutagen even after being warned repeatedly how dangerous it is, only to end up painfully transformed into a big feral blob of Hollywood Acid. The turtles manage to subdue him and bring him back to the lair, where they vow to find a cure.
  • Bizarro in Superman: The Animated Series. He starts as a nigh-perfect clone of Superman, but soon after his first confrontation, his skin begins flaking off and his mind begins deteriorating, reducing him to a witless brute that only wants to be a hero, oblivious to the damage his stupidity is causing.


Vampire Martin

Martin wakes up as a vampire with a purple suit and a high-collared cape.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ClassicalMovieVampire

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